mindset

How to recognize fear in your life | Mindset tips for photographers & creative entrepreneurs

If there’s one thing that holds photographers and creative entrepreneurs back from stepping into the dream they have for their business, it’s fear. From worry all the way to anxiety, Fear has a pretty big spectrum…but a pretty similar end result-inaction. Safety. And dreams remaining dreams. Isn’t that kinda sad to think about?

So, dreamer. Are you reader to become a doer? The first step is to learn to spot fear in your life. Here are 6 of the most common manifestations of fear-do any stand out to you?

How to recognize fear in YOUR life and business

I’m listing the 6 most common forms of fear below. Oddly enough-they come in pairs-either because one escalates into another (i.e.-worry/anxiety; avoidance/self-sabotage) OR because they are complimentary fears (safety mechanisms/defense mechanisms)

Worry

Fear of the unknown takes a toll on your physical body. Letting your mind run wild in the realm of the unknown is not what your beautiful brain was meant for! And it’s gonna show in your physical body.

From tooth grinding and headaches, to ulcers and acid reflux, your body wasn’t meant to live in a chronic state of worry. While you can technically live with these symptoms IF they stay at this level…chances are they will progress into:

Anxiety

Worry manifesting itself in our physical bodies with symptoms that delve into panic reactions. When you struggle with anxiety, your body is literally pumping the breaks to keep you out of the situations that cause you this anxiety.

Our bodies move into the fight or flight stage in anxiety and amp up physical symptoms to breathing issues, muscle tightening, erratic behavior, and more. These are symptoms you can no longer live with. Something needs to change immediately when you’re experiencing anxiety symptoms.

Sound’s fun, right? Let’s talk about a different side of fear:


Avoidance

Quite simply, avoidance is that person who, when they hear anything that stresses them out, plugs their ears and sings “lalalalalalala!” until it stops. You know you’ve seen a grown adult do this! This is fear. Avoiding stressors comes from a belief that what you fear must be avoided. Bad things happen when you feel fear, so avoid it, sometimes at all costs.

This person is likely the one changing the subject abruptly at the dinner table, likes to please people and can’t afford to have someone upset with them.

Self-sabotage/self-destructive behaviors

Paired with avoidance is self-sabotage and self-destructive behaviors. It’s a “walk the plank” mentality when you realize you have to face something stressful or fearful. Since you believe you can’t handle the stress, when you realize you have no choice but to face it, you take the approach that you’re about to go down in flames. You often find yourself doing the very things you know you shouldn’t, wondering “whyyyyyyy am I doing/saying this??”

Have you seen a small child walk over to a hot stove, touch it and cry? My immediate thought is “oof, that’s a tough way to learn a lesson!” But how do you feel if the child, still crying, goes and touches the stove again? I’m thinking in my head “WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT, YOU KNOW IT’S GOING TO HURT YOU!” That’s how self-sabotage looks from the outside in.

From messing up a business deal, triggering an argument when you were happy with your spouse, coworker, or business partner, to forgetting equipment for a job, etc. the “I’ll probably just mess it up” mindset is basically predicting that you WILL.


Coping mechanisms

Just like a child sucking his thumb or reach for his favorite stuffed animal to help him fall asleep, we as adults can develop soothing behaviors to help us feel safe again when we’re scared. They’re not entirely bad-in fact, knowing how to take care of yourself when you are feeling scared is a key piece of self care.

Sometimes we get pushed headlong into the scary stuff before we’ve had space to see how we handle it and we grasp and something that soothes a base human need. The danger that often follows coping mechanisms is that when we learn to cope with something stressful or scary, we start to retreat. We lower our tolerance for stress or scary stuff and reach for a coping mechanism faster with each stress trigger.

It’s pretty common to find that coping leads to addictive or highly patterned behaviors. Some common ones include spending money, disordered eating (this is a big one for us women), and sexual issues, to addictive substances or workaholic tendencies.These behaviors make you feel safe when you otherwise felt vulnerable or scared.

Defense mechanisms

While coping mechanisms are the flight side of dealing with fear, defense mechanisms are the fight side. You know you’re can’t run from it. So you prepare for battle.

Defense mechanisms are ways in which you defend or protect yourself from difficult situations-these situations can be as simple as unwanted situations all the way to trauma triggers.

If you’re living in a place of defense mechanisms, you’re probably thinking through worst case scenarios, practicing responses, protecting your work, or even picking a fight so you can lay someone open with harsh words or criticism.

Of all the behaviors, defensive, protective behavior is by far the most painful to others. Like a wounded animal, a defensive person will snap and bite at you if you get too close to their pain. This person needs some pretty significant help and needs you to be extra careful around them lest you get hurt in the process.


*I want to be sensitive to the fact that fear often has a reason for living in you. And sometimes that reason is rooted in real, painful life circumstances. If that’s you, I just want to take a moment to honor you and let you know that you didn’t deserve the trauma you experienced. You are so worthy of healing and you are so worthy of having support. You are beautiful and brave.*

What does fear sound like?

Fear often starts with two little words- “what if?” Those words mean you’re living in a potential reality. And quite frankly, if you don’t learn to let go of these thoughts, it will become your actual reality. Why? Like attracts like. In this case? Worry attracts in more things to worry about.

“what if this fails?” (remember that fixed mindset stuff from some of my early blog posts?”

“what if I can’t?”

“I know what’s going to happen if…”

“I need to protect my self…”

“just in case (X) happens, I’m going to…”

“I’ll probably just mess it up.”

“What if they think…?”

“I’m not cut out for this”

“I can’t”

Conclusion

We all experience fear. And we all deal with it the best we know how-after all, we’re all just doing the best we can.

We may deal with fear in the form of worry or even anxiety, or we might avoid fear, trying to stay in our happy place until we’re forced to face our fears and then we self-sabotage, bringing our fears to life. Maybe you’re not in either of those categories, but instead, you deal with fear through coping mechanisms. You can’t avoid fear, but this helps you remove yourself from it.

Perhaps you’re one of the people who often feels defensive and a little compative when in a scary situation, leaning on defense mechanisms to get you through. If that’s you, you’re not alone. You’re not terrible. And you’re not stuck.

Coming soon, I’ll share some psychology and NLP based ways to deal with fear in a healthy way.

We’re all just doing the best we can!

What did you learn about fear? Did something specific resonate with you? Leave a comment and share. This small, brave move may help you let go of fears in your life!







Your past is a shadow, not your prison | intuitive life lessons

This morning, I sat in my living room, playing with my 7 month old son, and feeling so happy. The sun was streaming into our room, he was happy, I had gotten a full night of sleep, and nostalgia as I remembered that today was pregnancy and infant loss awareness day.

Memories of my past as shadows

Two years ago, I was between miscarriages. I was about to get pregnant for the second time this time two years ago. I remember how shattered my world felt for a season. And as I sat playing with my perfect baby in the most beautiful home, surrounded by sunlight, I was filled with gratitude. I felt a twinge of sadness, but it was different this time. I didn’t own my sadness. I felt it come into my heart, like a stranger, then leave, like a whisp of steam.

At first I felt concerned-does this mean I’m pushing away those feelings? Or, maybe, just maybe, this is a sign that I’m healing.

As I thought about the fleeting visit from grief, I saw a beautiful shadow on my wall. The beautiful sunlight streaming had hit a vase of branches in my living room, creating a beautiful play of shadows dancing on my wall. The shadows danced for such a quick minute-I ran to get my camera and they had already changed!

And then it hit me. The reason that I loved the sunlight streaming into my living room was because of the beautiful shadows it created. You see, there’s beauty in the shadows, the difficult times in our lives. They are gone so quickly, but while they’re there, they help us see the light so much more.

Your past as a prison

The shadows don’t actually exist. They’re just a mirage-when we treat them as our current reality, we are choosing to live as a shadow. And our shadows become our prisons. Trade in the prison of your past for light.

Dear one reading this today, step back from the shadows of your life and take a look at them. Why are they there? They’re there to remind you that you’re alive. That YOU are standing in the sunlight.

So, turn and face the light.

You’ve been staring at the shadows for so long that you have forgotten what the sun on your face feels like. Turn your back on the shadows, not the light. For the shadows will come and go. But the light stays.

It’s time to turn and face the sun and let the shadows fall behind you.

When the memories of past hurts or dark seasons of grief come back to your life, don’t shove them away or greet them with fear. Welcome the grief like a long lost friend coming for dinner. She’s not staying. But she’s there for a reason. Sit with her for a minute, understand her, and ask her what she wants you to know.

Could it simply be that your past wants you to remember that it’s a shadow, not a prison?

Thank you to Bekah of Sankalpa Life Yoga and Wellness for the life-giving conversation that inspired this post. (If you aren’t following Bekah on instagram, do it now. You’ll feel her beauty and strength in each post.)

3 business lessons I learned from making sandwiches | Madison, WI business coaching

It’s rainy and cold. What do you make for dinner?

Tomato soup and grilled cheese-it’s a classic! And that’s just what I did a few weeks ago. An easy meal, perfect for a chilly gray day. Until I burned the life out of the grilled cheese. facepalm. But, as soon as I flipped those charred sammies, I knew exactly what I was supposed learn-like a big thunk on my forehead from God.

I’m getting really stinkin’ good at learning lessons in my everyday activities-so good, in fact, that I will often call Stephen while drive just two miles away to the store to share something I learned! I’ve been keeping a little list of those lessons-here’s the first one:

3 business lessons I learned from making grilled cheese sandwiches

Don’t overthink things

A grilled cheese is one of the simplest food items you can make. Seriously, bread, cheese, butter. But the last time I made a grilled cheese, the outside was dark and the cheese wasn’t super melty, so I decided to look up a recipe.

(I doubted myself)

Then I decided to zhouzh up the sandwich with a yummy spread.

(I wanted to create the best possible product)

All I could think was “Oh, I hope Stephen’s super impressed with my gourmet grilled cheese!” I spent so much time concerned about his opinion of these dumb sandwiches that I overthought every step. How to butter the bread. How to get them that perfect golden-brown. How to get the cheese gooey.

(I was frantically attached to an outcome)

As I ooooooverthought each step, I got the opposite result from what I wanted. A charred sandwich that no one wanted.

Sometimes, the more we try to make something perfect for someone, the more prone we are to make mistakes. We overcomplicate things. We get stuck in a vortex of adding…and never actually finishing. And we overthink an otherwise simple job.

How to fix an overthinking problem

How can you take action on something you know you’ve been overthinking? What do you just need to put out into the world that you’re currently overthinking and you know it?

Hit publish.

Hit record.

Click send.

And stop overthinking it.

Make the best product you can without overthinking it.

Learn to focus

I was so busy stirring soup, refreshing my phone screen, reading the recipe, adding ingredients, and checking temps that, without thinking, I added olive oil to my pan (mistake #1). I then let the oil overheat (mistake #2). When I laid down the already buttered bread, the smoking oil burned the bread on contact.

You see, there’s a looooot of our brain that runs on auto pilot to conserve energy. I mean, our brains burn somewhere around 80% of our total daily calories, so that smart lil thing wants to put itself on cruise every chance it can.

In my case, I had wayyyy too many things happening at once. I maxed out my thinking capacity, and parts of my brain started conserving energy by running on autopilot. What do I normally do when I take out my skillet? I add oil. I didn’t even have to think-I just did it, even though it wasn’t what I needed for this job.

Here’s the thing-There are SO many times in our businesses that we’re trying to do WAY too many things at once and, in the process, we over complicate simple jobs. We overthink things that should be easy, and we don’t get things done because we keep thinking of something to fix or reword.

You’ll know when to flip-taking action intuitively

The last lesson came after I remade the dang sandwiches. I tuned out distractions, stopped caring about what Stephen thought about my sandwiches, and just started making them.

In fact, I stayed focused while they toasted in the pan. I didn’t scroll on my phone. I just stood there. I wanted to give my intuition the chance to nudge me and it did! All of a sudden, I had a feeling that it was time to flip the sandwiches. I lifted the corners and they were perfect!

And in that moment, I realized that a lot of business is like that. When you get quiet, focus, and listen to your intuition, you’ll know exactly when it’s time to take action, release a new product, launch a course, unroll a new service.

So, how can you find a way to get quiet in your life and business so you can listen to your intuition?




Overcoming client objections | How I overcame the "I can't afford you" objection and made an extra $15k

You get an inquiry in your inbox-YESSSSS, this is it! You hit it off big time in that first call or meeting and feel confident they will book with you.

Until…they don’t.

Of course it’s a jolting halt when you hear them say something like “Thanks for your time! We loved meeting you but have decided to go with someone else who’s a better fit for our budget.”

Wait...WHAT? Painful, right? But not permanent. Lemme show you some cool tools to help you overcome every price objection.


My Results

I’m going to share with you the very tips I’ve used to book clients, adding an extra $15k to my yearly income in 2017 that I would have otherwise walked away from. Income that other photographers DID walk away from. And income that got me major publicity and multiple referral bookings.

You see, I wasn’t afraid when a client had their Manhattan based attorney mark up my contract, hoping I’d agree to give away my copyright. I knew just what to do when a potential client told me their budget was $1,500 less than my starting rates…but they had my dream event. And I wasn’t afraid when a client told me they were deciding between me and one other photographer.

And that’s why I made an extra $15,000 last year. I mean...would you like an extra $15k this year? Read on:


What’s an objection?

Quite simply, an objection is something that prevents clients from booking with you. Sometimes they let you know…often times they don’t. That’s normal and shouldn’t feel frustrating. Today, we’re specifically talking about clients who might not book with you because you’re out of their budget. How do you turn them around into paying clients?

Uncover pricing objections early

This might seem kinda obvious, but, sometimes we forget that finding objections is on US not the client. So, asking the right questions is key to finding the objections you can then overcome.You can’t deal with an objection if you haven’t asked what they are. Don’t let fear hold you back-ask the questions!

Here are 3 valuable questions to ask to uncover your clients’ objections:

Are all the decision makers on this call right now? (if not...you’re not going to book them!)

Is there any reason you wouldn’t be able to book with me right now?

What would make this offer work for you?

Understand what “I can’t afford it really means

When a client says they can’t afford your offer, it’s pretty rare that that’s the real issue. That’s just what they think you might understand. Yeah, money may be at play, but underneath of that, clients often have 2 big needs you’d have to meet in order to book:

Budget = a fear of intimacy

in SO MANY cases, the excuse “i can’t afford it,” is covering up your clients fear of intimacy. Making a serious investment means they’re showing up for their biggest dreams. They’re allowing someone in, and they’re putting a stake in the ground and saying “hey, I am so worth it!”

If your client is struggling with a fear of intimacy, use the “ask why 5 times” method (don’t know what that is? Shoot me an email and I’ll break it down) and prepare to touch on something emotional. Give them permission to feel what they need to feel, affirm that you can give them the important thing they are looking for, and then move into the action step of booking.

Does your offer meet their basic needs?

A few years ago, I was shopping for a computer. I was seriously considering switching from apple to windows and had someone tell me about each system.

The person who told me about the Windows system overloaded me with features. Fancy things the computer could do, bells and whistles. I was impressed, for sure. But want to know why I didn’t buy a windows based system? Because they didn’t answer my one question:

How do I move between desktop screens? Suuuuuuuch a simple question, right? And it was the exact question that lost that person the sale. Why?

He didn’t take care of my actual needs AND he overcomplicated things.

Are you doing this with your clients?

The 6 core human needs and your offer

Creating an offer that actually meets your clients needs is the starting place for any offer. The shiny things come afterward.

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Tony Robbins talks about 6 core needs we all have. Understanding these needs will help you know how to tailor your offer to your clients.

Take time to listen to your clients, try to identify their biggest needs from the sliding scale below, and find ways to meet those needs.

Do they need certainty?

Show them a gallery from their venue, show them results you’ve gotten someone, show them an outline of how you’d work together, get that engagement session on the calendar.

Do they need love & connection?

Send them tips/tricks you saw on their favorite blog “just because you were thinking about them.” Send them a beautiful gift, a handwritten card, etc. Find a way to show them you care, you understand, and you are there for them.

Do they need Growth?

Share your process with them-invite them in and create a collaborative atmosphere that nurtures their growth. Instead of telling them your ideas, ask for theirs. And keep reminding them of the growth they’re experiencing because of your work together. Look for ways to track and measure that growth and find ways to celebrate it with that person.

Price objections are a mirror for your inner beliefs about money

Here’s one of the most powerful take aways of this whole article: your price objections could simply be a MIRROR for how much you’re saying “I can’t afford it.”

This feels kinda hard to admit, but when I’m hearing a lot of money objections in my business, chances are, it’s because I’m saying it a lot.

Wait...what??

Yeah! Your outer world simply mirrors your inner world! And until you take radical responsibility for your inner world, you’ll be a victim to your outer world.

Here’s the thing-Money is just energy. It goes where it’s wanted and welcomed. And it doesn’t go where it’s neglected and resented. Chances are, those bummer words from a potential client are the universe simply echoing your OWN words back at you!

Chances are, you’re in a place where you feel stuck in your business. You need help getting unstuck, getting inspired, getting unafraid. But you don’t know how you’d pay for it, so you say “I can’t afford it,” “it's out of my budget,” or “I can’t make the numbers work.”

It’s such a hard place to be in-to feel like you know what you need but can’t have it. You’re NOT alone if you feel that way. And there is a solution.

Are you ready for the solution?

You need to go spend money on something you’ve either told yourself or been told was too expensive. This is especially powerful if you can connect with something you were told you couldn’t have due to money when you were between the ages of 0-7 years old.

I’ll be sharing how I did this exact thing over on instagram stories and how it helped my business today on instagram stories.

Chances are, you’ll find that breaking that spending ceiling in a strategic, intentional, and mindful way will bring clients in faster afterward.




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Mourning motherhood | What no one told me about becoming a new mama

Before having Ansel, my 12 week old son, Stephen and I were married for 5 years. We traveled all over the world, enjoyed lengthy conversations together whenever we wanted to. We cheered each other on in some significant personal growth journeys. We learned who we are, we bought and sold houses, we made and lost money. And at the end of each day, we'd snuggle up together and then fall asleep holding hands. There wasn't a day that went by that we didn't snuggle for a few minutes and fall asleep holding hands. 

We were best friends. We were lovers. And we were people we'll never be again. 

It wasn't too long after having Ansel that the realization hit me like a ton of bricks. Our life together would literally never be the same again. People often said that to me with a romanticized tone, "You're pregnant? awwwww, that just changes your whole life. You're life will never be the same!" Like it would open my eyes to so much love and goodness. 

But then I realized what they meant. My life. would NEVER. be the same. AGAIN. 

And in the early morning hours of another sleepless night, I mourned. 

I mourned the Stephanie that could exercise whenever she wanted to. I mourned the Stephanie that could hop over to a coffee shop to have a spontaneous date with her husband. I mourned the Stephanie that would spend time enjoying putting on her makeup. I mourned the Stephanie that had no one else to really think about but herself and her (completely autonomous) husband. I mourned the Stephanie that got to sleep when she wanted to and shower when she wanted to. The girl that got to go on a walk by herself anytime she cared to, could work whenever and however she wanted to. The girl completely unencumbered by nap times, childcare, and feeding schedules. And I mourned the loss of our nightly snuggle time and falling asleep holding hands. 

There's so much beauty in motherhood, there really is. But no one told me that I might mourn the loss of who I was before having a baby. That I'd never be that girl again. Never have the same marriage again. I just had no clue I'd feel that way and the weight of that loss made me feel so confused and guilty. 

"But...isn't motherhood what I've been yearning for?"

"I lost 2 babies. Shouldn't I just be grateful to have this perfect little baby in my arms finally?"

"shouldn't I feel happy?"
"isn't it bad that I feel this grief?"

"Is it wrong that I miss being able to work and wish I could do that more than be with my screaming newborn?"

The guilt of becoming a new mom can be incredibly overwhelming. I literally felt this paralyzing guilt for every move I made. As my business mentor once illustrated for me, it was like carrying around a handful of balloons. I had to shower with them, get in the car with them, go to Target with them, and go to bed holding onto them. 

Holding a handful of balloons is hard. It's awkward. It's cumbersome. I mean, have you tried to get into a car wrangling a bunch of balloons? That's what momguilt feels like. 

And honestly, the solution is so simple, I walked right over it a thousand times. 

Let the balloons go. Let them go. Release it. Watch it float away. 

And as I released the guilt, I decided a few things: 

I wasn't going to let anyone else's voices create questions or guilt in my mind. I felt loss. So I decided to first grieve.

I felt confused and hormonal. So I decided to give myself space to figure it out and not have the answers. I kept tissues close at all times and didn't wear mascara because there was a high liklihood that I'd be crying soon.

I felt disconnected. So I cried, I talked with Stephen, we shared, and we began finding new ways to reconnect in this new, completely tumultuous time. And I allowed myself to be okay with learning how to love a new human-despite what I thought, it wasn't this magical instant connection. It was intuitive, yeah. But wasn't instant. I had to learn how we relate to each other and learn how to fall in love with him too. And I did. 

I missed my work, so I grieved and journaled when I could, dreaming of a time when I was doing the sacred work that ignites my soul. I allowed myself to relax into the reality that there was enough time and would be enough time for me to do what I was called to do in my work.

I mean, I missed wearing clothes that didn't have spit up on them. So I bought new shirts, and did laundry a little more often.

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I mourned becoming a mother. No one told me I might feel that way. And if you do, know that it's okay. It's a massive life change. And you'll never be the same again. And as I said goodbye to that girl, terrified as to what life would look like moving forward, struggling with a sense of regret, and feeling so overwhelmed by all the life changes I was experiencing, I started seeing something beautiful. 

Because of this new identity, I was becoming someone more beautiful. I started seeing in myself a strength I never knew i had. I started believing in myself, caring for and loving this sacred body I have, trusting, and resting. I started letting go of resistance, trusting my intuition, and reveling in gratitude. 

And as I did, some incredible things started to happen. I started seeing clients and money flow into my life with ease. I started being present-looking my son in the eyes as I fed him instead of frantically creating a social media post. And I started seeing magic everywhere. 

Just like my son lays in his crib and cries, knowing that he'll be fed but doing nothing to bring that food to himself, I started to say what I wanted and let it come to me in childlike trust. And I started celebrating a life that felt good. 

If you're approaching motherhood, hear me when I say this: Motherhood is so different for everyone. But if you feel grief, it's okay. lean into it for a bit and ask for help. And look for the magic. You'll start seeing it everywhere. 

 

Don't give up on your daydream| a letter to the dreamers

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Dear Dreamer,

I'm sitting at my desk, with a million dreams in my head, a heart on fire to help creative business owners build a business they love, and a fussy, clingy infant strapped to my chest. I'm typing, recording, journaling, and building while taking breaks to feed, burp, and sooth my crying babe. 

I've gotta be honest-motherhood is the most difficult journey I've been on! I've found my purpose and work I absolutely love. I found my baby after a long journey to each other. And now, I feel divided. I want to do so many things in my business. I have so many dreams for my family too. And figuring out how to divide my time is not easy. 

Do you ever feel like that? Like you're taking 2 steps forward and 1 step back and you split your time between your daydream and your Maybe your creative business is a side hustle and your time is limited. Maybe you're also a mamapreneur and doing the naptime hustle. 

Whatever your situation, if you feel like you're taking 2 steps forward and one step back...don't give up on your daydream! You're still moving forward and that's what counts. Keep taking the 2 steps forward. Keep running toward your dream. Because you have a sacred call on your life and a purpose to live out. That purpose will be found in both your business and your personal life. The resistance might feel overwhelming at first, but keep going. It will ease up. 

So today, I'm taking my 2 steps forward. I know just how I want my schedule to look, how I want to serve my family, clients, and audience and what it will take to get there. And in 5 years, I won't be whining about the 1 step back, I'll be celebrating the forward motion, the grit, and the alignment that brought me into my dreams.

What does your life look like in 5 years? And what will it take you to get there? Keep stepping, sweet friend. You were meant for this. 

Love, 

A fellow day-dreamer on a mission

4 Business Investments I Made In 2017 That Totally Paid Off!

I run a seasonal business and we’re headed into our slow season. Sometimes slow season can bring on the financial scaries. It used to make me want to hibernate until busy season again and keep all that money I have stored up to make it through.

I used to struggle a lot with a very scarcity-driven mindset surrounding my slow season income. You feel me, don’t you? I mean, sometimes it’s hard to see the forest through the trees! All I know is that giving up this money in front of me means I have to shortchange something else, right?

WRONG! I learned this huge lesson over the past year about money in business:

There’s a difference between spending and investing!

When I spend, the money leaves. When I invest, I should see myself get paid back somehow. So, I made some of my biggest investments yet, and I got to see firsthand how they paid off in big ways! Let’s take a look at them and see just how big the payoff was!

(head's up, if you're unfamiliar with the term ROI, it means "return on investment.")

My biggest business investments in 2017 and their ROI

Seeing a counselor

January brought me the painful loss of my second baby. Add in some additional trauma a month later and I quickly realized I was struggling with depression (more like my caring husband realized it and encouraged me to seek help). I probably owe this dear woman about 17 boxes of tissues...but with her help, I began healing and finding hope again. If you take nothing else away from this, I just want you to know this: Sometimes life is hard. Get help when you need it. We were never meant to do life alone. 

My ROI: hope, realigned priorities, healthy relationship with God, community in my church

Finding the right accountant

This one was a massive ROI for me. My previous arrangement caused me to suffer some severe fiscal losses, so you can imagine my relief when I immediately saw an ROI on this investment and change!

My ROI: 10x my investment. I cried in my accountant’s office. So grateful!

Hiring a business coach

Want to know which investment I spent the most on? And which one KEEPS paying off in dividends? It's business coaching-easily my strongest investment of my year. I was so embarrassed and terrified to hire a coach-I didn’t want ANYONE to know I needed help! But I quickly realized that we ALL need help! 

I had some intense mindset issues to work through. But I worked hard and quickly started seeing breakthroughs. Within 2 months of the end of my coaching, I had created 2 new businesses (Stephanie Booth Photography and The Successful Creative), monetized both, and repaid my coaching investment...but check out that ROI!

My ROI: 3x my coaching investment in two months, generated from completely new avenues. Think about that. I spent the MOST money here. Which means seeing money come into my life at that rate means...I welcomed a lot of money into my life after letting a lot go!  In addition, the most powerful ROI I gained was the strength of mindset to recognize and own my strengths and build out a diversified business. How much would those returns be worth to you? What's the pricetag? 

Hiring an assistant 

After months of struggling to find time to send out client gifts, it made sense to hire someone to assemble my client print boxes and send them out. It was a test idea-while at first I was hung up on letting go of money for something I could technically do, paying her (and paying her well!) allowed me to make 6x that amount during the time she worked for me. Ummmm...What the heck took me so long?

My ROI: 6x-because someone was doing this valuable work for me, I made time to meet with a potential freelance client and they booked me on the spot

How will you invest into your business in 2018?

It’s the time of year where a lot of people start thinking about their education for the coming year. What will you invest into that will bring you lasting value? And how much is that return worth to you? If you knew now that you could get a return of 4-10 times your money, what would you invest into? If I could give you one tip it's this: consider business coaching. You won't regret it!

Want to pick my brain about any of these investments? Let's set up a free 30 min call and chat!

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How To Become A More Decisive Person| 5 Techniques to Help You Stop Overthinking Everything

Let's face it, if you're running a business, you make a lot of decisions. And because you have so many daily decisions to make, it can be really debilitating to feel stuck!

At the beginning of this year, I noticed that, as I began choosing to take risks in our business, diversify, and try new things, I was faced with decisions that had higher stakes. And as I began taking on bigger decisions, I started becoming paralyzed with simple everyday decisions.

Raise your hand if you've ever deliberated wayyyyy too long on something small like whether you should have a breakfast burrito or a cinnamon roll. Red or white? Pants or no pants? Sometimes it feels like we have to make so many decisions that when the big ones come, we've got nothing left.

Here's how to stop overthinking EVERY. SINGLE. DECISION.. And...for the record. It's always "no pants."

5 techniques to help you become more decisive

Remember that "done is better than perfect"

If you have a habit of over analyzing, there's a chance you have gifts people need and are praying for but don't get to be blessed by. You probably have a cue of work that needs to see the light of day but you're just one step away from it being "perfect." 

If this is you, you're your own worst enemy. There are millions of people who could use your unique gifts. Just choose to do instead of perfect (Sheryl Sandber). Remember, done IS better than perfect. You can always iterate. But getting things perfect is a lie holding you immobile. It's time to break free and start running toward your gifts. People need you.

Remove unnecessary daily decisions from your life 

Things like choosing your meals, picking outfits, shoes, and determining your schedule create huge decision fatigue. Never do these things in the morning if you're struggling with indecisiveness. Instead, plan your meals and outfits at the beginning of a week or the night before. Automate the behaviors that don't matter so you are not starting your day expending decision energy on personal things.

Practice rapidfire decision making

Get a long list of either/or questions (this list is great). Set a timer for 30-60 seconds and have someone ask you as many of them as possible. Your goal is to spit out answers without overthinking. If you're really experiencing a block, you may feel like choosing between chocolate or vanilla is a life-altering decision reflecting on  your personal brand. Stop it. Turn off your thoughts, and just pick one. And note that you need to figure out how to deal with your block.

Take 10 minutes off your grocery shopping time

Seriously-the next time you do your grocery list, plan for about 10-15 minutes less than you know you need. For instance. I can do about 2 weeks of shopping in 45 minutes. I create a list for that, and then give myself 30 minutes to get the shopping done.

If you’re working on decisiveness, you’ll be amazed at how many times you hear voices in your mind creating indecision. “Do I get jasmine or basmati rice?” “a bag of apples or pick each one?” “cheddar or barbecue chips?” Your mind will start panicking and make each choice an epic decision, so know your list and route, and get things into that cart that are supposed to be there.

Eliminate “Maybe” from your vocabulary

When asked to make a decision, “maybe,” or “I’m not sure,” need to go bye-bye. Instead, your answers are “yes,” “no,” or “give me one minute to check and confirm.” And don’t be afraid to say no. It can be deeply powerful.

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.” ~Warren Buffet, famed investor

My dear friend, I hope this empowers you to invest your precious energy into the things that are worthy of it. You are doing great things and serving others generously. Don't let your mind hold you back from the important things you are doing. 

Want more help being a decisive person? Sign up for my email list here, get the cheat sheet "How to be a more decisive person" and you're in for some behind the scenes content only available to my subscribers. Join the fun here!

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3 Lessons I Learned From My Most Difficult Clients

Every business owner has a nightmare client-the kind that makes you wonder why you left your stable job to work with these people.  I've had a handful in the past few years, but quitting was never a more serious consideration than in two particular cases. Both times left me with sleepless nights, a bitter taste in my mouth and a feeling of hopelessness. I felt like the only light at the end of the tunnel was closing the doors and going back to substitute teaching.

The two clients that made me want to quit

I attracted two clients into our business that made me want to quit. Both were ugly scenarios-low pay, high work, degrading treatment, and ultimately left me asking if owning a business was really worth it. Both clients left me asking “why did this happen? I genuinely cared for these people and wanted to serve them!” While I can’t change another person, the reality is, when I took a step back, I could see ways I could take responsibility even before they booked with us.

The one mistake I made to attract my worst clients

While I may have tweaked our sales call format, and finessed our client care process since then, the reality is that the single misstep I made was this:

I was desperate.

And because I was desperate, I wasn’t confident in my value. I wasn’t comfortable with each of these clients walking away from us and felt like my business depended on them booking us. We felt like we NEEDED them to hire us...even though it was a bad fit.

3 lessons I learned from my worst clients

Lesson #1: Trust your gut

I recently read about a study done on a group of women who were well versed in the luxury handbag market. They shopped for, owned, and resold luxury handbags regularly and, in this study, they were shown two identical looking bags-a designer and a knock off. They were divided into groups and given two chunks of time to identify the real designer bag. The first group was given 5 seconds to identify the designer handbag and the second group was given 30 seconds. The 5 second group identified the designer bag with startling accuracy while the 30 second group always struggled to choose the correct bag.

Moral of the story: when you’re well-versed in something, trusting your gut will prove more accurate than spending time contemplating all the options. When you're experienced, more time to choose a plan usually leads you to overthink things. If you have the experience to back you, trust your gut reaction.

Lesson #2: Be the expert guide

Because I was learning and growing, I didn’t know how to guide my clients. I went through adolescent phases of trying to do so-eagerly agreeing with them and letting them feel like I was their enthusiastic cheerleader, trying to be aloof toward clients until they worshipped me (isn’t that like, super luxury??), but ultimately, the best approach for me was to be an expert guide.

This means that I’m fully confident in my value and expertise, but I guide my clients with recommendations and experience. I use helpful words like “recommend” and “suggest” instead of “should” and “only.” This allows me to share my knowledge when it’s wanted, but still gives my clients full decision making liberty.

And ultimately, I’m not God-things could go far differently than I thought-there are always precedent-setting circumstances in my line of work. I don’t want to have pressured my clients into something and then have it come back on me afterward if something goes poorly. I want my clients to have the best information to make the decisions that make them happiest.

And when I started applying this approach, my clients trusted me even more as a vast wealth of knowledge and a trusted resource they could rely on.

Lesson #3: Believe in your value

Believing in my value ultimately came down to needing to change my mindset. Instead of a scarcity-driven belief that the client in front of me was my golden ticket to my next paycheck, I began adopting the belief that the clients I wanted were already out there for me and they’d find me in the right time. There was plenty for everyone and I’d have enough (clients, pay, work, publicity, etc). Just this shift in my thinking created a much more relaxed, positive, and confident approach.

Now our meetings have become much more like a great date. By the end, I’m willing to leave without a kiss goodnight and they are only leaving if we have a second date scheduled. Ideal, right?

You'd better believe that these lessons created massive shifts in our business! Drop a comment below-have you been burned by a client before? What have you learned from it?

3 steps you can take now to adopt a growth mindset | Madison, WI Business coach for female creative entrepreneurs

If you’ve followed and/or identified with my story about recognizing my fixed mindset, (my childhood story and my business story, 6 signs you have a fixed mindset) you’re likely wondering “what can I do about it?” Thankfully, with dedication, these 3 simple tools will help you start catching your fixed mindset and choosing a growth mindset! Do you already do any of these? Which has been most helpful? Comment below and share!

3 simple steps you can take to adopt a growth mindset

1. Journal toward a growth mindset

Journaling itself can be deeply therapeutic, but specific techniques in journaling can help reveal and release long held blocks and old mindset patterns. Here are a few techniques that helped me:

Morning pages

I would get up in the morning and journal freestyle for 10 minutes. For me, this looked like a lot of prayers. It allowed me to unload the negative thoughts I woke up with, worries, fears, and general overwhelm off my brain and give it someplace else to live. You can get Morning Pages journals like this one, but I personally just got up and wrote in my "ugly purple notebook." That notebook is filled with heartbreak, hope, prayers, ideas, growth, and change. It's ugly, but I love it to death!

Story Brand Productivity sheets

I’d follow up my morning pages time with a productivity sheet, helping me assess procrastination, and separate the important tasks (things that moved my bottom line forward) from the frenetic pace of the everyday to-do list. For those feeling like they're constantly spinning wheels and not actually moving their business forward, try this tool-it's amazing!

Cognitive behavioral therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a deeply powerful (and simple!) way to begin retraining your brain on how to think surrounding problems themselves. People with fixed mindsets often view problems as insurmountable. Any form of a next step is unlikely because just the fact that they faced opposition was a sign of failure, so the only response to a problem is to freeze. CBT suggests that you should record the problem, along with 3 truths surrounding the problem to reframe how you think about it.

Brainstorming

 I never knew how to brainstorm. This reinforced the idea that I could think of solutions to my problems and I could solve them for myself. Since problems or opposition was a sign that I was a failure, I would meet a problem and just freeze. Learning to brainstorm was the most powerful tool I developed! All of a sudden, I was making progress and these massive mountains became small mounds to simply step over.

2. Speak out loud to shift how you think

There’s a profound connection between what you talk about and what your brain subconsciously wants. The more you talk about something out loud, the more likely it is to happen.

I found that, once I listened to myself, I was extremely harsh on myself. I’d regularly walk around my home saying things like “Stephanie, you stupid idiot. Who does that?” It’s so sad to think that those are actual words that I regularly spoke to myself-things that are too unkind to even say to others. But I believed it.

I began catching myself saying those harsh things and correcting myself out loud, like this: “No, I’m an intelligent woman, created lovingly by God. I am doing too many things at once and lost focus, because I’m human. It’s okay.” It was like giving myself a little side hug and giving myself permission to be imperfect and regroup. I had no clue I was so hard on myself until I listened to myself and began changing that.

If you're not someone who talks out loud to yourself like me (haha!), it's still deeply powerful to speak truth about yourself, God, your goals, and your abilities. 

3. Seek professional help

I saved the scariest for last. Asking for help is so tough-it feels like a failure or defeat! I felt like if I told people I was seeing a counselor or working with a business coach, they'd judge me as crazy or incapable, like I was admitting to everyone I was a mess. Aren't we all? Why did I think admitting that should be a problem? But, when I swallowed my pride and reached out to people, asking for help, I found that my biggest growth happened during that season. I needed that extra support and felt proud that I asked for it! (as should you, if you do!)

 Please know that if you are working to change your mindset, it’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to ask someone to walk that journey with you and it’s okay to be vulnerable with someone you trust. You don't need to share that with anyone-just take the next right step.  

I sought help after my last miscarriage and after realizing that my business was in an 8 month lull of no bookings. I was broken hearted and burned out. So I sought help. For me, that looked like seeing a counselor in my church to help me mend my heart along with working with a business coach who specialized in mindset and removing blocks. I worked on my heart, my mind, and my business and it moved me forward with support, and love. I couldn’t have made such massive shifts in my life without these two precious women. 

Should we work together on your mindset?

If you’d like support as you work to shift your mindset, let’s talk! I’m a business coach who’s been there and I have resources and support ready for you.

Here’s how you can work with me on releasing your fixed mindset and embracing a growth mindset as you build your business:

Join the Inspired Business Mastermind

Stephanie’s Private Coaching

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