Craft a successful business. Do what matters. Get the free resources:

parenting

261: 37th Birthday Lessons

"Just Take a deep breath it's gonna be alright." -Tara Swiger TaraSwiger.com/podcast261

Play

It's my birthday month, and that means it's time to review my year and share the lessons I learned from another year on the earth.

Each year, on my birthday, I share a  bit about my birthday review process. Just like we do at the new year, I look at what was great, what wasn't, and what lessons is my life teaching me?

To do this birthday review, I use the monthly questions found in my book, Map Your Business. The book has these questions every month for 12 months, so you can start whenever, and make reviewing your month (and planning for the next) a regular part of your business (and life!). You can find the book at on Amazon.

At the bottom of this post, I've linked to all the past birthday posts – they go back 10 years – this will be the eleventh! And I gotta tell you, I read back through last year's transcript and it was SO GOOD. I needed to re-hear the lessons I learned last year!

This year, it was epic.  Big big changes in our lives!

The not-so-good stuff

Before I get to the good stuff and lessons, I want to share the negative side of this year. Now, this isn’t actually bad, it’s stuff I chose, but I don’t want this whole episode to sound like everything is perfect. I made sacrifices this year, but they were my choice to live the life I want, so I was happy to make them.

I didn’t travel as much as I have in past years, although I did go to Columbus, Salt Lake City, San Diego, Charleston, and together we went to see my parents in Oregon and Cookeville, TN. We also went to Asheville a lot.

Also, my business didn’t grow as much as it has in the past. That’s because I didn’t work in it as much as I have in the past, and I made some explicit choices to cut back on some things, which I knew would be a short term loss in exchange for a long term gain of time and energy for other projects. You can hear more about how I streamline my business in episode 224.

This year’s good stuff

  • We became parents! I became a mother! No big deal, my world was just completely shattered by a 3 month old, a 2 year old and 6 week old.
  • Finding meds that work for my mental health.
  • Figuring out how to run a business and be a mom.
  • Learning the foster care system, inside and out.

Lessons learned this year

Motherhood + entrepreneurship is no joke.

I know, y’all veteran moms are saying, uh, yeah, duh.

But I’m gonna be totally honest – I knew it would take a lot of time and energy, but I was not prepared for how much of my BRAIN it took over. I mean, we have no warning, so it’s always a little crazy, but I literally could not think my own thoughts for the first 2-3 weeks. It was all baby thoughts, all the time. Thinking of even my own needs, like to shower or to read a book was not even an option.. and so of course the deeper, thinky stuff like my business was just not even accessible to my brain.

Now, that is for a short(ish) time, but even after we’re used to each other and it becomes less of a shock that THERE IS A BABY IN MY HOUSE, I never fully recovered my thinking brain. So that makes dong things like strategic planning, or heck, even writing a podcast REALLY hard.

And so the lesson was: it is more emotionally and mentally intense than I was expecting and also: everything will be ok. It’s ok to not be at 100%. It is OK to feel slightly slow all the time.

I need more grace

One of the things I struggled with most during this transition to motherhood (which is still ongoing, just on pause until we get the next placement!), is being really hard on myself. I have never been a perfectionist, I am always saying “oh, it’s fine. Done is better than perfect.” I’d rather have something done and then fix and upgrade and improve on it than try to perfect it from the start.

So I was totally surprised when I became so hard on myself for everything related to child care (especially with the toddler). I was disappointed I didn’t feed her even more whole foods. I was disappointed I snapped at her. I was frustrated when her nap didn’t happen. I think it’s that I didn’t see that, just like my business, this parenting gig is a progressive thing. You don’t have to get it perfect the first time, you just doing your best and something less than your best because you’re tired or annoyed and it all works together to be fine.

The good news is, I recognized this. I recognized that so much of being a foster parent is out of my control, and I was being really relaxed about not being in control of the system and the big stuff (will she go or stay? How many visits per week?), I was instead trying to exert control over the situation by controlling myself, controlling my parenting, and constantly beating myself up for not doing enough.

So when I recognized it, I talked to other moms. I talked to some of you on Instagram Stories and I talked to moms in real life and I decided to give myself more grace. Grace to be imperfect. Grace to mess up. Grace to even make the wrong decision sometime, knowing that it’ll be ok.

I know I’m not alone in this and I know it’s not at all about parenting – it’s about being nice to yourself vs holding yourself to some impossible standard.

So I’m gonna invite you to give yourself some grace.

My business will survive!

As Jay put it as we were talking about this episode, I learned that  “your business can survive your lowest point, and your highest stress.” Because, seriously, that’s what this year was full of. From having the worst depressive episode last summer, to the stress of having a 2 year old who is a total stranger – I put my business on hold more this year than I ever have. Yes, I streamlined and planned for the first maternity leave (when we got our placement in October)… but right as I was starting to work again, she went home. And then it took me a while to get back in the swing of productivity and we got our 2 year old friend. And it took me over a month to get a handle on any kind of productivity. She stayed 3 months so I got into a good workflow during the days she was out of the house… but then she left. And 2 weeks later we got a baby for a week.

All that to say, one maternity leave is great, but all of the unknown and the emotions, and the wanting to not to commit to anything, because I may have to cancel at the last minute… it’s hard on me and hard on my business.

And yet… my business is resilient. My audience won’t all leave. Actually, most won’t even notice when I go silent for a week or two, as long as my promises are fulfilled (students get what they bought and the podcast keeps dropping each Wednesday morning).

Now, my business is extra-resilient because I set up lots of systems to keep it running (again, I talk about those in episode 224 and teach you how to do it in my workbook at TaraSwiger.com/leave)

But I always had a little bit of doubt, I worried that if I didn’t do X or Y or if I cancelled on someone or didn’t follow through, everything would fall apart. And while it did slow down, it did not fall apart.
I wanna share that with you, because I know a lot of you have the same fear. So just take a deep breath, it’s gonna be alright.

Taking care of myself is everything

This year really challenged me to step up how I treat myself. Emotionally, by giving myself more grace, but also physically, by ya know, actually taking time to shower, to go walk in nature, to diffuse the essential oils I’m craving. I’ve known this for a long time, but when I didn’t really have anyone depending on me to be at my best, I would tell myself that it wasn’t important. Even though I know I’ve had my biggest business growth and had the best mental health in the years that I was running longer races (2013-2015), I told myself it wasn’t worth the time.

But I am working on changing that message, on valuing myself enough to take care of myself. As Jay says “Your entire job and business is based on you being the best Tara you can be. It only survives if YOU are feeling great.”

So although I’d love for us to take care of ourselves simply because we are valuable, I’ll be honest that I had to have another reason to convince me. Knowing the kids in my life deserve my best, and knowing that you and the business deserve my best – has convinced me. (This is classic enneagram 2, I’ll do it to help someone else.)

Because of this lesson, I created a free 5 day Challenge for y’all, along with a workshop. It walks you through 5 days of just doing teeny tiny things to take better care of yourself. And after the challenge is over, I’m sharing my own journey of taking better care, in monthly exclusive letters. You can join at taraswiger.com/takecare

Thanks so much and have another enthusiastic year.

Past Birthday posts

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

Play

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

Play

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.

250: Q+A: schedules, toddlers and why we do foster care

Running a biz and parenting are challenging in and of themselves. Combine the two together and you’re bound to run into questions and sticking points. Listen in for this q+a episode all about scheduling, parenting, and fostering at TaraSwiger.com/podcast250

Play

In celebration of my 250th episode, I’m answering your questions!

Last week I asked my Instagram followers to ask me question and I will answer them today! We’re going to talk about how to stick with a schedule, how my schedule has changed with a toddler and how we decided to do foster care. If you’re not following me on Instagram, I’m @TaraSwiger and I share more on all these topics every single day in my stories, along with my knitting and sewing projects and my reading list,  so go follow and then comment on my last post to say hello!

The questions I answer in this episode:

From @bandofweirdos: Congrats, that's a ton of episodes! I so admire your consistency 💜 Maybe you've already talked about this but: do you have any tips around getting yourself to stick to a schedule? Or are you naturally like that? I love planning it all out, what I'll post when on social media (and now youtube), what products I will release then… amazing at planning, and then letting myself push the dates all over the place. :p Thank you oh wise scheduling jedi.

@bcastiel asked: Congrats on 250 episodes! Here's my question, how have you rearranged your work schedule, now that you have a two-year-old to look after? I know how focused and organized you are, so I'd be interested in seeing what adjustments you have made.

And finally, from @marymac1218: What made you and your husband decide to become foster parents? What are your top 3 most used essential oils and why?

Thanks for these questions! If you enjoy this podcast, please celebrate with me by subscribing on YouTube or your podcast app, and then leaving a review! On iTunes, click the stars and write a short little bit about what you like, and on YouTube, give the video a thumbs up and leave a comment! This helps people like you find the show!

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.

248: My favorite podcasts

I love podcasts, and think they’re fantastic for entertainment or for learning new things. In this episode I wanted to share some of my favorite business, parenting, and generally fun podcasts. Learn more at TaraSwiger.com/podcast248

Play

I LOVE podcasts. They are the absolute perfect way to learn or be entertained while you do boring or mundane stuff. I listen to quite a few podcasts and I'm always recommending specific episodes to friends. Today I want to share my favorite with you!  I'll cover my favorite podcasts for your business, for parenting (especially fostering and adopting), and just general fun stuff.

This week I'm sharing some of my favorite podcasts. I have been listening to podcasts since 2006! My husband bought me an ipod shuffle (no screen!) for Valentine's Day in 2006 because I was listening to podcasts on my computer (we only had a desktop, no laptop, and obviously we only had flip phones. FLIP PHONES!). Those first podcasts I loved (you can still go back and listen!) – KnitCast, which may have been the first podcast about knitting, CastOn with Brenda Dayne, which inspired the direction of my yarn company, and CraftyPod with Diane Gilleland, who I stalked on Twitter until we became real-life friends and collaborators. (I took her class on podcast years before I started this show and anything good in this podcast I learned from her.)

The landscape of podcasting has changed QUITE a bit since 2006! For starters, you likely know what they are now, and you probably didn't back then. Many of you don’t even listening Explore Your Enthusiasm as an audio podcast, you watch it on YouTube.

When I first started this show back in 2014, I had to explain to interested students what podcasts were and how to actually get them. If you are reading this, did you know you can get it delivered to your phone automatically? If you have an iphone, just go to the Podcast app, search for “explore your enthusiasm” and hit the “subscribe” button! It'll come to your phone every Wednesday morning. If you use a different phone, look in your app store for a podcast app, and subscribe in the same way.

Before we get into my faves, let's talk about listening to podcasts for a minute – there are some podcasts I listen to every week, but MOST shows, I tend to save up and then binge on. I may spend a whole week listening to one show, and then not listen again for a month. I may completely forget about a show for 3 months, and then it becomes one of my favorites. So when I recommend these shows, I'm not just recommending the most recent episodes, I'm recommending them overall, because I've learned something from them over the years.

And now that I've told you how I listen to podcasts, you don't need to apologize to ME for not hearing my most recent episode, when you meet me in person or send me a DM I get it!

And if you want to hear MY best podcast episodes, check out the episode 234! In it I share the most popular episodes and you can find them linked up at the show notes: https://taraswiger.com/podcast234/

My favorite podcasts for your biz:

I'll be honest, I don't listen to a lot of business podcasts regularly, because I find they distract me from what I need to be working on! I don't need more ideas, I just need to do the work! However, when I do need ideas or inspiration, I listen to these:

Hashtag Authentic – I met Sarah Tasker when she was a student in my Craft Your Marketing workshop in Manchester, England. And then I was blown away when I realized that she is an Instagram superstar and writes an amazing blog. Her podcast Hashtag Authentic is SO good and has amazing interviews with people you don't hear anywhere else. And! Her book Hashtag Authentic just came out and is the best thing ever.

The Goal Digger Podcast – Jenna Kutcher, who has a giant business and started out as a photographer and went viral on Instagram, shares some amazing lessons in this show. She switches between teaching episodes (kinda like my show usually is) with interviews with a really random collection of people. To be honest, I usually skip the interviews because she's had some reality stars on which is…odd, but also some great conversations about diversity in the Instagram world. I tend to pick and choose. My favorite episodes have been about concrete topics like growing Instagram or Pinterest.

Online Marketing Made Easy with Amy Porterfield – I haven't listened to this show in about a year because I would end up taking copious notes on each episode and learning so much…and I've been in a place of implementing (and healing!), instead of learning. But when I need to uplevel some aspect of my business, I search her archives and listen to the episodes that relate to what I need. That said, a few years ago I listened every single week and  acted on so much of what she taught I think it directly correlated to my business hitting six figures. (No, I haven't taken her classes, but they look great!)

Hol:Fit Talks – Ange Petersen has a multimillion dollar business and is one of the top sellers in doTERRA and she believes it is all about mindset. Her episodes are so encouraging and enlightening, no matter what business you're in.

All Rise Up with Allison Nichols – If you have doTERRA business, you need to be listening to this podcast. I am telling you that it is REQUIRED listening. If you have a different business, you're going to love her interviews and learn a lot about how to be a bold salesperson. Allison is another of the top sellers in doTERRA and I love how unapologetic she is about her ambition and how hard you need to work.

Honorable Mention:  I used to listen to both The Tim Ferriss Show and School of Greatness weekly, but I haven't listened in a few years. I became tired of the interview format. The School of Greatness, does have a more diverse line-up (Tim's show tends to be all white dudes who have giant business, many of which are “intellectual dark web” people). I also have listened to and loved The Life Coach School show, Sounds Like Bliss, Manifestation Babe.

There are two mental health related podcasts that I think are just great:

Jen Gotch is Ok… Sometimes – The first several episodes are required listening if you think you may be dealing with mental health issues. Jen Gotch is the founder of Band.Do, which means she's a super smart businesswoman…and she has bipolar disorder and anxiety disorder. Hearing her story in the first few episodes was really what I needed this summer.

The Hilarious World of Depression – This is the podcast I didn't know I needed. Each week the host interviews a different funny person and they talk about their experience with depression, how they got treatment and what works for them. It is always heartwarming and sometimes heartbreaking and is what you need if you feel alone.

Honorable Mention: Oprah's Supersoul Conversation. I don't think it needs an explanation. It's Oprah and some great guests and some kooky guests.

Parenting podcasts:

Real Mom Podcast – a foster and adoptive mom interviews moms from all backgrounds and although this show is aimed at Christian moms, I think all moms can relate to the stories shared and the real conversations.

Slate's Mom and Dad are Fighting – this is a panel show with 3 parents who answer listener questions and share their own “triumphs and fails” each week. Sometimes they talk about older kids, sometimes toddlers, I always enjoy it and usually listen while washing dishes.

The Empowered Parent Podcast – this is usually a conversation with two parents and is based on the concepts in Karyn Purvis' work and the Connect Child book. If you are parenting a kid with trauma or you're feeling disconnected, there's lots of good foundational stuff with examples in this show (I mostly download old shows and listen about a specific topic, like tantrums, or reunification)

Honorable Mention: The Adoption Connection.

Random podcasts that got me through hard times:

By the Book – In this podcast two friends read and live by a self-help book for 2 weeks. They choose different kinds of books and share the results. This is a professionally produced show and yet manages to be hilarious and warm, like listening to two friends. When I'm traveling and can't sleep, I sometimes put this on with the sleep timer and I drift off. (Not because it's boring but because I need some friends around)

Dear Hank And John – John Green (author of Fault in Our Stars and a million other very good novels) and his brother Hank Green (author of An Absolutely Remarkable Thing and the creator and business brains of tons of huge YouTube things, like Crash Course) have a weekly YT show called VlogBrothers, which is one of the first vlog-type things I ever watched. Now they have a podcast where they give dubious advice to listener's questions and it is always hilarious and uplifting. This is one I listen to every week within a few days of it coming out, often when I'm in the car with my foster kiddos.

Honorable Mention: I was listening to Layla Saad's Wild Mystic Woman podcast for conversations about anti-racist work, but she recently changed it up and has the new Good Ancestor Podcast which I just downloaded.

There are a lot of other shows I listen to now and again, all of these have been listened to recently: Nerdette, Slate's The Waves, Decoder Ring, Reading Glasses, Reply All, NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour, Beautiful Writers Podcast, Rants and Randomness with Luvvie, NPR's Code Switch.

Now that I've put all these shows in one place I can see some things I'd like to change about my own habits – I'm glad to see I am listening to a lot of shows by women, which is something I purposefully sought to change a few years ago. But I recognize that among those women there isn't a lot of diversity. This year I'd like to change that a bit, so I'm  listening to and learning from people who are different from me.

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.

246: How to stop being hard on yourself

We can all be too hard on ourselves. But it doesn’t have to be that way, and it DOESN’T help you build a more successful or sustainable business. Learn more about how to change your negative self talk at TaraSwiger.com/podcast246

Play

Do you find yourself distracted with how you could have done something better? Or sidetracked thinking about the mistakes you made? Are you just too hard on yourself? Guess what? Me too!

Today I’m going to share how I’ve been working on: NOT being so hard on myself so I can move forward!

Now, most of us want to be better, right? We want to streamline, optimize, and improve all the time. That’s great and useful…but not when it comes with a dose of beating yourself over everything that needs to be improved and optimized. Not if you’re getting so bogged down in what’s “wrong” that you can’t shift into action.

This is on my mind because a  few days ago I posted on Instagram Stories, that I noticed that I am really hard on myself when it comes to basically every parenting interaction. I'm always thinking: Oh, I could have done that better…I should have reacted differently…Ugh, I wish I had stayed calmer.

(What sparked this conversation was how I feel about parenting decisions, but we’re going to talk about all aspects of life, and especially your business, so you don’t need to be a parent to learn something! I’m brand new at being a parent, and I think a lot of what I’m experiencing is how it feels to be brand-new and learning at ANYTHING. It certainly reflects the lessons I was learning as a brand-new businesswoman!)

When I posted on Instagram Stories I got a lot of replies to my question about being hard on myself and I want to talk about them with the whole community, because they represent two different ways to look at the issue.

First, let’s talk about what I mean about “being hard on myself”. What I’m talking about is when something happens or you make a choice and you think: I should have handled that better. I shouldn’t have done X. I should have done Y.

Now, that thought alone isn’t necessarily the problem. The problems come in when there is judgement (I’m bad because I did X), when there is intensity (OMG THAT WAS HORRIBLE) and when these thoughts are frequent (if you can’t move forward because you can’t let go of the “mistakes” you made).

For example, one of the parenting things I thought was a mistake, I could NOT let it go. For the whole day I go over and over the morning in my head: What happened? Why didn't I …? Why didn't I..? I should have…

(By the way, I want to mention that if you have intrusive or looping thoughts, talk to a therapist, you can get help.)

So that’s being hard on yourself, and for me it comes in the framework of my Generalized Anxiety Disorder, where my anxiety-brain runs away with itself.

When I posted about it I got two different kinds of replies:

  • Half the replies said: This is what motherhood is! Get used to always feeling not good enough!
  • And the other half of the replies said: here are some resources for negative self-talk. Whether it's challenging negative thoughts or learning to talk kinder to yourself.

And both of these are interesting because they show different perspectives. One says “this is how it always is” and the other says “you can change this”.

I know that part of what “get used to it” means is, I'm not alone. That this is a part of doing anything new, and it's a part of almost every aspect of a woman's life – this constant sense that you SHOULD be better, that you COULD do better and that it's your job to be the absolute best.

Our world is filled with messages telling us: eat better, manage your time better, improve your hair, eyes, waist, kids behavior. Earn more money. Buy better stuff. Tidy up the stuff you do buy.

I don't think any of us should just accept that we never feel good enough. I think we can accept that there are a lot of messages in the media and on Instagram, Pinterest, and even among friends that tell us NOT to feel good enough. Our world is filled with this message and then we reiterate these messages to ourselves…but I don't want to believe that it has to be like this forever, that I just need to resign myself to this mindset.

Although I know “you’re not alone, this is what it feels like” messages are meant to be encouraging, I just don't want to live like this. It's not sustainable (in this intensity.) Just because the world tells you that you need to be better doesn’t mean you need to tell YOURSELF that you need to be better.

So, I'm moving forward with the belief that it doesn't have to be like this.

Now the second set of responses were: challenge those negative thoughts!

And this was interesting because I was not even recognizing what I'm doing as negative thoughts. It feels more like…hmm, just a running commentary of what could be better. Almost positive like: you could improve it this way! This could be smoother next time! Optimize! Streamline! IMPROVE!

HOWEVER improving and optimizing CAN be helpful…but when the underlying message is “Not good enough! Not good enough!” …that's not helpful or beneficial.

I kept telling myself that these weren't negative thoughts, they were just kind of insistent. Like the messaging of my whole life combined with anxiety leads to insistent, pervasive sense of doom. And then I realized: Wait, if this is anxiety, I know what can help with anxiety: challenging those thoughts and rewriting them. This is known as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and studies show that it’s one of the most effective therapies at dealing anxiety and depression.

CBT has this concept of “cognitive distortions,” ways that you’re seeing the situation through a distortion. You recognize the distortion, then rewrite the thought without the distortion.

So I checked to see if this “you should be better at X” fits in with any of the cognitive traps. I used my Moodnotes app because it makes it super simple.

Here are the cognitive distortions that applied:

  • Negative filtering: Only seeing the bad
  • Downplaying positive: dismissing positive qualities by telling yourself they are unimportant or do not count
  • All or nothing thinking: it either went wonderfully or was a failure. You either have a relaxed and happy kid or you're failing at it all.
  • Blaming: Blaming myself for anything that happens, even stuff I can't control.

Do you see how these distortions can apply to your own “hard on yourself” thoughts?

Now, I shared all this in an Instagram Live (follow me so you don’t miss any! I’m @TaraSwiger) and my friend Joeli pointed out something big I had been missing. The thought that needs rewriting isn’t just “you should be better/you’re not enough” but the belief that I even made a mistake to begin with.

I’m assuming (wrongly) that any unwanted outcome (with my child or my business) is because of some mistake I made. The other way to look at this is that it's not a mistake. You can't control all outcomes through your actions alone. For example, maybe if you would have done more IG post about your new product, you would have sold 1 more. But maybe you wouldn't have. You can't assume you know the outcome and then beat yourself up over what you don't know.

The thought the rewrite with CBT: It was a mistake that I X.
The cognitive distortions: Fortune-telling, where you believe you know what would have happened.
A rewritten thought: I don't know that it was a mistake that I X. I can try something different next time.

Another thing that came up while talking about this with friends is…depression. Depression lies. It tells you: You suck. This will never be better. It is your fault it's not going better and there's nothing to be done/you can't fix it. Because you suck.

This is a cognitive distortion. And if you have clinical depression, just rewriting your thoughts might not be enough. You may need an intervention from a specialist. I'm telling you this not because you suck, but so you know: YOU CAN GET HELP FOR THIS. Start by going to your primary care physician, your family doctor, and explain what's going on. They can recommend a therapist or an intervention. If you have a therapist, tell them about this.

More than anything, I want you to know that you are not alone and it won't always be like this. If it's hard and you think it's because you suck, you don't have to just accept that truth. If you feel inundated with messages that tell you you're not enough, you're not alone. You can unsubscribe from or turn off some of those messages. You can start to notice when those messages come at you and challenge them right then. (Studies have found that one of the best ways to shift the negative effect of advertising on girls it to talk about what the advertisement is selling right when you see it. I bet this works on yourself as well. “Oh this ad is telling me that the whites of my eyes need to be whiter? It's coming up with another thing I need to fix about myself. Hmm, maybe the whites of my eyes are not as important as the love I show in my life?”).

If you are hard on yourself, you're not alone. Take a breath. Rewrite the thought.

I think you are doing an AMAZING job in your life. You are enough. I hope you continue your day knowing that you are enough and you get to be enthusiastic about your life and your business.

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.