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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.

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.

 

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.

252: Get your confidence back

Confidence generates forward momentum and forward momentum generates confidence. But what do you do when you don’t have confidence or momentum? Learn how to get your confidence back in your creative biz at TaraSwiger.com/podcast252

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I’m gonna be honest: For years I have been teaching about confidence, here on the podcast, at conferences. So I was surprised to find: I had totally lost my confidence. Today I’m going to share how I lost it and how I’m getting it back. Hopefully it will help you locate your own confidence.

First: What do I mean by confidence? Let’s define it here, because it’s easy to misunderstand. And I’ll be honest, I meet a lot of women who say they can’t move forward until they’re more confident and in my work, I’ve just found that’s not entirely true. You are probably confident ENOUGH to at least do SOMETHING.

So let’s define it: Confidence, in the terms I’m talking about, is what psychologists call self-efficacy – you have the power to do something. You believe you can do it and affect the outcome.

It’s NOT believing you can do EVERYTHING. You may be confident in your cooking, but not have confidence in your business. You may be confident in your writing, but not in public speaking.

Another thing: Being confident doesn’t mean you feel confident ALWAYS.
It is NOT feeling amazing all the time. Feeling like you can do anything, feeling totally fearless.

For more about what confidence is and isn’t, check out episode 126: What Confidence is and isn’t.

You probably have enough confidence about SOMETHING, to take it and apply it to your business. Even if you don’t feel amazing all the time, you can take the next step.

Here’s the thing: Confidence is a spectrum. You’re not “confident or not confident.” Some days your more confident than others. Your more confident in some areas than others. And depending on life, and business, and the results you’re getting, you may slide around the spectrum.

In my case, I entered adulthood pretty high on the confidence scale – I worked hard, I got good grades, I made stuff happen (like a scholarship and a happy marriage). I went through bouts of self-doubt, but I pretty much never lost my belief that if I REALLY wanted something, I could make it happen. I may be slightly delusional, but this delusion let me take action that made stuff happen.

And here’s the thing: I wasn't confident that everything would be great, I was confident that I would be ok. I was confident that I could try and still be OK. I was talking to a friend with a similar background and a successful business and she said – my definition of OK was very basic. As long as I wasn’t living at home again or in an abusive relationship, I was OK.

That’s what has led me to do everything I’ve ever done in my business – to start selling yarn on Etsy when Etsy was brand new, to quit my dayjob 10 years ago, to start helping other people with their business soon after, to publish two books, to encourage my husband to quit his day job, to start a new business – it all has been based in the core belief that I would be OK. So I may as well try, right?

Then, we were hit with disappointments: infertility (which has been bubbling away in the background for a decade), we weren’t able to buy the comic book shop, I suffered my longest ever bout of depression, we had two kids we LOVED leave our home.

While we had the foster kiddos, I took a step back from work. And when it was time to step back into work, I was plagued by the constant doubt: Can I even do this?

I think a lot of self-doubt came from the period of depression – it sucked away all sense of action, of ability, of efficacy. I physically felt like I couldn’t do anything all day, my brain was foggy and it was very hard to do anything mentally, and emotionally, well I mostly just cried or felt numb. So when I was feeling better and the depression lifted…my sense of self was beat up. The depressed Tara, who didn’t have physical, mental or emotional energy became real to me. I started to believe she was me.

At the same time, I knew she wasn’t. I knew Get-Things-Done, 6 Figure Business Tara was the real me, but when I would dream about plans and goals, I was trying to imagine Depressed Tara doing it and…I couldn’t imagine it.

The basis of my confidence (which had been “I’ll be OK no matter what”) switched to “But what if I can’t do it? What if it doesn’t work out?” That hard part is, I didn’t really know this happening. My first clue was back in September when a business friend said “Oh, I’m sure you’ll be at X goal next year!” and I was like “Maybe, I don’t know” and he was like, “Wait! That is not the Tara I know.” I went back to my room and cried because my friend was right. That is not the Tara I have been.

The next clue was just a few weeks ago, when I was at a conference and the speaker asked us to think about what we wanted to get from the experience, and I realized: I want to feel confident again. I did some journaling and I realized that it’s not that I need a better schedule or a different office, I just need to BELIEVE that things are possible again. That I can work towards my goal and whether I reach or not, I’ll be ok.

The good news: Once I realized it was the problem,  I know how to get it back. I have TAUGHT how to get it back!

I’ve shared all of my story of losing my confidence with you, in hopes that you may see some of yourself in it, that if you are feeling wobbly, you’ll recognize it. Now let’s talk about how to get it back (or get it for the first time).

The first part of this is knowing yourself. If you’ve been paying attention to how you work, what your strengths are, how you work best, you’ll have a better idea of what’s going on, if you paid attention when things were going well. So that’s the first step – build your confidence from who you are. Build it on your strengths. In other words, stop paying attention to who you WISH you were and what you wish you were like. That’s going to keep you in a self-doubt spiral of constant comparison.

How I am doing this: This may sound crazy, but I make a list of my strengths. What am I good at? What do I KNOW I can do?

The next step is to take care of yourself. You’re not going to feel good if you don’t have what you need. Part of this is eating, drinking enough water, sleeping enough, but it’s also filling up your inspiration well. For me this is listening to certain podcasts (I share them in episode 248) and reading books.

Confidence comes from action. DO something every day.

If you’re waiting around to do something until you feel confident, listen to episode 131: How to Take Action, without waiting around for more confidence.

Here’s the good news: you’re already DOING things every day. Really! So write down what you want to do (be easy on yourself!) and be sure you add things that “don't count” to your To Do list. Did you feed your child? Did you feed yourself? Did you get dressed? Brush your hair! Huzzah! You are accomplished!

How I am doing this: I noticed that when I just let myself rest and didn’t do anything (or rather, didn’t mark stuff off a list), I just felt worse. It made me feel like I couldn’t do things, so everything was so much harder to start doing, even after I felt better. (It’s harder to get started than it is to keep going). What I needed was to make myself do one thing, that had a real impact, every day. And most importantly, write it down, so I had the satisfaction of marketing it off. I had fallen so far off of my planning, that I started over with a new planner (You can watch a video about how that’s working for me here).

I started feeling better about my ability to do stuff, but there was still some stuff I wasn’t doing each week, stuff I put off for, seriously, over a month. The answer? An accountability partner with the very same goal and focus. We check in by 10am each day with a list of two things we’re going to do and again by 10pm to say if we’ve done it. Just knowing someone else is waiting to hear if I did it makes all the difference. A friend of mine is super strict about her partners – if you miss a time, or you don’t do what you said you would, you have three strikes. After three strikes, you lose your partner.

Celebrate

A huge part of confidence is remembering that you HAVE done awesome stuff and you WILL do awesome stuff again. Some suggestions for getting in that frame of mind:

  • Practice accepting compliments. Don’t follow-up up a compliment with all the reasons it’s not true.
  • Better yet, remember the compliments – put them in a folder, print them out, heck, someone on Instagram illustrated her compliments.
  • Tell your loved ones – “I need help remembering that I’ve done awesome things. Can you help?”
  • List all the things you've overcome.
  • List all the things you’ve accomplished.
  • Look at these lists as often as you need to!

I hope this helps you move forward in your business! Remember to take care of yourself, take action, and celebrate each tiny step.

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.

246: How to stop being hard on yourself

We can all be too hard on ourselves. But it doesn’t have to be that way, and it DOESN’T help you build a more successful or sustainable business. Learn more about how to change your negative self talk at TaraSwiger.com/podcast246

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Do you find yourself distracted with how you could have done something better? Or sidetracked thinking about the mistakes you made? Are you just too hard on yourself? Guess what? Me too!

Today I’m going to share how I’ve been working on: NOT being so hard on myself so I can move forward!

Now, most of us want to be better, right? We want to streamline, optimize, and improve all the time. That’s great and useful…but not when it comes with a dose of beating yourself over everything that needs to be improved and optimized. Not if you’re getting so bogged down in what’s “wrong” that you can’t shift into action.

This is on my mind because a  few days ago I posted on Instagram Stories, that I noticed that I am really hard on myself when it comes to basically every parenting interaction. I'm always thinking: Oh, I could have done that better…I should have reacted differently…Ugh, I wish I had stayed calmer.

(What sparked this conversation was how I feel about parenting decisions, but we’re going to talk about all aspects of life, and especially your business, so you don’t need to be a parent to learn something! I’m brand new at being a parent, and I think a lot of what I’m experiencing is how it feels to be brand-new and learning at ANYTHING. It certainly reflects the lessons I was learning as a brand-new businesswoman!)

When I posted on Instagram Stories I got a lot of replies to my question about being hard on myself and I want to talk about them with the whole community, because they represent two different ways to look at the issue.

First, let’s talk about what I mean about “being hard on myself”. What I’m talking about is when something happens or you make a choice and you think: I should have handled that better. I shouldn’t have done X. I should have done Y.

Now, that thought alone isn’t necessarily the problem. The problems come in when there is judgement (I’m bad because I did X), when there is intensity (OMG THAT WAS HORRIBLE) and when these thoughts are frequent (if you can’t move forward because you can’t let go of the “mistakes” you made).

For example, one of the parenting things I thought was a mistake, I could NOT let it go. For the whole day I go over and over the morning in my head: What happened? Why didn't I …? Why didn't I..? I should have…

(By the way, I want to mention that if you have intrusive or looping thoughts, talk to a therapist, you can get help.)

So that’s being hard on yourself, and for me it comes in the framework of my Generalized Anxiety Disorder, where my anxiety-brain runs away with itself.

When I posted about it I got two different kinds of replies:

  • Half the replies said: This is what motherhood is! Get used to always feeling not good enough!
  • And the other half of the replies said: here are some resources for negative self-talk. Whether it's challenging negative thoughts or learning to talk kinder to yourself.

And both of these are interesting because they show different perspectives. One says “this is how it always is” and the other says “you can change this”.

I know that part of what “get used to it” means is, I'm not alone. That this is a part of doing anything new, and it's a part of almost every aspect of a woman's life – this constant sense that you SHOULD be better, that you COULD do better and that it's your job to be the absolute best.

Our world is filled with messages telling us: eat better, manage your time better, improve your hair, eyes, waist, kids behavior. Earn more money. Buy better stuff. Tidy up the stuff you do buy.

I don't think any of us should just accept that we never feel good enough. I think we can accept that there are a lot of messages in the media and on Instagram, Pinterest, and even among friends that tell us NOT to feel good enough. Our world is filled with this message and then we reiterate these messages to ourselves…but I don't want to believe that it has to be like this forever, that I just need to resign myself to this mindset.

Although I know “you’re not alone, this is what it feels like” messages are meant to be encouraging, I just don't want to live like this. It's not sustainable (in this intensity.) Just because the world tells you that you need to be better doesn’t mean you need to tell YOURSELF that you need to be better.

So, I'm moving forward with the belief that it doesn't have to be like this.

Now the second set of responses were: challenge those negative thoughts!

And this was interesting because I was not even recognizing what I'm doing as negative thoughts. It feels more like…hmm, just a running commentary of what could be better. Almost positive like: you could improve it this way! This could be smoother next time! Optimize! Streamline! IMPROVE!

HOWEVER improving and optimizing CAN be helpful…but when the underlying message is “Not good enough! Not good enough!” …that's not helpful or beneficial.

I kept telling myself that these weren't negative thoughts, they were just kind of insistent. Like the messaging of my whole life combined with anxiety leads to insistent, pervasive sense of doom. And then I realized: Wait, if this is anxiety, I know what can help with anxiety: challenging those thoughts and rewriting them. This is known as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and studies show that it’s one of the most effective therapies at dealing anxiety and depression.

CBT has this concept of “cognitive distortions,” ways that you’re seeing the situation through a distortion. You recognize the distortion, then rewrite the thought without the distortion.

So I checked to see if this “you should be better at X” fits in with any of the cognitive traps. I used my Moodnotes app because it makes it super simple.

Here are the cognitive distortions that applied:

  • Negative filtering: Only seeing the bad
  • Downplaying positive: dismissing positive qualities by telling yourself they are unimportant or do not count
  • All or nothing thinking: it either went wonderfully or was a failure. You either have a relaxed and happy kid or you're failing at it all.
  • Blaming: Blaming myself for anything that happens, even stuff I can't control.

Do you see how these distortions can apply to your own “hard on yourself” thoughts?

Now, I shared all this in an Instagram Live (follow me so you don’t miss any! I’m @TaraSwiger) and my friend Joeli pointed out something big I had been missing. The thought that needs rewriting isn’t just “you should be better/you’re not enough” but the belief that I even made a mistake to begin with.

I’m assuming (wrongly) that any unwanted outcome (with my child or my business) is because of some mistake I made. The other way to look at this is that it's not a mistake. You can't control all outcomes through your actions alone. For example, maybe if you would have done more IG post about your new product, you would have sold 1 more. But maybe you wouldn't have. You can't assume you know the outcome and then beat yourself up over what you don't know.

The thought the rewrite with CBT: It was a mistake that I X.
The cognitive distortions: Fortune-telling, where you believe you know what would have happened.
A rewritten thought: I don't know that it was a mistake that I X. I can try something different next time.

Another thing that came up while talking about this with friends is…depression. Depression lies. It tells you: You suck. This will never be better. It is your fault it's not going better and there's nothing to be done/you can't fix it. Because you suck.

This is a cognitive distortion. And if you have clinical depression, just rewriting your thoughts might not be enough. You may need an intervention from a specialist. I'm telling you this not because you suck, but so you know: YOU CAN GET HELP FOR THIS. Start by going to your primary care physician, your family doctor, and explain what's going on. They can recommend a therapist or an intervention. If you have a therapist, tell them about this.

More than anything, I want you to know that you are not alone and it won't always be like this. If it's hard and you think it's because you suck, you don't have to just accept that truth. If you feel inundated with messages that tell you you're not enough, you're not alone. You can unsubscribe from or turn off some of those messages. You can start to notice when those messages come at you and challenge them right then. (Studies have found that one of the best ways to shift the negative effect of advertising on girls it to talk about what the advertisement is selling right when you see it. I bet this works on yourself as well. “Oh this ad is telling me that the whites of my eyes need to be whiter? It's coming up with another thing I need to fix about myself. Hmm, maybe the whites of my eyes are not as important as the love I show in my life?”).

If you are hard on yourself, you're not alone. Take a breath. Rewrite the thought.

I think you are doing an AMAZING job in your life. You are enough. I hope you continue your day knowing that you are enough and you get to be enthusiastic about your life and your business.

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.

235: Trust Yourself: A beginner’s guide

Trusting yourself is vital to building and running a thriving creative business. But isn’t something we’re ever really taught. Learn the basics of beginning to trust yourself at TaraSwiger.com/podcast235

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Trust yourself about what direction to go.
Trust yourself about who you want to work with.
Trust yourself about what product to make, to launch, to go all in on.

A key element to building a business you actually LOVE and that fulfills you, is to TRUST YOURSELF. But how can you trust yourself through all the imposter syndrome, self-doubt and perfectionism? That's what we'll talk about today.

Trusting yourself and relying on your own intuition and sense of what to do is vital in creating a business you actually enjoy being in, so today we're going to talk about how to trust yourself. Before we dive in, you should know that I actually have a whole book planned about this topic, so we can't cover everything in one episode, but my goal is to help you start to trust yourself more, TODAY, even a little.

By the way, that book I mentioned, I'm thinking about actually writing it, IF it's something you, the person I create for, really want. So if you want a book about learning to trust yourself, go tell me at TaraSwiger.com/newbook. If there's enough interest, and you sign up there, I'll tell you about it before anyone else.

First, lemme define what I mean by “Trusting Yourself” – I mean, rely on your own sense, your own intuition, your own desires vs what other people tell you. Those other people might be your family, friends, your culture. They might be “experts”, teachers, podcasters! Or it may be the indirect messages you’re picking up from other people, like when you compare your business or life to someone else’s.

What I mean by “trust yourself” is, simply this: Recognize that you have your own goals, dreams, daily life and that you have your own skills, abilities, strengths, personality. Then, take all of that, and make decisions that are honoring this, that are a good fit for your life, your desires, your strengths.

In other words, instead of trying to do things the way you feel you “should” do them or the way other people tell you to, do things, from your daily business to your big goals, in a way that is based on YOU. YOU are the standard, not other people.

I can hear you say, but Tara, I can’t trust myself – Imposter Syndrome! Self-doubt! Perfectionism! Self-sabotage! I can't trust myself because I:

  • Hold myself back
  • Doubt my intuition
  • Never think it's good enough
  • Keep messing up instead of moving forward.

I know, and all of those reasons are why you need to get better at trusting yourself.

You see, those self-doubting thoughts aren't the reason NOT to trust yourself, they're showing up because you don't trust yourself.

Why don't you trust yourself?

You haven't been taught to trust yourself. You haven't been told you're allowed to and you haven't been taught how to do it.

In fact, you've been fed a steady diet of “you're not good enough” your whole life. Even if your parents were the best, most encouraging parents all the time, you still got the message that you needed to be better from teachers, from a zillion magazine articles about how to be hotter, smaller, smarter, less hairy, whatever. Or you read books or listen to podcasts that tell you that you need better habits, better morning routine, better consistency in social media.

And you see, a lot of those messages aren't wrong – if you can't do addition, you DO need to get better at addition before your teacher gives you an A. If you aren't consistent on social media, you do want to, well, you need to get better.

But there's an important distinction. You can need to DO something better, more consistently, more successfully, but that doesn't mean you first need to BE better.

Think about how you'd explain it to a kid. Yes, you need to get better at math. But that doesn't mean you're not already a good enough kid. You have all the internal worthiness you need, in order to get better at math.

This is about growth mindset. You can listen to episode 49 if you have no idea what I mean about mindset, but the short version is: A fixed mindset says that you are what you are and you can only do what you're already good at. (Which means that if you can't do something, YOU suck). Growth mindset says that you can learn anything, grow and change. So if you can't do something, you just need to learn it. You are still worthy and good and capable. There's a whole book about the research around fixed vs growth mindset, it's called Mindset by Carol Dweck and I go into this more in episode 49.

So you see, if you've been taking all the messages your whole life that tell you how to improve, and have looking at them with a fixed mindset, then you're right – how the heck can you trust yourself? You have no idea what you're doing!

But if you realize that you are capable of growth and change, then it is ok to both be imperfect and to trust yourself.

Ok, so you can trust yourself, but SHOULD you?

First, we gotta acknowledge that trusting yourself is not a sure path to easy, failure-free success. There is no way to get success without some failures. There is no easy, sure path to reaching your dreams – not trusting yourself, not following someone else’s rules.

I need you to really absorb that. You will have setbacks, you will have failures, you will have bad days no matter which path you choose.

So much of our “which choice is best” comes down to us trying to avoid failure. And of course! Failure sucks!

But as my biz mentor, Liz, told me, “I think you just need to become MUCH more comfortable with rejection and failure.”

Whew, that’s kinda hard, huh? I talk more about rejection and how to get comfortable with it in episode 171.

That’s the thing – in order to have success, you have to accept that you will make mistakes, that some things won’t go well, that you may be wrong.

If you’re going to experience setbacks either way, you may as well trust yourself, because you’re going to be more aligned, and more centered during it all.

You see, if you follow someone else’s path, or you try to make other people happy, or you try to push yourself into someone else’s box…you’re going to be miserable AS you move towards your goals. It’s going to be that much harder.

But if you give yourself some grace, if you find a way to do it that works for you, if you go after your OWN goals and not someone else’s, you’re going to enjoy the process. And it’s ALL process.

The benefit: You’ll keep going longer. When you try to make your biz or life fit someone else’s ideal, you get burnt out and you quit sooner. But if you’re going about it in a way that fits you, that focuses on your strengths, that gives you enthusiasm and energy, you’re going to keep going with it.

And that is the difference between “capital F” Failure and some small failures on your way to success: How long you keep going. Remember my dad’s advice to me when I quit my dayjob “You haven’t failed until you’ve quit.” So if you can find a way to do it in away that feels good, you’ll keep going past what feels like failures, you’ll find your way to your goals.

How do you start trusting yourself?

Ok, now that you know you can trust yourself despite self-doubt, despite setbacks and failures, how do you do it? Well, like I said, this is a much deeper topic, if you want to learn more go sign up at taraswiger.com/newbook. But let’s hit on some of the steps and how you can start exploring them:

  1. Get clear about what YOU want. You want to be sure you’re working towards goals that matter to you and not just goals you think you “should” want. I help you do this in Map Your Business – we look at the really big picture, and then break it down into a doable goal and then the steps you’re going to take to get to that first goal. If you’re not clear about where you’re going, it’s going to feel impossible to trust yourself.
  2. Explore and accept who you really are. A lot of the feedback I get about trusting yourself comes back to: I want to be different. I want to be better. But honey, you have to accept and embrace who you are, you have to start to find the value and worth in that, so that you see how trustworthy you are. This can start by exploring your personality and your strengths. This includes knowing how you respond to expectations (which I cover in ep 61 about the 4 tendencies), what motivates you (check out the Enneagram), and what your strengths are (I really like the strengthsfinder test and system, it’s backed up by tons of research). I’ve taught a lot about the 4 tendencies but not as much the other systems I use, lemme know if you want me to do podcast episodes on strengths and the Enneagram.
  3. Look at all the ways you are trustworthy. Trusting yourself and listening to yourself is a skill that you’ll get better at the longer you do it. You’ll build that skill in part by proving to yourself that your trustworthy. Do this by celebrating your successes – make a list of what you’ve already done and accomplished in your whole life. Have you made a sale? Set up a shop? Made one product? Kept a baby alive? Graduated? Make a big list, and even focus on the smaller stuff, especially that stuff you listened to your gut about.
  4. Keep showing yourself trustworth by showing up for yourself and your goals, every day. Every day that you work on your goals, that you listen to yourself, is building the muscle.
  5. Tap into that inner voice. I do this through journaling, you can do it by asking yourself questions, by paying attention to your feelings, through prayer or yoga or any number of ways. Start to pay attention to what you feel about a situation and then listen to it. You can start small or big, but make a note when you’re listening to yourself and then be sure to note down what the outcome was. I have sooo many examples of how you can start small, lemme know if you want to learn more about it!

It’s my hope that you realize you can take your strengths, your experiences, your knowledge, your curiosity, and use it all to pursue your biggest dreams, to make it happen. I help people work through this and am diving deeper in some Starship-only resources this year, so if you’d like to learn more both about how to set goals, follow through, improve your marketing and do it all while trusting yourself, sign up to be notified when the Starship opens again at Taraswiger.com/starshipbiz.

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.

234: Six episodes you HAVE to listen to

Business can be overwhelming, and it can be easy to get sucked into endless archives of business podcasts and blogs. That’s why I pulled together my biggest and best episodes, together they form a foundation of business and life transformation. Listen in at TaraSwiger.com/podcast234

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Are you traveling or working for hours in the kitchen or just trying to escape family this week, for American Thanksgiving? Me too, so I thought this week we could take a look at the best of the past episodes. If you'd like me to keep you company during your holiday prep, you'd have plenty to listen to. These episodes will come in handy as you're wrapping up 2018 and planning for 2019. They are the most-downloaded, the most-shared, and the episodes more people tell me totally changed their business or their perspective.

Today I'm going to recap my biggest and best episodes, so those of you who have just found the show know which ones to go listen to, or those of you who have been around for a while can listen again and get reinspired. If you missed these, I really recommend you listen to them, as together they form a foundation of business and life transformation.

These six episodes are both the most-downloaded (each has over 2000 unique downloads) and the ones I truly love the most, which just reaffirmed for me that I should keep talking about what matters most to me, because it matters most to you too!

A quick note: In some of these episodes I talk about the Starship, which was totally overhauled this year and will be open again on Dec 27th. So if you want to learn what the Starship is now and be the first to be notified when it opens again, head to taraswiger.com/starshipbiz and just remember that what you hear me say in past episodes may have changed since then!

Just click on the header for each episode to find their audio, video and written transcription.

How to plan for what you really want in 2018

In this episode I walk you through the process of not just creating a checklist for yourself, but really focusing on what you WANT in your business and your life. It's just 13 minutes, so give it a listen here.

How to make a fresh start

This is one of my most-asked questions: How to you get back into business after a break? How can you make a totally fresh start after a bad year, or a bad week, or a bad review? Even if you've never met a goal before, you can start fresh TODAY, and that's what this episode walks you through. You can find it here.

Stop seeking approval

Here’s a dichotomy: You want to listen to your customers and your audience, to give them what they want, to create an awesome business. But yet, needing their approval has you frozen or afraid or feeling kinda needy. How do you balance this?

In episode 189, I break it down for you – how to unhook from needing approval, while still listening to important feedback. This was a HUGE business lesson for me in 2017 and this episode inspired more feedback than any other episode, you can listen in here.

Fear of disapproval, get over it

Right in line with not seeking approval, let's get over the fear of disapproval! Are you unsure of your next step, because you’re afraid of the reaction you’re going to get? Are you avoiding rejection, because you want to have the approval and acceptance of your customers and audience? Yeah, me too.

In this episode I teach you how to move beyond fear into ACTION, find it here.

How Emotions are Made

This was a really different episode, in it I shared the lessons from the book How Emotions are Made, by Lisa Feldmen Barrrett, PhD. It helped us understand how to keep emotions from screwing up your business or reacting rashly, by understanding how they're made. The author has done so much research on emotions and the brain and how emotions actually form. Realizing all the pieces that go into making an emotion, can help you understand how to work with your emotions. The big lesson, that emotions are “constructed, not automatic” shifted your perspective a lot, based on the feedback I got. Listen in here.

Stretch Goals

This episode was written in response to a question I got from the Starship: If Stretch Goals are good, how do you know what the right amount of stretch IS? How much is too much? What is ridiculous and what is a good kind of challenging? This episode helps you figure out if YOU are the kind of person who's motivated by a crazy goal or a doable goal and then helps you set some goals from there. Find that episode here.

Stand by your prices

This is the episode I refer people to most often, because we ALL struggle with what to say when someone asks us: Why does your thing cost so much? This is so so vital for the health of your business and your mental wellbeing. The more confidence you have when discussing your prices, the more sales you'll make. In this episode we talk about how you can get really confident and grounded in your prices, so you can share with confidence and make more sales. Listen to it here.

So there you go – the Top 6 episodes of the podcast, and the ones that will help you transform your business and your life in the coming year!

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.

 

233: Imposter Syndrome: How to stop it from stopping you

Imposter syndrome is something everyone struggles with at some point or another. It doesn’t mean anything is wrong with you, it just means you’re human! Learn how to recognize imposter syndrome and keep moving towards your dream biz anyway at TaraSwiger.com/podcast233

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What if I’m not good enough? What if they call me a fraud? What if everyone figures out I don’t know what I’m doing?

Hello, this is Imposter Syndrome and girl, we all deal with this all the time. So in this week’s episode we’re going to look at what it is, what it means, and how the heck to move past it.

Guess what? I’m 233 episodes and 4 years into this podcast and I still worry I’m not good enough. I got a bad review earlier in the week I’m recording this, my first ever, and I thought: Yes, they’re right, I’m not good enough.

Thankfully I thought through how I’d talk to a client about this and I realized, “Wait, hold up! This is imposter syndrome.” I hopped on Instagram and sure enough, you all feel this all the time. In fact, I did a little question pop-up on my Stories and got more responses to this than anything else I’ve ever asked. You guys told me you wanted to know: What the heck is it? Does it mean anything? And above all: What can we do to get over it?

I think Wikipedia actually explains this really well:

Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon, impostorism, fraud syndrome or the impostor experience) is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud”.[1] Despite external evidence of their competence, those experiencing this phenomenon remain convinced that they are frauds, and do not deserve all they have achieved. Individuals with impostorism incorrectly attribute their success to luck, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent than they perceive themselves to be.”

What does it mean when you feel it?

It means your human. That you are challenging yourself to do things beyond what you used to do, so you worry you’re not good enough, because you haven’t “proved” it to yourself and others yet. Or you have proved it and you’re just not giving yourself credit for it.

In other means, it doesn’t mean you should stop. It is not a “sign”.

How do you get rid of imposter syndrome? How do you deal with it?

  1. Recognize that you’re feeling it and that you’re not alone

First, you have to recognize it for what it is. This step alone can dramatically change the impact Imposter Syndrome has on you. Because by naming it, you realize it’s a way of thinking (that is very common!) and not FACT.

How can you start recognizing it?

Notice when you are backing away from something or stressing about something. Ask yourself – why am I afraid right now? What am I afraid others will say?

Then, say to yourself: It’s ok to feel this way, it’s ok to be afraid, I can do it anyway.

Just asking the question “why am I afraid” will often show you that you’re afraid of…

  • Someone calling you a fraud
  • Someone judging you
  • Not being good enough
  • Failing because you’re not good enough.

THAT is Imposter Syndrome.

In other words, it’s not necessarily true that you will be “found out’ or that you aren’t “good enough”, you are just afraid that you’re not good enough. There is a big gap between being actually bad at something and being judged to be bad at something.

Good news: JUST naming it can help reduce the effect of Imposter Syndrome!

An estimated 70% of people experience these impostor feelings at some point in their lives, according to an article published in the International Journal of Behavioral Science. So seriously, you are NOT alone.

In a 1978 paper, Pauline Clance and Suzzanne Imes first identified Imposterism, in their paper Imposter Phenomenon in High Achieving women (linked up below). They also found that “the realization that they were not the only ones who experienced these feelings” relieved the feelings. They concluded that “simply extracting the self-doubt before an event occurs helps eliminate the feelings of impostorism.”

In other words – recognize the feelings and realizing you’re not alone helps eliminate the feelings!

  1. Grow your self-worth

Do you minimize the value of what you’re great at?

Yeah, most of us do, because it comes easily to us, we think it doesn’t matter.
But it does. And if you devalue what you’re good at, you’re going to think you’re not worth much.

In times of high Imposter Syndrome, do a few things to boost your feeling of self-worth:
Start keeping a list of what you’re good at, what others compliment you for.
Keep a folder full of nice reviews/comments/etc
List all of the times you were new at something and succeeded.
List times you failed, but were fine anyhow.

  1. Reframe your reasons to intrinsic motivation

Researcher Queena Hoang found that moving your reasons for doing something from external motivation to internal motivation, lessened the Imposter Syndrome. She published her results in the paper The Impostor Phenomenon: Overcoming Internalized Barriers and Recognizing Achievements.

What does that mean? Change your reasons from “I have to do this” (external) to “I want to do this for me” (internal).

Some other examples:
“If I want this business to succeed, I need to keep going.”
“I know I can do it.”
“I am doing this for women everywhere.”

In fact, it’s this last one that helped me overcome my recent flash of Imposterism. I realized that if I let reviewers who don’t like my voice silence me, then I am telling all of you, the world at large that you should be silenced if people don't like you. Which is pretty much the opposite of what I believe. I believe everyone (and women and communities who have traditionally been silenced) should share their voice, their art, their expression, whether others approve of it or not. That we should not be silenced by the critics.

So next time Imposter Syndrome rears its head, look at what listening to it will communicate to your children, your friends, the world at large. Will you send the message that you have to be perfect before you can succeed? Will you communicate to our daughters that unless they have unshakable confidence they can’t go after their dreams?

Uh, no. So move forward, honey.

I hope these strategies help you overcome your Imposter Syndrome, but above all I want you to remember: You can feel like an imposter and do it anyway.

You don’t have to get rid of it completely, but learn to be able to act even when you do feel it.

Bibliography:

How to listen

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Find all the podcast episodes here.

230: Play Your Own Game

Comparing yourself to other businesses is a really easy trap to fall into. So is doing something “because someone else does it that way.” Learn how to play your OWN game and not fall into the comparison trap at TaraSwiger.com/podcast230

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Are you getting distracted by what other people are doing? By what you *should* be doing? Today let's go beyond the Comparison Trap and instead look even deeper at how to play your OWN game.

I think we all know a lot about how easy it is to fall into comparison, but I wanna challenge you today to go deeper. The question isn't just “am I comparing myself to others?” but “am I even playing the game I want to play?

A while back I was talking to Jay about our future comic book shop and he said, “{The other shop in town}, they are really good at X. Maybe my shop should get better at X.”

And I said, “But is that the game you want to play? Do you want to get good at selling X, or do you want to do something completely different? When you talk about what you love about the shop, you talk about making it inclusive, having the friendliest customer service, making it a place to spend time and feel like you belong no matter who you are. That's just a totally different game than what the other shop is doing.”
“Oh, you're right.”
(I love hearing that.)

I hear this from the makers I work with, all the time.

“She started classes and made a lot of money.”
“Do you want to teach?”
“Uh, no. “

“He said Facebook Lives have done wonders for his business.”
“Do you like to be on video?”
“Uh, no.”

You see, when you look at what other people are doing and compete on their grounds, you're playing their game.

And you're always going to lose someone else's game, because THEY set the rules. They are currently holding the world record for that game. (Or else you wouldn't be checking it out, right?)

Instead, play your OWN game.

What's your own game?

You set your own rules of what success is. You decide how to move towards that goal. You decide what “counts” and what doesn't. You decide what to measure and what to ignore.

Play the game you care about

Get as awesome as possible at what YOU love, not at what other people have success with. It will be WAY easier to go to work every day, and it will free you up to create something totally new.

This is one of the keys to standing out in your industry – do something that you most care about, in the way you really want to, no matter what is bringing other people success.

I shared a bit of this in a live video a few months ago, and a viewer said, “But people might not like you, if you do your own thing.”

I want to challenge that.

For starters, your people, the people you're serving and providing awesomeness for, they are LONGING for what you alone can offer. If you give them something no one else is doing, they are going to LOVE you. Adore you. Buy everything you make.

When you step up to being the best at your OWN game, there are going to be customers who love it.

Will everyone love it? Nope! But “everyone” doesn't love what you're doing now! Your job is not to create something everyone likes.

“Everyone” will never all love the same thing. (See: Coke vs Pepsi.) If you feel like “no one” likes what you're doing, go listen to the episode “Upgrade your Everyone.”

Your industry, your “competitors”, the people in your life who don't get it … they might not like it. They might not get it. They might think it's super strange, fringe, or inexplicable.

But that doesn't mean they don't like YOU.

Beyond that, it doesn't matter. Your business is not counting on everyone approving of it. It IS relying on some people to be so passionately enthusiastic about it that they can't wait to buy.

And that's only going to happen when you start offering something YOU are enthusiastic about, that shines out something only you could do.

So please, don't be troubled by anyone else. Play your own game.

What is your own game?

I don't know! But here are some things to ask to yourself: Am I doing this because everyone else is? Or because this is what I want to be great at?

  • Products you offer
  • How you offer it (subscriptions, one-offs, exclusives)
  • How you launch it
  • How you describe it
  • How you photograph it
  • Where it's sold
  • How much it costs
  • Who you serve

What do you think? What's the game you are playing?

P.S. The game I'm playing: providing you with enthusiasm and encouragement to become the best expert in your own business and life. If you know someone who needs to hear this, share it with them.

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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