In this week's podcast we're revisiting a topic I get asked about a TON: launching!
This episode was originally inspired when a Starship captain asked for ideas and resources for launching a new product line and I wrote a long and thorough answer, and wanted to share that with you. This can apply to how you launch a new business (if you already have an audience), how you launch a new product or how you launch a book.
In today’s episode we are throwing it ALL the way back to the very first episode of this podcast!
I share a little about my goals and dreams for the podcast and my own business journey (up until that point!).
As I said at the time: “I want you to know you're not alone, in whatever it is, that feels like a struggle in your creative business: making money, finding motivation, being consistent. More than anything, I hope you like it. I hope this helps us connect in a new way and help you feel supported, encouraged and part of this great community of amazing makers.”
You guys, I have been self-employed for TEN YEARS, this week! That is really unbelievable to me, because I had no idea what to expect when I quit my dayjob to make yarn full-time. I have learned so much, struggled so much, and had weird unexpected successes (like improving my credit score, and earning a lifetime achievement award at Midwest Craftcon?).
Today I want to look back on it with you, and share some reflections that may help you in your own business journey.
I have been running a business full-time, since July 1, 2009. I quit a dayjob in an office, in part because I worked for a state university (an administrative assistant in HR) and the state cut funding, so there was a hiring freeze and a buyout. I applied for buyout and took it (it paid for us to pay off the car, and rent a UHaul to move), because I had grown the business to replace my day job salary most months.
I actually talk more about my business journey in the very first episode of the podcast, and you’re going to hear it again next week! As a celebration of 10 years of self-employment, and to spend more time with my foster kids this summer, I am re-broadcasting older important episodes from the last 5 years of the show. In July you’ll hear some of the oldest episodes that are the most important topics that basically no one has listened to, about launching and fear of success. In August you’ll hear the most-popular episodes ever, most are from about a year ago, and they cover topics like “how to stop seeking approval”, and “the pressure to be perfect”. You don’t have to do anything extra to get these episodes – just tune in each week and you’ll get a new intro from Current Tara, along with a listen at the old musical intro (it was bad!) and Past Tara. Then I’ll be back in September with brand-new episodes!
As I was talking in the Starship about being self-employed for 10 years, Jennie asked me: if you could have a do over, would you change the rate of growth of your business? Would you grow faster/slower/the same?
My answer is always: I wouldn’t change anything because then I wouldn’t be where I am.
Which is kind of an annoying answer, so I really thought about this some more. The thing about my rate of growth is – sure, if I could have scaled to more profit, quicker, especially in the earlier days, that would have been fabulous, I would prefer to skip the years of being really broke and my business just covering the bills. But I would have had other growth-related problems and the fact is, I wasn’t ready to handle those problems until I grew.
One of the truths about business is that your business grows as fast as you do. If you’re expanding your belief in yourself, if you’re setting up systems, if you are confident and assured, you’re going to grow. But if you get stuck, or you leave something undealt with, your business will grow as much as you can until you hit that stuck point. You are always the bottleneck. Whether it’s that you don’t know how to let go and delegate, or you don’t believe in yourself, your business or the mission, or you’re not taking care of yourself, or your running yourself too hard, or you don’t value yourself, whatever it is, it’s the bottleneck.
So, the answer to the question is: Sure, I’d prefer that my business grew faster if that meant that I was growing and developing faster. But I couldn’t skip over learning what I needed to learn. So let’s talk about what I have learned:
Rule #1: Figure out how you make money.
I know this seems obvious – you make a sale, you make money. But do you? What’s the amount of profit on that sale? (I teach this math in the class Pay Yourself, which is only available in the Starship program, you can learn more about it at taraswiger.com/starship)
The next question is – how do you make a sale? What do you do that generates a sale almost every time? Or maybe you do a thing 5x and you make one sale?
This is really the first thing to figure out, before you’ve got your whole marketing plan, before you commit to whatever every day for the next year, test it out: What do I do that results in a sale? How often do I have to do X thing to get one sale?
Start to look at what you want to buy (for yourself or the business) in terms of what you’ll need to do to make enough sales for the profit to afford that thing. This is where all my early growth came from. I would want to do a thing (like a big craft show across the country). How could I afford the trip? I’d have to sell X skeins, so I’d have to Y listings on Etsy, followed by Z emails (emails were the thing that generated sales). And then I would do it.
Now, over time you need to be consistent in doing the things to generate the sales, so you have an idea of what you can regularly make. But to scale up or push yourself out a plateau, challenge yourself to make a certain amount of money is a certain time and hit it.
Again, I want to stress, this is not a long term path to consistent income, but you HAVE to have this knowledge to scale or become consistent with the RIGHT stuff.
Everything is figureoutable.
There is no question I can’t answer. There is no problem I can’t overcome. As long as I think of something as a mystery (or something someone else is just “naturally good at”), it’s always going to be a mystery. The good news: I always figure it out. Always.
Taxes are serious, but not excuses
Don’t be scared, have a plan.
I get soooooo annoyed when people are afraid to make money because they’ll owe taxes. You should HOPE your business owes taxes – that means you were profitable! If you want your business to be sustainable, it’ll be profitable and you will owe taxes. So I’ve always been HAPPY to owe taxes, but I haven’t always had a good plan for PAYING for those taxes. I didn’t plan well, and I owed taxes. But you know what? It’s actually not a huge deal (as long as you file on time and always talk to the IRS). Everyone I’ve ever talked to at the IRS is super friendly and helpful, so it’s nothing to be afraid of, but it is something to take seriously.
I can trust myself – I am my best business resource.
We make it big and scary. But nothing is as risky as we think. There are always other options if it doesn’t go well. And just like everything is figureoutable, what I know for sure is that I always figure it out. I can trust myself in any situation, I will be ok. I will make a good decision. Often there is no “right” decision, so I just need to trust myself and then COMMIT to whatever I decided.
I am my best resource and that means my #1 job is to keep my business resource (aka, me) in the best condition possible. This isn’t about a size or “clean eating” or anything full of shoulds and shame. This is about feeling what I feel, giving myself permission to feel how I do and need what I need. It’s sleeping enough, drinking enough water, journaling, and asking for help when I need it. It is prioritizing Peak Tara over everything else in my life. Yes, even kids and Jay, because THEY deserve Peak Tara too, they would rather I asked for a night completely alone instead of NOT asking and biting their heads off all night. (I just double-checked with Jay and he confirmed this is fact). Which every new challenge in my life, I have to learn this anew!
I certainly don’t have everything figured out, or even most of it. But I am proud of myself for keeping my business thriving and above all, for growing myself and creating something I love. I wish each of you the joy of looking back at what you’ve created, for however long you’ve been working on it, and knowing you still have so much ahead of you. That it is ok that you aren’t where you thought you should be.
Thank you so much for being here and being part of what I’m doing for however long you’ve been here! Whether it’s been for the 13 years of my biz or for the 5 years of my podcast or you just tuned in for the first time! Thanks for listening and have an enthusiastic week!
It’s summer! And that means it is time for summer reading. This may be the time where you’re spending more time than ever with your family and you just need a break with a book!
I get so many questions about how I read so much, what books I recommend, that I wanted to put together a whole resource episode with absolutely everything – my best tips, the tools I use, the sites I read, the books I recommend for your business and for your summer.
Usually I talk about running a business and mindset and once a month I share what I’m reading, but here’s the truth: I’m recording this ahead of time before it’s even June, so I can’t tell you what I read in June. And I’m taking a break from the podcast to spend my summer with my foster kids and with lots of books and the pool. But no fear! You’ll still get episodes every single week, because I planned WAY ahead!
What better way to go into the summer than to talk about what I love best about summer, which is ALSO the number one key to building my business: books! Everything I know about my business I learned through trial and error and experimenting and I figured out what to try and how to experiment from books.
But I know a lot of us struggle with reading more, so today I’m going to help with that! We’ll talk about how to read more, how to find a book you’ll like, and resources of my favorite book lists, (including the best books for your business, mindset and mental health).
Summer and books have been linked in my mind ever since I was a kid and participated in the library reading challenges – did you have these? The library would publish cards like a game board and you’d fill it in with the books you read, and then you’d win prizes. And do you remember “The Pizza Hut Book It!” program? I had to look it up because it was such a huge part of my childhood – winning PIZZA for reading (and getting the fabulous holographic pin) was really the highlight of my year, and also just about the only sport I ever competed in! While I was writing this episode, I went to look it up and Book It! is still around! Their website has tons of good resources – reading trackers, activities – for you and your kids! You can sign up for the Summer Reading Program and get weekly emails with reading suggestions and projects.
I record this it’s late May and I’ve already read more than 75 books in 2019. I often get asked: How do I read so much? A few years ago I put together a guide: How to read 100 books a year.
How to read more
The key to reading more is to read what you like, always have plenty of books on your list and on your shelf and to stop when you want.
The thing so many adults struggle with is to read what you like – give yourself permission to read what feels good, even if it’s not what you think you “should” be reading. Maybe you love YA fantasy, maybe you love romances, maybe you love comics. It really doesn’t matter, reading anything gets yourself into the habit, and you can use that habit to read more of the books that will educate you on what you want to learn (ie. business or psychology).
You also have to have ENOUGH books, so that you can immediately pick up the next one. That means enough on your To Read list and enough in your actual home (or on your Kindle). If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know I bring home anywhere from 5-15 books at a time from the library. In the rest of the episode we’ll cover how to find more books for your list, how to keep track of it, and how to find more of what you like.
And finally, you really need to let yourself stop when you want to. Maybe you put the book down for just a few days, or you wait until your more awake, or you just don’t like it and you stop altogether – life is too short to read books you don’t enjoy!
How to find books you’ll like
Did you know your library has a Reader Advisory? They can suggest books, if you know what you like. They also published lists of books that are like other books, or that are on a topic you wanna learn more about!
There’s also a great online resource, through your library, called Books and Authors. (I think your library has to have hooked it up for you to access it. Check your library’s website. You can look up any book and it will tell you other books like it. Even if it’s been years since you really liked a book, if you can identify even one, you can find another!
Another way to find the books that YOU are likely to like is to find reviewers you like and read what they suggest.
on Goodreads (look at reviews of your favorite books, click on the profile of a review you particularly like and then read a few other reviews by them. If you agree and/or you like they’re writing, check out their most recent reviews and you will find some new books you’ll like!). I like Emily May.
Help your kid(s) identify what they like in a story. Start with 3-5 stories they’ve loved (movies, video games) and help them dig into the aspects they liked best. This is a great way to help them find the words to talk about books and stories, too!
Check out nonfiction! If your kid nerds out about ANYTHING (even movies and video games!) there are books about it!
Comics are a great way to get a reticent reader to read!
You can find “graphic novels” which are the collected issues of a storyline of a comic, at your library! Once you know you like a comic, you can start buying it (or the graphic novels) at your local comic shop. And if you don’t have a comic shop, you can get it on your Kindle comics with a Comixology subscription.
A few of my faves that are appropriate for anyone 10+:
Mile Morales: Spiderman – there is a novel, and a comic (esp if you loved Into The Spiderverse)
Ask me on Instagram! I LOVE helping you find books, I not-so-secretly really want to be a librarian (if only I can do it from home?) – tag me on your post, I’m @taraswiger or send me a DM! (Maybe I need a book recommendation podcast? Hmmm.)
How to keep track of it all? Tools I use:
Goodreads – I use it mostly to track books I want to read. It’s great to track books I have read, but the way I use it nearly daily is to add ANY book I’ve heard of that sounds good to my list. I’m not worried this is every going to be too big. I want it to be as big as possible, so I never run out of books that I’m excited about.
Library holds & requests – A few times a week (usually when I’m waiting somewhere or need a break from work), I open up my GoodReads To Read list, open up my library catalog and place a hold on a few books (Holds top out at 15 books and a lot of times this spring I topped it out. I read more than ever, but it stresses me a bit, so I’m keeping it under 10 at a time now). What about books your library doesn’t have? I just discovered the “request book” page on my library site and now I request that the library buy the books I want! This is great for new books that haven’t been released yet – by requesting it you get at the front of the line on the holds (great if a book is going to be on hold to like 20 people). I’ve also requested some quilt books and instead of buying them, my library borrowed them from another library (not one that’s connected in our catalog)
Libby – get ebooks and audiobooks from your library, all from your phone.
Book of the Month Club – if you want new books before they’re released AND you want to own your books, you can’t do better than Book of The Month – you get access to brand-new books, each month. You can skip any month you want. (If you sign up from this link, I get a free book!)
Do you let failure convince you to stop? Is it a sign that you are not going to ever get what you want? Or do you use failure as fuel to push you farther?
When I was reading Abby Wambach’s new book Wolfpack, one of the lessons in it really struck me. She said: Use failure as fuel. She talked about how women so often use any failure as a reason they can’t do something. They feel like everything has to be perfect before they have permission to try something or be something.
The problem is, success is built on failure.
You’ve got to experience failure to get to success.
If you let the first failure stop you from going forward, you won’t have any success.
As I read, I realized: Oh man, I’ve been using recent failures or just small things like not hitting a small goal, NOT as fuel, but as a kind of proof that I can’t do it.
And I know I’m not alone, because so many of you tell me that “Well, I tried that and it didn’t work out, so I’m just not good at it.” or “I guess I can’t have that.”
This is something women struggle with a lot, I know I have. We’ve got that internal fire, we have a mission, the motivation to do amazing things, but so often we are looking for reasons to distrust it, reason to not trust ourselves, proof that we’re not good enough. And failure provides the perfect excuse. The perfect proof.
And I get it, when we go into a project (or anything really) with self-doubt, anything that doesn’t go perfectly seems like proof of what we already believe: “I’m not good enough. I really can’t do this. It’s for other people.”
But that’s just wrong.
Failure is not a sign that there is something wrong with you. Failure is just data. Data on how to get what you want. Maybe you need to grow, maybe you need to work more, maybe you need to try harder. Maybe it’s just gonna take more time. Failure is information about what your goal or your dream will actually require.
So the question is: are you using failure as an excuse to stop doing what you’re doing? Are you using it as proof that you shouldn’t be doing it? That you’re not good enough? Or are you using failure as fuel for the next step?
One of the stories in Abby Wambach’s book was about using failure as fuel. In it, she told the story of how the women’s USA soccer team used a four-man loss as a reminder the need to work harder to win. As fuel for their fire to keep going.
I want you to think about this for a minute. What if failure actually inspired you?
What if it could be the fuel that pushes you forward, what if it could be the inspiration that keeps you going? I know, I know, that’s a major mindset shift from failure as a sign that we’re doing the wrong thing, to failure as a sign that we need to go harder.
But so often, in so many of your own businesses, that’s exactly what failure is. It’s the sign that you needed to work harder, it’s a sign that you need to commit more, it’s a sign that you are capable of so much more than you think.
I want you to think about it like a sports game. I know, I am not the best at sports metaphors. But I do know this: losing one game, does not mean that you lost this season, it does not mean that you lost the championship. In baseball, players are expected to “fail” most at-bats. A GREAT hitter only hits a SMALL amount of the balls that come at him.
Because…FAILURE IS NECESSARY FOR SUCCESS.
I talk about this more in episode 171 – because in order for your business to grow, you need MORE failure, or as I phrase it in that episode get MORE rejection. You need to be told “No” more often, so you can get to yes. You need to not hit your goal, so you get closer to hitting it.
Let’s do this together, let’s reframe how we think about failure, about falling down, about not getting it right.
Let’s remember that this is not the last chance you’ll ever have, that there are more at-bats, there are more games, there are more months.
In fact, you have endless at-bats, you have endless opportunities to work hard or learn more reach that goal in the future. You’re closer now than you’ve ever been!! Don’t quit when you’re minutes away, weeks away, months away from hitting your goal.
I wanna hear how you’ve used failure as fuel or how you’re ready to reframe this. Come tell me on Instagram, I’m @TaraSwiger and you can use the hashtag #exploreyourenthusiasm.
How do you impact those around you? How does that actually work? And how does it feel for those who love you? Today I’m having a conversation with my husband Jay about impact, confidence and more!
Episode 258, which came out a few weeks ago, has ended up being SO popular – so many of you are sharing it and talking about it and messaging me about it, it’s making me sooo happy. And it tells me that this way of reframing the sacrifices you make for your dreams as a positive, because it is showing other people what’s possible, it’s inspiring them to dream bigger – we all need to hear that.
I was talking to this about Jay, and through the years he’s told me that by following my dreams, well, it’s changed him. So I asked him if he’d come and talk to y’all about it, give you a different perspective, and to give you another boost of permission that YES, you are having an impact (even if it takes 15 years to see the results).
It's my birthday month, and that means it's time to review my year and share the lessons I learned from another year on the earth.
Each year, on my birthday, I share a bit about my birthday review process. Just like we do at the new year, I look at what was great, what wasn't, and what lessons is my life teaching me?
To do this birthday review, I use the monthly questions found in my book, Map Your Business. The book has these questions every month for 12 months, so you can start whenever, and make reviewing your month (and planning for the next) a regular part of your business (and life!). You can find the book at on Amazon.
At the bottom of this post, I've linked to all the past birthday posts – they go back 10 years – this will be the eleventh! And I gotta tell you, I read back through last year's transcript and it was SO GOOD. I needed to re-hear the lessons I learned last year!
This year, it was epic. Big big changes in our lives!
The not-so-good stuff
Before I get to the good stuff and lessons, I want to share the negative side of this year. Now, this isn’t actually bad, it’s stuff I chose, but I don’t want this whole episode to sound like everything is perfect. I made sacrifices this year, but they were my choice to live the life I want, so I was happy to make them.
I didn’t travel as much as I have in past years, although I did go to Columbus, Salt Lake City, San Diego, Charleston, and together we went to see my parents in Oregon and Cookeville, TN. We also went to Asheville a lot.
Also, my business didn’t grow as much as it has in the past. That’s because I didn’t work in it as much as I have in the past, and I made some explicit choices to cut back on some things, which I knew would be a short term loss in exchange for a long term gain of time and energy for other projects. You can hear more about how I streamline my business in episode 224.
This year’s good stuff
We became parents! I became a mother! No big deal, my world was just completely shattered by a 3 month old, a 2 year old and 6 week old.
Finding meds that work for my mental health.
Figuring out how to run a business and be a mom.
Learning the foster care system, inside and out.
Lessons learned this year
Motherhood + entrepreneurship is no joke.
I know, y’all veteran moms are saying, uh, yeah, duh.
But I’m gonna be totally honest – I knew it would take a lot of time and energy, but I was not prepared for how much of my BRAIN it took over. I mean, we have no warning, so it’s always a little crazy, but I literally could not think my own thoughts for the first 2-3 weeks. It was all baby thoughts, all the time. Thinking of even my own needs, like to shower or to read a book was not even an option.. and so of course the deeper, thinky stuff like my business was just not even accessible to my brain.
Now, that is for a short(ish) time, but even after we’re used to each other and it becomes less of a shock that THERE IS A BABY IN MY HOUSE, I never fully recovered my thinking brain. So that makes dong things like strategic planning, or heck, even writing a podcast REALLY hard.
And so the lesson was: it is more emotionally and mentally intense than I was expecting and also: everything will be ok. It’s ok to not be at 100%. It is OK to feel slightly slow all the time.
I need more grace
One of the things I struggled with most during this transition to motherhood (which is still ongoing, just on pause until we get the next placement!), is being really hard on myself. I have never been a perfectionist, I am always saying “oh, it’s fine. Done is better than perfect.” I’d rather have something done and then fix and upgrade and improve on it than try to perfect it from the start.
So I was totally surprised when I became so hard on myself for everything related to child care (especially with the toddler). I was disappointed I didn’t feed her even more whole foods. I was disappointed I snapped at her. I was frustrated when her nap didn’t happen. I think it’s that I didn’t see that, just like my business, this parenting gig is a progressive thing. You don’t have to get it perfect the first time, you just doing your best and something less than your best because you’re tired or annoyed and it all works together to be fine.
The good news is, I recognized this. I recognized that so much of being a foster parent is out of my control, and I was being really relaxed about not being in control of the system and the big stuff (will she go or stay? How many visits per week?), I was instead trying to exert control over the situation by controlling myself, controlling my parenting, and constantly beating myself up for not doing enough.
So when I recognized it, I talked to other moms. I talked to some of you on Instagram Stories and I talked to moms in real life and I decided to give myself more grace. Grace to be imperfect. Grace to mess up. Grace to even make the wrong decision sometime, knowing that it’ll be ok.
I know I’m not alone in this and I know it’s not at all about parenting – it’s about being nice to yourself vs holding yourself to some impossible standard.
So I’m gonna invite you to give yourself some grace.
My business will survive!
As Jay put it as we were talking about this episode, I learned that “your business can survive your lowest point, and your highest stress.” Because, seriously, that’s what this year was full of. From having the worst depressive episode last summer, to the stress of having a 2 year old who is a total stranger – I put my business on hold more this year than I ever have. Yes, I streamlined and planned for the first maternity leave (when we got our placement in October)… but right as I was starting to work again, she went home. And then it took me a while to get back in the swing of productivity and we got our 2 year old friend. And it took me over a month to get a handle on any kind of productivity. She stayed 3 months so I got into a good workflow during the days she was out of the house… but then she left. And 2 weeks later we got a baby for a week.
All that to say, one maternity leave is great, but all of the unknown and the emotions, and the wanting to not to commit to anything, because I may have to cancel at the last minute… it’s hard on me and hard on my business.
And yet… my business is resilient. My audience won’t all leave. Actually, most won’t even notice when I go silent for a week or two, as long as my promises are fulfilled (students get what they bought and the podcast keeps dropping each Wednesday morning).
Now, my business is extra-resilient because I set up lots of systems to keep it running (again, I talk about those in episode 224 and teach you how to do it in my workbook at TaraSwiger.com/leave)
But I always had a little bit of doubt, I worried that if I didn’t do X or Y or if I cancelled on someone or didn’t follow through, everything would fall apart. And while it did slow down, it did not fall apart.
I wanna share that with you, because I know a lot of you have the same fear. So just take a deep breath, it’s gonna be alright.
Taking care of myself is everything
This year really challenged me to step up how I treat myself. Emotionally, by giving myself more grace, but also physically, by ya know, actually taking time to shower, to go walk in nature, to diffuse the essential oils I’m craving. I’ve known this for a long time, but when I didn’t really have anyone depending on me to be at my best, I would tell myself that it wasn’t important. Even though I know I’ve had my biggest business growth and had the best mental health in the years that I was running longer races (2013-2015), I told myself it wasn’t worth the time.
But I am working on changing that message, on valuing myself enough to take care of myself. As Jay says “Your entire job and business is based on you being the best Tara you can be. It only survives if YOU are feeling great.”
So although I’d love for us to take care of ourselves simply because we are valuable, I’ll be honest that I had to have another reason to convince me. Knowing the kids in my life deserve my best, and knowing that you and the business deserve my best – has convinced me. (This is classic enneagram 2, I’ll do it to help someone else.)
Because of this lesson, I created a free 5 day Challenge for y’all, along with a workshop. It walks you through 5 days of just doing teeny tiny things to take better care of yourself. And after the challenge is over, I’m sharing my own journey of taking better care, in monthly exclusive letters. You can join at taraswiger.com/takecare
Thanks so much and have another enthusiastic year.
Ifollow 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.
Are you apologizing for following your dream, for taking the time away from your family + friends, for taking selfies or for following your own path? Are you apologizing out loud “sorry for another post but…” or are you apologizing with your actions and attitude (trying to physically to shrink yourself – sorry for taking up space!). If you wanna move forward with your business or even your life, it’s time to identify your apologies and move to being unapologetically YOURSELF.
I have been thinking and writing about the need to be unapologetic for a very long time. And I have been working on being unapologetic about who I am, for even longer.
Now, before we dive into this week’s episode, I want to share that I have been working on a new e-course about self-care and you can get it, for free, at TaraSwiger.com/takecare. If you’re struggling with confidence, motivation, and focus, it may very well because you need to take care of yourself. The course focuses on my favorite tools for taking care of myself, which in turn helps me manage my mental health, which is the biggest impact on my business. So whether you’re running a business, you’re a new mom (like me!) or you’re just struggling to follow your enthusiasm, check out the new e-course at TaraSwiger.com/takecare
I have been thinking about apologizing for my dreams, for my ambition, for who I am for a looong time. When I started writing about business, I titled the site (for a very brief period of time!) Unapolgetically Wonky.
At the time I said: “I don’t just acknowledge that yeah, we’re all a little wonky, I think it’s imperative to embrace it, to love our wonky bits, to be who we are without apologizing. Unapologetically wonky is a way of being that influences my teaching and creating. Embracing the imperfections in my student’s work and helping them accept it as a natural part of learning.
Avoiding holding up any one standard of awesomeness.”
Friends, what was true in 2010 is even MORE important today. With Instagram perfection, and Facebook humblebragging, and all of the ways we are surrounded with pictures of lives that seem better than ours, it is more important than ever to acknowledge and embrace our own wonkiness, and to move forward unapologetically ourselves.
Quick shout out to the book that got me thinking and talking about this recently: Rachel Hollis’ Girl, Stop Apologizing. I read the intro and immediately sat down to have a convo about it in my Instagram Stories and that inspired this episode. I’m liking the book so far, but I wanted to write this episode before I read any more of it.
What does being unapologetic even mean?
It means not apologizing for really, I mean REALLY wanting something.
It means not apologizing for not wanting what other people want.
It means not apologizing for spending hours working on what lights you up.
It means not apologizing for spending hours not working, for napping, for reading, for snuggling, for watching TV.
It means not apologizing for wanting more. More customers, more money, more house, more friends, more kids, more more more.
It means not apologizing for wanting less. Less waste, less stuff, less debt, less expectations, less work, less inequality, less conflict, less less less.
It means not apologizing for standing your ground, for living by your values, for choosing something that other people aren’t choosing, for parenting the way you want to parent.
It means not apologizing for your body, for the size it is, for the color it is, for what it can do, for what it can’t do, for what it doesn’t want to do, for what it craves, for what turns it on.
It means not apologizing for completely and totally accepting yourself, for loving yourself, for taking care of yourself. And also for not being there yet. For not feeling acceptance yet.
It means not apologizing for loving and accepting others, for creating healthy boundaries, for saying yes when you want to and for saying no when you want to.
It means not apologizing to the world, and not apologizing to yourself, in words, in actions, or in attitudes for who you are and the life you want.
Why? Apologizing is keeping you small.
It keeps you from following your dreams. It makes you feel like you’re not allowed to want what you want. And that means you won’t actually do what it takes to get what you want.
I’ve experience this so often in my own life and business – I want something, but I feel kinda wishy washy for wanting it, because I think either it’s going to inconvenience someone else, or it’s going to be weird…and so I don’t follow through on figuring out how to get it (let alone for doing the work to get it!) until I can feel awesome about it. Until I’m unapologetic about wanting it and for the work it’ll take to get it.
If you’re stuck in not following through on a dream, I want you stop and think: What are you apologizing for? What makes you feel like you shouldn’t want it?
Apologizing for what makes you different, is what keeps your business stuck.
Here’s the crazy thing: the stuff that makes you different? The way you want to live, communicate, make, market – that will be what makes your business stand out. That is what will lead to your business success! If you follow the path others have blazed, if you do what everyone else expects you to do… your business will be boring. If you have a business just like everyone else’s…no one will buy from you. We buy from and keep coming back to businesses that are different.
And hey, if you’ve been telling yourself (the lie) that your field is already really crowded? That too many other people do it? The solution is not to give up, the solution is to do it your own way. To be different. So whether you sell knitting designs, or handmade products, or someone else’s products, even if you have a direct selling business – yes, hundreds of thousands of people probably sell the same thing – but none of them can be you. None of them can do it how you do it.
Being apologetic for your own weird, offbeat ways will keep you from seeing the success of being your own weird, offbeat self.
Being in a state of apology is setting a bad example.
Here’s the thing: I want you to accept what you want for YOU, but I know that often we make a change because it’s good for others. So here’s the altruistic reason for not apologizing: it conveys your values. Maybe I’m thinking about impact and examples (which I talked about in the last episode) so much because all my foster babes have been girls, so I’ve been thinking hard about being an example to younger women and girls.
Or maybe it’s because I have woken up to the fact that often we only believe it’s possible and permissible when we see other people do it. Running a 10k – possible to me only after I saw my college roommate doing it. Being a mom of 4 and running an amazing business – possible and permissible only when I got up close and saw the family life of my friends Liz and Dave.
So when you feel like you have to apologize for taking care of yourself? Or when you apologize for being dedicated to your business? You are telling those around you, both little people and big people, that it is not permissible for them either.
Ok, so now that I’ve convinced you to stop being so apologetic…how do you do it?
Recognize what you’re apologizing for. Maybe you need to listen again and pay closer attention to the examples I give, but I am sure that if you are feeling low confidence about something, or telling yourself that some of your dreams aren’t possible, you are feeling like it’s not quite permissible for you, or you feel apologetic for wanting it.
Ask yourself: what are the beliefs you have about that area? What are the beliefs you have about yourself and who you are supposed to be?
Envision your most badass self, the one who is unapologetic about wanting what she wants. What does she do that you’re not doing? What does she believe that you don’t believe? My favorite thing to do is to write a letter as this Future You (because this unapologetic gal IS a possible Future You) about what you learned and did to make your dreams happen. Or if that’s not your jam, write a list.
Catch yourself (and others, gently) when you start to apologize for something you want. For me it sounds something like: “Sorry, but I really want to…wait, no not sorry. Lemme start over. I would like to X. I would like you to Z.” Here’s the crazy thing. Every single time I’ve done that, the person has said, “That’s awesome! Thanks so much for letting me know!” Because those who love you want to know what you want! They want to know how to support you! And you being honest and straightforward (and not whiny or cranky) allows them to be honest and straightforward about how they can support you and what they don’t want to do.
We've talked before about what you might give up in order to fulfill your dream. But what are you creating? What are you gaining? How is your work impacting others? Get ready to fall in love with your dream a little more, and get fired up.
You know what I realized the other day? This month this podcast is FIVE YEARS OLD. I have written, recorded and produced a weekly episode every week for FIVE YEARS. Yay! I wanna celebrate!
How can you help me celebrate? Share the show! Take a screenshot of your phone or picture of what you're doing while you listen and share it on Instagram and tag me and the show! I'm @taraswiger and the hashtag is #exploreyourenthusiasm.
Leaving reviews helps others know they should tune in – you can do it on iTunes or over on YouTube, just give it a thumbs up!
The last few weeks we've talk about time and balance and sacrificing things so you can get stuff done. And it's easy to focus on what you're taking away or losing out on while you're working. Maybe you have less time with kids, or less time for your hobbies. But another way to think about this is to focus on what you're creating, what you're giving to the world. Because in every bit of work you're doing, you are making an impact.
If you’ve been asking yourself “Can I do this? Will it be too hard on my family? Am I allowed to do this?” Let’s turn that around. The question to be asking is “Who are you impacting? What will NOT doing this, take away from the world?”
Because here’s the thing – ANY amount of doing something you care deeply about, any amount of working towards building something new, is going to be an inspiration to others. It’s going to provide an example of what’s possible. It’s going to give them permission to follow their OWN dream. Yes, building a business does this, but so does following ANY dream – even if it's giving yourself time to work on your hobby, or working at paying down your debt, or saving up for a vacation, or running a half-marathon, or becoming a parent through foster care or adoption.
Wait, let’s back up even farther – ANY thing you do is an example to others of what’s possible.
Are you holding yourself back? You’re setting an example. Are you telling yourself that you can’t do X because you’re not enough? You don’t have enough education, you’re too big, you’re too old, you’re don’t have enough money? THAT is setting an example.
When you don’t do something because of reasons, you are telling other people – you can’t do that either.
If I believed the voices in my head that told me my voice is too annoying or I’m too fat to have a podcast, I would be telling other woman who look or sound like me that they can’t do it either.
You see, setting an example, being an example, isn’t just about setting an example for kids. Having kids is often the first time people THINK about the example they’re setting, but you’re an example to everyone in your world.
So the question isn’t “Can I do this?” but “What example am I setting by not doing it?”
And I don’t say this so you can feel ashamed by what you haven’t done – getting stuck in the past isn’t going to help anyone. I’m telling you this, so you can make your decisions from a NEW place. A place where you’ve reframed “following your dream” from something selfish, to something noble, something altruistic.
Watching you build your dream is inspiring.
It's inspiring to your kids, your friends, your community. Even when you fail, you are showing the people in your life that failure is a part of it. So many of us grow up afraid of failure, afraid of being wrong, that we don’t realize failure is a necessary part of doing big things. Inspiration isn’t just fun, it’s vital to the process of acknowledging and following dreams! Without it, we wouldn’t even begin to dream or to imagine what’s possible. Take a minute and think about the people who have inspired you to bring you where you are right now.
Homework: Reach out to at least one of these people and tell them that they inspired you. You can say something super simple: Thank you so much for doing X, that inspired me to take action on my own dream.
You are providing an example of what's possible.
Take a minute and think about the people you knew growing up. What jobs did they do? Like me, were you surrounded by hair stylists, roofers, members of the military and the best of all possible jobs (in my kid-mind) : teachers and librarians? Or did you grow up knowing doctors and lawyers and entrepreneurs? None of these jobs is better than the others, but the jobs you grow up seeing are the ones you believe are possible. Maybe you grew up and moved out and met other people, who had other jobs and you thought: Hey! I didn’t know real people did that job!
The biggest obstacle I find in people actually starting their business or to do freelance work? They literally don’t believe that it’s possible for real people. Maybe that girl on Instagram, but I bet she grew up with money. Maybe that dude is an entrepreneur, but he went to an Ivy League school.
I know it may sound impossible to you, but when you choose to build a nontraditional career? You are changing the examples of what’s possible. You are changing the definition of what a “job” is, for the people in your community.
You are also giving people permission to follow their own path.
You are providing inspiration, you are setting new examples of what’s possible. AND, you are giving people permission. And honey, we all need permission.
We have all been raised to wait for permission. Wait to be called on. Wait to be picked for the job. Wait to be chosen by a partner or friend. But as you know, no one will choose you and hand you your path. You have to build it. You get to decide what you want it to be, but then you have to take action, long before anyone else has decided you can. Before they’ve decided you’re worth it. Before you’ve been chosen for the craft show, or the book deal, or the magazine feature.
YOU had to give yourself permission a lot before you got a business even up and running. To get to your biggest dreams, to where you want to be in 10 or 20 years, you’re going to have to give yourself even more permission.
And the people around you? They’ve been trained the same way. They are waiting for someone to tell them that they can do it. But they can choose themselves too. Seeing you invest in yourself, seeing you spend the time and money to build your thing? It will give them permission, to do something for themselves.
This is how your impacting your world!
You are giving permission!
You are being an example!
You are inspiring!
Who in your life is being impacted? If you don’t build the thing you want to build, if you don’t lead the life you want to lead…who won’t be impacted? Who won’t be inspired? Who will still think it’s not possible?