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Go from lavishing to more living
Thank you for reading and tuning into my Insights this past year.
Here are a few Reflective Gratitude Prompts:
Who are you most grateful for this past year?
What are you most grateful for this past year?
Write down why you are grateful for these people and things.
How can you express your gratitude more next year?
I wish you well as you enter 2022; it’s your year!
What mattered most to you in 2021?
Happy New Year Arianne,
Thank you for reading and tuning into my Insights this past year.
Here are a few Reflective Gratitude Prompts:
Who are you most grateful for this past year?
What are you most grateful for this past year?
Write down why you are grateful for these people and things.
How can you express your gratitude more next year?
I wish you well as you enter 2022; it’s your year!
Freedom is nothing but a chance to be better.
– Albert Camus
Freedom – Finding Flexibility in the Workplace
After a year and a half of living during the pandemic, freedom in the workplace has taken on new meaning. The need for business innovation brought about a change in responsibility and accountability for everyone. Autonomy took on different forms during these unprecedented past 16 months requiring us all to adapt and change.
Issues such as having employees manage their workload by setting their schedules, choosing how to do their work, exercising creativity in approaching job goals, and working from home were some results. Many employees voiced these issues in the past but were met by resistance by the employer. The fear was often that these accommodations would give the employee too much leeway and they would not meet expectations for public accountability. Nevertheless, the pandemic resulted in employees working from home for many businesses with managers and owners sacrificing control. Surprisingly, many did see significant employee commitment, better performance, improved productivity, and lower turnover. Places like Google, Dropbox, and similar big corporations whose reputation for innovation has been linked with less conventional work environments, were no longer alone implementing innovative practices.
Currently, many businesses are now facing some sort of new ”flexibility.” Flexibility has become the fastest-rising priority for all working generations, followed by work-life balance, benefits, and workplace culture (LinkedIn Workforce Confidence Index research, professionals in the US surveyed between March 13 to 26, 2021). Millennials are no longer the only ones who have very high expectations for learning, development, transparency, and flexibility on the job—providing the freedom to manage one’s work and determining when and where they do that work is fundamental to the satisfaction of the current workforce.
It is human nature that people like to have choices and flexibility. In a very routine job, autonomy doesn’t have much impact on productivity. However, it can still increase satisfaction, which leads to other positive outcomes. Freedom: There’s a difference between having it and knowing what to do with it. A mind that feels free does better work, and giving employees the room to reach their objectives in the ways they see fit can be a solid leadership move — if done right. Being autonomous allows the freedom to produce one’s best work, such as encouraging ideas, changes in operations, new management techniques, and working on new projects to stay engaged. Our new, post-pandemic work habits are still being determined which is why flexibility is so valued.
When management makes decisions about organizing work, it is important for them to consider the effect on people’s autonomy. It can significantly impact how employees feel about their job and the business for whom they work. Approximately 70 percent of employees want to retain some degree of remote work. In general, people want to do what they do best, and for many who are working from home, even though they may be working longer hours, their happiness and productivity have gone up (The Economist, https://www.economist.com/printedition/2021-04-10).
It now becomes the responsibility of managers to let go somewhat and adjust the metrics they use to determine if work is getting done. The question is not whether a boss can see an employee sitting at a desk for eight hours, but whether the employee is producing the work they’re supposed to do to meet expectations.
Employees want the freedom to determine their days, hours and location, from where they work. They want to be in control of how they dress and make independent decisions. As long as they perform at work, they feel choices such as these should be decided upon by them.
What people are looking for now is flexibility. Working parents want to adjust the job clock themselves — establishing the start, stop and break times that work best for them. Others like the freedom to change cities while still keeping the same employer. We have to remember that productivity and an ideal workspace look different for everyone. It’s essential to listen to what an employee needs and feels more comfortable doing, rather than assuming someone will want to work one way or another. Flexibility means something different for everyone involved. We may need to adapt to these multiple definitions and many other arrangements co-existing at the same time. We may be entering the hybrid approach to working where specific days are designated for in-office meetings and collaboration and remote days for work involving individual focus to allow for structure, social interaction, autonomy, and flexibility. Employers need to balance employee needs with the needs of their business, image and culture, and health and safety impact.
Freedom increases offerings, options, and opportunities.
Three things we can learn from this newfound freedom in the workplace:
Having employees work on their solutions to problems has shed light on processes that may have bogged their productivity. They have been able to contribute to new ways of working that are more effective and efficient. Be open (flexible) to suggestions.
Allowing employees to participate in their performance goals enable employees to identify what they are doing well within the company and what it means to them so they can be more willing to meet the goal.
Having employees feel valued requires their participation in being heard as to what is most important to them – their safety, compensation, and being appreciated for their work. By getting employee participation, employers can provide the most meaningful benefits to your team. Their participation increases their retention (or makes them want to come back and work for you.)
Reflect on the following for more freedom:
What sort of freedoms will you need to keep or put in place for you to do your best work or for your business to perform in the next three months?
Which current freedoms will you review? How will you determine their impact?
Moving forward, how will you define flexibility in your work life? One person’s flexibility is not someone else’s.
Clutter is not just physical stuff. It’s old ideas, toxic relationships, and bad habits. Clutter is anything that does not support your better self.
~ Eleanor Brownn
ORGANIZE YOURSELF FOR SUCCESS
How organized are you? Does your workspace look like a landfill? Do you work in “piles” that no one else can identify? “Don’t touch my piles! I know where everything is!”
Everyone has their own system for running their business, but is yours too disorganized to be functional? With so much to do every day, it can be tempting just to toss that stack of mail and paperwork on your desk and deal with it later. You might even be tempted to procrastinate organizing your calendar, email inbox, or to-do list – I get it. Things get busy on the best of days.
But disorganization leads to chaos when you run your own business! Making organizing yourself for success a priority helps you meet your goals more efficiently.
Has anything like this happened to you or someone you know?
The person on the phone wants to go over the contract she sent you. This is THE call you’ve been waiting for! However, looking at your cluttered desk and the bags full of paperwork waiting to be filed, you have no idea where the document might be.
You bluff your way out of the conversation (“Can I call you right back? I was on the other line when you called.”) and spend 30 minutes hunting for the paper. When you finally find it, you notice the sticky reminding you of action you were to have taken on the document last week. Yikes.
Now, where is her phone number? It’s on the back of this envelope, right? Maybe it was on the back of today’s lunch receipt…
How organized are you?
Does your workspace look like a landfill?
Do you work in “piles” that no one else can identify?
“Don’t touch my piles! I know where everything is!
Pretty scary! The wasted time and energy. The harsh self-criticism. The stress and embarrassment. The lost opportunities.
This office nightmare comes to life countless times every day by missing or ignoring the direct connection between organization and success. It’s not just that organization allows you to move more easily around the office. Organizing your office and work-life helps you fulfill your own potential and that of your business.
“Organizing is the process by which we create environments that enable us to live, work and relax exactly as we want to,” writes Julie Morgenstern, in her book, Organizing from the Inside Out. “When we are organized, our homes, offices, and schedules reflect and encourage who we are, what we want,, and where we are going.”
For most people, the three biggest obstacles to an organized office and work-life are:
clutter (paper and email),
follow-through, the latter two being more an issue of time management
And while a disorganized office can be much like a disorganized schedule—overly packed, haphazard, limited in space or hours—it makes sense to organize space and paper first. Below are some tips for tackling office clutter.
If you’re starting from scratch—organizing the entire office and creating a new system—Morgenstern advises to first analyze the situation, taking an overall look at space, furnishings, equipment, supplies, and types of paperwork.
Ask yourself five questions:
What’s working? It’s helpful to know what’s not “broken” so that you don’t spend time fixing it. Also, a little “good news” is nice to hear.
What’s not working? Take a big picture approach here. It takes forever to get things done because I can’t easily find what I need, so I work a lot of overtime.
What items are most essential to you? What do you need to have at hand? What papers represent the crux of your business?
Why do you want to get organized? These are the benefits you will derive from an organized office/desk: less anxiety, more energy for work, more room for work.
What’s causing the problems? Some of the most common sources of office clutter: inconvenient or insufficient storage, no designated “home” for things, perception of not enough time to get or stay organized.
The next step is to strategize how to approach the things that are not working and their underlying problems. There are dozens of organization methods and systems; one might be just right for you, or you may be best served by mixing and matching ideas. In addition to Morgenstern’s, here are some books to consult for ideas:
The Well-Ordered Office: How to Create an Efficient and Serene Workspace by Kathleen Kendall-Tacket
Organize Your Office! Simple Routines for Managing Your Workspace by Ronni Eisenberg
The Office Clutter Cure: How to Get Out from Under It All by Don Aslett
Organizing Your Work Space: A Guide to Personal Productivity by Odette Pollar
File…Don’t Pile: A Proven Filing System for Personal and Professional Use by Pat Dorff
Taming the Paper Tiger at Work by Barbara Hemphill
For many, the biggest problem lies in maintaining an organizational system. Stephanie Winston, author of Organized for Success, studied the habits of a cross-section of high-level executives across the United States and recommends a relentless, laser-focused approach to processing paperwork—and even electronic communication—so that it doesn’t build up:
Toss it (Delete, if electronic)
Refer it (Forward)
Act on it personally
File it (Archive)
To arrive at any kind of a sustaining system, Morgenstern writes, it’s important to understand and work with or around psychological obstacles to a clutter-free environment.
These may include:
Unclear goals and priorities. Organizing is about defining what’s important and setting up a system to reflect that.
Fear of success/fear of failure. Disorganization may be a convenient way to hold back.
Need to retreat. Clutter can be a protective shield to keep others at a safe distance.
Fear of losing creativity. A common myth is that creative, “right-brained” people need to work in chaos to produce high-quality work. Balderdash!
Need for distraction. Clutter can provide a convenient excuse to avoid uncomfortable issues or unwanted tasks.
Need for perfection. Often, people won’t deal with clutter until it can be done perfectly. Translation: It will never get done.
Identifying these obstacles to an organized office and work-life can go a long way toward creating an effective, lasting solution to clutter and disorganization. Along the way, you might just find yourself fulfilling your potential.
“Life and business are like the changing seasons. You cannot change the seasons, but you can change yourself. Therein lies the opportunity to live an extraordinary life, the opportunity to change yourself.”
— Jim Rohn
BUILD YOUR BUSINESS WITH THE SEASONS
Mother Nature certainly likes her routine. Global warming aside, she cycles through the same processes, in the same order, doing things the same way they always have worked.
Within that cycle, of course, variations exist—a dry winter or a mild fall—but we always can rely on the rhythm. One season follows the other. It’s comfortable predictability in a world that often seems to be wildly unpredictable.
Luckily, it is possible to tap into that natural cycle, to bring into our professional lives a greater sense of flow and order.
As you read the suggestions below, keep in mind that we all have our own rhythms as well. What works for one person or business might not work for another. Take the ideas as ways to get you thinking. If a particular suggestion won’t work for you, is there another seasonally inspired activity that might?
Winter brings frigid air, frosted glass, and, in some areas, a white blanket of snow. Many plants and some animals slip into hibernation and get ready for their springtime rebirth. Wintertime sports and holidays distract us from the sometimes uncomfortable temperatures and drastic blasts of weather.
Here are a few business activities that align with winter:
While you’re hunkered down indoors, take some time to analyze your year-end numbers—what do they tell you about the choices you made this year? What could you have done better? What did you do well?
You won’t be hibernating forever, so set your goals for the following year—what would you like your numbers to look like next winter, and how will you make that happen?
Consider what is “hibernating” in your work or personal life. Is it almost time for a dormant phase to end?
In spring, everything is glistening, green and new. There is a feeling of expansion, birth or rebirth. There’s a sense of renewal and reawakening. Seeds start to grow. In springtime, people start to get outside more, becoming reacquainted with their gardens. We take on spring-cleaning projects and clear out clutter.
A few business activities that align with spring:
Plant your own seeds by designing one or two new products or services for your business. Give yourself lots of time for brainstorming and collaboration before honing your ideas.
When you’re ready, create a detailed launch plan with action steps and a timeline.
Ask yourself what other seeds you would like to sow—and what others already are starting to sprout.
In summer, the landscape is lush and colorful with fruits and flowers. The air is warm and growth is everywhere. Summertime lends opportunities for family adventures and exploring. Long days lend a feeling of abundance.
A few business activities for summer:
Use the longer days to tweak your systems and work out any bumps or bugs in your implementation process.
If the timing is right for your business, launch your new services or products.
Complete other projects so that you can reap their rewards. Put finishing touches on work you’ve been doing.
Think about what you’re about to harvest. Are you ready for it? What else can you do to support your own abundance?
The fall offers us golden rich colors and crisp, cool air. There’s a feeling of transition and that “back to school” energy we never outgrow. A new school year keeps whole families busy. The harvest of fruit and vegetables is in full swing.
A few business activities for fall:
Harvest the bounty of your good work, by fulfilling orders for your new products and services and collecting feedback from your customers and clients.
Prepare for the winter and the end of the year by compiling your records.
Consider your own harvest. Are you satisfied with its size and quality? What might you do to improve it for next year?
By tailoring some of what you do to the natural rhythms that allow, sustain, and renew all life on earth, you might just find that your business is likewise supported, as it grows and prospers.
Dr. Arianne Weiner is a leadership coach who helps clients just like you meet their business goals while feeling good about what they do every day. With over 25 years of experience, Dr. Weiner has worked with public agencies and private corporations in some of the nation’s most beautiful destinations. Location doesn’t matter when it comes to helping businesses and experts thrive. Learn more at Implementing Change.
Keep making it happen,
TRANSITION LEADS TO TRANSFORMATION
“Don’t let the fear of falling keep you from flying.” — Unknown
The one constant in life is change, and with change comes transition. For me, and many of my friends and clients, we have found ourselves in the theme of transition…and while much of it was seemingly forced upon us, all of it can be taken with a positive and grateful mindset to make that transformation one of good. Whether you are changing jobs or positions, moving somewhere new, embarking on life-changing endeavors, or letting go of something after many years, remember: it is transition that leads to transformation.
Let’s take the analogy of skydiving; it is when we are in a transition that we are most completely alive. Transitioning is similar to jumping out of a plane, especially if the idea scares the living daylights out of you. To those that jump, no explanation is necessary; to those that don’t jump, no explanation is possible. From that first moment when you jump from the plane into the expanse of the sky, you are solely in charge of your life.
Skydivers have full control over their parachutes, just as we have the power to respond to or react to our situations, make good choices, and determine the next steps to lead us to where we are headed. Skydivers have to trust their skills and equipment, know the atmosphere, and pull the right chords. How well are you tracking the air currents? Do you know which chords to draw in response to changing conditions?
There are many suggestions out there for different stages of transformation. While many of them are valid, I feel a simplified, three-point ideology resonates most with me:
Realize The “aha” moment. The beginning of a big change feels like a stirring inside of you, one which you are simultaneously fascinated and petrified by. This stirring is a small voice deep inside that tells us about ourselves and our decisions.
This is standing on the edge of the plane, simultaneously wondering, “What the eff am I doing?!” and thinking, “This is amazing, I cannot wait.”
Release This stage is characterized by uncomfortable growth, shedding and self-reflection. Remember that proverbial “bag” I talked about packing when entering a New Year? That ties directly into this notion of release. When we are faced with shifts within ourselves, our career or livelihood in general, it is so common to feel a longing for the comfort that was. That feeling of uncertainty needs to be the exact one that encourages you to shed what no longer serves you: relationships, identities, dependencies, business practices, etc, so that you can grow and create space for your refresh. In the transition from the free fall, we need to lead with our strengths and draw from experiences to stay on course. Transition is the process of changing from one state or condition to another. Transformation is a marked change in form, nature or appearance. Subtle, yet important differences.
Now is the time to be mindful, to pay attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally. If you force understanding during this process, you create a heavy load and waste your energy. There is a time to guide and a time to let go or wait and watch. Transformation is the drop zone or the end of the transition, sometimes you can’t see it clearly; it is right under you, but you aren’t there yet. You don’t know what this is going to be, but you know that it is exciting to experience something new, being at the forefront.
Reinvent You’ve accepted that change is happening, and you’ve taken steps to make space for it, and now this empty space begs to be filled with new choices, behaviors and purposeful and productive habits. You can now rise above any previous hesitations and begin to trust the process and your power to take it in any direction that you want. Rather than focusing on the negative thoughts of “Why is this happening to me?” or “What can I do to get back to normal?” you can instead begin to think, “How can I contribute to making a positive impact?”, “What can I do to move forward?” and “I will be successful because I am prepared for it.”
Transitioning does not come without having to adapt and modify as you descend towards your goal, the drop zone, to land safely on your feet in a clear, open area, free of hazards. As in any transition, you have to adjust and pivot to the next place on your own two feet. It is these adjustments that help to guide you to where you need to be. Whether on a small or incomprehensibly grand scale, we all go through it; change is inevitable. Even if the transformation is unintentional or forced upon us, there is still opportunity to intentionally transform and grow into what you want. Take charge of your professional development as you navigate the challenges of transitioning from an individual contributor to a leader. Through realizing, releasing and reinventing, we can set firm intentions to become better leaders, better business owners, stronger communicators, and simply more healthy and powerful versions of ourselves.
Whether on a small or incomprehensibly grand scale, we all go through it; change is inevitable. Even if the transformation is unintentional or forced upon us, there is still opportunity to intentionally transform and grow into what you want. Take charge of your professional development as you navigate the challenges of transitioning from an individual contributor to a leader. Through realizing, releasing and reinventing, we can set firm intentions to become better leaders, better business owners, stronger communicators, and simply more healthy and powerful versions of ourselves.
Perhaps many of you have noticed, I too have been in the space of transformation. I have been working on adapting my business and myself within this transformation. You cannot pivot into a whole new world in one big step. You must take small steps to realize this massive makeover. I am learning to be patient with the process and trust that each step forward is creating a new and better opportunity. These past few months have been taking me on a journey that has felt, at times, scary and overwhelming, incredibly exciting and rejuvenating as its all-new.
From a website facelift to downright terrifying social media presence, learning new systems and platforms, and overall putting myself out there more, I have realized myself as a bold and integrative business coach. I have built a strong foundation that the relationship between you and your business is symbiotic. For your business to excel, all facets of life must be addressed to reach your highest success. These beliefs are emphasized by my strongest core value: gratitude. Over the past several months, this transition has brought renewed and new connections, new clients, new experiences and new aspirations.
What will your transition bring you? How can I help shift your mindset, and utilize your talents and abilities to seek the changes you want in your life? How can I help you move forward, to push past what is holding you back? Now is the time to find your alignment and your solutions so that you can take action.
Keep making it happen, Arianne
P.S. Part of the reason I’ve been able to move towards my own transformation is by taking risks to seek the assistance I need where I am not the strongest. By partnering with the right people, I have made myself resistant and durable, like Tyvek 😉
“Bringing a coach on your personal support team is one of the strongest moves you can make to assist you on your life journey, career to clear, expand and transform…and it’s a lot of fun, too.”
Never work just for money or for power. They won’t save your soul or help you sleep at night.” — Marian Wright Edelman
REIGNITE YOUR ENERGY
How many times have you been told to “follow your passion”? We’re told this time and time again throughout life. While the path to find your passion is entirely subjective, some things do help navigate this age old buzz phrase.
What has me excited about this time is how people are positively pivoting in all sorts of ways to make the best of a not-so-ideal time. There is so much innovation going on all around us that I feel I am witnessing the industrial revolution right before my eyes (one of my favorite topics as a Modern European Historian). I am someone who sees that there is a positivity in covidity. I have been continuously impressed with what people are doing to move through, and how driven they are to succeed, during a time of uncertainty.
Over the past twenty-five years in my career and life, I have worked with many solopreneurs, small businesses, and professionals, who at some point, sense a creeping malaise in their chosen work. What I am seeing all around me is how many have reignited their passions. But still, the question for many remains: How do we pursue our passion?
Passion is not something one finds, but rather,it is something to be developed.
What I once loved to do isn’t what I love anymore. What I had thought was my interest and expertise is not something I want to do anymore. Now what?
Let’s face it, after 10, 20, 30 years of all-too-familiar work: you’re good at your job. However, you might not feel challenged or particularly satisfied. Bosses can be unpleasant, your favorite project is scuttled, and work starts to stagnate.
Perhaps you’re feeling overwhelmed because running your own business is a lot of work: covering for employees who don’t show up, functioning for managers who don’t have all of the skills honed in, etc. You may feel like you’ve been reduced to reports, meetings or are experiencing Zoom fatigue. You are, subsequently, living a little less because of it all.
When your job is no longer enjoyable or meaningful, your energy sags, motivation lags, tasks go undone, and you make mistakes. You think about switching jobs – about how your passion would be a great business plan. These thoughts are scary and risky and are often shoved under the rug, but on the quest for passion, a common misconception is that it is fixed. Passion is not something we discover or happen upon; instead, it is something that takes time to develop, along with skills, confidence, and relationships.
If you’re one of those who quickly dismiss creeping stagnation, pay attention. The longer you ignore the warning hints that your career lacks passion, the worse it can get. Reemerge and reignite your energy.
Coaching for passion Staying in a job that’s going nowhere, filled with mind-numbing work, can mean resigning yourself to a lack of growth and meaning. It doesn’t have to be that way. Not if you’re working with a coach. It may be time to explore work/life issues of purpose and meaning. Loss of passion is one of the primary reasons to utilize a coach’s perspective.
Most coaches will advise you to look inward before making a drastic decision to change your career or business path. What if the problem lies — along with solutions — somewhere inside you? If so, you can change your thinking, beliefs, or engagement level as you strive to make work more meaningful.
Now is an excellent time to review your values and purpose with your coach. You may be surprised by your answers to simple questions such as: “How did work used to excited you?” and “Identify your core values”. Tap back into your early enthusiasm. Rekindle your drive to reignite your energy.
Know your strengths Few people are well aware of their strengths. With a coach, you can take advantage of the opportunity to take some assessments. Assessments provide a snapshot to see where your pulse is, identify and apply your greatest strengths, and elevate your energy around what you do or want to do. The wisest people use their feelings of malaise to find out what drives them, their strengths and use coaching to rekindle their spirits.
Learn about your strengths through feedback from others. Spend the most energy on developing strengths instead of focusing on weaknesses. The key to knowing yourself well is to receive feedback from peers, formal assessments, or a mentor or coach. Self-knowledge is essential. In business, nobody will manage your career if you don’t. How can you rekindle the passion for the work you do and/or the business you run? Try to connect with your values and highest purpose every time you walk into the office, chat with a client or coworker, and even complete routine tasks like paperwork. Don’t allow yourself to fall into a zombie-like routine and forget what you love doing and are good at making happen. Reignite your energy and remind yourself: This is why I’m here.
In an ideal world, we’d all be working with passion in jobs that bring out our strengths and talents to achieve the greatest good in organizations and the world. But that doesn’t always happen the way we envision. Ultimately, it’s up to each of us to go where we can develop and express our strengths if we genuinely want to make a difference.Being aware of this and talking with your coach before you conclude that you need to redesign your career, change fields, or pursue reduced workloads is essential. Try to find your passion, doing work that is truly meaningful and satisfying.
Does passion make you fearful? It’s easier to talk about what you want to do than actually do it. We can plan for an endless amount of hypothetical ideas, but unless we take action, its all pointless.
What do you need to pursue your passion?
Keep making it happen, Arianne
Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold.
Halloween—the entire month of October in fact—has become a time of spooky, scary, and creepy excitement. Halloween is one of my favorite holidays; I love carving pumpkins, roasting the seeds, and finding the perfect costume. I delight in answering the door for all the trick-or-treaters and seeing the vast array of costumes, and I finding extra joy in handing out something tasty (meaning, not a box of raisins). One of my favorite parts of Halloween is attending music festivals and seeing everyone dancing their socks off in their best costumes. Regardless of how you celebrate Halloween this year, it will undoubtedly be different from the norm for all of us.
In honor of this monthly theme, I thought it would be fun to share some of the scariest things that I see business owners do. Hopefully, you and your business can avoid these haunting experiences and go from fright to fortune.
#1 Spook: Lack of prioritizing / self-discipline
“I wish I had more time.”
This is something I repeatedly hear from business owners. The struggle is real. When unsure of how to manage time, creating space to organize necessary tasks often fall by the wayside. This results in a twofold problem: inability to prioritize or to practice self-discipline.
This is a slippery slope to slide down when accountability falls solely on you. Because you are your own boss and calling the shots, you can take time off whenever you feel like it. When these absences are unplanned, you’ll likely have to play catch up when you return due to time management and planning failure.
Running your own business means that you only answer to yourself (and your customers/clients). One of the most incredible things about being in business for yourself is that you have complete control over all decisions: both the good and the bad. This is all great unless you don’t have a handle on managing your time. If you lack discipline, being in business for yourself can quickly feel less like freedom and more like wrangling a monster. Being overwhelmed by competing priorities, stressed about not making strides in what matters most to you, and distracted by unimportant interruptions (often self-inflicted) inevitably leaves you struggling to stay on track to meet deadlines.
Think about how are you reacting. How are you responding? How are you behaving? All of those things are within your control. Prioritizing allows you to focus on the most important tasks first—be clear about what you have to do. Create items and paths, and then milestones for those items. You are on course, and you have to reach particular milestones.
This slope gets more slippery as you get distracted by the less important/more fun tasks over the necessary ones—often feeling less and less urgency to take care of what needs to get done. You get distracted but still feel a sense of accomplishment at having done something, anything, even if the achievement isn’t valuable. Also, the more of these nonessential tasks you finish, the easier it is to push the essential ones to the periphery.
Give up some free time or flexibility? Doesn’t quite make sense. I want all owners to be agile and flexible. This is a crucial skill as an entrepreneur, but sometimes, the flex is in being more disciplined, focused. Being a dedicated business owner requires this from time to time, especially when you are starting out or during the high season of your business. You do not have to be a martyr; just work smarter!
Prioritize your tasks: Work backward from what is most important.
Commit to setting deadlines for your projects, and complete them within the time frame you set for yourself.
Be realistic about your deadlines and goals.
Overestimate the time it will take to accomplish each task, as we often underestimate our ability to get it done.
Note how long a job took to become more aware of your time.
Turn off your devices/notifications.
Schedule your time off as you would if you were working for someone else.
Practice self-care: Check-in with yourself, and find ways to nurture yourself before your tank is empty.
#2 Scare: Not establishing good habits and routines
One of the best perks of being your own boss is establishing your own rules, with your working hours being one of those highlights. You can take as many breaks as you want, for as long as you want, and if you feel like blowing off the day to play, you can without anyone coming down on you (other than your own conscious). All of this is awesome until it catches up to you, and you find yourself wondering where your time went, how your projects backed up, how employee issues emerged. Suddenly, it seems, you are out of balance.
This doesn’t need to happen to you. One of the biggest pitfalls I come across is allowing this flexibility to derail you from your responsibilities to your customers, your employees, and yourself. When things get challenging, business owners tend to avoid the issue, brush it under the rug, or throw in the towel altogether. While taking a step back is good practice and allows for a fresh perspective, complete avoidance is not a good thing. Out of sight does not equal out of mind; problems do not go away, and they become an energy suck.
Get the support you need: You may have the knowledge and skills to perform your business’s necessary functions, but it may not always be the best use of your strengths or time. Finding the guidance you need to enhance your business skills with candid feedback on the progress and growth of your small business can be a priceless investment. Enlisting other professionals to help guide you with areas if weakness allows for greater effectiveness and efficiency. For example, hiring the right employees is a challenge for most businesses. Many small-business owners have little to no hiring experience, and they are unfamiliar with the differences between onboarding, training, and developing an employee. Getting help selecting, screening, and interviewing an employee is crucial. You may also need administrative support, IT professionals, or marketing specialists who can help take your company take its next steps to grow the business. Many business owners mistakenly think they can do it themselves, that they will save money and costs in the long run.
Create a schedule and stick to it: Even if you’re working from home, this will give you the structure to accomplish what matters most for your success. Setting aside time creates boundaries for everyone, including yourself.
Know when and how to “turn off”: Schedule downtime, and plan your time off.
#3 Creep: Falling behind in bookkeeping and tracking
Keeping up-to-date on business financials seems to be a challenge for almost everyone. This often stems from poor financial planning at the onset of your business. Let’s face it, having a system for bookkeeping and expenses isn’t the sexiest part of owning a business, and though it feels great to count the money that comes in, it is difficult to see what goes out. Staying on top of invoicing, records, and balancing your books saves valuable time and money down the road. These practices give you the information necessary to make smart decisions and grow your business.
Often, business owners will mix personal and business finances. Keeping these two entities completely separate makes for much easier accounting, budgeting, and reconciling the two sets of books to determine actual profits and losses. Mixing finances also means that come tax time, there will be a lot of confusion and likely many headaches.
COVID-19 has shed glaring light on many business owners’ lack of bookkeeping—paying little attention to trends and patterns until you see a dip in revenue is not an efficient way to manage your numbers. Many have dealt with penalties, having allowed interest to accrue with the IRS and the state. Being occupied with the day-to-day management of finances does not mean neglecting tax responsibilities. Paying taxes quarterly on your income will avoid surprises when tax season rolls around.
Schedule time each week to do your accounting and invoicing.
Reach out to staff to address financial strategies.
Utilize accounting software, like Quickbooks.
Know your POS system, its features, and how to reconcile and utilize its reports.
Create a clear delineation between financial boundaries, primarily to protect personal assets.
Pay yourself compensation.
Be prepared for a rainy day: Keep a safety net of two months of operating costs. COVID-19 likely depleted these funds. Force yourself to rebuild!
Hire a monthly bookkeeper/accountant: Professional assistance can help you get back to the aspects of running your business that you enjoy. Working with an expert saves time and money down the road. They can advise on operating your business in the most tax-advantageous way possible and increasing your business’s revenue potential. A monthly accountant provides a measurable impact and the results you need to stay competitive and grow. Shortcutting on professional help always catches up—take my word for it.
Establish a business entity, like an LLC or SCORP.
Pay your taxes on time.
Owning your own business doesn’t have to be scary! Avoid the everyday horrors by being mindful of your priorities, establishing good habits/routines, and keeping up on the not-so-glamorous back-end responsibility of accounting. The root of these scary things can all be boiled down to one noxious potion: avoidance. Avoidance of the obstacles mentioned above will only bring pain and a nuisance for you and your business.
By implementing these not-so-scary solutions, you can avoid the potential horror that could come to haunt you and your business. I offer the gift of perspective to lighten the burdens of these common business nemeses. Reach out to me so that we can implement change to reach your utmost success!
Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.
—F. Scott Fitzgerald
Reset | Reenergize | Renew
This COVID-19 crisis has radically disrupted and changed all of our lives, and for many of us, it is all we can think about. Remember, you are not alone. Because what is DIFFERENT here is that everyone has been impacted: your neighbor, mom, boss, and friends, as well as your counterparts around the world, are all going through something similar. The pandemic has created a lot of distractions that overwhelm and shift priorities. Massive disruptions interfere with your attention span and ability to focus. When your world is turned upside down, your day-to-day life schedule can become unrecognizable overnight. Not only are the demands higher but also the risk of health and economic upheaval are looming and real.
The economic uncertainty and rising awareness of social inequity and injustice are occurring. It’s a new world that will require individual awareness and effort, along with leaders and businesses willing to abandon outmoded behaviors, systems, and processes. And for all of us, it’s going to require clarity of focus, courage, and compassion.
Now more than ever, it is crucial for us to take time to focus on what is most important for our well-being and to make it happen. It is up to us to become what we want and who we want to be. How can we rest, reenergize, and refocus, and move from surviving to thriving so that we can prepare to enter into 2021 more resilient and ready for better times?
It’s important to remember that, as a psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor,
Viktor E. Frankl noted,
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances,
to choose one’s own way.”
This is the challenge each of us must rise to!
Fall is the perfect time to reset, re-energize, and renew
from the carefree summer days.
Typically, fall is the time of year when kids go back to school. I always loved the first day of the school year—wearing a new outfit, sporting new shoes, and writing my name and subject in the left corner of a brand-new notebook. These back-to-school rituals gave me a fresh slate, another chance to begin again. I realize that this school year is looking very different, and the start for many has been rocky with the kinks of online education, organization of student pods, and alternative class structure. Parents and teachers, along with their students, have all been forced into a beginner mindset. So, while it is hard to see the long days of summer come to a close, I’m deeply excited about returning to a routine and focusing on the last few months of 2020.
It is my favorite season. For me, that crisp fall air signals that winter is around the corner and that I’d better hustle, as I have a lot I want to accomplish before the year-end. As always, I believe the best way to focus on what is important is to return to your values.
Live Your Values
When we know our values, we understand what motivates and drives us. When we build our lives around our values, we create a meaningful life. Finally, when we align our actions with our values, we are truly authentic. It’s a very satisfying and fulfilling way to live. And living your values could be the single most important thing any of us can do right now.
Here’s an exercise you can do to see if you are living your values:
List your values on a piece of paper or in your journal.
Give each value a score from 0 to 10 as to how well you are living that value in your life now (where 0 is not at all and 10 is full-out).
For the scores that are 8 or more—great!
For the scores that are 7 or less, ask yourself, “How could I express this value more in my life right now? What could I do differently or approach differently, so that I feel good about how I live this value in my life?”
Value Check If you value creativity, but you’re only managing to “go through the motions” right now, and your score is 4/10, ask yourself how you could be more creative during this time. What could you do to increase that score? Consider increasing your creative output by cooking, gardening, creating art, writing, helping your kids do something creative, or even watching a documentary about someone creative you admire.
Refocus on Your Goals
Keeping these answers in mind; begin to think about your goals. Are they still the same as they were a few months ago? Our dreams, desires, and priorities shift regularly—don’t miss an opportunity to stay in touch with yourself about these things! If your goals have shifted, this is the perfect time to dive deep and reset.
Take the time to evaluate the specific, daily changes you’ll need to make. Break your big goals down into smaller, actionable ones. Reconnect with your why. All of these things are crucial when it comes to refocusing on your goals.
Before you ring in a new year along with new goals and taking a step closer toward achieving your desired state, the ultimate manifestation of what is most important to you. For me, part of my desired state in the next three years is defining what my business will look like, what I will have accomplished personally and professionally during the next three years, and the integration of both. How has my business evolved in this new normal, and what will be different post-COVID? What lifestyle changes do I need to consider, if at all? What keeps me motivated and engaged to keep making all of this happen during unprecedented times? What is missing, and how will my strengths help me fill the gap?
How can you re-energize?
Sit and reflect on the areas of your life and business that need your attention the most. Identify if it’s your business or personal life that needs the most attention—and the improvement. Then focus your energy in that direction. Ask yourself a few questions to ensure you’re staying in alignment with your values and overall goals:
What areas of your business are you excelling in?
Did any areas of your business suffer during the summer months?
How can you direct your energy toward the areas that are suffering?
Which habits can you implement today to put you on the right track? Or which patterns would you like to change?
What are you most excited to improve right now?
Note that in these uncertain times, your employees are probably more afraid than ever to make a mistake. How are you treating them? What do they need from you?
Explore your Life Vision, Your Desired State
Rather than endlessly watching news streams, you can choose to focus on a bigger picture—your future. What do you want for the rest of your life? What would you be disappointed to not have done? Where do you envision yourself in three years, perhaps ten years from now?
Having a clear vision of how you want your life to be is a powerful motivator. A vision helps us work toward our goals, take action, and make the change. Soon, we’ll all be superbusy again—and a vision might be just what you need to stay focused!
Here are five questions to ponder or journal about to go deeper:
What do you desire or yearn for in life?
How do you want to feel?
What do you really, really want to be different in your life?
What would you want to have happened in the next three years for you to feel that your life is spectacular and for you feel great about yourself?
What’s your dream for this lifetime? Imagine you’re ninety years old and looking back on your life—what did you do that made you proud and happy?
This year, like no other, is looking different for all of us. Finding focus seems as unpredictable as a leaf flying in the wind without a destination. Before we know it, the holiday season will begin, and another year will have passed. Who knows what the holiday season will bring…….it’s a mystery. With that in mind, what is crucial for you to start bringing 2020 to a close and to begin 2021 with a jump start? Renew your focus and level up your motivation.
Now Is The Time
When it comes to staying in alignment with your goals, now is always the time to start. When you wait for the perfect time, you’ll quickly realize there simply isn’t one. Join me, and commit to finishing the year strong. Ditch the things that no longer serve you, because “being busy” isn’t something to celebrate.
Let’s focus our energy and make things happen!
Dan Sullivan (founder of Strategic Coach) published an article called the “Scary Times” Success Manual at the height of the financial crisis. He proposed ten mind shifts that I think are just as relevant today as they were then:
Forget about yourself, focus on others.
Forget about your commodity, focus on your relationships.
Forget about the sale, focus on creating value.
Forget about your losses, focus on your opportunities.
Forget about your difficulties, focus on your progress.
Forget about the “future,” focus on your today.
Forget about who you were, focus on who you can be.
Forget about events, focus on your responses.
Forget about what’s missing, focus on what’s available.
Forget about your complaints, focus on your gratitude.
I suggest reading that list a few times today…and maybe even copying it out, by hand, and tacking it up somewhere where it can be an ever-present reminder.
Honor the positivity of covidity by remembering to think possibility, not probability! Don’t limit yourself and your ideas because you don’t believe something is likely. Instead, think it’s possible—and even if you don’t get all the way there, you may get close, or even find something better along the way!
Are you committed to focusing on the things that matter most to YOU?
If you don’t know your values, now is a great time to learn what they are.
I’m offering a Values Kickstart Session to pick up the basics, and a Values Review Session to get you on your way to the next level. I would love to get on the phone with you for 20 minutes to get clear on one of your values and help to center your focus on the life you want to lead.
If you’re feeling a different direction, I’ve got a Business Bounce Back Plan for you, to build resilience for a new normal. Whatever your course, email me to get started.
The time is now.
Reconnect, Realign, and Focus this Fall Season!
photo courtesy of Mike McGuire
Live each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink,
taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each.
— Henry David Thoreau
It has been quite a while since I have written my Insights. Over the past several months, I discovered pressures that have pulled me away from things I would like to do, and I have chosen to direct my attention to more important priorities. This past winter and spring, I was deeply focused on some exciting client projects, and I found, by early summer, needing time to catch my breath.
I also realized that it had been a challenging winter: there was snow where I live until June, and winter lasted into summer without the respite of spring.
While nursing a cold in June, I decided that I wanted to take more time to play in the sun and to reconnect with myself. By the beginning of July, I created space to make that happen: I reduced my workload, spent time with friends and family, went to music festivals, camped and hiked, and finally got back on my bike! To return to riding after two years, post-accident was scary, but I did it! I had to get my confidence back. I had to accept that my performance would not be the same as my pre-injury, but what was most important was that I was back in the seat!
I also returned to paddle boarding, which I love to do early in the morning or as the sun sets over one of the many alpine lakes visible from Mammoth. It was a fantastic summer, and it sped by too quickly. But as the long, warm days of summer turn into the chillier days of autumn, I am eager to harness the energy of the changing seasons.
It is time to reconnect, realign, and get back to my roots by focusing on helping people and organizations implement change to gain better results. I love what I do. It’s my passion; it gives meaning and purpose to my life. The autumn season can be an occasion for new beginnings—new routines, new school terms, new jobs, new colors. But it can also bring about some unwelcome adjustments—shorter days, less sunlight, the dread of the upcoming winter, and some busier schedules for many of us. It’s a time to regroup and to anticipate the colder days to come.
Find something in this seasonal change that inspires you to be your best version of yourself. Remember, the motivation to change or do is always there. It is our focus that likes to get distracted or lost along the way!
Changing weather always propels me to look inside, reevaluate where I am and how far I’ve come since last fall. What about you? Are you where you want to be? Is there something you can adjust that will get you closer to that place? Get grounded as we enter a new season.
May you enjoy the fall equinox today, Monday, September 23, 2019.