January 1, 2023

CJ Masciantonio

Mind of Mash: Two Years in Review - Looking Back on 2020 – 2022

New year

Over the past couple of years, I’ve written numerous blog posts to help others grow and improve in their personal and work lives. Much of the insight comes from my own life experience — more specifically, the good times and the bad times I’ve faced. My habits and ways of thinking have certainly changed since day one (Nov. 15, 2020) of writing my column on the #Strella blog.

I’m happy with much of the growth and change I’ve achieved in my career, health, and outlook on life. Nevertheless, there is still lots of work to be done. I figured I’d share what I’ve accumulated up to this point, both the positive and the negative, in a two-year recap. Hopefully, my reflections will help you think of the path you’re taking, what you’ve achieved, and how you can work for a better tomorrow, starting today.

Lessons Learned These Past Two Years

1. Dealing With Career Advancements and Struggles

My career path has changed a lot since 2020. I’ve been a touring musician since 2015 and was on the road pretty consistently until the pandemic happened. Musicians like me took a big hit as we found ourselves out of work and unable to travel. However, as I look back now, that downtime was a great thing for me; it forced me to expand my skillset and look for alternative forms of income.

I took a deeper dive into multimedia — social media management, marketing, photography, videography, sound design, and graphic design. Before I knew it, these would become the bulk of my work, giving me a new sense of fulfillment in a field that I really enjoy!

More recently, at the start of 2022, I began teaching guitar almost full-time. That has helped me develop my interpersonal skills, become a better musician, and get out of my comfort zone. Also, it’s incredibly rewarding to see my students grow alongside me.

With this success came new challenges. The biggest challenge: balancing everything I’ve taken on. I consider myself quite ambitious, but I learned how important it is to take on only what is realistically feasible. Otherwise, burnout is inevitable.

I encourage you to branch out into other areas of your life as I have. Your favorite side hustle may one day become a promising career. Just be careful to avoid burnout, as it can create resentment toward what otherwise is a fun part of your life.

2. Prioritizing Physical and Mental Health

I have always struggled with my physical and mental health. Admittedly, I’ve been pretty inconsistent in those areas. Some months, I go to the gym and take care of myself exceptionally well. In others, I find it challenging to just get out of bed. Typically, external factors like work stress and personal struggles in life influence my attitude toward self-care.

Over the past two years, my health hasn’t really improved, but also it hasn’t worsened. It’s stayed stagnant. I don’t splurge on junk food much, and I’ve cut down on consuming sugars. Those changes have helped me feel much better as of late. But I could definitely be doing more by working out consistently and having a better sleep schedule — which I hope to achieve in the new year.

My mental health is directly tied to my physical health — a healthy body yields a healthy mind. People think positively if they’re treating their bodies positively. In high school, I played sports and was very active. I felt on top of the world. Fast forward to the present day, and I rarely feel that same body-mind pick-me-up because I’m not as active as I was when I was younger. Every time I go to the gym, I feel great. So I know it’s possible to regain those positive feelings, and I kick myself for not working out more often.

My advice to you: Treat your body with the respect it deserves. It’s the only one you have. If you’re having negative thoughts or feeling sluggish, it’s probably your body telling you that you need to make a change. Set aside at least an hour of your day for some form of exercise. Even just walking around your apartment or house can do wonders. These healthy habits will give you better results in your personal life, career, and just about everything else!

3. Finding Satisfaction in Work and Personal Relationships

When I branched off into other areas of work, I formed many new relationships with fellow contractors, a variety of clients, and new supervisors. Each field has different forms of communication — some face-to-face and some virtual. I am relatively reserved and can be a bit shy, but I have really come out of my shell. I’ve learned that being kind, honest, and firm (when you need to be) can make a tremendous difference.

That has transferred to my personal life as well. I’ve gained more confidence in myself and the decisions I make. I think my family and friends have come to appreciate that, and my anxiety is much lower than it used to be.

A big lesson I learned is that getting out of your comfort zone is a good thing. Feeling uncomfortable means you’re growing. And in my experience, a little discomfort can lead to some of the most memorable and gratifying achievements of your life.

For 2023 and beyond, make going beyond your comfort zone your goal! Even though your mind may trick you into assuming the worst will happen in these unfamiliar situations, the outcomes will likely end up exponentially better than you imagined!

4. Looking Forward to the New Year and Beyond

2023 will bring about big changes for me. I will resume touring with my band and cut back on what has been the bulk of my work over the past two years. Fortunately, the lessons and growth I’ve achieved since 2022 will make touring and any other venture I pursue much more rewarding.

This may be my last column for quite some time. I sincerely thank all of you who have read my posts! I hope you’ve benefitted from them and that you carry their positive thoughts into your new year and the rest of your life. Take care!

Your turn! What do you plan to achieve in 2023?

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