In today’s episode we are throwing it ALL the way back to the very first episode of this podcast!
I share a little about my goals and dreams for the podcast and my own business journey (up until that point!).
As I said at the time: “I want you to know you're not alone, in whatever it is, that feels like a struggle in your creative business: making money, finding motivation, being consistent. More than anything, I hope you like it. I hope this helps us connect in a new way and help you feel supported, encouraged and part of this great community of amazing makers.”
Do you let failure convince you to stop? Is it a sign that you are not going to ever get what you want? Or do you use failure as fuel to push you farther?
When I was reading Abby Wambach’s new book Wolfpack, one of the lessons in it really struck me. She said: Use failure as fuel. She talked about how women so often use any failure as a reason they can’t do something. They feel like everything has to be perfect before they have permission to try something or be something.
The problem is, success is built on failure.
You’ve got to experience failure to get to success.
If you let the first failure stop you from going forward, you won’t have any success.
As I read, I realized: Oh man, I’ve been using recent failures or just small things like not hitting a small goal, NOT as fuel, but as a kind of proof that I can’t do it.
And I know I’m not alone, because so many of you tell me that “Well, I tried that and it didn’t work out, so I’m just not good at it.” or “I guess I can’t have that.”
This is something women struggle with a lot, I know I have. We’ve got that internal fire, we have a mission, the motivation to do amazing things, but so often we are looking for reasons to distrust it, reason to not trust ourselves, proof that we’re not good enough. And failure provides the perfect excuse. The perfect proof.
And I get it, when we go into a project (or anything really) with self-doubt, anything that doesn’t go perfectly seems like proof of what we already believe: “I’m not good enough. I really can’t do this. It’s for other people.”
But that’s just wrong.
Failure is not a sign that there is something wrong with you. Failure is just data. Data on how to get what you want. Maybe you need to grow, maybe you need to work more, maybe you need to try harder. Maybe it’s just gonna take more time. Failure is information about what your goal or your dream will actually require.
So the question is: are you using failure as an excuse to stop doing what you’re doing? Are you using it as proof that you shouldn’t be doing it? That you’re not good enough? Or are you using failure as fuel for the next step?
One of the stories in Abby Wambach’s book was about using failure as fuel. In it, she told the story of how the women’s USA soccer team used a four-man loss as a reminder the need to work harder to win. As fuel for their fire to keep going.
I want you to think about this for a minute. What if failure actually inspired you?
What if it could be the fuel that pushes you forward, what if it could be the inspiration that keeps you going? I know, I know, that’s a major mindset shift from failure as a sign that we’re doing the wrong thing, to failure as a sign that we need to go harder.
But so often, in so many of your own businesses, that’s exactly what failure is. It’s the sign that you needed to work harder, it’s a sign that you need to commit more, it’s a sign that you are capable of so much more than you think.
I want you to think about it like a sports game. I know, I am not the best at sports metaphors. But I do know this: losing one game, does not mean that you lost this season, it does not mean that you lost the championship. In baseball, players are expected to “fail” most at-bats. A GREAT hitter only hits a SMALL amount of the balls that come at him.
Because…FAILURE IS NECESSARY FOR SUCCESS.
I talk about this more in episode 171 – because in order for your business to grow, you need MORE failure, or as I phrase it in that episode get MORE rejection. You need to be told “No” more often, so you can get to yes. You need to not hit your goal, so you get closer to hitting it.
Let’s do this together, let’s reframe how we think about failure, about falling down, about not getting it right.
Let’s remember that this is not the last chance you’ll ever have, that there are more at-bats, there are more games, there are more months.
In fact, you have endless at-bats, you have endless opportunities to work hard or learn more reach that goal in the future. You’re closer now than you’ve ever been!! Don’t quit when you’re minutes away, weeks away, months away from hitting your goal.
I wanna hear how you’ve used failure as fuel or how you’re ready to reframe this. Come tell me on Instagram, I’m @TaraSwiger and you can use the hashtag #exploreyourenthusiasm.
I’m gonna be honest: For years I have been teaching about confidence, here on the podcast, at conferences. So I was surprised to find: I had totally lost my confidence. Today I’m going to share how I lost it and how I’m getting it back. Hopefully it will help you locate your own confidence.
First: What do I mean by confidence? Let’s define it here, because it’s easy to misunderstand. And I’ll be honest, I meet a lot of women who say they can’t move forward until they’re more confident and in my work, I’ve just found that’s not entirely true. You are probably confident ENOUGH to at least do SOMETHING.
So let’s define it: Confidence, in the terms I’m talking about, is what psychologists call self-efficacy – you have the power to do something. You believe you can do it and affect the outcome.
It’s NOT believing you can do EVERYTHING. You may be confident in your cooking, but not have confidence in your business. You may be confident in your writing, but not in public speaking.
Another thing: Being confident doesn’t mean you feel confident ALWAYS.
It is NOT feeling amazing all the time. Feeling like you can do anything, feeling totally fearless.
You probably have enough confidence about SOMETHING, to take it and apply it to your business. Even if you don’t feel amazing all the time, you can take the next step.
Here’s the thing: Confidence is a spectrum. You’re not “confident or not confident.” Some days your more confident than others. Your more confident in some areas than others. And depending on life, and business, and the results you’re getting, you may slide around the spectrum.
In my case, I entered adulthood pretty high on the confidence scale – I worked hard, I got good grades, I made stuff happen (like a scholarship and a happy marriage). I went through bouts of self-doubt, but I pretty much never lost my belief that if I REALLY wanted something, I could make it happen. I may be slightly delusional, but this delusion let me take action that made stuff happen.
And here’s the thing: I wasn't confident that everything would be great, I was confident that I would be ok. I was confident that I could try and still be OK. I was talking to a friend with a similar background and a successful business and she said – my definition of OK was very basic. As long as I wasn’t living at home again or in an abusive relationship, I was OK.
That’s what has led me to do everything I’ve ever done in my business – to start selling yarn on Etsy when Etsy was brand new, to quit my dayjob 10 years ago, to start helping other people with their business soon after, to publish two books, to encourage my husband to quit his day job, to start a new business – it all has been based in the core belief that I would be OK. So I may as well try, right?
Then, we were hit with disappointments: infertility (which has been bubbling away in the background for a decade), we weren’t able to buy the comic book shop, I suffered my longest ever bout of depression, we had two kids we LOVED leave our home.
While we had the foster kiddos, I took a step back from work. And when it was time to step back into work, I was plagued by the constant doubt: Can I even do this?
I think a lot of self-doubt came from the period of depression – it sucked away all sense of action, of ability, of efficacy. I physically felt like I couldn’t do anything all day, my brain was foggy and it was very hard to do anything mentally, and emotionally, well I mostly just cried or felt numb. So when I was feeling better and the depression lifted…my sense of self was beat up. The depressed Tara, who didn’t have physical, mental or emotional energy became real to me. I started to believe she was me.
At the same time, I knew she wasn’t. I knew Get-Things-Done, 6 Figure Business Tara was the real me, but when I would dream about plans and goals, I was trying to imagine Depressed Tara doing it and…I couldn’t imagine it.
The basis of my confidence (which had been “I’ll be OK no matter what”) switched to “But what if I can’t do it? What if it doesn’t work out?” That hard part is, I didn’t really know this happening. My first clue was back in September when a business friend said “Oh, I’m sure you’ll be at X goal next year!” and I was like “Maybe, I don’t know” and he was like, “Wait! That is not the Tara I know.” I went back to my room and cried because my friend was right. That is not the Tara I have been.
The next clue was just a few weeks ago, when I was at a conference and the speaker asked us to think about what we wanted to get from the experience, and I realized: I want to feel confident again. I did some journaling and I realized that it’s not that I need a better schedule or a different office, I just need to BELIEVE that things are possible again. That I can work towards my goal and whether I reach or not, I’ll be ok.
The good news: Once I realized it was the problem, I know how to get it back. I have TAUGHT how to get it back!
I’ve shared all of my story of losing my confidence with you, in hopes that you may see some of yourself in it, that if you are feeling wobbly, you’ll recognize it. Now let’s talk about how to get it back (or get it for the first time).
The first part of this is knowing yourself. If you’ve been paying attention to how you work, what your strengths are, how you work best, you’ll have a better idea of what’s going on, if you paid attention when things were going well. So that’s the first step – build your confidence from who you are. Build it on your strengths. In other words, stop paying attention to who you WISH you were and what you wish you were like. That’s going to keep you in a self-doubt spiral of constant comparison.
How I am doing this: This may sound crazy, but I make a list of my strengths. What am I good at? What do I KNOW I can do?
The next step is to take care of yourself. You’re not going to feel good if you don’t have what you need. Part of this is eating, drinking enough water, sleeping enough, but it’s also filling up your inspiration well. For me this is listening to certain podcasts (I share them in episode 248) and reading books.
Confidence comes from action. DO something every day.
Here’s the good news: you’re already DOING things every day. Really! So write down what you want to do (be easy on yourself!) and be sure you add things that “don't count” to your To Do list. Did you feed your child? Did you feed yourself? Did you get dressed? Brush your hair! Huzzah! You are accomplished!
How I am doing this: I noticed that when I just let myself rest and didn’t do anything (or rather, didn’t mark stuff off a list), I just felt worse. It made me feel like I couldn’t do things, so everything was so much harder to start doing, even after I felt better. (It’s harder to get started than it is to keep going). What I needed was to make myself do one thing, that had a real impact, every day. And most importantly, write it down, so I had the satisfaction of marketing it off. I had fallen so far off of my planning, that I started over with a new planner (You can watch a video about how that’s working for me here).
I started feeling better about my ability to do stuff, but there was still some stuff I wasn’t doing each week, stuff I put off for, seriously, over a month. The answer? An accountability partner with the very same goal and focus. We check in by 10am each day with a list of two things we’re going to do and again by 10pm to say if we’ve done it. Just knowing someone else is waiting to hear if I did it makes all the difference. A friend of mine is super strict about her partners – if you miss a time, or you don’t do what you said you would, you have three strikes. After three strikes, you lose your partner.
A huge part of confidence is remembering that you HAVE done awesome stuff and you WILL do awesome stuff again. Some suggestions for getting in that frame of mind:
Practice accepting compliments. Don’t follow-up up a compliment with all the reasons it’s not true.
Better yet, remember the compliments – put them in a folder, print them out, heck, someone on Instagram illustrated her compliments.
Tell your loved ones – “I need help remembering that I’ve done awesome things. Can you help?”
List all the things you've overcome.
List all the things you’ve accomplished.
Look at these lists as often as you need to!
I hope this helps you move forward in your business! Remember to take care of yourself, take action, and celebrate each tiny step.
You told me you'd like to meet other makers and here about their business, so by popular demand I bring you our new semi-regular series: In Conversation!
In today's conversation, Joeli Kelly, teacher and coach, will be talking to Mary Roth, the mad scientist and dyer behind Elemental Fiberworks, where you can find science-inspired yarn and fiber to geek out over.
Both women have created amazing businesses and both have been Starship Captains!
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:
I follow my enthusiasm by reading…a lot. And once a month, I share (some of) the books I read last month and the books I intend to read this month. You can join the informal book club by sharing your own list with me on Facebook and find all the posts here.
Welcome to the new year!
This is the time of year when everyone is thinking about their plans and goals and what they want to create…and with that comes a big dose of self-doubt.
“Well I've never done that before.”
“I failed to hit a goal last time.”
“I have never set such a big goal!”
Today – how to start FRESH – how to move forward on your goal no matter what happened last year.
Are you making decisions based on this week or next year? Do you have patience or are you going to quit if it doesn’t all turn out like you want in three months? This is another tough-love episode where we make your biz a little more sustainable by looking at the big questions.