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10 Practical Ways To Minimise Business Overwhelm

10 Practical Ways To Minimise Business Overwhelm

dded”Putting first things first means organizing and executing around your most important priorities. It is living and being driven by the principles you value most, not by the agendas and forces surrounding you.”
~ Dr. Stephen R. Covey

In this blog, I’m sharing 10 practical things you can do to better understand overwhelm and to minimise its impact on your day-to-day business activities.

For me overwhelm is nearly always an indicator of fear. When I feel overwhelmed I know that, in that moment, my mind has lost sight of the here and now, that I’ve become attached to some desired outcome in the future and the overwhelm has crept into the space between the two.

For me overwhelm is the fear that I won’t realise my desired outcome and a sign that I’ve become focused on how things should be versus how they are and then from that place taking the single most simple next step.

If overwhelm is affecting your ability to get things done in your business (or just making you feel low), take a look through this list and choose the actions that speak to you.

1. Get it out of your head.

The first thing I do when I recognise that I am feeling overwhelmed is to make a list of everything on my plate. It sounds super simple because it is. Making a list gets all of the various things you are juggling out of your head and onto a piece of paper, the key is to include everything no matter how small or silly they may seem.

I’ll never forget the most powerful coaching session I ever had (and I’ve had many!). I got on the call with my coach and I was feeling terrible, really low and totally overwhelmed. He told me to open up my notebook and write down the number one thing that was bothering me. After that, he asked me what else? And what else? And what else? Until I had filled four pages of my notebook. At the end of it, we reviewed the list and he said to me “no wonder you’re feeling overwhelmed, who wouldn’t with all of this to deal with?” I instantly felt better. Just getting those things off my chest and out of my head eased the feeling of overwhelm significantly.

The overwhelm was coming from feeling like I should have had it more together, the overwhelm dissipated when I found a place of acceptance with what was.

2. Prioritise.

Once you’ve made your list, you’ll want to organise it. Often when we are feeling overwhelmed, we’re ruminating on the million different things that we believe we could or should be doing, instead of focusing on the next most important step. Here’s where we need to prioritise. Personally, I like to organise my tasks using Stephen Covey’s 4 quadrants (see image below) so that I can quickly eliminate anything that is not important (Quadrants 3+4) and spend my valuable time on what is important (quadrants 1+2). I no longer need to use the 4 quadrants diagram to do this, these days, I instinctively know what is important and/or urgent and can disregard the rest.

To deal with my most important tasks for the day, I like to identify them and then schedule them in my diary, so that I can take into account any pre-existing appointments and how long things get done. If that means I can only do 1–3 of the urgent and important tasks on my list then that is what I schedule, nothing more.

I also recommend never committing to more than 3 tasks a day regardless of the time and space you have. Any more than 3 and our minds inevitably veer towards overwhelm. Besides, there’s nothing to stop you from doing more if you get your 3 things done early.

3. Limit your inputs.

Given the world we now live in, it’s no wonder that overwhelm is a common occurrence. We are bombarded by information on a second by second basis. With the internet, social media and the accompanying barrage of pings, notifications and reminders, not being in a state of overwhelm can often feel like an insurmountable task.

This is where it becomes really important to limit your inputs. There are plenty of things you can do to minimise this assault on your senses. Turn off notifications, remove apps from your phone if you have to, delay checking email until later in the day and avoid mainstream media at all costs (if you want to protect your mental health!).

I was talking to someone once who always seemed to be overwhelmed and depressed by the state of the world yet continued to digest the very mainstream media that perpetuated that state. I make a conscious choice not to watch or read mainstream media, precisely because I know that is designed to play on our fears in order to maximise profits.

If there are inputs in your life that don’t serve you, my best advice is to limit or eliminate them. This can take time, but it’s often easier to do than you think. Next time you’re on the receiving end of something that leaves you feeling overwhelmed ask yourself, can I eliminate this somehow? (unsubscribe, block, remove notifications or stop participating in).

4. Watch your mindset.

Sometimes when we have found something overwhelming in the past (like schedules, social media, finances or planning), we develop a fixed mindset around it, i.e. we get very black and white about it. We start to believe that we just don’t do well with that thing and immediately start to feel overwhelmed when faced with it.

I’d like to gently challenge you here to cultivate a growth mindset and create space for something new to emerge. I’ll give you a personal example. For years, I told myself that I was terrible at focus and found it very hard to concentrate for more than a few minutes at a time. After living for several years with someone who is incredibly focused (sometimes to the extreme), I started to notice my own capacity for focused work increase.

When I allowed myself to question the assumption that I was a person who was very easily distracted and therefore unable to focus, change became possible. These days I wouldn’t dream of describing myself as unfocused — quite the opposite. I’m perfectly capable of sitting down to a piece of work and getting into a focused state for several hours if I have to. By allowing myself to believe that I could become a focused person and working on the skillset to achieve that, I became one.

Consider when in your business life you always revert to a state of overwhelm, is there a possible mindset shift here?

6. Shine a light.

Fear lives in the dark — when we shine a light on something, it can become less scary and overwhelming, If we’re scared of numbers, then working on our financials will feel overwhelming and uncomfortable. That’s because there is a barely audible script running in the background telling us we don’t know what we’re doing.

If you become conscious of that script and seek to change it by empowering yourself with knowledge, then change is possible. Why not take some to learn more about something you find overwhelming and watch the overwhelm dissipate.

When we know how to do something, we feel good about doing it.

So consider now what things in your business are causing overwhelm because of a lack of knowledge or skill and then take some steps to rectify that.

7. Focus on the present.

As I’ve already mentioned I’m a firm believer that overwhelm occurs when we’ve become disconnected from the present moment. So it follows that one way to ease feelings of overwhelm is to do something to connect with the present moment.

One way to do this is to bring our attention to the breath. Another might be to get out of our heads and into our bodies. If you don’t have a regular mindfulness practice like meditation, yoga, movement or dance, consider starting one. I truly believe you’ll notice the impact it has on your feelings of overwhelm.

8. Simplify the task/offering.

Often we feel overwhelmed because we simply have too much to do. I know that there are times in my working week when there are more things that need to be completed than I have time in the day to complete them.

Here is where I recommend scaling back what you do to make your tasks/offerings simpler. Let me give you some examples.

If you offer 1:1 and started out by always writing up post-session notes to send to clients, but as you’ve got more and more clients, now struggle to find the time, stop doing it.

If when you send your weekly newsletter you always like to share at least 5 links to other useful resources but you’re finding it takes too long to pull these together, give yourself permission to stop doing it.

A lot of the people I work with (and I include myself in this camp) are chronic over givers/perfectionists. Meaning there is often scope to scale back how much we do in any given task or client offering. It can feel challenging to pare things down but believe me, the extra space it will give you will be worth it.

9. Adjust your expectations.

Closely related to #8 but more focused on how we think about what we offer. It’s important to acknowledge when our expectations are too high.

I was talking to a client a while ago who has these amazing templates she uses in her business, they are gold. In a beta collaboration, she was working on, she had agreed to turn her (already amazing) templates into workbooks, but doing so was kicking her butt, she was facing a launch deadline and on top of her heavy client load, she was struggling to get the work done.

I suggested that she simply use the templates as they were. Nobody would know the difference having seen neither format and given the templates, as is, are already brilliant and worth more than the whole beta program would cost, it wouldn’t devalue the offering one bit. Such a simple shift, but one that took a whole lot of pressure off and created a truckload of new space in her calendar.

10. Choose differently.

In another piece of writing, I talk about how my own personal epiphany about overwhelm came after reading an article by a coach who argued that overwhelm is a choice. This idea can be triggering for some people, but for me it was life-changing. Knowing that there are things I do that contribute to my feeling of overwhelm and things I can do to minimise them means that I have some control over whether I am in a state of overwhelm or not.

I’m not saying that it’s always as simple as choosing not to be overwhelmed but acknowledging that there is a choice really helps me. To understand more what I mean by this final point head here to read an article I wrote on this very idea.

And there you have it, 10 things you can do to minimise business related overwhelm. I hope you find them useful.

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Once a week, in the form of an e-letter, I share the best of what I know about building a business with integrity for conscious business owners.

The intention behind these letters is to be a voice for integrity within your (undoubtedly) cluttered inbox. To be the one email you can count on to contain strategic and soulful advice for building a business without selling your soul.

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What I Do When I Don’t Feel Like Working On My Business

What I Do When I Don’t Feel Like Working On My Business

“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day, saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.’

~ Mary Anne Radmacherost

What I’m not talking about in this blog is not those days when you’re just feeling a bit demotivated, we all have days when we have less energy or feel less inclined to work. On those days, I do believe in picking myself up and doing what I can to get what needs to get done, done.

Instead, what I am talking about in this blog is those times when external circumstances are seriously challenging and impeding our ability to focus. Things like the threat of world war, humanitarian crises, a global pandemic, illness, bereavement, moving house and so on. Big things that affect us deeply and knock us off centre, making it feel extremely difficult to focus on work.

I’m also not talking about work that doesn’t matter, work that you don’t need or truly care about. I’m talking about your livelihood, the work that pays your bills and keeps a roof over your head, your purpose, the work in the world that is deeply important to you and to those you serve.

Navigating difficult times while maintaining your ability to focus on your business becomes crucial in this context. I personally don’t have the luxury of not showing up to work when I don’t feel like it. My business is my livelihood and I have a full roster of clients who are counting on me to be there.

So how have I got through these difficult times, without dropping all the balls, throwing the towel in or killing myself to carry on in the process? On the other side of it, I’m able to share what I’ve done to get through this challenging time.

1. I feel the feels

I allow myself to really feel what I am feeling. This one is easy for me because I’ve never been one to bury or hide my emotions. I’ve always worn my heart on my sleeve and been dubbed too sensitive by my family, ever since I can remember.

So in some ways, I don’t really feel I have a choice in this one but it bears mentioning anyway, because so many people feel like they have to hide what they are feeling from their friends and family and also from their clients and colleagues. I don’t do this, I tell my kids when Mama feels sad, I tell my partner when I feel like I’m struggling and I let my friends and clients know when I don’t have it all together.

For me, it would be exhausting to put a brave face on and pretend everything is okay and in not doing so, I believe I release a great deal of pressure on myself.

2. I do less

My typical day-to-day is very full. With my business, a household to run and two energetic little boys to parent, I have a fair amount of stuff to do on a day to day basis. A while ago, I hit a wall with this and just didn’t feel like I had the capacity to keep being as productive as my schedule demanded of me. So after a tearful conversation with my partner, I came to a place of acceptance with the fact that I needed to just do less for a while.

That meant cutting back on non-essential business activities, like this newsletter and the creation of my forthcoming short course and focusing solely on my 1:1 clients and group mastermind.

Instead of using the time between client calls to do admin, work on content or creating new products, I took a pause from work. Sometimes this meant sleeping and sometimes it meant watching the heartbreaking news (not always the best move, but in some ways related to point #1).

It also meant that I wasn’t as on top of other things like housework or doing my daily exercises.

3. I ditch the guilt

Like many people, I can be prone to feeling guilty when I feel like I’m not pulling my weight or doing what I said I was going to do. For example, I’m very aware of a dynamic between me and my partner where I can, if I let myself, start to believe that I am letting the side down when I’m not at my best.

Similarly, when I find myself not sticking to personal plans or goals I’ve set myself, the temptation to start beating myself up is very present. The thing is, I learned many years ago that all guilt does is keep us trapped in a negative loop.

I know that if I make myself feel bad for not feeling great, then I just feel worse than I otherwise would. Whilst I may still succumb to guilt momentarily, these days I’m much better at calling bullshit on it and stopping it in its tracks more quickly.

4. I get support

This one doesn’t come easily to me as I’ve always suffered under the illusion that I can do everything myself. In recent years, however, I’ve gotten much better at seeking out support, from my partner, from friends and even from other practitioners.

I had an incredible EFT session with the wonderful Liesel Teversham and felt so much lighter and even joyful as a result. Just sharing what was up for me and then using EFT to release what wasn’t serving created a powerful shift.

I also upped my virtual assistant’s hours so that she can do more of the busy work that inevitably piles up when I’m not on top of everything. Handing more things over to her over the last few weeks has brought with it a lot of relief.

I know how easy it is to retreat when I’m not feeling at my best and that still happens to a degree for sure, but recognising that there is support available to me and using that support is, and has been, a game changer for me.

5. I don’t let it run on indefinitely

When we cut back on our activities, it can sometimes feel hard to get back to doing them again. I don’t tend to have this problem and I believe it’s because I really allow myself to step back when I need to, in a way that allows me to recharge and come back stronger.

After I have really embraced my feelings, let go of the shoulds, reduced what’s on my plate (without the guilt), rested more, gotten support from others and in doing so, I was able to get myself back to a place where I felt good again fairly quickly.

Then at the beginning of a new week, I mentally prepared myself to start the week with a renewed commitment to my work and to feeling better. I completed my daily exercise, made all the beds and wrote a newsletter. I think it’s safe to say, I was feeling more like me again! 🙂

Is the world still messed up in many ways? Yes. Do I feel more resourced to deal with that? Yes.

So there you have it, five things that help me stay on track, even when I’d rather crawl under the duvet and sleep all day. I hope you find them useful and I would love to hear from you what you do to keep going during difficult times.

SIGN UP FOR MY SOULFUL STRATEGIES WEEKLY

 

Once a week, in the form of an e-letter, I share the best of what I know about building a business with integrity for conscious business owners.

The intention behind these letters is to be a voice for integrity within your (undoubtedly) cluttered inbox. To be the one email you can count on to contain strategic and soulful advice for building a business without selling your soul.

If you want to receive the Soulful Strategies Weekly, simply share with me your name and email address below and you’ll start recieving emails right away.

Is Accountability An Inside Job?

Is Accountability An Inside Job?

“In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.”

~ Eleanor Roosevelt

In this blog, I’m going to talk about accountability. As a coach, it’s a topic that comes up often when I am talking to potential and existing clients, which has prompted me to really think about the role of accountability in the work I do and in the success of my clients. I’d like to share my thoughts on the topic with you, in the hope that they are helpful.

Years ago, when talking to potential clients, if they seemed too focused on needing a coach for accountability purposes (i.e. someone to keep them on track with their goals), I saw this as a red flag. Why? Because it always concerned me when people were too fixated on something external for their success. It was my firm belief that accountability was an inside job. I’ve softened on this over the years, because I’ve seen in my own business journey, how powerful some external forms of accountability can be.

In my recent musings on the subject, however, I’ve come to the realisation that internal accountability — our ability to keep our promises to ourselves — is crucial, if we are to have any chance of using other forms of accountability successfully. For example, it’s no good hiring a coach or joining a mastermind, if you consistently fail to take any action between the calls.

Over the years I’ve worked with hundreds of business owners, some who with a little guidance and strategic direction, dive right in, get the work done and enjoy success as a result and others who with the same, consistently fail to take action and struggle to move forward. As a coach, I’ve been obsessed with understanding why this is for as long as I can remember. What I now know is that without some level of internal accountability, no amount of external structure or support can truly help. When we can get ourselves to a place where there is self-trust, a commitment to something important and a willingness to show up for ourselves and the work that matters, with just a few additional support structures, we’re able to achieve things we might have previously thought impossible.

That’s how it’s been for me anyway. I haven’t always been good at follow through. In fact, in my twenties, I was terrible at it, so much so that people rarely paid attention to my lofty goals, because they knew that while I talked a good game, I rarely backed it up with action. Now in my mid-forties, I’m fairly confident that no matter what I set my mind to I’ll achieve it and most of the people who know me well would say the same.

So what changed? Well first and foremost, I healed my relationship with myself. Unfortunately there is no quick fix to this one, my journey included years of therapy, various trainings, lots of yoga and meditation, many healing modalities, hundreds of books and several years of coaching.

What was central to all the work I did, was learning to love myself. It was changing my internal dialogue from one of criticism and hate to one of support and love. When I was younger I used to joke that I was my own worst enemy. Now I can’t believe that I ever thought that was something to laugh about.

Once I moved into a much healthier relationship with myself, I noticed how much easier it was to stick to my promises to myself and others. It became easier to face my fears and do things that previously, I could never have imagined possible, it became easier to focus on deep work and spend time creating things that mattered to me. These days it’s not uncommon for me to hear comments from people like: “I just don’t know how you do everything you do!”, people (friends, colleagues, clients) regularly make comments on my ability to get things done. And the best part is that I’m not working crazy hours or killing myself to do it. I only work 6 hours a day, 5 days a week and I don’t work evenings or weekends. I even manage to enjoy a long two hour lunch with my boys in the middle of my working day and (for the most part) call-free Fridays.

Structures for success

When I sat down to really think about why this is, it became apparent just how many structures for success I have in place — check out this article for 10 such structures I have in place to support my weekly writing habit. Structures for success is the name I give to anything that helps me to succeed in achieving the results I want. I thought it might be helpful to share some of these with you.

A plan, goal or vision

I’m a perpetual planner, as a former project and program manager, I knew only too well how important a solid and well thought out plan is to the success of any project. Without a plan, we have no idea what we’re trying to achieve, what is required to achieve it or when and how those things will get done. I also believe that the gold is in the planning and that once done, we can give ourselves some freedom around how we implement the plan, safe in the knowledge that we’ve thought through all of the variables.

My big why

Knowing why the work I’m doing is important to me is crucial for getting through those moments when I’d rather be doing something else. A question I like to ask myself when my why feels distant, is what’s the alternative? If I think about this question in terms of working on my business and making my business a success, then I can quickly tap into why following through on creating content for my audience or on delivering work for my clients is so important. The alternative to doing work that I love and that has an impact is going back to the life I had before, working for someone else, watching the clock and spending my days working on things that don’t truly have an impact nor give me the joy, fulfilment and financial rewards I currently enjoy.

A daily schedule

Some people get overwhelmed when they see my rather full, color coded schedule but having clarity about what needs to get done each day and when I’m going to do that work is precisely what stops me from getting overwhelmed. As my business has grown and I’ve taken on more and more clients, I’ve had to get super organised with my schedule. This never feels restrictive, instead the opposite, I have a schedule that tells me what to do and when, so that I get everything I need to get done to keep my business running without having to work overtime or sacrifice quality time with my family. Without that schedule, for sure I’d be operating in a state of chaos and overwhelm, constantly trying to catch up.

Co-working

This has been a game changer for me. I used to use Focusmate which I like in the main, but it has one too many things that frustrate me, not knowing who will turn up and if they will turn up, people turning up late and people not following the rules laid out by the platform. Most of the time this wasn’t the case but for the handful of times it has happened, it derailed my whole working session. Thankfully, one of my clients has created a wonderful alternative in the form of mindful coworking, where a group of us regularly meet for movement, guided meditation and deep, focused work. What I can get done in a 52 minute cabin session is double what I can do alone.

Coaching

I don’t work full time with a coach these days, but when I’m struggling to move forward on something, I won’t hesitate to book a session with my business mentor to talk things through. Coaching has always been a catalyst for me and I find it really helpful to talk things out with someone who has more experience than me.

There are for sure, other things in my accountability toolkit but I’ll leave it there for now. The main purpose of this blog, for me, was to share with you the distinction between internal and external accountability and the importance of doing the work to facilitate the former before trying to use the latter.

I’d love to know what comes up for you as you read this blog. Has this been your experience? Do you find accountability useful? Or have you tried to use external forms of accountability with little success?

SIGN UP FOR MY SOULFUL STRATEGIES WEEKLY

 

Once a week, in the form of an e-letter, I share the best of what I know about building a business with integrity for conscious business owners.

The intention behind these letters is to be a voice for integrity within your (undoubtedly) cluttered inbox. To be the one email you can count on to contain strategic and soulful advice for building a business without selling your soul.

If you want to receive the Soulful Strategies Weekly, simply share with me your name and email address below and you’ll start recieving emails right away.

How Your Work Is Received Is Not Up To You

How Your Work Is Received Is Not Up To You

“Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection”

~ Mark Twain

In early 2021, I ran my first ever paid for online workshop. For the longest time, I had in one way or another been talking or thinking about offering online classes. However, until that point, I’d never sold a group class or workshop online.

But I had actually taught online a heap.

For the launch of my (now retired) Female Business Academy (FBA) back in 2017, I taught several free online workshops. Once the FBA was up and running, I taught several online classes to the members. I’ve also taught a lot of online classes to the 2020 and 2021 Conscious Business Mastermind (CBM) cohorts AND I taught free classes to huge audiences as part of the Embodiment Conference twice last year.

It’s safe to say that I have taught online regularly and I’m more than comfortable doing it.

YET…

For some reason, I’ve had huge resistance to offering regular, paid for online classes and workshops to my wider audience. Which I’ll admit baffled me for a while. Having been in business for myself in one way or another for close to a decade, I don’t usually have a problem with resistance. I felt sure that I had successfully fought and slayed the fear of failure and being more visible dragons long ago but, here I have been not wanting to offer a paid for online workshop.

I have one way to deal with resistance. I call it front-loading the fear. I take one big step to announce to the world that I am going to do the very thing I’m feeling resistance towards and then, motivated by the pressure to keep to my word, I take action. Which is exactly what I did, on the spur of the moment I decided to announce a free online class that very Friday.

I set everything up and promoted it across my social media channels and initially felt relief as people started signing up, which quickly turned to mild panic as the number rose to 40 people. It’s funny, I thought my biggest fear was that no one would show up, but it turns out that my biggest fear was a load of people turning up. Allow me to explain.

I have two core offerings, my 1:1 coaching and my Conscious Business Mastermind. For both of these, I don’t take anyone on I haven’t coached or spoken to at length first. Meaning, I get to choose who I work with. For a recovering control freak, this was more important to me than I realised. My fear of online workshops, it turns out, is that I have zero control over who turns up or how many people turn up.

Despite having a stonking headache about a half hour before the class and the fact that it was last thing on a Friday (by which time I usually pretty spent), I felt like it went okay. Because the main purpose in running the class was to practice my registration process, gain some confidence and get feedback, I told attendees at the end of the 90 minutes that should they wish to receive the recording and resource guide, they would need to complete the feedback form.

A link to the form went out 10 minutes after the call ended and I waited nervously for the first completed form to land. I didn’t have long to wait. I let out a huge sigh of relief as I read words like “It went beyond my expectations…You are a breath of fresh air.” and “not a single word was out of place.”, then the second form came in and it was just as positive.

Okay, I told myself, it looks like people liked it. When the third form came in, I had already concluded that the class had gone well, so when I read that this respondent found my delivery monotonous and that they felt they had learned nothing new in the class, I felt a wave of shame flood my body. The feeling was visceral. Another 20 forms came in over the next hour or so and they were all positive. All the other forms I received were positive, some extremely so.

YET,

Because of this one form, it took me several hours to shake off the feeling that I had seriously messed up.

Thankfully that feeling didn’t last long and with a bit of time, I was mostly just deeply grateful for the comments I received on all of the forms. In fact the one form that expressed disappointment in the class is the one form that I feel set me free.

As great as it is to get nice feedback, when the feedback we get is in the main positive, we’re much more likely to get complacent about our work and/or live in fear of the bad review, the unhappy customer or client. When the worst case happens and someone lets you know that they didn’t get much out of your offering, whilst it stings initially, with a little time and perspective, it’s actually quite liberating.

Even though I’ve always known on an intellectual level that we can’t please everybody, all of the time, I think as humans we deep down secretly try to. So when someone lets you know that what you created fell short for them, it actually bursts a bubble. A bubble in which you tell yourself that everything you put out into the world has to be perfect. Because here’s the thing.

How your work is received is not up to you.

When one person can say “It was one of the most value packed workshops I’ve been to (paid or free).” and another can say they “didn’t learn anything new.” then there is no clearer message to me that how my work is received is out of my hands and what a relief it is to let that go.

I probably don’t have to tell you why I am sharing this but just in case there is any doubt, I will.

I see amazing, smart, conscious business owners play small ALL the time, in an attempt to avoid “failing”, getting criticized or being disliked and I get it, we’re hardwired to avoid rejection. Hundreds and thousands of years ago rejection by our fellow humans would have meant death, but this isn’t the case anymore.

The truth is that failure is an inevitable and extremely important part of growth.

Had I allowed my resistance to win, I might have had a more pleasant Friday night, but I wouldn’t have given myself this opportunity to grow. That one piece of less than positive feedback helped me to look more closely at all of the feedback I received and really dig deep for any and all improvements I can make for next time.

Because of all of the feedback, my future classes will be better. Rather than resting on my laurels, I’m motivated to do even better next time — not from a striving perfectionist place but from a place of curiosity about how to make continuous improvements to my work and my offerings. Trust me when I say that coming from a place of curiosity feels infinitely better than coming from a place of perfectionism.

So how about you? What have you been putting off launching to the world?

I know there’s something because we all have something! If you feel called to share it with me, comment below, and if you feel like trying my tactic of front-loading the fear, head over to my free Facebook Group right now and announce the launch of your thing to the world!

SIGN UP FOR MY SOULFUL STRATEGIES WEEKLY

 

Once a week, in the form of an e-letter, I share the best of what I know about building a business with integrity for conscious business owners.

The intention behind these letters is to be a voice for integrity within your (undoubtedly) cluttered inbox. To be the one email you can count on to contain strategic and soulful advice for building a business without selling your soul.

If you want to receive the Soulful Strategies Weekly, simply share with me your name and email address below and you’ll start recieving emails right away.

How To Tap Into A Consistent Flow Of Inspiration

How To Tap Into A Consistent Flow Of Inspiration

“Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.”
~ Pablo Picasso

 

Now, if you know anything at all about me, you’ll know that I believe that consistent content creation is a wonderful way to grow your business.

As a Business Coach then, it’s no surprise that I advocate content creation as a strategy for business growth, to most of the people I coach. Without hesitation, the most common response I get is something along the lines of, “oh yeah but I can’t write on demand” or “I can only write when inspiration strikes.”

In this blog post I’m going to demonstrate why waiting for inspiration to strike before you begin a creative endeavour is the result of flawed thinking and what to do instead.

Let’s cut straight to the chase.

Inspiration is most likely to show up if and when we get our butts in our chair and get down to work.

Whether it’s creating a masterpiece or just churning out your latest blog post, taking steps to begin is our best guarantee of the muse showing up to guide us.

I’ve known this to be true in my own life. It’s how I was able to write 30 blog posts in 30 days back in 2018 – you can trust me when I tell you that I didn’t feel inspired to write my daily blog post on most of those days but I completed the challenge anyhow.

It’s also how I write brand new content pretty much every week even on the days when I’m not sure what the hell I’m going to write about. So many people ask me how I manage to create content so consistently, while at the same time telling me that they simply wouldn’t be able to do it.

My answer is simple. I have scheduled time in my diary every week to sit down and create content and I show up and do it even when I don’t feel like it. Some weeks, I have to drag the words out of me, some days they flow with ease but the one thing that is guaranteed, the more consistently I show up to create content, the more consistently my inspiration flows.

Many of our world’s greatest creators have argued the point that in order to create, rather than wait for inspiration to strike, we must show up and sit down to do the work and the rest will follow.

Steven Pressfield, author of Turning Pro and The War of Art says:

“…she (the artist, the writer) doesn’t wait for inspiration, she acts in the anticipation of its apparition.”

What I love about this quote is that it implies a level of trust. When I talk about consistent content creation, many people share with me that they are worried they will run out of ideas and things to say. Allow me to take a moment now to tell you now that this is impossible. To fear running out of ideas is to imply that inspiration is a finite resources.

Inspiration is, for sure, a mysterious thing. If we don’t get intimate with our muse, it can be forgivable to think that she might flake out on us, that there might be times when she will leave us hanging. But if you’ve ever leaned deep into your relationship with inspiration (aka your muse), you’ll know that if you play your part (butt in chair) she has indeed always got your back.

Novelist Isabel Allende was famously quoted as saying:

“Show up, show up, show up, and after a while the muse shows up, too.”

Liz Gilbert also speaks to this idea in her wonderful book, Big Magic when she writes:

“It’s a relationship, it’s a conversation, and all [the muse] wants is to be treated with respect and dignity — and it will return ten thousand times over.”

You don’t need to be a novelist or a famous artist to develop a relationship with your muse. You don’t need to be working on a masterpiece for her to show up, but you do have to be working on something.

In researching inspiration, I came across two definitions:

  1. The process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, esp. to do something creative.
  2. A divine influence or action on a person believed to qualify him or her to receive and communicate sacred revelation.

I thought it interesting that one definition talks of process and another of divinity. I like this. I’m somewhat of a process person, I like the idea that I can follow a process that will churn out a healthy dollop of inspiration at the end of it, but an even bigger part of me likes the idea that inspiration comes from a place we cannot see, from something far bigger than us. That way, it’s not on me to come up with the ideas for my creations, I can tap into an infinite source of divine guidance whenever I show willing and, when necessary, a touch of patience.

I’m not saying that there aren’t hard days, when it feels like inspiration has packed her bags and left for good, but I’ve been writing and creating content for too many years now to fall for that one.

So the next time you tell yourself you can’t be creative unless inspiration strikes, just know that she’s watching you and waiting for you to make the first move.

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Trucking Through The Downswings

Trucking Through The Downswings

“I believe there’s a natural ebb and flow to our weeks and months. Sometimes we’re up, everything comes easy and we have an abundance of energy. And sometimes it’s a huge struggle to even work one hour per day.”

~ Niall Doherty

This piece is titled after a blog post I read and loved many years ago, written by the legendary Niall Doherty. I loved this piece because, at the time I first read it (circa 2011), it so well put into words a phenomena I was well-accustomed to but hadn’t realised that we all face.

What I’m referring to is the unavoidable fact that there are times in our life, during which we feel completely motivated and full of energy and there are times (sometimes for no apparent reason) that we’re simply not. In fact, even more so, we feel positively de-motived and seriously lacking in energy.

This state of affairs, if not managed appropriately, can be seriously damaging for the solopreneur. Rarely do we have someone available to pick up the slack when we’re off our game so our business inevitably suffers. Also, if we repeatedly fail to handle these periods properly, we can become disillusioned and depressed about our ability to run a successful business.

We all know how important consistency is to our success, right? So how do we maintain consistency of output when our energy and motivation levels fluctuate so regularly?

And let’s get real here, when we’re talking about the downswing, it’s not just the natural ebb and flow of our energy that we need to consider, it’s all the other things life throws at us along the way, such as illness, emotional upheaval, holidays, distractions and general life stuff. Given how much life throws at us in the course of our daily lives, it’s no wonder that our “flow” is, more often than not, reduced to a trickle rather than a steady gush.

So, what are we to do with this?

I wish there was a simple fix but unfortunately there isn’t. The reason for this is two-fold:

a) downswings (or rough patches) are a natural part of life and therefore cannot be eliminated entirely and
b) the way to better handle a downswing is extremely nuanced. There is, unfortunately, no one-size fits all approach.

By nuanced I mean that there are times when the response to your downswing is to get tough and display some serious discipline and at others it’s to give yourself a break and allow yourself to recover and regroup plus a plethora of responses somewhere in-between.

The problem I see most people face is that they are either consistently hard on themselves and are therefore on a fast track to burnout, or they consistently let themselves off the hook and as a result, never really make ground with their businesses.

I have a few suggestions to help you better manage this:

1. Raise your awareness

Raising your awareness of your emotional, mental and physical state is absolutely key for navigating the highs and lows of life. One way I love to do this is a practice called morning pages, where, first thing, before doing anything else, I free write 750 words, no editing, no purpose, just writing whatever is present in the moment, this can really help you to better understand what’s going on for you. When we know what’s going on and have an awareness of how we’re truly feeling, then we’re better equipped to choose an appropriate course of action.

2. Get honest with yourself

With your awareness raised, you’re far better placed to choose an appropriate response to whatever is going on for you. Feeling tired because you stayed up late and binge-watched Netflix episodes? Then suck it up and get back on track, because giving into the temptation to lie in is a slippery slope. Feeling run-down because you’ve been sick, whilst working too many hours on your business and caring for a family member? Then consider giving yourself a break and/or some nurturing self-care. If you have taken the time to truly understand what’s going on for you, and follow that with being really honest with yourself about what you need then the appropriate course of action will become clear.

3. Make the most of the upswings

Knowing that a downswing can strike at any moment, it’s crucial to make the most of those times when we’re on fire and feeling like we can accomplish anything. Feeling in the flow with your writing? Why not batch create a few blog posts so that you have something in reserve for the weeks you’re really not feeling it? Feeling lit up by creating graphics in Canva? don’t stop at the ones you need for this week, batch create enough to cover you in less productive times. Taking into account the fact that your upswing will inevitably transition into it’s well-known counterpart, allows you to make the most of your periods of increased creativity to put in place things that can cover you during the low.

And if all else fails, use your downswing as inspiration for your business. The idea for this post for example came during  the middle of one of my own personal downswings and rather than pull out my hair trying to figure out what to share, I looked at what I was experiencing and chose to share this: my best advice for dealing with this very situation.

This is important for several reasons. First of all because it gets my mind thinking about what I personally need to do (or not do) in order to feel better and secondly it’s important for my audience to know that I too struggle with periods of low energy and a lack of productivity. If all I did was present to you my best self, that would suck because it might have you believe that what you feel when your motivation levels are on the floor isn’t normal and is somehow a failing on your part.

Rest assured it’s not. We all struggle. We all have downswings and there is a way to succeed in spite of them.

SIGN UP FOR MY SOULFUL STRATEGIES WEEKLY

 

Once a week, in the form of an e-letter, I share the best of what I know about building a business with integrity for conscious business owners.

The intention behind these letters is to be a voice for integrity within your (undoubtedly) cluttered inbox. To be the one email you can count on to contain strategic and soulful advice for building a business without selling your soul.

If you want to receive the Soulful Strategies Weekly, simply share with me your name and email address below and you’ll start recieving emails right away.