business planning

What self-care looks like for me

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This past weekend I ran away from home.

After months of pushing really hard in my business and personal life, I was hitting a massive wall.

It was hard to admit at first, after all - I just home from a week in Punta Cana with my family, and the weekend before that trip I was at an art retreat.

But as most parents know, a vacation with three children is not "relaxing."

I put a lot of pressure on that trip to help me unwind and relax. I should have known better, I've been on trips like that before. While the kids are now old enough to not require me to be ON the entire time, we still had to coordinate a lot of people to do a lot of things, and they're still kids with a lot of energy and a lot of feelings.

I was so tired on that trip that between activities I didn't even have the energy to read a book, and I came home even more tired than when I left.

Meeting these pirates was a super fun highlight of our trip to the Dominican Republic!

Meeting these pirates was a super fun highlight of our trip to the Dominican Republic!

As an introvert, transitioning to homeschooling my son has meant that I don't have much alone time - and I had been alone for most of the week for the previous six years so this has been a big shift and change for me.

I felt tired ALL the time. I didn't feel like I was thinking clearly any more. I was not working well as a mom or as a business owner.

I was nearing burnout - but it was really hard to admit that when I felt like so many things were going so right. Can you burnout doing things you love? Have you heard people say, “do what you love and it never feels like work.” It’s not true. You can love what you do and still get really tired and burn out from it if you’re not careful.

So, I left Friday afternoon and headed up to the family cottage (which I'm grateful to have access to when needed, but happily would have rented one or an Airbnb for the weekend) and just stopped.

What self-care looks like for me

I took a three-hour nap that went right through dinner time.

I read a book.

I watched Netflix.

I slept whenever I felt tired.

I had meals whenever I felt like it - 11 am, 3 pm, 9 pm.

I ate what I felt like eating whenever I felt like it.

I painted.

I stared out the window at the trees and the water.

I didn't intend to work but I didn't intend to NOT work.

The more I sank into nothing, the more my brain woke up. New ideas popped into my head. I felt excited about things I haven't felt excited about in a while. I had the bandwidth to contemplate next steps instead of feeling required to do it.

What does self-care look like for you?

We don't all need the same things to take care of ourselves, but we all need to make sure that we stop and think about what works and what doesn't, and we need to make sure we’re not getting too caught up in how we think we SHOULD be feeling and operating.

I work better and smarter when I have more time by myself doing nothing. It's not being lazy or self-indulgent, it's being productive and poised to take on the world.

Moving forward I will guard time for myself even more. I blocked off time in my calendar years ago for quiet and down time but over the last couple of years I filled ALL of that time with parenting stuff and/or appointments for myself to work on my health. Important, but not actually the down and quiet rest time I need. So I'm re-jigging my schedule again, this time to accommodate for parenting time, health time, and ME time.

If I want to be productive and effective in my work, this is mandatory; even though it feels counterintuitive to work less to make more money. We've been taught that the only way to make more money and achieve more success is to work HARDER. As someone who has never worked effectively on a traditional timeline, I need to keep reminding myself that doesn’t work for me.

When's the last time you did something to help yourself this way?

The power of believing in YOUR way

Your unique balance

What makes one person feel safe, secure, comfortable and confident can be vastly different from what makes another person feel that way. Recently, I was thinking about one way I do things differently than most people I know: when I go on road trips, I hate to pre-book my hotels.

This makes many of my friends and family SO uncomfortable!

“Doesn’t it stress you out to not know where you’re going and what the plan is to get there?”

Nope! I get stressed out feeling locked into things! How am I going to know when I want to stop? My friends get personally stressed out for me when I tell them I don’t book a hotel, unable to separate how they would feel in my situation.

“What if you can’t find a hotel?”

I always find a hotel, maybe not at the first place I stop, but it always works out (and I always feel confident it will while we’re figuring it out). And my measure for “works out” is probably quite different than it is for other people because the thing I’m LOOKING for is not “safety” or “security” or “comfort in knowing” it’s “freedom to change my mind and be spontaneous.”

You may not like to road trip my way, but that doesn’t mean my way isn’t great because I’m getting what I’m looking to get out of the experience! I always believe it is going to work out and it always does. 🙂

This same idea applies to the different ways people run their businesses.

Some people like everything very structured and planned out and some like to fly by the seat of their pants (I fall into the second category).

There is great merit in having a well-structured and predictable business model (and the need for this gets more and more important the bigger you grow) but there is also great merit in having a business that is built to suit the things that are important to you (I need to have room in my business to create new things regularly. If I booked up all my time on the same things in a repeated manner for a year in advance, I would feel claustrophobic in my business).

Now, I’m not saying it’s a good idea to never have a plan, but it’s okay if you’re someone who likes to keep things feeling fresh and different on a regular basis.

You can run your business that way too, you just need to to know where and how to keep the freedom, spontaneity and creativity alive for yourself, while keeping the infrastructure of your business sound (you don’t need to book the hotel but you DO need to know you have money to pay for a hotel and a well-maintained vehicle to get you there).

We all get to prioritize what works for us and what we value and want to create. You can find the perfect balance for you by acknowledging what’s important to you, what motivates you, and what will keep you primed for success in your business. It’s the power of believing what you love and desire WILL work for you and lead you to success.

If you want to figure out how to find that balance for YOU and how you can use that to create success in your business, let’s chat. I’d love to learn more about what is important and motivates you as a business owner and how I could support you in achieving that!

2018 Word of the year: STRONG

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I want to share a little story about my 2018 word.

Last fall, while I was at a retreat they announced we were going to play capture the flag.

Capture the flag, like most team/group sports or anything that puts my physical skills on display really brings out my deepest darkest fears – shame, embarrassment and guilt about being so terrible and not being a team player.

I've done a lot of work on myself over the last number of years so there are a few things I now know about myself that came up when the game was announced.

1. My reaction wasn't rational. I knew I was being irrational, but I also knew thinking myself out of it and just enjoying the game wasn't going to happen.

2. I was learning to work on my boundaries. Turns out capture the flag makes me miserable, I could have opted out and just not played. I had that choice!

I decided that I would go and watch the game but not play. Boundaries. Go me!

When I arrived at the field they asked me to play. I said, "No thanks, I just want to watch" and then the universe said to me, "Let's test these boundaries, Lara" and collectively the group then said,

“Awww... C'mon. We're an uneven number of players - we need you!”

And the people pleaser in me, the person who doesn't like to let people down, the person who was terrified of being blamed for the whole team losing screamed, "Oh my God! You have to do it now! It's going to be terrible and you're going to suck, but they're all looking at you, so you HAVE NO CHOICE!!"

So, full of dread (always an excellent way to ensure fun during a game) I walked on to the field.

People ran by me and I didn't know what I was doing…it was going badly! This was worse than any other time I had played because now I knew the solution to those feelings was to NOT play and on top of suddenly being in the game I knew it was my own damn fault for not sticking to my boundaries.

Tears started streaming down my face and a kind person (I honestly can't even remember who it was) told me it was okay if I just wanted to leave.

So, I walked off the field and into the woods on a that crisp fall day, and, surrounded by the beauty and calm of trees, I sobbed. I sobbed for almost half an hour as I walked through the woods trying to calm down.

Walking off the field was far from the end of my shame and emotional breakdown. I was angry at myself for having played at all. I was angry at myself for not sticking to my boundaries and for so easily being swayed into doing something I didn't want to do.  

I was angry at the ladies on the field for getting me to play (trust me, my rational brain knows that's ridiculous, "c’mon, we want you and need you" is hardly some kind of evil pressure tactic of villains).

Over the last few years I have picked a word for the year. In 2017 the word was "open." I wanted to be open to learning, open to being guided, open to letting go of control. I was in the midst of trying to figure out what my 2018 word should be while at this retreat and as I stood in the woods beating myself up and going through a million emotions all about an insignificant game of capture the flag I had known all along that I couldn't handle, I figured out my 2018 word: STRONG.

Strong wasn't about muscles. It wasn't about the strength to stand up to people. It was about being strong enough to look even further within to see what was going on. It was finding the strength within to hold my boundaries and to learn to not feel guilty about or responsible for everyone else before myself. It was about feeling like the Lara I was WAS strong and it was time to own that, it was time to get out of my own damn way.

And I did. The incredible year that was 2018 is the subject of another story entirely, but here is what I hope everyone can take from this:

  • Your mindset and your subconscious can impact everything in massive ways. Don’t beat yourself up for the struggles you have because we all have them and there ARE ways to work through them.

  • You are strong and you are capable, even if it doesn't feel like it some days.

  • You might need to get out of your own way too, and you might need help doing it. I've needed a team of people and 10s of 1000s of dollars to just start that process, but it's been worth every penny!

What was your word in 2018? Will you choose a word for 2019? 

Reflection and setting intentions can be the kind of work we know we should do but avoid. Join me for a special call on New Year's Day at 1 pm. I'll be guiding participants through a series of prompts helping and supporting everyone to step into 2019 feeling empowered and on the right path for their unique selves, dreams and strengths. Sign up here - and don’t worry, if you can’t make it live, a replay will be sent following the live broadcast.

Making time to grow your business

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A lot of the business owners I work with come to me because they feel frustrated. They have goals they want to achieve but they're not achieving them because they lack the focus, clarity, and accountability to do it.

Some business owners are “all in” when it comes to clarity, accountability and reaching goals. They invest in a mastermind program or business coach and devote the time required to work on growing their businesses.  But then we have the "little bit in" business owners (and they're the more common ones). The “little bit in” business owners want change and growth in their businesses, but they spend so much time working IN their businesses (and believing there just isn't the time to step away) that they never make the time needed to properly plan, strategize or do the work needed to reach their business goals.

Are you a “little bit in?”

It’s really easy to be the “little bit in” person. You sign up for an online course and rarely or never participate in it, you join Facebook Groups and read everyone else’s posts, but never engage or you follow a business coach online, but never commit to signing up to work with them. The “little bit in” person doesn’t want to invest in a private package or high ticket price business coach full time, or they sign up for things and don't execute on any of it for a million reasons that feel very legitimate and honourable.

Make the time

We all have a lot going on and if you don’t invest the time needed to fully plan your business and work with someone who can help you reach your business goals then you will always be that “little bit in” person. You will never accomplish anything outside of your day-to-day unless you commit to taking a break and blocking off the time to do so.

* You need to take time away from your business to figure out what is next.
* You need to take a step back from the day-to-day and see what is working and what is not.

Whether it is through an accountability group, a business coach or another commitment – you need to go all in for yourself and your business in order to see change and grow.

The next time you feel the need to do something big in your business think about what it would take for you to be all in and not just dipping your toes in? How can you stop being the “little bit in” person and grow as a person and as a business? What would that do for you and your business? Is it worth it?

Ponder this and then leave me a comment and let me know how you make big changes and grow in your business. When you're ready to go all in, book a call with me or come and join the Biz Advantage. We're there and ready to help support you as you start making real things happen!

Systems 101 for your business

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As a business owners, there are certain buzz words you hear over-and-over again, in any industry or on any topic. You hear them so many times you start to think, “I’d better get on that," but then you think... "I don't know what or how to do it?"

When it comes to owning a business, one of those buzz words is 'systems' for your business.

And you think to yourself... "Great. Systems. Ok… I guess I’ll figure that out… later."

I want to share a bit more about what systems are and what they can mean for your business – because systems do not need to be complicated and having them can mean creating consistency in your business. Consistency means less headaches for you, more brand recognition and a great reputation.

SO… what is a system anyways?

It’s pretty simple, a system is when you write down how something in your business should be done – step-by-step.

That’s it.

Think of it as a way to have someone else be able to do what you do in your business should you have to walk away.

“Lara, I’m not going to walk away from my business and if I do, the business isn’t going to exist any more! I don’t exactly have time to write down all the things I already know how to do just so I can do them myself.”

And therein lies the problem with systems – that’s how most of us feel about them and what stops us from getting them down on paper. We don’t see any kind of pressing need and so it gets put off and put off... and put off.

The thing is, until you get them down it can be really hard to grow your business and on top of that, no matter how well we know our own business, we forget steps too, especially when we get really busy. 

Examples of Systems

A system can be as simple as a bulleted list of actions and steps you take in your business. It can also include instructions, templates of content for different things, and more. It’s basically whatever you think you need to run your business efficiently, which means that it’s hard to explain and possibly vague for you to grasp what you could do. So, let’s go through a few examples:

Sales

The beautiful packaging at  Jolie Folie

The beautiful packaging at Jolie Folie

You probably have a process for your sales.

If you sell a product, this includes creating a receipt, putting the product into a bag, box or envelope (possibly in a very specific way), and maybe writing a nice note to include in the package. That’s a system – if you wanted someone else to deliver your product to a customer exactly the way you would so that it always has a consistent look and feel to it, you've already got a simple system, you just need to write it down.

Onboarding

When you have a new client, what needs to happen? How do you want to welcome them? Right now, are you being as consistent as you want to be and are all the steps happening every time?

There are all kinds of things you could include in a system for a new client:

Do you want to send them a note or a gift?
Do you need to create a paper folder and a digital folder?
Do contracts and non-disclosure agreements need to be signed?
Do they need to be added to any email lists or Facebook Groups or membership sites?

What are all the pieces that need to take place to make sure that your new client has an amazing experience? List them in a document, and you've got your onboarding system.

Invoicing

When you invoice someone, do you always include the same information? Do you have a process if they paid by email money transfer that’s different than if they pay by cheque or by Paypal or credit card? If there are multiple payments do you have to manually input anything?

If you need to track any hours for your invoices, how do you track those, where do you track those, what information do you need to extract for the invoice?

Invoicing is a task that often gets outsourced sooner than later, if you have your process written down, you'll be able to share that with someone else so they can take invoicing off your plate and you'll feel confident they can do it the same way you would.

For all three of these examples, putting every step down for something that you do on a regular basis will help make sure that you maintain regular quality and that you can pull people in to help support you when you’re ready.

How will you start creating systems in your business? Where will you start and what are you going to get on paper first?
 

ACTION STEPS:

1.     Read/listen to the E-myth Revisited.

2.     Make a list of all the things you do regularly. Then, pick the thing you most often miss steps on or that you are most likely to outsource and outline it step-by-step in a Word document.

3.     Leave a comment and let me know what system you’re going to be working on so I can cheer you on!

4.     Check out the Biz Advantage and get feedback on your systems during the weekly coaching calls or in the Facebook Group!