I'll admit it, though. I've caught myself on more than one occasion asking my husband to take my photo for a planned Instagram post or taking consult calls inside the rental while everyone else is poolside on vacation. And yet, what I'm seeing is that this is nowhere near the level of effort needed for an "empire" business.
Today's post comes from one of my amazing subscribers. Adriana from Argentina (doesn't that sound lovely?) writes:
I find it difficult to communicate my project without feeling like an imposter because of my lack of qualifications...and doing branding for my project that at the same time is going to be a novelty in itself.
I think it's a common problem that we have as entrepreneurs - How to "sell" and efficiently communicate yourself and your project when it's different than things you've worked on before.
MY FOUR TIPS TO AVOID IMPOSTER SYNDROME AND START MARKETING THE ISH OUT OF YOUR BUSINESS...
- Most people aren't paying close attention to what you're doing anyway
- There are many ways to become an expert
- Your customers don't have to be unable to do something for them to want to buy it from you
- Career and business pivots are natural and common
SEND ME YOUR QUESTIONS!
Have a question about figuring out what your client wants, branding your business, or messaging your offers? Comment below and I'll put together a video just for you!
I’ve never met an entrepreneur who felt their business was on autopilot.
Yes, I’ve certainly seen business owners tout the whole six-figure passive income game. But we all know passive income isn’t all that passive.
When there’s always so much to be done it can be really hard to take a break.
As a person who lives and dies by my to-do list—it keeps me productive but also reminds me of all that’s left to be done—I rarely take time off.
It’s not so much I’m afraid things will fall apart if I’m not present. Actually, it’s more that when I schedule vacation in my calendar I expect to have more creative time because I don’t have any other scheduled obligations.
Plus when you’re building a business—or pivoting like I’m doing—intentionally stopping the momentum you have going feels impossible.
Well, this summer taught me a hard lesson.
In this season of life I cannot expect to get anything done when I’m on vacation.
I have two young kids that need their mom.
And I have a business that needs its owner.
These things work against each other and if I’m not careful, can push me into a resentful tailspin.
Here are four things I’ve learned that all entrepreneurs should know about working, resting, and setting realistic priorities:
EXPECT IT TO TAKE A FEW DAYS TO BE IN VACATION MODE
Working for yourself means being self-directed, filling days with productivity, and balancing dozens of responsibilities.
Shifting from this mode to one of simply being takes time. I've found it takes me about 2-3 days to adjust to a new schedule—one of play and rest. Now that I know that about myself I don't feel guilty that I can't dive right in; I just plan my vacations for 5 days or longer.
YOU CAN ONLY FOCUS ON ONE THING AT A TIME
I’m no good if I’m physically present and mentally absent. I’m guessing you’re the same.
And if you think you’re kidding anyone around you, you’re not. Trying to work while everyone else is playing will make you resentful. If you really must get something done, make a point to physically remove yourself from the environment you’re in so you can focus, get in, and get out.
IF YOU'VE GOT A TO-DO LIST, YOU'RE NOT RELAXING
I had a post-it note list of 11 things I wanted to get done over my recent 10 days away. First of all, that’s way too many things. Second, I was stressing about my lack of progress the whole time we were at the beach.
If you must, give yourself one thing to do and finish that early on so you can enjoy yourself the rest of the time.
EXPECTATIONS AFFECT MINDSET
We all need to recharge. There’s even research that proves our best ideas come to us when we’re not actively trying to push them out.
You can’t expect to be productive and to relax at the same time. These are opposing forces and there’s a time for both. And sitting inside hunched over your computer, even while looking out at the ocean, is not the same as being on the beach itself.
Have you ever had a working vacation? How was it and what would you change?
Contact forms – or client inquiry forms – are one of the easiest things to post on your website. Squarespace and Wordpress have a one-click contact form builder. These things are so easy to include that we tend to give little thought to the strategy behind the form.
So we slap up a few questions that would be good to know when someone first reaches out. Things like…
Maybe you’ve heard the word multi-passionate before.
This term explains the feeling of being pulled in many directions that you care deeply about. It encapsulates the struggle of focusing on just one thing in your career when you’re interested in, and capable of, so many different things.
I remember back to a conversation I had when deciding if I should enroll in grad school. It was the first time I realized that you could actually be highly educated and still NEED multiple jobs to make ends meet.
This conversation was with the head of volunteers for an organization I was involved with. She had her master’s in social work and public health – a path I was considering at the time. In addition to the taxing social service work she did, she also taught at a nearby college. When I heard this, the first thing I thought was – That sounds exhausting. Why would I go back to school only to work harder?
Blame it on being 23 and a bit green, but the idea that holding multiple jobs was completely foreign to me. I saw it as a failure rather than an opportunity to pursue different passions.
My First Side-Hustle
Fast-forward five years to my first side hustle: a wedding planning business. At the time I was employed full-time at an international development agency coordinating projects in Africa. I was looking for a way to flex my creative muscles and be closer to the product I was spending my time coordinating.
Looking back, the one thing that held from meeting my potential as a wedding planner was my fear of being “found out.” I kept my business secret from my full-time job and I tried my hardest not to let my clients know that I had another job. Note to self: it’s hard to grow a business while keeping a low profile.
My fear was that if clients found out I had another job, I’d appear illegitimate…a fraud.
Also running through my mind was the thought that if I wasn’t doing it full-time, I was less valuable than a planner who was.
Feeling this way led me to charge less than others in the industry, overcompensate to prove my worth, and constantly worry about being found out.
The funny thing is, when I did actually come clean with my clients about also having another job, not only were they surprised, they didn’t actually care at all!
Who Doesn't Have More Than Interest?
What I’ve learned is that balancing multiple streams of income is not only admirable, but also normal in today’s professional landscape. Most people hiring you just care about whether you can get the job done on time and deliver on the value you promised.
This is where your professional discretion comes in. There are all sorts of things you need to figure out when balancing multiple streams of income like:
- Are you working on the clock for someone else?
- Will you disclose your side hustle to your employer?
- Are you bound by a non-compete clause?
- When do you know it’s time to quit one position in order to excel in another?
Deciding to Narrow In
When I quit my full-time job to launch Pattern of Purpose, I stayed on part-time with a consulting firm not only to keep a steady stream of income, but also to continue practicing those skills I learned in graduate school. I wasn’t ready to leave the field altogether even though my career goals had changed.
I was open and honest with my manager about my intentions to grow my coaching practice and to this day I keep a schedule that clearly differentiates my business time from my consulting time.
But recently it’s been made clear I need more time to focus on my clients and growing business more than I need the paycheck I get working for someone else. Even though this is a normal part of career progression – getting better at what you’re best at – it’s still tough for me to give up one area of work to focus on another.
Whether you’re starting something new or pursuing multiple passions, remember that you’re in the driver’s seat. Sometimes you might feel like you had a bit of split personality, but that’s what keep the weeks flying by, exciting as they are challenging.
How have you successfully balanced multiple streams of income? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!
Leadership is such a buzz word. When hear the title "leader" it’s easy to immediately think it means manager, though these words are definitely not synonymous.
Tell me you don't know a manager whose leadership skills are below par?
And I'm sure you could also think of a leader who isn't necessarily supervising people.
The thing with leadership is that it's more about action than title. You can be a leader at any level, from entry-level to the C-suite.
Below are 8 ways you can cultivate your leadership skills to become commended by your peers and noticed by the higher-ups.
1. Lift others up
Praising others is sometimes hard for us to do if we don’t have a personal connection with someone. We’re so used to hearing “constructive criticism” as our feedback loop, that we become scared and jaded when we hear someone call out areas that we’re excelling in.
Remember that calling out someone’s successes does not at all discount your own. If you can help others see where they excel, they’ll be more willing to trust you and help out when you need an extra hand. This is all teambuilding at its finest.
2. Quiet your voice so that others can be heard
Even if you know the answer, it’s important to hear someone else’s perspective from time to time. Wait to jump in to a conversation - even if that means counting to ten in your head - to see if someone else has something to say.
This is especially relevant for the problem-solvers out there who love contributing to a solution. And when it is time to chime in, first take the time to ask yourself, “Will what I’m about to say add something of value to the conversation?” Speaking just to speak doesn’t add bonus points in the boardroom.
3. Reach out to those you admire
When I first launched my business, it was easy to fall into the comparison trap. I felt like I’d never be as good as so-and-so. I was envious of the amazing Instagram accounts of other coaches. But then one day I decided to cut the crap and actually email one coach in particular whose approach I really admired. And surprise of the century – she wrote back immediately with the kindest, most personal reply ever.
Rather than defaulting to jealousy, what if you could default to admiration?
Just recently after I launched my new website an email came in from another entrepreneur. She commented on how much she enjoyed my content and said – “I just wanted to say hi and let you know that another entrepreneur out there thinks you are killing it.”
Do you know how much that email meant to me? Since then we’ve met up in person and have totally connected on a personal and professional level. Be that person for someone else.
4. Really listen; don’t just wait to respond
As a culture we’ve become so accustomed to preparing our responses in a conversation that we don’t really listen and react to what someone’s saying. I’ll admit it, often I have to actively stop myself from interrupting and saying what’s on my mind before someone’s finished talking.
Effective leaders listen much more than they speak.
Rather than composing what a rebuttal in your head, tune in to what someone’s saying. Don’t worry, you’ll still get a chance to reply, but you’ll maintain a connection much easier than the ping-pong effect that comes with rushing to get your word in.
5. Be open to learning
Whether you know it or not, you can learn something from everyone at work – including those above and below you in the org chart.
Some of the best advice I received at a previous job was from an administrative assistant who had worked in the office for 25 years. Had I written her off because of she wasn’t a senior executive, I would have missed the chance to gain perspective on long-term career growth, the battles worth fighting, and those that aren’t worth the energy.
Ask questions and involve those who typically don’t have a voice. It will be so worth it.
6. Ask questions rather than always providing solutions
It’s human nature to want to fix things. That’s why we’re quick to provide an answer when posed with a challenge, rather than taking the time to fully understand the situation.
By asking questions, you can approach opportunities with the information you need to set out a plan. In the process you’ll involve your team, identify who can fill each role, and define what success looks like in the end. This leads to more responsible and inclusive decision making, which in the end will naturally position you as a leader rather than a dictator.
7. Expect the best rather than assuming the worst
Do you find yourself anticipating the worst-case scenario? Have you found yourself anxious to open an email because you think you know what’s inside? Do yourself a favor and assume you’re going to get good news rather than bad.
This is especially important with email communication. It’s incredibly difficult to read emotion through emails, so stop trying to assign it. One way to do this is to re-read an email multiple times before replying. Your first reaction may not be on point because of what you’re anticipating. Always give the benefit of the doubt until you’re told otherwise.
8. Stand behind your team rather than pointing fingers when things go wrong
Who ever stood behind a leader that said, “It wasn’t me!”?
It’s so not worth it to preserve your reputation if it means placing the blame on your team. Doing this doesn’t prove much other than communicating that you don’t want to be part of the solution. Rather than preserving your reputation, focus on what can be done to remedy the solution. Band together with your colleagues, because one of the best ways to team build is to overcome a tough situation with dignity and grace.
Leadership doesn't always means taking charge. Sometimes it means stepping back and encouraging others to step up. Who’s a leader you admire that possesses these traits?
Mondays are tough. Not only are you mourning the freedom that the weekend provides, but your schedule is full, baby! There’s so much to think about at the beginning of the week that it’s no wonder Monday dread spreads through the office like a winter cold.
What if I told you there was an easier way to start the week than the way you’ve been operating?
The best Mondays are the ones when you leave the office feeling like you accomplished something important. That sense of accomplishment will boost your mood and catapult your motivation for the rest of the week.
Here’s how you’ll do that:
Don’t schedule meetings
Make Monday your get-shit-done day. If you have regularly scheduled meetings on Mondays, see if you can reschedule them. When you’re asked for your availability for a call, don’t offer up Monday if you have other options.
The fewer interruptions you have, the more opportunity you’ll have to work your way through your to-do list.
Face up to what you’ve been avoiding
We all have those things that we get comfortable putting off and adding to the next week’s to-do list. It’s easy to convince yourself, “If I waited this long, why does it matter if I do it now?”
It matters because these are the things that weigh on our mind. They fill us with dread and keep us procrastinating, feeling like we can never get it all done.
Take a good hard look at your to-do list (that hopefully you created before zipping out last Friday) and pinpoint what’s been making the list week after week - it will be obvious! That’s what you need to do first.
Turn off the distractions
Maybe it’s me, but I give into distractions wayyyyy too easily. Shut off your email and silence your phone for an hour.
When you give your full attention to the task at hand, it will be easier to get in the groove, make progress, and complete it all in one sitting.
Oh and a little caffeine never hurt anyone!
It’s tough to get started but once these to-do stragglers are done I can promise a huge weight will be lifted and you’ll be even more excited to start the things you want to be doing.
Tell me: what’s on your list that you’re ready to cross off?
If I asked you to name a "yes" man or woman you know, who would be the first person that comes to mind? You know who I'm talking about. The person who always says yes when they're asked to do something. The one who you can tell doesn't really want to take on another project but feels like they don't have the option to say no.
Would this person maybe even be you?
Trying to Please Everyone
I'm fairly certain no one that knows me would label me as shy. But what might surprise them is I'm a recovering people pleaser.
I'm the person who has always negotiated terribly for myself because I don't want to offend someone else with my asks.
I'm the bleeding heart who believed if I didn't concede to every ask I would be letting the team down; I wouldn't be doing my job.
But what I started to realize is the more I said 'yes' the more resentful I started to feel.
I don't know how I got to be this way, but when someone asks me for a favor I often find myself saying yes before really considering whether a) I have the bandwidth to carry out their request or b) whether I really want to be doing it.
How to Say No
I recently listened to the Women, Work and Worth podcast featuring joy junkie, Amy Smith. She's the voice I've always wanted in my head telling me all the ways to decline invitations, requests, and demands in a cordial way that won't leave the other person pissed off.
You need to spend an hour with this podcast episode.
And because I think her message is so necessary, I'm also going to link to her website so you can sign up to receive her free e-book on standing up for yourself just because I think the message and practical application is soooo good.
A gentle Reminder
I would be remiss not to address the elephant in the room. That being how unfair it is that when a man says no he's standing up for himself, yet when a woman says no she's 'being difficult.' I have no grand scheme about how to alter this cultural contradiction. I'm simply here to remind you - you're allowed to say no and still feel good about!
When was the last time you said no and felt completely relieved afterward?
I know you've asked yourself this question before. Maybe it sounded a little different; more like:
"Have I missed my chance?"
"Do I have to give up everything to do something I enjoy?"
Or, "I have real responsibilities now. People count on me and my steady job, while it may not be my dream job, provides a paycheck."
I'm a career coach who specializes in career changes. You know I'm going to tell you that you're not too old for a change. I don't believe that's true. But I also realize that just by saying that isn't convincing enough for you to put in your two weeks and open the next chapter of your career.
So let's look at the proof around us.
These Women Didn't Find Success Early
Vera Wang - first a figure skater and then a fashion editor, she was 40 before she commissioned her first wedding dress - her own!
JK Rowling - she first worked for Amnesty International, then moved on to teach English in Portugal, and eventually trained other teachers before ever publishing the first of the Harry Potter series in her 40s.
Joy Behar - this funny woman was a high school teacher until blossoming into a comedian at age 40.
If You're in Your Twenties
Find me a twentysomething that hasn't changed course at least once and I'd be surprised. This is the decade when you're kind of expected to be testing the waters. What I'm not saying is to job hop simply because you get bored a few months in.
If you're thinking about a career change in your twenties, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I want to change careers or am I simply unhappy in my current job?
- Am I simply curious about another field, industry, or position or am I confident I want to shift my work focus completely?
- What are some ways I can try this new idea on for fit without making a long-term commitment?
Whatever you do, don't lose sight of the skills you're gaining along the way. Even if your current job isn't your forever job, you can be learning and growing towards your next goal while planning out your next move.
If You're in Your Thirties
The month I turned 30, I felt different. Honestly, something about it made me turn my focus inward on what mattered to me and my family much more than worrying about what others thought about me. This may not be a coincidence since I was changing careers myself around 30, but I definitely think it took that decade of constantly worrying about meeting others' expectations to realize that I was the only person in charge of my happiness.
In your 30s, typically you've been established in life and at work. It no longer feels like you constantly have to prove yourself; you've got some years of walking the walk to back up your value.
But let's be honest - you've also got more responsibilities now than before. These can often make us feel shackled to the safe areas of our work life since so many changes are happening on the personal front.
Changing careers in your 30s is all about your risk tolerance. As yourself these questions:
- How does my current work line up with my purpose?
- What role do I want work to play in my life right now?
- Do I want to make a slow transition - starting a side hustle or working part-time - or am I comfortable making the leap?
If You're in Your Forties
By the time you've reached your forties, you've probably developed a speciality or niche and have earned a seat at the management table. You're making more than you ever have but maybe something isn't sitting right.
You're good at your job but you can't get that one idea out of your head.
Think about the following questions:
- What's my most audacious dream?
- If I've been keeping myself from chasing that dream, what is it that I'm afraid of?
- At this point in my career, what's more important to me: security or fulfillment?
A lot of women that I come across who are in their 40s but are unhappy at work are weighed down by the "shoulds."
"I should know what I want to do by now."
"I should have figured it out a long time ago."
"Now that I'm finally going after my dream I shouldn't expect to make more than an entry-level worker even though I have a lot of experience."
It's time to let go of the shoulds and follow your must. If I haven't done a good enough job convincing you, just check out my favorite infographic, Too Late to Start?, that's been spread far and wide across the internet.
Today's post comes on the tails of a question posed in my private Facebook group for women. A member asked, "What do you do when you've lost focus, organization, and interest in your job?" I think all of us can relate to this, no?
Whether we're bored or frustrated with our environment, it's easy to stop caring. Work turns into a means to an end - a paycheck that keeps you living for the weekend.
Staying engaged takes much more work. Just how do you do that when you feel like your job doesn't matter anymore?
Remember what used to light you up
The first thing to do when you start feeling this way is to identify what you used to enjoy in your job. If you can remember to when you first saw your position posted, what excited you about it? What or who encouraged you to apply?
In your first days and weeks, what were you excited to tackle? What were the pieces of your job that made you feel like you were contributing to your fullest potential?
Write them down.
No matter how discouraged you are or how much things have changed at work since you started, getting connected to these things will allow you to see if they are the things you're still looking for out of work. If so, you can focus on getting incorporating more of those moments and opportunities into your day. If they aren't so relevant anymore...well that information is just as good as you start thinking about what could light you up moving forward.
Email someone you admire
If you're bored or annoyed with your work life, chances are pretty high that you're looking at what others are doing. Rather than being envious, reach out to people whose work you admire. This could be on LinkedIn or through an email.
Start the conversation by telling them what you admire about them and ask them for a nugget of advice.
When I was stuck in a rut at work I was lusting over the jobs that human rights photojournalists got to do. I found one multimedia storyteller and developed a total girl crush. So I reached out and asked her if she had any advice for someone who would like to learn about digital storytelling.
To my total surprise she was totally happy to write back and give me some tangible pieces of advice. After that email I was inspired to take action and figure out ways to learn that skill set while in my current job. Did it help me as a professional? Sure. Did it also help my employer? You betcha.
Ask yourself -if I could be doing something different right now, what would that be? Reach out, ask for some words of wisdom, and find ways to incorporate that into your current role.
Tune out the noise
It's really hard to feel positive when you're surrounded by negative people. Sure, it feels nice to know you're not alone, but negativity breeds negativity.
If your lunch bunch always talks about how much they hate their job but aren't doing anything about it, that should be a clue that they aren't invested in changing their circumstance. If you want things to get better (which I'm sure you do because you've already noticed your situation isn't ideal), take some time away from your work buddies and see if you have a new perspective on things.
Challenge yourself to not complain for one week and see if you notice a difference. It's not easy - I know this personally - but it can make a huge difference in your outlook and attitude.
Distraction can sometimes be the best medication. If you're feeling in a rut, find a project that you can throw yourself into. If there isn't something to get involved with at the moment, think about a professional development or training opportunity you can take advantage of.
Whatever it is, make sure you can find something that has deadlines and keeps you engaged. Projects that require an output like designing a report, creating a presentation, or producing a market research brief are great because they result in a tangible deliverable.
Challenge yourself! This is a great time to develop a new skill and surprise your team with the breadth of your capabilities. And don't surprised along the way if new opportunities come a knockin'!
How many times have you been told that you need to have a mentor? Everyone says it so nonchalantly like finding a mentor is just as easy as grabbing a coffee at Starbucks. Almost like - you just have to make the effort and you'll get what you ordered. Easy, right?
Just when everyone was screaming, "Find a mentor!" and "You're not taking full advantage of your career if you don't have a mentor," I was without one. And I was ASHAMED.
Was it my strong-willed personality that repelled other women?
Was I so focused on getting ahead that I wasn't opening myself up to learn from another?
And how could I really find someone other than my supervisor that would care enough to help me along my way?
Out with the traditional mentorship model
When you think about what a mentor looks like, I bet you imagine someone a few decades older than you, accomplished in their job, and whose career successes you would love to emulate.
There have been a handful of women that I've crossed paths with - especially during grad school - that I've been really impressed by. The respect I had for these women's professional accomplishments allowed me to surpass the competitive, "I wish I could be her" thoughts and get to the "I want to learn so much from her" thoughts.
The problem: I wasn't alone in this admiration. Everyone who knew these professors was dying to learn from them.
Later, at work when I reached out to women in leadership roles for guidance on how to approach sticky situations, I was simply told, "This is the way it's always been done. You just need to be patient and ride it out." Annnnnd shut down.
There are huge differences between generations at work right now. And with formal mentorship programs few and far in between, we're having trouble relating to and learning from each other.
It's time to look elsewhere
So where do you look when you want to have a solid career conversation? One where you can learn from someone else but also share your own truths?
I recently spoke with a wildly successful professional organizer and event planner. She told me that her greatest mentors have been women in her own network. I didn't think of it as much at the time, but over the last few months this concept has really clicked with me.
I've been amazed at the female entrepreneurial community I've been able to link up with by putting myself out there and telling people whose work I admire that they've influenced me in a positive way.
Many people think you have to straight up ask someone to serve as your mentor. Absolutely not! You can start by just sending an email to someone whose work you admire. Introduce yourself, how you found them, and what impresses you about their work. Draw any parallels between their work and yours and close by asking if they'd be willing to hop on the phone (or even better: meet in person) to chat. This is how relationships are built.
The key to a successful mentor-mentee relationship - well really any relationship for that matter - is give and take. Don't just focus on what you can get out of the conversation. Be generous with your skills, resources, and time.
Pay it forward
It's important that you see yourself as a mentor where you are in your career right now. I would love to see more women in their 20's connecting with college women. There's so much that goes down in the first decade of your career, and whether you know it or not YOU already have valuable life lessons to share with your younger colleagues.
Think about all the things you would have told your 20-year-old self. Here are a few of mine, which I try to share whenever possible:
- Stop worrying about what's going to happen five years down the road. You'll only stress out about it and honestly things won't be nearly the same as you hope will be. And that's what makes it so amazing!
- Don't let the fear of what others think hold you back from doing anything. They probably don't matter and if they do matter, they'll support you the whole way.
- There is no perfect time for anything: getting married, quitting your job, having a baby, etc. Please don't judge your success by someone else's measuring stick.
- Trust your gut. Your intuition has rarely been off and even though you like to think through everything, trust how something makes you feel - good or bad - and use that feeling to inform those big decisions.
Do you have a mentor? How was this relationship born and what advice would you give others about finding a mentor themselves?
I used to love calling myself a jack-of-all-trades. This, I thought, was a badge of honor. In my mind it signaled to others that man was I ever capable of doing EVERYTHING! Maybe it was because I started off my career in non-profits, where everyone is expected to be a bit counselor-office manager-fundraiser all rolled into one.
We all want to be wanted.
And it seems counter intuitive to narrow in on a specialty when you want to appeal to as many people as possible. This is the reason our services pages are three pages when they only need to be one. It's hard to force yourself to focus only on certain aspects of who you are when you know how much more you have to offer.