Are You Looking for Work-Life Balance?

Yesterday I wrote about the myth of doing it all. People who appear to be doing it all are actually doing quite the opposite. (I’m one of those people.)

‘Balance’ is more about having peace with your life. And each person must have his own definition of peace.

creative commons license: freestockphotos.biz

What are the things that make you feel at peace? My list is short:

  • exercise
  • sleep
  • reading
  • coffee in the morning

And, the introvert in me, doesn’t want too many social commitments. (But – the outgoing part of me enjoys a good party from time to time.)

That’s it. Pretty simple.

Here’s one of the most meaningful things I’ve learned in life: I’m not missing out on anything. Everything that contributes to my peace is in my hands, within my control, and attainable.

It’s NOT about wanting what the neighbors have.
It’s NOT about seeing a competitor and wishing my website was as sparkly as theirs.
It’s NOT about wishing I hadn’t missed that party last night.
It’s NOT about wishing I was 20 lbs skinnier.
It’s NOT about wishing I had a better house/car/vacation.
It’s NOT about wanting… wanting is a waste of time… it’s a waste of my inner peace.

FOMO is real. But, I don’t play that.

Anyways… these last 2 days of posts from me haven’t been very business-y… but I want you to think about this:

what contributes to your peace? 

Live in that place. That is what will contribute to feeling balanced in your life.

I Don’t Do It All

It’s a little strange when people ask me: “How do you do it all?” I’m not sure whether to take this as a compliment on my social media skills. (“Gee – I must be doing a really good job at posting the glamorous side of life in Miami.”) OR, if I should take this as a serious question from a person who REALLY is trying to figure out the greatest mystery in life. (“How do I attain balance in my life?”) In either case, I’m not quite sure how to answer this question.

My thought is: if you are asking this question, then chances are you are doing much more than me.

Here’s the little secret about people who appear to be doing it all: they are NOT doing it all.

Here’s the things I know I’m REALLY good at:

  • I’m good at saying no.
  • I’m good at not hyper-scheduling myself (or my kids).
  • I’m good at prioritizing.
  • NOT DOING IT ALL <– I’m REALLY good at NOT doing it all. (And that is PRECISELY why you think I am good at doing it all.)

You see… the reason why I come off as someone who does it all is because I have a peaceful life. It is that peace that makes people think that I do it all. But, I have that peace in my life BECAUSE I don’t do it all.

Are you seeing where I’m going with this?

This post isn’t about how lovely and pretty and peaceful my life is. I’m not really into that sort of thing. I want you to try to see that this ‘balance’ thing… it’s NOT about doing it all… it’s about having peace… whatever that means to you.

I want to get real here because I think there is a very big misunderstanding about people who ‘do it all’. I’m going to illuminate my points with photos here to help you understand what’s really going on:

Last week, when I was at the park reading in the garden with my daughter at 3:30pm in the afternoon…

IMG_9870 Gorgeous, right?

Well – behind me was my 2.75 year old son, running around like a wild banshee, trying to kill all the butterflies… and we had to skedaddle before he ran into the street to get run-over by a car.

And – yes I have the luxury of picking up my daughter from school at 3pm or 4pm on some days. It doesn’t mean I get to only work 20 hours (tho I wish!) It just means that I get to pick which 40-50 hours I work. (And some times that’s at 11pm at night. Tho, I try not to make a habit of that.)

So what was life like after this beautiful 2 minutes in the park?

A mad dash home to do homework, stop the kids from fighting, bathe them, feed them, put them in bed 10 times, and resume working. Same ol’ same ol’. A lot of you do this.

So – what didn’t get done?

  • I didn’t put on makeup that day. (I probably didn’t do my hair.)
  • I didn’t get any exercise done.
  • I didn’t get enough sleep.
  • I didn’t pick up my contacts from the eye doctors (and kept reusing the dailies for several days.)
  • I didn’t make dinner. (Thank you to my husband for that.)
  • I didn’t dust the furniture or clean the kitchen floor.
  • I didn’t read the book I’m trying to get through.
  • I didn’t watch TV.
  • I didn’t blog.
  • I didn’t go to any networking events.
  • I didn’t hand-make Valentines with my kids.

On that note… the Valentines…

YIMG_0003esterday, I was off to speak at an ABC meeting here in South Florida… ta-da! the selfie!

This looks fun, right?

I’m going to speak at wedding industry meeting!

It’s sunny and warm in Florida!

YAY! I have makeup on!

Gonna go get my networking on!

Gonna go spread some business-planning-magic on everyone!

Alas… being gone from the house from 5:30-8:30, a lot did NOT get done:

  • I did not feed the kids.
  • I did not do all that bedtime stuff.
  • I did not finish the copy I was writing for our Sage Wedding Pros website update.
  • I did not send my client that contract yesterday.
  • I did not volunteer for the field trip.
  • I didn’t review homework.
  • I did not contribute anything to the school’s auction.
  • I did not make cupcakes for Lucas’s Valentine celebration at school.
  • I did not hand-make Valentines with either of my kids. (My husband went to the CVS at 7pm and assembled them from a kit himself.) PEOPLE! I was a stationery designer! This is crazy.

A lot did NOT get done.

Here’s another thing… I have a REALLY good support system. Many of you will not have a husband who will assemble Valentine cards for your 2 year old. PLEASE – for the love of all that is good – PLEASE do not have this expectation of your spouse. SUPPORT comes in all shapes, sizes, and directions. (It’s not fair to expect these things of our spouses.) Find ways he can support you and love him/her for that.

Some other ways that people support me in trying to ‘do it all’ with my kids… teachers! (god bless all the teachers everywhere!) My kids are in school from 8-3. My parents… but before they moved to Miami, it was babysitters. It’s after school activities that I don’t have to drive my kids to. It’s friends who will pick up my kid if I scheduled a meeting on the wrong day. It’s the teachers… did I mention that school is AWESOME!?!?!?! :)

That stuff about it taking a village… that’s no joke.

Support is SUPER-DUPER important… you HAVE to have a team of people who can help you. It can be a friend, a neighbor, an employee, a babysitter, a parent, a spouse. If you want to not do it all… you need to have support.

SO… my rules for the day…

  1. STOP doing it all.
  2. Get yourself some support!

I have a few more thoughts on peace, balance, and doing it all… tomorrow.

 

What Are Your ‘Good Habit Triggers’?

What are the triggers that result in good habits for you?

Here is something I’ve noticed (on a personal level)… when I take extra time at night to do all of the skin stuff: the exfoliating, the eye treatments, the creams, lotions, etcetera, I wake up feeling refreshed and I eat better and exercise. I have learned that there are little things that I do which result in triggering good behavior.

Image from Wikimedia Commons

Image from Wikimedia Commons

What about in a work scenario? What is it that creates a chain reaction of good work habits?

For me, it’s a clean and organized office. (I must admit: I am not currently sitting in a clean office. EEEK!) It’s creating a strong list of ‘open items‘ at the end of my day so that I’m ready to tackle them the following day. It is taking time to select which items I will work on that day and not getting my to-do list get out from under me.

Everyone has different triggers. Everyone has a different series of events that will lead to a chain reaction of positive behaviors. What are yours? Take some time to think about what makes you more efficient and effective in the work you do.

Industry Gossip – How to Deal with “Meanies”

Let’s talk about gossip.

UGH. I’m kinda bummed about having this conversation with you. No one likes gossip… and yet it happens in most markets in our industry. So, let’s just get it out there. Gossip sucks.

GossipSo – what do we do when you are the object of other people’s gossip? (Or – you think you are. You’re not quite sure… but it seems like people say bad things about you.) Maybe it’s because you’re new. Maybe it’s because you’re really good at what you do and people are envious. Maybe it’s because you do things different. Whatever the reason, it sure does SUCK to be at the other end of gossip.

I have 3 pieces of advice if you find yourself in this situation. (By the way, it’s the SAME advice I give my 7 year old when dealing with playground negotiations… the little girl that I want to be a strong confident person in this world faces the same challenges you face.)

Life is hard. But, we’ve got to plow through, instead of being victims of circumstances.

3 Pieces of Advice for Dealing with “Meanies”:

1.) Not everyone will like you.

OK – let’s be honest… do you like everyone you meet? I don’t. I’m just being honest here. I’m not a mean person. But, I don’t love everyone. I’m nice and respectful to EVERYONE. But not everyone is my friend. And, that’s a good thing. Friends are special to me.

If you look into your heart… you probably don’t like every single person you meet.

So – why do you expect everyone to like you? I know that’s a weird thing to say. We ALL want to be liked. BUT – really – why? It’s OK to not be liked. What matters is that the people that we like, like us back. More important: it’s important that the people we lovelove us back. Those people are usually outside of our work bubble. They are our family and friends.

So – who cares? A few people don’t like you. You’re spending too much time worrying about those who don’t like you. The fun in life is thinking about the people who DO like you – and that you like back.

2.) If it’s not true, then who cares.

If gossip and rumors are circulating… and what people are saying is untrue, then… who cares? Am I right or am I right? If it’s a lie, then why are we giving so much attention to it? Why does it matter? (I know – this is so much harder to live by.) I know that we worry about how affects our overall image. We don’t want those rumors to be out there because it tarnishes our reputation. That is REALLY HARD. But, it’s REALLY REALLY important to ignore it and move on. Otherwise, it will drain you, it will impact you… and your business will suffer on account of this consuming so much of your energy.

3.) You choose how you feel about something.

You can’t control what someone thinks or says about you. You CAN control how you react. You CAN control how you feel. How will you choose to feel about these things? You can choose misery. Or, you can choose to focus on something else. You can DECIDE to NOT let it get to you. That is a choice. No one can MAKE you feel anything that you don’t want to feel. YOU CHOOSE how you feel.

(They have to go to bed at night with an unhealthy conscience, by the way. NOT YOU.)

People…

I know this seems like oversimplified solutions to something that can be very painful. I really don’t want to downplay what you might go through when people are mean in your segment of the market or in your city/town. BUT – I also want you to see beyond it. This is how you start to grow, how you become more confident… how you focus on the bigger and better things.

What do you think? What is your advice for people who have to deal with negative gossip, or mean people?

Business Plan Case Study: Sugarcomb

We feel pretty strongly that a business plan can help you to define your business goals and give you a road-map for the future of your company. But, what makes a company that has used a business plan different from others? How has a business plan made the difference for that business?

Here’s a pretty cool stat: of the 15 business owners who attended the very first The Simple Plan workshop in Seattle 2009, 14 are still operating (and THRIVING at leaps and bounds!)

Kelsey Eads by James MoesWe recently talked with Kelsey Eads, owner of Sugarcomb. Kelsey was in her start-up phase when she joined us. I’m in awe of the strides she’s made in 4.5 years. We don’t see a lot of business owners in the wedding industry make it passed the 2 year mark, let alone accomplish what Kelsey has in the last several years since The Simple Plan.

Kelsey shares what business planning has helped her achieve…

Why did you decide a business plan was important/necessary?

I wanted to develop a strong business and hop out of hobby territory as quickly as possible. A business plan was the perfect way for me to focus my outlook from one structured point-of-view and direction. It makes such a positive difference when your business has a firm baseline to help you make decisions and growth from.

What were some of the biggest ‘A-HA’ realizations you had while working on the business plan?

For me, the biggest eye opener was learning to map out and forecast finances the right way. It’s an honest face-to-face with money, the short-fallings and potential, and I think it’s the point that really taught me how hard I’m going to need to work to make Sugarcomb the success I was aiming for. It’s a reality check that every business owner should experience.

How have you used the business plan to move your business forward?

Every year when I revisit Sugarcomb’s business plan I realize how much everything has evolved. It’s a great checkpoint to look back on and to help you refresh and feel growth as you make updates and dreams for the next year.

What are some of the biggest improvements you’ve made in your business?

I’m very independent, but over time as my business grew, I came to realize how ideal it would be to have someone to collaborate with and to have the flexibility to take on more projects. I wasn’t actively searching, but in the past year I met Tara, Sugarcomb’s new Planning and Design Lead, and working together was the perfect fit for where we were both at in our careers. It’s been a great learning experience for me to hand off responsibility and to balance what the business needs from the two of us now. For a Type-A like me, it was a scary step to take, but the growth, benefits and new potential have made me so happy with this new direction and the way that Sugarcomb can grow from its new normal.

Have you had measurable improvements?

It has taken time, but every year has brought increased revenue. In the beginning there was a lot of testing and guesswork that went into advertising avenues, pricing my services, and deciding what expenses were necessary to uphold the integrity of Sugarcomb, and which were not. It’s a balancing act, but the best way to figure out what is right for you and your unique business is experience and, when available, great advice. I’m constantly learning how to streamline finances; being diligent about keeping records and notes on what is working and what is not is a great thing to have by your side when you revisit your business plan every year.

Thanks Kelsey!

You can read more case studies here. Find our workshop schedule here.