How do you know it's time to quit? Should you keep plugging away when it’s not working? Should you just try harder? Or is it better to quit? This week I’m going to tell you when it’s time to definitely quit.
When do you know it’s time to quit? When should you just give up on the thing you’re working on? I was asked this question a few months ago and I have thought about it a lot, because this is a BIG question. I have two competing answers when individual people ask me this question.
First, I am a huge fan of quitting. Just stop! It’ll give you the energy to work on something you DO want to do. I stop books, I stop business ideas, I stop launches. I stop all the time and I think it’s fantastic. As a culture we can sometimes romanticize the FINISHING of something…but if the thing isn’t worth finishing, and you’re not going to be glad it’s done, that time is better spent elsewhere. There’s the Sunk Cost Fallacy, which is when your brain thinks “I’ve already spent X time or money on this, I need to spend more to make it worthwhile.”
Second, I think: Don’t quit! You’ve barely started! I see way too many new business owners quit before they’ve given their plan a real chance. Often they quit before they’ve done ANYTHING. They’ve spent a lot of time and energy thinking and they think their way towards “oh well, it won’t work.” But if you haven’t tried: How do you know it won’t work?!
How do you know if you should just quit or keep going?
Well I have a few scenarios in which you should definitely just quit and then I have some questions for you to ask yourself when you’re faced with this decision.
The main thing to remember is: no one else can tell you, only you know if you’re making the right decision. And also, you’re going to be fine no matter what you decide, so don’t spend too long trying to get it “right”.
It’s time to quit when…
1. The strategy isn’t working. (But don’t confuse quitting a strategy for quitting the whole mission.)
You can quit individual strategies, without giving up on the whole mission. In fact, in order to grow your business you’re going to need to regularly let go of old ways of doing things, or plans you have that didn’t work out. That isn’t quitting, that’s adjusting, that’s growing. Sometimes we get frustrated that one strategy doesn’t work (say, posting on Instagram), so we give up on the whole mission (having a business). That’s crazy, there’s a million strategies. In my 10+ years experience running a business and going deep in hundreds of other businesses, you almost never need to quit your mission.
2. You were doing it for someone else. YOU never really wanted to do it.
Often you will find yourself doing something and you realize YOU don’t want to do it. Maybe you were doing it to make a parent or friend happy. Maybe you were doing it because you thought you should want to do it. Whatever the reason, when this happens, stop immediately.
3. The version of you who wanted this was an old version of you.
Good news! You’re going to grow and change. That means there will be a new version of you. And this new version is going to want different things than the old version. You’ll look around and realize Old You really liked this but New You doesn’t so…quit!
Don’t beat yourself up for changing, don’t beat yourself up for who Old You was, just move on.
Questions to ask yourself before quitting:
Have I have given it my best shot?
Have I ACTUALLY TAKEN ACTION?
Have I taken the level and intensity of action that is required?
How do I know what's required? What have other people done?
I’d love to hear from you – what have you quit? How did you decide? Come over to Instagram and leave a comment or tag me in your post, I’m @taraswiger.
I LOVE podcasts. They are the absolute perfect way to learn or be entertained while you do boring or mundane stuff. I listen to quite a few podcasts and I'm always recommending specific episodes to friends. Today I want to share my favorite with you! I'll cover my favorite podcasts for your business, for parenting (especially fostering and adopting), and just general fun stuff.
This week I'm sharing some of my favorite podcasts. I have been listening to podcasts since 2006! My husband bought me an ipod shuffle (no screen!) for Valentine's Day in 2006 because I was listening to podcasts on my computer (we only had a desktop, no laptop, and obviously we only had flip phones. FLIP PHONES!). Those first podcasts I loved (you can still go back and listen!) – KnitCast, which may have been the first podcast about knitting, CastOn with Brenda Dayne, which inspired the direction of my yarn company, and CraftyPod with Diane Gilleland, who I stalked on Twitter until we became real-life friends and collaborators. (I took her class on podcast years before I started this show and anything good in this podcast I learned from her.)
The landscape of podcasting has changed QUITE a bit since 2006! For starters, you likely know what they are now, and you probably didn't back then. Many of you don’t even listening Explore Your Enthusiasm as an audio podcast, you watch it on YouTube.
When I first started this show back in 2014, I had to explain to interested students what podcasts were and how to actually get them. If you are reading this, did you know you can get it delivered to your phone automatically? If you have an iphone, just go to the Podcast app, search for “explore your enthusiasm” and hit the “subscribe” button! It'll come to your phone every Wednesday morning. If you use a different phone, look in your app store for a podcast app, and subscribe in the same way.
Before we get into my faves, let's talk about listening to podcasts for a minute – there are some podcasts I listen to every week, but MOST shows, I tend to save up and then binge on. I may spend a whole week listening to one show, and then not listen again for a month. I may completely forget about a show for 3 months, and then it becomes one of my favorites. So when I recommend these shows, I'm not just recommending the most recent episodes, I'm recommending them overall, because I've learned something from them over the years.
And now that I've told you how I listen to podcasts, you don't need to apologize to ME for not hearing my most recent episode, when you meet me in person or send me a DM I get it!
And if you want to hear MY best podcast episodes, check out the episode 234! In it I share the most popular episodes and you can find them linked up at the show notes: https://taraswiger.com/podcast234/
My favorite podcasts for your biz:
I'll be honest, I don't listen to a lot of business podcasts regularly, because I find they distract me from what I need to be working on! I don't need more ideas, I just need to do the work! However, when I do need ideas or inspiration, I listen to these:
Hashtag Authentic – I met Sarah Tasker when she was a student in my Craft Your Marketing workshop in Manchester, England. And then I was blown away when I realized that she is an Instagram superstar and writes an amazing blog. Her podcast Hashtag Authentic is SO good and has amazing interviews with people you don't hear anywhere else. And! Her book Hashtag Authentic just came out and is the best thing ever.
The Goal Digger Podcast – Jenna Kutcher, who has a giant business and started out as a photographer and went viral on Instagram, shares some amazing lessons in this show. She switches between teaching episodes (kinda like my show usually is) with interviews with a really random collection of people. To be honest, I usually skip the interviews because she's had some reality stars on which is…odd, but also some great conversations about diversity in the Instagram world. I tend to pick and choose. My favorite episodes have been about concrete topics like growing Instagram or Pinterest.
Online Marketing Made Easy with Amy Porterfield – I haven't listened to this show in about a year because I would end up taking copious notes on each episode and learning so much…and I've been in a place of implementing (and healing!), instead of learning. But when I need to uplevel some aspect of my business, I search her archives and listen to the episodes that relate to what I need. That said, a few years ago I listened every single week and acted on so much of what she taught I think it directly correlated to my business hitting six figures. (No, I haven't taken her classes, but they look great!)
Hol:Fit Talks – Ange Petersen has a multimillion dollar business and is one of the top sellers in doTERRA and she believes it is all about mindset. Her episodes are so encouraging and enlightening, no matter what business you're in.
All Rise Up with Allison Nichols – If you have doTERRA business, you need to be listening to this podcast. I am telling you that it is REQUIRED listening. If you have a different business, you're going to love her interviews and learn a lot about how to be a bold salesperson. Allison is another of the top sellers in doTERRA and I love how unapologetic she is about her ambition and how hard you need to work.
Honorable Mention: I used to listen to both The Tim Ferriss Show and School of Greatness weekly, but I haven't listened in a few years. I became tired of the interview format. The School of Greatness, does have a more diverse line-up (Tim's show tends to be all white dudes who have giant business, many of which are “intellectual dark web” people). I also have listened to and loved The Life Coach School show, Sounds Like Bliss, Manifestation Babe.
There are two mental health related podcasts that I think are just great:
Jen Gotch is Ok… Sometimes – The first several episodes are required listening if you think you may be dealing with mental health issues. Jen Gotch is the founder of Band.Do, which means she's a super smart businesswoman…and she has bipolar disorder and anxiety disorder. Hearing her story in the first few episodes was really what I needed this summer.
The Hilarious World of Depression – This is the podcast I didn't know I needed. Each week the host interviews a different funny person and they talk about their experience with depression, how they got treatment and what works for them. It is always heartwarming and sometimes heartbreaking and is what you need if you feel alone.
Real Mom Podcast – a foster and adoptive mom interviews moms from all backgrounds and although this show is aimed at Christian moms, I think all moms can relate to the stories shared and the real conversations.
Slate's Mom and Dad are Fighting – this is a panel show with 3 parents who answer listener questions and share their own “triumphs and fails” each week. Sometimes they talk about older kids, sometimes toddlers, I always enjoy it and usually listen while washing dishes.
The Empowered Parent Podcast – this is usually a conversation with two parents and is based on the concepts in Karyn Purvis' work and the Connect Child book. If you are parenting a kid with trauma or you're feeling disconnected, there's lots of good foundational stuff with examples in this show (I mostly download old shows and listen about a specific topic, like tantrums, or reunification)
By the Book – In this podcast two friends read and live by a self-help book for 2 weeks. They choose different kinds of books and share the results. This is a professionally produced show and yet manages to be hilarious and warm, like listening to two friends. When I'm traveling and can't sleep, I sometimes put this on with the sleep timer and I drift off. (Not because it's boring but because I need some friends around)
Dear Hank And John – John Green (author of Fault in Our Stars and a million other very good novels) and his brother Hank Green (author of An Absolutely Remarkable Thing and the creator and business brains of tons of huge YouTube things, like Crash Course) have a weekly YT show called VlogBrothers, which is one of the first vlog-type things I ever watched. Now they have a podcast where they give dubious advice to listener's questions and it is always hilarious and uplifting. This is one I listen to every week within a few days of it coming out, often when I'm in the car with my foster kiddos.
Honorable Mention: I was listening to Layla Saad's Wild Mystic Woman podcast for conversations about anti-racist work, but she recently changed it up and has the new Good Ancestor Podcast which I just downloaded.
Now that I've put all these shows in one place I can see some things I'd like to change about my own habits – I'm glad to see I am listening to a lot of shows by women, which is something I purposefully sought to change a few years ago. But I recognize that among those women there isn't a lot of diversity. This year I'd like to change that a bit, so I'm listening to and learning from people who are different from me.
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.
Do you find yourself distracted with how you could have done something better? Or sidetracked thinking about the mistakes you made? Are you just too hard on yourself? Guess what? Me too!
Today I’m going to share how I’ve been working on: NOT being so hard on myself so I can move forward!
Now, most of us want to be better, right? We want to streamline, optimize, and improve all the time. That’s great and useful…but not when it comes with a dose of beating yourself over everything that needs to be improved and optimized. Not if you’re getting so bogged down in what’s “wrong” that you can’t shift into action.
This is on my mind because a few days ago I posted on Instagram Stories, that I noticed that I am really hard on myself when it comes to basically every parenting interaction. I'm always thinking: Oh, I could have done that better…I should have reacted differently…Ugh, I wish I had stayed calmer.
(What sparked this conversation was how I feel about parenting decisions, but we’re going to talk about all aspects of life, and especially your business, so you don’t need to be a parent to learn something! I’m brand new at being a parent, and I think a lot of what I’m experiencing is how it feels to be brand-new and learning at ANYTHING. It certainly reflects the lessons I was learning as a brand-new businesswoman!)
When I posted on Instagram Stories I got a lot of replies to my question about being hard on myself and I want to talk about them with the whole community, because they represent two different ways to look at the issue.
First, let’s talk about what I mean about “being hard on myself”. What I’m talking about is when something happens or you make a choice and you think: I should have handled that better. I shouldn’t have done X. I should have done Y.
Now, that thought alone isn’t necessarily the problem. The problems come in when there is judgement (I’m bad because I did X), when there is intensity (OMG THAT WAS HORRIBLE) and when these thoughts are frequent (if you can’t move forward because you can’t let go of the “mistakes” you made).
For example, one of the parenting things I thought was a mistake, I could NOT let it go. For the whole day I go over and over the morning in my head: What happened? Why didn't I …? Why didn't I..? I should have…
(By the way, I want to mention that if you have intrusive or looping thoughts, talk to a therapist, you can get help.)
So that’s being hard on yourself, and for me it comes in the framework of my Generalized Anxiety Disorder, where my anxiety-brain runs away with itself.
When I posted about it I got two different kinds of replies:
Half the replies said: This is what motherhood is! Get used to always feeling not good enough!
And the other half of the replies said: here are some resources for negative self-talk. Whether it's challenging negative thoughts or learning to talk kinder to yourself.
And both of these are interesting because they show different perspectives. One says “this is how it always is” and the other says “you can change this”.
I know that part of what “get used to it” means is, I'm not alone. That this is a part of doing anything new, and it's a part of almost every aspect of a woman's life – this constant sense that you SHOULD be better, that you COULD do better and that it's your job to be the absolute best.
Our world is filled with messages telling us: eat better, manage your time better, improve your hair, eyes, waist, kids behavior. Earn more money. Buy better stuff. Tidy up the stuff you do buy.
I don't think any of us should just accept that we never feel good enough. I think we can accept that there are a lot of messages in the media and on Instagram, Pinterest, and even among friends that tell us NOT to feel good enough. Our world is filled with this message and then we reiterate these messages to ourselves…but I don't want to believe that it has to be like this forever, that I just need to resign myself to this mindset.
Although I know “you’re not alone, this is what it feels like” messages are meant to be encouraging, I just don't want to live like this. It's not sustainable (in this intensity.) Just because the world tells you that you need to be better doesn’t mean you need to tell YOURSELF that you need to be better.
So, I'm moving forward with the belief that it doesn't have to be like this.
Now the second set of responses were: challenge those negative thoughts!
And this was interesting because I was not even recognizing what I'm doing as negative thoughts. It feels more like…hmm, just a running commentary of what could be better. Almost positive like: you could improve it this way! This could be smoother next time! Optimize! Streamline! IMPROVE!
HOWEVER improving and optimizing CAN be helpful…but when the underlying message is “Not good enough! Not good enough!” …that's not helpful or beneficial.
I kept telling myself that these weren't negative thoughts, they were just kind of insistent. Like the messaging of my whole life combined with anxiety leads to insistent, pervasive sense of doom. And then I realized: Wait, if this is anxiety, I know what can help with anxiety: challenging those thoughts and rewriting them. This is known as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and studies show that it’s one of the most effective therapies at dealing anxiety and depression.
CBT has this concept of “cognitive distortions,” ways that you’re seeing the situation through a distortion. You recognize the distortion, then rewrite the thought without the distortion.
So I checked to see if this “you should be better at X” fits in with any of the cognitive traps. I used my Moodnotes app because it makes it super simple.
Here are the cognitive distortions that applied:
Negative filtering: Only seeing the bad
Downplaying positive: dismissing positive qualities by telling yourself they are unimportant or do not count
All or nothing thinking: it either went wonderfully or was a failure. You either have a relaxed and happy kid or you're failing at it all.
Blaming: Blaming myself for anything that happens, even stuff I can't control.
Do you see how these distortions can apply to your own “hard on yourself” thoughts?
Now, I shared all this in an Instagram Live (follow me so you don’t miss any! I’m @TaraSwiger) and my friend Joeli pointed out something big I had been missing. The thought that needs rewriting isn’t just “you should be better/you’re not enough” but the belief that I even made a mistake to begin with.
I’m assuming (wrongly) that any unwanted outcome (with my child or my business) is because of some mistake I made. The other way to look at this is that it's not a mistake. You can't control all outcomes through your actions alone. For example, maybe if you would have done more IG post about your new product, you would have sold 1 more. But maybe you wouldn't have. You can't assume you know the outcome and then beat yourself up over what you don't know.
The thought the rewrite with CBT: It was a mistake that I X.
The cognitive distortions: Fortune-telling, where you believe you know what would have happened.
A rewritten thought: I don't know that it was a mistake that I X. I can try something different next time.
Another thing that came up while talking about this with friends is…depression. Depression lies. It tells you: You suck. This will never be better. It is your fault it's not going better and there's nothing to be done/you can't fix it. Because you suck.
This is a cognitive distortion. And if you have clinical depression, just rewriting your thoughts might not be enough. You may need an intervention from a specialist. I'm telling you this not because you suck, but so you know: YOU CAN GET HELP FOR THIS. Start by going to your primary care physician, your family doctor, and explain what's going on. They can recommend a therapist or an intervention. If you have a therapist, tell them about this.
More than anything, I want you to know that you are not alone and it won't always be like this. If it's hard and you think it's because you suck, you don't have to just accept that truth. If you feel inundated with messages that tell you you're not enough, you're not alone. You can unsubscribe from or turn off some of those messages. You can start to notice when those messages come at you and challenge them right then. (Studies have found that one of the best ways to shift the negative effect of advertising on girls it to talk about what the advertisement is selling right when you see it. I bet this works on yourself as well. “Oh this ad is telling me that the whites of my eyes need to be whiter? It's coming up with another thing I need to fix about myself. Hmm, maybe the whites of my eyes are not as important as the love I show in my life?”).
If you are hard on yourself, you're not alone. Take a breath. Rewrite the thought.
I think you are doing an AMAZING job in your life. You are enough. I hope you continue your day knowing that you are enough and you get to be enthusiastic about your life and your business.
What if you are just not getting things done? What if you just can NOT get things done? Before you start beating yourself up, ask yourself: is this just a season of my life?
Today we're going to talk about how to identify the season you're in, and what to do about, to be both as productive and GENTLE as possible.
My aim is to guide you to living an enthusiasm-filled life…which includes doing work you love, spending time with people you love, and feeling GOOD while doing it.
I was recently asked the question on Instagram: I feel like I'm in a season of my life when I can't get a lot done. Am I alone? Can you talk about this?
First, let me preface today's episode with some background: two months ago I didn't have any kids. We became foster parents last September and on December 17th a two year old girl came to live with us, for an undetermined amount of time. And let me tell you – one of the first thoughts I had about my business, when my head came above water, several weeks later was: I can't believe I ever talked about how to get stuff done. I had NO IDEA what it was like to have a 2 year old at home. It is insane. Especially when you have no warning and you're a stranger to the 2 year old, and they've gone through some recent trauma. But even if you’ve been with them from day one, it’s bonkers.
So here's the truth: I have no idea what you're going through. Maybe you have 4 kids. Maybe you have a sick partner. Maybe you just lost a parent or loved one. Every situation is different, and my situation and way of dealing with things is built from what I need, from what works for me (and sometimes it doesn't even work for me!). So you'll have to take what applies, leave what doesn’t, and find what will work for you.
In my experience, there are several different seasons in every business, that continue to cycle throughout the life of your business:
Idea/inspiration – when you start to dream and get inspired and slurp up Pinterest and blogs and videos
Creation/exhalation – if you inhaled a lot of inspiration, you need to let it out via creation. This is where you begin to turn your ideas into action, into real projects or relationships or products
Working away at what you started – After the initial super-creative part of the process a LOT of our projects have kind of a boring “keep going” part. It’s not new and exciting, but there’s more to be done. This might also be maintenance mode. As Kurt Vonnegut said, ‘everybody wants to build and nobody wants to do maintenance.'
Rest – sometimes you’ll go right from creating to new inspiration and new creation but a lot of time your field will just need to lie fallow. You may just need to rest before you get another breath of inspiration. This is the time that you may worry that you’ll never have another idea and that everything is falling apart. But it’s just part of the process. Fill up your well and keep yourself healthy during this phase.
So those are the seasons in your business, but there are also seasons in your LIFE. Seasons where you’re actually not going to be in any season of creation or inspiration because you’re putting your attention on other projects in your life. It may be parenting, or a relationship, or getting well. That’s ok. That’s part of being a human!
If you are in a season of not getting stuff in your business done, you are NOT alone. I didn't work for 4 solid weeks. And now that I am back to “work”, my working hours are a fraction of what they were. Not only that but now the part of my brain that was free to think about strategy and business plans is now thinking about temper tantrum strategies and did she have any green vegetables today and is that a rash?
Now, I could be frustrated about that, or feel hopeless about it, or freak out about it (my income is 80% of how we pay the bills…so it's kinda important.)
But this is only a season of my life. Yes, she'll only be 2 years old for a short season. And because we're doing foster care, she may only be with us for a short season. But above that, the overwhelming NEWNESS of everything is ALSO a short season. We won't be in this everything-is-new-and-requires-decision-making season forever. Even after just a month of being together, so much has become easier. We have routines, we have go-to meals, we have regular activities to do together. I'm not saying parenting every becomes EASY or that I'll ever get back the huge percentage of my brain I used to think about my business, but the season of it being THIS INTENSE is fleeting.
And let me even more honest with you – before this season of being a new mom to a toddler, I went through a season of deep depression where I could not get my normal stuff done. Everything was hard. It started with fogginess, then things got physically hard, then hopelessness, then there was just apathy. (It’s real hard to get things done when you don’t care about anything.)
Even though that season was SO hard and I never want to repeat it, it was a season of healing. I needed to learn the lessons I learned in that season. It was NOT a season of ideas, creation or working. It wasn’t that restful (although I did rest my body a lot.)
Now that I’m more mentally healthy and I’m moving out of the intense brand-new-kid season, I’m in a season of transition, where I’m trying to find my new rhythm, my new normal. As much as I would love to just hop back to work-mode when I can work, I’m finding that I need to learn how to transition from mom-mode to work-mode. So this is a season of figuring-it-out. I’m not quite to creation, as I just transition into figuring out how to work.
And I know many of you are in an especially hard season. Maybe it's depression. Maybe you're taking care of a sick family member or partner. Maybe you've recently experienced loss. These are all seasons where your work is just NOT a priority. And hey, that's ok!
We are trying to build businesses that ENHANCE our lives, that bring enthusiasm and joy and connection to our lives, so those same businesses (and our plans for our business) need to allow for that life to show up and take over sometimes.
Are you in a difficult season right now?
If you're not getting stuff done:
Is it a season?
Is there a timeline?
Are your frustrated because you can’t do what you WANT to do? Keep track of your ideas.
Stick with the routines that make you feel like yourself (ie, shower, walk the dogs, get coffee)
Recognize the season and give yourself grace.
Realize when you’re in the NEXT season, and allow the change to happen.
I hope this has helped you navigate whatever season you’re in!