One of the biggest energy blocks and disrupters in our society is the work that we do. Too often, people feel stuck in jobs that suck the life from their souls. Or if they are following their heart, they don’t know how to transform that into a viable way to earn a living. I know because I’ve walked both of these paths.
Several years ago, when I made a conscious choice to start following my heart, I had no idea what would happen. I didn’t know that it would take the shape and form of a blog that reaches hundreds of thousands of people each year. I couldn’t imagine that my secret dream of becoming a Hay House author would actually come true. I didn’t know that I would help thousands of people transform their health and their lives.
I also didn’t know that I would be speaking in online summits that reach tens of thousands of people. It’s amazing. And it all started with making the decision to follow the next step that appeared right in front of me—even if my mind questioned its validity or worth, or if I had no idea what step came next.
There is such a strong correlation between purposeful work and your health and vitality. When you do what you love, your levels of joy and happiness soar, and your qi flows abundantly and smoothly throughout your body.
If you have ever thought of becoming an entrepreneur, starting a side gig, or if you have a project that you’re passionate about sharing with the world, then you’ll be interested in a talk I gave recently for the Enlightened Business Summit. It was a free online event organized by The Shift Network.
In my presentation, I shared about the behind-the-scenes of the “business” of my blog—and how I grew my website effortlessly and joyously while also being a full-time mom. I don’t normally blog about this stuff since it’s not my focus to be a business coach. But I do share my knowledge with my closest friends, and felt called to share some of my most valuable tips with you.
While the event has passed, here are some of the highlights from my presentation:
3 Key Decisions
There are three important decisions to make in order to attract abundance in a sustainable way that’s in alignment with your higher purpose—and loads easier and lots more fun.
1. Your first decision is how you choose to do things and run your business
As you start and/or run your business, take a good look at HOW you go about your day. How do you get tasks done? Are you scrambling? Are you staying up late? Are you giving yourself really tight deadlines?
You have to remember WHY you’re creating a business and why you want to attract abundance. For many enlightened entrepreneurs, you want to be successful because you want to make a difference in the world, and you also want time to spend with family, nurture yourself, and be able to take time off to relax and enjoy life.
Whatever you want the abundance for, you have to already be doing this as part of your business. Your business is an extension of who you are. If you’re stressed because you’re pushing yourself too hard, and you don’t make time to have fun or spend time with friends and family, guess what? That’s the life you are creating. That’s the business you are creating. When you are struggling, it’s not surprising that your business is also struggling because more success would mean more struggle.
However, if you build ease, flow, and fun into your workflow, then this grows along with your business. One of the easiest ways to do this is to make fun, reward, and self-nurturing a part of your to-do list for your business. And perhaps the easiest way to do this is to set smaller goals for what you want to achieve.
There is however, a big difference between playing small because you’re afraid to reach higher, vs. you’re really happy at the pace you’ve set so you’ll continue growing at a rate that is sustainable for you.
Too many entrepreneurs see “six-figures,” as a magical destination. Somehow they will be validated, financially free, and feel like they’ve “made it” once their sales hit $100,000. But that’s not what happens. I’ve witnessed many “successful” entrepreneurs earning loads of money, yet struggling with their health and happiness. It’s because they lost sight of the real goals that matter—which are love and joy.
Six-figures is seriously overrated. Pursuing money alone will never result in lasting happiness. Small is okay. If it works for you right now, you’re having fun, you’ve got food on the table and a warm place to sleep, then continue being happy.
There’s a fable of a fisherman and businessman that illustrates this point quite eloquently. Basically, the businessman sees the fisherman at the dock and proceeds to give him advice on how to grow his business. The fisherman insists he is happy to sleep in, have fun, and spend time with his family. Of course, the businessman is insistent about the benefits of having a successful business. He talks of how the fisherman could work longer hours to grow his fleet and after 20 years, he could sell his successful business and then retire so that he could sleep in, have fun, and spend time with his family.
This blog has a great version of the story: http://bemorewithless.com/the-story-of-the-mexican-fisherman/
2. Your second decision is whether you focus on the tree, the forest, or both
Visionaries see the forest, but ignore the trees—the things you have to do each day to see the forest emerge. Then there are others who focus so much on the small details that they forget to see the forest. For example, they hyper-focus on details that in the big picture are inconsequential. E.g. What should the tagline be for my logo? Should I sign up for—Aweber or MailChimp for my newsletter?
To be successful, you need to focus on the forest AND the trees. Start with a big picture view and then work backwards to identify the day-to-day tasks that will lead you to the big picture.
Begin with an intention for yourself and for your audience/clients/customers. What do you want to receive from your business in exchange for what you share? What do you want to share that is the most expansive choice for you, others, and the planet?
I like to have a five-year “vision” that is actually somewhat vague, but it’s a good enough big picture for now. A forest looks like a green blog from the sky, and as you get closer, it will become clearer.
So for me, I would like to be sharing my message with millions of people. I see myself on TV. I see myself writing books. I see my blog reaching millions. And I love doing a variety of things. I love being both creative and technical. I also receive immense joy from hearing stories from people whose lives have been transformed because of something they learned from me. So my business needs to encompass all of these things.
When I look at how I want to make an impact. I want to empower people to heal themselves. I want to awaken in them the realization that they are powerful. I want to inspire people to express their brilliance and uplift their families, communities, and the world. As people heal and grow, I believe that they will see more and more their interconnectedness with others and the planet. In this energy of love, we will shift into a more expansive, loving, and compassionate consciousness. And I want this to be FUN! People are so serious about their health, and that’s half the problem!
So um, yeah, that’s the big picture. Now how do I break that down into what I’m going to do in the next half hour?!!!
It’s actually pretty easy. I retro reverse-engineer the vision. I look at what I feel I can do in the next year, and I stretch it a little bit so that it’s doable, but bold at the same time. And I always check to see if what I would like to accomplish somehow contributes to this bigger picture vision.
So I have a few projects in mind including more speaking gigs, growing the number of subscribers for my newsletter to 25K by the end of 2017, hitting 110K pageviews in a month, etc. These goals are in alignment with my bigger picture vision. Speaking live helps me “practice” for being on TV. Increasing the number of visitors to my blog helps me reach more people with Chinese Reflexology.
Then I break things down into quarterly goals. This becomes much more task-oriented such as writing two blog articles a month for the next quarter, speaking at the upcoming Winter of Wellness online summit, redoing my free online mini course, etc.
Then I take the quarterly tasks/projects and slot them into monthly goals. This month I’m working on creating the lessons for my 6-month online program. I’ve also got a “secret” project on the horizon that I’m releasing in January. It lets me be creative and also makes learning Chinese Reflexology insanely FUN, effortless, and relaxing. It’s totally in alignment with my big picture forest view.
From the monthly goals/tasks, I start each week breaking them down into what I will achieve for the current week. Then each day, I look at the weekly goals/tasks and pick what I feel like doing that will fit into the time I have to do it. So if I’m volunteering at my son’s classroom for a holiday party, that means I do less that day. The key is to make the daily and weekly tasks achievable so that you can tick off your list and feel a sense of accomplishment without being stressed out.
3. Your third decision is whether you do it your way or someone else’s way
I would highly recommend that you choose to listen to your gut. I’ve taken a number of online training courses on things like writing copy and setting up an online course. What I’ve found is that I like to view what I learn like a recipe. So I’m hungry, looking for what to make for dinner (which I plan out a week in advance!), and I surf online for recipes. I’ll come across a recipe for spaghetti, and then end up changing things around so much that I make pad thai instead.
But the initial recipe gave me a general structure for making a noodle dish, and then I add my own spices. I sign up for training ONLY if I feel a strong gut feeling to take it vs. my mind thinking it might be interesting. Most of the time I go to these things and I end up meeting someone who becomes a good friend—and that’s been my best takeaway. This approach has saved me lots of time and money.
Some of My Best Tips:
a) Kindle Unlimited
I personally love Kindle Unlimited. For $10/month, you get unlimited access to the Kindle Unlimited library on Amazon. It’s like taking out books from the library—only these are timely and focused on unique niches that would normally not warrant a full-sized regular book. Granted, a lot of the books are self-published and not as high quality as one that is professionally edited from a publisher, but you still get the big picture. And you can whip through as many books as you’d like to find the useful ones.
Kindle Unlimited is awesome because anything you want to learn about, someone has written a “big picture” view on what you need to know (e.g. setting up a WordPress blog, selling crafts on Etsy, attracting website visitors). Once you have the big picture view, you’re much better able to figure out what else you need to learn, and that’s when you can evaluate whether other books, courses, or events, are right for you. Or maybe you don’t even need to learn anything else, but just get started!
If you click the following link, you can get a complimentary 30-Day Free Trial of Kindle Unlimited
b) Focus on Building an Audience First
If your business is online, or it involves sharing you—such as a service, your knowledge, or something you create such as artwork or writing a book—then your first focus should be on building an audience. Most people have this backwards. They want to create a book or course so they spend all their time doing that. When they’re done, they tell their friends about it, put up an announcement on their website, and then hardly anyone responds.
This is very discouraging and disheartening. And unfortunately, some people then give up, or they change their topic thinking that they must not have hit upon what people want. And then they repeat. And the pattern repeats and five years can pass and people may find themselves in exactly the same spot they were before.
However, if you focus on building an audience first, it’s a totally different experience. You build your audience by creating content about your topic or what you’re offering. And then after you have some content, you put up a sign-up box for a newsletter. It’s really that simple.
While you won’t be earning any money for the first year or two, you are becoming a better content producer (e.g. better at making videos, writing articles, etc.), and your mailing list and audience will be growing. The better the content you share, the bigger and faster your audience and subscriber base grows. That’s why you have to share what you’re passionate about—things you love that are uplifting—because that’s what inspires people to read/watch and share it with their friends and family. This has to be a project of love that you LOVE doing, and that you do out of love.
But then something magical happens when you have an audience. You learn what they’re interested in learning or receiving from you. You learn how they like to learn from you or what products they’d like you to offer them. And when you have people interested in what you share, you can be the WORST MARKETER IN THE WORLD and people will still support you because you’re sharing what they’re interested in learning or having. No need for slimy sales tactics. You just tell people, “Hey, here’s what you were asking me about.”
So while it may seem like nothing is happening in the first year or two in terms of money, five years later, you’ll see how much your business has grown (especially if you follow my big picture/reverse engineer advice). This is the tortoise and hare fable in action :).
c) Be Cheap
People often pay too much for their websites and online services. I say go cheap. It takes a lot of pressure off yourself to make money in order to pay for the business. Pay more when you earn more, but only if it makes sense.
The only thing I pay a lot for is for the platform that manages my newsletter subscriber list. That’s my primary tool for communicating with my readers so I want it to be rock solid. I also pay a lot for hosting my website, but I started off on a $5/month plan until my site grew too big. I still run courses with 50+ students on a webinar platform that costs $18/month. And I cancel the service when I’m taking a break for summer vacation.
Here’s what I used when I started out:
- Aweber for newsletters
- WP eStore plugin for an online shopping cart
- PayPal for processing payments
- Bluehost for hosting (buggy, but they all are)
- Anymeeting for running webinars
When I started my blog, I set up a self-hosted WordPress and used a free theme (that’s like the window dressing that gives your site its look and feel). I really believe in using what works for right now and then paying more as you grow. By then, you’ll have a much better understanding of what your business needs.
d) What Matters Most Is Not What You Do, But Who You Are
Yup, this is soooo Law of Attraction and positive thinking. It doesn’t matter what you do if your energy is not in alignment, and you’re not feeling good about what you’re doing. If you feel cruddy, do nothing—other than things that make you feel less cruddy, or in other words: take a break and go do something fun.
One of the best articles I wrote to explain this was when I won the publishing contract from Hay House for my new book, Sole Guidance (Psst… the Kindle, iBook, and Nook digital versions are on sale for $2.99 on Amazon in the U.S., UK, Canada and Australia until December 5, 2016). For my best advice on how to shift your thinking for expansive growth, read my article on 4 Steps to Manifest Your Dreams.
And finally, please do not underestimate your ability to uplift yourself and simultaneously uplift others. As you practice love and positive thinking, amazing things happen. Sure, you may be focused on a nice car at first, and that’s ok. I’m still ogling a kitchen renovation to replace the 40-year old cabinets in my kitchen.
But as you grow, you realize that the material things don’t matter. You grow as a person and grow in your awareness of your brilliance and the potential for love and brilliance in others—everyone, not just one race, gender, religion, or political party, but EVERYONE.
You become more aware of your interconnection to all things, people, places, and the planet. And when you see this with love, you realize there’s nothing to fix, yet paradoxically this mindset inspires you to see how you can make a difference to uplift others and share love.
With Love and Light,
P.S. You’re the only one that can make your journey joyful and fun.