I follow my enthusiasm by reading…a lot. And once a month, I share (some of) the books I read last month and the books I intend to read this month. You can join the informal book club by sharing your own list with me on Facebook and find all the posts here.
This month I got kinda book-crazy and attempted to read 40 books in the 40 days of Lent. I'm at 32 books right now, and I have about a week left, so it's possible I'll get there. For more on what I'm reading (in real-time!), follow my Stories on Instagram.
How can you plan for your business when everything in your life is uncertain? When you’re not sure where you’ll be next week or next month? You may be great at planning normal life, but what about when there’s a family illness, a new baby, a new job, a big move, a divorce, or just the uncertainty of life?
Let’s talk through how to ride these waves of uncertainty.
As you know, I’m in a really uncertain season of my life as a foster parent. Heck, as you listen to this, my whole family may have changed shape (again!).
How can you plan for just running your business or growing your business when everything is so uncertain?
Week to Week
Here are my suggestions:
Make a list of what is the core function of your business and what has to be done to make sales. Ruthlessly cut everything else.
Remind yourself that this is just for now. For this season. Things will change, you’ll have more certainty and then you can add back in all the not-mission-critical-top-priority stuff.
Each week, look at what’s ahead on your calendar and what you need to do this week on top of the usual, and find the time in your week.
Go on and schedule the chunks of time for work, in whatever system works for you. Something flexible, like Google calendar or post-its on your paper planner.
Even if you never wrote down work times in your schedule before, now is the time to do it, because you want to first identify those times when you can work (your freaked-out brain will tell you that you NEVER have time) and then not MISS them. You always want to make sure you’ve got enough time and if you truly don’t, you get to recognize that now, when you’re planning, so you can adjust your expectations.
Change your mindset to value flexibility. Your past focus may have been productivity, so this may be an adjustment. If you’re in a time of uncertainty, something may come up and you’ll need to move the work you had planned. You’re going to be productive if you can be flexible and if you’re not all or nothing about your work times. (This has been a real struggle for me.)
Work when you can, manage expectations, and give yourself credit for getting ANYTHING done.
You’ll notice that this comes down to two skills you have to practice: flexibility and managing expectations. You’ll need to let go of what Past You got done. Embrace the constraints on New You and celebrate what she’s able to do, even in the midst of all this uncertainty.
And lemme tell you, that, for me, was the hardest part. Not comparing Mom Tara with what Past Tara could do. Not just because Past Tara had more time, but because Mom Tara had a lot more on her mind and had a hard time focusing.
Long Term Planning
Now, what about planning long term projects, like applying to craft shows or traveling to events? This is definitely something I’ve struggled a LOT with. Should I plan that trip if I may not be able to go? I skipped out on a trip to Europe, which was paid for except my flight, because I thought we’d have a kid in our home. Well, we did not have a kid in our home and I was in the middle of mourning the loss of our first placement. Should I have planned it anyhow? I’m not sure. I still don’t know if I made the right decision or not, but I’ve decided to just let it go.
Should you apply to that craft show if you may have to stay home?
The truth is, I can’t tell you what you should do.
You need to make your own decision based on your own comfort with risk, canceling and regret.
Take into account:
How comfortable you are with having to cancel.
How upset you’ll be if it ends up you could have done this event and then didn’t do it.
The fact is, you may need to adjust how comfortable you are with cancelling. For years, I have followed through on every webinar plan I made. If I said I was going live next Wednesday, I’d do it. But the changing foster placements meant that I either had to NEVER plan another webinar, OR I had to just accept that I would plan things and not follow through. Since a free webinar getting cancelled doesn’t hurt anyone, I’m fine with that. But I won’t be selling anything I can’t follow through on, because I’m not going to cancel what you paid for (although I have had to reschedule some things!).
So you have to think through this for yourself. Are you OK with applying to a craft show you need to cancel on? Will you be more upset if you don’t apply but it ends up you could have gone? These are hard decisions, but just keep in mind: You will be ok no matter what.
I hope this has helped you think through your own plans, and that if you’re not in an uncertain place right now, you can come back to this episode when you are. If you are in an uncertain place right now I just want to tell you that I am proud of you. You are doing a good job. I’m sorry you’re going through this and I believe in you. Your business will be OK.
Ever wonder what it’s like to work with me? Or to work with your spouse? Today we, both Jay and I, are going to answer your questions!
Jay has worked in my business on and off for years, and in the last few years we have had a lot of new adventures – from working full-time in my business, to pursuing his dream to open a comic shop, to fostering babies!
In this episode we answer questions about guilt, what it’s like when one of us gets to follow our dream (and the other doesn’t), the hardest part of working together full-time, how Jay feels about me being in the limelight, the best part of foster care, why we rent, and the real work Jay has had to do as we make huge changes in our life. And yeah, we talk about how the patriarchy feels some kind of way about a husband working for the wife, and why we just don’t care. We wrap up with our advice for couples who want to work together.
A few weeks ago I spent 4 days in San Diego and shot a quick video about what I ALWAYS bring with me, for my morning routine and stay-sane-on-planes self-care! If you've been wanting to get the toxins out of your beauty routine, hair care and self-care, this is exactly what I use and love. No toxins, all natural ingredients, and it feels DIVINE.
You can get everything I mention for 25% off when you have a membership with doTERRA. Most people start with this Starter Package (and if you order by April 15th, you'll get a free bottle of Deep Blue Rub – my fave solution to monthly cramps and sore backs.) – http://bit.ly/2WVouMS
I’m gonna be honest: For years I have been teaching about confidence, here on the podcast, at conferences. So I was surprised to find: I had totally lost my confidence. Today I’m going to share how I lost it and how I’m getting it back. Hopefully it will help you locate your own confidence.
First: What do I mean by confidence? Let’s define it here, because it’s easy to misunderstand. And I’ll be honest, I meet a lot of women who say they can’t move forward until they’re more confident and in my work, I’ve just found that’s not entirely true. You are probably confident ENOUGH to at least do SOMETHING.
So let’s define it: Confidence, in the terms I’m talking about, is what psychologists call self-efficacy – you have the power to do something. You believe you can do it and affect the outcome.
It’s NOT believing you can do EVERYTHING. You may be confident in your cooking, but not have confidence in your business. You may be confident in your writing, but not in public speaking.
Another thing: Being confident doesn’t mean you feel confident ALWAYS.
It is NOT feeling amazing all the time. Feeling like you can do anything, feeling totally fearless.
You probably have enough confidence about SOMETHING, to take it and apply it to your business. Even if you don’t feel amazing all the time, you can take the next step.
Here’s the thing: Confidence is a spectrum. You’re not “confident or not confident.” Some days your more confident than others. Your more confident in some areas than others. And depending on life, and business, and the results you’re getting, you may slide around the spectrum.
In my case, I entered adulthood pretty high on the confidence scale – I worked hard, I got good grades, I made stuff happen (like a scholarship and a happy marriage). I went through bouts of self-doubt, but I pretty much never lost my belief that if I REALLY wanted something, I could make it happen. I may be slightly delusional, but this delusion let me take action that made stuff happen.
And here’s the thing: I wasn't confident that everything would be great, I was confident that I would be ok. I was confident that I could try and still be OK. I was talking to a friend with a similar background and a successful business and she said – my definition of OK was very basic. As long as I wasn’t living at home again or in an abusive relationship, I was OK.
That’s what has led me to do everything I’ve ever done in my business – to start selling yarn on Etsy when Etsy was brand new, to quit my dayjob 10 years ago, to start helping other people with their business soon after, to publish two books, to encourage my husband to quit his day job, to start a new business – it all has been based in the core belief that I would be OK. So I may as well try, right?
Then, we were hit with disappointments: infertility (which has been bubbling away in the background for a decade), we weren’t able to buy the comic book shop, I suffered my longest ever bout of depression, we had two kids we LOVED leave our home.
While we had the foster kiddos, I took a step back from work. And when it was time to step back into work, I was plagued by the constant doubt: Can I even do this?
I think a lot of self-doubt came from the period of depression – it sucked away all sense of action, of ability, of efficacy. I physically felt like I couldn’t do anything all day, my brain was foggy and it was very hard to do anything mentally, and emotionally, well I mostly just cried or felt numb. So when I was feeling better and the depression lifted…my sense of self was beat up. The depressed Tara, who didn’t have physical, mental or emotional energy became real to me. I started to believe she was me.
At the same time, I knew she wasn’t. I knew Get-Things-Done, 6 Figure Business Tara was the real me, but when I would dream about plans and goals, I was trying to imagine Depressed Tara doing it and…I couldn’t imagine it.
The basis of my confidence (which had been “I’ll be OK no matter what”) switched to “But what if I can’t do it? What if it doesn’t work out?” That hard part is, I didn’t really know this happening. My first clue was back in September when a business friend said “Oh, I’m sure you’ll be at X goal next year!” and I was like “Maybe, I don’t know” and he was like, “Wait! That is not the Tara I know.” I went back to my room and cried because my friend was right. That is not the Tara I have been.
The next clue was just a few weeks ago, when I was at a conference and the speaker asked us to think about what we wanted to get from the experience, and I realized: I want to feel confident again. I did some journaling and I realized that it’s not that I need a better schedule or a different office, I just need to BELIEVE that things are possible again. That I can work towards my goal and whether I reach or not, I’ll be ok.
The good news: Once I realized it was the problem, I know how to get it back. I have TAUGHT how to get it back!
I’ve shared all of my story of losing my confidence with you, in hopes that you may see some of yourself in it, that if you are feeling wobbly, you’ll recognize it. Now let’s talk about how to get it back (or get it for the first time).
The first part of this is knowing yourself. If you’ve been paying attention to how you work, what your strengths are, how you work best, you’ll have a better idea of what’s going on, if you paid attention when things were going well. So that’s the first step – build your confidence from who you are. Build it on your strengths. In other words, stop paying attention to who you WISH you were and what you wish you were like. That’s going to keep you in a self-doubt spiral of constant comparison.
How I am doing this: This may sound crazy, but I make a list of my strengths. What am I good at? What do I KNOW I can do?
The next step is to take care of yourself. You’re not going to feel good if you don’t have what you need. Part of this is eating, drinking enough water, sleeping enough, but it’s also filling up your inspiration well. For me this is listening to certain podcasts (I share them in episode 248) and reading books.
Confidence comes from action. DO something every day.
Here’s the good news: you’re already DOING things every day. Really! So write down what you want to do (be easy on yourself!) and be sure you add things that “don't count” to your To Do list. Did you feed your child? Did you feed yourself? Did you get dressed? Brush your hair! Huzzah! You are accomplished!
How I am doing this: I noticed that when I just let myself rest and didn’t do anything (or rather, didn’t mark stuff off a list), I just felt worse. It made me feel like I couldn’t do things, so everything was so much harder to start doing, even after I felt better. (It’s harder to get started than it is to keep going). What I needed was to make myself do one thing, that had a real impact, every day. And most importantly, write it down, so I had the satisfaction of marketing it off. I had fallen so far off of my planning, that I started over with a new planner (You can watch a video about how that’s working for me here).
I started feeling better about my ability to do stuff, but there was still some stuff I wasn’t doing each week, stuff I put off for, seriously, over a month. The answer? An accountability partner with the very same goal and focus. We check in by 10am each day with a list of two things we’re going to do and again by 10pm to say if we’ve done it. Just knowing someone else is waiting to hear if I did it makes all the difference. A friend of mine is super strict about her partners – if you miss a time, or you don’t do what you said you would, you have three strikes. After three strikes, you lose your partner.
A huge part of confidence is remembering that you HAVE done awesome stuff and you WILL do awesome stuff again. Some suggestions for getting in that frame of mind:
Practice accepting compliments. Don’t follow-up up a compliment with all the reasons it’s not true.
Better yet, remember the compliments – put them in a folder, print them out, heck, someone on Instagram illustrated her compliments.
Tell your loved ones – “I need help remembering that I’ve done awesome things. Can you help?”
List all the things you've overcome.
List all the things you’ve accomplished.
Look at these lists as often as you need to!
I hope this helps you move forward in your business! Remember to take care of yourself, take action, and celebrate each tiny step.