If you’re at all like me, as the end of the year starts to approach, you begin setting goals for the next year in your business or creative endeavors.
But recently I’ve learned that it’s best to take a breath first, and do a little looking back on the previous year.
When you plan for a new year, creating new goals can be a daunting task. And as is much the case with highly creative folks, when we get into the “flow”, our “to do list” for the next year becomes five pages long. Seriously, it’s happened to me.
So this time, before you write your goals and resolutions that you may or may not accomplish in the next year, try doing this instead:
1. Write down everything you’ve accomplished THIS YEAR for your business or creative self.
2. YES, EVERYTHING! All the big projects, all the milestones, all the To Do items that yielded a positive result, all the strife and struggles that propelled you into a positive outcome, etc.
Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it?
Give yourself a few days or a week to do this, keeping a blank notepad or computer document open so you can add to it as you remember things. Go back and check your appointment calendar, maybe some old emails, and start the process of remembering those incredibly positive moments where you felt pulled into success – and maybe those times where you didn’t have to “force” your own effort.
I’m in the midst of doing this exercise for this past year, and it’s showing me more where my energy seems to be “naturally” flowing. I’m starting to dissolve away all of the “shoulds” in my head, and hopefully, I’m trusting more in the flow for what’s ahead.
Some things to think about:
- First, maybe you have a belief that you didn’t accomplish much last year, and looking through that lens – it’s no wonder you might have the “racing novel” of a goals list for next year. When I did this exercise, I realized that I had accomplished a ton of important things, and it shifted my mindset about myself and my vision for my business.
- Second, by seeing what I did work on, I could see where my actions were directed by a clearer vision of what was important. Sometimes I created the most revenue from doing my “one best thing” over and over. Or maybe I saw that at certain times of the year, I was peaking creatively, and not so much at other times. This also helped me to shift my goals for the coming year.
- Finally, because I saw that my previous goals weren’t always followed by consistent actions, I discovered the places I encountered self-resistance, and the times where I jumped in with complete enthusiasm. I definitely now see that this coming year, my mantra will need to be, “Get to your ‘No’ a lot faster,” for those times I might be paddling through the “muck of resistance” with projects or things on my to do list that really don’t serve me.
Now, when I formulate next year’s goals, I’m a little clearer on what should shift (either the goal, or my internal mindset), and what really is most important or desirable to me in my business. Plus, I’m not as afraid to “kill off” some great “ideas” that may or may not be totally in the realm of “what’s pulling me” to be a better business owner and person. With this approach, I get to honor the momentum of this “clean energy” of almost effortless progress that I’ve already tapped into (and I have much less stress!).
Try this exercise! I’d love to hear how it goes for you!
Many people who know me, know that I can often be fanatical about the sport of Tennis. I still play tennis regularly, and attend a weekly tennis drill at my gym when I can. I’ve been playing tennis in some shape or form since I was 9 years old (where I hit a ball to the side of my house growing up with my then wooden racquet!). I played until about age 21, and then took a break until about age 40.
For the past 8 years, my tennis practice and ability has grown quite a bit, and I feel like I play even better now than I did in my 20s.
Aside from honing my skills to get better at the sport, Tennis has taught me many lessons about life. Most recently, I received a very profound lesson when fate aligned and I happened to be the only participant in my latest group tennis drill – meaning that I would receive a private lesson from the teacher for the reduced price of a drill.
Within the sport of tennis, you could probably classify my style as a “serve and volley” approach. My serve is probably my greatest strength, as I can apply a lot of spin and speed to it when it lands in the court. This often is 1) too fast of a pace for my opponent to handle, 2) spins quickly out of reach after bouncing in the corner of the service box or down the middle, or 3) spins in such a way after the initial bounce, that it can bounce erratically into the body of my opponent, jamming them up.
In addition to my serve, because for much of my life I have been heavier in stature and often not as fit as my opponents, I often employ a technique of hitting a groundstroke strategically so that I can rush to the net, hoping to receive a volley that I can put away to end the point faster, rather than running back and forth for longer, more exhausting points. I’ll admit, I also love the Serve and Volley style because to me, it’s a real rush!
So back to my lesson last week…
In one rally with my coach, it was getting a little long for me, so I hit a backhand shot down the line that my coach needed to run to in order to return. His return was weak, and it bounced on my side in the front of the court. Naturally, because I was already moving forward, after I hit the ball to the other side, I took 3-4 steps in closer to the net, wanting to hit a volley as my next shot to win the point.
My coach easily hit a passing shot away from me, sending the ball out of my reach, down the line, and clearly in, meaning I lost the point.
He stopped quickly, walking up to the net, where he then asked me the following question:
“Why did you come to the net when you did?”
“You hit a shallow shot in the court that bounced within the service line. I was already moving forward, so it felt natural,” I said.
“But you hit an AWESOME backhand shot down the line right before that. One I had to run to get to. Why didn’t you rush the net THEN, before I hit the return back to you?” he asked.
This made so much sense to me, and I had seen other pros on television do this, but for some reason, I knew that my “pattern” of approaching the net was one of “reaction” to the short ball, rather than me seizing a real opportunity that I opened up for myself the shot before.
This lesson profoundly affected me, to say the least. Afterward, I started to examine a few of the choices I’ve made and the ways of working and being that I’ve been most “comfortable.”
“How many times do I ‘run to the net’ only when I’m reacting to the ‘short ball’ that lands in front of me?”
There are days in a row where I live according to the tasks that I see coming into my email inbox. I can sometimes find myself having to unexpectedly run an errand because I feel I ‘unknowingly’ run out of something. I often don’t chase or recruit those that I feel would be great clients that I could help immensely until they first contact me. The short ball often controls my life and momentum. It’s no wonder that often in my reaction to return this short ball, I sometimes am thrown off my game, as i see the next opportunity passing me by.
So, as my tennis lesson progressed, my coach would talk to me about “consciously” serving and volleying at times. We worked on my serve and mindset of how I would place it, and then how I would follow that serve and rush to the net. Those conscious serves were VERY different! Oh my! They were faster. They had a much LOWER bounce (meaning my opponent would need to bend their knees and likely hit upward in order to adequately return). And many times the spin and placement were EXACTLY where they needed to be.
“See what changes in your game when you change you mindset to one of clear intention, strategy, and a trust in your offense?” my coach would ask.
“I feel like I can make a conscious choice, and that feels very different to me. More empowering,” I said back to him.
As you might guess, this week has been one of major discovery about the “short balls” that have come to me in life, and how my reactive attention to them has led to patterns that I might hold.
In my holistic work and in my coaching work, one of the concepts that is often expressed is that “we have all the skills that we really need.” The key is that we have the confidence to believe this concept, embody all of our skills, and then CONSCIOUSLY use our skills and talents.
So I will throw this back to you, my dear readers. Are you finding yourself waiting many times for the “short ball” to come and land in front of you, or are you intentionally employing sound strategy and skill to reduce your instance of “reacting” in your life, your business, or your creative practice?
Thanks for listening!
Do Great Work!
Scott at 25
My friend Ali has this fun running joke lately where she often comments that I look about the same age as I did when I was about 29, and how “I’m sure he’s not aged a bit since this photo.” Others look at current pictures of me and say, “So when are you going to turn 30 finally?” It’s not to say that I want the flattery to stop. Oh no! I love the compliments about how I don’t look my real age, after just turning 48! Yes, I’m 2 years to my AARP membership, but I’m totally embracing it. (AARP has cool discounts too, so I can’t wait!)
Some of my looking younger is pure luck, but there are some things I’ve done to maybe prolong some longevity over the years. While I’ve shared some things here and there, I thought I’d share more of the “list” of things I’ve done an what i currently do, to keep looking and feeling a little younger.
I do have to humbly say – tomorrow is never a guarantee, and I could see 500 facial wrinkles pop out the next time I look in the mirror. But, I ultimately think that youthful looks can fade ultimately. Real youth is an attitude you hold inside you!
Scott at 36
So here goes. First the easy stuff – again, this is just what I have done, and it’s not meant to be a recommendation or prescription for anyone. Everyone must find what works for them.
1) I’ve never smoked or taken any illegal drugs. I don’t drink much alcohol either. I have maybe 1 beer every other week if I go out with friends.
2) Since I was a teenager, after getting a horrible sunburn with blisters on my back, I have religiously worn sunscreen – even if I’m just driving a car. Especially if I’m driving for a long period of time during the day when the sun’s out.
And stuff that I’ve done for quite a while now:
3) Since 1996, I’ve taken NO prescription antibiotics, and have treated any and all illnesses with Chinese herbs from my acupuncturist, or western herbs in high doses. Yes, you heard that! I’m lucky to have not had any major illnesses, but for the things I experienced continually up to my 20s – bronchitis, allergies, and potential strep infections – all have been treated herbally.
Scott at 43
4) I have a continual herbal and supplement regimen that I’ve had going for YEARS, and sometimes it changes. A daily super-antioxidant (A, C, E, Selenium) in a high dose – 1000mg or more. I’ve added CoQ10 (at least 600 mg a day) and Vitamin D3 at 5000 IU while i’m losing weight. I add HIGH doses of garlic when I’m sick (at least 3,000 mg 3X a day until I’m symptom free)
5) I was a vegetarian for over 10 years from 2004 to 2015, and I still do not eat any red meat, and am “mostly” vegetarian, but eat salmon, other oily fish, and occasionally turkey and chicken (maybe 1-2x a week on the turkey and chicken)
6) Organic food as much as I can. Sometimes I have to budget and I don’t always stick to it, but I prefer it if I do any kind of dairy, eggs, or fruit.
7) Always having a challenging “sport” or activity. I actually started doing this at age 36 (11 years ago), and I’m more active now than I was in my 20s. I have gone from Softball to Bicycling to Yoga to Weight Lifting to Tennis now. I’ve added back yoga, and I know I’ll be adding weight training again as I lose more weight. My key though, is that I have to LOVE IT to an almost obsessive extent, where I challenge myself continually, have a lot of fun, and do it A LOT! Not because I have to, but because I want to and I love it! This is what’s often called as “intrinsic motivation” – when you do an activity or sport simply for the sake of doing it.
Scott at 48
8) I’ve never broken a bone. Never had any surgeries. Have not spent an overnight in a hospital since I was 2 years old (pneumonia). Again, very lucky.
9) This one’s my opinion – Once I had the required vaccines for school growing up, I never had a single one ever again. I’m not opposed to vaccination, but maybe to OVER-vaccination and the potential harm of other chemicals inside vaccines now. If I ever HAVE to have one (for traveling to a country where it’s required for example), I’ll make sure that it’s free of aluminum or mercury. Maybe I’ll get it in Iowa, where the law states that I have to be given a mercury-free alternative if I request it. Just me.. others may or may not share my philosophy on this. It’s all good. This is just what I do.
10) Facial cleansing regimen. Since turning 40, I’ve used a moisturizing face wash product, and the L’Oreal men’s pro-retinol anti-wrinkle cream DAILY. That’s been easy and all I do with my face, but I’ve been doing it for 8 years now, and I KNOW it’s helped my skin tremendously.
11) Kombucha – that fizzy sweet and sour drink you can pick up at any natural food store. I drink a lot of it! I go in streaks but I sometimes make my own at home and drink that a lot. Google “Kombucha benefits” and you can find out about that.
12) Natural Hair and Body products – always. I’ve been doing this since 1996. I don’t buy the cheap stuff, but I try out other products. I’ve used Chaz Dean’s Wen on my hair and have loved it. I’m currently back to the Nature’s Gate simple herbal shampoo, and adding tea tree essential oil to it in the winter for dandruff control. I use this as body wash too, as it’s gentle and inexpensive. I may go back to Wen as well, as the Tea Tree Wen I can use both for hair and a facial cleanser in the shower. I’ll still do the anti-wrinkle cream for men after cleansing and I hope they NEVER get rid of that product.
13) I think because I’ve never been a parent and never had children, I’ve not known what it was to EXTREMELY WORRY in my life. I’ve spoken to other folks who look young for their age, and MANY of them are childless either by choice or circumstance, and attribute their youth to not ever having that kind of added stress of raising and being responsible for another life. Parents out there – what you do is HARD! You are to be commended and supported, always!
14) I’ve never stopped learning. Whether it’s getting 2 masters degrees, a massage therapy certification, other coaching certifications, learning new skills, etc., I believe that my love of learning and keeping my mind actively engaged, challenged, and inspired has an effect on my longevity.
15) Weight loss helps. The very low-carb plan works best for me, and when I lose the extra weight, my face thins and from the inside out it’s like everything gets better. My skin clears, everything’s regular, etc. Although I have definitely been a yo-yo dieter for so much of my life, and have been varying degrees of overweight for most of my adult life. Being 6’2” tall with a large frame size – I start looking younger and good for my frame size around the 230-240 pound range. 225-228 is my target goal. Earlier in adulthood, I’ve been lower than 225 and don’t like how skinny I appear at that weight. (In college I got down to 203 once and my advisor/music director called me into his office to tell me to GAIN SOME WEIGHT!)
16) Stress mitigation – and that doesn’t mean going out and having a beer or doing something reckless. Meditation, Yoga, Massage, Acupuncture, HOT TUBS, etc. These are my friends when I have higher stress. I have a go-to “OM Yoga in a box” Yoga program on CD that I’ve been using since 2004 – not always regularly, but never have I taken more than a 2 month break from doing some kind of yoga off and on, even if it was only the gentle stuff when I was at my heaviest (318 – ouch) or under my worst stresses.
17) Relationships – I don’t know if this one counts or not. I went through a divorce, and for a time I felt like it did take some years off my life, but now I’m gradually coming back and seeing the hope again toward living to be 100. I’m finding lots of ways to let happiness into my life while I’m single. Research does show that people who are married or in long term relationships are happier, have less stress, and have a longer life expectancy. But while there are many things I will go out and do to keep me young, I’m not quite ready to find my next spouse of 10 or more years. Not quite yet. LOL.
18) Gratitude – In the past couple of years, with jobs especially, I’ve made a point to have gratitude whenever I can. I tell myself in the shower, “I’m blessed with work.” or “I’m blessed to have this place to call home.” or “I’m grateful for friends and family who support me.” And I also start my day by putting out there to the Universe, God, however defined, “God, find ways for me to be a blessing back to others and to the world, because I’m very blessed.” I wake up and I’m energized when I leave home after this. It’s a great mindfulness shift I go through each morning while in the shower.
19) My overall desire to live to be 100. I’ve ALWAYS – as long as I can remember, even back to childhood – have had a deep desire and wish to live to be 100. My great grandfather lived to be 98, and my great grandmother lived to 97! I’ve read many books about people who lived to be 100 and what their lives are like. It’s so fascinating to me, to think of what it’s like to live for an entire century, not only as an accomplishment, but how that can shape one’s experience and how they look at life and cherish it. I’m a seeker in this life, I know, and I crave that kind of knowledge, wisdom, vision, and perspective. So.. I have to stay young right now.. that’s my only choice if I’ve set my eyes to 100. I have to do all I can to try to make sure I land there, and land there well!
Here’s to staying young and feeling young, no matter what age any of us are. We’re here in this world to experience all our years, and to be every age as we grow and change. That’s what I believe. Age is a number and youth is a choice and a mindset. And everything we create in this lifetime starts as just one single thought. Our thoughts change our perception, they change our experience, and research shows that our very thoughts can change our bodies. Staying young, to me, is believing I’m still young, and believing in my thoughts, followed by my choices to manifest those thoughts, so I can create youth. Then I just “discover” whatever follows after that.
I hope this helps someone who might be thinking about their own longevity. Again, this is my own approach, and I learn continually. What works for me might not work for another, and what’s been working for me, might not work after I’m 50 or 60, so I’ll change it up I’m sure.
Take care everyone!
“So.. What do you DO?”
Many a solo practitioner struggles with the question, “How do i describe myself to my audience effectively?” We’re told to come up with an “elevator speech” fo use on the spot when strangers ask, “So what do you do?” This becomes even more difficult when you are a jack-of-all-trades, as many of us who work solo almost need to be. We have our “craft” or core work that makes us money. However, we are often our own marketers, bookkeepers, tax filers, and coaches for others who choose to go the solo path.
Over the years, I’ve seen many practitioners struggle with their own elevator speeches and personal biographies or “About Me” pages for their website. I’ve learned that a great first-person voice is the most effective. Our clients come to us because they know us, the person. In my 10+ years of working with solo practitioners, hiding behind a business name to sound more “professional” has never translated into more clients or more success. Customers want to know us – the real US. We should show that to them, and speak from our own authentic voice.
So I’ve come up with a formula that I’ve more than likely “stolen” or adapted from the many gurus out there – notably from Brendon Burchard (you should read his book, The Millionaire Messenger!) – with my own twist.
Here’s the essential formula:
“Hi, my name is _________. I do _________ for __________, so they can ________________.”
As an example:
“Hi, my name is Scott, and I provide coaching and consulting services for holistic and solo practitioners, so they can attract more clients and share the work they love with the world.”
Obviously, there’s a lot of creative variation you can take, and various language you can come up with that “click” with an intended audience. My clients, as a whole, have a strong desire to use their work to “change the world” for the better. So I may at times use that very language in my own elevator speech, in hopes that it will spark a conversation about the changes that others wish to see in the world, or how they approach their own work as “world changing” or beneficial.
Make it a conversation starter when you answer the “What do you do?” question. Don’t just say, “I’m a web designer.” or “I’m a business coach.” Find ways to tap into their curiosity. Lead them to ask, “Oh? How do you do that?” You get the idea!
Now, let’s tackle the first person “About Me” page on your website.
Essentially, you can begin the same way with the same formula, but I like to add more paragraphs to personalize my own experience through what I do.
Here’s a good formula that you might be able to adapt for your own use for a “first person biography” that I send all my clients at one time or another. This outline helps you be more personal and share more of your “story of development” that folks might identify with more than just a “professional resume” kind of bio.
I. Your Introduction
“Hi my name is _______. I do –x– for –y– so that they can –z–.” (Same as above. Change the voicing, use words your ideal audience knows.)
II. Today’s Opportunity
What’s happening in the world today and what is possible now in your experience or past experience? (Ex – It’s always been my hope that…. and now I think the time is especially ripe for ….. I’ve found that people want …. )
III. Your Story of Growth, Transformation, or Change
What have you gone through that the reader might identify with? What questions did you have? What was missing in the marketplace when you were a seeker? What were your challenges? Then you may want to do some identification with you reader and say, “You may have these same kinds of questions/struggles/situtations/etc.” You can add bullet points for this list, of situations, but do keep it brief. This is only an introduction.
IV. Your Found Solution
How did you find a way through the struggles? What you did then (maybe it was more trial and error), and now what do you do (maybe you have a better solution). What do your clients say and how are they affected or changed? What successes have you seen?
V. Your Philosophy
Do you have deeply held personal beliefs or pertinent information about you that reflects those beliefs? What should people know about you especially? Where can you show up BOLDLY in what you believe or what you do, and why. How is your philosophy different? How do you stand out?
VI. Brief Credentials
Your experience and what you do for your clients now. Keep it brief, and save long descriptions for a Credentials/Experience page and/or a Services page on your website.
VII. A Call to Action
Tell them what to do (this could be as simple as check out my website, contact me for a free consultation, or download my free guide, etc.) then offer your sincere gratitude and thanks!
Feel free to experiment with both your in-person introduction and with a website introduction. Play with the outline, and focus your language for your specific industry (this may also help with search engine optimization). See if you can cut out a few sentences and perhaps a paragraph to make it succinct if if falls too far down a page and you find yourself “writing a book” instead of a bio. Add a great face picture too, then don’t be afraid to edit or experiment in the future.
To your success (and to greater introductions too!),
It’s fitting that I begin my blog anew on this “new” Holistic Geek website, on the very day that I begin..again..the yoga practice that I just love. I love it, but I struggle to keep at it. Even after all these years, I go back to my “old stand by” of Om Yoga in a Box, by Cyndi Lee (2001).
You see, I’m very much a nostalgic person. I love to sing the songs I sang at my college recitals. I look for that original green Nature’s Gate Herbal Shampoo on the web from years ago. And, I recently jumped with glee when I found that Barnes and Noble was selling new releases of the original Star Wars vinyl soundtracks. I love “getting back to basics” in so many aspects of life. It’s comforting, because I feel I’ve tapped into something “timeless” that allows me to take a breath, slow down, and reconnect when the world around me spins forward at a trajectory seemingly out of my control. I need my ‘happy places’ with these crazy things – maybe to stay grounded and sane when the world feels so out of control.
Back to yoga though. I discovered Cyndi Lee and OM Yoga in 2005, and at that time I was living in Northfield, Minnesota, in a small yet contemporary 2 bedroom condo that I bought for a steal. My first home – a cozy 874 square foot lower level unit – with curvy L.E.D. track lighting, an open kitchen, stackable washer-dryer, my room, and the spare bedroom to do Reiki, massage, or meditation. It was cozy. Basic. Peaceful and calm.
I kept up with OM Yoga’s progression of beginning to more challenging sequences for about 60 days, and wound up losing about 35 pounds. Guys on my softball team wondered how I’d lost weight so fast. My parents came to visit, and my mom’s first word were “You’ve lost weight!” I hadn’t really noticed it until they mentioned it. I simply “grew into” new poses and a new mindset. The weight loss followed.
What’s interesting NOW in speaking about starting again – Day 1 – with my yoga practice, is that I’m arriving full circle from that time in 2005. In 2008 my condo foreclosed during the housing bubble and the economic downturn. My partner and I moved around a bit throughout Minnesota, and I went from being a full-time technology consultant to a massage therapist, then along the way a web designer, and now a meld of web consultant and coach for solo businesses.
Most recently, however, I went through a divorce from a partner of 11 years, who I thought would be the love of my life. I’ve gone through lots of hell and lots of healing in the last year, and as I continue moving on, ironically, tomorrow I will travel back to Northfield, Minnesota – to hopefully sign a year lease on an apartment – back in the cozy town I loved but have not lived since 2008.
It’s day One, but it’s the start of a re-commitment, and a re-connecting to a past love, into an environment and surroundings I find oh so healing and peaceful. The challenges are high (I’m as heavy as I was previously before losing weight – I have a distance to travel indeed!), and yet the opportunities are now massive (I feel I’m at the top of my game with my business these days). It’s a second chance, another ‘go-round, and yet a new awakening.
I’m sharing all of this here because, like many solo practitioners, business owners, and fellow dreamers, we all experience joys, setbacks, hurts, fears, and often the roller coaster ride with our own self-esteem. After more than ten years of ‘solo-preneuring it’, I’ve been there. I got the t-shirt, and then the t-shirt either didn’t fit anymore, or it was lost in a box somewhere, or maybe even ‘the dog ate it’ when I wasn’t looking.
We all start at Day One, and often we START OVER at Day One, sometimes more than we’d like to admit. Resilience and perseverance pay off in the long run, and if you’re like me, you learn that sometimes you must simply “jump before your net appears” – counting on your years of wisdom and experience to pull you through. We CAN begin again.
Take a deep breath with me and sound OM!
Day One feels great! I’ll tell you more after days 2 or 3, and if I get that cool apartment! And, welcome to my world by the way! I’ll be sharing more with you soon with this new blog. I plan to have a mix of tech, holistic and coaching tips, and my own reflections on life’s journey. I hope you’ll stay tuned.