Category Archives for Challenges

How to give up on more blogi mage

How To Give Up On ‘More’

Every time I run a group program—EVERY SINGLE TIME—the one topic that emerges from the group is time management.

The ask usually goes something like this:

“How can I do everything that I already do, AND these practice building things that you are teaching us.”

OR

“I was feeling overwhelmed already. How could I possibly add anything more?”

Embedded in these two questions is a tiny, destructive kernel that will stop your time management efforts (and your business building efforts… and your happiness) in its tracks.

Can you spot it?

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It's time to be awesome blog image

It’s time to be awesome! -Rainbow Dash

The kids (as you know) are home for the foreseeable future. One unexpected benefit of this (in addition to random, mid-day hugs) is that I get to hear the soundtrack to their current movie obsession over and over and over again. Lately, it’s bee “Hey Siri, play the My Little Pony: The Movie Soundtrack.” Mostly (to be honest), I just tune it out… but every now and then one of those songs will make its way into my brain and get lodged.

This time, it was “Time to be Awesome” by Rainbow Dash. She’s talking to a group of parrot pirates encouraging them to stop doing the bidding of the Storm King, and instead do their own AWESOME thing. It’s catchy, and worth a listen (click here).

(My favorite lyric is “Hey Scallywags, it’s time to be awesome!” 

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Time Management is overwhelming

Why Time Management is So Overwhelming

There are two kinds of people in the world:

Those whose work is mostly or entirely dictated by outside forces and those whose work has to be driven mostly or entirely from their choices.

Think of the first group as all the people you know who have JOBS. Even those who have high pressure, high paid managerial jobs have the boundaries of their work largely set by organizational priorities.

The second group can best be summarized as people who are, to a significant extent, self-employed. This can include the partially self-employed like therapists who have a private practice on the side of their agency job, or side hustlers who offer services or consulting outside of their full-time, corporate or non-profit jobs. Or it can be the entirely self-employed, like therapists and coaches in full-time private practice or founders of small to medium sized companies.

Most of us were raised with the expectation that we would have a job and we were prepared by the schools to do just that.

We did work that was assigned to us and were graded on other people’s expectations. Unless you were raised by entrepreneurs, this kind of cog-in-the-organizational-wheel was likely the foundation of your understanding of work.

Now, just to be clear, there’s nothing wrong with thinking about work that way. I’m not saying that doing your part for the mission or finding safety and comfort in a large organization is somehow “less than.” And I’m certainly not saying that a job is somehow less demanding than being self-employed. In fact, the busiest people I know have jobs!

When you are working at a demanding job these days it tends to look like you are chipping away at a mountain of relational tasks (send this report to Anna, follow up if you haven’t heard by Thursday, re-send you’re availability to nail down a time to meet… and on, and on, and on). Anyone who has ever worked in consulting, or on wall street, or any number of other high-pressure, project driven careers knows exactly what I’m talking about.

For these people, who are largely managing incoming requests, working through projects they’ve been assigned, and trying to figure out timelines for when work can be complete, traditional time management is a HUGE RELIEF.

The most famous time management system is David Allen’s Getting Things Done (or GTD, as its called).

It’s a high-touch, super structured way to get your to-do list out of your head and managed. By following the tenets of GTD you can take the drama out of all those little commitments and find headspace for the strategic and managerial aspects of your work. It can be a lifesaver; it was for me when I was a consultant and drowning under the weight of 14 projects.

The problem arises when someone who is self-employed attempts to utilize a typical time management system to manage the messy interdependency that is their life and business and finances.

Here’s an example: A therapist tries to use GTD and within a few hours gives up. “I could never do all of this!” she begins, throwing her pen down. And, then (and this is the tragic part), “I guess I just wasn’t meant to do this. I’m so disorganized and such a procrastinator… If I can’t even get myself to do what I put on my to do list, I’m never going to make any progress.”

This happen because traditional time management programs don’t support you in considering the following stone-cold realities of being self-employed:

  • You might be over-committed on things that don’t matter and under-committed on things that would move the needle. Are you doing what matters or just keeping busy? How would you know?
  • You might not believe that you CAN do the things that matter. This usually sounds like “I’m not the kind of person who does: sales, marketing, promotion, math, book-keeping, speaking, social media, or exercise. When the only person deciding what you need to do is YOU (and not those organizational priorities), then your lack of belief in yourself will be a major hurdle.
  • You might be doing a poor job of managing your work-life balance. At least when you have a job people will sometimes encourage you to take time off. You have vacation that you’ll lose if you don’t use it, for example, or your company is straight up closed on Christmas and the 4th of July. If you are the only person deciding when you should work and you are in any way concerned about your finances, you are probably working around the clock, 365 days a year. This is not a recipe for success under any circumstances, but it’s especially devastating when the core of your work is vision-setting.
  • You might be working like an employee, instead of as a founder. One of the most important shifts required to succeed as a self-employed person, is to shift away from the default, job-based settings of our upbringing and move into an understanding of ourselves as the visionary for our business. When you are the founder of a business (instead of the single employee in your private practice), you know that the most valuable time is spent setting strategy: Figuring out what you want and why. Putting together the plan to move in that direction. Hiring people to help you get those things done. 

But what seems to happen instead is that the self-employed cast around looking for certainty from a boss that doesn’t exist. (Un)Fortunately, the internet is full of (ill-conceived, probably irrelevant) advice. Because we just want to be told what to do, we take on these expectations in an almost unconscious way. “Finally, here’s the checklist on how to do this the right way” we say, and then we run ourselves into the ground on the hamster wheel of “best practices” and “tips and tricks.”

These realities (which are DIFFERENT from the realities of our friends with jobs) are why any serious attempt at time management can result in panic.

Now, just to be clear, this doesn’t mean that time management isn’t possible for the self-employed.

It just means that your time management practice has to begin in a more foundational place.

We don’t get to start with a list of foregone tasks based on a job description or the guidance of a supervisor.

Instead, we have to dig in and build a messy, imperfect vision. What do you want you practice to be like? How many clients are enough clients? How much time off do you want? How important are those other areas of your life (health, family, adventure, friend)? 

It’s very important that you operate from a place informed by the answers to THOSE questions.

When that is in place, you will be ready to manage your time.

How To Make Progress On Your Goals

Have you had the experience of setting a goal (like get more clients, stay ahead of my paperwork or taxes, reach out to members of my network, or write a weekly blog) and then doing NOTHING about it? 

I’m not talking about setting a goal that you actually have no intention of pursuing (Hello, “10 pushups!”).

No, I’m talking about a goal you care about, would love to accomplish and, in fact, fully intend to accomplish. 

And yet, despite all that interest and commitment, nothing happens.

I’m very confident that you have had this experience, because I’ve never met anyone who hasn’t. In fact, if you are like many of the people I’ve worked with, you may have had this experience so often that you’ve developed a story about how you are “just plain lazy.”

That’s not true, by the way. People who declare themselves “lazy” are almost always either overcommitted, tired, and in need of a break (which is wildly different), unmotivated or confused (which is entirely fixable), or are doing an incomplete job of managing their new goal (which is simply a matter of process).

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escape from stress

Escape

There are times when you are walking down the road of life, whistling your tune, thinking your whatever thoughts and then… snagged! A vine of worry sneaks out from the forest and wraps it’s thin fingers around your foot.  It whispers your name creepily. And you feel yourself suddenly, and without any real reason, caught up in the emotional field of worry. Nothing has changed except that maybe you’re tired? Maybe you ate too much sugar? Who knows why? It almost doesn’t matter.

This happens to me almost once a day. Sometimes it grabs me just a little and I’m able to shake it off easily, and probably once a week it grabs me big time and I have to launch a counter-attack to get myself free.

Here are my tools for escape, I hope they are useful to you!

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I agree with me

We Don’t Have to Agree About Me

In my 40s (I’m 42, thanks for asking) I woke up to a story I was telling myself that was causing me a lot of drama.The mindset goes something like this “We need to agree about me.” Or, loosely translated, “You need to believe about me what I believe about me, or I’m not going to be able to believe about me what I want to believe about me.”

Here are a few everyday examples.

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blogging on a daily basis

Six Lessons from ^Almost! Daily Blogging: A behind the scenes look

Today marks three full weeks of The ^Almost Daily Catalyst! Seth Godin has been encouraging me (and, you know, the other 4M people who follow him) for 2 years to blog every day, but it always felt like such a big ask.

I started as more of a blogger than a coach, then the coaching took off and the blogging dwindled to maaayyyybbeeee once a month. And yet, the call of regular writing was always running along in the background like an excitable little dog.

“Bark! Bark, bark!” he says! (That’s dog for “Hey! We could write a blog about that! And this! And that! We totally have enough to write every day! Let’s do it! It will be SO. FUN.”)

Unfortunately, those thoughts were being “managed” by these super “helpful” thoughts:

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how to believe in yourself

What Do You Believe About You?

This week we discussed how mindmanager, our brain’s gatekeeper, and overworked executive, can be encouraged to support our goals rather than “sticking us back in front of the tv” of familiarity. But I realized that I hadn’t clearly explained why mindmanager is so persnickety in the first place.

Why can’t we engage with any goal we want, any time we feel like it?

Ok, so first let’s clarify that the thing you want to do is difficult. No one is blocked about things that are easy! “I want to binge on Netflix but every time I sit down to watch, I freak out and disengage” said (almost) no one, ever.

When things are hard, they involve:

  • Times when you don’t feel like doing it
  • Times when it’s physically or mentally draining to keep going
  • Times when you feel so emotionally vulnerable that you almost can’t stand it.
  • Times when you really, truly just don’t know what to do next

What happens in times like these? Do you dig in and push through? Or do you disengage and check out? This is when mindmanager either needs to be on your side, or you will drop back into familiarity.

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how to live with chaos in your life

F*ck It!

This message is brought to you by the coronavirus, two and half weeks in.

[Tuesday, March 31st, 6pm] I think the lesson from today can be summed up neatly with this two-word, oft stated phrase in the Crowell Home: F*ck it.

I’ve decided that for today Imma let go into the mess. Really relax into the chaos. Settle into the shit, and get comfy.

Here we go:

I spent my entire day on zoom, which was glitchy AF as the entire world suddenly logged into it (F-You, Zoom! YOUR internet is unstable!) “connecting” with clients (F-You social distancing! I want to hug my people!) and being emotionally available (F-You self control! I’m going to dip my OREOS in wine!) while also taking care of my kids (F-You color coded homeschooling schedule! One tap for the next 5 hours? SCREENS!) and trying to stay on top of the mountain of videos I’m creating for my classes (F-You youtube auto-translate! Why must it take 73 clicks to find you?!?).

And for good measure: F-YOU New York Times app of doom, Facebook panic button, and [SAY IT WITH ME]:

F-THE-H out of you, Coronavirus.

Fuck all that, is what I’m saying.

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clearing out the clutter in your mind

What’s a Mind, Anyway?

My posts for the past week boil down to one piece of critical advice: During the coronavirus crisis (and, actually, always) it’s very important for you to realize that you have CHOICE about what you think, what you feel, and how you act.

Not total choice, obviously, but a heck of a lot more choice than most of us are exercising.

And listen, I’ve heard every version of how that’s not true:

“Some people have depression and anxiety or worse, Amanda. They aren’t at choice about how they feel.” They have more choice than they know, and I want them to see if they can find some. Will their choices make them feel all better? NO. But I’m not going to let that stop me from encouraging them to do what they can to feel more at peace TODAY.

“Some people have lost their jobs and have no money and nobody is hiring right now, Amanda. What do you want them to do?’ I want them to know that even SUPER hard times don’t have to be the only thing happening in your life. Where can you find joy? What delights you? How can you get a little bit of that TODAY?

“Some people are sad, angry, and frustrated, Amanda! And what’s wrong with that? You shouldn’t shame people who are feeling entirely rational, albeit negative emotions.” I would NEVER shame anyone for feeling badly.

And I never said that exercising your choice about how you think, feel, and act during the coronavirus would mean that you will feel great all the time.
How bizarre would that be? Our world is in crisis, people we know are sick (and maybe we will be, too), and there are real worries about how we are going to recover from this economic free fall. Being present and intentional often means feeling sad and angry and frustrated. That’s totally fine.

AND! Being present and intentional can also mean feeling grateful. It can involve laughter. Sometimes it means that you restrict your exposure to the news so you can be present with your kid without that crushed feeling in your chest. Sometimes it means that you tell your husband that “If pajamas are on my body, NO ONE WILL SPEAK about the coronavirus!” All of those things are allowed.

Being alive during a global crisis does not mean you have to BE in crisis.

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