From my heart to yours, I just want you to know that your impact is special. You deserve to make that impact and you deserve to have a business that actually aligns with an impact…Don't be kinder to other people who you don't know, than you would be to yourself, be your own biggest fan. Be your own cheerleader. We spend far too much time as our own worst enemies.
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)
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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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”
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!
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.)
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.
A fellow day-dreamer on a mission
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!
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!
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:
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.
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: