Why progress almost never moves in a straight line. Insights from Heather Vickery, professional speaker and coach helping you achieve success in business and life.Read More
If you have been hanging around for awhile, you have heard me talk about celebration a lot. I believe that celebration is a magic key that unlocks connection and happiness. Joy shared is happiness returned.
When you have been blessed, the act of sharing that blessing with others makes it infectious. If you have busted your ass to create something awesome, sharing it with others has the potential to inspire them and encourage them.
Have you ever noticed how hard it is to be mad at someone who walks around happy all the time? You might get annoyed, right? You might think, “How can this person always be so happy?” But you still cannot help but have a slightly elevated mood when you are around them.
This is where mindset can make all the difference. I have a screen saver on my phone that says “Choose Happiness.” Not because I am always happy but because it is my daily goal - - to find the joy inside my everyday and to be as infectious with it as possible.
But nothing makes joy more powerful than sharing it. The happiness that returns to you is the greatest feeling ever. It is one of the reason I love The Birthday Party Project so much and partnered my Chaos to Clarity course with them. The work they do, bringing celebration and joy into the lives of children who have so little, is like pure magic. And I have seen this magic work on the volunteers as well as the kids.
Find something you love, do that thing and then share it with others. If the thing you love isn’t your work, that is perfectly fine. Seek this joy in every corner of your life. What lights you up? What makes you feel connected? Do that thing and don’t let anything or anyone stand in your way. Then shout it from the rooftops.
How being joyful connects you with others: Insights from Heather Vickery, professional speaker and coach helping you achieve success in business and life.Read More
Welcoming to the first blog post of 2018!
Happy New Year, my friends! I don’t know about you but 2017 was a real zinger for me. While there were many wonderful things, it was a tough year and it brought forth a lot of resistance (literally and figuratively) and pain. But it also brought a passion like I have never seen before, a passion to create change and growth, to speak truth and fight for we want.
It has been an honor to push through 2017 with you all by my side and welcome the new year with renewed hope and courage. Together, we are going to shake things up!
I have identified 6 questions to help me gain clarity on the past year and to welcome 2018 with grace and intention. Take a look below and do this exercise yourself to clear your mind and get ready to ring in the new year right.
What were the highlights in 2017?
I had many highlights in the past year including being a guest on several podcasts, webinars, and summits. I was honored to coach some extraordinary people and help them elevate their lives and businesses. My partner and I took our five children to Disney World — that was crazy and fun! I also made some pretty awesome new "business" friends that I am confident will turn into "real life" friends and that's pretty cool!
How do you want to spend your time, energy and money in 2018?
In the coming year, I am committed to staying present in all things, to listening really, really well (especially to my loved ones), and continue curating a team to help me reach my business goals. I want to laugh more often and sit in conversation with those that matter to me.
I want to spend my time helping others reach tap into their awesomeness and inspire a healthy work-life balance in people. I want to spend money on delegation and smart systems that will free me up to focus on coaching!
I also want to spend my time and money traveling, going to the theater and creating lifelong memories with my family. Lastly, I plan to get a tattoo on my wrist that says "Be Here Now." I have been pondering on this idea for months and I am ready to make the move. It will remind me to stay present at all times with all things (and people). Remember, you can't take it with you friends so don't waste a single moment!
What did you resist most in 2017?
Interestingly enough, when I look back at the year I realize what I resisted most was seeking help. This is something I fully embraced towards the end of the year when it became abundantly clear that my audio course, Chaos to Clarity, was not going to launch without some serious support. I learned a lot of lessons the last quarter the year and I plan to capitalize on those lessons in 2018. And my new teams kicks serious ass (can you lovelies feel that virtual hug?!).
Was there anything you surrendered to?
Surrender is hard for me. I value it and deeply believe in the importance of it, but it is really difficult. It took some deep soul searching to identify an area in which I fully surrendered and I think it was around my youngest daughter's sleep habits. After being a great sleeper most of her life, she really struggled to sleep through the night, and in her own bed, for the majority of 2017. At first, I fought it, taking her back up to her room over and over or attempting to “sleep” in her bed until she was back asleep — but none of it worked. She screamed and cried (waking her sisters in the process), and I was tired and exhausted the next day (resulting in less than stellar productivity on my part). Finally, I surrendered and let her come into my bed. We snuggled up tight and while I had some neck pain from it, I also got beautiful morning smiles and a halfway decent night’s sleep. Also, my little girl needed something from me and although I am still not really sure what that was, I think I gave it to her. Lo and behold, 2018 hit and she has stayed in her bed half the nights. Fingers crossed this is a permanent transition. And I might just miss those sweet morning smiles and snuggles. There is always a silver lining.
What made you joyful in 2017?
I had so much joy in meeting new people, helping new clients find their “ah-ha,” teaching workshops and seeing attendees light up with passion and excitement. I also experienced great joy on family vacations, watching my daughter perform on stage and simply staying truly present with my loved ones. I did a lot of laughing this past year but one of my commitments for 2018 is to laugh more and harder. Big, deep belly laughs the kind that makes you feel like you have just finished a core workout? I want more of those and plan to put myself in situations to make them happen!
What gives you hope for the New Year?
New beginnings always bring me hope. They can often be bittersweet but I see the beauty in that also. Saying goodbye to something, even if it has not been the greatest thing, can be difficult — but starting something new and putting yourself out there to try new things, find new adventures and experiences and simply live your life brings hope and possibility. So what do I hope for in 2018? I hope for more inspiration and things to hope for. I hope for adventure and passion. I hope for connection (my word of the year) and friendship. I hope to serve people in a big way and I hope for lots and lots of joy for everyone around me.
So what about you? I want to know your answers to the questions above if you are brave enough to share them with me. I am easy to reach … Email, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. Let’s inspire each other this year!
It has been a little quiet over here on the Vickery and Co blog the last few weeks. My instinct was to say “Sorry!” for that, but truthfully, I am not sorry. I have been knee-deep into the final development stages for my Chaos to Clarity Course (and it is amazing, I must admit!). In addition to that, I am still a mom of four and have clients to service.
So why am I bothering to share all of this with you in a blog post? Because it is a busy time of year for everyone. I am willing to bet each of you reading this feels a little overwhelmed, under-appreciated and just plain exhausted at least some of the time. The holidays can do that to you. Here in Chicago, the cold weather does it to me as well!
Here is the gift in all of this … It is OK to take a break sometimes so you can focus wholly on other things. I love my little blog. I love teaching and sharing with all of you. I love motivating people to get up off their ass and make magic happen -- but the truth is, I can do that in a lot of different ways and a few weeks away from this blog won’t hurt anyone!
I also took time off to celebrate my birthday, my daughter’s birthday, and my partner’s birthday. These things are important to me. They are a serious form of self-care and they make me better. I am a better coach, teacher and parent when I take time out and do things for myself and my family. These are lessons I hope each of you will take firmly in hand and implement this holiday season. Take care of yourself. Set some things aside - and do it unapologetically. They will be there when you are ready to come back.
Besides, I am creating some really great stuff with this audio course. I am spending countless hours designing something that I know will make a difference in the lives of those that join me on the journey.
What do you need to set aside for a little bit so you can focus on a different project? How are you practicing self-care during this busy time of year? Share your thoughts with me via email, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. I love hearing from you and even things may be quiet for a few weeks on the blog, I promise to resend to each and everyone of you. You are my tribe. You make me better!
A few months ago I read Amy Poehler’s “Yes, Please!” I expected it to be a light, funny read but was surprised by how much it moved and motivated me personally and professionally. I am telling you, I took a lot of notes while reading this book. One section that truly spoke to me was about doing things that are really, truly scary.
After reading the book, I was inspired to make a list of things I have done that scared the shit out of me and why I am glad I did them. The list was fairly long with over 25 items ranging from the first time I went out to dinner alone, to cutting my really long hair into a short bob, to riding in a helicopter (it was scary but I am a total thrill seeker).
In the interest of being authentic, vulnerable and brave, I have decided to share five of those items with you. I am going to get really raw with you. This post was much harder for me to write than I anticipated. I sat on it for days and days. Normally words flow freely and I have to cut myself off. This time, for whatever reason, the level of vulnerability seemed deeper than normal. I felt naked and exposed. I am not sure why this was different than any other time since I’m normally an open book. So, thank you for being gentle with my heart as you read this piece and for understanding that sometimes things just feel extra difficult. I truly believe that is when we need to push through the most.
Here goes … my top 5 scariest moments and why I am unbelievably glad I did them.
Taking a vacation alone. Ok, I will admit this was not supposed to be a solo vacation. I had originally planned to visit Atlanta with my best friend from middle school. At the time, fresh out of college, funds were tight but I was really excited for this visit. About a week before I was scheduled to fly out from Chicago, my friend let me know she wasn’t going to join me. I was heartbroken. I couldn’t get my money back so I decided to go anyway, alone. Have you ever gone on a solo vacation? I mean, as a 43-year-old woman I think it would be awesome but as a 23-year-old it was terrifying. But off I went, alone. On my first day there, I remember finding a sweet little restaurant that was, aptly named the “Vickery Cafe.” I sat down, ordered lunch and pulled out a book. It was then that it hit me, “I am pretty fun. I can totally hang out by myself.” It isn’t that I don’t need or want other people, it is simply that I don’t require other people to be fulfilled.
Singing Publicly. A few years ago a good friend of mine was hosting an open mic night at a local bar with a live band. Since I have a background in musical theater and had done some singing as a child, she asked me to sing on this stage. When I agreed to do it I thought I would be singing to a fairly empty room in front of mostly strangers. As it turned out the lineup grew to be full of people I knew! Holy shit! I had to sing on stage for the first time in 25 years in front of a bunch of people I knew?! To say this was terrifying is an understatement but I had prepared and I was going for it. I even took my daughters with me for rehearsal. Looking out at their tiny little faces, seeing how proud they were of me, that was my payoff moment. I might not have been the best singer on stage that night but I was the proudest mother. I did something super brave and showed my girls that nothing can stop them from achieving their dreams and even if it feels scary, it’s worth it!
Coming Out. Ok. Well, this one is pretty obvious. Coming out is hard. Really hard. And the truth is, it never stops. I have to come out almost every day in some capacity or another. My coming out happened over time and with each conversation, my heart became a little more whole. As each person I told welcomed me and showed their love and support, I began to feel like a real girl (you know Pinocchio or Velveteen Rabbit style). All of a sudden, an entire person emerged that I felt really comfortable with. It was me, for the first time. Hello Heather Vickery, nice to meet you.
Getting Divorced. This one is hard. Based on the aforementioned coming out, divorce was a likely outcome -- but let me remind you that people don’t get married to get divorced and just because something is right that does not mean it is easy. There are all sorts of difficult things that come with getting divorced. For me, the hardest part was the fear of hurting my children and my then spouse. But once I got to the other side, that new girl I mentioned got wings. I was finally able to throw myself out there all the way and make any kind of magic I wanted.
Starting a Brand New Business. Speaking of magic! I have been a business owner and entrepreneur for nearly 20 years. I was super comfortable in my role and had a fantastic, well-respected business on my hands. But then I was faced with this new version of myself, this authentic and empowered woman who simply knew there was something else out there. Once I stopped shaking and started listening to the universe, I realized I had some amazing gifts that could really help others elevate their lives and business. Fast forward several years and this shit is working!! My business is thriving. I have a full roster of amazing clients who honor me by allowing me into their lives. Each day is still a rollercoaster and I am along for the ride but damn it feels good!
So there you have it … The cliff notes version of the scariest shit I have ever done and why I am so grateful for having done them. Now it’s your turn! I would love for you to drop me a line and share some moments in your life where your bravery shined when you were terrified. As always, you can reach me via email, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. I love hearing from you.
P.S. Did you know I have a new course launching? Chaos to Clarity: A Roadmap to Personal and Professional Success. This course will help you rescue yourself from feeling overwhelmed or stuck. Are you unsure how to reach your desired level of success personally and professionally? Go from Chaos to Clarity. Through concrete action steps, I empower people to run their business more effectively and increase their productivity while creating true work-life balance. Creating a business and life you love is only the beginning: by taking control of your work and life through these simple steps, you’ll have happier clients. Better yet, you’ll create both a home and work life that you love while achieving and even expanding your dreams! Register today for the pre-sale rates - good through December 15th!
One of the things I’ve committed to through the end of the year is being in conversation with someone new at least once a week. I made this commitment on a coaching call with my own coach (remember, you cannot sell something you are not willing to buy!) and I chose this commitment because it would make me a little uncomfortable. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love to talk to people. I am the person that talks to strangers standing in the checkout line at the grocery store, but that doesn’t mean it is easy for me to be in the right conversations with new people.
Being in conversations with strangers on a regular basis requires you to build those muscles. It is a habit. These conversations can be in person, over the phone or through Skype/FaceTime but they do require hearing one another’s voice. An email or messenger exchange does not have the same effect.
Here are five reasons why you want to get this muscle memory up and running!
This may seem obvious, but being in conversation with strangers affords you the opportunity to meet new people! If you are active on different social media platforms, take action and invite someone you follow or admire into a conversation. Remember the worst they can say is no -- so why not give it a try?
The number one thing I tell people who are looking to grow their business is to network and build a tribe. Just this week I had an amazing conversation with Justine from It Just Flows. I have long admired Justine’s work and her “Calligraphy for Gratitude” workshops. I decided to reach out to her and see if she wanted to jump on a quick FaceTime chat with me. Not only was she happy to do so, during our conversation I learned that she is interested in partnering with me on an event. So many doors open up when you invite people into a conversation.
Learn something new
Being in conversation will most assuredly put you in a position to learn something new. Honestly, the possibilities are endless. The other day while sitting with my oldest daughter at a local coffee shop, we met a woman that appeared to be down on her luck. She was not asking for a handout; she was simply asking us to check her bus pass and see how much money was remaining. We had a computer open and she needed to go online. While looking, she shared a little about her journey and gave some “life lessons.” .. We did end up helping her out a little and I was grateful for the opportunity, but what I learned from this experience is how gracious and tender my daughter’s heart is.
When this homeless woman approached and asked my daughter (she was the one with the computer) to check her bus pass, my sweet girl smiled brightly and said, “of course!” and was so patient with this stranger. There was never a moment of hesitation. There was no fear of the unknown, only kindness and willingness to help someone in need. I could not have been more proud of my baby girl at that moment and it led to a really powerful and passionate conversation about compassion and helping those that are less fortunate.
There is something magical about being able to help others. I am constantly telling my clients (and my kids!) that we cannot give someone what they need if we don’t know what it is. One thing I do in all of my conversations is ask how I can be of service. Is there anything I can do to help you get where you are going? I almost always get some type of “yes.” I find great joy in helping others whether it be offering a coaching session to help them solve a few problems, running to the grocery store for a friend who is home sick, or simply listening when someone needs an ear.
See the world beyond your own
It is easy to get stuck in our own worlds and to move through time with blinders on. The flip side is that we often see things one-sided and it causes us to lose compassion for the experience of others. Life is complicated and sometimes difficult. We run businesses, manage households, raise children and that often doesn’t leave space to see the world beyond our own experience. Being in conversation with new people gives us a window into a completely new perspective and it affords us an opportunity to step out of our normal lives and understand the perspectives of others just a little bit more. By engaging someone in conversation who has a totally different life experience than you, you open your heart and mind and gain compassion for others. You just might step more gently and kindly into the world and situations that may affect others, even if they don’t affect you. The world is wide but our perspectives are narrow without conversations with new people.
Enrich your life
One thing all of the items listed above have in common is that, in one way or another, they all help to enrich your life. Getting out of your comfort zone and networking then building a tribe, learning new things, helping others and seeing the world beyond your own are all important life experiences. They give us a broader sense of the world and the people in it. They help us serve more graciously in our businesses and families, build stronger relationships that have the power to drastically change our communities, and give us a sense of usefulness and gratitude that is strengthening and empowering.
It is all about connection. We often connect with people we see every day and those we know well -- but making an effort to connect with strangers has a powerful impact in so many ways. I challenge you to identify a stranger to be in conversation with this week and then let me know how it impacted you!
I am doing some new and exciting stuff lately including audio content so you can listen on the go! Would you like to be part of this audio experience with me? If you accept my challenge to be in conversation with a stranger this week, will you send me a recording (voice only, no video) about the experience and how it impacted you? I will be compiling these experiences for a special audio experience and I would love to include yours!
You can email the audio clip to me here and, as always, I love hearing from you in any format you prefer. Reach out at any time via Facebook, Instagram or email. I promise that I personally read and respond to every single note.
You know how you feel when you have just nailed a client meeting or finished creating that course you are about to sell? That feeling of excitement and pride? That is a powerful feeling, one that helps you stay charged and ready to move on to the next big thing. That is a feeling that should always be celebrated.
I firmly believe that celebrating successes, no matter how small, is the key to motivation and even bigger successes. Aaron Anastasi, author of The Voice of Your Dreams, once told me, “celebration is a lost discipline” and I think he is right. There is something magical about the art of celebration. To truly celebrate all of your wins, personally and professionally, and not discredit the small ones, takes a lot of discipline. It also reaps the biggest rewards.
Imagine having that feeling I mentioned above woven through your life on a daily basis? Picture it, if you will: you feel awesome way more than you feel overwhelmed. There is always something to celebrate.
One of the ways I tap into all of the amazing elements worth celebrating is through a gratitude routine. I spend a few minutes each day writing down all of the things I am grateful for that day. Today, for example, I am already grateful that I managed to get my kids off to school on time (no easy feat with four kids and three schools), that I have a warm cup of tea, and am sitting down to write this post at exactly the time I intended to. I am also grateful for the clients I will service today and the podcast interview I’m about to give. Taking the time to acknowledge gratitude gives me reason to celebrate. It instills a level of pride that I may otherwise lack. I even celebrate with my “wins” accountability partner each Friday morning. I make every effort to bring celebration into as many aspects of my life as possible.
Each of us defines success differently. I truly believe that, for me, success is found in even the smallest of achievements. I have found that to create the work-life balance I desire, I must celebrate every success, even if it seems inconsequential. Huge, fantastic leaps are wonderful, but never forget that it takes many small steps to achieve those larger goals. Don’t forget about them along the way; they are the stepping stones that get you where you want to go.
I also love to celebrate my success with rewards. Yep, you heard me, rewards. That sounds exciting doesn’t it? I love rewards (just ask my clients). Here are just a few ways I celebrate by rewarding myself. Notice that they range from tiny rewards to really big ones!
Take a walk when I have accomplished a task
Ring a bell when I sign a new client
Splurge on a specialty coffee from the local coffee shop
Schedule a co-working day with some of my creative friends
Allow myself a few minutes to browse through Facebook for personal reasons
Get a pedicure
Spiriti one of my daughters away from school for a one-on-one lunch
Buy theater or concert tickets
Treat myself to a vacation
Because we all have days where we are super productive and days where achieving a small task feels like a major win, I encourage you to give each success its due celebration. Success is success, even if it looks different today than it did yesterday.
So tell me, how do you like to celebrate success? I always love hearing from my readers so drop me a line via email, Facebook or even on Instagram to let me know and thank you for being on this journey with me. Today I am celebrating you!
About a month ago I began an accountability partnership with a woman named Kimi from Brave & Co Design. This is not your typical accountability relationship. Kimi and I chat each Friday morning and share our wins for the week. We have agreed not to “discredit the wins” before sharing them. Rather we simply state them and cheer each other on. What this relationship has given me is a reason to stop and appreciate my wins as they happen. I now keep a running list on my phone to update and access as needed. This gives me pause several times a week to recognize that amazing things are happening all around me.
If you are going to make all of the effort to design a balance that works for you, by identifying what your needs are, defining and creating boundaries, spending your time wisely and productively, making intentional commitments, and delegating tasks, then it is crucial to add an element of accountability.
According to the Vickery and Co 2017 Entrepreneur Survey, 34% of business owners feel alone in their business at least some of the time. One of the most important things you can do to avoid feeling overwhelmingly alone is to have accountability systems set up. Here are a few great ways to use an accountability partner or partners:
A specific accountability system, like mine listed above, where we share wins.
Identifying weekly “stretch” goals (perhaps things that you would otherwise put off!) and then checking in on each other weekly.
Developing Mastermind groups with 3 or more people to work through what is on your plate and come up with creative plans for achieving your goals.
Accountability is key to achieving your goals and following through on your commitments. Nearly 83% of those surveyed responded that they sometimes feel unmotivated. Another benefit of accountability partner(s) is having someone by your side to help you stay motivated!
Accountability partners can be friends, colleagues, or a professional coach and you can have more than one (I do!). No matter who it is, having someone by your side to help you stay on track is imperative. Knowing you are accountable to someone else behind you is empowering.
Finding an accountability partner can seem daunting. Making friends as an adult is sometimes a challenging thing. However, it is always good to simply reach out to those in your field and people who seem to operate on the same level you do. Whether it is someone you know in person or someone you meet in a Facebook group or on Instagram (like I did with Kimi), finding someone you vibe with can have a profound effect on your business. I also have accountability partners that are not in my industry but are successful professionals that I admire and respect. When thinking about building accountability relationships remember not to limit yourself.
Things to keep in mind:
Once you’ve identified a partner (or partners), schedule recurring check-in times, ideally the same time every week for consistency.
Don’t over commit. These check-ins don’t have to be long; they can be as simple as a 5-15 minute phone conversation fit snuggly in the middle of a busy day.
Be a good listener to your accountability partner. Supporting them and helping them think through their needs will make you stronger.
Ready to get started? Here are some action steps:
Think about the people you know, work with respect and feel a kinship with.
Identify 2-3 people who can help you stay accountable.
Clearly lay out how you can help one another reach your goals.
Decide when to make the ask and then schedule that into your calendar.
Make it happen and build up your accountability force!
My own coach once told me that the best use of his time was to be coaching or making efforts to get into conversation with people he could potentially coach. For him, that meant delegating and outsourcing other aspects of his business which pulled him away from being in conversation with and serving others. He also admitted he simply was not very good at some of the more traditional business roles like marketing and administrative work. Truth be told, I am in the same boat. While I am competent at marketing, social media, bookkeeping and administrative work, it is not my strong suit and, as such, takes me much longer than it would someone with more skills in those areas.
The reality is we simply cannot do all of the things on our own. We are not good at all things and if we are being honest, we simply do not enjoy all things. Yes, there are some things that must get done when you own your own business, but that does not mean you need to be the person actually doing them. Give yourself permission to build a tribe and begin delegating. If this is something you already do I encourage you to find new ways to delegate. Trim the fat and streamline those processes as much as possible. It might mean giving up some control but there is a lot of freedom in that. We touched on delegation in the productivity post in this series, but today we’re going a little deeper.
So far you have envisioned the life you want and established what your personal work-life balance could look like. Now it’s time to delegate. You know you can’t do it all, or at least you can’t do it all well — how do you decide what to delegate?
Start by creating a few lists:
- What tasks must get done to keep your business (or life) running properly?
- What personal skills do you bring to the table?
- Which of the tasks in the above list do you actually like doing?
- What tasks could easily be delegated?
- What tasks simply cannot be delegated?
Then begin delegating!
- Identify who could do the work required
- Research virtual assistants, contract workers and other professionals who could meet your needs. You can even consider working a trade or barter with other professionals if you both offer something the other desires.
Ready to delegate? Here are a few last tips.
1. Have a clear understanding of where you want your business to go and who you are as a brand and a company.
2. Hire people who are able to speak in your voice and represent you and the company the way you, the owner, want.
3. Have clear expectations and communication systems with your new team members. In business, ambiguity leads to chaos.
Once you do these things, you will suddenly have time to do the things you are most passionate about. It will create a sense of freedom and you will be in a position to do your best work and you will make more money in the process.
While on a call with a client a few weeks ago, he mentioned that he was working all of the time, but was still unfocused and not getting enough done.. I suggested he commit to keeping track of everything he did from the time he woke up until the time he went to bed. We needed to identify how and where he was spending his time. After tracking his hours for a week, we looked at what could be shifted or released so that he was more efficient. By the time we finished, he said it was like more hours magically appeared. The magic was in the commitment and the intention that went behind it.
Without commitments it is impossible to achieve work-life balance and it is impossible to maintain productivity. The best laid plans fall to the wayside.
So, what is a commitment? How is it different than a goal? Everyone knows the importance of setting goals. Goals are great. They are things you work towards, something you strive to do or achieve. And then there is making a commitment. Some commitments are things you are going to do, and some are ways you are going to be. During each of my workshops and coaching sessions, my clients commit to things that they know will create growth and change — like to send a specific email or write for at least 15 minutes a day. Commitments come in many different forms and can be personal or professional. I have one client now who has committed to walking around her home chanting a mantra that helps her feel empowered.
Commitments are more than a to-do list. They are the follow-through on the boundaries you previously set. Commitments give those boundaries intention.
Often, when working with clients I discover that their “way of being” in a situation is part of what is holding them back. A great example is constantly discrediting a “win” before announcing it. We have all done it, “Well, I didn’t do as much as I could have, but I am proud of posting on Instagram every day for a week.” Did you hear that? You have already said it is not good enough before you even started. Get creative with your commitments by not limiting them to tasks. Consider committing to a specific mindset or way of being in a situation. This can make a powerful impact.
Commitments involve declaring an intention and then taking action to follow through.
Having clearly defined commitments also gives you an opportunity to celebrate success in all its forms. The more you are successful, the more you adventure and take risks and the cycle continues.
When committing to a specific task, rather than a way of being, be sure to schedule them directly into your calendar. After each of my personal coaching sessions (yes, I am a coach and I have a coach — you cannot truly sell something you are not willing to buy), I enter each of my commitments into my calendar so that they don’t fall off my radar.
Spend a little time thinking about what is not working in your life. Where have you failed to make strong commitments or lacked follow through? For today, pick just three things you can commit to for the coming week. You will be amazed at how awesome it feels to be successful with those commitments.
Would you like a little accountability? I invite you to email me or post on Facebook what your commitments are and I will follow up with you next week to celebrate your successes.
I remember the day it all came crashing down. Clients were lined up out the door (this is a good problem, of course, but I was at max capacity and something had to give) and all I could do was scroll through Facebook. I was working hard but I was not working smart. I was in desperate need of some systems that would help me mobilize my productivity.
Time spent in an unproductive manner just causes frustration and a backlog of work and responsibilities. I cannot tell you the countless days I spent feeling so far in the weeds that I had no idea when I would ever get out. There is always so much work to do! During those times it was all I could do to get client needs met, never mind working on my business - - I was drowning working in it! This is no way to live and it is certainly no way to run a successful business.
Productivity. Sometimes this feels like a buzzword in the entrepreneurial community but it makes all the difference in the number of hours spent working on and in your business. How you spend your time is the deciding factor in how long it takes you to complete the tasks at hand. In the Vickery & Co Entrepreneur Survey we discovered that 58% of those surveyed say they spend all of their time working in their business rather than on their business.
Now you have identified your needs and what you want your balance to look like. You’ve also defined and created boundaries to help you achieve the balance you desire. Now it is time to put productivity systems in place to get further into action and begin your journey to balance!
At this point I want to remind you that you do not need to do anything in your life or business. Remember to always find the want behind the need. If you start from the want, these new systems you are building will be much easier to implement and manage.
Here are my best systems for productivity:
- Set aside time in the morning for meditation and self-reflection. If you do this at the start of your day, your head will be more firmly in the game.
- Eat the frog! Do the things you need to do, but may not really want to do, first. This frees your energy fields up and stops you from avoiding things. It also means everything else feels like a total win for the day.
- STOP multitasking and START batch tasking. This does not mean you cannot have multiple projects going on at once. It simply means you only focus on one thing at a time. No more checking email while on a phone call or scrolling through Facebook when you are working on a specific project or writing next week’s blog post. In fact, I would venture to say if you tracked your time for a week you would be shocked at how much time you spend not staying focused!
- Pick up the phone. Sometimes having a five minute phone call can get the answers that you or a client needs right away without a day’s worth of email back and forth.
- Schedule out your day. Trust me, just do it. In most cases, it does not matter what task is first but having a schedule to tell you where to begin means you are spending less time in overwhelm and chaos.
- Keep your to-do list to no more than 6 items. When we have a list that is three pages long it feels so heavy and unachievable. Pick the most important six things for each day and get them done! If you have time leftover, start on a new six. The idea here is to take action, be productive and feel accomplished at the end of the day.
- Know when you don’t know something and outsource! Your time is best spent not spinning your wheels. Know when you should bring in an expert.
- Utilize the amazing productivity apps and plugins available. What you use doesn’t matter tremendously so long as you are utilizing some. We all work in different ways, and that is why there are so many apps which work better for different people!
- Utilize the rewards system. If I complete an hour’s worth of writing I will take a walk and grab a fancy coffee. Or upon completion of a major project I will treat myself to a day at the spa. The rewards can be small or large as long as they motivate you!
These are just a small sampling of tools to manage your time. Implement these systems or design your own -- but I promise that doing so will allow you to discover there are simply more hours in the day. Another amazing side effect will be happier clients because when you are focused, your clients get the best of what you have to offer!
Have some productivity methods that you love? I’d love to hear about them. Shoot me an email or leave a message on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. The more we know and share, the better off we all are. I love hearing from you!
When I first started my business, I thought I needed to be available 24/7 in order to be successful. That led clients to think I was always available and caused frustration and exhaustion on my part. I knew I couldn’t continue like that so I took a serious look at what I wanted and identified what needed to shift so I could meet my client’s needs and regain my life!
Last week we talked about identifying your needs. Now let’s talk about my favorite step: defining and creating boundaries. Boundaries are limits that define acceptable behavior. They are your limits. You decide what’s acceptable for you, your life and your business. Boundaries give you permission to say “yes” and “no” at the appropriate times. They are the key to guilt-free freedom.
Guilt-free freedom?! Yes. An example I have is around my work hours. I am clear with all clients what my work hours are and I communicate this in my outgoing voicemail message that states “If your call is after 5pm or on a weekend, please note that I will get back to you on the next business day.”
Boundaries solve problems. I cannot tell you how many people compliment me on that message, how clearly I state this boundary and how empowering that is for them. Honestly, most people are willing to give you want you want if they know what it is! Communication is the key to allowing others to meet our needs.
Boundaries are empowering, instilling confidence and allowing you to control your interactions with others. Boundaries manage expectations, making for smoother relationships with everyone, even with yourself. They even lead to happier clients!
So how do you create boundaries? You set up systems that give you a desired result. I don’t want clients to expect a return phone call from me after work hours so I let them know this in advance.
Need some ideas to get started?
- Set and maintain concrete work hours
- Send new clients a “welcome” letter explaining your hours, communication policies and preferred modes of communication
- Create the next day's to do list (keep that list short and achievable!)
- Stick to your to-do list with minimal distraction
- Batch-task instead of multitasking (stay tuned for more on this!)
- Commit to self-care
A new client wanted to take a weekday off as she works weekends and her partner has Wednesdays off. She worried her clients would think poorly of her for not working in the middle of the week, that they wouldn’t respect her boundary and she’d have to say “no” when they asked for something. I challenged her to simply let them know she wouldn’t be available on Wednesdays. This wasn’t about asking for permission, but rather about making a statement. Want to know what happened? They said “Thanks for letting us know!” That’s it. She set a boundary, communicated it and now she has Wednesdays off.
In the Vickery and Co Entrepreneur Survey, 55% of respondents said they have a hard time saying no. By saying no you are setting a boundary on what you will or won’t do. Once you have identified what’s acceptable to you and you communicate clearly, in most cases, your boundaries will be respected and the fear begins to diminish.
List your Current Boundaries
Examine your personal and professional lives. What boundaries are already in place? List these boundaries.
Identify what Should Stay, Change or Go
You’ve listed your established boundaries; now examine them. Which ones are really working for you? Keep these. Next, identify which are good but could be tweaked, then those that no longer serve you. Create space to make room for new boundaries that better fit the work-life balance you are designing.
Create a New List
Consider your ideal work-life balance and identify at least 5 new boundaries that would help push you towards your goal.
Setting boundaries is one of the most important things you can do in life and in business. Identifying where you need to establish or modify boundaries changes things. Without them, you’re likely to burn out more quickly and are not able to give your best to your work or your family.
Once you have done this work, observe the changes they created. Do you feel more in control? Are you more empowered? Does it seem like there is more balance in your life? Let me know! We are in this together.
We learned in the first post in this series that, in order to achieve a successful work-life balance, you need to create something unique to you and your needs rather than aspiring to an “ideal balance” that works for someone else. In part one, we will focus on easy steps to identify what your personal and professional needs really are. Once identified, you can begin to build the right balance. Prior to this step, you are playing someone else’s games and by someone else’s rules.
When I first started my business, I watched how other people ran their businesses. I read lots of books about the “right” way to do things and I tried to mirror that behavior. The thing is, most of that didn’t work for me. The type of business I was running was not a 9-5 job and I had very small children. At that time, I knew I needed to work “off” hours and I struggled with how to do it all. Since then I have heard many entrepreneurs push aside the notion that balance was a “real and achievable” thing. It does, in fact, seem elusive and, for some, it feels better to simply say, “This is bullshit and it doesn’t exist,” than to do the hard work to find a rhythm that truly works for them.
So let’s make this achievable, shall we?
Step one: Identify what balance actually means to you.
What do you really need to be healthy, peaceful and still successful?
Sit down and think through your daily and weekly schedule. Consider the following items:
- Where and how are you spending your time?
- At what point do you feel stressed and unable to give any more of yourself to a task?
- How much time are you spending with your family?
- How much time do you spend on self-care?
If any of these elements feel “off” to you, make a note on what, if shifted, would feel better. Be as clear as possible. Clarity will lead to real change.
Create your wish list for balance. Don’t concern yourself with how it all works right now. Start by simply identifying and creating your “wish list.”
Work-life balance is very much an individual experience. For me to personally feel balanced, I need the following:
- Quiet time and space
- Quality time with my children
- At least 8 hours of sleep at night
- A minimum of 5 hours of work time (I truly believe that if you spend 5 focused hours a day you can accomplish anything)
- Clear boundaries around my work hours so clients don’t have expectations I am not willing to meet
- Time for a pedicure once a month (personal care must fit into a well-balanced life)
- Scheduled dates with my partner
- A vacation on the horizon to look forward to
Once you come up with your wish list sit with it for a while, take a few minutes to truly imagine these items in your life. How would you feel if you had all of these things? How would it change the way you interact with clients and loved ones?
Map out your ideal schedule.
Compare your actual schedule with your wish list and think about what you want your schedule to be. Go big with this. Write it down. If everything were perfect, what would an average day look like? What about an average week?
Ok. Now that you can actually picture your life with these changes how do you think people will react to the changes in you? Once you embody happiness and calmness and you feel like you are meeting all of your needs, I assure you people will respond to you in kind. Those around you will gravitate towards your light and want to drink the same kool-aid.
Next week we will address step two in the process. Defining and creating boundaries. As you may already know, boundaries are my favorite thing to talk about so don’t miss it!
Today, like every other day, I will shut my computer down at 3pm and go pick my kids up from school. I recognize this is a luxury that not everyone has but it is part of the work-life balance I have created for myself. The deal is, I am in charge of what I want my work-life balance to look like and this is non-negotiable to me. Almost every client I work with comes to me with a problem balancing their time properly to ensure that they get the most out of their work time, exceed their client’s expectations and still have quality personal and family time. It seems that most of us hold ourselves to a standard dictated by other people about what our lives should look like -- yet struggle to achieve that beautiful, elusive balance. But here’s the deal, as my clients eventually discover: working to achieve someone else’s goal is never going to get you very far.
Here’s a question I ask my clients: What is work-life balance? Is it a real thing? I ask them this instead of the other way around because I want to know where their head is around this topic before we begin to build a plan to achieve their desired balance. The answer, as far as I am concerned is, “it’s real and if you want it, it’s yours.” What is attainable is designing your own balance. What works for one person may not work for another. Stop holding yourself to standards that don’t fit your life.
Nevertheless, this is a big issue for most people, no matter what industry they are in. Finding that sweet spot where your life feels comfortable and harmonious to you is incredibly important and is the only way to truly achieve the elusive balance you desire. According to a Vickery & Co survey of entrepreneurs, 30% feel as though they have to work 24/7 to be successful.
How in the world can anyone do anything really well if they never have time for themselves or their families? I have seen this pressure turn even the most excited and motivated people into those who hate their lives and jobs. It is simply not sustainable nor is it necessary. If you put in the work on the front end to build boundaries and systems, then test out different approaches and limits, you can completely avoid the need to work all the damn time! Stay focused, work hard and then allow yourself the free time to play hard!
Check back next week as we are focusing on identifying what your personal and professional needs really are.
Today is the first day all of my kids are back in school full time. That also means it’s my first full day back in the office. We had a wonderful summer together but let me be honest, trying to run a business while also playing summer camp director for four kids is intense. I spent much of the summer thinking, “Thank goodness I have the ability to be with them” and also, at the very same time, “Holy shit, when am I ever going to get everything done!?” And now, upon reflection, it all went by so fast. Give it back, please! Let me be laughing at the pool with my babies.
But here we are. Another school year started, the weather getting ever cooler and we’re already talking about Halloween costumes. Someone once said to me the days are long but the years are short. That could not be truer.
Studies have long shown that staying focused on a thing gives it life. If that thing is a new business or a client’s project, give it your full attention. If it is slowing down in the morning and not checking social media until after the kids are off to school, give it your full attention. If it is your time for reflection or meditation, give it your full attention. Be here now. That is the fastest way to get where you are going. Trust me on this.
Some of the boundaries I set for myself and my business help me stay present and in the moment during the craziness of the summer. A few of my favorites are…
Batch task my to-do list. I work on only one project at a time and let everything else fit into its own place on the list.
Don’t allow distractions to own me. I turn off notifications and don’t rush to check email or text messages when they come in. I build in time for this in my daily schedule.
Take breaks. If I am feeling stuck or unmotivated, I change my surroundings, take a walk or just give myself a few minutes to step away.
Leave my cell phone behind. Because having boundaries in my personal life is as important as having them in my business life, I often leave my cell phone at home when I walk to the park with the kids or I put it away in a drawer when I sit down to do a puzzle or play a game with them. See my two part blog post on work-life balance for more on this here.
My challenge to you right now is to find a way to be where you are. Feel the things happening around you and truly experience them. Whether it is work, family, self-care or friendships, do yourself a favor and stay right here. Be present.
I recently had a conversation with my 7 year old daughter, Tessa. I was running around getting the kids ready for school and said “We NEED to leave the house by 8:30!” to which she replied, “We don’t ever need to do anything. You want to do it because you don’t want us to be late.”
Such a simple concept, right? She and I spent some time talking through things that I felt might be needs and she was able to find the want in each and every one:
Me: I need to feed you and your sisters.
Tessa: You want to feed us because you love us and don’t want us to die.
Me: I need to work.
Tessa: You want to work because you want to be able to afford our house and the things that help us survive.
It went on and on and, of course, she is 100% right!
The truth of the matter is you don’t need to do anything. You do things because you want to, or at least because you want the desired result of having done the thing.
Motivation can be a tricky thing. What motivates us (and when it does so) can shift, sometimes moment by moment. I often have conversations with clients about their lack of motivation and my key to supporting them is to find the “want” behind the perceived need. While this seems like a fairly easy concept, it’s often difficult to put into action because the “stories” we tell ourselves get in the way.
I often find myself working with clients that are in a rut, struggling to run their business effectively because they lack motivation. Everything feels like a “need to do” rather than a “want to do.” If this is where you are, you are not alone. Vickery and Co conducted a survey of over 300 entrepreneurs and found that 83% of respondents struggle with a lack of motivation at least some of the time!
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The word motivation actually has two definitions. “the desire and willingness to perform a task” is the standard definition most people think of but the other definition of motivation comes into play as well and has a lot more power behind it. “The reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way” -- basically this is finding the want in any situation.
While people often spend time working on the block that is stopping them from taking action and being motivated, I am suggesting that simply finding the want behind the need might be enough to propel you forward.
I regularly work with clients to help uncover what is blocking them from having the life and business they desire. This is an important part of the process. Identifying the background noise helps clients find clarity about why they are feeling unmotivated and helps them work past limiting beliefs. But this is not enough on it’s own! The next time you feel unmotivated, ask yourself why you feel that way and what is the desired result of having done the thing you feel unmotivated to do. Essentially, how badly do you want the desired result?
Each and every one of us lacks motivation at some point -- what matters is what you do with the emotions surrounding it. Do you let them take over and keep you from doing the work you were created to do, or do you take steps to uncover why you’re feeling unmotivated, what you really want, and push through to the other side?
Each time you hear yourself say, “I need to do this,” I challenge you to stop, take a moment and identify why you might want to do it instead. Words matter, they really do. More on that soon, so stay tuned!
I have always loved snow globes. I think they’re magical. I collected them when I was younger. I would stare inside, at the pristine little world covered in “snow drops” and would imagine what it would be like to live inside one. As I got older, instead of feeling like I was on the outside of the snow globe looking in, I began to feel like I was on the inside, looking out. I was stuck in the pristine little world, surrounded by glass and unable to get to reality. I imagined that everyone on the outside was looking in and thinking what a pretty little picture it was, but there I was, not really living life. Now that I’m further away from that, I realize that I was trapped by fear and living an inauthentic life. I felt like I was supposed to be happy because I was in this pretty little world and to everyone else things appeared perfect.
I felt stuck but I didn’t know why and I didn’t know how to change anything.
Do you feel this way? Have you ever? You’re not alone. The question is, how will you get out? What changes and choices are you willing to make today that will get you out of the bubble? How will you get to the other side of the glass? How will you live an authentic life?
I suggest starting by simply writing your ideal future. Imagine this future is your current reality, happening right here, today. Take a moment to close your eyes and envision the future you want and write it down. You don’t need a ready-made road map, you can create your own. You’re not forging someone else’s path. This is your path. No one can decide what it looks like except you. As you begin to build your map, you will become one step closer, every day, to being who and where you want to be.
At the beginning of her coaching, a client once shared with me that she wanted to become the CEO of her company. That’s a bold move. It’s a gutsy vision. The problem was, she didn’t have a road map. She didn’t know how in the world she was going to get to CEO. I assured her that we had all the tools and resources we needed to create one for her. We started with her big picture vision and come up with a plan. Plan after plan and goal after goal, things started into motion. Just last week, about six months after that initial call, she shared with me a number of different opportunities that had magically presented themselves. You see, she had asked for what she wanted. When you put your desires out there with intention, you should be prepared to get them! I asked her what would happen after she participated in these magical things and stepped into the roles presented her. I asked “where is that going to take you?” She was quiet for a moment and said, “They’ll take me to CEO.”
I am here to tell you, you can invent your future, you can create it. You don’t need a road map, you can design your own. It’s all there for you. You just have to want it, and you just have to start today, right now. You can get on the outside of the snow globe. Just like I did.
I have long said “our perception creates our reality, therefore, we have the power to change the future”. So many elements in our daily life affect our perception.
Last Sunday morning, I decided to shake up my routine. My kids were with their other parent so I had the luxury of deciding how I would spend my morning. If walking through your neighborhood early on a Sunday morning is new to you, it’s like a whole new world. I decided to get up and to get out, and I walked around the neighborhood listening to a podcast. I listened to Invisibilia on NPR, episode Reality: Part 2. I had no idea how related it would be to that morning’s experiences.
I had explicit desire and intent to look at the things and the people around me in a different light. The houses I’ve walked past hundreds of times but never really looked at. The people milling about doing their Sunday morning things. I walked past lots of smiles and friendly people. One guy stopped me and said “are you my neighbor?”. He shook my hand smiled and we wished each other a good day.
This was similar to an experience I’d had days before. We have a little free library in our front yard. My daughters and I have long wanted one and it is such a joy to have. While working on the front porch (perks of being an entrepreneur who works from home), I had the pleasure of seeing our mail carrier looking, slightly confused, at our library. She finally spoke up and asked if the books were really free and if they needed to be returned. I explained that, yes, they were free and, no, they did not need to be returned. She went on to share that her four-year-old granddaughter was visiting for the summer and she wanted to take some books to her. I helped her pick out several books and she went on with her job but it made my day!
This led me to wonder; what happens if you step out of your bubble? If you step out of your routine and the things that you always do and look at things from a different perspective. What happens if you shake it up? What if you wake at a completely different hour? Go for a walk or sit in a random coffee shop or talk to a stranger. Your perception creates your reality. So you have the opportunity to change the future, but what if your reality creates your perception? If you can change your reality can your perception change?
Are you stuck in a creative rut? Are you feeling down? Are you not sure what’s next? Let me suggest shaking it up a bit. Do something different. This isn’t a new concept, Tony Robbins goes into a cold plunge pool when he’s lost his creative mojo. Lots of people try something different, get up from their desk, or go for a walk. But all of that is somewhat within the confines of your routine. What I’m suggesting is something that is completely out of your normal wheelhouse. Maybe you’ll find something you’d like to add into your routine. Maybe you will be struck with your next great idea… you never know. How about you give it a try?
Share with us how you’re going to shake it up. Why might you want to try something different? Are you stuck and looking to create change or transform into the next great thing? If so, the best way to do that is by trying something new.
Professional experts are in the unique position to ease stress and tension for clients, making their lives easier, happier and a lot more enjoyable. Revisit part one of this post to learn about the first two steps for happier, less-stressed clients: knowing what you are talking about and setting and maintaining clear boundaries. Now, on to the next three tips.
Communication: Ok, so we have talked about the importance of setting boundaries — but they mean nothing if you do not clearly communicate them with your clients!
People cannot give you want you want if they don’t know what it is. Nor can you give clients what they want and need if you don’t know what it is. Communication is the problem solver here. Have solid office hours and list them in a welcome email that clearly states them. Have a proprietary process when on-boarding new clients and communicate that to them in the beginning stages of your planning.
Manage expectations: This goes a step beyond communication. Let clients know when they can expect something from you. Vagueness is your enemy. Owe them a deliverable? Tell them “I will have this to you within a week” or whatever your timing dictates. Do not leave things to the imagination. If you do, their imagination will tell them to expect something from you instantly. We live in a world where instant gratification is expected and this is not a healthy way to operate your business or your life.
If you will be out of pocket for a day or are heading on vacation, send a personal email letting clients know and remind them with your out of office responder. But don’t just stop there! Be sure to communicate when they can expect a response from you. Are you checking email once a day, once a week or not at all until you return? What should they do in case of an emergency (which, let’s face it, shouldn’t happen unless your job is literally saving lives)?
Every step of the client experience should be managed by you, the expert. Your clients will look to you for action plans, advice and follow through. Arming them with knowledge and managing their expectations keeps everyone calm, cool and collected.
Always follow through: This one is simple and it applies to everything mentioned above. Do what you say you are going to do. Always. No matter what. If for any reason, you are unable to follow through, then quickly and articulately let the clients know that you need to shift your commitment. Do not make excuses and do not cast blame. State the facts as they are and re-commit with a new plan. It is not the thinking of things that matters, it is in the doing of things. Do what you say you are going to do.