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294: What’s holding you back?

What’s holding you back in your creative biz? Even though the answer is totally different for each of us, there are also a TON of similarities. Learn how to overcome what’s holding you back in your biz at TaraSwiger.com/podcast294

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What’s holding you back?

What is keeping you from achieving a profitable, sustainable business that you feel confident in? What is keeping you from working towards your goals every week?

We’ve been working on reaching your sales goal, all month. To hear episodes about increasing and sustaining your sales, tune in to episodes 292 & 293. After those episodes, I debated over what to cover next and then I realized: what’s keeping you from your goal is different for everyone. You have your own roadblock, so let’s talk about and work through it!

One of the questions I ask everyone when they join my free FB group (are you a member yet?) is, “When it comes to your business being profitable AND doable, what do you think is standing in your way?”

So today that’s what we’re going to talk about: the things that are standing in your way. And next week, we’ll talk more about how to get out of your own way.

It’s my hope that hearing what’s holding others back will help you recognize what’s holding you back, what is standing in your way.

So what is holding MOST handmade business back?

The answers I get most often:

Focus – I just can’t seem to work on what matters, I keep getting distracted!
Time – I don’t have enough time or I’m not using my time effectively (focus!)
Self-doubt or confidence – I doubt myself and so don’t act. If I were more confident I would act
Fear – most people who write this answer don’t give any more details… so I have to guess – are you afraid of failure? Afraid of poverty? Afraid of embarrassment?

Many people answer: ME, I am holding myself back. This feels like the REAL answer to all of these other answers – YOU feel self-doubt or fear. YOU want more confidence. I think this answer is the most truthful answer.

As you read those different answers, which one resonates the most? Which sounds like your internal dialogue?

And here’s the more important question: what are you doing about it?

Most people tell me they are working on marketing – social media, email list, or something systematic.

But… that’s not what’s standing in your way. Not a single person has told me KNOWLEDGE or INFORMATION was standing in their way.

If you know that something else is standing in your way, why aren’t you working on that?

I think the reason it’s that it’s much easier to learn something than it is to change ourselves; it’s easier to listen to another episode than to inquire within.

So what is holding YOU back?

Hit pause, ask yourself this and write down your answer. Write as long as our takes for you to process it.

Now, how are you feeling?
You may be feeling AMAZING because you got some clarity and you’re ready to change.
But you may be feeling pretty bad, because OMG, WHY CAN’T I JUST GET OVER IT. 

I know!

But I have really really good news.

None of this is holding you back.

Bear with me. I know it FEELS like you need less fear, more confidence, more time, more focus to move forward but what if I told you you’re only going to feel less fear and more confidence and you’re going to find the time only AFTER you do the thing?

What if the way to move past what’s holding you back is to let go of it? To let go of the idea that you need to fix it or fix yourself?

What if you were perfectly suited to build your business, as you were?
What if you were ready to move forward on the next project or with the next client, exactly as you are?

I know, I know, you want ACTION ITEMS. You want to DO something.

So I’m going to give you episodes and resources for each of these issues, so you can get some actionable steps.

But. I can tell you, after working with hundreds of makers, designers and artists, you are going to move beyond what’s holding you back only after you believe you will.

Now, belief isn’t the ONLY thing that’s going to build your business.
But without it, you won’t actually take any of the actions that will make a difference.

So, if you’re ready to start believing you CAN move past the fear and time and focus, I’ve got some recommendations for episodes that address each of these in detail.

Focus:

The best way to get focused is to be CLEAR on what you need to focus on. This is why we set goals and then create plans. So you can wake up each day, knowing what you need to do to move forward. My best resource for this is Map Your Business, which you can find at TaraSwiger.com/map

If distraction is your problem, I’ve got a whole kit of resources for you at TaraSwiger.com/distraction – it’ll help you crush marketing distractions and internet distractions!

Time:

Over the years I have written and shared a lot about how to manage your time, get more done and create a productive workday. My absolute best strategies are all in the class Get More Done. I created it at the CreativeLive studio, so it is 5+ hours of professional-quality video lessons, with dozens of worksheets, all at the most affordable price (last time I checked it was $29). Get it here. 

Self-doubt or confidence:

I have a LOT of episodes about this, as well. I also created a BizConfidence free course that I’ll be sharing again later this year.

In the meantime, check out these episodes:

Fear:

What are you afraid of? Failure?

Ok, now the last thing: YOU.

If you were thinking, oh man, I am what is holding me back, I have a little homework for you.
Next week we’re going to go more into how you can stop holding yourself back, and in the meantime, I want you to journal a bit. It doesn’t have to be a special notebook or anything official, just get any scrap of paper and set a timer for 10 minutes and answer the question:
What am I doing to stand in my own way? Why? 

Now, no matter what you wrote on the paper, I want you to practice holding it in kindness and gentleness. Look at it (and you) the way I would, with a lot of love and acceptance, and I’d say “Hey, it’s ok. You’re doing the best you can. It is soooo good that you’re acknowledging whatever this is. Let’s work on it a bit next week.”

I’d love to hear what you think is holding YOU back! Come tell me in our free group – FB.com/groups/taraswiger

I’m wishing you a week full of forward momentum and enthusiasm.

How to listen

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

Find all the podcast episodes here.

257: The Myth of “Balance”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to listen

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

Find all the podcast episodes here.

256: Time: there’s never enough

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Start with honesty

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Use the time you have effectively

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

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

How to listen

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

Find all the podcast episodes here.

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.

Stop Creating (Marketing) Distractions – a free worksheet to help you focus your marketing

You can make your marketing more effective with making one easy switch: Chose one thing, and plan all your marketing around it, for 2-4 weeks. It sounds easy, but it's also easy to get distracted! So how do you pick your focus and avoid distractions? And how does this make your marketing more effective? Listen in to learn more, and get the FREE worksheet, at TaraSwiger.com/podcast102/.

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You can make your marketing more effective with making one easy switch: Chose one thing, and plan all your marketing around it, for 2-4 weeks.

It sounds easy, but it's also easy to get distracted! So how do you pick your focus and avoid distractions? And how does this make your marketing more effective?

Listen in to learn more, and click here for your free worksheet: How To Avoid Marketing Distraction (You'll also get the podcast transcript!)

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.

FOCUS: How to get it and keep it

Focus

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Distracted by the internet? Find it impossible to focus? You are not alone.

Today I share 3 of my best tips to get focused on your work, avoid distractions, and keep your focus until you get a project done. This is vital for productivity and making progress in your business and so many of us struggle with it. If you'd like to learn more about getting stuff done, join my upcoming class with CreativeLIVE. It's totally free to watch live on August 19th, and you can sign up for reminders (and get a cool Holiday Sales Forecasting Calculator) here.

 

How to listen

Find all the podcast episodes here.

 

It’s time for the contractions

In Do More Great Work, the author describes the creative rhythm as expanding and contracting, imagining and doing. I think a lot about the cycle of creativity, the flow of inspiration + doing, followed by a time of quiet not-doing…but I've forgotten the rhythmof every creative endeavor, the rhythm of expansion and contraction. Of breathing in inspiration, ideas, big dreams, and then breathing out, narrowing in on the things you will do.

We creatives LOVE the expansion part. We soak up inspiration, we breathe in dreams, we acquire ideas. Magazines, classes, pinterest…it's all one big inhalation, one glorious expansion of all possible things, zooming infinitely outward.

But the exhalation, the contraction, the doing…well, that's not as glorious. Not as tweetable.

But if anything is ever going to get done, if you're going to write that book or finish that project or launch that line, there has to be a point where you stop inhaling and you start exhaling. You zoom in on what you will do.

In narrowing your focus, the outer stuff, the stuff you decide not to do gets fuzzy and eventually falls out of the frame.
And while this doesn't look so exciting, exhaling and contracting can be  filled with enthusiasm, an inner propulsion that glides the project out of your head and into the world.

I'm here.

I've inhaled inspirations, stories, examples, and dreams. It's time to exhale, to breathe out the last bit of the book. To hand it on time. To contract narrow my focus to only the book and the Starship* (for the next few weeks).

 

Are you inhaling? Is it time to exhale?

 

*This means you won't be seeing me on the blog, in your inbox, or anywhere else (except for Instagram, and the Starship) until February 8th. 


The Map-Making Guide is my personal exhalation process. Turn dreams and wishes into measurable milestones and do-able to-dos. The Starship will be starting the map-making guide together, with weekly check-ins, this Wednesday. Join us here, if you like.