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The Adventures

Every day is an adventure. I share the view, the gratitude and the news  on Fridays – you’re invited to join in. You can find all my adventures here, or follow along via email here.

The view

Crocus! #foundwhilerunning #signsofspring cc: @pennyshima
YAY! First full-sized daffodil! #signsofspring #foundwhilerunning
These tiny buttercups are suddenly everywhere, making today's 3.1 mi run FANTASTIC. #foundwhilerunning
I'm wondering if the Orchestra often gets people dancing in the aisles... #indigogirls
Forgot to share this yesterday! I think it's saying: This way for orange clovers? Regardless, it was a cold, breathless, 40 sec/mi-faster-than-usual 2.5 mi run. (Still embarrassingly slow) #foundwhilerunning

I am so grateful for…

  • Spring is springing! The daffodils, the redbuds, YAY!
  • A lovely evening at the symphony, with the Indigo Girls and my dear friend
  • Running, and the opportunity it gives me to watch spring unfold.
  • The Starship launch is going fabulously. Since I only do this 4 times a year, every time is a huge deal!

 

The Finds:

Check this out:

 Don't forget! 

The Starship is open for just one more week! Check it out here.

 

What were your adventures this week?  

 

Addition vs. Subtraction to transform your business

More from my goodbye to the Oceanside Pier yesterday, because pretty. (& running though CLT requires pretty).

Whenever we want to make a change, whether it's at the beginning of the year or just in the regular review of our business, it's tempting to focus on all the things we want to STOP doing. Wasting time on Twitter, eating so much cheese, obsessing over a Facebook status update. And even when you want to ADD something to your workday (regular writing habit, eating more greens, making more products), it's easy to turn your attention to what you'd need to give up in order to have more space for the new.

But here's what I learned while going vegan: It's easier to add than to subtract.
I know, it seems like being a vegan is all about what you don't eat: no meat, no cheese, no dairy, no eggs. Nothing that comes from an animal.

But that's not at all what the experience of being vegan is like – I never think about what I “can't” have (because I still have free will, I can eat whatever I want!) I instead plan my meals about what we do eat (and what we want to eat more of): greens, vegetables, whole grains, interesting flavors.

While we were making the shift, it was obvious to focus on what we didn't eat (we were already vegetarians for years (Jay since High School, I have been since reading this book) so all we were “giving up” is cheese + dairy) and try to replace that with soy cheeses, almond milk, and flax eggs. But we found it all became so much easier when we instead found meals that were naturally vegan: spaghetti! burritos! soups! The PPK (and Isa's glorious cookbooks) are full of recipes that don't try to mimic meaty, cheesy meals, but instead revel in the deliciousness of veggies, beans, grains, nuts and spices.

In other words, it's all about focus.

In your business this doubly true – you could focus on where you're “wasting” your time, or you could focus on spending your time on effective, transformative actions. There are definitely things you can (and maybe need to) stop doing – but the easiest way to spot them and stop doing them is to fill up your time with more potent actions. So instead of restricting your time on Twitter, focus on filling up that time with a new experiment. Add the new thing to your daily schedule and just work on making it a habit, instead of trying to get rid of “bad” habits.

It's a heckova lot more fun to add in good stuff than it is to limit the “bad” stuff. Instead of trying to clamp down on what you shouldn't do, you'll be focused on the change you're making with the stuff you WANT to do. It's also a lot more sustainable. You see, we have a finite amount of will to use each day – so don't use it on trying not to “waste time”. Instead, make the new thing you want to add a HABIT, so you don't have to think about it each time. How? Zen Habits has a great path for turning any new thing into a habit.

So what should you add?
Experiment!

Look for the areas of your business that can use improvement (like your marketing system) and figure out what you can ADD to make it more effective. It doesn't matter if you're just guessing – if you experiment with it for 1-3 months, you'll know for sure. And no experiment is a time waster, if you learn more about what works and doesn't work in your business. To learn from the experiment, be sure to follow up with a review and assessment...and then experiment with the next thing!

 

What do you want to add to your business? To your life? 

 

 

 

Three Questions to a business you love

businessyoulove

“When it’s time to make a decision about the growth of your business, what do you do?

Do you look at other people and their business models, advice, or classes? Do you look for a well-worn path? Do you despair at the glacial pace of your growth, in comparison to everyone else’s?

It can be hard to know what to do next. There are so many paths to success – getting more press, getting wholesale accounts, doing big craft shows, creating a popular Etsy shop.

But the key to growing your successful business (while continuing to love it) isn’t in any one of these paths.

The key to business happiness is to explore and define what you really want.

Read the rest of this post (& find the Three Questions) on Lucky Break! 

Want to explore a business you'll love?

Get the free How to Explore e-course!
You don't need to get more done, just more of what you love. 
Embrace your multitudes.
Get the help you need in your exploration aboard the Starship (closes Monday!)

 

The surprising connection between happiness + exploration

Happy to be back to my morning runs, even in drippy weather. (Also, #plankaday is up to :46) #zombierun

 

“Truly happy people seem to have an intuitive grasp of the fact that sustained happiness is not just about doing things that you like. It also requires growth and adventuring beyond the boundaries of your comfort zone. Happy people, are, simply put, curious.


Curiosity, it seems, is largely about exploration—often at the price of momentary happiness. Curious people generally accept the notion that while being uncomfortable and vulnerable is not an easy path, it is the most direct route to becoming stronger and wiser.”

What Happy People Do Differently, Psychology Today

 

I knew it! Science backs me up!

I developed Explore You (and the Exploration Party), because, after 4 years of self-employment and 7 years of biz-building, I have learned that my business (and well-being) thrives when I approach my business, my people, and my mission with curiosity. The more I explore, the faster I grow.

But, as this article points out – exploration is often uncomfortably vulnerable. It doesn't feel easy and carefree. It's awkward to try something new. There's an uncomfortable tension in Not Knowing. And when you add that to the vulnerability of putting something you care deeply about out there…well, it can all be a bit much.

How can this much discomfort be a good thing?

When you let go of thinking your business has to be One Way, you let go of the dream that someone else The One Answer. You know, the answer to life, the universe and everything. The answer that will tell you exactly what you should do next…to have a six figure business, and hundreds of thousands of subscribers and {fill in dream scenario here}.

When you get rid of that dream of someone else having the answer….you realize you have the power to find the answer.

You turn to what you've already learned about your business, your people and your products. You make decisions that will actually work for your business. You start to provide your people with what they really need and want. You start to create the work that only you can create.

Your business (and happiness) grows, because it's not mimicking someone else. It flourishes in totally new ways. It shines with it's own sparkle. It stands out in the crowded marketplace. You can stop competing and start collaborating with your fellow makers.

You become the expert in your business.
And that's pretty darn happy-inducing. Not just a momentary hit of social-media-approval-yay, but a long-lasting confidence that even if things aren't working out right now, you will figure it out. You have the skills, the knowledge and the curiosity to find the answer.
Now, this doesn't happen all at once, it's a process of continual exploration, experimenting and learning lessons from some failures (and successes!). But it is sustainable. You can keep exploring your work, your skills and your community forever, free of charge.

Best of all, you can start today.

Just look at one particular issue in your business and ask: What would I do if I was curious about this? How can I experiment with it? 

And then, share your story with the Party.

Need help exploring an sticky area of your business? We're going on a group Exploration next week! Start the adventure here.

 

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How to know what you want

Dinner was here.

Last week we talked about asking your spouse for support (and wow, did we talk about it! Thank you so much for sharing your stories on Twitter and via email! ). One of the things I heard over and over was that Step #1: Identify what you need and want is actually really hard to do. And I totally agree!

So, before you get the support you need (from anyone!), you have to know what you need…but if you don't know what you need…what do you do? Are you just stuck support-less and alone?

Um, yes. If you don't figure out what you need and ask for it clearly, you won't get what you need. Even from yourself!

(I know this sounds drastic, but think about it for a minute. If you don't know that you're hungry…do you remember to eat? If you don't know that your kid is cranky because they're tired, you don't know to give them a nap. Knowing what you need is central to communicating clearly in any area of life, business, or the universe.)

Now that we've established that this is pretty much the foundation of everything, let's talk about how you figure out what you need.

You explore. 

You pay attention to what you feel. You notice the cues. You experiment with doing it one way, and then another.

This sounds simple (and really, it is) but it requires that you look up from the everyday tasks of running your business (and life). It's too easy to get caught up with the Must Dos and ignore what all the Doing is actually accomplishing. Exploring (especially if it's new to you) might take a while of practiced effort to become the default. But soon, it's part of your daily life and you integrate the things you've learned from your explorations.

When you start exploring things, when you start noticing what you need and what's working, your relationship to your business (and maybe your spouse, kids and friends) changes. Instead of just powering (or flailing) through every day, you begin to see the big picture. You being to listen in to the lessons your business wants to teach you. Suddenly, you and your business are on the same team, and you're in sync with what it (and you) need.

To explore support

  1. Notice what feels really hard. Whether it's getting dinner on the table or your newest product launched – what feels just ridiculously undoable? What's the thing stressing you most right now?
  2. Pay attention the next time you do this thing – are you making it harder than it has to be? Is there a simpler way?
  3. Ask yourself – Do I have to do this? Do I have to do this? Can anyone do it? 
  4. If someone else can do it (or a part of it) – identify who this person might be
  5. Ask them for help! (Use the suggestions here.)

 

A little more about exploring

We've been talking about exploring your business for years. We've covered a lot of the elements (trusting yourself, permission, confidence, experiments) and we've explored a lot of individual areas of your business (blogging, profit, marketing, pricing, people). But in the past year, I felt something was lacking.  I want to explore EVERYTHING. I want you to, at any time, be able to explore ANYTHING. I want to create an apply-it-to-anything system for exploring in an easy-to-integrate way.

 That's the beauty of exploring! You can explore anything. You can do it whenever and to whatever. You can explore your shipping system, your blog-writing, your photography, your customer intake process. Whatever isn't working (or is just a total mystery to you) – you can explore! Without waiting for anyone to teach a class on it – you can learn what works for YOU and that's so much more effective than learning what someone else does!

Let's do it! Let's Explore YOUR biggest problem!

After more than a year of planning and writing and practicing on the Starship, I've finally done it – I collected the best bits of explorations and put them together into a system for you to use to explore anything! I'll share my favorite Exploration Tools, tips and tricks for changing the relationship you have with your business. You'll have a chance to ask me any of your questions, meet fellow explorers and become more adventurous in a gentle, loving environment.

You can join this exploration right here!

The Adventures

Every week is an adventure. I share my adventures via images + notes, and you're invited to join in.
You can find all my adventures here, or follow along via email here.

 

Pro-tip: put a cookie sheet under your cobbler so when it (inevitably) boils over, you don't scorch strawberry juice in your oven. #oops #yum #vegan
This is happening! Strawberry rhubarb pie!Driving little bro to the airport, knitting @ttldesigns Stacatto. #carknitting #brothersisteradventureIntrovert Recovery Day a rousing, lazy success: painting, reading, cleaning, chili-cooking, pie-making, and now there's a kitten on my belly and a dog at my feet.

Adventure Notes

  • This pie was delicious. I didn't have a pie crust made, so I left it crustless…and it was delightful.
  • I just started knitting Staccato, and several knitters have commented they want to join me. Let's have an impromptu knit-along! Just weet/Instagram with the hashtag #staccatoKAL to share your pictures + progress. You can see the yarns I'm using on Ravelry.
    • MONDAY is my birthday! Yay!

Some very generous friends wanted to send gifts…only to realize that my address isn't anywhere. If you want it, just ask.

 

How to decide if you should buy a class or book

How to decide if you should buy a class or a book

I've spent the last 24 hours thinking and talking about how to know if something is right for you, where you are, with the business you have. You see, yesterday I opened the Starship to new members, and I've welcomed in three new members and heard from quite a few more. Our conversations have me reflecting on how I make these decisions in my own business, and how anyone knows that anything is the “right” for them. I have a few questions I ask myself before buying, whether it's a $25 guide or a $500 year-long adventure.

Do I know and like the person?

Does this person show up regularly and with integrity? Especially in a class, the way I feel about the person is going to impact my ability to learn. If you don't like who the teacher is, as a person, you're not going to trust the information they have and will spend time second-guessing everything. You learn better from someone you deeply trust. Also, if this is going to take longer than an hour, you want to like the person's voice and style, and look forward to spending time with them. (This is why it's so easy to buy anything Sarah or Diane makes – I want to hang out with them as much as possible.)

 Does it provide the structure that I need?

For me, this means something more than a simple PDF download. I learn best if the information is chunked up and delivered in pieces, and has some kind of accountability built in. The entire reason I joined Up & Running is that I needed a training plan and accountability on the regular.
But of course, not everyone learns in the same way, so this is something I've tested endlessly in the Starship. Sure, I've got great info on profitability or finding your customers, but how can I share that information in a way that results in real changes for the captains? The last 2 years have taught me that the best results come from apply-it-to-your-own business worksheets, regular emails that move you through the material, and then weekly and monthly check-ins with other explorers who are doing the same. It's a combination of question-asking and accountability-providing. This not only teaches information, it also keeps the regular movement of your business from where it is to where you want it to go. It makes big goals more reach-able and dreams more do-able

Does it fit with my immediate goals?

Is this thing aimed at what I'm working on right now? Even if the class has fantastic information, if it's not information I can use right now, I resist it.
Why? Because otherwise it will be a distraction from what I'm working on and I'll be frustrated that I can't put what I learned to work right away. (This is why we spend the first week of each quarter in the Starship setting individual goals and mapping out a path – so that you spend your time in the Starship working on your goals and avoid distraction.)

Does it fit in my long-term vision?

Is this going to help me build the kind of business I want to own next year and the year after that? Is this going to distract me by thinking about something short-term?
And the really hard question: Is this going to help me become the kind of person I want to be? Or encourage me to focus on being someone else.

This question is so hard to answer, but vital. There are super-compelling classes, books, and adventures that look fantastic. But if they don't promote my core values, or encourage me to be me, then I know they're not for me. Of course, the first step is to know what you value and define them, so that you can spot them (or their lack) in an offering. The values I look for in a class or book are exploration (trying and experimenting vs. certainty that THIS is the one true way), personal responsibility, sustainability (valuing the long-term over the short-term, conserving resources), and self-knowledge.  This reflects my business ethics and ensures I spend my time in integrity.

 

What do you ask yourself before you buy a class or book?

The Adventures

Every week is an adventure and this is the view, the path and the finds that made this one special. You can follow all my adventures here.

The view

Your nightly Andre. #kittyyawn #omgadorbs

Kitty yawn!

My newly-knit hat is a liiiitle more rasta than I had planned. #butperfectlypink
Finished a new hat!

3 hours later...the ginormous   wholesale order is packed!
A finished wholesale order

Snuggled in.
Snuggling with my handmade throw

My first-ever knitting student, now 13 yrs old, brought me llama yarn she spun after borrowing my carder. #awesome
Spun by my 13 year old knitting student (she carded and spun the yarn from a local llama!)

The path

  • This week's email (How to not get bummed about the internet) really struck a chord and the replies have been flooding my inbox in a wave of solidarity. If you've been feeling down in comparison to everyone's apparent success, read it.

 

  • Budgets + Boundaries, my advice-column-y take on the tricky issue of your business money + your family, on OhMyHandmade. It sparked deep + sweet conversations during the live chat. I'm always open to chatting about this, so if you need a sounding board, don't hesitate to write. (I might be the only person in the world that really loves my inbox. Don't be shy!)

 

  • The ladies at Create Hype interviewed me! You can read the truth about fear (uh, yeah, I have it!) here.

 

The finds

“Sometimes we set out to do something, like write a novel, and we fail at writing that particular novel. But in the process of failing at that novel, we can actually succeed at writing another.”

-Wil Wheaton, in this awesome post on failure.  (Thanks to Kim's newsletter for the link!)

(This is doubly true for business. You might start to sell one thing, and have one kind of business and decide to change your mind (500 times). While you've “failed” to do the first business, that process created your better idea)

 

This is a beautifully honest post by Diane. Please read the whole thing.

Thanks to Alex for sharing ReciteThis. With it, I made this in about 30 seconds:

explore. dream. beam

 

What was your adventure this week?

Get comfortable, be an explorer

beanexplorer

We've been talking about money lately. And money-talk can be…uncomfortable. Talking about hard times, slow learning and real numbers opens yourself up to judgement…even if it's just from yourself.
And that's why it's so important to be an explorer.

Before we get into your numbers and profit, let's talk more about exploring and how it can help us get in the right space to do this work:

 

 

This exploring is what we'll be doing in PayYourself. If you're ready to explore your profit margins and build on what's working, join us here. (Class starts on Monday, and that's the last day you can join. No, I won't be holding it again.)

What are you exploring now? What could use some gentle curiosity?

Trust. Adventure. Explore. Beam. Boldly.

After working through Leonie's yearly workbook and finishing the Captain's Log (a new workbook/journal/stay-on-track-er that we'll be using in the Starship all year), I'm practically glowing with gratitude for 2012 and hope for the coming year. My favorite part is seeing how the disparate pieces fit together to create some overall themes and lessons.

 

2011 was the year of Yes.

Last year I wrote that I had learned (from 2011!) that saying yes even when I'm afraid led to amazingness. I practiced this consciously in 2012, saying yes to: a book party (and my first live-speaking thing…ever!); my first live workshop; following my enthusiasm; feeling good; creating what I longed to create.

Tara Swiger teaching marketing in Seattle

 

2012 was the year of Trust.

The thing with saying Yes? It involves a heckova lot of trust. Trust that you'll figure it out. Trust that it's all going to be ok. Trust that you've done your best, and now you need to let go. Trust that you're enough. Trust that connecting is more fulfilling and profitable than closing up.

Connection is Everything.

 

 

2012 was the year of Enthusiasm.

Saying yes to my enthusiasm is something I learned this year from reading Sarah J. and idea-partnering with Kelly P. I followed my enthusiasm towards Project Life, quilting, embroidery, writing on new topics and finally, finally finding the balance between creativity and work in my daily life.

Mother in law quilt. Finished!

 

2012 was the year of Adventure.

Oh the adventures!
Publishing: writing, writing, writing, thousands and thousands of words every day;  working with Shannon on the cover, title, layout; the endless tiny changes; and then! the release day! The lovely reviews, thrilling book party, guest posts, interviews, giveaways; and then! A royalty check! The magic!

Traveling: San Diego, Charleston, Boston, San Diego (again), Seattle, Asheville, Nashville, Knoxville for dates with a new baby and old friend, the heart-breakingly beautiful Oregon coast, the redwoods, the campfire pancakes.
Hello Redwoods.

Writing: Yes, the book, of course, the book! But I also wrote an three email mini-courses (one of them is free, here), a book read-along guide, a class (and then workbook) on blogging effectively, an all-new Holiday Sanity Guide, the Captain's Log, and the truest, most enthusiastic blog posts in my 10 year blogging life. And for the first time, writing came easy, it was a part of my life and my world and the very way I live in the world. And it's always, always an adventure.

I really am.

 

And with these lessons, with trust and enthusiasm and adventure, I turn towards 2013, the year to…

Explore

hot air balloon

While I have fewer “traditional” explorations scheduled (I'll be traveling much less), the close-to-home approach is giving me a chance to explore deeply. Home, new projects, researching what works for others, experimenting with what works for me…all of it is about exploring. I don't know what exactly it'll mean (yet), but here's what I do know:

  • Last June I sat down at the beach and outlined a whole new class – the title: Explore You. Obviously, now's the time for it.
  • There's so much I don't know, but so much new info I close myself off from, to avoid overwhelm. Explore gives me the frame to learn more, and be open, in a focused, healthy way.
  • I've started listing Things To Explore, and think I'll pick a new one each month.

 

 

Beam

Beam. Explore. The words of 2013. (So far. Life tends to show up with her own ideas.) cc: @leonie_dawson
I don't really get this one yet, but it came to me, strong and true and..Yes, Ok, BEAM. Here's what I know about it so far:

  • It's my job to not just shine my little light, but to make sure it beams.
  • Tractor beam, sunbeam, beaming beacon, a lighthouse beams into the darkness, beaming smiles
  • A light beams when: it's not gunked up with stuff, it is focused in one spot.

 

Join me. What was 2012 the year of? And what will 2013 hold?

 

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This is one of the (over 45 pages of) exercises in the Captain's Log. If you'd like to get support (and practical dream-reaching), beam aboard the Starship. It closes to new members tomorrow.

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