What if you are the one thing standing between the success that you dream of?
A lot of times when I am coaching someone the color palette, number goal, or copy that they feel is holding them back isn’t really the cause. It’s some fear that plays out by them clinging to some detail as a way of procrastination. It’s easier to set the perfection bar high and go over every detail because, what if you release your course, webinar, or newsletter, and nobody cares?
As I write this, the house is quiet while everyone is asleep. I am listening to Laura Marling and I have a warm cup of coffee. Honestly, it’s kind of blissful, because the truth is, it’s the quiet before the storm.
In an hour, my people will start waking up and I never know what I am in for. Tweens and toddlers are known for bouncing between adorable and pleasant to emotional and cranky in a matter of seconds, and mine definitely do.
With a little one at home, it is so crucial that I maximize my time. It has taken some trial and error to figure out how I work best, and every time I get into a groove, our schedule changes. But, I have learned some methods that really work. If your life is anything like mine, where your days can be very unpredictable, having a few systems you can count on can keep you from losing your mind.
I recently updated my site and changed all of my services. You can check it out here. I had been thinking about this for a while. When I finally followed through, it felt great, not even just great, but right. One of the best things about having your own business is that you can do things your way. But, the problem is we have gotten used to what is perceived to be the normal way of doing things. It feels comfortable and safe. This is really funny because we must be pretty brave, mold-breaker types to do this entrepreneurial thing anyway! The fear of not being able to pay our bills keeps us from really going for it and standing out. Don’t you wonder what would happen if you were just fearless?
As a second-time Mom, I really should have known better, but I was optimistic about working at home with my baby. Shitshow, that perfectly describes what this actually looked like. Most infants sleep a lot as newborns. MOST, but not mine. Then, I thought, “well if I can just get her on a consistent nap schedule I can ease back into working more”. Nope. Didn’t happen. Eight months later, my hard-headed self finally accepted that I had to have some form of childcare. My maternity leave funds were out, and I only had my retainer work with no new clients on the books. I was struggling!
With everyone showing their best life reel online, it can be so hard to avoid comparing your success to others. I love the quote by Jon Acuff, “Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.” Amen!
Still, that’s easier said than done. I will admit to feelings of jealousy. People that travel, do styling, and remodel their homes really gets me sometimes. It’s definitely because I love to travel, style, and redesign my home. Those are all things that we have put on hold as we, I say we because it was a family decision for me to start my own business, focus on building up Tipsy Studio. Our goal was for me to work from home, because it matched the values and vision we had for our family. So, I don’t have new hardwood floors, and we are dealing with the old carpet. However, we met our goal! It took longer than expected, but I am making the same amount of money I was making at my job as an Art Director. So, isn’t that success? We have some catching up to do from my very long maternity leave, but that subway tile backsplash is totally in my future. I try to take note of the times I feel jealous as a reminder of the goals I want to accomplish while reminding myself of the achievements I have made.
I was thinking about how we all have those “go-to” items in our closet that make us feel the part we need to play in the moment. Maybe it’s a pantsuit to look professional for a meeting, a sexy black dress for date night, or a soft, oversized sweater when we are stressed.
Two weeks before my 16th birthday, my Dad passed away, and my world was turned upside down. I was shocked, sad, and wanted something to just be normal. So, I quickly went back to school. High school turned out not to be the place to escape the sad looks and “I’m so sorry” comments. They were all meant in kindness, but hard for me to swallow. I wanted to block it all out, and I was crumbling inside. So, I went for the clothes that made me feel strong. This came in the form of my favorite pair of shoes similar to Vessi shoes. My black combat boots. I wore them with flowing dresses, cut-offs, jeans, and overalls. I felt tough, in charge, and a little bad ass every time I put them on. It was a period in my life where I really needed that.
I don’t have those boots anymore, but I definitely still have times in my life where I need to feel like a bad ass. Being an entrepreneur, a Mom, and a woman is not for the faint of heart! We all need our boots, friends, music, tea, or whatever to give us the armor we need to stand a little taller when we are really struggling.
What do you wear or surround yourself with to make you feel more confident?
I was meeting with a new client who is a fine artist. She wanted to discuss how I could help her market herself to sell more work. She was feeling stuck because she didn’t know how to make a strategy to generate an income or what to put on social media. As we talked more, I found out the reason behind this was mostly because she was comparing herself to what she saw other people doing on social media, and she didn’t feel very legit. It seemed to her like everyone she went to school with was so much more successful than she was. She let this influence how she made decisions for her business. For example, selling prints of her work would help bring in more income, but she wondered if she would look like a professional artist. Her bad feelings came from comparing herself to others and it was holding her back.
If you Don’t Quit, You Will Probably Succeed. I read this somewhere recently and I thought, “THIS IS SO TRUE”! I know there are many things in my life, like attempting to play piano and guitar, that I just quit. I think about it often, and I can hear my mom saying, ” you are going to regret this!” If I had kept practicing piano, imagine how good I would be 20 + years later. My daughter is an amazing artist. Her favorite subject to draw is animals. She gets so frustrated and down on herself when she tries to draw people, because it’s hard for her. I have to remind her that she draws animals all day everyday, and it’s easier because she has had so much practice. She just needs to practice drawing people too.
Before I decided to work for myself full time, I was an Art Director at a Fortune 100 company. We were an umbrella company for 25 smaller ones around the world. There were a lot of meetings, presentations, and pitches. It was a male dominated industry and company, with only 10% of our company being women. I have to say, it could be really intimidating sometimes. While being friendly and building relationships with co workers and clients, I was very concerned about being taken seriously and seen as a professional. As a result, I formed a mask that I wore to do my job. I prepared for those board rooms in the clothes that I chose, my posture, and my speech.
It’s the dream to ditch the commute and work in yoga pants, but many people find the transition harder than they thought. Making it work is all about setting boundaries and testing what works best for your life.
Developing a work space
There are so many distractions at home that you don’t have in your office; those dishes in the sink from breakfast or that load of laundry waiting to be folded. You don’t have your regular co workers, but you do have family at home that don’t understand just because you are home, doesn’t mean you are not working. You may also find that friends and family now think you are available for anything and everything.
I was having a coffee date this week with a fellow entrepreneur, who is a business consultant. We were talking about how no matter how solid your business plan is, there is a always a learning curve when it comes to working for yourself. It takes time to put your plan into practice. It takes time to perfect your systems and see what works and what doesn’t. Of course, there are always the unplanned events. Clients come and go, and family emergencies happen. Then, there are the unknown factors.
One of the things I liked best about working as an in house Art Director was when I left work, I really left work. It was a clear boundary. I didn’t bring work home, I didn’t even think about about work, except to dread going when I would rather stay in bed. Working for myself is wonderful. I can sleep late, meet friends for lunch, or go on field trips with my daughter. Sounds amazing right? I rarely do any of these things! I actually have to remind myself those are the reasons I wanted to do this. Having a flexible schedule to spend time with my family is my big why, but I have to check myself often and remember this. Because when your paycheck is completely dependent on you, it is really hard to have boundaries. I feel the need to work all of the time. I always think just one more hour, one more email, and I will be ahead. In addition to client work I am constantly updating my onboarding forms and redesigning my website. I have realized that I will never be ahead and there will always be something more that I can do.
That mix urgency and fear can be paralyzing. I don’t think it is really productive and definitely not creative. I always get more and better work done when I have a good work life balance. I don’t know if there are any coasting periods to running a business, but for now I am doing my best to set boundaries and stick to them. Where do you need to set more boundaries in your life?
I went back to work when my oldest child was 7 weeks old. It was horrible and I cried everyday. I was angry, sad, and resentful. So, 10 years later, I am working for myself, and I am so thankful that I can stay at home with my baby, Josie. For the first month, I scheduled out social media for my clients, didn’t take on any new projects, and budgeted for the change. Everything was fine for the first 3 months.
Then I wanted to pick up more work, but the baby wasn’t sleeping. So, I thought I would work on getting her on a schedule first. I told myself, “all babies are different, maybe she just needs more time…I can make this work”. I was 6 months in and I was struggling! Who can work in one hour increments?
I started off each month with a new plan to make it work. After 8 months, I was stuck in a place of needing to take on more work, but not having the time to do it, and not making enough to justify full time day care. I was left feeling super stressed and not fully enjoying the time with my children because I was trying so hard to do it all. None of it was working. I found myself trying to code a website with a crying baby on my lap and tossing my keyboard across the room. I cried a little too and waved the white flag.
Your creativity is a tool that you have to learn how to use. When your creativity is how you make your money, you can’t watch Netflix and hope it shows up. Life gets so busy, especially when you become a parent, that it can feel like you have lost your mojo. It’s a gift that doesn’t go away, but you have to learn how to nurture it and ignite, when, maybe, you didn’t have to before.