Weekend Reading

Happy Saturday! First of all, I apologize for no post on Monday! I DID manage to start a blog over on my website and post over there though! If you’re looking for wedding invitation ideas (or just like to see what I’m up to) check it out!

Tomorrow I’m heading to the beach for some much-needed downtime with my family. (Which means today I’m going to be a frenzied and frantic busy bee, trying to get orders out the door early and running endless loads of laundry.) I’m anticipating no wi-fi, and I’m hoping to have time to READ! Like actual books!

Here’s what I’m bringing with me:
Recipe for Press
I’ve been so so so so lucky to have had my save the dates featured in a handful of magazines! Makes me feel like a pretty big effing deal. All of those magazines found my work and contacted me, which is super exciting! But what happens after the next issue comes out? I’d love to learn how to pitch my work to magazines and blogs to keep that press buzz going! This book has been recommended by basically everyone I admire.

The Secret to Peak Productivity: A Simple Guide to Reaching Your Personal Best
Does anyone NOT struggle with productivity? I’m drawn to the idea of focusing on physical clutter first, then electronic clutter, followed by time management, and finally new goals. Seems so straightforward! I know I have a hard time focusing and I want to go after new goals but then my giant pile of paper falls off the desk and I get derailed. So this book looks promising!

I’m actually only going for one night, so bringing two books is a little lofty! But I like to have choices! (What if one book sucks?)

And I know I’ve mentioned it a thousand times already, but if you haven’t checked out E-Myth Revisited, I strongly urge you to buy it RIGHT NOW! The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It

What are you reading this weekend? And if you’re a mompreneur, how do you find time to read? Comment below!

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Don’t Waste Another Minute Working Toward the Wrong Goal

What’s the “wrong goal?” Anything that doesn’t push you closer to living your dream life. If you are spending 60, 70, 80 hours a week working because “successful business owners work 80 hours a week,” you’re probably working toward the wrong goal. If you’re making money but you can’t spend it doing what you enjoy because your business won’t allow you to take a vacation, you’re probably working toward the wrong goal. If you quit your day job because you wanted freedom and working for yourself feels like prison, you’re probably working toward the wrong goal.

Whether you’re just thinking about starting a business or you’ve been running a company for years, it’s time to sit down and really articulate why you do what you do. And I don’t mean why your business does what it does. I mean why do you even have or want a business?

Heavy stuff.

But necessary stuff. If you don’t know what you’re working toward, how will you know when you get there? I know, that sounds super cliche, but it’s true! Many of us start businesses because we have a great idea or we want to work from home to be with our kids or we make something cute and friends say we should sell it. And at first business is probably slow. So we work and work and work to get our names out there, to market, to sell, to grow. And then we start actually making money and it feels so thrilling! But somewhere along the way we find we’re still working and working and working. And now we’re making some money… but we’re not loving our lives. “But this is just part of the process,” we tell ourselves. “I need to get through this part so I can be successful,” we say.

And then what? How will we know when we got there? When our bank account hits a certain number? When we’re featured in a certain number of magazines? When Oprah gives us her official stamp of approval?

Well let me tell you a secret. Unless you change something about the way you work–and define WHY you work–right now, you’ll be even busier and more miserable if and when you hit that (arbitrary/monetary/outside-imposed) benchmark of success.

So today we’re going to take the first step toward getting on the right path. We’re going to define what the “right goal” really is for each of us.

The first step toward living your dream is defining it

Michael Gerber, author of The E-Myth Revisited (my fave!) calls this your “Primary Aim,” Sarah Jenks and Nisha Moodley (who host a retreat that sounds like heaven) call it your “Why.” Call it “Define Success For You” or your “Life Goal,” I don’t really care what you call it, I just care that you write it.

This is different from your purpose and it’s different from your mission statement. Your Primary Aim is the big picture of what you want your life to look like. And this is how I wrote mine:

1. Go somewhere quiet, pour yourself something tasty to drink (coffee, lemonade, wine, whatever sounds good), and sit down with a journal and a pen. Close your eyes and picture your life in 10 or 20 years. Your dream life, not your “I’m going to be chained to this cubical for 50 years” life. Where are you? Reading on a secluded beach? Skiing the Swiss Alps? Diving off the deck of your lake house? What are you doing? Who are you with? What do you smell and taste? What do you feel on your skin? Sit with this for a minute or two or five. Wait for the smile to come across your face. What emotions are you experiencing just dreaming about this?

2. Open your eyes and write it all down. Keep writing. What’s your typical day like? How are you spending your time? What kind of home do you live in? Who do you see regularly? Write for as long as you can. Make that picture clear. This picture of your dream life is the foundation of your Primary Aim. If you are not actively working toward having that dream life–then what the hell are you working toward?

Don’t get hung up on whether this feels selfish. It’s not selfish to dream or want a magnificent life. And don’t bother trying to make your dream life look how it’s “supposed” to. I don’t dream of living on a tropical beach. I like to be warm, I like visiting tropical beaches, but I don’t need to be washing sand out of places day in and day out. My dream life involves a comfortable home with a large deck. A deck with a view. I dream of drinking coffee on this deck in the mornings while I write and sketch and read and just breathe. I envision entertaining friends on this deck in the evenings. I imagine watching shooting stars with my family from this deck late at night when reasonable people should be in bed.

My vision of my business 20 years from now doesn’t include me clocking in at 6am and crawling home at midnight. I pop in and check in to make sure things are running smoothly and our customers are loving their invitations, I give hugs and pep talks to my employees, I connect with people, I remind everyone to take a break and have some fun. Then I go home and eat dinner on my deck!

3. Take this dream life description–and you may even choose to wait a few days or weeks to really let it sink in– then try summarizing this dream. In some ways this summary will be more concise because it’s fewer words, but in others it will also be more broad. The way I approached this was writing a bulleted list that completes the sentence, “In my dream life I get to…” For me, my answer is

  • Be creative every day
  • Have time to enjoy my family
  • Have the money I need to do what I enjoy
  • Live with my family in a beautiful and comfortable home (with a big deck!)
  • Set an example (for my kids, other women, and young people around the world) of living my dream

4. Now summarize it even more. Write a paragraph or a series of short sentences that really clearly defines your Primary Aim. WHY are you doing all of “this?” (And “this” is whatever it is you’re working on right now.) It might not actually be much different than the list you made in Step 3, and that’s fine! Just think of it as the “pocket size” version of your dream life’s big picture. Something you can memorize and articulate. Here’s mine:

Remember: The point of ALL of this is… To live in and enjoy a beautiful home and life with my family… To have the time and resources to create, laugh, and play… To be an example of dreaming, risking, and achieving.

That’s it! So simple, seemingly attainable, but really what I dream of! I mean how many people can honestly say they spend as much time as they want to with their family? Or that they’re making the money they need to take vacations and just play? So your primary aim might be bigger or it might be smaller–for me, this is it!

5. Write it down and hang it up. Hooray! You just defined your Primary Aim in life! That’s huge! But it means nothing if you’re not looking at it every single day. It’s amazing how quickly we lose sight of our true goals in life when we’re stuck in the routine of just doing doing doing. You have to have a physical reminder of your Primary Aim to keep you on target.  It can be as simple as a post it on your mirror or a card you carry in your wallet, or you can go all out and design a pretty print that you frame or hang on your bulletin board. Whatever’s going to work to get you to actually look at it and think about it.

6. Use this as your filter. You get to make about a zillion decisions every day. Some are easier than others. Some will keep you up at night. When at all possible, use your Primary Aim as a guide to help you make those tough decisions. Ask yourself, “Which path will lead me toward that dream life?” (And if the answer is “both!” then you probably can’t make a bad choice here. If the answer is “neither!” maybe it’s time to bring in an alternative choice!) I find the times I’m most frequently paralyzed by indecision is just in the basic question of what task to do next. My Primary Aim acts as a guide to help me prioritize. When I’m staring at a list of ten tasks–which of them actually allow me to experience my dream life right now? (Playing whole-heartedly with Olivia, going out to dinner, drinking coffee on the deck.) Which will move my game piece forward on the path toward living my dream life daily? (Working on my business, taking risks, putting $20 in a savings account.) Which tasks really don’t align with my Primary Aim at all? (Scrolling through facebook, comparing my work to others’, perfecting my list of excuses for avoiding exercise.)

7. Use this as your pep talk. Sometimes we still have to do things we don’t love doing. Sometimes our daily tasks are monotonous and boring–but still necessary. For example, I really really hate doing dishes. It’s just one of those daily chores that is so unsatisfying because while the dishwasher is running, someone will inevitably use another dish and the sink stack begins again. But the alternative is not doing dishes at all and that’s even worse than doing them. So how does this relate to my Primary Aim? Well part of my dream life is to live in a beautiful home. And to me, part of living in a beautiful home is having a clean kitchen. So while I may not live in my ultimate dream house right now, I can do everything within my power to make the home I do live in beautiful and comfortable. I can clean the damn kitchen. And it may seem silly, but somehow changing my thinking from “I’m doing the dishes because I have to,” to “I’m doing the dishes because I will enjoy my beautiful home when they’re done,” really helps it suck a little less.

Will defining your Primary Aim make you rich or famous or super smokin’ hot? Probably not by itself. But dreaming, writing, and reminding yourself of what your real goals are–your honest, selfish, if-I-could-have-it-all goals–you’re setting yourself on the right path!

Now it’s your turn! I showed you mine, so you show me yours. Go pour yourself a glass of whatever, write your primary aim, and come back and share it in the comments below!

And sometime in the future I may even start sending out weekly or monthly tips and updates! Wouldn’t that be awesome? Sign up now so you don’t forget to sign up later!

Mompreneur Monday – What’s Happening in April?

Wow, so it’s after 5 on Monday and I’m just now sitting down to write my Mompreneur Monday post. Things have felt a little scattered lately, but not in the classic overwhelmed way–more in a new-things-are-brewing-and-I’m-just-too-excited-about-too-much way! So a bunch of different ideas for posts have been rattling around in my brain and I just couldn’t stop and focus on one tonight. Instead, here’s a mash up of the exciting mompreneur things I’m thinking about for this upcoming month!

The E Myth Revisited

What I’m ReadingThe E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber. I told you guys last week about how inspired I was by Jess Lively. Well then she went ahead and outdid herself. In one of her email newsletters, she asked readers to write back and ask any question they want. So I did. And she wrote back! And suggested I read The E-Myth Revisited to help get some extra systems in place in my business to feel a little less overwhelmed by it. At first glance, I wouldn’t have thought this would be a book for me. But wow. Wow. I’m only halfway through, but I can already tell this book is going to change my business and my life. I am not a person who likes to hear that I’m doing something wrong. But Gerber’s style, charisma, experience, and real-life examples are captivating. I never thought I’d be eager to listen to someone tell me I’m doing everything wrong, but I love it! I’m staying up way too late reading every night. So if you’re in a spot where you feel like you’re working too much, or you feel like you can’t separate your business from yourself, or you feel like you’re managing your business on a combination of luck and coffee–this book is for you!

What I’m Focusing On At Home – Cleaning and Organizing! This is something that’s always on my list. But this month it is my main focus. My only focus. Sure, I’ll continue doing great work and aim to be a present wife and mother, but getting my home and office organized will help ALL the areas of my life. Work will flow smoother, Olivia will have more room to play safely, and it will create a space of calm and beauty for the whole family. Plus my birthday’s coming up! So it would be awesome if the house was in order and we could actually have people over to celebrate.

I had a lovely conversation with a lovely mama last week about her new Etsy shop, and afterward she offered some tips for organizing. I told her the trap I fall into is that I’ll clear one surface (my desk or my work table usually) but then it really just shifts stuff to another surface. And then I lose steam and don’t move onto the other surfaces and stuff comes back on to the clean surface. She suggested thinking about steps in a different way. Instead of focusing on one surface, focus on one “layer” if you will. Like all the recycling. Or deal with all of the envelopes.

So today I started! My first goal is to get all of the garbage and recycling out of the house. Garbage isn’t a huge problem in the office, but the recycling! I’m in the paper biz! And since it doesn’t smell bad, it’s so easy to fill a box and let it sit and then just start another box. Today I emptied the boxes. And gathered random paper scraps off tables. And picked things up off the floor. And I got it out. First I just set a timer for 10 minutes and gave myself permission to do only that much. It went by quickly so I did another 10. Then took an instagram break. Then did 25 more minutes! And I’m still not finished (told you–a lot of recycling) so I’ll plug away more at it tomorrow! On this one, I didn’t take before pictures–too embarrassing! But some before and after pictures may be in store for other phases.

New Designs – I’m committing to at least 3 new wedding designs this month! Now that I’ve said it on here and know you’ll be expecting to see them, I have to do it, right? I’m focusing on keeping things fresh, modern, unique, and quirky, with a focus on fun typography and bold colors.

Business Stuff – I’m starting a newsletter! I’m a little nervous, but totally excited about it! I’d be honored if you feel like welcoming me into your inbox once a month! (And then I’ll come back and recap about what I learn about the whole process! You know me.) Sign up for free fresh tips and new product releases right here!

And I think that’s enough for one girl for one month, don’t you think? What about you? What’s on your agenda this April? Comment below!