“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” –Howard Thurman
Are you still in a job you dislike or in a relationship that makes you unhappy? Not sure what to do to change your situation?
There’s one way to be sure you never have the life you want–by doing the same things that you’ve always done.
So what’s one thing you can do to get “unstuck?”
Change your thinking. Your future life does not have to be dictated by what happened in the past. Just because you’ve had jobs you didn’t like doesn’t mean you always will. Having bad relationships in the past doesn’t mean you’re doomed to repeat the heartbreak over and over.
It’s up to you how you will live the rest of your life. You make the choice.
What will it be?
Is there something you’d like to do, but you’ve been reluctant to start because of past experiences?
Keep a journal of your dreams and desires for the future. Writing out your thoughts will help you explore the things that may be blocking you.
See yourself living the life of your dreams. Does if feel possible for you? If not, why not?
Ask yourself what you get out of staying stuck in your situation. What’s the payoff for you?
Procrastination can be another sign that we’re stuck in our thinking. It’s a way to pretend we’re taking action when we’re really not. What are you putting off doing?
Don’t settle for less by assuming that you won’t get anything better. That’s just an excuse that will keep you stuck in uncomfortable situations. How do you know that you can’t get what you really want? Make a commitment to yourself to go after what you desire.
You don’t have to stay stuck in a way of life that’s no longer satisfying. Make one change today that will take you a step closer to where you want to be.
“Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced.” – James Baldwin
What’s your story?
Have you ever said, “that’s just how I am,” to explain away behavior you’d rather not change?
If you are not living the life you want, is there a story you’ve created that explains why you can’t have it?
Too old, too young, too thin, too fat, lack of education, too much education, not knowing the right people, knowing too many of the wrong people…etc.
There’s always a story. The story is not who we are, it’s the script we create for ourselves to live by. But at some point, we have to stop and consider if that story is actually true.
Some people define themselves by their childhood experiences, others by how their parents or family feel about them. Still others define themselves by their accomplishments in the world, or their failures.
If you were to strip away all of the stuff that has accumulated along the way, how would that feel?
Who are you without the story? Are you willing to find out?
Put down the script. Now.
Only you can tell your story. It has nothing to do with how anyone else sees you or what they believe about you.
Whatever you want to accomplish in business, career…in life…it can’t happen if you are not in touch with who you are beneath the story.
Setting a deadline is very important. Otherwise, it’s easy to put off writing and let other things get in the way.
So here’s what I recommend:
1. Get clear about why you want to write this book. Is it for business or a personal project? What do you want to say, and why? Save yourself a lot of frustration and determine your real reason for writing this book before you begin.
But if you’re not sure about your topic, there’s an easy way to get ideas. Do you get the same questions over and over from your clients? Is there a specific thing they need help with?
Survey your contacts, clients, friends, newsletter subscribers – get an idea of what their biggest issue is. What is the one problem they want solved? Make that the topic of your book.
2. Take your topic and use mind mapping software (or draw it out on a pad) to figure out related topics. Get your topic down to smaller pieces, and use those small bites to write your posts.
For instance, in my book I wanted to talk about using an entrepreneurial mindset to manage your career. So I took my original idea, and mind-mapped sub-topics. I could talk about having a success mindset, how to handle stress, how to be more creative, etc.
When I wrote my book, I decided to have 5 main headings, which lined up with my 5 steps for entrepreneurial thinking.
They were: creating a vision, trusting my intuition, using my creativity, making decisions and taking action.
After I was finished writing, each post could fit under one of those headings. Having an overall plan kept me organized.
3. Stay focused on your goal and on your deadline. It will be easy to get distracted or get frustrated if you feel things are moving too slowly. Create a schedule for your posts, otherwise, it’ll be easy to go off on a tangent and write about things that have nothing to do with your book. Not to say you can’t write other posts, but keep the end result in mind.
Set up a schedule to blog daily or weekly. It’s up to you and your timeline. But you’ll want to have a certain number of pages when it’s all done, so be mindful of how much content you’ll need to have when it’s over.
(Writing fiction or a memoir? Your process will be different, but you still have to have some sort of structure or you’ll never get it done. Use mind mapping to set up your plot and/or chapters.)
The advantage of blogging your book is that you can build an audience as you’re writing. You can get feedback and interact with your readers as you go.
When I left corporate I had no intention of going back. As one of my coworkers once said, “the corporate world is a necessary evil.” And, I still see no lies in that statement.
A few years ago I found myself in need of funds to continue working my freelance writing gig.
Things had been going okay until the big financial meltdown happened, then things went downhill pretty quickly. Paying for writing probably seemed more of a luxury to some people. And the rise of online sites filled with freelancers bidding for jobs didn’t help.
So when I had the opportunity to take on a full-time contracting job, I said, why not? It’ll only be for 3 months or so. Well, what I didn’t realize was being out of the workplace for so long had changed my perceptions. I was no longer satisfied with sitting at a desk from 9 to 5 and doing mindless work.
Not only that, but I had become used to having a voice and making decisions. So when I started my tech writing job and found that I wasn’t supposed to have any input, I was frustrated.
The assignment went from 3 months to a full year of total misery. When we were told one day to document everything for the system, and the next day were yelled at by the director for…wait for it…creating too much documentation, I was ready to scream.
During my corporate tenure, I’d become used to working this way. In fact, I’d learned how to get my work done with one hand while holding the wolves at bay with the other. But over time, the stress, endless politics and lack of purpose turned me from an eager employee to a stressed out escapee.
Once I’d been away from that environment, I forgot how horrible it was. So when I went back after being away for 5 years, it was like breaking back into Shawshank prison. Sure, I got paid and that money sustained me, but what I didn’t realize was going back wasn’t going to be easy. That’s when I decided if I ever made that choice again, I ‘d have to keep my eyes on the prize.
There’s always the chance you’ll get offered a job that you’ll actually like. Not to say every position will be the worst thing ever. But if you are used to calling the shots and managing your own time, going from entrepreneur to employee will be a big leap. Get your mind right before you clock in.
Which brings me to the 3 things:
1. Don’t forget why you’re there. You have skills that can help your employer, and so you’re trading those skills for dollars. Do your thing and focus on making a difference while you’re there. No matter how mundane the job may seem to you compared to your entrepreneurial life. Focus on delivering value, and don’t spend too much time thinking about how you’d run things if you were in charge.
When I returned to the workplace to do another writing assignment 2 years later, I focused on doing the best I could with a relatively boring assignment. It wasn’t my life’s work. Just a short-term thing.
2. Accept the things you can change–and the things you can’t. Maybe your manager is a micro-manager who won’t let you do anything without his express approval. Maybe the project is a seriously hot mess. Or maybe the corporate hierarchy is just a real-life version of Game of Thrones. You’re there to do a job. Do it and don’t stress over the stuff that you can’t fix.
If you can introduce an idea or concept that will be a help (and you’re listened to) that’s great. But if not, carry on. If the system is broken, you’ve got to do the best you can to function within it. As an entrepreneur, that probably goes against how you would run your business. but when you walk into an established structure, you’ve got to pick your battles.
3. Have an end date in mind. If you’re on a short term project, that’s easier to do. But even if it’s open-ended, have a plan in place. Decide what the money will go for, how much you’ll need, and what your next steps will be. That way you don’t lose sight of the big picture.
When I was an employee, going along to get along became a way of life because speaking up could kill a career. But if this job is a stepping stone, make sure you treat it that way. Do your work to the best of your ability, but don’t lose sight of your personal timeline.
Entrepreneurs have certain traits, including a strong desire for freedom. Going back into a corporate setting where you aren’t holding the reins might be a big blow to the ego.
But in the real world, there are ups and downs to business ownership. Rolling with them is part of the game. If you’ve got to get a job to make some coin, stay focused and keep the end result in mind.
Being real comes with a price. You have to be willing to strip away everything false in order to let everyone see you as you are.
Most people are not ready for that. Showing the world who you are can lead to rejection. To having clients leave. To having people criticize you for daring to state unpopular opinions.
That’s what we talk about when we talk about authenticity. Brene Brown’s studies in vulnerability have been part of this surge to strip away the artifice and get down to it.
But are you ready for it? Really ready?
“Do what you feel in your heart to be right – for you’ll be criticized anyway.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
We live in a culture where we’re programmed to fit in. To buy what we’re told we should buy. To follow trends and celebrities and not deviate from the accepted norm. So how do you make the leap into authenticity under those conditions?
When I started my business, the idea was to pretend to have a bigger company than you really had. You were to say “we” and not “I.” After a while that flipped and it became the thing to be yourself without filters or pretense. Build a brand around yourself and your interests.
I’m all for that. but at the same time, has authenticity become just another burden? Are we marching to the beat of yet another rule to be followed?
“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.” – Brené Brown
For entrepreneurs, reinvention is a constant state of being. Seems that every other newsletter I receive contains a missive from a business owner who’s about to switch to a whole new thing. Even business owners who’ve only recently changed their logos, tag lines, websites etc. are already revamping.
It’s sort of like how the movie franchise reboot cycle seems to be shorter and shorter. Every couple of years here comes the new, improved version of a character. Like someone hit the reset button and it stayed pressed.
If you’ve been in business for 5 or more years, chances are you’re wondering if it’s time for a restart.
Have things become too staid? Should you change your website, your marketing, your products?
What’s the new thing? What are people expecting now? Should you chase the hot new thing?
I’ve had my Women Entrepreneurs Radio™ podcast for almost 7 years. When I started it was a novelty of sorts. Now (from what I’ve read) podcasting is the hot “new” thing.
Entrepreneurs can end up running in circles searching for a viable business idea. What used to work might seem stale now. So you start searching for the thing that will turn it all around.
Which brings me back to authenticity. On the plus side, being authentic is an advantage because when you’re being yourself, you have no competition. Standing out in your field becomes easier when you’re no longer one of many.
“Why try to be someone you’re not? Life is hard enough without adding impersonation to the skills required.” -Robert Brault
But if you’re leaping on the bandwagon because it’s the hot, new, hip thing–and you’ve got to pretend to be what you think it means to be authentic–maybe you should think again. If it’s real, people will pick up on it. They’ll just know. And if it’s not, they’ll pick up on that too.
At the end of the day, you can’t fake realness.It’s not like buying a faux designer purse and passing it off as the real thing. You can’t fake your way to being authentic.
Recently I was listening to the audio version of Maya Angelou’s book, Heart of a Woman. She narrated this book and it described a part of her life when she raised her son, married and moved to another continent. She was real, honest and raw at times. Unflinching about presenting the truth of her life, she didn’t stop at sharing the good and the bad.
Obviously she wasn’t trying to write a feel-good book filled with sanitized experiences. And in her honesty, I could connect with the woman behind the words. (Which is why her passing affected so many so deeply and why people felt like they knew her when they didn’t.)
Realness. Authenticity. I’m going to tell my story even if it hurts. Even if it’s messy. Even if what I say is hard to hear.
“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.” – Maya Angelou
For business owners, if we don’t find a way to stand out, how can we ever line up with our ideal clients? It takes courage to be out there as we are, without the protective covering and the slick packaging. To be raw and honest.
That’s what authenticity really is. Not a buzzword or yet another false face to hide behind. It takes courage. But there are rewards. You’ll connect with people who are hungry for what you have to deliver. They’ll relate to you because they’ll pick up on your honesty. They’ll know that you’re giving them something real.
This book isn’t just for beginning writers, it has something for writers at every stage. With sections such as Meet the muse, Excuses, Ideas, Characters, Marketing, etc, whatever you’re looking for, there’s something here to learn from.
I have a lot of writing books, and some of them deliver on their promises, some don’t. But this book breaks down the writing process and shares tips and tricks to help you to learn and grow.
No matter where you are on your journey as a writer, you’ll get something out of this book. I highly recommend it as a reference and as a way to inspire and encourage you to move past writing blocks, and tap into your creativity.
Even if you aren’t interested in writing novels or short stories, no doubt you use storytelling in your marketing and promotions. So if you’ve ever felt that your writing needed a boost, or was too formal or stiff–give this book a try.
The “The Wizard of Oz” is one of my favorite movies.
For those not as familiar, Dorothy is restless and looking for a place “over the rainbow.” She longs for more than she’s finding on the farm with her aunt and uncle.
When her pet, Toto is in danger of being taken away, she runs away to find the other life she’s been dreaming of.
Ultimately when the tornado comes up she returns home, only to end up whisked away over the rainbow to the Land of Oz.
In Oz she meets Glinda, The Good Witch, The Wicked Witch of the West and the other cast of characters including the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodsman and the Cowardly Lion.
Dorothy’s journey through Oz reflects her desire to have more excitement in her boring life on the farm. When she’s dropped in Oz, the movie goes from sepia-toned black & white to color – showing how her world has changed completely into something more exciting and magical.
It’s all fun when the Munchkins reward her for flattening the witch with her house, but the witch’s sister – the infamous Wicked Witch – crashes the party. Demanding to get the ruby slippers, she’s not happy to find Dorothy wearing them. From that point on, Dorothy’s journey will be perilous. Even surrounded by her new companions, she’s in danger as they travel to Oz to meet with the Wizard.
The catch here is that the Wizard really has no powers – other than smoke and mirrors. He’s a fake, considered a powerful wizard by the citizens of Oz, but having no power to help Dorothy return home. He got to Oz by accident – just as Dorothy did.
However, the Wizard does have the insight to recognize that the Scarecrow, Tin Woodsman and the Lion only need to believe in themselves. They don’t really need the qualities they’ve been searching for – they already have them.
So what can we learn from this wonderful story? Dorothy’s not satisfied with the status quo, so when she ends up in this strange place, she’s ready for adventure.
At the same time, just as we don’t see how powerful we really are, neither does Dorothy or her companions. Dorothy believes that the Wizard can help her to return to her home, not realizing she can return at any time simply by clicking her heels together.
The Wicked Witch
Throughout her journey she’s tested and pursued by the Wicked Witch who wants her ruby slippers. She defeats the Witch, who seemed all-powerful and yet was destroyed by water. Then in the end Glinda reveals that Dorothy had the power within to return to her home – power that even the great Wizard didn’t possess.
We may be tested in our pursuit of our dreams and feel as though we have to find the guru who has the right answer. We may travel through the perilous land of not having enough money, or enough support or not knowing what to do next. We may believe that we have no power or don’t know enough. In the end, it is up to us to believe in ourselves and our vision.
What I’ve found is that you can read all of the books, go to seminars and spend thousands of dollars looking for the “answer.” Sure, I’ve learned from many of those sources, but in the end, it was up to me to find the power within myself.
When we put our trust in wizards and stop listening to our inner guidance, we may never connect with what we really desire.
Glinda guides Dorothy, yet does not give her the answers – or reveal that the Wizard in not a real wizard. She lets Dorothy discover for herself that she can return home – to her source.
I believe that we each have something to express and share with the world. If we’re not connected to those desires (and if we don’t trust ourselves) we may never bring those things to life.
There may be powerful forces around us that we can tap into, but in order to have success we must acknowledge our own power.
Back when I was in corporate I had a 4-hour round-trip commute everyday.
One day I was on the express train into NYC. Surrounded by other commuters, there were so many people in my car that I couldn’t lift my arm up to read my book.
Unable to move or do anything but endure the 40-minute ride, I made the decision.
I was done with this commute and done with corporate IT. After years of wanting to leave, but being afraid to make the step, I was finally ready to quit.
I picked a date on the calendar, and made the decision, That day would be my last day as a full-time corporate employee.
By that point I was fed up and disgusted with my job and the lack of advancement. I didn’t care what I was giving up. I just wanted out.
A lot of the time we don’t call it quits until we’re too tired, too fed up, or too exhausted to do anything else. Instead of making a decision to make a fresh start, we wait and think, and wait and think, and think again.
We ask our friends, talk about it with anyone who will listen. We suffer through it and hope that things will get better without our having to change anything.
If you decide to go, what will you have to give up?
After I’d made my decision to leave corporate IT, a lot of emotions started coming up. My identity for a lot of years had been tied to my work as a computer programmer. What would I be once I walked away? How would I define myself?
It’s always better not to get to the point where you’re ready to run away screaming.But the fear of losing everything is a good motivator to stay in place and take it. Not to mention, if you’ve got possessions and responsibility, walking away isn’t so easy.
I’d like to say you can make a fresh start and it’ll be painless. But it won’t be.
And you won’t realize just how attached to your situation you are until you’re forced to leave it. Even if it sucks, there’s a strange comfort in knowing what to expect.
Making a change doesn’t have to mean throwing everything out the window. Can you take it slowly? Take one step, then another and another.
Even if you take it slow, you will have to get used to a new normal. Things will change. But change doesn’t automatically mean losing all the things you want to keep.
However, some things you want to keep right now aren’t serving you. You just might not see that yet because you’re still attached.
Are you going to have to give up some things to let other things in? Most likely.
Will it hurt? Possibly. Depends on how ready you are to let go of what isn’t working anymore.
And you won’t know that until you decide to make a change.
“Just don’t give up trying to do what you really want to do.” – Ella Fitzgerald
Back when I was in corporate I would get what I called the “Sunday night blues.” As the day would go on, I’d have more and more anxiety.
It didn’t matter how much fun I’d had, or how relaxing the day had been, by 7:00 pm my stomach would be in knots. Just the thought of returning to a job I hated on Monday morning was enough to ruin half my weekend.
Unfortunately, as a business owners you might be going through similar things. But instead of getting the blues at the end of the weekend, you might get the dreaded 3:00 am blues.
It happens when you wake up in the middle of the night gripped by fear. All the emotions you’ve been keeping locked down during the day start flooding in.
When you’re vulnerable and half-awake, suddenly all you can think about is what’s not in your bank account. Or how your latest product launch fizzled. Or how exhausting it is to work night and day on a dream of business that’s become a total nightmare.
The good thing is the 3:00 am blues usually passes. And when it’s time to go out in the world you pull yourself together, smile and pretend nothing’s wrong.
You keep hustling and hope that something breaks before you completely break down.
What happens if you can’t make it work? What happens if you risk everything to pursue this dream and you end up losing it all?
Not sure if it’s time to stay or go? Close your business, shut the doors and start looking for a JOB?
Before you decide, here are three things to try:
1. Stop Comparing Yourself to Other Business Owners
Give yourself a break. Even if everyone else seems to be happy and successful with no problems, that’s far from the truth. There are no overnight successes.
No matter what their PR says, everyone has had to go through rough places in their business. Sleepless nights, self-doubt and soul-numbing fear. If that’s what you’re going through, you’re not alone.
2. Get Back to Basics
Why did you want to go into business in the first place? Have you forgotten your “why?” Did you get sidetracked from your original idea?
It’s okay to change direction if you’re not where you want to be. Stop and take stock of your situation.
3. What Action Can You Take Right Now?
Instead of getting stuck in an endless loop of thinking without action, take a step right now. What is the best action you can take at this time?
When you’re confused and frustrated, it’s easy to lose the ability to make any decision.
So you either jump from thing to thing looking for the magic pill that will make everything better, or throw up your hands and give up entirely.
If you’re almost at the point of no return, and want support (and tips to help you decide if this is the right time to walk away) click here: http://eepurl.com/bnDMQ1 to get access to my free ebook: “Ready to Break Up with Your Business? Three Things to Do Before You Call it Quits!”
Here’s some feedback from an entrepreneur who gave the ebook a test drive: “I can’t tell you how much clarity this booklet gave me, when you are at a crossroads with your business, you need someone to talk too, an impartial party and have a checklist of how to approach your problem, and this booklet nails it!” – Kerry H.
It could be time for a fresh start. Or maybe you only need a fresh perspective. Now is the time to find out.
A couple of weeks ago I was interviewing an author on the Women Entrepreneurs Radio podcast and we were discussing the challenges of writing and publishing. One thing we both could agree on was how publishing your book is only the beginning. Marketing is the real challenge.
Whether you’re an author, or a coach looking to get the word out about a launch, or a small business owner, you know how important it is to connect with your ideal client/customer. Without them, you don’t have a business.
But with all the conflicting information on how to accomplish that, what should you do first?
That’s why I was excited to participate in this free audio series. Designed specifically for coaches, authors, speakers and consultants, this series covers four main topic areas: marketing, products, mindset and purpose.
16 speakers (including yours truly) will be sharing their expertise and some free gifts as a thank you for registering.
Click on the link below to get started and get access to proven strategies and gifts to grow your business & make a bigger impact!