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259: How to be unapologetic

“Apologizing is keeping you small!” Learn more about how (and why!) to be your unapologetic self at TaraSwiger.com/podcast259

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Are you apologizing for following your dream, for taking the time away from your family + friends, for taking selfies or for following your own path? Are you apologizing out loud “sorry for another post but…” or are you apologizing with your actions and attitude (trying to physically to shrink yourself – sorry for taking up space!). If you wanna move forward with your business or even your life, it’s time to identify your apologies and move to being unapologetically YOURSELF.

I have been thinking and writing about the need to be unapologetic for a very long time. And I have been working on being unapologetic about who I am, for even longer.

Now, before we dive into this week’s episode, I want to share that I have been working on a new e-course about self-care and you can get it, for free, at TaraSwiger.com/takecare. If you’re struggling with confidence, motivation, and focus, it may very well because you need to take care of yourself. The course focuses on my favorite tools for taking care of myself, which in turn helps me manage my mental health, which is the biggest impact on my business. So whether you’re running a business, you’re a new mom (like me!) or you’re just struggling to follow your enthusiasm, check out the new e-course at TaraSwiger.com/takecare

I have been thinking about apologizing for my dreams, for my ambition, for who I am for a looong time. When I started writing about business, I titled the site (for a very brief period of time!) Unapolgetically Wonky.

At the time I said: “I don’t just acknowledge that yeah, we’re all a little wonky, I think it’s imperative to embrace it, to love our wonky bits, to be who we are without apologizing. Unapologetically wonky is a way of being that influences my teaching and creating. Embracing the imperfections in my student’s work and helping them accept it as a natural part of learning.

Avoiding holding up any one standard of awesomeness.”

Friends, what was true in 2010 is even MORE important today. With Instagram perfection, and Facebook humblebragging, and all of the ways we are surrounded with pictures of lives that seem better than ours, it is more important than ever to acknowledge and embrace our own wonkiness, and to move forward unapologetically ourselves.

Quick shout out to the book that got me thinking and talking about this recently: Rachel Hollis’ Girl, Stop Apologizing. I read the intro and immediately sat down to have a convo about it in my Instagram Stories and that inspired this episode. I’m liking the book so far, but I wanted to write this episode before I read any more of it.

What does being unapologetic even mean?

It means not apologizing for really, I mean REALLY wanting something.

It means not apologizing for not wanting what other people want.

It means not apologizing for spending hours working on what lights you up.

It means not apologizing for spending hours not working, for napping, for reading, for snuggling, for watching TV.

It means not apologizing for wanting more. More customers, more money, more house, more friends, more kids, more more more.

It means not apologizing for wanting less. Less waste, less stuff, less debt, less expectations, less work, less inequality, less conflict, less less less.

It means not apologizing for standing your ground, for living by your values, for choosing something that other people aren’t choosing, for parenting the way you want to parent.

It means not apologizing for your body, for the size it is, for the color it is, for what it can do, for what it can’t do, for what it doesn’t want to do, for what it craves, for what turns it on.

It means not apologizing for completely and totally accepting yourself, for loving yourself, for taking care of yourself. And also for not being there yet. For not feeling acceptance yet.

It means not apologizing for loving and accepting others, for creating healthy boundaries, for saying yes when you want to and for saying no when you want to.

It means not apologizing to the world, and not apologizing to yourself, in words, in actions, or in attitudes for who you are and the life you want.

Why? Apologizing is keeping you small.

It keeps you from following your dreams. It makes you feel like you’re not allowed to want what you want. And that means you won’t actually do what it takes to get what you want.

I’ve experience this so often in my own life and business – I want something, but I feel kinda wishy washy for wanting it, because I think either it’s going to inconvenience someone else, or it’s going to be weird…and so I don’t follow through on figuring out how to get it (let alone for doing the work to get it!) until I can feel awesome about it. Until I’m unapologetic about wanting it and for the work it’ll take to get it.

If you’re stuck in not following through on a dream, I want you stop and think: What are you apologizing for? What makes you feel like you shouldn’t want it?

Apologizing for what makes you different, is what keeps your business stuck.

Here’s the crazy thing: the stuff that makes you different? The way you want to live, communicate, make, market – that will be what makes your business stand out. That is what will lead to your business success! If you follow the path others have blazed, if you do what everyone else expects you to do… your business will be boring. If you have a business just like everyone else’s…no one will buy from you. We buy from and keep coming back to businesses  that are different.

And hey, if you’ve been telling yourself (the lie) that your field is already really crowded? That too many other people do it? The solution is not to give up, the solution is to do it your own way. To be different. So whether you sell knitting designs, or handmade products, or someone else’s products, even if you have a direct selling business – yes, hundreds of thousands of people probably sell the same thing  – but none of them can be you. None of them can do it how you do it.

Being apologetic for your own weird, offbeat ways will keep you from seeing the success of being your own weird, offbeat self.

Being in a state of apology is setting a bad example.

Here’s the thing: I want you to accept what you want for YOU, but I know that often we make a change because it’s good for others. So here’s the altruistic reason for not apologizing: it conveys your values. Maybe I’m thinking about impact and examples (which I talked about in the last episode) so much because all my foster babes have been girls, so I’ve been thinking hard about being an example to younger women and girls.

Or maybe it’s because I have woken up to the fact that often  we only believe it’s possible and permissible when we see other people do it. Running a 10k – possible to me only after I saw my college roommate doing it. Being a mom of 4 and running an amazing business – possible and permissible only when I got up close and saw the family life of my friends Liz and Dave.

So when you feel like you have to apologize for taking care of yourself? Or when you apologize for being dedicated to your business? You are telling those around you, both little people and big people, that it is not permissible for them either.

Ok, so now that I’ve convinced you to stop being so apologetic…how do you do it?

  1. Recognize what you’re apologizing for. Maybe you need to listen again and pay closer attention to the examples I give, but I am sure that if you are feeling low confidence about something, or telling yourself that some of your dreams aren’t possible, you are feeling like it’s not quite permissible for you, or you feel apologetic for wanting it.
  2. Ask yourself: what are the beliefs you have about that area? What are the beliefs you have about yourself and who you are supposed to be?
  3. Envision your most badass self, the one who is unapologetic about wanting what she wants. What does she do that you’re not doing? What does she believe that you don’t believe? My favorite thing to do is to write a letter as this Future You (because this unapologetic gal IS a possible Future You) about what you learned and did to make your dreams happen. Or if that’s not your jam, write a list.
  4. Catch yourself (and others, gently) when you start to apologize for something you want. For me it sounds something like: “Sorry, but I really want to…wait, no not sorry. Lemme start over. I would like to X. I would like you to Z.” Here’s the crazy thing. Every single time I’ve done that, the person has said, “That’s awesome! Thanks so much for letting me know!” Because those who love you want to know what you want! They want to know how to support you! And you being honest and straightforward (and not whiny or cranky) allows them to be honest and straightforward about how they can support you and what they don’t want to do.

I hope this helps you live unapologetically. As a reminder, get the new e-course, at TaraSwiger.com/takecare.

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.

 

258: You have impact

“If you don’t build the thing you want to build, if you don’t lead the life you want to lead… who won’t be impacted? Who will still think it’s not possible?” Read more at TaraSwiger.com/podcast258

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Who does your work have an impact on?

We've talked before about what you might give up in order to fulfill your dream. But what are you creating? What are you gaining? How is your work impacting others? Get ready to fall in love with your dream a little more, and get fired up.

You know what I realized the other day? This month this podcast is FIVE YEARS OLD. I have written, recorded and produced a weekly episode every week for FIVE YEARS. Yay! I wanna celebrate!

How can you help me celebrate? Share the show! Take a screenshot of your phone or picture of what you're doing while you listen and share it on Instagram and tag me and the show! I'm @taraswiger and the hashtag is #exploreyourenthusiasm.

Leaving reviews helps others know they should tune in – you can do it on iTunes or over on YouTube, just give it a thumbs up!

The last few weeks we've talk about time and balance and sacrificing things so you can get stuff done. And it's easy to focus on what you're taking away or losing out on while you're working. Maybe you have less time with kids, or less time for your hobbies. But another way to think about this is to focus on what you're creating, what you're giving to the world. Because in every bit of work you're doing, you are making an impact.

If you’ve been asking yourself “Can I do this? Will it be too hard on my family? Am I allowed to do this?” Let’s turn that around. The question to be asking is “Who are you impacting? What will NOT doing this, take away from the world?”

Because here’s the thing – ANY amount of doing something you care deeply about, any amount of working towards building something new, is going to be an inspiration to others. It’s going to provide an example of what’s possible. It’s going to give them permission to follow their OWN dream. Yes, building a business does this, but so does following ANY dream – even if it's giving yourself time to work on your hobby, or working at paying down your debt, or saving up for a vacation, or running a half-marathon, or becoming a parent through foster care or adoption.

Wait, let’s back up even farther – ANY thing you do is an example to others of what’s possible.

Are you holding yourself back? You’re setting an example. Are you telling yourself that you can’t do X because you’re not enough? You don’t have enough education, you’re too big, you’re too old, you’re don’t have enough money? THAT is setting an example.

When you don’t do something because of reasons, you are telling other people – you can’t do that either.

If I believed the voices in my head that told me my voice is too annoying or I’m too fat to have a podcast, I would be telling other woman who look or sound like me that they can’t do it either.

You see, setting an example, being an example, isn’t just about setting an example for kids. Having kids is often the first time people THINK about the example they’re setting, but you’re an example to everyone in your world.

So the question isn’t “Can I do this?” but “What example am I setting by not doing it?”

And I don’t say this so you can feel ashamed by what you haven’t done – getting stuck in the past isn’t going to help anyone. I’m telling you this, so you can make your decisions from a NEW place. A place where you’ve reframed “following your dream” from something selfish, to something noble, something altruistic.

Watching you build your dream is inspiring.

It's inspiring to your kids, your friends, your community. Even when you fail, you are showing the people in your life that failure is a part of it. So many of us grow up afraid of failure, afraid of being wrong, that we don’t realize failure is a necessary part of doing big things. Inspiration isn’t just fun, it’s vital to the process of acknowledging and following dreams! Without it, we wouldn’t even begin to dream or to imagine what’s possible. Take a minute and think about the people who have inspired you to bring you where you are right now.

Homework: Reach out to at least one of these people and tell them that they inspired you. You can say something super simple: Thank you so much for doing X, that inspired me to take action on my own dream.

You are providing an example of what's possible.

Take a minute and think about the people you knew growing up. What jobs did they do? Like me, were you surrounded by hair stylists, roofers, members of the military and the best of all possible jobs (in my kid-mind) : teachers and librarians? Or did you grow up knowing doctors and lawyers and entrepreneurs? None of these jobs is better than the others, but the jobs you grow up seeing are the ones you believe are possible. Maybe you grew up and moved out and met other people, who had other jobs and you thought: Hey! I didn’t know real people did that job!

The biggest obstacle I find in people actually starting their business or to do freelance work? They literally don’t believe that it’s possible for real people. Maybe that girl on Instagram, but I bet she grew up with money. Maybe that dude is an entrepreneur, but he went to an Ivy League school.

I know it may sound impossible to you, but when you choose to build a nontraditional career? You are changing the examples of what’s possible. You are changing the definition of what a “job” is, for the people in your community.

You are also giving people permission to follow their own path.

You are providing inspiration, you are setting new examples of what’s possible. AND, you are giving people permission. And honey, we all need permission.

We have all been raised to wait for permission. Wait to be called on. Wait to be picked for the job. Wait to be chosen by a partner or friend. But as you know, no one will choose you and hand you your path. You have to build it. You get to decide what you want it to be, but then you have to take action, long before anyone else has decided you can. Before they’ve decided you’re worth it. Before you’ve been chosen for the craft show, or the book deal, or the magazine feature.

YOU had to give yourself permission a lot before you got a business even up and running. To get to your biggest dreams, to where you want to be in 10 or 20 years, you’re going to have to give yourself even more permission.

And the people around you? They’ve been trained the same way. They are waiting for someone to tell them that they can do it. But they can choose themselves too. Seeing you invest in yourself, seeing you spend the time and money to build your thing? It will give them permission, to do something for themselves.

This is how your impacting your world!
You are giving permission!
You are being an example!
You are inspiring!

Who in your life is being impacted? If you don’t build the thing you want to build, if you don’t lead the life you want to lead…who won’t be impacted? Who won’t be inspired? Who will still think it’s not possible?

How to listen

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

Find all the podcast episodes here.

257: The Myth of “Balance”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to listen

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

Find all the podcast episodes here.

256: Time: there’s never enough

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Start with honesty

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Use the time you have effectively

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

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

How to listen

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

Find all the podcast episodes here.

255: What I’m reading: April 2019

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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.

(The usual disclaimer applies.)

What I read

This month I got kinda book-crazy and attempted to read 40 books in the 40 days of Lent. I'm at 32 books right now, and I have about a week left, so it's possible I'll get there. For more on what I'm reading (in real-time!), follow my Stories on Instagram.

Non-fiction:

Novels:

How to listen

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  • 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.

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.

253: Q+A with my husband!

Working with your partner has some incredible perks, and some tricky parts. Listen in while my husband and I answer your questions about work, life, and fostering at TaraSwiger.com/podcast253

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Ever wonder what it’s like to work with me?  Or to work with your spouse? Today we, both Jay and I, are going to answer your questions!

Jay has worked in my business on and off for years, and in the last few years we have had a lot of new adventures – from working full-time in my business, to pursuing his dream to open a comic shop, to fostering babies!

In this episode we answer questions about guilt, what it’s like when one of us gets to follow our dream (and the other doesn’t), the hardest part of working together full-time, how Jay feels about me being in the limelight, the best part of foster care, why we rent, and the real work Jay has had to do as we make huge changes in our life. And yeah, we talk about how the patriarchy feels some kind of way about a husband working for the wife, and why we just don’t care. We wrap up with our advice for couples who want to work together.

Thank you to listeners who asked their question:

Are you following me on Instagram? Be sure you are so you can ask me questions for my next Q+A 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.

252: Get your confidence back

Confidence generates forward momentum and forward momentum generates confidence. But what do you do when you don’t have confidence or momentum? Learn how to get your confidence back in your creative biz at TaraSwiger.com/podcast252

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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.

For more about what confidence is and isn’t, check out episode 126: What Confidence is and isn’t.

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.

If you’re waiting around to do something until you feel confident, listen to episode 131: How to Take Action, without waiting around for more confidence.

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.

Celebrate

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.

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.

251: What I’m Reading: March 2019

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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.

(The usual disclaimer applies.)

What I'm reading:

Links:

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

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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.

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