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263: Failure as fuel

“What if failure actually inspired you?” -Tara Swiger Listen in at TaraSwiger.com/podcast263

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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.

Don’t forget to join the Take Care Challenge at TaraSwiger.com/takecare

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).

Find all the podcast episodes here.

262: Mindset is Contagious – a conversation with Jay Swiger

You never know who you’re impacting with your creative biz! Listen in to this conversation with my husband about how my business has impacted and inspired him at TaraSwiger.com/podcast262

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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).

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).

Find all the podcast episodes here.

261: 37th Birthday Lessons

"Just Take a deep breath it's gonna be alright." -Tara Swiger TaraSwiger.com/podcast261

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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.

Past Birthday posts

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).

Find all the podcast episodes here.

260: What I’m Reading May 2019

I explore my enthusiasm by reading… a lot. Learn all about the books I’ve been enjoying over the last month at TaraSwiger.com/podcast260

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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.

(The usual disclaimer applies.)

What I read

Non-fiction:

Novels: 

What I was reading in May of last year, and 2017, 2016 and 2015.

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).

Find all the podcast episodes here.

259: How to be unapologetic

“Apologizing is keeping you small!” Learn more about how (and why!) to be your unapologetic self at TaraSwiger.com/podcast259

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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?

  1. 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.
  2. 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?
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

I hope this helps you live unapologetically. As a reminder, get the new e-course, at TaraSwiger.com/takecare.

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).

Find all the podcast episodes here.

 

258: You have impact

“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 will still think it’s not possible?” Read more at TaraSwiger.com/podcast258

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Who does your work have an impact on?

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?

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).

Find all the podcast episodes here.

257: The Myth of “Balance”

Strive as we might for work-life balance, the truth is balance is a myth. Learn more about what to do instead of find your work-life balance at TaraSwiger.com/podcast257

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How do you balance business and family? How do you balance alone time with together time? What if you just need to be alone to work on your business but you feel like you should be with your family? Today, I'm going to give you a super honest answer. Ya ready?

So let’s start by being honest about balance: it’s not real. Or at least, this ideal goal of work-life balance, where you’re always happy with how much time and energy you’re spending on each area of your life and it always feel balanced and equal – that ideal is not a goal worth pursuing, if it even is possible.

Why? Because life is full of curves and changes and YOU are not balanced. What you want is not balanced. When I talk to you about balance, what you tell me is that you want the projects you care about to get more energy. You want to feel like you’re connected with your partner and kids. You want to feel enthusiastic and in the flow with your work.

You don’t want to give 50% to family and 50% to work and then where is your self-care and FUN going to come in? You want to give 100% to your family when you’re with them. You want to have 100% energy to work on your dream, when you do it. You want to be 100% in on girls night or the novel you’re reading or the nap you’re taking. Right?

The goal isn’t to have everything perfectly balanced. And if you keep pursuing that as a goal, you’re always going to feel like you’re coming up short. I’m gonna suggest that your goal may be, instead, to be fully engaged and enthusiastic about most of what you’re doing with your day, and to have the time to spend on the things you care about.

But first you have to get really honest with yourself (just like we talked about last week). Take an assessment of your life – where are you spending your time and your energy?

Start by identifying the categories of activities: What takes up your actual time? If you’re not sure, track your time for a week – every hour write down what you’re doing.

I’m gonna share my list with you, but yours will be different of course:

  • Cleaning and life-admin (dishes, vacuuming, making meal list, talking to Jay about finances/parenting/etc, scheduling stuff, going to meetings)
  • Being a loving mom to the kids in my life (hanging out with past foster babes, hands-on care of new foster babes)
  • Loving partnership (anything with Jay that isn’t managing our life – we eat dinner together, talking about our day, going to movies, going on trips)
  • Work (podcast, doTERRA, IG, emails)
  • Reading and learning and entertainment (novels, non-fiction, listening to podcasts, watching biz trainings)
  • Joyful movement (walking, dancing, running, lifting)
  • Community (hanging out with friends and family, coffee dates, texting with friends)

In a life that feels full and enthusiastic and satisfying, I don’t want all of these things to take up the same 10%. I want to be fully present for them, when I’m doing them (well, life admin stuff can be distracted with listening to podcasts!) and when I’m not doing them, I want to let go of them.

For me, and a lot of you, the problem isn’t that I’m not doing what matters or that I’m doing the wrong stuff, it’s that I’m kinda always thinking about the other categories no matter what I’m in the middle of. For working moms, it may be that you’re thinking about your kid’s cough when you’re working. Or you’re thinking about your next IG post when you’re with your kid. And I’ll be honest. I don’t know how to stop that. I know that having boundaries around your time (like I talk about in my Time class, at TaraSwiger.com/time) can help keep everything from bleeding together and overwhelming you. But it’s also natural that you’re going to think of other things.

What helps me is to know: It’s ok, I HAVE TIME for that later, I don’t need to do it now. It’s having peace of mind that I do have time allotted for everything so I don’t have to keep obsessing over it right now, now is the time for X.

And this is how boundaries and deciding your day before you start it can really help. Yes, you’re still gonna be distracted by other stuff in your life, but knowing that you have time for both will really help.

After you took a look at your categories, look at where you’re spending your time. And then decide where you want to spend your time, not forever, just *this week*. What categories need some love and attention? When can you give them that? Block it off in your calendar, or put it on your priority list for that day. There’s a book Pick Three, where the idea is each day you don’t have to do everything, you can just get to three categories, and rotate the three you work on.

I don’t totally agree with that theory because you never really get a break from life admin and mom-ing and being in partnership. But you can decide which days or hours those categories will get your undivided attention. Like maybe Monday you are focused on work and life admin, whereas Saturday you take your family to the library and park and really PLAY with them or you go out to the movies with your friends.

Here’s the thing I hope you’re absorbing from this: There’s no way to do it “right” and for a lot of us driven Type A types, that’s SUPER annoying. We want to get it RIGHT. We want to spend the right amount of time with our family, we want to have the right amount of time for our business, we want to have a clean house).

But the awesome thing is: there’s no one right way…which means you can’t get it WRONG. You can only keep experimenting and figure out what works for you RIGHT NOW. What works for you this week? What does your family need? What does your life need? What does your business need THIS WEEK?

And guess what? You’ll have another week next week where you can shift your focus.

I know this is something a lot of you really struggle with, and that is getting in the way of you enjoying your business or life. If that’s you and if doing the exercise in this podcast still isn’t helping you bring a sense of enthusiasm and calm to your life, I highly recommend working with someone to help you through it, someone who can help you identify what you want to change and then hold you accountable for changing it. My friend Joeli Kelly is who I talk to and she is a certified life coach and has spots available now. This isn’t an ad, this is just a real-life recommendation. If you need more help with this, go to JoeliCreates.com to get an expert help. Tell her this episode sent you, so she’ll know how to help!

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).

Find all the podcast episodes here.

256: Time: there’s never enough

Between running a business and having a life, it feels like there’s never enough time for all the things you want to do. But what do when that’s the case? Learn how I handle having a list of things to do that is far too long to get done at TaraSwiger.com/podcast256

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When I asked on Instagram what the most-pressing issue in your business was, I got one answer over and over and over: TIME. Time to do everything you want, time to grow your business, time for a business after the day job, time to post regularly, there's just not enough time.

This week we're going to talk about how to have enough time, no matter the season of life you're in.

Before we get into today’s lesson, I want to tell you that I’m doing a free workshop answering your questions on how to use my favorite tool for motivation and productivity and feeling better: essential oils. You can sign up at TaraSwiger.com/eo.

If you are like most of my Instagram friends, you constantly feel there's never enough time. Just not enough! Between life, and family and maybe a day job, and growing a business, let alone adding the things you want to do – like exercise and reading and going out with friends – there's just never enough time!

And girl, I feel you. When we had the 2 year old and she was home with me 24/7 for a month with doctor appointments and social worker appointments, or after that, when we had to go to 3 visitations a week and getting her to school 3 days a week, it felt like I never had enough time. Especially to rest, take care of myself AND to get work done.

So, unlike naive Tara of the past, I'm not going to tell you it's just about prioritizing and finding the time for the things you really want to. I'm going to tell you that it's hard and that there's no easy answer.

I mean, I feel like I could end the podcast here. It's hard and there's no easy answer.

But… there are ways to work with the time that you have, to be MORE effective with the time you have. And there is a way to reframe the issue, that makes it all a little less hopeless. So let's dive in, knowing that there's no easy answer.

Start with honesty

The first thing we gotta do is a little tough love: Are you really being honest about the situation, you priorities, and your capabilities?

For example, for the first month Honey was with us, my priority was settling her into our life, it wasn't really working on my business. So that priority got my time and energy. And if I'm being honest about my capabilities and the situation, the fact is the first MONTH of being someone's mom is not really the time to try to be productive at work. In the US the average maternity leave is 6 weeks, but in Europe it's 6 months to 2 years. So I truly don't have the capability to figure out how to be effective with my time during my first months of motherhood, but it's not because I suck, it's because that's just how it works, for many women – we need the time to adjust.

Will I need the same amount of time to adjust to our next placement? I have no idea. Become someone's mother and getting them settled in your house, is the same no matter how many kids you've had, but maybe I'll be better at it because I'm more experienced? I have no idea! What I do know is that I need to give myself grace for not being immediately effective, and not instantaneously working out the perfect schedule that balances motherhood and work.

Your situation is different, but you also need to look at it honestly – what is TRULY your priority right now? If you have a sick partner or parent or you are struggling to heal, it's likely that your business isn't a priority. And that is OK. Go back and listen to episode 245 about Seasons in Your Business. It's ok to be in a season where you just can't spend as much time as you like on your business.

If you're feeling frustrated that you don't have the time to work on your business because you need and want to prioritize something else right now, I want to encourage you that you don't need more time, you need a mindset shift. You need to realize that you are CHOOSING something else right now and that it is the RIGHT thing for you. You are not being tossed about by the winds of fate, you are choosing. Just recognizing your own choice can be empowering, and can make you feel more capable of spending the time you do have more effectively.

Now, you might be wanting to argue and say – no, I didn't choose this situation! I didn't choose this! No, you might not have chosen the situation, but you are choosing to spend your time on it. You could choose NOT to spend time with a loved one that needs you. You could choose to cut people out of your lives, instead of allowing them to take up your precious life. But instead you're choosing love and kindness or care.

Or maybe you feel stuck in a situation you don't want to choose. Perhaps it a day job you hate, or your stuck doing things that someone else asked you to do, but you do not want to prioritize them. You have two options:

  1. You can choose to the see the reasons why this is the right decision for right now (ex. you need the day job money to fund the startup for your business. Elizabeth Gilbert calls this being your own patron. I did this for years as I started up and I highly recommend it. Having another income takes the stress of your business)
  2. You can say no and stop doing the things. If you truly don't want to be doing them, stop doing them. Sure, this might be a complicated process to extract yourself from, but you absolutely can.

You see, when we say we don't have enough time, I think what we really mean is “I don't like my choices and the necessary sacrifices”.

I get that, but…we have to live in reality.

Because of the space/time continuum you simply can't do everything all at once. So every decision to spend time on one thing means your sacrificing something else. That is just a fact. The sooner you come to embrace this and accept it and make decisions accordingly, the better you're going to feel. Will you be happy all the time with the available choices? No! But studies show that just by recognizing that you DO have choices, you'll be more empowered and will make better decisions.

That's the framework you need, the lens you need to be wearing when you look at your situation.

I want you to look at your situation again. Ask yourself the tough question:

What is my real, desired priority in this season?
What is my capability?
What choices am I actually making in each day?

This shows you your real-time priority – the things you actually do prioritize.

How do you spend your day? Is it on what matters to you?

Maybe you need to stop doing some things, maybe you need to quit some commitments.

And maybe you need to accept that right now, in this point in your life, you only have 2 hours a week to work on your business. Or you have 30 minute on your lunch break each day. That's not a bad thing. There isn't a “perfect” answer here.

If you feel like that's not enough, then you need to stop comparing yourself to what other people are doing. Stop looking at the girl who has 10 hours a day to style her instagram. Spend your time doing you work, not comparing it to other people.

So the first step is honesty, the second step is a reality-check (where are you actually spending your time) and the third step is acceptance and effectiveness.

You see, you can't focus on being more effective if you don't first accept your real life situation. If you keep making plans and lists for a 8 hr workday and you have a 1 hour workday while the kids nap, you're always going to end up disappointed and you'll feel behind and like you're never doing enough.

So accept the real workday you have and then work to be effective within that.

Use the time you have effectively

Now, I could talk for hours on how to be effective with your time, and guess what? I have already done that! I put my best tips for effectiveness, with a big workbook to apply to your own workday,  with 6 hours of professionally produced class on CreativeLIVE exactly on this topic! Go to TaraSwiger.com/time to take that class. It'll help you apply it to your own workday, to become more effective and productive with whatever size workday you have.

And if you’re issue is balancing the time you have? We’ll talk about that in next week’s episode.

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).

Find all the podcast episodes here.

255: What I’m reading: April 2019

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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.

(The usual disclaimer applies.)

What I read

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.

Non-fiction:

Novels:

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).

Find all the podcast episodes here.

254: How to plan in uncertain times

Running and growing a creative business smoothly depends on a fair amount of planning. But how can you plan for your business when something in your life is causing a lot of scheduling uncertainty. Learn more about how I do it, and the tips I have for you at TaraSwiger.com/podcast254

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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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.)
  4. 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.

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).

Find all the podcast episodes here.

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