The Struggle to Start: Why is Getting Started the Hardest Part?

Ok.  Since I moved into my new house, I’ve become a bit of a procrastinator, which is totally unlike me.  I’m always scheduling myself so I have plenty of time to work on a project.  I would work on it a little bit at a time and then revise and work some more.  This was a great process.  I never felt stressed or pressured and I always got the work done in plenty of time.  Well lately, my new process is the exact opposite …

I know I have to do something.  I keep putting it off.  That little voice inside my head tells me I need to stop procrastinating and just get started.  And then I put it off some more, which leads to an all-consuming feeling of self-loathing and frustration because by this point, I should be finished …  which then leads to me finally sitting down and starting.  What gives?!

There seem to be a lot of articles written about how procrastination is a good thing.  Apparently, it means you are contemplative and waiting to get all the information before making a decision.  I call bullsh*t.  Putting off work sucks.  It’s unproductive and could really have a negative impact on your business.  And repeatedly putting off work creates a bad habit of laziness, which is definitely bad for your business.  Ahhh!  I don’t want to be a procrastinator!  Make it stop!

Part of my problem is that I have a lot of big projects I’m working on right now.  They are all pretty complicated and involve a lot of time.  So, it’s hard to prioritize.  I’m also not really sure how to complete all of them—as in I don’t have a plan.  And thus, the procrastination.

One of the things I’m working on is updating www.shesonhertoes.com and increasing the audience to the website.  So … if you know someone who would like the content of the blog or the book, feel free to share with them!

Maybe you didn’t know this, but I single-handedly created this website.  Sure, I got a template, but I did the formatting, got the pictures, selected all the things you can see and click on.  And it worked out pretty well for a while, but apparently, it could be a little easier to navigate.  I hired a web-marketing firm to help me make some website updates.  Maybe you’ve seen the pop-up to get 5 Steps for Effective Interviews—you should check that out!  It’s great information about the 5 things that every employer should do during an interview to hire the best employees … and it’s free.  Just click to download.

Ok, but back to the website … working on the website updates has been great.  I was getting all the things the web-marketers wanted finished.  They wanted copy for email templates, I created copy for email templates.  They wanted ideas for graphics, I gave them ideas for graphics.   Until the web-marketing experts recommended that I create some courses to sell on creating a hiring process and how to host an interview to hire great employees.  WTF?!  I wasn’t really prepared to do that between now and the end of the year.  It sounded complicated, not to mention a ton of work.  Plus, I don’t know how to create a course.  I thought I could put them off and maybe they’d let it go.  But no, these people were relentless.

But, it turns out I do know how to create a course.  So now, I’m writing and creating a course called How to Hire a Rock Star Team.  And all the procrastination just about killed me.  I’ve been putting this off for about 3 weeks and giving every excuse known to man.  After realizing I wasn’t going to get out of creating this course and doing the work, I finally sat down … and started.  And … it really wasn’t that hard, once I started.  Damn.

Instead of creating excuses, all I had to do was sit down and develop a plan.  I outlined the parts of the course.  I wrote each section and created the supporting materials.  That’s right!  Supporting materials—this course is legit.  And now, this week I’m recording audio, because just reading some stuff would be much less effective than if an actual voice was narrating to you.  Err, telling you what to do.

There you have it … lots of exciting things happening with www.shesonthertoes.com.  Check out 5 Steps for Effective Interviews and be on the lookout for the course, How to Hire a Rock Star Team.

And speaking of procrastination … I finally got my home office together.  Well, almost.  I have a few finishing touches, but I’ll share some pics with you next week.  Don’t worry, it will be finished!

Until then, stay on your toes!

Your Excuses Are So Lame

When grappling with a big decision or making a significant life change, it’s amazing how easy it is to come up with excuses not to move forward.  After a while, the excuses multiply and build off of one another.  If you’ve reached this point, you’ve created such an intense fear of starting in your mind, there’s almost no way you’ll make the decision.  And you’re off the hook.  No risk of failing, because you haven’t even started!

We’ve all had these feelings of not wanting to fail, so we self-sabotage.  Similarly, if something is going to be hard, we start down the path of making excuses rather than just going after it.  You know, that new workout routine, eating better foods, mending or ending strained relationships, starting or quitting a new job—there are a million ways to make excuses and avoid being uncomfortable or the dreaded “f” word—failing.

But excuses are so lame.  I’ve been making a few for myself over the past few months about why I haven’t started moving forward on a new business idea that I have.  And I’ve reached the point where I’m getting disgusted with myself and my lack of decision.

I haven’t even been creative with my lame excuses sticking to the usual:

“I don’t have enough time.”

“What I want to do is going to be hard to get started.”

“I need more education/training/information/research before starting.”

So, I’m calling myself out for my bullsh*t, putting a plan together, and getting started.  Because if I really manage my time more efficiently, I will have more of it.  Sure, it will be hard getting started, but so are a lot of things that are worthwhile.  And, I don’t need more of anything—just less excuses.

What are you making excuses for in your life or business?  What can you do to move beyond self-doubt and get started?  Then get to work!

Piggy-backing on the excuse of not having enough time … there is no excuse to not be cooking healthy food in your own kitchen.  I’ve found 2 appliances that I use every day and I’ll share with you how I’m using them to prepare delicious, healthy meals even though I’m “too busy.”

Until then, stay on your toes!

Getting to the Other Side of Burnout

Have you ever experienced burnout in your job or running your business?  All of a sudden, things at work just aren’t fun anymore (and everyone annoys the sh*t out of you).  You are exhausted all the time yet somehow can’t get enough sleep.  You don’t want to do anything—except eat Chick-Fil-A.  And even the smallest problems seem too large to handle … yep.  Classic burnout signs.  And I had them all, especially the cravings for spicy chicken sandwiches and fries.

My burn out really snuck up on me.  Everything was great.  My business has been doing well.  My team was taking on new responsibilities and learning how to run my studios on a day-to-day basis.  I was writing all the time and my book was coming out.  All very exciting things, however, all very stressful at the same time.  See, giving increased responsibility to my team was great, but there’s a learning curve for them, which means stress for me.  And writing is something that I love to do, but with multiple posts each week, it was getting overwhelming.  I experienced lots of pressure to always be writing something amazing and insightful even when I wasn’t inspired at all.  Finally, as the book launch became nearer, I realized that people would actually have the opportunity to read it, and that freaked me out.  What if they didn’t like it?!  I hadn’t really thought about that … and now it was too late to literally stop the presses.  Thus, burn out ensued due to intense stress.

I’ve experienced burnout before as an employee, but how do you handle burnout when you’re the boss and everyone looks to you to set the tone in the workplace?  Crap, this is serious.  Since the tone of burnout is slathered in negativity, grumpiness, and exasperation, the best thing to do as a burnt out boss is simply not show up to work.  That’s right—get out of there so your employees have a fighting chance to not pick up on your negative, tormented state.  And so, I went out of town …

Luckily, I had already planned a trip to Vancouver, Canada, but it didn’t matter where, I just needed to get away for a chance to refocus and find the other side of my burn out.

While I was gone, it occurred to me that I was making all the “fun” things in my life “unfun” by putting too much pressure on myself.  I really enjoy being a manager of my team and see them come up with solutions to problems that arise in the business.  But there’s no reason to stress about it—they’re all pretty smart, they’ll figure it out.

I also enjoy writing, but posting 3 times a week is too much, so I’m going to cut back on posts, and will instead, focus on writing some other more exciting things (at least, I think they’re more exciting).  I’ve decided to start a She’s On Her Toes monthly newsletter with premium paid content—so stay tuned for that!  I’ll still post on the blog for free, but just once a week.  This will give me the opportunity to focus on writing amazing content without the grind of constantly posting and worrying that I’m not really saying anything important.

I’ll also be writing more for the studios with some new projects.  Next week, we’ll launch a new goal-setting tool that will allow clients to purchase a small workbook each month to inspire and help them set health and fitness goals.  I’m also developing a monthly meal plan that will be for purchase at the studios.  Each week will include recipes and a grocery list to make healthy eating simple and enjoyable.  Lots of exciting new things ahead!

I suppose I could have avoided burnout altogether by having more work-life balance.  But that’s lame!  Does work-life balance even exist for entrepreneurs?  Uh, no it does not.

When burn out strikes, it’s important to get out of your business to avoid your employees picking up on your sour mood.  Just get out of there.  Leave town.  Leave the country.  Spend some time thinking about what makes you happy about your business, why that’s changed, and then come up with some small solutions to get back to “fun.”  Get out of the grind and get back to what your next “big thing” will be.

Until then, stay on your toes!

Check out my new book, She’s On Her Toes: How I Started A Business, Expanded It, Almost Lost It, And Got Back On My Toes

When Things Seem Out of Your Control in Business

“It’s better to light a candle than curse the darkness.”  -Chinese Proverb

One of the most difficult things about being a business owner is accepting the fact that a lot of things impacting your business are completely out of your control.  Things like the weather, the economy, a catastrophic event, or overall trends in your industry can all have a huge impact on your business and there’s not a damn thing you can do about any of them.

I myself, experienced a period about a year ago when everything in my business seemed out of control (read about it here).  I’m not going to lie, it was an extremely scary time and at one point, I thought I would lose everything—as we all know, the exact opposite happened.  But as a business owner, how do you cope with that uncertainty?  When things seem out of your control in business, how can you remain calm to make sound decisions when all you’re thinking is, “I’m scared.”

I was in my studios working this weekend, and stopped to re-read an article that appeared in the local newspaper about 5 years ago featuring Pure Barre Winston-Salem.  I framed it; walk by it every day, but I haven’t read it since I hung it on the wall.  The article discussed the “new” trend of the importance of working out and how local residents were now placing value on health and fitness.  Now, in most places the subject of this article might not even be news-worthy.  But since Winston-Salem serves as the corporate headquarters for both RJ Reynolds (think Reynolds Tobacco) and Krispy Kreme doughnuts, a focus on fitness in the community seemed important to discuss.

The article listed several big box gyms and a few smaller boutique fitness studios in the area for readers to check out and start their new fitness journey.  Of the 10 listed, only 3 are still open … my business, the YMCA, and a Crossfit gym (owned by good friends of mine).  Wow.  The Y’s not going anywhere, so what special secret had my friends and I found to stay in business?  I can’t speak for my friends, but I guess I do have “secret” for coping with and managing things that are out of my control … I don’t worry about them.

Instead, I think about all the things that are within my control.  I focus my efforts working ONLY on those things that I can control.

Oh man, are you confused after reading that?  It really is that simple.

I can’t control the weather.  I can’t control the economy or the aftermath of the 2016 Election.  I can’t control if one of my employees sleeps in and doesn’t show up to teach.  I can’t control if someone sees how great my studios are and decides to open a competing business.  And I definitely can’t control if my clients would rather eat Krispy Kreme doughnuts instead of drinking green juice and eating vegan, non-dairy desserts.

But I CAN control how I REACT to all of these things.

I try not to get sidelined by problems.  Instead, I try to jump straight to thinking about their solutions.

Turning problems on their head and re-focusing your energy towards finding solutions takes some practice.  For most people—including me before I adopted this way of thinking—this also requires a total mental shift.  Why?  Because it’s easy to be negative and complain about all the things that go wrong in your business.  It’s a lot more difficult to take the time to find a solution, create a plan, and stay disciplined while executing that plan.

Does this mean I’m never frustrated with how things are going in my business?  Of course not.  In fact, I get frustrated and mad about my business all the time.  I have a rule.  I can only stay angry about something for one day.  After that, I have to move on and solve the problem or just let it go.  And if the first solution I come up with doesn’t work, then I try something else.  This is why I love working for myself—when you are constantly challenged to solve problems and find solutions, it’s pretty rewarding to add up all of your accomplishments.  The studios probably average about 1-2 problems each day we’re open, and after five years, that’s about 3,650 solutions found.  That’s a lot of accomplishments.  No wonder I feel like it’s time for a vacation!

If you find yourself stuck in the vicious circle of negative thinking because things just feel out of control in your business, take a step back and start to think about what you can control—your reaction to what’s going on around you.  Focus on improving yourself as a manager.  Focus on only working on what you can control and see what happens … You might just create some light in all that darkness.

Until then, stay on your toes!

Did you see my book’s on Amazon?  Check it out here:

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3 Ways to Get Unstuck in Business

It happens to the best of us.  Eventually you get to a point in your business where you’re just not sure what to do next.  You feel stuck.  Frustrated.  Unsure of your path or even your qualifications to be a boss to your employees.  And getting stuck can happen just when you least expect it.  You can be moving along thinking: “Everything in my business is awesome.  I’m so lucky to be doing this well.”  And then, BAM!  You’re stuck.  And you’re asking yourself, “How the heck did that happen?  I was just on top a few days ago.”  Below are my top 3 ways to get unstuck in business and jumpstart you and your team to get to that elusive next level.

Make Small Changes

If you do one thing for yourself as a business owner, buy a copy of Darren Hardy’s The Compound Effect.  Seriously, it’s like $10.20 on Amazon.  Use some Amex points.  This book literally changed my life.  My business coach, Mary Ann, gave me a copy to read before one of our first meetings.  Since reading the book, I cancelled my cable, started reading every day, enacted a strict budget both for my personal spending and business spending, and stopped going to Starbucks every day for coffee (I still drink coffee.  And sometimes go to Starbucks.  Seriously, that would be terrible to have to give up coffee.  But I learned how to make a latte at home—that tastes just like Starbucks.  Check out a previous post on how to make amazing coffee.  It’s really easy and I only had to spend $40 to get the right tools.)  Anyways, back to The Compound Effect…this book is all about making small changes that “compound” to effect bigger more amazing changes.  And it really works.  If you are in the fitness industry you can attest, like I can, that just making one change to work out on a regular basis leads to making other smarter choices about eating healthy food and drinking.  Then all of a sudden, you’ve lost weight and people are commenting about how good you look.  Anyways, get this book immediately, if not sooner.  Read it.  Implement just one suggestion—after all it’s called The Compound Effect.  See what happens—I bet you get unstuck.

Start Writing Lists

Making small changes inevitably leads to writing lists.  For instance, if your goal is to save money and you start by not spending money on lattes every day, you’ll eventually get to the point where you’ll start asking yourself, “How can I painlessly save money on other things I use on a daily basis?”  And … you’ll get a pen and some paper and hammer out some lists.  As an FYI, I realized after I made the coffee change that I could compound my savings by ordering the same brand of dog food online at www.chewy.com, switched to buying laundry detergent and gas at Costco, and started meal planning to avoid wasting or spoiling food.  Making those changes and a few others has literally saved me $1,000 a month—kind of incredible!  But writing lists is a great habit to get into because it shifts your mentality and turns you into someone who is always looking for the possibilities.  Once you start writing lists, your brain starts to shift into “how can I make this happen mode” instead of “oh, sorry, don’t have enough (time/money/etc.) mode.”  Still not convinced?  Check out this great blog post from James Altucher called How to Have Great Ideas.

Rearrange the Furniture

I mean this literally.  Anytime I feel stuck in my business, I know I need to shake things up to get a new perspective and the best way to do that is to move around the furniture in our retail area.  All of our fixtures are modular, so we’ll just move the desk to the other side of the room or move the clothing racks around in a new display formation.  This also shakes our clients up and forces them to see the studio in a different light.  Some of them get really freaked out about it—cue the evil laughter!  Because what’s the point of owning your own business if you can’t make a few people uncomfortable.  Just kidding.

Do you find yourself stuck in business?  Or are you struggling with how to solve an important problem?  Try making some small changes, start writing some lists, and rearrange your furniture to get a new perspective.  These things are so simple and easy to implement, they just might work!

Sorry this post is so late on Thursday evening.  I got back from spending some time at the beach and you know how it goes … went into the studios for what were supposed to be quick, easy tasks.  Somehow they turned into hours-long activities.  Tomorrow, I’ll have a more timely post sharing my favorite under-eye treatments—because it’s important to at least look well-rested even if you aren’t.

Until then, stay on your toes!

 

The Compound Effect, Darren Hardy

How to Have Great Ideas, James Altucher