Personal Brand: What’s In a Name?

Faking Balance by Lela Davidson

A few years ago I attended a large social media conference. As is my habit at these things, I crammed in as many sessions as possible on any topic that might make me better/faster/stronger. I wanted to learn everything I could about SEO, affiliate monetization, and MOST IMPORTANT: personal branding.

Because who are you, really, in this millennium, without a personal brand?

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3 Ingredients for Accomplishing Any Ridiculous Goal

I am conflicted about ridiculous goals. I believe in them, and I admire people who set them, but I admit to erring on the side of achievable goals. They make me feel better, especially when I cross them off my list. But ridiculous goals are definitely where the money is, where the excitement is, where the fun is.

I have some experience with ridiculous goals. How else could I have transitioned from Certified Public Accountant to best-selling author? (New York Times, I’ll get you yet.) How else could I lead a hyper-talented editorial team to create the #1 country music and lifestyle media property in the whole wide world? How else could I be the primary laundry caretaker for two teenagers, a husband, and a dog?

Ridiculous goals. That’s how.

Ridiculous or practical, the mechanics of accomplishing any goal are the same. And they are not complicated. If you can follow a recipe, you can achieve your goals. You would have to be living under a rock for the last 30 years to have missed the over-abundance of literature (do we call it literature?) on the subject of setting and achieving goals. It’s simple: Set a date, break big dreams into small steps, take action, measure, repeat.

It’s the take action part that most people miss, but that’s another topic for another day.

But before you make the list (or spreadsheet), before you have dates in the calendar, you need some basic ingredients. There are only three: Vision, Skills, and Network.

Those working together will get absolutely anything done.

Vision

This one is tricky, and there are two pieces. First, what do you really want? What is the end goal? Second, and I think more important, is the vision we have of ourselves. Are you the person who will accomplish this particular big thing? Are you the person who will rise above the challenges and circumstances? Are you the person who will persevere when the shit gets tough?

Skills

Let’s assume you know what you want and you’ve convinced yourself you’re the one to do it. Despite your fancy spreadsheets (or humble lists), your committed intention, and your dutiful action, if you do not possess the skills to accomplish your goal, you won’t get very far. Invest in your skills, Invest in understanding what skills are require to get a particular thing done, and then invest in acquiring them. Whether or not you achieve your goal, the skills you build in the process are yours to keep. Warren Buffet famously counsels that this is the best investment anyone can make:

Generally speaking, investing in yourself is the best thing you can do. Anything that improves your own talents; nobody can tax it or take it away from you. They can run up huge deficits and the dollar can become worth far less. You can have all kinds of things happen. But if you’ve got talent yourself, and you’ve maximized your talent, you’ve got a tremendous asset that can return ten-fold.

 

Network

Never underestimate the power of groups, and never give up just because you don’t have the right network, YET. Some of us are born into certain networks, or we acquire them by school, work, or social association. Most of us have to artfully assemble the right people to help us reach our goals.

This year I encouraged my daughter to participate in local year-long fundraising program for a national charity. I wanted her to participate in the program so she would learn to combine the three key ingredients: Vision, Skills, and Network.

I wanted her to see herself as the kind of person who commits and follows through, who steps out into a challenge, an uncomfortable task, an unknown situation, with grace and confidence.

I wanted her to develop the planning and scheduling skills she would need to complete the programs. But mostly, I wanted her to learn how to ask for money, because as I see it, that’s an incredibly valuable skill.

I wanted my daughter to nurture a network with the other girls from different schools and towns.

I’m pretty sure she’s just in it for the dress she will wear to the ball at the end.

That’s okay. A girl’s got to have a goal.


I’d love to visit your group!

Lela Davidson speaking

Need a fun program for the coming year? Invite me to speak! I love to speak to groups of women and will leave your members feeling appreciated and inspired. I have several programs available or I can tailor one to fit your specific needs.

How a Capsule Wardrobe Fights Decision Fatigue to Help You Kick Ass All Day

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A few years ago, before the Big Job and the kids’ college applications and the Faking Balance in turbo mode, I used to get up very early on Monday mornings with these ladies to talk about all things mommy-related on the local news. Getting dressed for regular life is a challenge for me; getting dressed for TV was practically paralyzing. Fortunately, once we started appearing together, my partners started picking out my clothes. Because I am wardrobe challenged, letting Kim and Loria put my looks together made the most sense. And while I have no doubt the three of us will work together again one day, and I might even charm them into being my personal stylists once again, for now I have to get my self dressed. Every single day. Seriously.

When I stumbled upon the capsule wardrobe last winter, I was so excited because I LOVE a system and this seemed like an ideal way for me to decrease the morning anxiety of getting dressed that could really work for me. I know this all might sound a little silly, because how hard is it really to get dressed in the morning? Very, for some of us. And if you’ve ever had more than five shirts on before you left the house, you might need a capsule wardrobe too. Because clothes are extremely important, and having to make decisions about them each and every day is a colossal expenditure of mental energy that could be better utilized elsewhere.Steve Jobs employed the ultimate capsule wardrobe, and it enabled him to be more creative. A lot of other extremely successful people to the same thing. There are only 37 pieces (give or take) in my capsule wardrobe and they all work together like Garanimals for grown ups. Genius. Because there’s nothing that burns my mental resources quite like getting dressed in the morning. Most days it’s all I can do to get out of the house in something that doesn’t bring up feelings of being the awkward 4th grader in bell bottom jeans and a cowl neck sweater.

I had no idea when the amazing Kyran Pittman introduced me to the concept of the capsule wardrobe, that I was actually taking my first baby steps into learning about decision fatigue, which is an actual thing that smart people study. If you think, like I did, that the only decisions that tax your brain are important ones, you are wrong. So, so wrong. Basically your brain is only able to make so many decisions in a day. Once you’ve hit your quota, your decision making capability is diminished. So you could start making poor decisions, or just start to use way too much energy for simple decisions. And again, we’re talking ALL kinds of decisions, not just the really important ones, like a which color to put on your nails. So, on a daily basis, decisions are basically a finite resource–got it. Now, to make it even more interesting, consider that making decisions uses the same brain juice as willpower, which makes sense because choosing the boiled egg over the Krispy Kreme is just another decision.

By making it easier on myself to put together an outfit every day, I can improve my health because I have more decision making juice at lunch time to select a salad over a chimichanga; I can improve my business because I have more juice for choosing the right things to work on given the infinite nature of my to-do list; I can improve my relationships by choosing better timing to talk about important things, and make better decisions about which household chores to remind my family to do in a given day.

When I think about what a valuable resource each decision is, how it can affect the rest of my day, it makes me want to really learn how to limit them. What other decisions can I avoid at home, at work, with my kids? What decisions am I making that would be better made by someone else? Where am I micro-managing and therefore limiting my growth? What else can I put on auto-pilot?

And how can I look as cute as when I had two personal stylists?

Got systems? Teach me! I’m a nerd for systems. Let’s get smarter together.

What mundane decisions have you eliminated from your daily routine?


I LOVE to Talk

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Is your group in need of an energetic, dynamic speaker who tells the truth about media, marketing, and work life balance? Book me to entertain, inspire, and educate your group. If you’re thinking you might like to get on my calendar, let’s talk soon!

 

 

Image: Sweet Portrayal

The Power of Boundaries: 3 [and Only 3] Big Things

Power of Boundaries

It’s only September, but in my planner December is practically over. I’m looking forward to living through the next four months. They will pass far too quickly for all I have planned. Fortunately, I had the good sense last December to clarify my focus for the year. I decided then that I would embark on 3 and only 3 big projects this year. That is, 3 and only 3 big personal projects. At work, I have more big projects in process on a typical Tuesday than I have completed in my entire life thus far. The dynamic environment has taught me to think bigger, for sure, but more on that another day. This post is all about the power of boundaries and their unique effect on getting more done, and feeling better doing it.

Tucked into my cozy couch on a crisp day last fall I decided on my Big 3 Things.

  • I would throw a party for my husband who turned 50.
  • I would keep my son, who is a senior this year, on track to for college application season.
  • And I would launch a book.

That seemed like plenty.

And it is.

With a lot of help from friends and family, the party turned out to be a lovely affair, complete with a fancy cake, vintage photos, and a bunting. I would show you a picture, but I forgot to add “transfer images from camera to cloud” to my list. So, I guess I can’t actually consider that project complete quite yet.

My son is, as I type this, reading a letter to his father for proofing that he wrote to his Spanish teacher, IN SPANISH, requesting a letter of recommendation. I think he’s on the right path. I feel that 8 solid months of reminders have helped put him in the college application mindset. However, this project is far from complete, and will actually carry over into 2016.

Finally, the book launch. It’s peaking now. Officially, we launch on 9/15, but the online switch flipped on at the beginning of the month. I’ve already completed the first two speaking engagements of the season, and I’m getting requests for more fall dates than I can manager. There are a dozens of essentials that absolutely must happen. The list of things I could be doing to promote the book is longer than I care to think about.

But I don’t feel overwhelmed. I haven’t felt overwhelmed all year. And I’ve probably accomplished more this year–personally, professionally, entrepreneurially–than I have in a very long time. Something about the boundary of knowing that in my after-work hours I had 3 projects and only 3 projects to complete for the whole year served two purposes. First, it kept me focused. I mean, for the most part. Starting new projects is okay, right? So long as I’m not committed to completing them? Sometimes you just have to start something new even if you know good and well you have no business starting that project because there’s no way in hell you can get it done. But screw it, starting things is fun and sometimes you just need to play.

But for the most part, 2015 has been a year of extreme focus.

The second thing the 3 and only 3 limit provided was comfort. Whenever I started to feel overwhelmed (hello, matching napkins) I remembered that I was working on a big project, and that it had an end, and that I had only committed to 3 of them for the WHOLE YEAR. That made me feel better every single time.

I’ve known for a long time that constraints facilitate my creativity. This girl can’t put together so much as a playlist without a goal, a spreadsheet, and a deadline. But I’ve been surprised at how much peace and productivity resulted from such a simple discipline.

Simplify. Say no. It’ll help you feel better and get more done. Also, it makes road trips more fun.

Except when you start thinking about the next 12 months being full of lasts before your BABY goes to college. Because then you’ll just freak out. And that’s not productive or peaceful. But it happens, and when it does, just practice #FakingBalance


Books Make Great Gifts!

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Lela Davidson’s award-winning, best-selling essay collections. Short reads for busy moms who smile and smirk. Available in paperback and ebook on Amazon,
NookiTunes and other places books are sold.

Working Mom Life: Don’t Worry, Be Happy, Say No

Working Mom Life is an interview series featuring real working mothers who are figuring out how to get the job done. Because there are more ways to be a working mom than there are ways to fold a cloth diaper, we can all learn from each other. Join the conversation #WorkingMomLife.

Working Mom Life - Amy Bradley-Hole and Family

Amy Bradley-Hole is a force of nature. I know because I’ve been in a room with her. Her energy and ideas seem to be never-ending. She’s got two young sons and a resume full of stops and starts and start-overs. I really relate to her squiggly career path, and so admire her tenacity and her ability to lead with her talents and let everything else fall away. I know you’ll enjoy getting to know Amy, but if you’d rather fake it, here are 3 takeaways you can use right now:

  • Remember that fathers are fully capable of running households.
  • Ask for help, and accept help.
  • Become brilliant at saying no.

LD: Going back to work is different for every mom. How did you do it?

AB: I worked up until about the 6th month of my first pregnancy. At that time, my husband’s job had us relocate from Reno down to the Vegas area. As much as I would have liked to have gotten a job when we moved, no one was going to hire a visibly pregnant woman! So I enjoyed the rest of my pregnancy, and stayed home with my first son for the first 18 months of his life. When we relocated to Florida, I found a great daycare and went back to work on a part time basis. I carried on with the part time work after my second son was born. THEN we moved to Arkansas. I was eager to earn more money, so I went back to work full time for a few years.

LD: You’ve worked for yourself for a while now, first as a freelance writer/editor/publicist and now as founder of Bonta Toscana food company. Why did you decide to go out on your own?

AB: I enjoyed the income of working full time for someone else, but the stress was terrible. I hated missing my kids’ activities or school programs, and I hated that they were in after school care every evening and all summer long.Trying to juggle everyone’s schedules got more difficult the older they got. So I quit working for other people, and started working for myself. I work a ton of hours now, but I can at least set my own schedule, and that’s what matters most. My boys are 10 and 8 now, so we’re pretty busy, but they’re also more capable of doing things for themselves, so that saves me time.

LD: Every successful working mom I know has a few tricks that keep her sane and keep her family fed and out of jail. What are yours?

AB: We are creatures of habit, and are very routine-oriented. I have been like that since the day my first son was born. Our morning routine, our after school routine, our evening routine — they’re very ritualistic, even when we throw things like sports practices or special events into the mix. I’ve found that the more we can keep a steady routine, the calmer everyone is. Everyone knows what to expect.

I couldn’t live without the Cozi Family app and website. It’s where I keep everyone’s schedule, and grocery lists, and notes to each other, etc. It’s always at my fingertips whenever I need to update anyone’s calendar, and it makes it easy for me to send messages to my husband about schedule changes.

LD: That’s a great resource, and speaking of your husband, would you say he’s an equal partner on the domestic front?

AB: We’re pretty much fifty-fifty, but honestly, we don’t even think about who does what. We both just chip in and do whatever needs to be done. Whoever is available, whoever has the free time, whoever will be close to the store — that’s who does the chore. We’ve hardly ever had a conversation about doling out duties. And when one or the other of us has to travel, the other just steps in and makes it work. I’ve never been one of those wives who has to make meals, lay out clothes, or arrange for sitters for a week before going out of town. I would lose my mind. My husband is fully capable of running our household beautifully in my absence.

LD: I have been that wife and it’s part of the reason I did lose my mind a little when the kids were young. I think it was part of my mommy guilt, which I believe is an inevitable part of motherhood. What’s been your experience?

AB: I really struggled when I was working full time during the summers. The kids would get invited to go swimming, or got to a movie, or go grab pizza for lunch with a friend, and I had to say no, because they were at daycare or day camps, and the logistics were too difficult for me to make it happen. They used to literally cry because all their friends got a summer vacation, but they went to school all summer (their care programs were at their school). I couldn’t accept that, so I overcame it by quitting full time work. (Paying a nanny or sitter to stay with them every day and drive them places was too expensive.)

LD: What is the best advice you have received about thriving in the #WorkingMomLife?

Your kids won’t remember the stressful times or the bad times as much as you do. They’ll just remember the good stuff. So don’t worry too much about those rough periods. It won’t do lasting damage.

LD: Any terrible advice you’d like to forget?

I’m not the kind of person who gets mad at unsolicited or bad advice. I truly think there’s something helpful to be gleaned from all advice. That said, I remember being told that the income I was making when I was working full time would make the stress and the time spent away from my kids worth it. It wasn’t necessarily bad advice, but it simply wasn’t true for me.

LD: What would you like to tell new moms who plan to work, or moms headed back to work?

Ask for help. Always. Don’t be afraid to tell people you need assistance. And if anyone ever offers help, take it! Whether it’s your mother-in-law offering to clean your house and do laundry after you’ve had a baby, or a friend offering to take your kids for the afternoon, or your husband offering to cook supper, say yes. This was difficult for me at first, because I’m a control freak. I like things done MY way, and I’d rather just do something myself rather than have someone else try but screw it up. I’ve learned to let a lot of that go. The stress of having too much on your plate is worse than the stress of someone else doing things differently than you’d like them done.

Also, have an in-case-of-emergency friend. I have one friend I know I can call on no matter what. If I’m running late and can’t get the kids from school in time, she’ll pick them up. If I need a last minute babysitter at midnight on a Wednesday night, she’ll do it. I’m her ICE friend, too, so I can always return the favor. Knowing that you have a safety net is a wonderful feeling.

LD: Running your own business takes a special set of skills. So does motherhood. I believe you can acquire and hone those skills over time, but stamina can’t be learned. What’s your secret?

Not giving a f*@$. I don’t care what the latest parenting trends are. I don’t care about how other families do it. I don’t care about SAHM/WOHM/WAHM competitions. I don’t compare myself to other moms. I just do what works for us, and that’s that.

Also, I’m brilliant at saying no. I don’t volunteer too much of my time, I don’t sign up for stuff, I don’t take on commitments I can’t handle. And I don’t feel one bit guilty for saying no, either.

That’s the perfect place to end, because we all could be better at saying no– to the wrong things– so that we have more time to say yes to the right ones. Thank you, Amy Bradley-Hole!
Learn about more working moms’ lives here:

 

Got Books?

Lela Davidson’s award-winning, best-selling essay collections. Short reads for busy moms who smile and smirk. Available on AmazonNookiTunes and every other place books are sold. But probably not at your neighbor’s garage sale.

 

How To Handle Change in 3 Easy Steps

Handling change is a critical skill for anyone. If you’re alive, you’re handling change all the time. But some life circumstances throw change at us faster than others. How we deal with it can be the difference between freaking out and settling in.

When I returned to the world of those who work with other humans in close quarters toward common goals I resumed the practice of some skills and started cultivating others in new ways. In addition to attending meetings and being held accountable for revenue and expenses, I now have the privilege of helping several people grow careers that are fulfilling and meaningful. One of the strong women I work with recently asked me, within the context of her performance and our team’s changing focus, “How have you dealt with all the changes?”

We work in an extremely fast-paced web-based environment, where technology and market forces can conspire overnight to change fundamentals in our business. And we have a company culture of moving with the changes. It’s what we do. But my colleagues question caught me off guard. I can’t remember what I said at the time, and I wasn’t satisfied with my answer. I’ve been thinking about the question all week. How do I deal with change?

The truth is I have no idea, because I don’t know any other way but change.

Step 1: Freak Out

During a two month period in 2013 I went back to work full time, my husband changed jobs after 13 years at the same company, my daughter switched from her big public school to a small charter, and we moved to a new house (before selling the old house). It was all very exciting and terrifying. But it was also just the way of my world.

My first job out of college was in consulting. Nothing static about switching projects, managers, and clients every 6-12 weeks. Then I had two babies and mommy-tracked over to the tax department. Big city tax work was very dynamic. Not so much at a regional firm. So I left. Because I craved change. Next came years of freelance writing, editing, publishing, speaking, content strategy and social marketing consulting. Never the same day twice.

Still, all those changes a couple of years ago had me spinning. I didn’t handle it all very well. I got overwhelmed. I cried. I felt sorry for myself. My husband tells me this is all a very normal part of something called the J Curve. I called it freaking out.

Step 2: Relax and make a [new] plan 

I’ve been obsessed with the question of how to deal with change because I’m a sucker for systems. I LOVE my routines. It’s Sunday as I write this. I’ve stocked the refrigerator and pantry. I know more or less what our family will eat for dinner every day this week. I have 5 outfits hanging in my closet that I don’t have to think about (thank you, capsule wardrobe), and I’ve walked my dog and hit my yoga mat today because it’s part of my routine. I live by these routines. But I also live to change them. (That’s a huge part of my love for Arkansas, by the way, the fact that there are distinct seasons here, natural delineations for changes in routine.)

The only thing I love more than a routine is a new routine. The only thing better than a great spreadsheet is a new great spreadsheet.But for me, when things are in flux, my need for order asserts itself. No sooner has change descended than I have a 7-point plan. And maybe a flowchart. The new plan might not work for long, but that’s okay, because we’ll need a new one soon anyway.

Step 3: Let go and repeat

Here’s the trick: Make the plans. Map the process, but don’t get too attached. Because you know what they say about our puny human plans. God thinks they’re funny. Embrace routines. Court stability. Of course. But when change comes along, take a deep breath– and make a new spreadsheet.

So, how do you manage change? 


 

Got Books?Screen shot 2015-08-16 at 9.09.26 PM

Lela Davidson’s award-winning, best-selling essay collections. Short reads for busy moms who smile and smirk. Available on AmazonNookiTunes and every other place books are sold. But probably not at your neighbor’s garage sale.

 

3 Things You Must Discuss with a Web Designer

web design

I’m a bit of a hacker. I like to play around in my WordPress site. Sometimes I even alter the HTML. I know, radical. But I’m not a designer. I pay people to do that, and I expect they are going to do things in such a way that makes my life easier. What I have learned this year: You win some, you lose some.

Several years ago I found a designer online who built me two websites on a theme he had designed himself. I was able the hack the hell out of that thing over the years and make it do exactly what I wanted it to do. Almost. When it was time for an overhaul, and some “prettification” I contacted him. To my horror he was out of the design biz.

No worries. I opened my big mouth and soon had several designers pitching me their services. I opted for the one who made my decision easiest, assuming that kind of proactive strategy would transfer over to the actual design of my site. I ignored the one who wanted to talk through my objectives, desires, and needs for the website. Mistake number one.

When the design started trickling in, it was prettier than what I had had before. I was prematurely delighted. When it was finished I didn’t ask too many questions because I didn’t have the time to immediately do a thorough testing of my site’s new and improved functionalities. (Besides, that’s what designers are for, right?) Mistake number two.

There were many other mistakes along the way and I am still learning. So far, here are the three most important things I’ve found that need to be discussed with a designer on the front end.

Customization of your website

There are a gazillion ready made and easily customizable themes for WordPress, and I’m only addressing WordPress here because that’s all I know. But web designers like to customize things. And if you really want it the way you want it, you can’t just use a theme off the shelf. But customization adds cost, and more importantly, can cause problesm when it comes time to “update” your theme. Special features that are hard coded into your theme by designers creates a mess when you update and lose that code. And you must update to keep your site secure. Make sure you and your designer are clear on the tradeoffs between having something exactly the way you want and having something almost the way you want, while keeping things simple. Another problem with customization: Stripping out powerful functionality that was embedded in the original theme. Which brings us to our next critical discussion point.

Responsiveness on all screens

We live in a world of screens. All different kinds. Big, small, mobile. You want your website to look good on all those screens. You, as a layperson assume that the web designer knows this and designs accordingly. You silly, silly you. Not that most designers don’t know this, but you cannot assume anything. Most popular themes are built to be responsive so it’s actually kind of hard to screw this up. (See customization above.) Make sure you say the words to your designer, out loud: “This site must be responsive.” And make sure your agreed upon fee includes testing your completed site on multiple screens.

Design aesthetic and branding

Techies are not necessarily arty, and artsy folks are not necessarily tech wizards. Couple of issues here. First, you may be working with an outfit who understands this and so outsources the different parts of your website design (the graphic design vs. the tech design) to different subcontractors. This might work well if everyone is on the same page, or it may be an unholy cluster of maddening emails and half-assed work product. Or, you may be working with either a highly technical person or a highly visual person who thinks that the tech or the art is all that is important. Not true. They have to work together. Do not expect a good tech person to also have a great visual aesthetic. Sure, they’re out there, but if you are a small business you probably can’t afford them. My best advice in this area is to get some help with branding assets (logos, headshots, fonts, colors) before you contract with a web designer. That way you have something to give the designer in terms of look and feel you are going for.

I love WordPress. I love Go Daddy. I love my Mac. These tools empower me to take control of a huge part of my marketing. I realize that not everyone has the patience (or stupidity) to mess around in the HTML like I do sometimes. My recommendation? Keep things as simple as possible, as close to “off the shelf” as you can. Talk to your designer. Never assume they know what they are doing.

And change your passwords. Always, every time, after you’ve had work done, change those passwords.

What can you add to the discussion? We are all learning and would love to hear your advice for working with website designers!

Photo Credit: SiSter PhotograPher via Compfight cc

40 Days of Yoga and the Big Lie About Habits

40 days yoga

In February I finally committed to and completed 40 days in a row of yoga, Baron Baptiste flow style. I had wanted to do this for a long time for a lot of reasons.

I wanted a more consistent home yoga practice, because $15 a class is a bargain, but it adds up. Plus that pesky to and fro to the lovely studio is not always schedule-friendly.

I also wanted to work on my form. You know, go deep into my practice, whatever that means.

And then there’s the fact that I had a trip to Cancun looming and I wanted to feel confident in a bikini.

So there we were in February. Too cold to walk outside. Too soon after Christmas to justify an unlimited pass at the studio. And a friend had recently helped me reorganize and decorate my home office, with plenty of space for the mat. This was my moment, my Lentish intention to a daily yoga practice was born with a flourish of orange chalk on my brand new 6×8 foot chalkboard.

With the help of several free yoga podcasts, I started.

I knew for sure that once I completed the 40 days, a mat habit for life would be mine.  Forever after I would not have to ponder how to stay in shape or calm my nerves or focus my mind. Never again would I fight myself to get onto that mat. I would simply submit to the power of habit, letting my body follow the neural paths created during those 40 days of habit forming Hell. I mean, delightful discipline.

Because you know the drill. It takes 30 days or 40 days or 60 days to create a habit that sticks. I am a sucker for a formula. Any formula. And I have believed every single person who told me that this one would work. The only thing holding me back were those 40 days.

That’s science, right?

Wrong. It’s bullshit. Nothing sticks. At least, not the good stuff. Negative habits are easier to adopt. But for the positive things we all ought to do more of, there is no magic, no easy out, no get rich quick. You have to choose over and over. That’s what I know for sure now. This knowledge is valuable, but it still sort of sucks.

I felt amazing during the 40 days. I was strong, slept well, worked better, and looked okay in a bikini. (I’m a 43 years old mother of two, short, and not anorexic. Okay is about six levels up from bikini confidence than I can reasonably expect.) But as soon as it was over, it was over.

You can see in the image the weeks’ of hash marks and the smiley faces I gave myself when I’d completed one. (You can also see the X’s where I skipped a day, and my daughter’s note of “shame.” We need to work on that.) I felt so good on Day 40 that I KNEW this was a regular thing now. I started a new row of hash marks above the original tracking.

There are 8 marks.

Those 8 days were not consecutive.

Habit FAIL.

I’ve been meaning to write about this for a long time. But I’ve been distracted (I wonder why) and more importantly, I was not sure what I had learned. Now I know.

40 Days of Yoga Taught Me:

  • 6 weeks is not as long as you think.
  • Nothing is off limits, even twists, even when you have a trick rib.
  • A lot of dust and dog hair accumulates under my computer armoire.
  • Even things that feel great won’t ever be automatic.
  • Transformation can happen 20 minutes at a time.

Also, looking at that chalkboard-worthy accomplishment/failure isn’t doing me any favors. It’s time to erase it and move on to a new ambitious goal. Stay tuned. You never know what’s going to hit my chalkboard next.

Have you committed to a big goal lately? How’d that work out for you?

How to Be Annoying In a Good Way

Want to get found online? Be annoying. In a good way.

While you never want to annoy your audience, to be an effective marketer you must get comfortable with annoying yourself. People do not pay attention to all your cute marketing messages and pleas to buy my book already! (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) Everyone is living their own lives. And all of our lives are busier than ever. So, just because you posted something thirty-six times on Facebook doesn’t mean anybody saw it. True story. Post it again. Be repetitive. I know. It hurt sometimes. But here’s the deal, nobody cares about what you make or do or sell.

So you wrote something, or made something, or provide a kickass service. Good for you. Now, who’s going to find out about it? If you have a small business of any kind you are probably your own marketer. And there is only one of you. Here are my top three tips for being annoying consistent in your messaging online.

Repeat Yourself

Awful as it may sound, you must get comfortable repeating yourself because chances are no one heard you the first time, the second time, the sixth time.

Get Over Yourself

Focus on how you serve your audience or your customers. You are not saying the same thing over and over. You are telling the story of what you do/sell/provide in different ways at different times in order to provide consistently relevant information for your topic or niche.

Get Search Engine Savvy

When you understand how search engines work you can put your messaging on auto-pilot. While you are actively engaging your audience or customer base, previously created content is out there working for you. The magic of search engines deliver potential sales to you while you are busy doing something else.

And you know what? Search engines are not magic.

 

Photo Credit: Neal. via Compfight cc