Weekly-ish notes on navigating big change

Month: July 2011

What’s it look like?

What's your business (or dream of one) look like right this minute?

I've had a great time looking at the maps (like Kristine‘s + Amy‘s) you're making with the Map-Making Guide.

One of the best secret magics (yes, there are several) of the Map-Making Guide is that it makes your business visible.
Not just the path to your next goal (that's obviously part of it), but your entire biz.

Did you draw your map to be a dark + scary forest?
Or a well-lit  hike through the mountains?
Or a fairytale trail to a castle?

You don't need the Map-Making Guide for this

Close your eyes.
Think of your business, as it is right now.
What is it?
A place? A person?
Is it warm or cold? Dark or bright? Friendly or grumpy?

Write down the description or sketch out what you see.

Now, what's your Biz of the Future (your dream! your ideal!) look like?
Is it brighter or more abundant or more colorful or more rested?

What's the difference between the two?
What happened between Right Now and Future Dream to change it like that?

Now you have a pile of useful things about where your business is and where it wants to go!

(If you don't, if you can't see anything, you may want to talk it out.)


In seeing your biz, you'll also see it's stories.

We'll talk about this more next week, but think about it: what story goes along with your map?

(ex. Red Riding Hood being eaten, Rocky overcoming, the Hobbits going home to the Shire, Thor being cast from Asgard)

What can you see that you've been telling yourself about your business and where it is?

Kristine Makes a Map

 I'm thrilled to have one of the first Map-Makers sharing her story today!

Kristine  designs stories into her knitting patterns and makes one of my favorite podcasts, Yarnings. You can find her at kadyellebee.com, on ravelry as kristine, and on twitter.

What's the endpoint on your map, the thing you're working towards?

My goal is to publish a specific number of patterns by the end of September.
I started with a longer time frame and was then encouraged (by Tara and the other Starshipers) to keep my goal manageable over a shorter time frame, with one very specific goal.
This makes a lot of sense because it's easier to be specific in the map-making process when my goal was over 3 months instead of say “the rest of the year”!

How is the map helping you work towards this endpoint?

Making a map helped take the plans I had in my mind and make them concrete and ACTIONABLE.  By putting together my (spoiler alert!) 10 mile-markers, now I can see where I am: if I take a side-trip to something shiny and new, I can see how to get back to the PLAN!

Did you learn anything new about your business during the process?

Working on this map reminded me how much I like having a list.  I am a structured thinker and seeing my To-DO list gives me a chance to check things off.  Reminds me of the Holiday Sanity class where we put together a master to do list, and that was very successful for me as well.

 How has this changed (or not) what a normal day or week looks like in your biz?

I think that this process will help me over the next 3 months and beyond: determining my deliverables and events over a specific period of time is important.
 But also, it's flexible enough that I can work at my own speed any time I use the map to plan – there's no set deadlines, just what works for the specific goal at hand.  I can see where I'd have a couple of maps going to define my goals.
Whether you are opening an Etsy store to sell cupcakes or releasing a series of knitwear designs, map-making can help focus your plans!

What tools did you use to make your map?

 A good pencil and a composition book help me be in a brainstormy mindset.
I print out each day of the map and then free-write anything I think of on the margins as I read through the steps.  A lot of my lists are then transferred in a neater version onto graph paper with dates by them!
I loved sketching out my map with hills and mountains just like my view is locally, giving a personal touch!
Thanks so much, Kristine!
If you'd like to share your map-making story or if you have questions for Kristine, just leave a comment below!

The Sorrow of Choosing

Choosing is hard

Last week I walked through the Map-Making Guide with the Starship. The first step (spoiler alert!) is setting an endpoint for the map – the specific, measurable goal you want to reach in the next 3-6 months.

It was this step, the most obvious starting place, that caused the most distress.

” I have these 4 goals and I'm going to work on all of them…”

“I can't pick just one!”

You love your craftybiz.
You love it's potential and all that it can become.

You want to honor all that it can be.

You want to keep it open and available.
You want to take it in every possible direction.

The sorrow of choosing

In choosing one, you are releasing other options.

(Just like in marriage.)

When you choose just one thing to focus on, you  acknowledge your own finiteness.

You recognize all that you want to do that can't be done (all at the same time).

Choosing one place for your focus means letting go of the other options and possibilities (for now).

And often we try to skip over this step, we gloss over the inherent sorrow in all those lost chances.

But it's ok. It's ok to mourn those other things. It's ok to be bummed you can't do it all.

Choosing is hard. There's a sort of loss when you choose one opportunity over another.

There's also a risk. One of the Starshippers put it beautifully when she said, “I don't want to verbalize my goal, because then I have to acknowledge my failure if I don't reach it. It's scary!”

Choosing is necessary

I'm not asking you to choose one thing for all time.
I'm not asking you to choose one thing for the next year.

In the Map-Making Guide, I am asking you to focus on one thing, one beautiful, magical endpoint for your map for the next month (or six).

In focusing like a laser, you are so much more likely to reach that place.
You are so much more likely to think creatively, overcome obstacles and just keep swimming until you get there.

It doesn't mean no other part of your business (or life) will get movement. In fact, you'll see crazy changes all over the place. When you choose one focus and work on it mindfully, everything in the periphery will transform and grow, because everything is everything.

When you choose, you're not choosing ONE success, you're choosing a ripple of successes, but you are focusing all your energy on the center of that ripple.




How to Get There

What's your biggest craftybiz question?

What do you feel is the biggest thing standing between you and your independence?

For most of my adult life, I thought it was knowledge.
I thought if I knew more, read more, studied more…I could craft the life I wanted.

And I brought that to you, to what we do together…I thought the thing you were missing was knowledge.

So I taught classes and built a Starship.

But then everything shifted. After about a month in the Starship, I realized that everyone  wasn't really asking “How Do I Do This?”

They were asking,

What do I do next?
How do I get there?

Now, it's easy to answer those questions with definite I-know-what's-right answer. I can say, You do this, then this and this. I can answer with my smarts.

But doesn't address the heart of the question.
It makes you dependent on The Person With The Answers.

YOU have the answers.

You know the things to do to build a successful business.

(and if you really are new to the whole business thing, the Starship is full of classes that teach you the basics)

What you really want to know is “How do I take what I know and turn it into what I want?”

When I realized this is the real question, I knew I don't want to give you another pile of smarts; I want to help you unfold what you know.
I want to help you compose your OWN map to your independence.

I want you to take everything you've learned
and turn into a path to walk.

And so I looked at my business: what really turned all that knowledge into independence?
It was a process: taking the knowledge, focusing on one endpoint and then breaking it down into it's parts.
Turning all that into something that would hold my attention until I got to the endpoint.

I took that process and I created a Map-Making Guide.

The guide will help you unearth all that you already know.
It will help you plan it out in a smart way.
And it will help you create something visual and visible that will keep your path in your mind, even when you get distracted.

You can get the Map-Making Guide right here.

What is keeping YOU from crafting your independence?
Knowledge? Or knowing how to apply that knowledge?



A huge thanks to two Cadets who helped make this Map-Making Guide possible:

Amy Crook illustrated a lovely stone map, princess, dragon and other map-tastic goodies.

Lori-Ann Claerhout was editor extrodinaire. She helped me clarify, simplify, and spell right.

Getting accountability and support

Yesterday I wrote a guest post for Handmade Success about how important accountability is for your business. You can read the whole post here.

Today, I want to share my recent noticings about  accountability.

The last two months, I've been part of giant experiment in accountability and what it will do for brand-new craft businesses.

The Starship.

Let's face it, it's been over 5 years since I first started my craftybiz.
It's hard to remember all the hard parts of starting up. It's even hard to remember the challenges of the 2-years-into-it (first craft shows, first wholesale orders).

The Starship and all the sweet, vulnerable sharings of the Cadets* there has reminded me.

*Cadets is what we call members, no matter how advanced their business is. Once you complete the Map-Making Guide, you become an Ensign, and after each class you earn another pip + new title. It's really goofy.
There are no red shirts.

Through them, I can see how bewildering creating an online presence can be.
Through them, I can see how easy it is to doubt yourself.
Through them, I'm learning to go deeper, to communicate clearly, to hold back and watch the daring things they'll do for themselves.

But more than anything, I'm learning how important a community of peers, cheerleaders, and clear-headed advisers can be.

Working one-on-one is transformational, but can be short-lived. It relies on you to make the transformation.

Working with a group is a slower transformation, but you're gently held throughout the process.
You're encouraged and reminded and held accountable.
It's sustainable.
It soaks in deep.

And it's vitally important for the success of your business.

In my Handmade Success post I say:

It's hard to prioritize connecting when (online at least) it looks so much like time-wasting.

Our need for accountability, to stand around the (real or virtual) water cooler and talk about what's going on is deeply human and can't be ignored.
If you have a hard time putting in the time when you think of it as self-care (and I understand that!), then think of it as a business investment.
Study after study shows that the more connected we are, the greater our success will be.


The Cadets who take part in the Communication Station (forums) or the weekly check-ins make far more progress than anyone else in any other form I've worked in (classes, coaching, etc).

It's not just supportive and sweet, it makes real change.

Now, this isn't really about the Starship and its wonderfulness.

It's about community and finding yours.
It's about asking (and allowing) others to hold you accountable.

How can you get started on that today?


PS. You can get that community anywhere online (and there are some good tips here), but if you're looking for something a bit more craftybiz focused, check out the Starship.




Declare Your Independence

I quit my dayjob.
2 years ago today.

I consider this, July 1st, to be my personal Independence Day and I wanted to celebrate with you a free gift.


You have been the best part of the last 2 years.
Getting to know you on Twitter, meeting you for a coffee, exploring your craftybiz world with you…it's by FAR the highlight of the whole experience.

And because YOU are my favorite thing, I don't just want to reflect on MY independence, I want to help you claim your own independence.

(note: independence has nothing to do with self-employment and everything to do with choosing what you want)

As I've been reflecting on what this Independence has meant in my own business, I recognize that it is not just about the fun stuff. There have been some low lows.

This last year, Independence has also  been marked by a movement towards greater honesty.
Instead of only sharing the highs (I'm in books! I'm in magazines! I have fun!), I've made a conscious effort to share the lows…because that's the only way I know to be independent: to be completely honest that this isn't all fun + ease.

We (you + I) don't just focus on how to be successful, we get real about the hard bits, the challenging times and the downright overwhelming moments in running a crafty business.

Because that (honesty, clear eyes, full hearts) is how you claim your independence.

Because Independence isn't a one-time deal.

You don't just claim it and then possess it.
You have to daily declare it.
You have to build a life that supports it.
You have to own it, in every situation.


Independence = Commitment + Permission + Hope

I talked about commitment in last year's Independence Day video, so today I want to share Permission + Hope.


It's already yours. You are independent. You can be independent. You don't have to earn it, you don't have to try to deserve it.

You already do.


The most inspiring, hope-filled resource I have is my support network. My friends, mentors, Starship-ers, and encouragers.

They give me daily hope + giggles, so I turned to them for YOU.
I asked them to share their own Declarations of Independence in the hope that it would inspire you to stake your claim.

You can download the collection of  Declarations of Independence right here.

(nope, no need to sign up for anything!)

Feel free to share it wherever you like, however you want.

Wishing you Independence and community in the coming year!