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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.

244: Beyond goal-setting: Daily and weekly plans

Getting what you want to do done in your business involves more than just having a vision or checking things off your to-do list. Learn move about the three things that need to work together to get what you want done at TaraSwiger.com/podcast244

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What do you after you set your goal? What if you know what to do but you aren't getting anything done? Today I'm going to answer those questions and talk about how I use a planner.

I know it's February, and most people think about planning and planners and overhauling their habits at the first of the year, but I'll be honest with you: this year I didn't start even THINKING about my new year until January 20th. Between the logistics of a new 2 year old foster placement in my life and the learning curve of toddler parenting, I had no brainspace to spend thinking or planning. And once I started talking about my planning on Instagram (@taraswiger), I started getting questions that I wanted to answer here on the podcast. And hey, these are the questions I'm dealing with right now, as my whole work life is different now that I’m a new mom.

So the real question, for most of us when it comes to productivity is “how do I get done what I want to get done?”

In my experience getting things done comes down to three different parts of the process. At least one part of the process probably comes to you very naturally, and you don't have to even think of it. But another part of the process may not feel natural. You may get frustrated because you have such a clear vision about where you want to go, but your days seem to slip past you. Or you may be a pro at checking things of your list, but you feel fuzzy about where it's all going.

What you need is to identify how you do all three parts and then focus in on where your system is breaking down.

The Three Parts of Getting What You Want Done

First, identify the destination.

Where do you want to go?

If you just start planning your day or setting goals without a vision for the destination, it will be hard and you'll probably change course often and not make a lot of progress.

The clearer you are, the easier this will be, but I don't want you to fret too much over this. The longer you work on your business, the clearer you'll get about your Ideal Destination, and the more you'll know about the business you want. Your vision can evolve as you move along your path.

But you do need to spend time thinking about the aspects of where you want your year or your life or the next 3 months to go. What do you want to have more of? How do you want to spend your time? How do you want to feel? The first section of Map Your Business walks you through this.

Second, map out the steps to get closer to the destination.

Break your destination down into a smaller goal (for the next 3-6 months) and map out the steps you'll need to get there. This is the heart of my book Map Your Business, it has worksheets that guide you through this process 4x a year.

I hear from women every day who are using Map Your Business to get clear about where they are in their business and where they want it to go. (I LOVE hearing from Mappers and seeing your posts on Instagram, so if you are using Map Your Business, please tag me!) But it's not just about SETTING the goal, Map Your Business walks you through identifying what you'll need to do to reach your goal – the mini-goals you'll hit on the way there, and the actual tasks you'll need to complete. When you're done mapping, you'll have a big to do list that will move you where you want to go.

You can't make progress unless you know SPECIFICALLY what to work on.

Third, give the tasks a time and space.

This can be as free or as structured as you like. There are any number of ways to do this, but for many of the makers I talk with, this is the step they're skipping. They may have done Map Your Business and now they don't actually get the tasks done because they haven't set aside the time and space.

The big thing to remember is: this aspect will probably have to change as you grow.

For years, I would have the same set workday, and then just take my map to do list and work through it during the workday. Over time I learned I work best when days have a specific focus, like writing on Monday and recording on Tuesday. Within those boundaries, I'd work on my to do list. Now my whole schedule has been blown up by a 2 year old, so I'm rethinking how I do this.

Here are some ways that work for the women I know:

  • Have set work hours and just work down your list during those hours.
  • Theme days: writing days, shipping days, sewing days
  • Time Block your schedule: look at the blocks of time you have and assign the blocks kinds of tasks (the main thing is to STOP doing that task when the block is over). You may get your family out the door from 6-8, workout from 8-9, work on marketing and photography  9-12, then work on production from 1-3. Then family time from 3-8. Your blocks can be tiny (1 hour) or bigger (3 hrs is probably the max for your focus and attention).
  • Plan when you'll do what task at the beginning of the week (useful if your schedule changes a lot).

I want you to remember: it doesn't matter HOW you organize time or even how much time you have, what matters is “are you working on what matters to you and to your goals during that time?”

It's possible you have one of the above systems in place (or you intend to) and yet you still aren't working on what matters? Why? I've found that most of us are dealing with one of the following reasons:

  1. We aren't actually working on what we planned to.
    Instead of taking photos for Instagram, we're scrolling instagram. Instead of writing the email newsletter, we're looking at our email stats. That's ok! Don't beat yourself up! Just recognize it, identify where you do it, and move on.
  2. We haven't written it down.
    I don't know how you'll keep track of what to work on if it's not written down somewhere visible. You can make a pretty planner, you can use Asana, you can just write a list on a post-it, but I've never met anyone who didn't need SOME way of keeping track of what to do next. If you find yourself NOT working during your work time, stop and write down what you'll do next. It may see silly or unnecessary if you've already written it all down, but this is my quickest productivity hack: I just write down the next 2 things I'll do starting…now.
  3. You're not keeping track of all you DO do.
    Many times I've talked to a business owner who is complaining she never gets anything done and then she tells me about her day and OMG she is DOING SO MUCH. But she's not “counting it”. So start writing down and planning ALL that you do, not just your business or not just the newest goal. Having it all written down in front of you can make you more realistic about the time you have to spend on this new goal and help you celebrate all that you get done!

If you liked today's episode but you wanna go WAY deeper into productivity and how to plan a workday that works for you, check out my creativeLIVE class, How to Get More Done. It's 6 hours long with awesome bonuses and worksheets and you can find it at taraswiger.com/time.

And if you want to see my own planner system, check out my YouTube channel, my Monday videos have recently been about the systems I have used and how I plan now!

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.

 

225: Post-summer Renewal FREE WORKSHEET!

Getting back to work after a break is never as easy as we’d like it to be. Learn how to kickstart your work and business after a summer break, and get your FREE worksheet at TaraSwiger.com/podcast225

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Are you ready to dive back into your business after a summer break? Did you take time off for the summer? Or did you just feel less productive because of the nice weather, the travel, the kids home from school? Whether you took a proper break or not, a lot of you asked me: How do I get back to work?

  1. Take a fresh look at your goals.

It's possible your life shifted over the summer – maybe your kids entered school or maybe you entered a new relationship or maybe your had a great moment in your business (like a big show or wholesale account?) that's shifted how you think about your business.

It's normal for what you wanted then to not be what you want NOW. So pull out your most recent goals (you do write them down each quarter in Map Your Business, right?) and ask yourself: Do I still want this? How do I want to go about moving towards it?

  1. Take a fresh look at your days. What worked before might not work now.

When do you have time to work? When do you want to work? When are you most focused? When is the best time to do each task? Would you rather batch types of work on certain days? Or in certain hours?

  1. Take a fresh look at your expectations.

How much do you expect to get done in a day? In a week?

How are you feeling about your productivity? Do you need to lower your expectations? Do you need to shift your productivity towards a more impactful work?

  1. Give yourself grace.

It takes a while to get back in the flow of things. If you are working more now than you have been, you may need to ramp up slowly. Coming back after a break NEVER goes how you plan, so get comfortable with that.

What do you need to be gentle with yourself about?

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.

216: When things don’t go as planned

Not everything always goes smoothly in life or in business. Learn how to get better at dealing with disappointment, and listen to my own recent story of disappointment here at TaraSwiger.com/podcast216

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Now that you've reviewed the year so far, you have probably recognized some things that did not turn out as planned. How do you feel?  Do you feel horrible about that? Crushed? How do you handle it when things don't turn out as planned?

Disappointments.
They happen. I've heard from a lot of you that you actually skip doing your monthly or quarterly review, because you know you didn't hit your goal and you don't wanna acknowledge it.

But here's the thing: You have to acknowledge where you are in order to move forward. You have to come face to face with both disappointments and triumphs so that you can make an effective plan for what's next. I lead all new Starship Captains through Chart Your Stars before we make a plan or take classes because getting oriented in where you REALLY ARE is the most important step. Nothing can move forward until you know you're starting from.

In the spirit of acknowledging those goals-that-don't come true, the disappointments and how hard it is, I'll share a story in my own life, that's been unfolding over the last 3 years. As many of you longtime listeners know, 3 years ago, Jay quit his office day job to work part-time in my business and part-time in the local comic shop, that we intended to buy. We were both super excited – I was proud because this meant that my biz went from being around 70% of our income to 100% of our income. I think this is especially meaningful to me, because SO MANY people assume that my husband has been supporting me financially throughout my business. He has been supporting me emotionally, but my biz income has always been 60% or more of our annual income. This is my own thing I need to work on – I need to not care what people think and the stupid assumptions they make. But, ya know, it felt good to answer the “and what does your husband do?” question with “he works in my business”.

He was excited, because this allowed him to learn the comic shop business, while getting to know the people who would be his customers and build relationships.

But, after 2 1/2 years…it didn't work out. The owner didn't give us what we needed for the banks, when we needed it and it became clear (to me) that he wasn't ready to sell. After 6 intense months of it almost happening, but with lots waiting and hoping, it was official – we weren't going to be buying the shop. This was September 2017.

That was a huge disappointment. And Jay needed to take time to just grieve that (it helps that we know we did everything possible and by the end of the process, we just wanted it to be over). And it totally changed our lives because Jay stopped working 6 days a week at the comic shop and was suddenly home….all the time.

We decided he should wait a minute before getting another job. He could do more in my business, he could travel with me, we'd have such a freer life if he wasn't tied down by hours. It would give him a chance to think about how we could still reach the dream of owning a shop, but without buying THIS shop. And we'd already been living off my income, so nothing there changed. We did have a good time – he went to San Francisco with me in October, then we spent a week with my parents in Oregon. We had a great holiday season without the stress of juggling schedules. (All of our parents require a road trip to visit, so now we could!).

But when it came to just daily work time, I have to be honest. It was really really hard. I need either total silence or coffee shop white noise and Jay is…chatty. And loving. He took such good care of me and our home during those months, but it felt like I was always balancing work with family, even in hours that we both agreed should be about work. My daily routines really slid, and here's the thing – even if Jay said nothing to me all day, it just felt different with him here all day.

But we didn't get much time to get used to that, because in February a friend with a sick kid asked Jay for help with his shop…and Jay stepped in. At first a little, and then a lot. I've talked about it a lot on Essential Enthusiasm podcast (you do listen to that, right?), but Jay is an Obliger. And around April, after months of bouncing between my business and his friend who needed help, he told me: I feel I'm constantly doing what people are obliging me to do and NOT what I need to be doing to move forward on my goal (I know you obligers feel him on that). What he wanted was to feel like he was moving forward on the future comic shop and the biggest thing that would make that possible is MONEY. So although he can support me in tangible ways that will lead to my business growing, he can't directly do things in my business that makes money.

No one can. I get a lot of help, I hire people to do things like edit videos and put together podcast posts, but what that does is free up my time and focus to do the stuff that directly money. For Jay to feel like he's working on his dream, he needs to see the direct result.

Here's another factor: I was having some…not-great-mental health months. One of the lies my anxiety tells me is that I will never feel like myself again. And that by not feeling like myself, my whole business will fall apart. And when my business is 100% of our income? Our whole life will fall apart. I definitely wouldn't say I felt pressured…I loved that my biz was supporting us. But when it came to thinking about growth… I definitely felt a kind of existential dread and that dread took away all of my creativity. I couldn't see all these amazing ways to grow or improve my business, because I was wrapped in “OMG WHAT IF IT ALL FAILS”.

So he decided to get a day job. So that he can contribute directly to our family's dreams. And this isn't going to make any sense for the international listeners, but I just have to tell you, that the health insurance was a deciding factor. Although my insurance is ¼ of Jay’s monthly pay, it’s still less than we were paying before, out of pocket.

I realize for most people, getting a job that has insurance, that pays pretty well for our area, for a person with a BA in history, is ONLY GOOD NEWS. It is such a blessing.

But I'll admit my biz ego was a little disappointed, because this is NOT the direction I thought we were moving. I thought we both would never have traditional employment again. We were going to own a retail shop!

And yet, I have to admit, it's been great. In just the two weeks he's been working, I have gotten so much done! OMG! I am alone for 8 hours every day, which is just so restorative. And even though his job won't be contributing to our bills (we're using it pay off debt + save for the future), it loosened something in my head, it relieved some pressure I didn't know I was feeling and I have been SO much more able to be creative about the next direction in my business. I’ve had SO MUCH clarity in the last 2 weeks, it's just unbelievable.

So, that is our tale of not reaching our goal and things not going as planned. I wanted to share it with you, because I think it's our tendency to look at everyone else and assume they are where they want to be. Or that things are going pretty easily. Or that if they've hit one big goal (like a six figure business), everything else just comes easily. I also wanted to talk about it, because a lot of people dream of quitting day jobs, or even retiring their spouse and I gotta tell you – it's not always fun, easy or fulfilling for both people. Life changes, and what you want changes. Your mission isn't to hit some certain milestone, it's to create a LIFE that you like, and maybe a business (or maybe not!) that supports that life.

My brother, who works at a tech startup in San Diego told me one time (when I was making about $40,000/year and he was making $60,000), “I don't know why you are so concerned that you do work that is what you want to do with your time. You know you could just get a job that pays enough for you to do the stuff you want with your non-work time.” At first I thought, ugh no, that sounds horrible, but then I realized – in our online biz world we romanticize loving what you're doing with every minute. But even in a business you LOVE you're going to do things you don't like. And as you build that dream? You're going to do a lot of things you don't like. You're going to work hard, you may need to do other work to pay the bills or to finance your art.

By the way, I reminded by brother that I didn't get a BA in computer security like he did, mine is in French Lit. I'm pretty unemployable, and spending time grinding away while making not-much was a long term investment into the business I have today that pays me well, doing what I care passionately about. But that's not the right answer for everyone, in every situation.

To sum up, when things don't go as planned, remember:

  1. Acknowledging what isn't going the way you wanted, helps you get oriented to where you are now. You have to start any plan from where you are.
  2. You are not alone. It's not supposed to be different (it's easy to think “I should already be passed this” “I shouldn't have these struggles” but you’re not the only one who does).
  3. Take time to grieve and to flop about. Try things to see if they work for you.
  4. Notice what's not working for you (like Jay did) and know you can always make a different choice. Sometimes that choice might look like something you didn't think you'd do. That's ok, if it's the right next thing for you.
  5. If something you dreamed of just isn't working for you. That's ok too. You're allowed to change your mind. I thought having my biz employ both of us and having Jay around all the time would be great. I was wrong. Keep changing your dreams as you change.
  6. Don't give up. All of this is just details. Identify the BIG THING you care about, the ONE THING that matters to you and organize everything around that. As long as that is still what you want, let go of all the details and focus in on it.

To help you set goals from this place of focusing on what REALLY matters, I'm sharing a worksheet called “Creating Do-Able Goals”. You'll find it in the form below, just put your email in the box and we'll send it right to you!

When you fill out this worksheet – tell me! Share it on Instagram with the hashtag #exploreyourenthusiasm, so I can cheer you on!

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.

215: Goals vs Systems: How to reach your 2018 goal

There’s a big difference between setting your business goals, and achieving your goals. Learn the difference between goals and system and how to achieve your 2018 goals at TaraSwiger.com/podcast215

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You need a goal. And a system.

What if you don't need a goal to do what you need to do? Let's talk about what a goal is good at, and not good at, and get you ready for the rest of the year!

Welcome to the second half of 2018. This is the perfect time to look at the goals you set in January and be real with yourself. Are you truly working on them? Have you made progress? What do you need in order to work on them?

Today we're going to talk about what to do AFTER you set a goal…and we're going talk about some advanced-level stuff – maybe you don't need a goal at all.

A few weeks ago a Starship Captain said, “You know, I can't really think of a goal. I feel like my business is going in the right direction, if I just keep doing the work I know to do.”

YES! That is what it's all about!

See, a goal is not the POINT, a goal is just a tool to help you get what you want.

A goal should:

  • Inspire you to kickstart work you haven't done before (or get more consistent with the work)
  • Clarify the direction you want to go, so all your actions can line up to what you actually want
  • Make it obvious what you need to do and what you need to commit to, to make it happen.

This is why not reaching your goal is sometimes just as productive as reaching it. You can learn from a goal you don't reach. Maybe you learned that your timeline or expectations were wrong. Maybe you learn you don't actually want that goal. Maybe you learn you need a different business model, or you need to work on totally different projects.

The GOAL of a goal is to bring you that clarity, to help you learn the lessons in your business.

I wrote a whole book about, and lead people through the process, of setting a goal and breaking it down into a plan because I've found that having a set goal, and then working towards it, is the fastest way to learn from your business.

Setting a goal AND creating the plan makes you:

  • Get specific about what you need to do
  • Organize your time so you can do the stuff
  • Try stuff you might otherwise put off
  • Create systems so you can be consistent in all aspects: making, marketing, photography, shipping, etc

For MANY of the makers and artists and essential oil educators that I work with, setting a goal and then breaking it down into a doable plan is the first time they've gotten serious about their business. It's the first time they've really looked at what they even want, and what they're willing to do to get there.

Without a goal it's easy to just keep reading articles, researching, wondering why people aren't buying, and then go read another article. With a goal, you have to take action (or you realize you haven't been taking action!).

And here's the cool thing about all this – after a goal gets you taking action, getting organized, creating systems for getting things done…you don't always need a goal to keep going.

In fact, the system itself can keep you reaching your next goals.

In his book How to Fail at Anything, Scott Adams, writes that systems are better than goals. Systems of action, applied overtime, bring about better results that one of goals. When you don't reach a goal, you feel bummed, but when you're working a system – every day that you do the work, you can feel great and accomplished.

What's a system?

Posting on Instagram is a system. My podcast, with it's transcript and free downloads and blog posts and youtube videos and audio version on iTunes – that is a system. I don't have a goal to put out a podcast, I have a system that gets it out consistently

Now, I disagree with Scott, because I think he doesn't address a major issue in accomplishing anything – activation energy. Activation energy is the energy that it takes to START something. What I've found in working with hundreds of women in creating the business they want is that a big, exciting, motivating goal can help you over the hump of activation energy. It can inspire you to spend that energy and move forward powerfully and quickly. A system isn't that inspiring 🙂

But after you're over the activation energy, a system is what you need in order to keep moving forward. A system about when you work, what you work on, how things get done.

Today I'd like you to look at where you wanna go in your business and your goals for the rest of the year – where would a system help make it easier?

I made a worksheet last year about staying consistent that will help you spot these places for systems. You can get that worksheet  here:

Wanna get more consistent?

Enter your email and I'll send you a FREE workbook to develop your own consistency habit (and challenge).

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    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.

    208: How to get stuff done when you don’t want to

    As creative business owners we know that our best work comes from when we’re most enthusiastic about our work. But that doesn’t mean we can sit around and wait for enthusiasm to strike. Learn how to get things done in your biz even when you don’t feel like it at TaraSwiger.com/podcast208

    Play

    This week I'm going to talk about something I haven't figured out yet. I'm still working on it, and I know we ALL go through it. How do you get stuff done when you really don't feel it and when you know your best work comes from your enthusiasm?

    Links I 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.

    Feeling unmotivated? Here’s how to Get More Done

    I hear from SO many people that they just don't feel motivated to work on their To Do list - from the daily small tasks to the bigger goal-oriented projects. That's why it's so important to have a system of identifying your goal, breaking it down, and checking off your To Dos. This week we're revisiting a popular podcast from the past, with an all-new transcript and a FREE guide to go with it! In this episode we’ll discuss The principles for Getting More Done How to stay motivated when you don't feel like working The process I use to make progress on my quarterly goals Want to get more done? Get my FREE distraction-free guide to getting more done.Grab it here: TaraSwiger.com/podcast119/

    Play

    Get more goodness and support the podcast: http://patreon.com/taraswiger

    I hear from SO many people that they just don't feel motivated to work on their To Do list – from the daily small tasks to the bigger goal-oriented projects.

    That's why it's so important to have a system of identifying your goal, breaking it down, and checking off your To Dos. This week we're revisiting a popular podcast from the past, with an all-new transcript and a FREE guide to go with it!

    In this episode we’ll discuss

    • The principles for Getting More Done
    • How to stay motivated when you don't feel like working
    • The process I use to make progress on my quarterly goals

     

    Want to get more done? Get my FREE distraction-free guide to getting more done.Grab it here.

    Check out the other posts + podcasts in this series:

    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.

    Get More Done: a sneak peak at the CreativeLive class

    getmoredone

    Play

    If you are listening to this episode as it’s released, on August 19th 2015 – first of all, thank you! You’re awesome. Secondly, if it’s between 9am and 4pm PST, go to CreativeLIVE.com right now and click “watch live!” and you’ll be able to watch me teach! Live!

    If you’re not listening RIGHT at that moment, I wanted to give you a sneak peek at what I’m teaching, so that you can start to have a more productive day RIGHT NOW. If you like what you hear, you can purchase the class here and get anytime access to over 5 hours of videos, the full 20+ page workbook, and a discount to Lift Off!

    Imagine that it’s the end of your workday. You close your computer, walk away from your sewing machine, put away your supplies. You take a moment to look back at what you just got done. Instead of feeling frustration, or that it’s never enough, you feel calm. You feel GOOD. You’re proud of what you got done, and you know that it matters – that it is moving you, bit by bit, towards your goal.

    That is what I want for you, and that is the aim of this class. So that soon, maybe tomorrow, maybe next week, you’ll get done working, and you’ll feel GOOD.

    In this episode I share the Three Keys to Getting More Done. 

     

    How to listen

    Find all the podcast episodes here.

    You’re invited to Get More Done! Live + Free on CreativeLIVE

    Tara_Swiger_How_To_Get_More_Done_Instagram_612x612

    I'll be honest with you, ALL I can think about this week is “Getting More Done”, both the class I'm about to teach with CreativeLIVE AND the act of getting more done. If you follow me on Periscope, then you know I've been asking you: What keeps you from getting more done?

    I've taken all the responses (and all the questions my readers have sent me for the past 5 years!) and put together a solution, that will work for YOU, whether you've got 30 minutes a week or 30 hours a week to work on your creative business.

    Along with the questions I’ll answer in the class (like “How do I balance admin time and studio time?,“ “How can I build my business with SUPER limited time?”, “How do I decide what's important and impactful for my business?“), I've also been asked some questions I'd like to answer NOW.

    How does this work?

    Go here and click “RSVP”. You’ll get both the bonus Holiday Sales Calculator worksheet right away (along with bonuses from Tara Gentile, Abby Glassenberg, Lisa Jacobs, and Megan Auman), so you’ll be ready to start class Wednesday morning. At 9am PST (Noon EST) on Wednesday, August 19th, class will begin! You’ll get a reminder email to log on and when you do you’ll see me teaching, in real time! There’s a chat room for you to ask your questions (the hosts will be lobbing your questions at me on the regular) and a hashtag (#CraftWeek2015) so you can connect with your fellow students.

    What’s the schedule of the class?

    Note: Times are in PST!

    9:00-10:30AM What do you NEED to get done?

    10:45-12:00PM What's in your way?

    12:45-2:15PM Find the Time (no matter how little you have

    2:30-4:00PM Make Your Plan

     

    Who is this class for?

    This class is aimed at makers who sell their work and want to get more (of what matters) DONE each day.

    This class is for you if…

    • You struggle to find time to work on your creative business.
    • You’re frustrated with trying to balance all the aspects of your business: making, marketing and admin.
    • You have a list of things you really want to do, but find yourself NOT doing them.
    • You don’t know where to find the time to work on exciting new projects (like a new product, book, marketing plan)
    • You’re a curious explorer. You’d love for this to be a fascinating adventure, not a boring slog. You’re ready to learn + move forward, not judge or guilt-ify the past.

     

    What's up with the Holiday Sales Bootcamp?

    My class, Get More Done, is part of a weeklong series of classes aimed at making your crafty shop ROCK the holiday summer.

    On Monday, Tara Gentile will cover pricing and value.

    On Tuesday, Abby Glassenberg will teach you how to write and send an effective email newsletter.

    On Wednesday, I'll help you get more productive.

    On Thursday, Lisa Jacobs will improve your copywriting (ie, your product descriptions!)

    On Friday, Megan Auman will walk you through putting together your marketing plan!

    By the end of it, you'll be ready to have a fantastic holiday season in your shop!

     

    What if I can’t watch live?

    Watching live is free, but you can purchase anytime access. You can get my class here for $79 (the price will go up after class, so jump on it!) or you can buy the entire 5 day bootcamp. Each Day’s page tells you what we’ll cover on that day, so you can pick the one that’s right for you.

    Whether you can watch live or not, you may want to purchase the class to get some amazing bonuses:

    • Anytime access to the videos (so you can revisit it again and again!)
    • Full workbook to guide you through making your OWN system of getting things done
    • Resource Guide with links to my favorite apps + tools
    • $50 off Lift Off

     

    I’m bummed I missed the Wrangle Your Time class, where can I get it?

    Well, you’re in luck! While you can't take Wrangle Your Time  as a stand-alone class (it is in the library of both the Starship and Lift Off) – it is ALL covered in this class! In fact, this class digs even deeper and gives more tips and software recommendation.

     

    I don’t have a business yet, I just have ideas.

    Ready for some tough love?

    If you are still just “playing around” with “some ideas”, but you really REALLY want a business (and not a hobby) – step away from the internet. Stop taking classes, stop reading books, and stop looking at what other people are doing. Go into your creation cave and create your best work. Make 5-10 of them (whether this is products, designs, artwork, whatever). Ask yourself if you enjoy this enough to make 50 more. Then, take some pictures and make it available for sale (either online or in a craft show).

    THEN, you are ready to start thinking about becoming effective with your time.

    In other words, this class is going to be most useful to you if you know what you make and it’s available for people to buy, somewhere. If you’re not sure how to move from Idea to Business, check out Kari Chapin’s class on getting started.

     

    What's Periscope?

    Periscope is a live-video streaming app. Even if YOU have no desire in sharing live videos, you can join (just download the app!) and follow me, so you get notified of any of my live videos. There's a chat room, so you're not just watching, you're also talking to me! Periscopes only stay online for 24 hours, so if you miss watching live, you miss it!

    I've been using Periscope to answer quick questions about your small business, help viewers prioritize their week (or celebrate what they've accomplished) and share behind-the-scenes of my own projects (I've been announcing new projects and inviting participation on Periscope before I do anywhere else). While I’m traveling, I’m shooting live videos of any cool place I visit (coffee + yarn shops + dinners with other makers!)

    I interact HEAVILY with the chat room, so Periscope is the best way to get some personal interaction. (You can always book a 1:1 session here and get my personal attention for a full hour. They're VERY limited and book up quick, so if you've been thinking about getting personal help, grab it here, then hang out on Periscope in the meantime!)

     

    Don’t forget to register to watch the class free: https://taraswiger.com/time

    Got a question?

    Ask on Twitter (I'm @taraswiger) or Facebook and I’ll answer (in between traveling). Hope to see you in the class!