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Book Review: Finishing School by Cary Tennis & Danelle Morton

Finishing School  FINISHING SCHOOL: The Happy Ending to That Writing Project You Can’t Seem to Get Done (TarcherPerigee; January 10, 2017) by journalists Cary Tennis and PEN/ USA Finalist Danelle Morton is a guide to using goal-setting to get your creative projects completed. Too often we end up with good intentions when we begin, but we run out of steam for various reasons.

 

The book identifies the “six emotional pitfalls” that can stand in the way. They are, Doubt, Shame, Yearning, Fear, Judgement and Arrogance.

 

For instance, doubt that you can finish your project may stop you from getting it done. Or your yearning to become a writer might stand in the way of actually doing the work.

 

There’s a detailed description of the methodology in addition to real-life examples from the authors. They give good examples from their own experiences and dig deeply into each one. Even if you can’t identify with all of the pitfalls, there will be something that resonates.

 

I particularly liked the idea of having a “Declaration of Done,” which is a way to make an actual declaration that your project is completed. The last chapter of the book sums it up best, “Finishing School is a method for reaching a state of completion and moving on.”

http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/534021/finishing-school-by-cary-tennis-and-danelle-morton/9780399184703/

 

About Finishing School

All too many people start a writing project with grand ambitions but reach a crisis of completion. Finishing School helps writers reignite the passion that started them on the project in the first place and work steadily to get it done.

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inspired living

When You’re Not Sure What To Do Next: Write it Out

ID-10030391Even though I’m a writer, I’m not one for keeping journals.  It’s not my thing. But, what I have realized is that writing things down makes them real. Yes, I know that probably sounds weird. How can writing something down make it real? Well, let me break it down for you.

 

Let’s say you have an idea about getting a new job. Or starting a business. Or buying a house. You have all these thoughts jumbled in your head. You think about what you want to do night and day. You tell everyone you know. You gather opinions and try to make decisions based on what everyone else suggests to you – or based on your knowledge of whatever it is you want to do.

 

After a while you’re overwhelmed because too of too much information. What you desire is in conflict with what you believe is your reality. That gets mixed up with opinions of everyone you’ve shared your desires with.

 

When it’s all over, you’re going in circles. Or just confused.

 

I’ve been there. Not a good place to be when you want to take action. Especially an action you’ve never taken before.

 

Years ago when I was planning to find a job closer to home (so I could get free from a 4-hour round-trip commute) I wrote down everything I wanted in the new situation. From the length of the commute, to the pay, to the position of my cubicle (on the 2nd floor next to a window). Oh, and I also wrote down that I wanted to be in a building with a waterfall. Why? Just because.

 

Months later after I got the new job, I found what I’d written down (and forgotten about). Everything I’d wanted, I received. Even the waterfall. Magic? I’m not sure. But something happened.

 

Each time I wanted something – and was confused how to define it – I wrote it down. When I was house hunting and wanted to define what I wanted (after seeing several homes over about six months, it was easy to get confused) I drew up a basic floor plan. Then I wrote down how many rooms I wanted and what kind of house I desired.

 

Once it was out of my head, there was no more confusion. No matter what the realtor suggested (or how many houses I visited) I’d defined what I wanted. And yes, I ultimately found the perfect house that fit what I’d written down.

 

I tend to write things down when I feel I need to, which is not everyday. It’s more of a problem-solving tool for me, than something I use for daily reflection.  Everyone has an inner guidance system and everyone – deep down – knows what they really desire. The way to get with that is to tune out the noise of the world and commune with your own thoughts.

 

It’s a way to get clear. To let go of the crap. To relieve stress. To heal what’s wounded. Pen to paper can do that (or virtual paper).

 

It doesn’t matter if you use a fancy journal, or type it out on your computer. Writing is a powerful and healthy way to clear out the stuff that gets in the way.

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inspired living

5 Netflix Docs to Watch When You Need a Break from Your Business

televisionIn the middle of everything else I’m up to, I also have a very crowded Netflix queue.

There are a ton of shows that I’m going to binge-watch one day…when I get around to it.

But what I really enjoy are the documentaries. It’s so easy to get caught up in only exposing yourself to business books, webinars, interviews, podcasts – I’m as guilty of that as the next person. But it doesn’t hurt to take a break from all that and watch something that isn’t about business.

(Note: These docs were available on Netflix as of the date of this post.)

Want to add a few docs to your queue? Start with these:

 

T-Rex
Follows boxer Claressa Shields during her quest for her first gold medal in the London Olympics. Really down-to-earth look at a young woman on a mission to change her life and the lives of those around her. (She recently won her second gold medal at the Rio Olympics.)

 

A Ballerina’s Tale
Intimate and inspirational portrait of principal ballerina, Misty Copeland. I came away with a new respect for the physical demands of being a ballet dancer. There’s a lot of work and sacrifice behind the scenes. I originally saw this on a PBS station, but this version has about 30 additional minutes.

 

In the Shadow of the Moon
Includes candid interviews with some of the astronauts from the Apollo space program. You don’t have to be a sci-fi fan (or a scientist) to enjoy it.

5 Netflix Docs to Watch When You Need a Break From Business

That Gal…Who Was In That Thing: That Guy 2
Fascinating documentary about the challenges faced by  female character actresses in Hollywood. You’ll see a lot of familiar faces. As a Law & Order fan girl, I recognized a lot of them from episodes on the various L&O franchises.

 

Wake-up
What happens when one day, a man is able to see all kinds of beings around him. Is he insane or has he tapped into another dimension? Lots of questions here about the meaning of life but it never gets preachy or “woo woo.” It leaves you with a lot to ponder and gives hope that average, everyday people can change things for the better.

 

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being creative

Why There’s No “American Idol” for Authors

american idol for authors

Businesswoman Using Laptop at Desk — Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Have you ever watched “American Idol,” or the “X Factor,” or any show where contestants compete to win the big prize?

 

I remember watching American Idol with a friend and she was rooting for her favorite singer to win. We got caught up in the drama and the suspense of it – would the singer win or lose her big chance?

 

She worked so hard for the spotlight, what would happen if she didn’t make it?

 

Why do you want to write a book? Is it a deep desire or just a “nice to have?” Are you hoping to promote your business, or tell your personal story?

 

The great thing is that you aren’t competing with anyone else to tell your story. That applies even if you’re writing a book to promote your business. Your business might have competitors, but your book won’t.

 

Why?

 

Because no one can tell the story like you can. No one else can have the same life experiences or point of view, no matter how similar your businesses are. Even if your dream is to write a novel or memoir, no one else’s story will ever be exactly the same as yours.

 

And you know what else? Readers want great, well-written stories, ideas that they can learn from or that help them to stretch beyond their everyday thinking. When I read your book, I’m getting your perspective and (hopefully) I’m learning something about myself as well.

 

Even when it comes to marketing – you are not competing. Really. If your marketing is truly reflecting your story and your brand – you won’t look or sound like anyone else. (And that’s the catch – you have to publish a book that’s as real and authentic as you are – instead of being a copy of what everyone else is doing.)

 

So what do you need to get started? An idea, a plan and persistence.

 

Your big book idea describes what you want to say, your plan (or outline) will give you the roadmap on how to say it and persistence will get you through the process. It’s not about competing to be chosen as “the one.” It’s about stepping up and believing that your idea is worth sharing.

Copyright © 2016 Deborah A. Bailey

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inspired living

Increasing Energy in a Stressful Work Environment

Woman eating her breakfast sitting at the table

by Janet Gomez

“From the food we eat, the air we breathe, the things we see, feel, hear and touch, our environment is formed and this in turn profoundly influences and shapes out internal environment”
-Swami Vishni-devananda

A few years ago I offered a teleseminar to provide simple solutions on how to increase energy and to have better health. Some subscribers contacted me with specific questions and I’ve decided to share my response to a particular question that concerns us all.

The subscriber asked me how to increase her energy levels in a stressful work environment.

Our inner state depends on what happens outside. If we live in a stressful situation, all our body systems are affected.

There are three points I want to make to answer this question.

Firstly to increase energy levels in a stressful working environment it is important to be aware of how you eat. When you’re under stress, the body does not direct energy towards the digestive system but rather outward to support the “fight or flight” response. Since the energy is not going to the digestive system, the conditions to promote healthy digestion are missing. The result – less energy.

Proposed Action:
Eat calmly, for example, stop for a moment before eating to think about what you are eating and create a calm environment within yourself. It takes a second. Chew your food slowly and pay attention to every bite.

Follow a routine, regular hours, since routine offers balance and security. Since your body is prepared and able to digest more efficiently during these periods, you’ll have more energy than normal after eating.

To learn to breathe correctly. Correct breathing is important for physical and mental health. If you learn to breathe correctly, you can increase your strength and energy levels. If, for example, you are in a stressful situation and you get angry, breathing helps you to reduce acidity in you body and to focus emotional energy so that it has a more positive effect on the nervous system and your internal (and perhaps external) environment. So, breathing techniques can help you manage stress and bring more oxygen into the body for more energy  

Proposed Action:
Take yoga classes or other specialised courses because Yogis have know for a long time that we can get most of our energy from the air. They developed a system of breathing exercises called “pranayama” to control the “prana” or subtle energy

To ensure that you drink enough water every day because even if you are 1% dehydrated your attention span and concentration can fall by 13% and cause dizziness, irritability, headaches and fatigue.

Proposed Action:
Drink a glass of (warm / hot) water instead of a cup of tea, coffee or a glass of wine. Caffeine and alcohol have a diuretic effect (increases urine production), and the body loses water accordingly.

Drink a glass of water for every cup of tea or coffee or glass of wine you drink.

Always have water with you during the day, e.g. on your desk, in your bag so you can take a sip whenever you want.

Be regular in your water intake – the body likes regularity. For example, drink one glass an hour after breakfast, one glass an hour before lunch.

Need further guidance because you are feeling tired or have a lingering cold you just can’t shake? Drop by and see me in March for a by-donation session or email to arrange a short Skype call (also by donation). 

Janet Gomez, ayurvedic practitioner & nutritional consultant, produces the “Nutri-Jyoti News”, a free  e-newsletter for busy professionals. Feel ready to learn how to use nutritional strategies to manage your energy levels? Then sign up for her FREE e-course “5 Nutritional Keys to Vitality in your Life” on the Nutri-Jyoti http://nutrijyoti.com home page now.

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved Janet Gomez

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inspired living

7 Health Hacks to Use When You’re Working

7 Health Hacks to Use While WorkingWhether you’re running a business full-time, part-time or still in the workplace (preparing for your leap into business ownership) it’s easy to push yourself too hard.

 

There are only so many hours in the day, but we’re good at stretching those hours as much as possible.

 

Thing is, if you burn yourself out, you won’t be able to get anything done. So, here are some tips to help you to stay healthy while you work.

 

Relax after a long working day – sometimes when you’ve got a lot on your list to accomplish, you want to keep pushing even when your body (and mind) want rest. Give yourself a chance to unwind and recharge. It’s hard to stay productive if you’re exhausted.

 

Take frequent breaks – I set the timer on my phone to remind me to break away from my work. Whether it’s a break for coffee/tea/water, a quick walk, meditation or whatever you like to do best. Especially if you work at a desk and sit for long periods of time, it’s important to move your body and break away from your task at regular intervals.

Keep a journal – use a notebook, your mobile device or computer to jot down your thoughts and feelings at the end of the day. Some people keep gratitude journals so they can take stock of what they have and what they’ve accomplished. Especially if you’re a creative person, writing can help to clear your mind and get the ideas flowing.

Stay hydrated – have trouble drinking your water? I do too! 🙂 But I’m in the habit of taking a glass of water into my home office when I work (and when I’m in the workplace I do that same thing). Add lemon if you want to give it some flavor.

 

Take a walk – when it comes to walking, you can do it just about anywhere. Add steps to your day when and where you can, and you’ll be much more refreshed.

 

 Keep healthy snacks handy – this is a big one! Workplace snack machines (and cafeterias) can be danger zones when you get hungry. But if you plan ahead, you can have plenty of healthy snacks on hand to reach for instead. Don’t get stuck having to grab a high-sugar or high-fat snack because it’s the only thing available.

 

Take the stairs – if you can use the stairs instead of the elevator, by all means do so. In my last workplace, I used the stairs all the time when I was coming in and leaving for the day. If you’re working from home (and have stairs) use them to get some extra steps in during the day. When it comes to exercise, a little bit can go a long way.

 

Disclaimer: I partnered with Nuts.com to develop this post and the checklist, however, I wasn’t paid for this post and the opinions are my own.

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entrepreneurial spirit

Top Ten Tips for Mompreneurs

Top Ten Tips for Mompreneursby Heather Stouffer, CEO of Mom Made Foods

Mom Made Foods has filled the void for healthy and convenient frozen meals and snacks that speak predominantly to health-conscious parents looking for an easy and nutritious way to feed their families.

As the founder and CEO, I created Mom Made Foods because I believe in convenient meals that don’t sacrifice quality or nutrition, and that kids should be able to eat delicious foods without the added junk.

In remaining true to my values as an entrepreneur, here are ten tips my fellow mompreneurs should consider:

1. Hire experts and delegate. It’s both humbling and important to remember that you don’t know everything! You will not grow your business if you don’t surround yourself with the right individuals, whether they’re employees, consultants, board members or strategic partners.

2. Balancing family and work while taking care of yourself will mean less time for work, which is all right! Your children are only kids once. Don’t miss a big event.

3. The key to success doesn’t lie in the act of thinking about it. It lies in the execution. You need energy and momentum to bring your big ideas to life and sustain them.

4. If you’re not failing every now and then, then you’re not taking the risks necessary to find success. Expect to have failures and learn to turn them into opportunities.

5. Listen to your customers and react. It’s important that they know they can trust you and some of the best business strategies come from customer input.

6. Find a purpose for your career that you believe in. Mom Made Foods was born out of my passion for feeding my family the healthy, convenient foods they need to thrive. What drives me to work hard and give so much of my life to this company is that I am passionate about the mission behind it.

7. Prioritize and re-prioritize. As an entrepreneur, it’s important to be disciplined but also flexible when needed. Every day is an adventure!

8. In raising capital, always plan ahead, look to the future and raise more than you think you will need.

9. Find thTips for Mompreneurse right customers and tune into their wants and needs. Just like no one type of food appeals to the masses, neither does one type of business. Cater to your customer and serve them while remaining true to your mission and values.

10. Bring your kids along on your business journey. Whether it’s a snow day or a long school holiday, bringing your children to your office is a great way to show them what you do day in and day out while adding new life and energy to the office! At dinnertime, when they ask how your day was, answer truthfully. Children of entrepreneurs have a special appreciation for hard work and dedication.

Helping to feed America’s families is a responsibility that I am honored to have. The Mom Made Foods team has never taken that trust for granted and does what it can to continue to grow our relationship with today’s families. As a successful mompreneur, I am proud to have held onto this commitment to excellence, allowing it to guide me, my team and my family as we grow Mom Made Foods. http://mommadefoods.com

*Listen to Heather Stouffer’s interview on Women Entrepreneurs Radio™ to learn more about starting a business in the natural foods industry. Listen online on Podomatic: http://goo.gl/grn5id
and on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/women-entrepreneurs-radio/id939410730?mt=2

mindset for success

Why it’s Hard to Trust Your Intuition

Why it's Hard to Trust Your IntuitionHave you ever been in a situation where you made a decision that didn’t turn out well, then when you looked back you could see the warning signs?

 

We’ve all had those experiences. As we were having the experience, we couldn’t see the pitfalls. It wasn’t until afterwards that we could understand where we went off track.

 

The catch is that usually we have to experience discomfort in order to be pushed to a higher level of understanding.

 

As long as things are comfortable, we won’t do very much to change the situation. Why should we? It’s the discomfort that leads us to look for opportunities for change.

 

Though in some cases we may get stuck hoping that things will change without our efforts, it’s not very likely that will happen. Even if we don’t make a decision about which action to take, that in itself is a decision! By not deciding we are deciding to go along with things as they are.

 

Once we find ourselves in an uncomfortable place, it becomes extremely important for us to trust our own judgment. Often we can go in circles, asking anyone and everyone for their advice.

 

You know what happens then? We get so many different opinions that we become paralyzed and stay stuck.

 

There’s nothing wrong with having a mentor or other person who you can trust to give you good advice. However, in the end only we know what’s best for us. That’s where trusting our intuition becomes most important and the key to our success.

 

When we listen to ourselves we can maintain focus on our goals and our vision for what we want.

 

Trusting yourself can be a very tough if you’re not used to doing it. There will be times where you’re the only one who can see your vision. You won’t get support and you may even be ridiculed.

 

In those times it is so important to be able to see and feel what others can’t.

 

Copyright © 2010 – 2016 Deborah A. Bailey

Excerpted from Think Like an Entrepreneur: Transforming Your Career and Taking Charge of Your Life.

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entrepreneurial spirit

The Ten Things Inventors Should Never Do

Idea to inventionby Patricia Nolan-Brown, author of Idea to Invention

If you want to know how to invent a product, you can get all the steps to invention you need in my book, Idea to Invention. Meanwhile, here is an Inventor Help Line with important information to help avoid the top ten traps that many inventors fall into.

 

1.    Never…Tell people about your idea before it’s protected. Somebody you’ve told might agree that it’s a fantastic product and run away with it. And “publicly disclosing” your idea (a fancy way to say “telling people about it”) could ruin your chances of getting a patent.

2.    Never…Run right out and get a non-provisional patent first thing
. Why not? Because it’s expensive and time consuming. There are lots of easier and less expensive ways to protect your idea without having to jump through all the full-on patent hoops.

3.    Never…Execute an idea before you do any research online or in actual stores
. This doesn’t mean putting your idea in front of a firing squad! It means that before you invest a lot of time or money, make a prototype, or start ordering parts, you need to be sure that there’s actually a market for your product.

 

4.    Never…Rely on family and friends for honest opinions. Our nearest and dearest are often groundlessly enthusiastic (or, worse, negative). More importantly, they’re not usually the targeted end-user for your product. It’s much better to do in-person or online polls (using very general questions so you’re not disclosing any important details) to see if your idea has merit.

 

5.    Never…Quit your day job prematurely. Your income and health insurance are important, especially when you’re just starting out. Because the Internet is open 24/7 and always at your fingertips, you can invent around your existing job until you’re ready to be a full-time inventor.

 

6.    Never…Assume you need a middle person in order to succeed. Product evaluation companies, product submission/licensing companies, and many others make their money by convincing you that they can do it better than you can-and many such companies end up owning your patent. With a little time and patience, you can do many of the steps to invention all by yourself-for free! And if you do go through a middle person, be sure to read all agreements very, very carefully.

 

7.    Never…Be greedy. If a qualified company offers to buy or license your idea, you’re just after a fair deal. Don’t lose a perfectly good opportunity by asking for the moon.

Patricia Nolan-Brown8.    Never…Expect immediate success. The race to success is a marathon, not a sprint. Pace yourself.

 

9.    Never…Go into debt, lose your house or your retirement funds. If an idea isn’t panning out, know when to fold, swallow your pride, and go on to your next idea. Keep your assets untouchable.

10.    Never…Ignore social media
. The Internet is one of your most valuable business tools. You can use social media to promote and sell your products, for customer service, and market research. Not only that, it gives you the ability to contact almost anyone directly and quickly-and it’s mostly free. Use it!

 

Wishing you all the very best ideas and inspirations.

Adapted from Idea to Invention: What You Need to Know to Cash In on Your Inspiration (AMACOM Books; January 2014) by Patricia Nolan.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Patricia Nolan-Brown is the author of Idea to Invention: What You Need to Know to Cash In on Your Inspiration and inventor of the original rear-facing car seat mirror. Patricia holds multiple patents and registered trademarks, and has sold tens of millions of products. Her inventions and their backstories have been featured in national newscasts and magazines. She also has a thriving career as a motivational speaker, for groups from Fortune 500 CEOs to grade-school science-fair hopefuls, and a popular video blog. She lives just north of Boston with her husband, three daughters, and her westie, Coconut.  Find more information about the author and her book at her website http://www.patricianolanbrown.com. You can also follow her on twitter @pnolanbrown or like her on Facebook.

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book reviews

Book Review: The Little Book of Big PR by Jennefer Witter

The little book of big PRA  must-have for entrepreneurs who want a guide on how to use PR. With so much conflicting information out there, it’s hard to know what to do first. How do you reach out to the media? What are the “do’s” and “don’ts” for interacting on social media? What are things you should know about building a brand?

 

In The Little Book of Big PR, Jennefer Witter shares her expertise in a style that’s simple enough for beginners, and expert enough for established business owners looking for quick tips.

 

Witter runs her own agency and knows what works and what doesn’t when it comes to dealing with the media. Unlike some “experts” who give very generalized information, she isn’t shy about speaking candidly about missteps and how to avoid them. She also includes case studies to show what other have done.

 

Chapters include, Selecting a PR Agency, Social Media, Self-Branding, Media Relations, Speaking Engagements and Networking. There’s something here for every business owner to learn from. Deceptively simple, this book packs a huge punch when it comes to understanding the world of PR.

 

Entrepreneurs, particularly solopreneurs who are juggling it all on their own, would particularly benefit from Jennefer Witter’s words of wisdom. (Received a review copy.)

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