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enthusiasm

305: Finding Enthusiasm in Uncertainty

How do you find joy and enthusiasm for anything when everything is turned upside down? That’s what I’ve been thinking about this past week. 

As you know if you’ve been listening for a while, my fundamental business belief, what shapes everything I do and how i work with makers and designers, is that your business will thrive and YOU will feel best about it when you follow your enthusiasm. What do I mean by enthusiasm? I like the definition:  intense or eager enjoyment or interest.

You can follow your enthusiasm IN your business, by working on projects you love, letting go of expectations about what you “should” do, working with the kind of clients that you prefer. You can follow your enthusiasm outside of your business by allowing yourself to work on non-business projects and filling up your enthusiasm well with things that seem completely unrelated (for me lately it’s reading, and making bookish videos, which you can find on YouTube. Other times it’s been quilting or knitting). 

But with everything uncertain and stressful and all the change…how do we find any enthusiasm? 

 

I don’t know about your COVID situation, but mine is full of…obligation and responsibility.
Basically, we’re all having to do a lot of things we don’t want to do, or that we’re not prepared to do, or that are just hard. 

On top of that, you have your business – maybe it is doing just fine, maybe it has lost some of it’s sales channels, maybe you’ve lost all your working hours, when you would work on it. 

So does the idea of enthusiasm and joy really have a place in our current situation?

In my experience, yes. 

Not because things aren’t hard or we’re going to pretend everything is great. But because now, more than ever, you need to take care of your best business resource, and your family’s most important resource – your well-being. A key ingredient to your mental and emotional well-being is doing things that are just fun. That you get excited about, that brings you joy, or just interests you. 

But how do you tap into that enthusiasm?

I have a few suggestions. Not all of them are going to work for you, but I want to challenge you to try each of them, until you feel some spark of joy or even interest:

 

 

  • Start with the mental health checklist.
    I shared this in episode 285  You can listen in the that episode for the full list and explanation. The short version is – there are some easy things you can do every day that studies show are the most effective at maintaining mental well-being. Do them daily, even when you feel low or overwhelmed and you’ll feel a bit more human.

    • Wash your hands and face (good advice right now!)
    • Wake up at the same time everyday (really important for managing depression),
    • Take your vitamins and meds
    • Move your body
    • Say No when you need to.  
  • Do a thing that used to bring you a lot of joy, that is completely useless. When I say useless, this isn’t a judgement – I mean anything that doesn’t directly benefit anyone but you. There’s this pressure now (maybe always) to be using this time to very useful – to bake bread, to sew face masks, to educate our children 8 hours a day, to start that project you’ve been meaning to start or finish that project that you never found time for.
    I want to challenge you to do something OTHER than all that, just for the joy of it, for like 20 minutes. This might be video games or reading a novel or sewing or knitting (something not for your business) or painting or baking or yoga or talking on the phone with your friends.
    For me this is reading novels (Check out my YouTube channel for videos on what I’m reading lately) and playing legos and printing my photos.

 

 

  • Play a game.
    Not because your kids want to or to spend “quality” time, but just for the fun of it. It could be video games (I am loving Animal Crossing!), a phone game (Two Dots!), a card game (we’re trying out Uno with the kids) or a board game (we like Catan for the whole family).

 

  • Go outside.
    We got this $10 chairs for the porch and they are the best investment. Even if it’s for 10 minutes, being outside with a blue sky and listening to the birds chirp or watching the squirrels run around is the best thing ever.
    If art relaxes you, get a $5 box of chalk and draw over every surface you have access to for 5 minutes.  
  • Dance Party.
    Blast your favorite music and dance. Alone or together, this is my #1 mood booster, yet I’m always forgetting to do it.
    If dancing isn’t an option or your favorite music isn’t very danceable (Alanis Morisette’s Jagged Little Pill), so I highly recommend you look up old music videos from your favorite bands when you were a teenager. This has brought Jay and I HOURS of delight in the last month, and explaining MTV to the kids is….challenging.  
  • Watch YouTube videos or listen to podcasts about things you’ve wanted to learn about.
    Not because “now you have the time”, but because learning is a great way of sparking some enthusiasm for other things you have to do. Learning new things is inspiring, even when it’s hard.  
  • Make time to listen to podcasts or watch YouTube videos.
    Not even to learn, just for fun. If you have a favorite show on any platform – make sure you’re making time for it. For me, this is slightly different than watching a TV show, because the podcasts and videos are made by real people – living their real lives right now. It’s not slicked and produced – it’s more like connecting with friends. 

 

This all comes back to mental health.
You’ll notice that all the things I listed aren’t hard, but they are all somewhat challenging. The reason is that studies show that having too much completely passive consuming time is not actually restorative to our wellbeing. Yes, by all means, binge on your favorite shows and movies – but don’t count on that as your only form of rest. (One way that a show or movie can also be inspiring is if you create fan art from it, or go on a deep dive to research it or an aspect of it.) 

This can all be boiled down to one word – PLAY.
When things are hard and there is stress and responsibility, just make sure you have some time to play and be playful every day. 

I want to be clear – there’s no judgement in whatever you’re doing right now to survive. Most days I’m feeling good if I can just follow through with the mental health checklist and do ONE thing off this list. When I was sick for a week, I did absolutely nothing. And that’s ok. You’ll bounce back. Your family will bounce back. 

We will bounce back. 

In the meantime, I hope this helps you find a spark of enthusiasm and joy in your day and that you can carry that through all the other things you have to do. 

 

 

 

269: Be Yourself (rebroadcast)

Being yourself isn’t always easy, but it is always possible. Learn how to be yourself even when you’re a nervous wreck at TaraSwiger.com/podcast269

In today’s rebroadcast I share the biggest lesson of my biggest gig to date – I taught a three day class at CreativeLive, about creating your best marketing plan. I completely forgot to mention how to GET that class, so here’s the link! Oh, and the lesson I learned: How to be myself.

In today's episode, I'll share how the heck I figured out how to Be Myself, and how it totally changed the way I think about things.

How to Be Yourself (even when you're a nervous wreck.)

  1. Get clear on what you love.
  2. Show up and be present.
  3. Decide connection matters.

How are you being yourself in your business (and life?) How are you hiding yourself?

Links mentioned in today's podcast

Be sure to share that you’re listening by using the hashtag #exploreyourenthusiasm on Instagram and follow my Stories and vlog for the most up-to-date info during my hiatus!

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.

The Secret Power of Craft Shows

The Power of Craft shows

Craft shows changed my life.

(I didn't know it until I started writing this post, but as I started to trace the roots of what I do today, I realized that's where it all started.)

Last weekend I sold my yarn for the first time in over a year (I put my yarn business on hold when I could no longer get packages out on time, thanks to traveling to teach. This weekend I was back in the game with a few skeins of my yarn (and my mom's sheep's fiber). Preparing for the show and helping my pal Misty think through the process brought it all back in a rush.

Even though I help Starshippers get prepared for their first shows (and 50th shows) every month, I had forgotten what it was like to be in it.
To be worried you don't have enough.
To do late night, last-minute labeling.
To get nervous about people seeing your work.

So, to calm my nerves, I searched my own site for advice (the major benefit of having a blog!). And sure enough I found it.

In 2008 (that's 6 years ago!), I wrote about my first craft show here, in 5 1/2 Shocking Facts about Craft Shows.

“You don’t have to (and probably can’t) fake enthusiasm.”

A month later, I wrote about my next show, with even more lessons:

“Be prepared to answer the “Can you make this in ***” question. Know how long it would take you and how you’ll handle payment for a custom order. If you don’t want to do custom, come up with a nice way of saying no, so you’re not taken by surprise in the moment.”

One year later, I wrote about the Pain of Craft Shows:

” I do craft shows because it’s the one place, the one situation in which being a full-time yarnie feels good, normal, accepted. The people get me. They get my yarn. It’s a place to be me: handknit clothes, stripey knee-socks, pink-haired, yarn-making me.”

Two years after that first post and my first show, I wrote this: “That feeling hasn’t faded in the last 2 years of doing shows; in fact, it’s only grown stronger.”

It occurred to me, in reading through these posts that this where I really got clear on the power of following my enthusiasm. This is where I learned that it is OK to be weird, pink-haired, wonky me. Those first shows, while I still worked in a boring office in black slacks, were the first taste I had (maybe ever?) of being myself out loud and connecting with people as that true self. Once you get a taste of that, you can start to imagine the possibility of being yourself, expressing yourself, like … all the time.

And this taste, this experience totally transformed my life. (Very, very slowly.)
For me this meant making more yarn, doing more shows, and connecting with people in the maker community. That led to me spending my days writing, talking, and helping other makers bring more of themselves into their businesses, to craft a life they really want.

 

But for you, the path will be different. It will lead you in different directions. You can start to express yourself more in how you dress, how you tell the truth and how you embrace all your weird bits.

I totally haven't figured it out yet, and I'm certainly not comfortable being myself all the time, but it's a process. You can kick-start the process by choosing to do things you're enthusiastic about, by doing more of what makes you feel like yourself, and by letting those experiences transform you.

 

Whether it's craft shows, or making your art, or just starting to take your enthusiasm more seriously — it could change your life.

PS. I made a class sharing everything I knew about craft shows 4 years ago. Currently it's only available in the Starship, but I hope to refresh it and offer it again in 2015. Sign up here to get notified when it's ready.

Enthusiasm, again {PODCAST}

More Enthusiasm

In the second episode we talked about why you should explore your enthusiasm, what it can add to your business (and life!) and how it works to keep you motivated. But I feel like my commitment to enthusiasm (and that of my clients) has been tested this month and I wanted to share it with you, in case you're also questioning your enthusiasm.

This week, I'm sharing some stories of creative business ladies following their enthusiasm, both myself and my clients, in the hopes that it helps you on your journey.

 

What are you enthusiastic about right now? How could you act on it in a small, do-able way?

What's stopping you?

Links mentioned:

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.

 

Podcast: Enthusiasm – your business needs it

Why your business needs your enthusiasm, on TaraSwiger.com

Welcome to the second episode of Explore Your Enthusiasm! 

This week we're talking about ENTHUSIASM. It's right there in the name of the podcast + it's a vital tool in a sustainable business. We'll cover why it matters, what to do when you don't have any, how you can learn from your craft, and how to make even the most boring tasks more fun. I also share a bit about my own crafting funks, some burn-out horror stories and what I've learned when I follow the enthusiasm in my own business.

Links mentioned in the podcasts

How to listen

Your turn!

How do you follow your enthusiasm in your business? What have you learned?
If you're feeling burned out or bored, how are you going to start experimenting with your enthusiasm?

 

 

Enthusiasm as your business planner

This post is part of The Declaration of You's Tour, which I was honored to be invited to. Learn more — and join in — by clicking here. Although I haven't read the book (yet), I'm a big fan of Jessica Swift's work…and I always like talking about enthusiasm, so I was thrilled to accept the invitation.

All dressed up for an afternoon in Asheville, waiting for my date. #colorful #windy #birthdayadventure

 

The other day I was writing in my journal, trying to answer a conundrum in my business, when the following popped out:

What if the “right” thing to do for your business is to find your own way? What if the path to success is in finding your own path?

This would mean, your #1 business priority is….you. Your gifts Your passions. Your enthusiasm.

Your sole responsibility: Show up, every day, to your enthusiasm.

I write about this all the time, but it's so easy to forget, or doubt. We think we have to do more.
You worry that you have to pushpushpush to get it going. Because it's true that business is hard work. But it's not hard someone-else-told-me-to work. The hard work can be based on what you want, and where you're going.

When it is, the hard work streams directly from your enthusiasm. Your to-do list is full of things that you put there, because you want them done.

We lose this, when we think we don't get to have what we want until we “make it.” We think we have to follow the rules, compare our work to others, strive strive strive before we get to have what we're after: freedom, love, comfort.

But you don't have to wait.
You can experience that before you've got your dream business. You can have it while you build your business.

The trick?
Following your enthusiasm, at every step. Don't let other people's awesomeness distract you. Don't let anyone tell you what has to go on your list, but you. Don't even let your own ideas for how it “has to be” derail you.

Following your enthusiasm is simple, but hard to remember. Here's my own self-prescribed plan:

Define (and regularly redefine) what it is you really want, what you're really after. (Is it really the money…or what you'll do with the money? The press…or what the press will mean to you?) Put the real things, the experiences and feelings you truly want, at the top of your priorities.

Map out the steps to getting the things that are get-able, making sure that you're not adding in steps that don't have to be there. Or, just let it flow, and pay attention when it shows up before you thought it would. (ie., you can't map joy, but you can notice it everyday. You can map out income goals.)

Get up each day, and work on the things you're enthusiastic about.

Check in regularlyis this what I want? Am I feeling what I want right now? Note if the things you're enthusiastic about every day line up with the steps on your map. If they never line up, reassess your priorities and the things you're mapping towards.

Your enthusiasm is the best guide towards the business you'll actually enjoy being inside of.Trust it. Listen to it.

What are you most enthuastic about today?

 


Have a hard time talking about your most enthusiastic work? Join us for a 3 day word-finding adventure, that uses your favorite images to inspire your words.