Guilt: The Instigator for Procrastination on New Years Resolutions

“I will be happy when...” - the 5 words that keep you stuck feeling guilty when you really want to feel happy.

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I wrote this last week and hesitated to post it until a client and dear friend reached out with a dilemma. She had gotten a message about an incredible, dreamy opportunity and she was feeling resistance around the visibility it would give her because she wasn’t confident enough in her physical appearance...yet.

After my chat with her about how she was feeling, I decided to share...


A couple years ago I posted about how my New Years resolution was to cancel my gym membership (and to stop making New Years Resolutions). A couple months ago I posted the recording of my talk from the Women in Business event in London where I shared my idea about letting go of failure to feel more successful (what I think we all really want to feel is joy rather than success).

So - one thing I have let go of in the last 12 months is…

GUILT.

It was about as difficult as getting divorced and dividing up all the assets, going to court, filing paperwork... Then sitting in a holding pattern for a few months just to make sure I didn’t change my mind only to find that I still need to change my name and call every entity who has my name somewhere and let them know “I’m Tara, and I’m divorced.” Then have to send them documentation to prove it, as if I would make something like that up and waste my time sitting through automated call routing systems for fun. Now that I think about it, guilt was sort of like being in an arranged marriage, because I certainly didn’t ask for it. It just showed up.

Most of all, it was like being married to someone who doesn’t think I can ever do anything right...

“You never do the dishes.”

“Don’t do the dishes because you load the dishwasher wrong.”

Guilt also makes us say things like...

“You pay for that gym membership and you never go.”

“You should go to the gym so you can stop wasting money.”

“You should be more productive in your business.”

“You work too much and you don’t get enough sleep. 

“You should be getting more sleep.”

“You should wake up at 5am because Gary Vee gets more done before you wake up than you do in your entire day.”

“You’re not delegating enough.”

“If you delegate too much then everything will fall apart.”

“You should meditate every morning.”

“You could meditate more if you weren’t always thinking about all of the things you are doing wrong.”

It sounds a bit like Goldilocks - nothing is ever “just right.”

If you’re feeling stuck right now, it could be fear. It could also be GUILT.

>>Guilt teaches us that we have to be perfect.

>>Perfectionism teaches us how to procrastinate.

Perfectionists get stuck when they over analyze all of the “what ifs” and “shoulds.” It’s not that they aren’t motivated. It’s that they are waiting for the stars to align before they make a move because they are tired of not being good enough.

There’s a better way to do all of this though, for my perfectionist friends who likely learned guilt at an early age (perhaps after deciding a blank wall looks like a perfect place to use your colorful markers because it’s strikingly similar to a blank piece of paper...only bigger so the possibilities are endless).

The answer: focus on how you want to FEEL first.

I used to feel guilty about the gym. Guilty for paying it and not going. Then guilty for not going and still paying for it. Then you go to cancel and they make you feel guilty for canceling when they ask you, “How are you going to reach your fitness goals if you aren’t paying for this membership?” 

Then I realized I am actually not stuck, I am going in a circle: guilt > perfectionism > procrastination > guilt (and repeat)

And if I am not stuck then I don’t have to figure out how to get started again. I only have to figure out how to take different actions.

The instigator in all of this is guilt, not perfectionism or procrastination. If you have siblings then you know what I’m talking about. It’s sort of like sitting in the back of a car on a long road trip getting super upset that someone is touching you or elbowing you and it turns into an all out fist fight. Your parents turn around and ask you to stop it and everyone says “s/he started it!” Guilt is sort of like that. It’s never guilt’s fault. But it is.

So, in order to take different actions (and to let go of guilt) we need to focus on how we want to feel. Another thing that’s not easy to do since we are basically taught happy is good and everything else is bad and something we don’t talk about.

I’ll tell you what I did to try to solve this problem.

I hired a health coach to tell me what to eat and I hired a personal trainer to tell me when to work out. My personal trainer said something to me one day, “You make this sound really hard but you make it look really easy. Are you sure you don’t know what you’re doing?” Then my health coach asked me what I was eating and I told her all the things I should/shouldn’t be eating. 

For the most part I already knew what to do.

The thing they helped me realize was I didn’t have a lack of knowledge. I wasn’t doing what I knew I needed to do because I was focusing on the wrong emotion.

I decided to replace feeling guilt about the gym with feeling ENERGIZED. From that point forward I have only done things that make me feel energized...

  • On days when I exercise at 6am, I get more done between 7:30-9:30am than I do in 8 hours when I don’t exercise.

  • When I don’t drink caffeine or alcohol, I am so much more creative and can write posts like this for days (lucky you if you’re still reading 😉)

  • When I have to wake up at 5:30am to go work out, I go to sleep earlier.

  • When I eat less sugar and carbs, I don’t crash at 3pm and need a nap.

Choosing the Feeling comes <before> the Action (not after).

Remember, you’re stuck in a roundabout not at a stoplight. All you have to do is pick an exit and it’s a whole lot easier to do that in 2nd gear than it is in 1st.

How My ‘Stop Doing’ List Helped Me Achieve My Goals In 2018

The things you choose not to do are just as important as the things you choose to do.

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I absolutely love ‘to do’ lists! I don’t really love making them, but I adore crossing things off of them. It is such an amazing feeling! I am also that person who writes out ‘to do’ lists and color codes them just to keep it interesting. (Who else has a drawer full of colorful pens?)

There’s just one problem with how I was making these lists though…I used to think more was better and multitasking was more productive. I also had a lot of fun chasing all the shiny objects and butterflies that crossed my path. I am also that person who comes up with an idea for a business and within 30 seconds I have purchased the domain and come up with the entire business plan in my head.

The moment that changed everything for me was when I started my ‘stop doing’ list. It didn’t replace my ‘to do’ list, but it sure did clean up what I allowed myself to spend my time on.

I didn’t come up with this concept on my own.

A few mentors told me I was going to burn myself out doing what I was doing, then I heard somewhere that Brendan Burchard only creates one new program each year (not 3), and then I read about Steve Jobs’ speech at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference in 1997 (which I also referenced in this article about publicity here).

Jobs said...

“What focus means is saying no to something that you [think]--with every bone in your body--is a phenomenal idea. And you wake up thinking about it. But you say no to it because you're focusing on something else."

It wasn’t easy to do…

I had to say “no” to a lot of opportunities that could have been really fun (like working with a celebrity client, a brand partnership for a beauty product, becoming the Chief Communications Officer for a startup, giving a talk about Artificial Intelligence…). I am not one to focus on regrets, but if I had to pick only one thing to do differently in the past year I would have listened to my mentors and decided to ‘stop doing’ sooner.

I still like to run before I learn to walk, but now I have learned to add a step in between those two things: PAUSE.

Pause and ask myself “Is this sprint going to move the needle forward that I have committed to focus on?”

If the answer is “no,” then it goes on the ‘stop doing’ list.

If FOCUS is your goal for 2019, I hope you will consider creating a ‘stop doing’ list too and say ‘no’ to some amazing opportunities so you can make space for the ‘right’ opportunities to come your way.

Here’s to making 2019 the best year yet!

If getting more visibility for yourself or your business is on your 2019 'to do' list, check out Imposter to Influencer. The only group program that teaches you how to build your thought leadership and get featured in the media by becoming your own publicist. It's great for coaches, consultants, and service-based entrepreneurs who want to gain publicity without hiring an agency.

What Do Selling Yourself and Driving a Bus Have in Common?

Selling yourself is hard. Here is a new way of thinking about it so you don’t get stuck serving the wrong clients (and so people actually understand what you do).

Photo Credit: Pexels

Photo Credit: Pexels

Imagine you are driving a bus and you stop at the bus stop to pick people up. One passenger pauses to ask you, “Is this the bus that goes to Grand Central Station?” You think to yourself, “I know how to get to Grand Central Station, so I could take this person there, and it’s not too far out of the way…” so you say “Yes!” and the person gets on the bus.

This might sound silly for a bus driver to do because they have a set route that they drive every single day with scheduled stops that are the same every time.

But, I see business owners do it all the time and it is a mistake.

The reasons why business owners sell things that are not exactly what they do:

·     They don’t have a deep understanding of their client’s needs.

·     They don’t have a repeatable process to walk their clients through every time.

·     They believe they can help everyone (and most of the time this is true – a lot service providers could help a lot of different kinds of people) and they haven't chosen one specific thing they want to help people with.

·     They do not feel comfortable selling themselves and so the second someone asks, “Can you help me with _____?” they feel validated, their brain releases a dopamine/serotonin/oxytocin (aka happiness) hit, and they feel inspired to help that person so they say “Yes!” (That is an overly simplified explanation for what happens from a neuroscience standpoint, but you get what I mean).

·     Their prospects are really vague when they first come to them and they don’t really know what they want, but they think they do and it comes out as “Facebook Ads, Marketing Funnel, Branding Help, Closing Sales, Copywriting, Lead Generation…” because they are so close to their pain point that they can’t see the bigger picture.

You are not a bad person for wanting to help everyone, but you are doing yourself a disservice by helping everyone and that translates directly into your sales.

Let’s go back to the bus driver example.

Your business is the bus and your clients sign on at one bus stop and sign off at their final destination. Your business carries them from 'point A' to 'point B'. It is your responsibility to know exactly what 'point A' is and what 'point B' is so that when people try to get on the bus at a different stop you can direct them to the bus that actually serves them.

If you take on clients that are not at the correct 'point A' for your business then they are going to feel buyers remorse, they are going to want to back out of contracts, they are going to drag their feet on getting results, and they are not going to sing your praises to all of their friends to create word of mouth referrals for you.

When this happens, you feel stuck. You take it personally when your clients are not getting to the 'point B' that you imagined for them. You put more energy into those clients to try to get them there. And then, when you are faced with selling yourself again to the next person, you feel like an imposter and you think “Who am I to help this person because the last person I tried to help didn’t get the results I know he or she was capable of. Maybe it’s me.”

Everything changes when you identify your bus stops and you don’t let people on before they are ready to go to their final destination. This doesn’t mean you slam the doors of the bus closed and tell them to wait for the next bus. You can still be helpful!

Here are some things you can do to help your clients prepare to work with you:

·     Build strategic partnerships with people who serve similar clients to you so you can point your prospects in the right direction and they can get the help they need.

·     Let those clients know the things they need to focus on in order to be ready to come back to work with you.

·     Tell those clients how to reach you when they are ready to get started (after they have done the work they need to do to prepare).

And this is what happens once you identify your bus stops:

·     Your ideal clients flock to you and ask you to sell them your services.

·     Your current clients refer people to you before they’ve even finished working with you.

·     Your strategic partners refer business back to you and you no longer feel like you’re doing all of this alone because they also become your friends.

·     Your testimonials blow you away as you read them and realize you’re making an even bigger difference than you set out to make.

If you are ready to have a steady flow of word of mouth referrals for your service based business and to feel more confident selling yourself, I’d like to invite you to a complimentary consultation to see if we are a great fit!

You Were Born to Stand Out

I always knew I was different, and I felt really bad about that for most of my life. The first time I remember being consciously aware of the guilt I was holding was in middle school. I know I was aware of the guilt because for an entire year I decided to get bad grades.

This might not sound that serious, in fact, I don't even think my parents noticed. They were just happy I wasn't "hanging out with the wrong crowd" or "doing drugs," but I knew exactly what I was doing. I had a plan:

  • At less than 5 feet tall I tried out for the basketball team and I didn't get chosen.

  • I was fluent in Spanish and I decided to throw it all away to take first year French.

  • I got barely passing grades on purpose.

Why did I do this?

I had always gotten straight A's, I loved learning, I only signed up for things I knew I could succeed at, but I hated being the center of attention. I was the 'teacher's pet', I felt like my parent's 'favorite' child, and I felt guilty whenever someone would give me a compliment for my achievements. I noticed that the more I succeeded, the more attention and praise and rewards I got.

I felt guilty because if I was getting attention for doing what came easily to me, who was paying attention to the people who were struggling?

So I made myself small, I forced myself to fail, and I tried to blend in.

I thought by doing this I would free up some space, time, and energy for the people who were paying attention to me to instead pay attention to the people who really needed itIt didn't work and a year later I decided to go back to being myself. I never told anyone to stop paying attention to me because someone else needed help though; and I never felt empowered by the role models in my life to tutor another student who was struggling even when I was doing well.

Here's the thing, if you're making yourself small so you are not the center of attention because you don't want to use resources that should be given to someone else, then you are not doing anyone any favors. You are not going to change the world by taking up less space and being invisible. You certainly are not going to achieve your goals by playing small.

If this sounds like you, you need to know you were born to stand out.

This is something I have continued to realize about myself over and over again, every time I push myself outside of my comfort zone. I didn't just have this epiphany in middle school and now I am fine. I've had it over and over again every time I dare to dream bigger.

Now I ask myself on a monthly basis: "In what areas of my life am I playing small?"Then I call myself out on the things I am avoiding, procrastinating on, and creating distractions around. In order to make a difference in your life or the lives of others, you have to first stop waiting for someone else to do it.

Once you stop waiting, the fastest way out of playing small is taking action towards your dreams, and that is how you change the world. Don't walk, Run!

If you are a business owner and you are ready to stop playing small and start standing out, apply now to my publicity training program Imposter to Influencer. The world needs to hear that message that only you can share.

How To Live a More Meaningful Life

 You already have everything you need to succeed inside of you.

 I did not always believe that, but I do now and let me tell you why:

I started out my career as a Critical Care Nurse and I spent a decade working with individuals and families who were experiencing devastating, life-changing (and sometimes life-ending) tragedies. I was not only responsible for taking care of them in the hospital, but I also felt one of the most important parts of my job was helping families communicate with one another and helping them find meaning in even the darkest of times. 

The thank you cards I got from those experiences told me that I had changed their lives forever. Except, I didn’t think I did anything special, they came up with the answers themselves about what to do, I just helped them access those answers.

I realized I wanted to meet these individuals when they were thriving and hope that they never experienced a tragic loss or accident in the future, but if they did, I felt like I could prepare them for it. That was how I began my coaching practice. Now I help professionals and business owners start seeing themselves the way the rest of the world already sees them, so they can start living their purpose through their work.

But after reaching the top of my career path in my twenties, I realized that life is not all about work and no matter how much meaning and passion you have for what you do – it still feels like something is missing if you don’t have the other pieces of the puzzle in place.

What you really want to feel is “Happy”.

What is happiness?

Think about what it means to you. The dictionary says it is “the positive emotions we have in regards to the pleasurable activities we take part in through our daily lives.” This means it is not constant, despite what we would like to think when we scroll through social media and believe everyone else’s lives are great all the time.

If happiness is not constant and we would be silly to think that we could be happy all the time, then what is it we are searching for?

I believe it is meaning.

What does it mean to live a meaningful life?

The dictionary defines ‘meaning’ as “the way in which a person justifies his or her life to him or herself and others.”

In Emily Esfahani Smith’s book , The Power of Meaning, she describes 4 pillars of meaning.

They are:

  • Belonging,

  • Purpose,

  • Transcendence, and

  • Storytelling.

Let’s look at these in a little bit more detail.

 

Belonging

We achieve a feeling of belonging through our relationships, love and community. These don’t have to be romantic relationships. It could be an interaction that you have with someone walking down the street.

I remember one morning when I was walking to work in New York City, back when I still worked as a nurse, I came around a corner and saw the sun rising. It was the most beautiful sight to see and I stopped to take it in. A woman came around the corner who I had never met before, and she stopped next to me and smiled. She then looked at me and said, “It’s magnificent, isn’t it?” Then she apologized, “I’m sorry, I don’t know you but I just had to share that experience with someone.”

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We are more connected than ever in this day and age through social media and the internet and yet the rates of loneliness are at a 30 year high and some research studies actually show that the reported rates of loneliness are higher in millennials than they are in the elderly, a statistic that has not been published previously about the younger generations.


Exercise #1:
Begin creating a sense of belonging is through shared experiences with others.


So why did the woman apologize to me for wanting to share that moment?

We all experience fear in our lives and the most common fears that hold us back from feeling connected are the fear of rejection and the fear of not being good enough. 

What you may not realize is that our minds are wired to want to help each other. It is natural for us to want to form tribes or the modern term for it would be communities. And when you begin a conversation with acceptance – accepting another person – they naturally try to find common ground with you.

 Here’s an example:

Think of the last time you were in an elevator and it was raining outside and you forgot your umbrella. If you get into that elevator and you are embarrassed because you are soaking wet so you nervously mention that you forgot an umbrella and then blame the rain, what does everyone else in the elevator do? They start complaining about the rain. They try to relate to you. 

But, if you get into that elevator and you say that you love thunderstorms and you are smiling and standing up tall, what do you think everyone else in the elevator would do? They may not love thunderstorms, but they will probably start talking about something they love too rather than complaining. They might even call you “brave” for wanting to go outside in a thunderstorm because they would rather stay inside where they feel safe.

People naturally want to connect with you and you get to decide how you want to connect with them every time you start a conversation no matter what the topic is.

Purpose

If we go back to my story about my career and climbing to the top of the ladder, I did feel like I had a lot of purpose there and I think this is the pillar that a lot of people think is going to be THE ONE that makes them feel fulfilled.

The elements of Purpose are career, strengths and service.

An example of this would be a person who works in facilities maintenance at the hospital. They are responsible for taking out the trash and keeping the environment of the hospital clean to prevent infection. If you ask someone who works in this area of the hospital what they do, they might answer “I save lives.”

Believing that the work you are doing serves a purpose that is bigger than you and significant for other people is how you can find true purpose in your career.  

The key is to answer the question: why? Why are you doing what you are doing every day?


Exercise #2:
Lead with your purpose when meeting new people.


The next time you are at a networking event and the first question someone asks you is “What do you do?” Try leading with your “why” rather than your “what” and see how your conversations change.

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What holds us back the most from achieving our purpose? It is the fear of success and the fear of failure.

 The fastest way out of fear is to take action towards your goals. Don’t walk, Run!.

 

Transcendence

 Transcendence comes from your spirituality and creativity.

 Regardless of whether or not you are religious, I think each and every one of you have something that you enjoy doing so much that you lose yourself in it. I wrote a blog post on the IA Women blog about how you can use creativity to relieve stress and enter a flow state. The flow state is where you lose track of time and you forget your to do list and you are completely present in the moment. To learn more about this, you can check out the blog here.

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So, how does fear hold us back from reaching transcendence? The fear of judgement and fear of missing out tend to govern how we spend our time. Remember that you are in control of your calendar and your schedule. The things you decide to spend time on will show you your priorities and if you are not on your list of priorities then you may need to reevaluate your schedule.


Exercise #3:
Take 10-20 minutes out of your day every single day for you!


I go for a walk every morning for 20 minutes on weekdays and I take pictures of the sunrise between the buildings of New York City so that I start my day off with prioritizing myself.

To read the rest of the story about how I decided that was the thing I wanted to do every morning, click here.

Storytelling

The key components of storytelling are love, redemption and growth.

What better way to tell you about storytelling, than with a story:

We have probably all tried to learn to ride a bike before, and of course there is that saying that I think it is safe to assume everyone has heard:

“It is like riding a bike, you never forget how to do it.”

I remember when I learned how to ride a bike for the first time. I insisted on riding my older sister’s bike even though it was too big for me. My dad ended up putting training wheels on it and adjusted the seat so I could reach the pedals.

Then the day came for me to try it without training wheels. The bike had a bar on the back of the seat to hold onto and my dad said he would hold onto the bar. All I had to do was look forward and pedal. So that’s what I did.

The only problem was, he didn’t tell me what to do when I got to the end of the road and I didn’t know how to turn. I looked back smiling at first to ask him what to do next, and I noticed he wasn’t holding onto the back of the bike anymore. I panicked, stopped pedaling, and fell. 

He had said he would hold on the entire time and he wouldn’t let me fall.

I held a grudge against my dad for a long time after that and it was really difficult for me to trust him enough to let him teach me something new. I became a stubborn kid who wanted to do everything myself and grew up to be a very “Type A” young adult who liked to be in control of everything I do. 

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It wasn’t until I was older that I looked back on that experience as an analogy to how we overcome fear. I didn’t fall down until I got scared. In fact, before I looked around for guidance and validation from another person, I was already doing it. I was riding the bike. When I started focusing on being afraid of falling, that was when I fell.

A couple years ago I called my dad and thanked him for teaching me how to ride a bike and for showing me that I can literally do anything I set my mind to and I am in control of whether I ride the bike or fall down.

The emotions that hold us back from Storytelling are: anger, sadness, fear, hurt, and guilt. It wasn’t until I worked through those negative emotions that I was able to find meaning in that story. Once I found that meaning, I was able to rewrite my narrative.


Exercise #4:
Ask yourself: In what area of my life am i holding a grudge?

How can you use that grudge as a flashlight to show you what is really important to you so you can find meaning in your story and rewrite your narrative?


For more information on how you can work with Tara to align your core values with your business practices, click here.

How Creativity Can Reduce Stress and Increase Productivity

This blog was originally posted on the International Association of Women blog.

Is there an activity that you lose yourself in? You completely immerse yourself in it, could do it for hours without getting bored, and you lose track of time. Think of that activity now. When was the last time you set aside time for it?

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As working women, we might find ourselves trying to do everything by ourselves to the point where we come home exhausted at the end of the day. It can be very difficult to find balance so we can create the lifestyle we desire. Balance implies there are equal parts of everything. I prefer to think of it in terms of work life synergy. When all of the areas of your life are working together then you will find that you feel more fulfilled and less stressed. Thinking of it in these terms also gives you the flexibility and permission to focus more attention on different areas at different times depending on what is happening in your life.

Hobbies are a component of work life synergy because they allow us to enter “flow state.” Positive psychology defines flow state as “an optimal state of consciousness where we feel our best and perform our best.”

The Benefits of Entering The Flow State

It is important to enter into a flow state because it is a time that:

  • we gain clarity around our goals;

  • we optimize our concentration and focus;

  • we feel rewarded by the activities we are participating in;

  • we let go of self-consciousness;

  • we lose track of time;

  • we can provide ourselves with instant feedback on our own progress;

  • we are confident that our skills align with our goals or that we are capable of developing our skills the more we practice;

  • we lack awareness of our physical needs; and

  • the activity has our undivided attention.

What Activities Can I Participate in to Help Me Enter The Flow State?

Activities that help you enter a flow state have two components: they are high-skill, high-challenge situations.

Examples of these activities include:

  • Sports

  • Dancing

  • Involvement in creative arts and other hobbies

How Can Using Creativity to Enter The Flow State Reduce Stress?

In a recent study, that looked at the impact creating art had on cortisol levels in 40 participants they found that 75% of participants experienced decrease cortisol levels after just 45 minutes of art making. Cortisol is a hormone that is secreted by the body when we are under a lot of stress.

At the end of the study, participants were asked to comment on their experience. The participants described the art-making session as “relaxing, enjoyable, helpful for learning about new aspects of self, freeing from constraints, an evolving process of initial struggle to later resolution and about flow and losing themselves in the work.”

How Can I Enter The Flow State More Regularly?

The key is to make time for hobbies that are high-skill, high-challenge situations. If you are a busy professional and trying to juggle everything on your own then you might find yourself putting your hobbies off until the weekend. I used to do the same thing.

One of my hobbies is photography. I used to set aside two or three hours on the weekends to practice photography. I also had a photography class on my to-do list for years before I actually took it. What I found was that instead of feeling like it was a recreational activity, it started to feel like work. I was stressed about the weather, and carrying all of my equipment around with me, and fitting in all of the other things I wanted to do over the weekend so I would be ready to go back to work on Monday morning. It was stressful so I stopped doing it even though there was a point when I loved it.

I decided if I was going to continue to enjoy this hobby then I needed to do it every day, so I made it a habit similar to going to work Monday through Friday. I started waking up thirty minutes earlier each day and going for a walk so I could take photos. I went on a new walk each day or at least a different route so I would be able to look at the neighborhood from a new perspective. I found I was more energized in the mornings and less likely to snooze my alarm. The other thing that happened: I was more present and productive at work that day because I wasn’t rushing in to work or worrying about being late.

Take a look at your schedule. How can you set aside just 30 minutes a day to do something you love?

How to Use Jealousy to Your Advantage

For most of my life, I thought I knew what I wanted and I thought I was going after that.

  • The job promotion,

  • Job title,

  • 6 figure salary,

  • Pension plan,

  • Penthouse apartment in the city,

  • Luxury car, and

  • 5 star vacations.

The only problem was, once I got those things I still wasn't happy. Sometimes I was even jealous of people who had more than me, which made me forget how fortunate I was for the things I did have.

The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.

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One of the most pivotal moments in my life was a few years ago when I realized what I really wanted and I realized I could give myself permission to go after it no matter how selfish, silly, or illogical it may have seemed to everyone else. I found myself in a job that I didn't enjoy, in a city that I didn't want to live in, and living a life that was not fulfilling.

I knew I needed help getting to where the grass would be greener, but I didn't know which way that was. The answer in my mind was, "Anywhere but here." That was when I called my dad and said, "Dad, I need help, but I don't want you to send me money and I don't want to move home. I want to quit my job and move, but I don't know where to go." My dad and I have been through a lot in our relationship and he knows better than to tell me what to do (more on that in this article about why father-daughter relationships are so important) and because of that he gave me the best advice he ever could have given me. He said, "The Tara I know doesn't let anyone tell her what she can or can't do. You have lived all over the world, so pull out a map and pick a place. If you could go anywhere in the worldwhere would you go?"

I blurted out, "New York City."

This was the first time in my life that someone had asked me what I wanted and it was the first time in my life that I made a decision based solely on me.

If you think about it, we all do this. Our friends ask us for advice and we tell them what we would do if we were in their shoes, and vice versa. Eventually we learn that we shouldn't take advice from someone we wouldn't want to trade places with and we get a little more particular about who we reach out to when we need help.

I had never felt brave enough to say I wanted to live in New York because people told me it was dirty, expensive, and that everyone was mean. It didn't matter what everyone thought anymore. Well, it mattered enough for me to keep my plans a secret, but I stopped letting it hold me back from doing what I wanted to do.

I quit my job and within 30 days I had a plan. I was going to:

  • take a temp job with no job title,

  • sleep on an IKEA couch at my friends place,

  • make less money than I had ever made,

  • get no benefits except a temporary health insurance plan,

  • and sell my car.

I didn't tell anyone I was doing this though, just in case they judged me for leaving behind my seemingly "green grass" for something that might sound crazy.

Albert Einstein said, "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

Well, this was different alright. At least I had that going for me.

I couldn't keep it a secret for long though. People started noticing that I was doing something differently (thank you social media for making it hard to hide) and instead of judging me they asked me, "What's your secret?" They thought I was so brave for leaving everything behind. The truth was, I didn't feel brave. I felt like I was running away because the fear of everything staying the same was worse than the fear of the unknown.

I started helping a few friends by sharing advice about what I was doing. (Here's an article in ThriveGlobal I wrote about my bucket list I made after I got to New York City.) Each of them said the same thing, "Tara, you can't keep this stuff a secret because everyone needs to know this!" That's what led to me starting a business, because "everyone needs to know this stuff." It is also when I realized that playing small doesn't do anyone any favors (more on that in this article).

One of the things I started doing differently was shifting my perception of "the grass is greener on the other side":

  • I stopped hanging out with people who used jealousy to complain about other people

  • I started using jealousy as a clue for where I wanted to be

You see, for a long time I lived my life thinking, "I don't know what I want, but I definitely know what I don't want." So my strategy was to run away from the don'ts in whatever direction "away" was, sort of like pulling your hand away from a fire that you get too close to. You don't have time to think about the best direction to pull away in so you don't knock anything over or make a mess or spread the fire. You just know you have to get away.

When I started using jealousy as a clue for the direction I wanted to go on my path, everything changed.

  • I was hanging out with more interesting people who were doing extraordinary things.

  • I knew what I wanted.

  • I had people in my life who wanted to mentor me and help me get there.

And the other thing I could do was send so much love, happiness, well wishes, and air hugs to that person I envied for showing me the way just by being who they are and achieving what they had achieved.

Now I hardly notice that jealous feeling, but when I do it makes me giggle because I know I just found a clue as to where I want to go next. That clue keeps me trying to be better today than I was yesterday and I know I am luckier to be scaling the side of the mountain than I ever was sitting at the top.

For more information on how you can work with Tara to align your core values with your business practices, click here.

What Can We Learn From Steve Jobs About Publicity?

In 1997, Steve Jobs was answering questions posed by developers at Apple’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference (WWDC). While answering one of their questions, he mentions that “focusing is about saying no.”

The problem a lot of people have when they are trying to get publicity for themselves is that they lack focus. It is okay to be good at a lot of things, but not everyone needs to know everything you are good at (especially if you want to be recognized as an industry expert).

Jobs also mentions:

"Apple suffered for several years from lousy engineering management. And there were people that were going off in 18 different directions--doing arguably interesting things in each one of them. Good engineers. Lousy management.

And what happened was, you look at the farm that's been created, with all these different animals going in different directions, and it doesn't add up. The total is less than the sum of the parts. And so we had to decide: What are the fundamental directions we're going in? And what makes sense and what doesn't? And there were a bunch of things that didn't. And microcosmically they might have made sense; macrocosmically they made no sense.

...When you think about focusing, you think, well, focusing is about saying yes. No.”

Just because you can do something, doesn’t always mean you should. The same way you find a niche and stick with it in business, you need to find a lane and stay in it for publicity.

Photo Credit: Pexels

Photo Credit: Pexels

The Visible ROI of Publicity

  • Increase Social Media Engagement

  • Targeted traffic to your website

  • New Leads in your marketing funnel

  • Sales

All of these things are measurable and work together to establish you as an authority in your industry.

The Invisible ROI of Publicity

  • Brand awareness

  • Referrals for speaking engagements

  • Referrals for more media interviews

  • Referrals to new clients

I like to think of this as scaling your word of mouth marketing campaign. Before the Internet, companies grew because they served their clients and their clients wanted to refer their friends to those companies. Today, businesses still grow this way in the beginning, but if you are not taking advantage of the benefits of scaling your audience then you are missing out on an opportunity to have word of mouth referrals from sources who have never met you and never worked with you.

If you gain a lot of publicity for yourself and there is no strategy behind it and you are talking about any topic you find interesting, you are doing yourself a disservice because you are confusing your audience. They cannot refer people to you if they do not know what you do. So, while you may be able to give advice on 18 different topics, if you want to move the needle forward and maximize your ROI on your publicity strategy, then it needs to spread a consistent message.

If you would like more tips on how you can increase your credibility online, join my 5 day publicity challenge here.

You can also watch my Truth Tuesday Video titled “Is all publicity good publicity?” on YouTube here:

#iStandforGirls With Kurandza: Supporting Education in Mozambique

I met the Founder of Kurandza about 4 months ago and when she told me what she was doing, I instantly knew I had to be a part of it. Today, I am joining them in a month long campaign to help them reach their goal of sending 200 girls in Mozambique to school.

Photo by: John DeMato

Photo by: John DeMato

What is Kurandza?

Kurandza is a non-profit organization that invests in the future of women and girls in Mozambique, a country in Southeast Africa. The local language in Mozambique is Changana. Co-Founders Elisabetta and Percina came up with the name "Kurandza" because it means "to love" in Changana.

Where did the idea for Kurandza come from?

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Elisabetta Colabianchi volunteered with the Peace Corps counseling HIV-positive women on the prevention of HIV transmission to their children at a local hospital in Guijá, a small village in southern Mozambique. While she was there, she noticed that the cost of transportation was a major barrier each month and many patients would stop treatment because they could not afford to pick-up their medicine. 

In response to this obstacle, Elisabetta and her friend, Percina Miocha, started an income generation project for these HIV-positive women, with the goal of teaching them a skill that would earn enough income to pay for the monthly transportation costs to the hospital so they could continue treatment.

After Elisabetta finished her work with the Peace Corps, she kept in touch with the friends and connections she had made in Mozambique and decided to create Kurandza alongside Percina to continue supporting the community.

Because of last year's campaign, these three girls, Mayita, Ética, and Gilda, were able to start first grade and start to dream for the future! Kurandza sent 100 girls to school last year, and this year their goal is to double that.

Because of last year's campaign, these three girls, Mayita, Ética, and Gilda, were able to start first grade and start to dream for the future! Kurandza sent 100 girls to school last year, and this year their goal is to double that.

How Can We Support Kurandza?

This initiative is so close to my heart because I truly believe everyone should have the chance to dream of a bright future and then to step into that future and make it their reality.

In Mozambique, it is hard for girls to get an education due to a lack of resources. Without funding, most will drop out and lose access to options and opportunities to set them up for success in the future. Girls who are educated are more likely to:

  • Get their vaccines;
  • Avoid contracting HIV;
  • Have access to jobs;
  • Earn a higher income; and
  • Escape child marriage.
Photo by: John DeMato

Photo by: John DeMato

Kurandza’s mission is to get these young girls access to school and job opportunities so they can change the world.

The education of 200 girls will impact 20,000 people. And that’s just this year! I know they won’t stop there...

I’m standing up for the girls who aren’t able to speak up for themselves yet with Kurandza and their #IStandForGirls campaign. All of the money raised this month will go towards transportation, school fees, uniforms, books, backpacks, and school supplies. Not only do these girls get to go to school, they also get health education, after school tutoring, extracurricular activities, parent-teacher conferences, and empowerment workshops. $20 covers one monthly scholarship, $240 covers one girl's entire year.

If you would like to join the #IStandForGirls campaign and invest in a girl's education, you can visit their website: https://www.kurandza.org/istandforgirls.

How to Improve Communication At Work

The Artful Worker Podcast Interview with Sim Saini:
Pay Rises, Networking, NLP, and More | Episode 005


It was an honor to be interviewed on The Artful Worker Podcast! In Episode 005, Sim and I got to talk about how to communicate more effectively in your professional life whether you're working in a leadership role or entry-level position we touched on a lot of scenarios where you might feel uncomfortable expressing yourself.

During the interview, we touched on:

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  • How to negotiate your salary when you apply for a new job
  • How to give negative feedback without making people feel defensive
  • The one thing you should avoid so you don't create a toxic work environment
  • How to trust someone again after they let you down at work
  • What is NLP and Hypnotherapy and how did I get involved in it?
  • How to manage your energy during a work conference or networking event (as an introvert)
  • And much more...

Click here to listen to Episode 005 and you can follow along with these show notes:

[2:15] Background information on how I became an entrepreneur.

[6:20] How to negotiate your salary and apply for a job that is going to level up your career.

[18:48] Sim asks, "Is it too risky to be up front about any limitations you might have when you are in a job interview?" Listen in to hear my response!

[20:10] How to stand out in a job interview and differentiate yourself from the other candidates.

[21:10] Sim asks, "What percentage of increase were you looking at when you negotiated your salary?"

[22:49] I share how I felt the moment I said the salary I wanted out loud and the reaction I got on the other end of the phone.

[23:40] Sim and I discuss how to trust colleagues after they have made mistakes as well as performance management and corporate culture.

[24:50] Sim and I discuss both sides of negative feedback - being the person who has to deliver the feedback as well as being the person receiving the feedback. 

[26:08] Bonus Tip: What negative feedback that doesn't upset someone sounds like in action (and how you can do it too!)

[28:40] Sim and I step into the shoes of the person receiving feedback and how to give them the opportunity to ask for what they need help with.

[29:50] Sim asks, "What happens if I put myself on the line and recommended someone, but they let me down. How can I build trust again?"

[31:45] I share the one thing you should never do as a leader when someone disappoints you if you want to have a positive corporate culture.

[33:19] Bonus Tip: I share the 2 words you can use to redirect your employee to thinking about solutions or productive thoughts rather than complaining, blaming, or being defensive.

[34:00] Sim and I talk more about NLP and Hypnotherapy. What is it? How does it work?

[39:39] How did I get involved in Hypnotherapy?

[42:20] Sim and I discuss networking fatigue and exhaustion. I share how to make yourself magnetic so you don’t have to go after people to network and meet them.

[49:40] I share an alternative to large scale networking that offers a more focused and intentional approach to building relationships.

[52:00] Networking in larger cities (comparing London to New York City)

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