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The Struggle Between Who You Were And Who You Want to Be

When you finally make the decision to bet on yourself and start taking steps toward your goals, it feels amazing.

Obstacles that once seemed insurmountable become action steps on your journey to transformation. 

Your days are fueled by excitement and an overwhelming sense of commitment and determination. 

You feel unstoppable.

After the initial euphoria wears off, though, you’ll get to the section of your task list that requires going deep outside your comfort zone. 

Less amazing thoughts will begin to emerge. These thoughts are unsettling and, unfortunately, familiar. You’ll start to feel the pull of resistance.

And you may want to retreat.

This is when the real work begins.

Because when your new you starts to falter, the old you will jump in and try to pull you back to safety–back to the land of comfort and no resistance.

The very place you gave everything you had to battle your way out.

The old you will try to tell you all the reasons why you shouldn’t do what you’re doing, or why things won’t work out.

The scary part is everything will sound logical and completely true. 

You will start to believe retreating is the responsible thing to do. You will start to think that what you wanted was just a pipe dream. You’re almost relieved you didn’t let yourself go too far.

My friends, this is the moment of reckoning.

If I sound melodramatic it’s because I’ve seen this moment a million times. I know how it plays out.

You begin to think big goals and dreams are for other people, not you. 

You start to question yourself and second guess your abilities. 

You realize maybe you were too hasty in your decision-making.

And so you ball up your dreams and put them back in the deepest recess of your mind. 

You retreat.

Fast forward five years.

You wonder what happened to the time. 

You wonder again what you were meant to do with your life.

And you secretly wonder how different things would be if you had just stuck it out five years before.

This is the work I’m doing in my own life now.

Recently I transitioned my business from freelance writing to offering accountability services for people who procrastinate and hold themselves back from taking life-changing action.

I’m at the moment of reckoning in my own life, only this time I recognize it.

And for the first time, my purpose is greater than my fear. 

The desire for the new me and how she can serve others in the world is far stronger than the old me and her life of perceived safety and comfort.

Maybe you’re at the reckoning point, too.

How do we move forward?

For me, it’s thanking my battle-scarred old self for everything it went through to get me this far.

It’s loving that person with kindness, compassion and gratitude for the strength it took to get me to this point.

We no longer need to retreat back to our old selves because we recognize this moment is what they’ve been preparing us for.

Once we can see that, we can give ourselves permission to keep moving forward, and to finally step into our new identities.

Are you at the reckoning point? 

What do you do to move forward and not let yourself retreat? 

I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

(For more reading about letting go of the past to make room for your future, you may be interested in this poem: “Passing the Torch and Letting Go“)

Instead of Quitting, Hire a Virtual Accountability Partner

 

Have you ever wished for an accountability partner? Someone with your best interests at heart and who would hold you accountable to your goals and dreams?

That’s why I recently launched my virtual accountability business –to help bridge the gap from knowing what you need to do to actually doing it. 

I made the decision to help people through this time because I know the pain and frustration of having big goals and dreams but being too paralyzed with fear to pursue them.

Most people often just need help starting, or getting over temporary obstacles until they have the momentum to move forward. 

Tragically, though, most people quit when these obstacles arise and never give themselves a chance to find out what could’ve been.

That’s where I come in.

I offer one-on-one accountability sessions over the phone for people who need to accomplish some quick wins to get out of their heads and start taking substantive action toward their goals.

If this sounds like you, click on the link below to schedule a free 15 minute phone consultation. 

Whether you want to improve your fitness, declutter your home, or stay on track with your business goals, I’d love to help you through this time and see you succeed.

Daily Thought Download & Self-Coaching

Last Friday I pulled the trigger and did something I’ve been wanting to do for months: I joined Natalie Bacon’s Grow You monthly personal development membership program. 

I’ve written about Natalie Bacon several times before on my blog (herehere and here). For those who aren’t familiar with her, Natalie is a former attorney / certified financial planner turned life coach. She’s the host of the wildly successful weekly podcast, Design Your Dream Life. She was trained by world-renown master life coach instructor, Brooke Castillo of The Life Coach School (host of her own uber successful podcast, The Life Coach School Podcast). I’ve written about Brooke Castillo several times on this blog as well: herehere and here.

The following is how Natalie describes Grow You on her website:

Just like a monthly gym membership to get your body in shape, this is a monthly personal development membership to get your mind in shape.

This is life coaching for high achieving women who want to:

1. Master their mindset and rewire their brain.

2. Achieve impossible goals and live a life of purpose.

3. Make and have more money while working less.

I’ve listened to Natalie’s podcast for some time and absolutely love it. Like a Must See TV weekly line up, I have 5 or 6 podcasts I tune in to every week, and Natalie’s is one I take care never to miss. So when she announced in the spring she was starting a group coaching program, I was super excited. 

The membership program launched in May, but I held off joining because I had a lot going on over the summer in my personal life. Plus, I wasn’t sure I could afford it.

When I finally looked up the cost, I was floored to learn the monthly fee was only $49/month. That’s still no chump change for me, but it’s still far lower than other group life coaching programs I’ve looked into.  And when you consider Natalie was certified through The Life Coach School and trained directly by Brooke Castillo, the fee is a no-brainer. 

I feel like I’m getting into something amazing on the ground floor.

I’m at the point in my journey where I keep repeating destructive habits, despite being completely aware of them. That is the very definition of insanity, yes? Doing the same thing but expecting different results? By this definition, I feel insane often.

I know as humans we have the capacity to rewire our minds: to break old habits by thinking new thoughts and creating new neural pathways to create new results. 

This is why I joined Grow You. It’s been less than a week and I’m more convinced than ever I made the right decision. 

I’m excited to do the hard work.

I’m excited to learn more about how our minds work, and how I can use what I learn to give my own mind what it needs to grow and flourish. 

I know that doing this work will be so worth it. 

My future self one year from now will thank me for joining.

One of the first concepts I learned is the importance of mental hygiene.

Natalie likens this to taking a shower: Just like you take showers regularly to clean up your body, you should review your thoughts regularly to clean up your mind.

One way to clear your mind is to do a Thought Download. A Thought Download is simply getting all of your squirrelly thoughts out of your head and onto paper so you can see what’s going on. Since your thoughts create your reality, you want to be aware of what you’re thinking. 

The next step is to look at your thoughts with kindness, compassion and curiosity, without judgment or beating yourself up. 

When you see thoughts that aren’t useful or serving you, you implement the last step: choosing new, more affirming thoughts you’d like to think instead. 

I’m excited to practice this tool. I decided to share my thought download for today in this post. I have no idea if I did it right. I  wrote down whatever came to mind — basically, a written version of a verbal vomit. 

(Don’t worry, I won’t bore you with my thought downloads every day.)

If you have a lot of mental chatter going on, maybe a thought download would help you as well.

What do you think? Do you have a life coach? Are you in a group coaching program or a mastermind that’s really helped you move forward in life? If not, are you interested?

I’d love to hear from you.

Have a great Wednesday! 

Take care,

Kari

**********

Thought Download for September 25, 2019 – Unfiltered & Unpolished

On letting myself feel excitement

I am starting to feel hopeful that I’m finally on the right path in life with Grow You.

I’m hesitant to let myself get too excited. That’s a common theme in my life. When I was younger, I’d get really excited about something and someone would say I was “hyper” or “high strung”, or they’d tell me to calm down. After awhile, I learned to repress excitement. Now I find it hard to get truly excited about anything.

I wonder why I cared so much what other people thought back then.

Why did I let their thoughts dictate how I showed up in the world?

Yesterday, my oldest daughter suggested we make a trip to the local farmer’s market. As we walked past the various booths, she delighted over the loose leaf teas, the antique teacups and sugar and creamer sets, and the homemade soaps. I’m not sure why, but I was surprised to see this outgoing, curious sense of wonderment from her, someone who used to be so reticent and shy. 

I can’t say whether it’s her recent trip to Europe, or just her evolution as an emerging young adult, but her excitement and delight was so fun to see. 

At one point, she said, “I know, I know. It’s just tea, right? I need to just chill.”

I said, “No, I love that you’re excited. Let yourself be excited! That’s what makes life fun.”

As for me, I still have such a hard time getting excited and letting myself feel excitement authentically without the urge to tamp it down.

I don’t want to repress excitement or hope, or pleasant thoughts. 

Lord knows I don’t extend the same energy stamping out negative thoughts. 

No, for those thoughts I open the door and invite them to stay.

Or do I?

I’ve been trying to be much more aware of my thoughts. I want to make sure I don’t adopt self-deprecating thoughts like that one to replace the more obvious, self-destructive ones I’ve been working hard to eliminate.

I’ve been listening to a lot of Natalie Bacon lately. And since joining her monthly membership program (Grow You), I’ve had access to her coaching calls this month and all the questions members have submitted to the ‘Ask Natalie’ section.

One thing Natalie stresses is learning how to experience negative feelings without immediately trying to “fix” them. She encourages you to sit in the moment as a detached observer (the “watcher”), with compassion and curiosity, and try to isolate what you were thinking in the moment right before you felt the negative or unpleasant emotion. That thought is the key to understanding your behavior.

It’s hard to intentionally allow the thoughts to stay for a bit. It feels bad, but that’s the point. 

Natalie says the more you can embrace and tolerate negative emotions, learn from them, and not make them mean anything negative about you, the more emotionally resilient you’ll become.

That’s what I’m striving for: emotional intelligence, emotional resilience and emotional responsibility.

*****

On sticking to your calendar

In an effort to be more productive each day — both personally and professionally — I’ve been working to develop the skill of calendaring my day and living by my calendar.

So far, I’ve not followed my calendar 100%, but I’ve come pretty close.

It’s so interesting how quick I am to try to “renegotiate” or rearrange my calendar — even from the very first entry. (This is me trying not to beat myself up)

Today’s first entry was to wake up at 4 am, shower, get dressed and get completely ready to face the day (including hair & makeup). 

I had to wake up early anyway because my oldest had to be at work by 5 am, but I immediately found myself saying, “Well, I can’t make her late so I’ll just shower when I get back,” or “I need to look really nice for my appointment this evening so I’ll take a shower later in the morning when I have more time to spend on my hair and makeup.”

Natalie Bacon and Brooke Castillo warn that following your calendar will be hard because your brain will try to fight you and find every excuse under the sun not to do what you’re supposed to in favor of something more pleasurable and easy. 

Our brains are scarily manipulative. The excuses they come up with will seem totally legitimate. Like my excuses to delay my shower.

But doing what you said you were going to do when you said you were going to do it builds a level of trust in yourself that’s so incredibly valuable. It’s the foundation upon which self-love, self-awareness & self-confidence are built. It’s the path less traveled.

And that’s the path I want to take. 

I need to expect that following my calendar will feel hard, but it doesn’t matter. I need to follow it anyway because I’m learning how to follow through and to honor my commitments.

Ending thought: I am actively practicing developing this skill because I recognize its life-changing value and importance to my personal and professional development. It will be totally worth it. One month, six months, one year from now, I will thank myself.

Resources:

Natalie Bacon | Design Your Dream Life PodcastGrow You Group Life Coaching

Brooke Castillo | The Life Coach School PodcastSelf Coaching Scholars

18 Songs to Lift You Up and Get You Moving


Some days, you just gotta move to shake away the blues. Here are my top picks to get you moving or to just get out of your current funk.

Throw open the blinds, turn up the volume and dance like nobody’s watching. I guarantee you’ll feel better after. 

Can’t get up and dance? That’s okay. Sit in your favorite chair and just let your body move to the music.

My Top Picks to Get You Moving (with links)

Keeping Your Word To Yourself


Does anyone else struggle to keep their word, not only to others but themselves?

As I continue my journey of self discovery, sometimes what I uncover can be hard to face. But I know true and lasting change can’t begin until I start being honest about some of my most destructive habits.

I can trace so much of my anxiety, depression and stress directly to not doing what I commit to, not following through, or in some cases not planning ahead. (Because planning ahead requires keeping commitments)

Why do we continue to do things that cause us so much pain, embarrassment and shame?

For me, I think low self-esteem and perfectionist tendencies led me to constantly second guess everything I did. This eventually led to serious burnout, and now I struggle to believe I can do things without literally driving myself crazy.

I’m working to rewire my thinking about my capabilities by setting small tasks to accomplish each day. For now, my only goal is to make sure I complete those tasks.

We tend to load up our calendars and to do lists so we can accomplish more. That might be great down the line, but if you struggle to keep your commitments now, a large list can be daunting, no matter how small the tasks. Starting with one or two items can give you some much needed ‘wins’ and the motivation to keep the ‘completion’ streak going. 

Again, the goal right now is not how much you can get done, but to train your brain to trust that it will do the things you set out to do.

This is one area I’m excited to work on. It has cost me dearly in life. While it’s humbling and sometimes painful and uncomfortable to change, I know the pain of staying the same is far worse.

If you’re striving to make changes in your life, too, I applaud you. This is some of the most important work we can do.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

Peace,

Kari 

Is Procrastination Stealing Your Dreams? [+ List of Recommended Podcasts]

Procrastination is one of the most common ways we self-sabotage our goals.

I find I procrastinate the most when I’m overwhelmed by how big my goals seem, or when I don’t trust my ability to achieve them.

I know the way to accomplish big goals is to break them down into smaller, more manageable goals until the individual actions feel doable.

I learned from Brooke Castillo of The Life Coach School Podcast and Natalie Bacon of the Design Your Dream Life Podcast that the next step is to schedule all those little actions into your calendar so you know exactly when each step will get done. 

The idea is if you follow what’s on your calendar every day, you almost can’t NOT achieve your goals. 

But if you’re anything like me, breaking down goals into smaller action steps and scheduling them is the easy part. The true challenge is actually doing the action items on my calendar each day.

I did some thought work on this recently and realized what it boils down to is I don’t trust myself to keep my own commitments, to others and especially myself.

Is this you, too? Are you always making to do lists or buying new planners only to stop following through after a couple days?

What I’m learning is that all the productivity hacks and fancy planners in the world won’t help us until we can learn to keep our commitments to ourselves. 

So how can we rewire our brains to trust ourselves to keep our word?

I think it starts with putting just one or two small goals on our calendar, goals that are very simple and almost impossible not to accomplish. When we complete each item, we let ourselves feel the sense of accomplishment and then we say:

“I’m the type of person who keeps her word.”

We keep setting quick win goals, and then slowly add goals that don’t provide such instant gratification. 

Over time, our brains will trust that we will do the things we set out to do, even when the list grows bigger and the scheduled actions become more challenging.

If you’re interested in personal development, I highly recommend both Natalie Bacon’s Design Your Dream Life Podcast and Brooke Castillo’s The Life Coach School Podcast. Both Natalie Bacon and Brooke Castillo are life coaches. Fun fact: Natalie became a certified life coach through The Life Coach School and considers Brooke Castillo a business mentor and role model. You can find links to both podcasts and some of my other favorites here.

Do you struggle with procrastination? What prevents you most from moving forward? Do you have a different system that works for you? Please don’t hesitate to share below. 

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Have a wonderful week.

Kari 

Need more inspiration and motivation? Here’s a curated list of my favorite podcast episodes on procrastination, productivity and tools & tips to accomplishing big goals:

 

The Life Coach School Podcast with Brooke Castillo
Episode 162: Time Management – Procrastination

“Most people never see their dreams come to life because of procrastination. They put off taking action toward what they want because they feel lazy, overwhelmed, fearful, or indulge in any other emotion that’s preventing them from creating something. On this episode, I share some actionable tools and strategies that you can start using today to defeat procrastination, and save you time and precious energy worrying, stressing and mismanaging your time.” – Brooke Castillo

The Life Coach School Podcast with Brooke Castillo
Episode 181: Proactivation

“Pro-active-ation. The opposite of procrastination. On this episode, we take a deep dive into the power of being proactive and the immense benefits that you can expect from planning ahead and taking charge of your life. We explore how you can take the things that you deem “good” about procrastination and apply them in a way that leaves you more time and mental space than you have ever dreamed of.” – Brooke Castillo

Design Your Dream Life Podcast with Natalie Bacon
Episode: How to Find Your Passion and Purpose

“In this episode, I share exactly how you can create more passion in your life and choose the purpose that aligns with your deepest values and desires.” – Natalie Bacon

Design Your Dream Life Podcast with Natalie Bacon
Episode: Best Planning Practices

“All the desire in the world isn’t enough to make something happen. But the right plan? The right plan changes everything. It gets you to where you want to go…In this episode, you’ll learn exactly how to plan the right way.” – Natalie Bacon

The Freelance Writing School Podcast with Heather Deveaux
Episode 23: Planning 

“We make time for the things we care about. So if you are sitting there saying, “I don’t have time to plan,” or “I don’t have time to learn how to become a freelance writer,” then you never will. You need to carve out that time.” – Heather Deveaux

The Freelance Writing School Podcast with Heather Deveaux
Episode 22: Make Room for Success 

“So I want to ask you to take stock of how you are using your time. Are you just filling your day with distractions? Are you doing things to avoid doing other things? Is there something that you’ve been wanting to do but just can’t seem to get up the motivation to get it done? I totally get it. I lived like that for a long time.” – Heather Deveaux

When You’ve Hit Rock Bottom


Who needs to see this quote today?  
 
This past year laid me bare, but if I think about it too hard, I feel shame. 

Because:
 
– I don’t have cancer or another life-threatening disease.

– I don’t live in a country constantly ravaged by war.
 
– I’m not fleeing violence or persecution.
 

– I don’t live in an impoverished country struggling just to meet basic human needs.

– I have a loving husband.

– I have a loving, supportive family.

– I have friends who won’t let me quit.

 
Because of the above, I spent a good amount of time feeling ashamed AF about my “hard year.” 

What right do I have to even think about placing my pain and suffering along side others who’ve faced circumstances and situations 1000x worse?
 
That’s what makes invisible illnesses like depression and anxiety hard to bear. 

Not only do you feel like crap, you add to your own suffering by shaming yourself into thinking your suffering isn’t worthy.
 
If you’re caught in this shame cycle, too, let’s stop. Let’s show ourselves some grace and compassion.

Because:
 
Wondering if your family would be better off without you is a sign of pain. 

Thinking if you could just close your eyes and not wake up is a sign of pain. 

Almost losing everything because you just can’t seem to get yourself together is a sign of pain.
 
Yes, there are places in the world where terror reigns, children are orphaned, and men and women everywhere are fleeing for their very lives.
 

But your pain matters, too. 

You can’t help the children and the men and the women if you’re struggling just to get through the day.
 

Life isn’t done with me yet. I haven’t yet made my meaningful contribution to the world. I have work to do.

And my girls, I won’t leave them. 

I won’t let this version of me be the only thing they remember. 

I’m grateful they have amazing role models: strong, stable people who encourage them and love them unconditionally. 

I used to be that person. I still am. I just forgot for a long moment.

I’m trying to learn to think differently so I can start acting differently.

I’m rediscovering. I’m working to regain my footing. I’m surviving.

I’ve been at rock bottom, but that’s not where I want to stay.

If you’re here, too, please know you’re not alone. 

Your pain matters. My pain matters. All of us? We matter


Let’s keep reminding each other that, okay?

And sometimes, rock bottom is where you start to rise.

 
Love,

Kari

 

If you’re suffering from depression or any mental illness, please don’t hesitate to seek help from a qualified mental health professional as soon as possible

Help is available. You don’t have to go through this alone. You don’t have to suffer.

What Happened to That Badass Chick?

We all know how damaging it is to our psyche to compare our lives, our bodies, our professional progress to others. It was Theodore Roosevelt who infamously said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”

Equally destructive, though, is when you find yourself constantly nostalgic for your younger self.

An old race t-shirt reminded me it’s been 13 to 14 years since I was last consistently physically active.

I found myself wondering where that badass chick went.

The chick who did half-marathons, a marathon, triathlons, and that one super crazy off-road duathlon in Muskegon where I spent most of the race pushing my bike up the hill I had just slid off.

The chick who pounded out the miles every week: in rain, in sleet, in gloom of night. Like the U.S. postal service.

The chick who took on sprint triathlons not despite her fear of drowning, but because of it.

Where did that chick go?

What I’m learning is that comparison in any form — whether comparing yourself to others or to your younger self — is simply not useful if it just leads to self-criticism and self-loathing.

If you can use it for healthy motivation, then awesome. Go for it.

But if you use it to tear yourself down with no intention or plan of building yourself back up? Then no. We’ve got to knock that shiz off.

I can instead choose to remember what I loved most about myself at that time.

I loved that I could trust myself.

If I said I was running 8 miles, I knew that if I ran 4, I wouldn’t stop until I ran 8. Or 12. Or 16. Out and back.

I loved feeling physically strong.

I loved that I could push through “the wall.”

I loved that I could do hard, scary, freaky things, and I did, over and over.

If you’re like me and seeking to rediscover yourself, let’s remember that those traits we were so proud of back then are still a part of us. 

We never lost them.

We just need to rediscover them.

Here’s to the joy of us rediscovering our inner badasses.

Have a wonderful day.

Peace,

Kari

What I’ve Learned About Blogging So Far

Photo by Sara Dubler on Unsplash

Hi there!

I’m writing this latest post from paradise. This resort is so idyllic that the name escapes me at present, but I assure you, it’s fantastic.

See that chaise lounge all the way to the right with the red towel? That’s mine! 

My friend, Sara Dubler, took this photo while I went to get us another round of green apple sangrias. The turquoise water and the mountainy things in the background were so breathtaking that she uploaded the pic to Unsplash! It was kismet to find our vacay pic there when I was looking for the perfect photo for this post this morning!

Ah, blogging life….

—–

 

Okay. So I might’ve stretched the details a bit. 

But I did find this picture on Unsplash. (My regrets to Sara Dubler, although I’m sure if we ever did meet in person we’d be fast friends.)

I just wanted to make blogging seem fun! 

Don’t get me wrong, there are parts of blogging I thoroughly enjoy. But there’s a lot more to blogging than just writing. 

I took recently took stock of how things have been going so far. Since I did this with my freelance writing business in my last post, I will focus today’s post on just my blogging efforts. 

Here we go: 

 

Blogging for blogging’s sake is easy; intentional blogging is harder.

For the record, blogging is not as easy as you might think. It’s not just writing what you want, when you want, how you want. Now, if you don’t care about numbers, then that’s just fine. Keep doing that.

But if you want more readers than your mom and your best friend (and I hate to tell you but your friend is likely too busy to read your blog), then you need to approach your blog with focused intent.

It’s sharing what you want to share in an honest, open and authentic way without sounding like you’re trying too hard.

It’s trying to perfect the no make-up make-up or the messy-hair-don’t-care look, but in the blogosphere.

Whole industries have been built on teaching people like us how to start and grow our blogs the right way so we can stop hitting ‘refresh’ every 30 seconds to see if anyone’s liked or commented on our posts. There’s definitely skill and expertise involved.

How do I know this?

Because I’ve consumed countless video tutorials, podcasts and blog posts on this very subject.

As a freelance writer, I know there’s a real need in the online space for well-written, consumable content. I’m learning as much as I can now so I can add as much value as I can later for my prospective clients.

A good blog post includes at least one really good, relevant visual aid or photo.

Whether we like it or not, aesthetics play an important part in how others view us in the online space.

We all know really good content keeps readers on our sites, but fantastic images help get them there in the first place. That’s where many of us get stuck.

We see the beautiful Pinterest-ready or blog-ready images, but don’t know quite how to turn them into what we want. I’ve used Canva before and have been able to crank out fairly decent images with basic text overlays, but I’d love to know how to do it really well. Pictures and graphics are a huge time suck for people like me who know what they want, but presently lack the skills to bring their visions to life.

Goal: Start learning the basics of graphic design with Canva. Design a business logo and learn to create beautiful, branded blog images, social media graphics and infographics.

Value: Increase blog engagement and readership experience with visually appealing pictures or graphics. Build brand awareness through consistency in brand color palette, logo and choice of fonts and images. Help stand out on more visual platforms like Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter. Add value to work for prospective clients.

Tools: For free design programs: Canva, PicMonkey (free versions); For free stock photos: Canva Free Stock photosUnsplash.comPexels.comBurst.shopify.com,

Links to more great resources:

21 Amazing Sites with Breathtaking Free Stock Photos by Chris Gimmer Source: Snappa Blog (3/28/18)

8 Data-driven Tips for Using Images With Blog Posts by Neil Patel
Source: HubSpot Blog (Originally published 10/31/14, updated 8/26/17)

Social media and online networking is critical to gaining traffic.

You can write a good blog post, but what’s the point if no one knows it exists?

I have to remind myself of this whenever I write something new. Bloggers write to be seen or heard by others, or we’d set our blogs to private or write in a journal instead. Since I’m using my blog to help build my online presence, I make it a point to share my posts on Twitter and, on occasion, in re-purposed form on Medium. While I don’t have a ton of followers either platform, I do gain a few more every time I post, and even more when others engage in what I’ve written. It’s easy to see how social media — when used effectively — can really drive traffic to your blog.

Right now, though, I’m still deep in the learning curve and have made a few rookie mistakes. 

Take it from me, know your settings on your various platforms. I’ve sent duplicate tweets about the same article because both my blog and Medium accounts were set to automatically tweet whenever I published new content. I’ve tweeted links to posts without any pictures or descriptions (which, unless I’m Tony Robbins or J.K. Rowling, is akin to launching your work into a gaping black hole). I’ve tweeted without hashtags which, again, may be fine if you already have your loyal following, but if you’re just starting out you need all the potential engagement you can get.

Beware, though. As you start ramping up your online efforts, you may run smack dab into a thing called social media FOMO. With Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Medium, Tumblr, and multitudes of other lesser known platforms, it’s easy to spread yourself so thin in your attempt to be everywhere that your content quality suffers simply because you’ve run out of gas. Choose a platform or two that makes most sense for you and what you’re trying to accomplish, and don’t worry about the rest. 

Remember, a Jack-of-All-Trades is a master of none.

I’ve chosen to expend my energy on Twitter, Medium and Pinterest. All require time and intentional cultivation. I wrote a bit about my reasons for focusing on Pinterest in my last post so I won’t go into detail here, but it has to do with the long half-life of a pin (for marketing purposes), traffic generation, and the set-it-and-forget-it marketing strategy.

This means I’m currently not actively engaged on Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn, all powerful social and networking platforms for freelance writers. I plan to learn more about networking and cultivating leads on LinkedIn. I considered starting a Facebook group for freelance writers or bloggers, but there were so many great ones already with engaged followings that I felt it more valuable to join a few of those existing groups than to create a new one.

I know Instagram’s incredibly popular right now, particularly in my niche (personal development & mental health & wellness). It’s just a matter of setting aside time to create a profile and to develop and nurture a following. 

Again, trying to be everywhere as a solopreneur is exhausting and impractical. At some point I will compare engagement across platforms and pare back where it makes most sense.

One final thought on social media: Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter are all extremely visual platforms. You have seconds to catch someone’s eye before they scroll past. This is another nod to why it would be wise to learn how to create those click-worthy images and graphics that stand out and make people want to engage with your content. 

Additional great resources:

Creative Revolt with Jorden Roper: 
https://www.creativerevolt.com/twitter-for-freelance-writers/

Make a Living Writing with Carol Tice: 
https://www.makealivingwriting.com/writers-win-social-media/

The Writing Cooperative on Medium (Angely Mercado): https://writingcooperative.com/how-i-use-twitter-to-help-my-freelance-writing-3ab878cd0f30

Your website or blog is your business card.

We live in a digital era, and, in the freelance industry anyway, our primary contacts are no longer limited to those in our local community. As our networks become more global, our websites and blogs have become our digital business cards, conveying to the world who we are, what we do, and what value we have to contribute to the online marketplace.

The good news: we have the ability to make amazing connections with people and businesses all over the world.

The bad news: the space is incredibly saturated with people vying for the same attention as us. What this means is if we have, let’s say, only three to five seconds to make a decent impression on our blog, then we need to take care that our content really hooks and grabs, and that our site is as visually pleasing as possible.

In addition to publishing new content and tweaking the old, I’ve been trying to create a more inviting reader experience by playing around with my WordPress theme. I’ve been experimenting with the side bar widgets, the site pages on the menu bar, and the font types and sizes of both the headings and paragraphs (for readability).

By adding the ‘Recent Posts’ widget to the sidebar, I hope to boost my site’s stickiness factor by showing readers there’s more good stuff to read other than the post that originally brought them there.

Since the ‘Recent Posts’ only lists the blog titles, I know I need to make them as interesting and catchy as possible to entice readers to click and read. If they read a couple posts, maybe they’ll ‘like’ the posts or even choose to follow my blog.

Increased engagement = valuable social proof to prospective clients that my writing could boost their audience engagement as well, which may convert to more subscribers for them.

Blogging as a powerful promotional tool for your business.

So where does that leave us?

Blogging is more of a business tool than I ever imagined. Initially, I thought blogging would be a way to build community with other freelance writers and to showcase my writing skills, but the more I learn the more I understand the power of a forward-thinking, value-laden blog.

While I still see value in sharing parts of my personal journey as I continue to build my freelance writing business — much of which touches upon the mindset work it takes to make it as a freelance writer — I want to take care that each post includes a valuable lesson or takeaway that will help others. Otherwise my posts are just confessional and I’m only serving myself. While writing to work through struggles is an extremely valuable practice, those types of posts may be best reserved for private journaling or morning pages.

Some day, I’ll be writing from a tropical paradise, sipping green apple sangrias, possibly with a friend named Sara Dubler. 

But for now, I’ll keep plugging away and enjoy learning every new thing I can about this surreal world of blogging.

Cheers, 

Kari 

Prioritizing Actions That Further Your Goals

Does this sound familiar?

You’re putting in a ton of hours to get your freelance business up and running, clocking in time before and after your day job, jotting down business ideas during lunch, maybe even getting out of bed in the middle of the night to tackle just one more thing on your to-do list. You’re tired, but you feel good. You’ve set your sights on big dreams and have been working like a boss to get things in motion.

But are you any closer to your goals? 

When I officially started my freelance writing career, I put my dream out into the universe: to make a full-time living as a freelance writer in a creative and sustainable way. I set two very specific short-term income goals:

  • Milestone 1:  Hit $2,000/month by Christmas 2018.
  • Milestone 2:  Hit $5,000/month by one year (July 2019).

I did not meet either goal. Why?

Looking back, it’s because I spent too much time on things that seemed important, instead of the things that actually were.

I didn’t prioritize the actions that would yield the results I wanted.

Solopreneurs wear multiple hats. We build and maintain our websites, network, market our services, and, of course, knock our paid client work out of the park. Add kids and family life to the mix — it’s easy to lose focus.

For me, the biggest challenge was trying to figure out which hat I needed to wear when.

What I realize now was that I spent so much time over the minutiae when I should’ve been laser-focused on income-generating actions.

Rather than setting a daily goal for pitching clients, I spent hours reading blog posts on how to be a successful freelance writer. I frittered away weeks and months agonizing over which niche to specialize in. Instead of writing samples or reaching out to potential clients, I tweaked my website for the gazillionth time.

Can you feel the resistance? Maybe it sounds all too familiar.

The lesson I’m learning time and again is the critical importance of prioritizing and completing actions that will help me reach my income goals, and then fitting in the rest of my list when I can.

But how do you stay on task when there’s so much that requires your attention?

Here are a few things I’ve learned over the past year:

The social media time suck is real.

Nowhere do I feel more like a hamster on a wheel than when I’m slogging away on social media.

Right now, my social platforms of choice are Twitter, Medium and Pinterest. I spend a good amount of time on each, trying to stay active and build connections, but what started off as an exciting process is now quickly eating away at my time.

I used to have my Twitter account set to text me every time someone followed me, or liked or retweeted a post, or mentioned me in any way. In the beginning, it was exciting, like gaining a new (faux) friend. But lately it’s become a source of unnecessary distraction, so I recently turned my notifications off.

I heard that Pinterest marketing, if properly done, can be instrumental in driving traffic to blogs. So, a few weeks ago, I set up a Pinterest Business account (search Kari Anne Watterson) and went through the process of setting up my boards and pinning my content. With each new blog post, I create a new Pinterest image in Canva or PicMonkey and pin my new content to my Pinterest account.

In addition to pinning my own content, I spend time every day pinning other people’s pins. This is how you gain traction on Pinterest. I’ve gone from 0 monthly views and no followers to almost 60,000 monthly views and over 200 followers in just a few weeks. To be honest, I’m still learning what these figures mean. While the numbers sound promising, I know all the traffic in the world means nothing if it doesn’t produce leads.

I know there’s a ton more stuff I could do to optimize my Pinterest account, like learning proper keyword placement, hashtags, rich pins, and joining group boards, but I’m hesitant to spend any more time on the platform than I already do. I also know that automating my pins and revisiting my pinning strategy would help, but, again, that would take time to learn.

Pinterest marketing is long-term traffic generation strategy, so I know what I’m doing now should help in the future. But I’m also painfully aware that the time I spend on my social media efforts is time not spent on action that would lead to income generation now.

It’s a numbers game.

I once heard someone say that business success is just math.

For freelance writers, if pitching is a numbers game, then submitting ‘x’ number of pitches should yield ‘x’ number of projects which, depending on your rates, should net approximately ‘x’ number of dollars.

It goes without saying the opposite is also true. No pitches = no projects = zero income. (At least for newer freelance writers)

Bottom line: If I want to achieve my income goals, I need to prioritize actions that will generate income. 

I need to maximize my social media efforts in far less time, and spend the rest of my day doing things that will build my client base, like following leads, pitching prospects and, of course, writing.

Less time on social media + more time pitching = increased odds of gaining new clients.  Sounds straightforward, right? 

I just need to hold myself accountable to my daily goals and my business should start taking off, right?

But the human mind can be fickle, and, despite the best laid plans, can actually work against you.

Online entrepreneur and life coach Natalie Bacon sums it up this way: 

Massive action without massive thinking will not yield the results you want.

You can take all the right action but if you don’t work on your mindset as well, you’ll crumble at the first obstacle, which leads me to my next point.

Hold yourself accountable for your inaction.

Sometimes you think you’re taking massive action, but you’re really stuck in inaction. This might look like doing everything on your to-do list except the items you know will move the needle toward your goals.

And then you find yourself over-justifying your choices.

When I find myself over-rationalizing something I’ve done or not done, it’s often a sign that I’m letting myself off the hook for something important, and it’s often rooted in fear.

That’s when you need to break out your journal and start working through your thoughts until you get to the source of your behavior.

It would be easy to keep justifying and rationalizing why you’re avoiding the hard things, but doing so solves nothing and just prevents you from moving forward.

I’ve gone this route before.  

It’s a lonely, soul-sucking, confidence-killing journey, and to think it could have been prevented by just taking action.

Because, as we all know, inaction is where dreams go to die.

So when you get that familiar sensation that something’s off, or that you’re spinning in circles, trust your gut. Step back for a minute and assess your actions objectively, with honesty and compassion.

Then hold yourself accountable.

Accountability to yourself is as much about self-honesty as it is staying laser-focused on your goals.

And if your honesty reveals seemingly insurmountable obstacles, stay calm. I can guarantee you someone has faced your situation before. The quicker you can move through your barriers, the faster you’ll achieve your goals.

Find ways to overcome your obstacles.

To a person building what seems an impossible dream, it can be easy to miss the forest for the trees. You can’t see your actions for what they really are.

Sometimes the quickest way over a stumbling block or setback is to seek outside help.  Reach out to a supportive online community, like a freelance writing Facebook group, or hire a business coach you trust.

Fortunately, I have people in my life who’ve been in my shoes and get what it is I’m working hard to achieve. And because they’re further along in their journey than me, they can sense the spinning when they see it. Having someone you trust and respect call B.S. and hold you accountable during these times is invaluable.

Whatever you do, recognize your fear-based behavior for what it is, and take action to move past it.  Every time you do, you’ll gain confidence in your ability to face the next obstacle.

The solution is out there.

If you want to make a delicious apple pie, what do you do? You’re going to scour the internet for the perfect recipe, right? (Unless, of course, you already have your grandma’s recipe.)

And if it turns out amazing, people will ask you for the recipe or they’ll pepper you with questions: What kind of apples did you use? How thin did you cut the slices? How’d you get your crust so flaky? 

Most people are happy to share this information with anyone who asks, because when you find something that truly works you’re excited to share what you know.

(Unless, of course, it’s your grandma’s secret recipe.)

If I’ve learned anything this past year it’s how willing people are to share their knowledge, whether it’s tips for content creation, marketing strategies, mindset hacks, or resources to help you build your business.

If you’re stuck, take advantage of the wisdom and experience of those who’ve gone before you. And if you have the business equivalent of a prize-winning recipe, do a kindness and share it.

Last year, Heather Deveaux of The Freelance Writing School recommended Amy Porterfield’s Online Marketing Made Easy podcast, and all of the sudden I had access to business and marketing strategies I never knew existed.

This episode below was particularly powerful:

Why You Aren’t Taking Action with Amy Porterfield & Brooke Castillo (Ep. 217)

For those of you who don’t know, Brooke Castillo is a world renown life coach and host of the widely popular The Life Coach School Podcast. She talks about the power of mindset, and how changing how you think can help you achieve different results. I’ve mentioned Brooke Castillo before in previous posts (here and here) because I find her thoughts and teaching style so powerful.

(Interesting fact: Brooke launched her podcast several years ago. The title of her very first episode? Why You’re Not Taking Action. Clearly, this is a topic that resonates with many of us.)

I highly recommend both episodes for anyone who’s tired of feeling stuck and wants to make some real changes in their lives.

Because of Heather Deveaux, I was introduced to the podcasts of Amy Porterfield and Brooke Castillo. I’ve since recommended all three podcasts many times over. These podcasts, along with scores of others, offer advice on just about any business or life problem you might have.

So if you’re having a problem, don’t stay in inaction. Prioritize finding a solution so you can keep marching toward your goals. If you can’t find the solution from within, then seek out the help you need. 

To quote entrepreneur and motivational speaker Marie Forleo, “Everything is figureoutable.” 

You don’t need to blaze the entire path on your own. 

Give yourself the gift of learning from others who’ve gone before you. 

Don’t allow yourself to indulge in overwhelm, because answers are out there. 

(For a list of my favorite motivational podcasts on personal development, entrepreneurship and writing, click here.)

Stay committed to your goals.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you’re running your own business. But if you set your ultimate goal as your north star, it will help you prioritize which right action to take next. 

And if you forget everything else in this article, remember this quote:

“Every day ask yourself if what you’re doing today is getting you closer to where you want to be tomorrow.” – Anonymous

*****

I just set a new income goal for this year, one that’s seems crazy but I know is possible. 

Each day I will remind myself of the above quote to stay on track.

I’m excited for this next year. I hope you are, too.

I hope you have an amazingly productive week.

Take care,

Kari

Photos via Unsplash

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