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3 Skills Worth Building

When people find out I have a bunch of kids, I often get asked the question, “How do you do it?”

I know it’s meant to be a conversation filler, but it kinda feels like a mix of pity and curiosity. In the past, I would awkwardly pause, not quite know how to respond, and shrug my shoulders.

Then I would internally think: “I don’t. I’m a walking disaster.”

I’ve been known to ask the same question of others: the mom who already has a toddler-then has twins, the mom building her own business, the mom who runs every activity at school, the mom who works nights….

Anymore, I don’t ask. It’s kind of a silly question.

The answer is simple. We just do what we have to do.

It’s like anything else in life. We build our skills; we learn more efficient ways of doing things; we stretch our capabilities and grow.

We learn to humble ourselves and accept help from the kind people who offer it, which hopefully teaches us a new level of gratitude, humility, and the desire to give back to others.

Once upon a time, having a newborn was the most difficult thing I’d ever experienced. Now I’d take a newborn any day over having a teenager. (Just like newborns-teens are awesome, but wow, the learning curve is steep!)

Building these three skills will help you (and me) “Do what we have to do”-and better:

#1 Practice positive language

Start to pay attention to your thoughts and words. We often don’t even realize the impact they have on our mindset and the outcomes in our lives.

I’m tired of considering myself a “walking disaster.” I don’t accept that anymore.

I’m replacing it with: “I’m learning.” “I’m capable.” “I’m working hard at it.”

Tip: What negative thought patterns are recurrent in your life? Replacing them with positive ones can make a big difference.

#2 Focusing goals for maximum results

You need to know the direction you’re heading. What do you aim to achieve?

Like Zig Ziglar says, “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.”

Next you need to know what action steps to take to get there. What’s your road map?

Then comes breaking them down into manageable daily steps.
Tip: 12 Week Year by Brian Moran and Michael Lennington can help you improve this skill.

#3 Time management and prioritization

Fellow freelancer Osmond Arnesto wrote a great guest post on why multi-tasking doesn’t work, and he’s absolutely right.

To make prioritizing easier, I try to identify the “Big Win” for the day-one for business and one for home.

While I’m all over the place with how I’m going to achieve it (working on #2), my ultimate goal right now is clear-to be debt free in two years. I have some serious work to do on focus-the never ending battle for many of us, I think.

While I haven’t narrowed my goals enough yet, I’m enjoying the pursuit of each one, and for now, I’m good with that.

Tip: Try to figure out the top priority of the day and take the steps to get it done. If you can’t get it done today, what step will get you closer to achieving it?

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6 Authors that Just Might Change Your Life and Business

I’ve loved reading since I was little.

In my twenties, I became a fan of nonfiction…..something about “adulting” created an unmistakable draw toward the self-help section 😉

Put me in a bookstore and I’ll skip the fiction; instead I’ll spend hours browsing the self-help, business, and diet/health sections.

The Problem

There are so many great books and authors. How do you choose?

If you’re like me, you end up standing in the aisle, arms filled with books, completely deluding yourself that you are going to read them all. By Tuesday.

If you’re looking for your next “gonna change everything” book, let me help you out a bit.

When I look back on the books I’ve read, several stand out as transformational.

Here are six authors that made a measurable, and lasting, impact:

  1. Stephen Covey (For success in all areas of life)

The book: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Dr. Covey’s principles are timeless; the older I get, the more applications they have to life.

My favorite of the seven habits: “Be proactive.”

Who’s in charge of your life? You are.

When you take accountability for your choices in life, and the outcomes, everything changes. His other habits are good too, but “getting” this one is the foundation for all the others.

  1. Dave Ramsey (How to win with money)

The book: The Total Money Makeover

When you can’t handle money,  life is waaayyy more difficult. I’ve lived it, and it’s no fun. And let’s face it; if you can’t handle personal finances, how are you going to handle business finances?

If you struggle in this area, Dave Ramsey’s principles are right on the money.

If you’re early in your adult life, read Dave’s books. Please! I have two words for you: Mathematical explosion.”  (The years are in your favor; I promise).

If you’re already in a financial mess and ready for the way out, read his books.

I would shout it from the rooftops if I wouldn’t get funny stares. Seriously. He knows what he’s talking about.

We intend to be debt-free in two years; the hubby and I are on Baby Step 2 of the plan. And it works. As Dave would say, we’re going to change our family tree.

  1. Dan Miller (For inspiration to do what you love)

The book: 48 Days to the Work You Love

This book opened my eyes to the possibilities in life. It started me thinking “What if….”

And believing in the possibilities comes right before big things happening. I took two “baby leaps” because of it, and now I’m confident that I’m moving in a direction that’s going to be huge.

  1. Greg McKeown (For focusing on what matters most)

The book: Essentialism

This book inspired me to action. However, I’m still working on the the transformation.

My big struggle in life is focus.

I think that many of us struggle with this. There are so many good things, and you can’t do them all. You just can’t.

Deciding what is most important is key.

This book gave me the insight needed to close a failing business. My heart wasn’t in it; and I realized I was spending time and energy on something I hated, for zero return. It was craziness.

Do you have something in your life you need to cut out, to make room for something that truly inspires you? If so, this book is a good one for you.

  1. Dr. Henry Cloud (For personal and business growth through relationships)

The book: The Power of the Other

Because of it this book, I can recognize what makes a healthy relationship and know how to cultivate it. Once you experience a “Corner 4” relationship, in your personal or professional life, you’ll know it, and you’ll seek it.

The action it inspired in business: I jumped at the chance to join a “Mastermind” group of likeminded women.

Through the right kind of relationships we can grow in ways beyond our own capabilities. We will go much farther and much faster.

  1.  Brene Brown (For courage to do big things, with authenticity)

The book: Rising Strong

Brene Brown writes about “being brave, leaning into vulnerability, and rumbling with the challenges that come with living a daring life.”

On the first page of Rising Strong, she uses three powerful words: authenticity, courage, and joy-things we all need more of in our lives. If you’re recovering from any kind of life struggle, and in need of insight and strength, Brene Brown is an author to check out.

The action it inspired: Taking chances. Big ones. Toward living a courageous, authentic life.

You know how some people pick a word to define their year?

For 2017, I choose “courage.”

A Look Forward

Two new books are on my reading list for the first quarter of 2017: The 12 Week Year by Brian Moran and Michael Lennington, and Mindset by Carol Dweck. I’ve got an inkling that they are going to be transformational too.

If you’re a fellow non-fiction fan looking to overcome obstacles (especially the ones created by your own mindset) and achieve great things this year, I hope you’ll join me in the Facebook Growth Mindset Book Club! It’s a supportive group where we read great books, take action towards our goals, and celebrate our weekly wins. Hope to see you there 🙂

What’s your word for next year? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

Don’t forget to give your goals a deadline

Remembering to use the S.M.A.R.T formula when setting goals makes a huge difference in actually achieving them. It’s easy to set a goal yet forget the importance of setting yourself up to achieve it. Clearly, I didn’t remember to set a deadline for my Paper Project.

(Read about the history of the S.M.A.R.T goal here)

S.M.A.R.T Goals are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Time-based

It’s time to wrap up the Paper Project, so it’s time to give myself a deadline of January 1 to have all of my “old” papers filed or shredded. My files for the new year are already set up.

December is a great time to go through old files, set up new ones, and start 2017 out right.

How great would it feel when tax-time comes to know everything is ready to go? Give yourself a S.M.A.R.T goal and set up your own “paper project” for success heading into 2017.

 

 

Streamlining papers: a resource to help you decide what goes

It’s Monday Miscellaneous again.

I have a deadline coming up 🙂 So although I am keeping to the routine with a blog post, it’s short and sweet.

Then, I’m going to get right to the other part of my Monday morning business routine: organizing/filing papers.

Instead of reinventing the wheel and writing a whole new post on the topic, here is my favorite resource for deciding what papers to keep and what is headed for the shredder.

I’ve mentioned Julie Morgenstern’s book Organizing from the Inside Out before. It is one of the best books out there for getting organized; I trust her information, which is extra important when it comes to financial papers.

Have a great Monday. Hope your routines are going well!

Friday Freelancing: Black Friday Sales

My first “Friday Freelancing” post:

Today is a little bit rough for me as a freelancer. There have been quite a few Black Friday Sales in my inbox today, that I almost can’t refuse.

But if I learned anything in my previous attempts at starting a business, it’s that to be in business, you need to be turning a profit. There is no point to all the hard work you are investing otherwise.

I do understand that reinvesting in your business is important though, so I am using the following formula. I’m keeping it as simple as possible.

25% saved for taxes

25% reinvested

50% to benefit my family (Ideally, to pay off debt)

I already spent my reinvestment budget for the month on a Mastermind Group I am super excited about for the new year. Therefore, I have zero dollars to spend on Black Friday deals, even though they are things I really, really want. It’s a little painful, but I am going to remain disciplined.

Zero dollars in the budget means zero dollars in the budget. I think Dave Ramsey would be proud 😉

If you are out there struggling, remind yourself, there is always another deal; it may be a great product or opportunity, it is just not the time. I’m reminding myself that today as well.

Next year, I’m going to make sure to save some money for those Black Friday deals!

Anybody else out there struggling with this today as well? Do share in the comments below……

 

 

 

Monday Miscellaneous: Looking Ahead to 2017

It’s Monday again. I’m looking ahead to 2017 and getting ready to set some goals for the year.

One thing about being in the freelance business is that there are so many directions to go, it’s hard to reel them in and focus. Taking a step back to reflect and to set some realistic goals is important.

One goal for 2017 I have is to set up and maintain consistent routines, in my home and in my business. I’ve learned that no matter how much you minimize your stuff and your schedule, whether its in your home, life, or business, if you can’t maintain routines, history is bound to repeat itself; chaos will return the second you drop your guard.

I’m setting routines for my blog, my business schedule, and my home.

For now, my goals for the blog:

Two posts per week (starting January 2017)

  • Monday Miscellaneous: I am giving myself free reign to write about any topic I want. Please skip if you don’t want to hear the inner ramblings of my brain; it’s a scattered place; fortunately for me, writing brings it into focus.
  • Friday Freelancing: My goal with the Friday blog post is to write a more professional post for fellow freelancers trying to maintain the so-called “life-work balance.” I’ve read a lot of incredible books on productivity, personal development, business, and success. I can’t wait to share what I’ve learned and learn from other freelancers as well.

Now, time to deal with rest of the Monday morning routine, paperwork…..

What routines do you have in place for your home or business? Do you find them difficult to keep, or do they come easy for you?

Maximize productivity with consistent routines

It’s Monday…..and it definitely feels like it. As I sit here, I have my deadlines wrapped up, and work to look forward to, which feels really good, but now I am falling into a common trap: inability to focus.

I am flitting from one thing to the next, searching sites, and being all around inefficient with my time. After wasting a good hour, I remembered that having consistent routines is an important key to maximizing productivity; that is where many of us “creatives” get off track.

Why is it so hard for us to maintain routines? That’s a question for another day, I suppose.

Regardless, I have decided that, when no deadlines are looming, Monday mornings will be dedicated to paperwork and my weekly blog post, which leads to:

An Update on the Paper Project:

Oh, the paper project; it was delayed for a while, but it is now in progress again.

I was given an awesome filing cabinet. I usually try to say, “No, thank you,” when offered items because accepting them leads to a cluttered house, but it is giant and high-quality, and it eliminates the need for two other filing cabinets, including a banged up one, which was definitely a “mechanical” obstacle preventing organization.

I also accepted help from my “born-organized” mom; she made me some beautiful files to start a system for current papers. Not having to decide on what categories to label items removed the “perfectionism” obstacle; no more having to decide the so-called “perfect” way to categorize the papers, and re-doing it over and over because it will never be “just right.” I have a couple ideas on how I can return the favor.

I have three bins of paper to sort through, and I am done!

Today’s tips:

  • Accept help! Don’t go it alone if you don’t have to! Can you exchange services with someone, or work together with someone to make the job more fun?
  • Start building routines to maximize productivity. What areas in your life are a little out of control? What routines can you put in place to get them in check?
  • There is no perfect system! Let go of the perfectionism; label your files-get the papers out of the bins and into the filing cabinet. Do you struggle with starting because you aren’t ever satisfied that it is done “perfectly?”