Why you should reject the “OMG I AM SO BUSY” Busy Mom Mindset

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In my professional job at a Canadian University, I design and give seminars on a variety of topics that help students be successful at University.  It’s one one my favourite parts of the job and it has some selfish benefits – I get to learn and experiment with these principles in my own life before I share with clients.  I get to read books and research and then teach principles to others, that help me, too.

At this year’s class of 2020 induction the University brought in NYT best selling author, Psychologist & TED Talker extraordinaire Kelly McGonical speak to the class of 2020 on her new book, The Upside of Stress.

At its core, this amazing book is really about how to reframe stress and use the power of our own perspective and our own mindset, to reframe stress into a good thing. Chock-full of anecdotes and research, The Upside of Stress demonstrates the power of mind over body – and mind over life.

Those Books that Make a Difference

Often, the books that resonate with us the most, are the books that simply frame in English language, some kind of principle we’ve understood or known all along, but couldn’t fully frame. I think that’s why the book did so well.  The Upside of Stress hit home in so many ways. I only wish I had read it when I was in undergraduate studies myself.  It would have saved me so much self-imposed “I’m soooo busy!” drama.

I didn’t figure out my stress stuff until the age of 30, when I experienced really heavy stress.

In the spirit of this book, and the approach McGonigal takes on reframing stress, I wanted to talk about how we can re-interpret stress & the cult of “busy” in the journey of motherhood. We can’t change events or circumstances, but we can work on how we viewtalk about and decide to interpret things.

 

Mom 1 to Mom 2:  Hey…are you a member of the cult?

Mom 1:  wtf?

Mom 2:  The cult of busy of course! WE ARE SOOOO BUSY! (takes off chasing toddler)

 

Whenever I mention to people that I have two small children (toddler and 1.5 year old) the first thing they do is shake their heads and say “oh, that’s busy.”  I often don’t even mention that I have children because I don’t want to induce such worry!

Sometimes I get “oh my god, you must be so busy” with a shake of the head, other times, slightly more worringly, it is with genuine concern / resignation.  I catch myself thinking  “oh?” and sort of start to doubt myself, like I should be more stressed than I am.  Maybe I’m not working hard enough?  Am I not doing something right as a parent?  Because I feel actually ok? Am I being a horrible parent because I’m obviously taking time out of parenthood to work on some business goals and people don’t do that?  Oh yes, they creep in.  As much as I keep them out, they creep in when someone looks at me with an alarmed look on their face with the mention of two children under three.

The problem is, I kind of don’t want their perspective.

If bought into this whole “my life is so horribly busy and I work so hard and I am exhausted and omg” it would be a bit of a disaster.  I would have immersed myself in the cult of busy. I’d probably be on a really high SSRI dosage.  I’d be in counselling.  I’d be struggling to deal with the left curve balls that sometimes get thrown my way.

It’s a devious cult, this cult of “busy” and it is hard to emerge from because it takes over the way you see things.  It’s a mindset.

If my mindset is like this:  MY LIFE IS MAXED OUT, I AM SO BUSY AS A MOM HOLY SHIT, I definitely would not be giving myself the mental space for anything else to happen, ever.  Because I’d be red-lining on everything, all the time. I wouldn’t have done any of the things I’d done on mat leave, or started any businesses or projects.

It led me to wonder, how come everybody says “you must be so busy.”

Why?  There’s tons of influences. In coaching we call it societal discourse.  It’s the hum of conversation around a topic that seems to be widespread.

First, it might be a cultural thing.  There’s a sort of pride, achievement in saying how busy you are.  If you are busy you must be super productive and successful.  I must be super productive and successful.  Therefore I must be busy. That’s the underlying assumption that occurs out there in the world when you have a lot on the go.  The ego likes that.  Then it doubles down when you are a Mom, because we have this weird guilt thing where we feel like we have to justify our very existence with double the hard work, right?

Some people are genuinely maxed out with life, and that’s totally cool.  I’m not judging.  But I write this post to help others who want to “catch” themselves in the mindset and take the edge off of it, because I think a lot of opportunity opens up with just a shift in mindset.

Where else does this whole busy mom thing come from?

There’s movies about the harried, flustered Mum.  Commercials that want you to think you are busy because then you’ll need their product.  Capitalist society wants you to be busy and stressed, because then they have solutions for you for only $10.99.

Moms are always portrayed as stressed and frazzled, aren’t they?  Everywhere we go, everything we see.  And it’s kind of our fault.  We don’t look up from our phones to pay attention to a mom calmly playing with their kids in the park – we only notice the exceptions.  They’re more interesting.  The 5 minutes in the day where the kid has gone bat shit crazy, and is about to take down a shelf at the grocery aisle, with Mum valiantly trying to save the kid from himself.  But we don’t notice the quiet moments – not the other 1440 minutes where they are doing well and things are calm.

The exceptions become the norm, then media and society immerses us in that norm.

 

Because of reading books like McGonical’s – books from different people with different mindsets, who all experience the same things we do yet see them in a different way –  I discovered that there is more to it.  There are people out there who achieve amazing things as parents, and they think differently.

The key is if we want to be something, or do something, we need to study those who are successful at it, and look at their mindsets.  

We are not resigned to this fate of busy, harried, stressed out moms.  We can be busy, yes but we can be in control and cooly, calmly and pleasantly say no if we need to, or yes if it’s a priority. We can choose yes or no and make our lives as busy, or quiet, as we want to.

The luxury of choice also extends to our own minds.  We have the luxury of making a choice of whether to believe we are busy or not.  With two under three, I decided that I was not busy; I still had time.  And with that time, I could pursue goals and dreams and projects and priorities.

Sure, free time was compressed from 3 hours (luxurious evenings pre-children) to 1 hour (while children or napping, or while I am on lunch break at work.)  but I still had an hour free time each day in some form or another.  Free time is free time.  I sat down and looked at my week, and where the gaps of free time happened (6-7am, lunchtime at work, and 8-9:30pm) and decided what my most deeply held goals and values / priorities were. A crystal clear priority plan I still have on my iPhone notes when I need to remind myself what I want to say “YES” to, and as a source of strength when I have to say “NO” to things.

In this or that hour of free time, there went the goals and projects.  Writing a childrens’ book.  Running an Etsy store.  Reading and learning.  Finishing my coach training and launching a coaching business.  But they weren’t OMG JUST MORE SHIT TO DO.

These were all consciously chosen and pursued dreams and goals that I looked at as my idea of fun on free time.  I wanted to do these.  That’s just me. That’s what I define as enjoyable and rewarding.  Others may be Netflix or catching up on laundry, that’s okay too!  But do you tell yourself “AAAAGH!” or “COOL, IT WILL BE NICE TO SWITCH IT UP AND DO THIS INSTEAD.”

Is your approach an “ I HAVE TO” approach or a “I WANT TO” approach?

I don’t mean to be a jerk but I do mean to give a cold hard dose of reality with this post –  if you came back and said to me NO SERIOUSLY I HAVE NO FREE TIME I would debate that. I would want to see a week’s breakdown of your life, and I would ask you about your mindset.  I would ask you about what you said yes to, what you said no to. I’d ask you to put “yes and no” in the box according to what you said when that opportunity came up.

What qualifies in your life as free time?  What activities are you designating as “I have to” and  as “I want to.”

Let’s take this external event, I’ll show you an “I have to” and “I want to” mindset.

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Deciding to take the kids to the library.  Two different experiences.

Mum 1:  Agh I have to get them out of the house and this is my to do today.  It’s just one more thing on this massive list of things I am supposed to get done today. Work work work! Busy busy busy! I have to get this done!

Mum 2:  Ah awesome, with this hour I’m going to decide to take the kiddos over to the library, that’s a treat for us, a fun excursion and a break from the day’s routines. I want to do this !

SAME external life event for both moms.  Two TOTALLY different ways of perceiving it. No wonder when you come across people in the library everyone is in a totally different state of mind; look at how different their beliefs can be.

Mum 1 is living in the  “holy shit I’m so busy / stressed” narrative. Mum 1 feels that everything is outside of her external control and she’s just dragging herself along.  Mum 2 is living in a more in-control narrative that doesn’t see everything as obligations and duties.  Mum 2 is operating by choice.  They may both have busy lives and the same schedules, but they have different mindsets and ways of perceiving the situation.

What do you think Mum 1 and Mum 2’s lifestyles look like?  Do their thoughts serve them well?  Do their mindsets move them closer to goals they have?

 

 

When you wake up in the morning and you have a particularly big day of activities coming up – whether you work or stay at home, do you feel that anxious energy and think “I JUST WANT TO STAY IN BED OMG LIFE IS SO OVERWHELMING AND THIS IS JUST CRAZY”  Or do you feel that anxious energy and think “cool, this is a little tingle of excitement and anticipation getting me ready to execute a big day!”

The brain quite literally  changes its wiring and neural pathways to accommodate your thinking patterns.  Each time  you choose to think a certain way, you are either reinforcing the pathways present – or helping the brain to reshape itself and habitually think a different way.

If you start reading books by all of these cool women who have kids and have achieved awesome things, youll notice that most them tend to go through the exact same scenarios that we moms do – but they frame it differently.  They make the choice to think things, and form their brains in ways that will help them toward their goals. You as a mama know how quickly time passes, so think about what you want to achieve.  Whether you use it or not, time will pass.  You already know this better than anyone, as you sit with your baby and think “where did the time go?!”

If you want to join the cult of busy and the stress narrative, that’s your choice but ask if it serves you and gets you towards your goals.  There’s an alternative that will help you take on new things and grow.  You just have to choose it.

xo

 

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Extra reading *and viewing

 

Amazon link:  https://www.amazon.ca/Upside-Stress-Why-Good-You/dp/1583335617

McGonical’s online course through Stanford University http://online.stanford.edu/course/upside-stress

Kelly’s personal website http://kellymcgonigal.com/

 

Is It Possible to Start an Online Business With a Baby? YES! 15 Truths for Online Entrepreneur Success – With a Baby in Your Arms.

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I’ve taken online courses, I’ve studied online entrepreneurs, I’ve read books and listened to more than 200 hours of podcasts. Most importantly, I’ve started acting on these lessons and am entering the world of online business in 2016.

The foundation was slowly built over maternity leave, and continues to be developed.  But the revenue is beginning to trickle in.  The potential is there, and now I am going from building mode to testing and refining mode.  I’ve tested a few models and it’s time to sit down and clarify the goals, and intensify my focus.

Most online entrepreneurship classes hammer home the whole niche thing.  As a multi-passionate I really, really struggled with this question.  I did not find my niche.  I just started putting a few ideas and business products out there, to see a.) what I enjoyed and b.) what gained traction.  I actually think this is the best way.  Most entrepreneurs get stuck at the start line because they feel like they have to have this entire formula figured out. What is your niche? What problem are you solving? What are you going to charge to solve it?  And so it goes. 

The sweet spot is developing a product that catches hold with your audience, and catches hold with you.  A and B above.

A few products that I developed started returning a revenue.  But I realized in working on some of them, that I wasn’t passionate enough to invest most of my time and focus in that one area. So I redirected my focus to the few that made me come alive – where I had a deeper well to draw from.  The thing is, you won’t know this answer (and cannot possibly know this) till you try it out.

So jump into online business with the intent to discover one type of product you like, and one type of product you don’t like.  I mean it.  Your goal is to have one success and one failure, at least!  There really is nothing to lose other than the time you put into it.

1.) Building an online business is a lot of small tasks.  They can drive you crazy unless you think about them as steps that get you closer to your goal.  One day is going to be about getting mail chimp set up.  Another day is just sorting out some nice typography for your instagram.  One day is going to be setting up / learning about Facebook ads.  Another day may be organizing receipts in your inbox.  Another day may be buying more storage in iCloud.  Acknowledge and learn to enjoy the satisfaction in completing these tasks, even if they are overwhelming and there’s a steep learning curve.  There’s a lot of them, so get over it.  It’s quite satisfying crossing them off in a journal or on your note taking app.

2.) Remember, anything you do, is one step closer to your goal.  While others are quitting at 3 months in, you are just taking one step at a time and being strategic.  The tortoise wins the race.  Most successful online entrepreneurs will tell you they were working at it a while before things took off.  I’m a big fan of the blunt truth talker Ramit Sethi of I Will Teach You To Be Rich – check out the infographic in his post showing his product development over six years!

You’ve got at least 40 years left on this earth. Don’t worry about it. Do it because you love it.  Don’t compare yourself to the entrepreneurs who have 70 hours a week, or even 20 to work on their projects and launches.  You are working very hard on a few precious hours per week.  Things will happen for you, but they will happen on your schedule.

4.) Ignorance is bliss, and it contributes to action.  Find some amazing people who are doing what you what to do.  Study how they do it, their webpage, their brand and learn from them.  But be cautious.  I do think that some over-confidence / ignorance is bliss.  Study others just enough to know how to do things well, but not too much.  As soon as you see how many people are doing what you are doi ng, you will become intimidated and discouraged.  When I started my successful Kickstarter campaign, I found two other campaigns I loved and made notes on their models. I focused only on a few successful ones and did not look at just how many children’s books are on Kickstarter.  I wouldn’t have started had I known how saturated Kickstarter is and how much better everyone else’s campaigns looked.  I’m so glad I ran a basic campaign (with much room to improve) and learnt from it, rather than never doing it because I was blocked by intimidation and the desire to do it perfectly. Block out the external noise and focus on what you need to do.

5.) Have a clear idea of what lifestyle you are working towards.  I use Pinterest to do some vision boarding. I have a board called “My goals // my life in progress” (yes, that’s my board right there!) and it is images of the lifestyle and rewards I want for myself and my family. Even as simple as pictures of someone standing in the window, sipping coffee – or a family photo of parents playing in the snow with the kids. I am constantly adding images to this board and it builds a powerful desire – deep within – to keep plugging away.

6.)  Make sure you enjoy your entrepreneurial journey and the project itself, as much as you’d enjoy the lifestyle that comes with it. Your project should be a “Hell yeah” project.  Actually, anything you do should be a “hell yeah or no” situation, as put forth by the fabulous writer Derek Sivers.  You cannot be an influencer in something you are not passionate about. People see straight through that. That’s why there is so much talk about #authenticity on the internet these days.

7.) You don’t necessarily have to take an online course. Most online entrepreneurs’ courses are simply repackaged and re-branded versions of content they have previously published. It is extra work to commit and dig through old content, but it is doable.  So really, we are talking about time vs. money.  If you want to spend less money, there’s more of a time investment on hunting down the information.  If you want to spend more money, you’ll cut some corners and avoid some mistakes other entrepreneurs made.  Eventually, both routes end up at the same destination.

8.)  That being said, the action of financially investing in a course and being part of a community is powerful.  Connecting with other students is a great framework if you are concerned about follow through and prefer team environments.  I also believe online courses are very helpful for those of us who are not skilled in the technical aspects of online business.  I’ve made wonderful connections in some entrepreneurs’ communities that I gained access through, as part of the course. The Smart Passive Income community, Kimra Luna’s #Freedomhackers and others.

9.)  Attend conferences and work outside of the house. Just get out there.  In the business world, networking, friendships, potential deals and closed deals happen outside of the office.  They don’t happen when you are sitting alone on a laptop in a room.  Get out there.  Attend a conference.  Yes, it’s $500 – $1000 to do, but trust me, that investment will pay itself off in a few years down the road with business that is generated as a result of the relationships you made at that conference, or as a result of the business improvements or renewed motivation you received from that event.  This one I have not done yet, and I have this conference on my bucket list.  I cannot wait to do this!  I’ve also added this one – Lewis Howes’ Summit of Greatness – to my pinterest board.

10.) Start saving receipts with the Wave app and creating a “receipts” category in your Gmail now.  There’s so many random little expenses with starting up online.  Cloud storage, random apps, Skype credits, Domain registration, etc.  It’s easy to forget about all of those expenses.

11.)  Don’t ever put too much weight on your total Instagram likes or comments.  80% of your Instagram activity will be hustlers.  Focus on the 5 or less people who you authentically connect on there.  And get unique with your hashtags.  What hashtags would you look for?  Don’t use the “most popular” hashtags.  It’s like dangling bait in the water – the sharks will come circling in.  I onced used #fitfam and #fitspiration and #postpartumweightloss – The Beach Body coaches that came running…..

12.)  Have your product researched and developed before you launch it.  If you arrive in the online business arena with a developed product, you will give less of a shit when the haters or non-supporters rear their ugly heads.  I had a hater a few weeks ago on Kickstarter.  A really unpleasant message that felt like a kick to the gut, initially.

If my children’s book wasn’t 90% complete, I would have taken his comments to heart.  The completion gave me immunity and the ability to pen back a professional letter addressing his trolling.  He wound up apologizing and pledging to the campaign.

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13.)  Be mindful of phone time. If you want a great check in, have your partner take a photo of you holding the phone up in front of your face.  Look at that picture.  This is what your kids may see.  It’s really hard, I know, especially when you are excited about your work and are desparate to work on it!  I’ve realized that I have to be in a separate room or working during the kids’ sleep hours.  They don’t need or deserve the back of my phone in front of their face.

14.)  You are going to get up early or stay up late to work on your business.  My formula has been:  Nap when the baby and toddler nap at mid day, and then wake up super early a few days a week.  A great day is a 5-5:30 start so that I have 1.5 hours to get stuff done with a nice cup of coffee.  It sounds insane but I love what I do enough that it’s not hard to get up.  Wait.  That’s a great question!  Do you like it enough to get up at 5:30 am (or stay up until 2am) working on it?  It is shocking how much you can get done with 1.5 hours, trust me.

15.)  Filter all social media and read selectively.  Follow inspirational or helpful feeds.  Your time is precious as an entrepreneur.  If you are going to take a precious 30 minutes for an iPhone break, fill it with good things that inspire.  Also, stop reading all of those pages, blog posts, social media posts that talk about motherhood and “being too busy” “losing balance” blabllablablabla. You can get stuck in the travails of early motherhood and circle around in that loop, or you can climb above it.   Those are all legit opinions, and motherhood IS hard –  but will they serve your goals if you decide to take those opinions on and make them your own?  Or spend your time steeping in those messages?

Probably not.  Start hunting out and reading about success stories.

My Half-Baked Plan to Try out a Kickstarter Campaign

It’s making me giggle writing this blog post. This latest bucket list project feels a bit absurd.  I’m so in over my head.

In my personal life (definitely not work life), I have a tendency to favor action over research and just jump into things, and learn as I go.  Which is funny, because I used to over-research, take 20 different classes and struggle to execute, paralyzed by an exacting standard. I guess I’ve gone through a 180.

I’d argue it’s an unexpected gift that came from becoming a parent, and the resultant focus on  just get shit done – I don’t have time anymore to luxuriously peruse, project plan, build and then roll out projects casually.  The energy around projects whilst a parent is DECIDE.  EXECUTE.  ADJUST.  BE PREPARED TO FAIL.  There’s lots of fails as a parent, so fails have lost their “scary edge.”

Looking back over the years of bucket list items and personal goals, I’d rather be in a place of taking action, making mistakes and learning – than being caught up in over-planning, over-researching and over-thinking. I’ve been there. I know what it is like to be held captive by your own perfectionist standards, procrastination and fear to fail.

So this led me to launching a half-baked project – I got into Kickstarter without even knowing what I was getting into. I just thought it would be fun to try out getting some funding for a childrens’ book I am working on.

Don’t get me wrong, the children’s book is WELL-DONE.  It’s almost done actually.  We are in the final stages of imaging.  It’s a children’s book where a little girl gets to explore five magical fantasy landscapes featuring mystical animals and beings with magical powers.  There are some gorgeous values and character strengths woven into the story, which encourages each child to take their imagination onward with them, the rest of their lives.  Kintara is a world each child can return to if they close their eyes.  The magic passed on from the queens of each world is magic each child already has inside of them. Each image is derived from a recurring dream I’ve had since childhood.

 

(Here is one of the worlds in “development” stage)

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I’m literally just trying out the Kickstarter part for the “funds” component of this project – it’s a cherry on top of something that would go ahead anyways. So the nice part is that I have a bit of “gentle irreverence” as to the success of the campaign.

 

My project, The Gates of Kintara Children’s Book & App was launched this week.  

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Exciting, no?  As I read more on Kickstarter campaigning, I realized holy shit, there’s a lot I didn’t know about when I launched this.  But sometimes ignorance is bliss.  Had I read about all of the tips, tricks and “successful Kickstarter campaign checklists” out there on the web, I may have become overwhelmed and not even launched.

 

I really, really like drawing diagrams – I think in my past life, I was a sports coach, so let me put one up here for you.

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I think people can have success by preparing and launching with a great, sound plan.  But there’s also hard-won success, but just getting started, making mistakes, floundering and then adjusting as you go.

YOU CAN GET TO SUCCESS BY PREPARATION AND NOT MAKING MISTAKES.

YOU CAN GET TO SUCCESS BY UNDER PREPARATION AND FAILURES.

It’s just that one feels much more comfortable than the other.

There are SO MANY PEOPLE who want you to buy their courses, take their webinars and let them teach you how to prepare and do things right.   Everyone wants to do this route instead, it’s easier, so there is demand. People pay good money for these courses, and people make a good living “coaching” people on how to prepare and be successful.

The thing is though, you can be successful by making mistakes.  It is a hell of a lot less comfortable, it’s a longer road, but your knowledge is going to be hard won.

 

See?  There’s two routes below.

Route A takes longer (the pink route, it’s filled with time, mistakes, barriers and deep learning.  That’s the route I am taking with my Kickstarter.)

Route B is much faster (the red route.)  You work with a coach, take a course, learn from others’ mistakes, shortcut many of those mistakes, spend less time getting to your goal.  It’s a lot smarter on a lot of levels.

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Actually, looking at this, now I begin to wonder, why AM I taking Route A?  I think it’s simply because I like learning and am using this Kickstarter as a learning experience.  I don’t see challenges or failure as a bad thing.

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I follow a lot of entrepreneur / business / coaching groups on linked in, Facebook and the web.  There are amazing groups out there.  I am a particular fan of Kimra Luna’s Freedom Hackers group.

I do still believe that the single biggest thing everyone struggles with is the action part.  People take endless courses. They are afraid to fail.  They try to make their plans bulletproof.  I could have easily spent 6 months reading up on Kickstarter.

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So here I am, realizing how much I did not know when I launched my Kickstarter, wondering why the hell I did this half-baked plan.  But I’m also excited for the brilliant learning experience and opportunity to really JUMP into it and learn fast.

I’m already making all of the mistakes that all of the courses say they will prevent you from making.

 

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And that’s okay.  I’m learning. Fast. It’s fun.

 

 

Building a Business on Maternity Leave: Know When to Stop Learning and Start Taking Action.

Why Read This:  If you struggle trying to find the balance between learning, reading, taking courses – and taking action – this post will help you focus & clarify.

This is part of my series on building a business while on Maternity Leave.

Reading Time:  3 min

The Internet in 2016 is VERY exciting.  It is possible to choose yourself, rather than wait for a company to “choose” you.  You can build a business based on being yourself, instead of  changing yourself to meet someone else’s expectations.

The Internet provides you with all of the information you need to build a business online. While working full time or on maternity leave, you can at the very least build the foundations.

Here I am on my second maternity leave, building the foundations for my business(es) (yes I have a few – go big or go home, right?)

Why There are a Shit-Ton of Coaches out There:

What you will begin to notice, as soon as you start “liking” coach pages, or communities, or groups, and start learning about building a business, is that there are TOO MANY TEACHERS AND NOT ENOUGH STUDENTS.

It is good money to get into the business of “teaching” others.  That is why everybody is some kind of “coach.”

The thing is, anybody can research and develop their own curriculum.  I have completely self-taught myself how to build a business using a combination of podcasts, bloggers, facebook groups, pinterest and instagram.

Knowledge is a big business.  People make big money off of collecting knowledge on the internet, reformatting it, and then selling it to you.    What I want to write about today though, is the caution you need to exercise.

Before you Pick a Coach or Take a “Course”

There are two elements you should receive from a good course:

1.) Knowledge and information.  Do they really know their stuff?

2.) Proper Coaching:  For example, do they provide you with the ability to address your own obstacles, how to tackle the demotivation, the head games you play, etc.

And Most Importantly:  Do Not Get Caught In The Knowledge Acquisition Trap

  1. Every.Single.Resource that you will come across as you build your business is not “free” – because they are trying to create an addiction in you – an addiction to acquiring more and more information.  It is so easy to keep buying books and courses, and not actually take action and do the hard work.  It’s why of 100 people in a course, 20 will actually launch successful businesses, and 80 will not.  But the other 80 will keep coming back and buying products.  That’s great for the “Coach” or “Teacher.”

I finished my professional coach training 1 year ago and I could have happily continued just “learning” and reading coaching material.  But the deepest learning, growth (and progress) happened when I finally started DOING IT.  Taking action. Forcing myself to jump in and work with clients and have my calls evaluated by an International Coaching Federation board.

Knowledge acquisition is a super hard habit to kick, especially when EVERYBODY is throwing knowledge at you.  Much of it is free (as long as you give them your email, which is a way to get you engaged and create a potential paying customer out of you.)

I Did Take One Online Course… Once….

The only money I have shelled out is a one-time “building an online business” course run by Penelope Trunk.  She sold me on it. I loved her blog.  I spent $100 along with at least 50 other people (!)  I did take information from the course but I also took this:  Holy shit: I can do a much better job than this.  I also realized that much of the knowledge is either common sense, or the same principles recycled over and over.  Also, much of it is intuitive.

Most business owners know the information taught in these classes.  Most business owners do not take step #2:  Put it into practice.  This is where the real reward is.

Kick the Learning Addiction with Analysis:

Needing to know everything before you start is what we call an enemy of growth.

So how do you kick the addiction to learning, the feeling that “I can’t do this until I learn to do that.”   “I need to know this before I can start that.” How do you separate and become the 20% of success stories?

You undertake an analysis to understand how much of your “to do list” is LEARNING and how much of your “to do list” is ACTION.

Here you can see an image of the current “To Do” list that is on my mind with my business:

TRAJECTORY COACHING TO-DOS

Lots to do, right?

Next, I need to analyze what is going on here.

WHICH are learning items?

WHICH are action items?  

**I highlighted the action items in orange.

TRAJECTORY COACHING TO-DOS (1)

Once you have done this, you can then address the balance.

LEARNING VERSUS ACTION:

What are action items I can take right now, that will get me closer to my goal?

Which learning items will have the most immediate impact on my business and how much time do I want to allocate to getting things done vs. learning.

Budget your Learning:

I make room for ONE new learning topic per day, to avoid information overwhelm and to avoid getting off track.  Today I learnt about using better hashtags on instagram.  That’s it.  That’s all.

Have an Information & Learning “Dumping Ground:”

If I come across other articles that pique my interest, I keep a “brain dump” board on Pinterest called COACHING where I save articles for later.    Learning is my candy – I LOVE IT and it is motivational.  But I’m addicted. So I need to partition it out as a reward.

I have future podcasts saved in my overcast app under “to listen.”  I have great infographics or web services I can used saved in my pinterest folder.  Great quotes or articles saved in Evernote.   I extract them from my memory and put them somewhere external, so I can dedicate my willpower and motivation to action items instead of learning.

Willpower is very finite (and quite variable) so every precious drop needs to be conserved for the more challenging aspect – getting shit done.

 

I am currently reading the NY Times Best Seller “The ONE Thing” by Garry Keller http://www.the1thing.com/  and there is an entire chapter dedicated to the taking action piece.  What stuck with me last night, as I read it, and designed this post was this quote, which I’d like to leave you with.

 

“The secret of getting ahead is getting STARTED.  

The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks

into small manageable tasks.

And starting on the first one.”

-Mark Twain

 

The Great Maternity Leave Project: Building a Business + Managing Technical Overwhelm

Why read this article:  Learn how to manage the overwhelm of starting a new business (especially the technical parts of establishing an online presence) + receive a professional coaching guide to manage the frustration of being a newbie all over again.

Reading time:  3 minutes + 3 minutes for the guide.

 

Today I’m going to talk about the sheer overwhelm that hits in the early days of building a web presence for your business.

In the hour before my kiddos were up, I tackled several things

-How to change the green social link buttons on my wordpress
-How to delete strange menu items that appeared

Try out a Facebook ad campaign not approved because “shit” was in my typing lol
-Why copy and pasting Facebook html code into my post wasn’t showing up
What SEO means
-A brief look at the google analytics tool and mega confusion over needing to upload an html file to my directory (WTF are either of those?!)

If you are starting a business and are creating a website or a blog, you are quickly introduced to the overwhelm of an industry that has its own language and technical terms.

Reading the help forums can feel like reading an instruction manual in japanese. Before you even get to the resolution stage, you are busy googling what every.single.word.means in the advice you get.

I’m going to show you some screen shots this morning, and my WTF moments.

Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 8.46.20 AM

No problem.  I’ll click download.

Whoa.

WTF. How do I even upload an html file?

Oh.  The advice forum says I need to add it to my public directory

**Googles what a public directory is.***

-20 minutes.

 

Then…..

Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 8.46.08 AM

Oh, sweet, adding an fb button looks easy (laughing out loud.)

-15 minutes to realize all of this shit is automatically built into WordPress for people like me.  Then opened the guide to figure out the “easy sharing feature”

-25 minutes 

 

OK so at that point I was down one hand because of this little creature smacking at the screen…..

Photo on 2016-02-18 at 8.24 AM

(Yes I’m wearing a housecoat.  Not glam blogger fashion.  I’m on mat leave.  Let’s be honest here.  I shall always blog with my coffee + white Lord & Taylor housecoat.)

 

So now we are one finger typing.  I’m on coffee #3 and getting aggravated, and my mind is racing.

This is when having professional ontological coach training comes in really handy.  I have to coach myself.  And you know what? I WISH I had someone during my 1st mat leave to write posts like this and talk to me like this.  To say “hey Carina, I’m in the same boat as you!”

That is why I started the Great Maternity Leave.

The reality is that there IS a steep learning curve, there IS lots of frustration, and there IS a TON of overwhelm in building an online business. 

I want you to have this coaching guide to managing the overwhelm.

Keep it + come back to it.  

 

x

 

Carina

 

 

 

 

Building a Business: Embrace the Learning Curve

Why read this article?  I teach you how to become super productive + embrace the steep learning curve by sharing a technique that I use.  It’s all about embracing microtasks. I show you how much you can actually get done in 60 minutes of work, and why you should acknowledge each task.

Reading time:  5 minutes

Today I’m writing about the rich, steep learning curve that occurs in the process of building a business.  I don’t know about you, but even though I grew up with tech entrepreneurs for parents, I was not educated in technology at school.  I FAILED typing in Grade 7.  Which is funny, because now I go at 150 wpm without looking at a keyboard.

This is hilarious to admit, but I learnt HTML basics at the age of 15 – self taught.  I was a Backstreet Boys SUPER FAN, and built a fan website “Carinas BSB” with a chat room.  It wound up being one of the biggest early chat rooms & websites for BSB fans, and had over 150,000 visitors in its first year. Not bad for the mid 90s.  I wish I had monetized it!

It was a short lived hobby – about 3 years, but each day was a new learning curve.  Understanding how to embed a picture on the page.  Understanding how to use Angelfire webpage templates, how to get the coding for that perfect shade of lavender in my fonts.  How to crop Howie D out of photos.  Bahaha. Sorry, Howie fans 😉

Here I am building a business in 2016 and I feel like that Backstreet Boys Webmaster all over again!  Except this time I have Google, and support groups and forums and podcasts.

One of the components of building a business that I don’t often read about in the books, is the microtasks and the intensive learning that happens inside of those tasks.  It’s all about embracing those little pieces one day at a time and giving yourself some cred for them.

Today, I worked on the GML website and social media for about an hour – before my babykins woke up.  In that hour I have googled, and learnt, and consulted, and tested things out.  I normally don’t look back on what I have done in each hour, but today I actually wrote down each thing I did in 10 minute increments.

I’ve never done this before.

 Here is what I accomplished in 60 minutes

-Creation of an Instagram Account, “The Great Maternity Leave” & posted about 10 images with text.  Linked it up with twitter, website, fb. Got followers, followed great accounts, became inspired.

-Downloaded the FB pages manager & ad campaign app and tried out running one of the boost your post functions.

-Listened to a Smart Passive Income podcast in the shower on being true to yourself and unafraid to have an authentic voice.  Included in that podcast was advice on how to get past the fear of being judged (one of the dragons I have to slay, stepping into the “mom world” online.)

-Learnt the coding to put a pinterest like button on my webpage.  Haven’t actually done it yet but I have the coding now!  I think….

-Tried to learn about plugins but failed after struggling to find a link on wordpress (Failures are okay!)  This was a little frustrating.  The language is way beyond me on the advice forums.  But that will be for another day.

-Read an article about SEO and tagging / key words.  Improved my tags on a few of my recent blog posts.  Made a note to go back to older ones and revise them all.

-Double checked that each blog post is linked to its correct category on the main page.

-Created a new document in notes with frequent hashtags, so I can just copy and paste hashtags into my instagram.

-Responded to a coaching inquiry on my Etsy account and took the opportunity to renew some expired items.

-Tested out a new app to create infographics and typography.

-Figured out how to embed an image and set up a featured image in wordpress with some googling and reading of help forums.

Wow.  That’s in 60 minutes. None of these are huge tasks. They are all micro tasks.

I find that it is a productivity boost to focus on thing sthat will get you closer to your goal, but aren’t necessarily huge tasks.  Sometimes I go in with an idea of a few tasks, but more often I just get started with a few things I know I wanted to get done, and once we are rolling, more ideas come.

Remember when I talked about concentration and the state of flow?  Ideas start flowing once you are in that concentration stage.

I’ll either tackle them one at a time, or throw them into my Notes app on my iphone, which sits beside the laptop.  More often I have my trusty journal.

Sometimes it feels like you are just learning, and googling a ton.  Sometimes it feels like you have a million little tasks to do, but that is the fun of it.

Instead of getting wrapped up in all of the stuff there is to do, embrace it and look at how much can happen in only 60 minutes of concentration!  It’s quite satisfying if you sit and take stock of all of the stuff you got done.

If you are building a business, think about all the new things you learnt today in working on it.

And give yourself some credit, look at the learning you are doing and the steps you are making to get closer to your dream.  Things are happening.

 

 

 

How to Have a Great Maternity Leave: Start a Side Hustle and Align it with a Goal

On Instagram this morning, I saw something along the lines of start a side business to travel. I liked it.

A lot of the coach feeds on instagram can be quotes overload – but the ones that matter to you, stay with you.  This one stuck with me this morning as I perused Instagram over coffee.

I enjoy the mix of foodie shots, outdoors adventures, fashion, life hacks and coaching brain food that makeup my Instagram feed!  It is part of my strategy each morning to fill my mind with inspiring visual images & my ears with inspiring messages.  This starts me off in the right mindset each and every day.

Let’s get back on topic…  So I started a small creative business on the side. I make medieval & tudor inspired jewellery and sell it on Etsy.

It literally was a hobby that paid for itself while I was in graduate school. I needed something creative when studying military & strategic studies.  I also liked the “wtf” face people gave me when I said I was a counter-terrorism expert & jewellery designer.  Kinda fun for a multi passionate.

Eventually, it led to a bit extra cash on the side & it has paid for a few international trips during which, I thoroughly enjoy going on buying trips for new supplies. For example, buying sunset seashells and freshwater pearls in a Kauai street side market in the glorious tropical sun (2014) and hunting down antique bottles in a British flea market, tea in hand, on a dark rainy day (2015.)  Pretty cool memories!

I don’t look at my side hustle as an income source though.

I look at it as a facilitator of my goals.

I really like sharing alternate perspectives on the GML that shift your mindset and facilitate growth. This is a great example of one in the making, live and unfiltered!

It’s my “cherry on top” income which I channel into my goal of seeing the world.

To ensure that my side business is connected to this specific goal, I have a tax free savings account set up.  This is because little nuggets of money, here and there can be easily frittered away on small things, because $3 or $5 or $7 at a time have little meaning attached to them on their own.

However, all those $5 or $6 deposits straight from Etsy (And I don’t see anything as my account is with a separate bank) add up over time.

I’m so busy on mat leave a year whips by in no time, and at the end,voila!

Having that goal attached to a side hustle is amazing, because let me tell you, you never lose motivation!  Another side benefit is that it facilitates creativity.

When I sit down to make a piece of jewellery, I never know what I am going to make.  Most of the time, I work on a state of flow which gets my creative juices going.

Thinking about income and expenditures is not conducive to that flow state for me.  In fact, during times of sleep deprivation or stress, I just cannot come up with ideas for pieces (I always sit down and just begin to create, I never start with an idea or plan; I let them come to me.)  During the early stages of mat leave, for sure, I took a break as my creativity was a bit drained by sleep deprivation and time with the little ones was very important.  But eventually you get your groove once you are settled in with the new creature.

My best ideas for making pieces come when I am inspired, imaginative, free of constraints.  Having the international travel mindset as I sit down? Magical.  It gets me going.  So do podcasts, and browsing through medieval images on pinterest, but that’s for another time!

I’m excited to share with you in my next blog, more on this “flow state” and why it is absolutely magical for idea generation & creativity.

Do any of you have a side hustle? Have you attached it to a specific goal?  I’d love to hear if anyone shares the same mindset.