Work

Play At Your Level

Have you heard the phrase, “Stop comparing your chapter one to another’s chapter 20″?

As I was journaling, recently, I came to a realization that really jumped out at me. And it was this:

One of the reasons newer entrepreneurs get so overwhelmed and frustrated, and have no idea what to do, is because they are seeing all these other — more advanced — entrepreneurs saying “do this, this, and this“, OR telling their stories of how they did X, Y, and Z to get to where they’re at.

What these new entrepreneurs aren’t considering, however — and here’s the real “aha!” — is that the tactics and methods being touted / recommended by these other (advanced) entrepreneurs is actually “Level 30” stuff … not the “Level 1-5” stuff that would actually make sense in the beginnings of entrepreneurship!

If you haven’t yet walked through Levels 1 through 29, of course the Level 30 stuff is going to confuse, frustrate, and overwhelm you!

The problem is, a lot of those other, more experienced entrepreneurs don’t stop to think about this. So, there aren’t usually any caveats saying, “As a pre-requisite, you need to have done ___, first, or none of this is going to work for you.

There should be a clear distinction between what’s beginner-level, what’s intermediate, and what’s more advanced. And yet, there isn’t (to my knowledge, anyway).

Instead, there is so much information online, and no real (affordable) way to know — quickly! — what belongs at what level.

Some might recommend you get a coach or mentor to help you figure this out. And yet, for most new solopreneurs, the prices charged by these coaches are so far out of their budget that it feels impossible to ever get any help.

[Side note: This is one of the reasons I love my own coach, Crystal! She believes coaching should be affordable, so that those who are ready to do the work can get the help they need, without breaking the bank! Check her out, and tell her I sent you!]

One of the things I am working on doing is putting together a reference that will show you what you need to focus on at each level of your self-employment journey. This way, you won’t have to waste time trying things you’re not yet ready for (thereby, feeling like you’ve somehow “failed”), and you don’t have to worry that you’re missing a step, as you will be able to “cut through the noise“, and just do what you need to do, right now, where you’re at.

Do what you can, with what you have, where you’re at.

Theodore Roosevelt

My upcoming web class, Solopreneur Foundations, will be one of these helpful resources! If you’d like to be notified when it’s available, I invite you to sign up to my newsletter, and you’ll be the first to know!

Silence & Solitude

How do you feel about being alone with your thoughts and feelings? Does it make you uncomfortable? Are you afraid of what will come up?

I read this quote, the other morning, in my current read, “Every Thought Captive” by Jerusha Clark:

I feared the silence and solitude. What would I hear in the silence? Would I have to face myself if I sat quietly for five minutes? … I kept my life loud enough to drown out my own thoughts, and what God might be trying to say to me.

Andrea (quoted on page 205, “Every Thought Captive” by Jerusha Clark)

And, this made me curious… both about how others (like you) feel on this subject, and also whether I am truly as comfortable as I think I am with self-reflection.

I’ve always considered myself to be extremely introspective — perhaps even more so than most. I love to sit & journal, and think, and dig into why I do (or don’t do) certain things. I’ve always been curious.

As such, I don’t see myself as being scared of the silence; I’m not afraid to look inside, or to consider my own thoughts.

I don’t even think I’m all that fearful of what God may want to say to me. After all, I ask Him, frequently, to speak to me… to show me who He is, and what He has for me.

However, for me, it’s more about the feelings I may have to experience if I really slow down enough. I don’t like discomfort. I don’t want to face certain feelings. It’s not that I can’t… simply that I prefer to stuff them down, find the positives, and carry on. Who has time for negativity, am I right?

And yet, by not facing my feelings, they continue to pop up again — sometimes in different ways — trying to get my attention. And they usually don’t go away until I’ve dealt with whatever it is they’re trying to show me (which usually involves bringing them before God and getting His help).

Here’s the thing:

By not slowing down and taking time to be in the silence with our own thoughts (or feelings) — or, even allowing God to speak to us — we cannot grow into all we are meant to become. We get stuck in a loop of sameness. And that’s really no way to live. It doesn’t bring us the “abundant life” Christ promised us.

So, I encourage you to be brave. Intentionally take the time to sit in silence, even just for five minutes, and take note of what comes up. I will be doing this, myself (facing my feelings), too.

NOTE: This post contains affiliate links. Please see my Terms for more information.

We Are All Students

Back in 2015, author Elizabeth Gilbert shared this on Facebook, and it was so good, I felt I needed to pass it along. She wrote . . .


Dear ones,

My friend, pastor Rob Bell, once gave me this beautiful piece of advice, which I will now pass on to you.

He said that, whenever he starts to beat himself up for not being good enough at life, he simply writes this on his hand — STUDENT — and reminds himself to look at that word several times a day, and to meditate upon it.

He said that that one word — STUDENT — is his best defense against self-abuse, shame, perfectionism, failure, and regret. Whenever he fails himself, or falls short of his ideals, or doesn’t know how to handle a complicated situation, he just looks at that word — STUDENT — and then gently allows for self-forgiveness. Because we are all just students, after all.

We are all new at this.

We’ve never been here before — in these bodies, in this lifetime, in this world. We don’t always know how to handle things in the best way. We don’t want to suffer, but we don’t always know how to avoid it. We long for closeness and peace in our relationships, but we haven’t necessarily learned, yet, how to find it. We want meaning, but lose sight of it. We want revelation and transcendence, but don’t always know how to reach for it.

But we are learning.

We are always in the process of learning — and it’s not fair to expect that people who are in the process of learning should automatically always get things right. Nobody always gets things right during the learning process.

Elizabeth Gilbert

That’s okay.

We are merely students, after all, and students –by definition– are not masters. We will be students for as long as we live. We wake up every day, and take a deep breath, and go back to school in the world all over again. That’s what dedicated students do. Every. Single. Day.

This morning, I felt like I really needed the reminder.

So, I got out a Sharpie, and wrote the word across the palm of my right hand — my stronger hand — which I can then lay across my heart throughout the day, with hopes that the message will sink in: “It’s okay. You’re doing your best. You’re still learning.”

Onward,

Liz Gilbert


Renewing My Creativity

When I was a little girl, I wanted to be an Artist when I grew up. I loved to draw, to color, to paint, and to make up stories. My Dad was a sketch artist for the local police department, and my Mom always loved to do crafts, doodle, and design, too. So, I came by this creative spark naturally.

However, when I was in grade eleven, I took an independent learning course in Graphic Design. And when I handed in a particular drawing project, my teacher sent it back with the comment that I “draw like a 2-year-old“. Being insecure enough already, I took that comment to heart, and I let it squash all of my dreams of pursuing a career in the arts.

I went on to take Office Administration in college, then got married and had kids, very shortly thereafter. As such, my art got pushed mostly into the background. I still liked to doodle, but it was no longer my focus (my kids filled that role).

Around 2015, with my kids getting older — both in their teens — I started finding more time for myself, and I decided I should start seeking out others who also love to be creative.

I ended up seeing a flyer at the local library, advertising an upcoming Art Journaling class for women, and I decided that’d be a good place to start. So, I signed up.

At first, I’d thought it was going to only be the one class — a 2-hour gathering. As it turned out, however, the class was once-a-month for the entire year!

My creativity was going to be renewed!

Through that Art Journaling class, I discovered that I love sitting down to be creative — painting, drawing, doodling … even Zentangling! I can lose myself for hours in my creative messes.

Here are a few of the things I created:

Each month in the class, we had a “theme” word — for example, Magical, Courage, Imagine…

I really enjoyed that class, and loved getting to know the artsy ladies in the group, as well. I even got invited, by one of them, to go speak on creativity to her quilter’s group! So fun!

I would love to know . . .

DO YOU MAKE TIME FOR YOUR CREATIVITY? HOW SO? WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE MEDIUM, SO FAR?

Joyful Marketing

As a new entrepreneur, back in 2013, I really had no idea what I was doing. So, I sought out all of the information I could get my hands on. I followed all the “experts”, so I could learn how to be successful at doing business online.

I certainly learned a lot. Yet, something always felt “off”.

In 2017, my friend, George Kao, published a short –but, wonderful!– eBook called, “Authentic Content Marketing“. It’s full of practical tips for how to let go of the usual methods of marketing, and for how to adopt authentic marketing practices.

Upon first reading George’s book, I absolutely loved it, and his ideas deeply resonated with me. I 100% bought into what he was saying — at least, in my heart. Yet, in my head, I was skeptical.

I feared that if I didn’t do what the mainstream marketing ‘experts’ said to do, I wouldn’t be successful, nor would I make the money I so desperately needed. As such, George’s method was just too risky for me to try; I needed a “safer” option.

But here I am, 3+ years later, and I’m little better off than I was.

Am I saying the ‘experts’ are wrong? No, not necessarily. I’m simply saying that it seems what works for them doesn’t work for me.

I’ve tried their methods. I’ve watched the webinars, signed up for the trainings, read the books, watched the videos, and I’ve done my best to implement what I’ve learned. That is, until recently…

I’ve been diving into why I have so much resistance to certain things. And I found my answer: These “traditional” marketing methods just don’t fit with my values and my preferred way of doing things.

So, I’m giving them up, and I’m opting for a more intuitive and organic approach. No more scarcity, or fear-based marketing. No more sales funnels designed to lead people to a purchase. No more cleverly-designed opt-in “freebies” used as bait, just to get an email address for my mailing list.

Now, I still believe in learning from others, obviously — I do it all the time! Yet, there comes a point where you know enough (the basics), and you just need to do what works for you.

And, part of this is trial & error. I had to try the other methods in order to know what does and doesn’t work for me (and, in the process, I found my own North Star!).

When you align what you do with who you are, business (and marketing!) becomes joyful, and you begin to really come alive!

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* This post contains affiliate links. Please see my Terms for more information.

Why Knowledge Isn’t Enough

I’ve been an avid reader since I was a teen. For a while, in my twenties, I was even known to most online as “MizB” (short for “Mizbooks”).

I started off being mainly a fiction reader (stories). In 2005, however, my tastes started shifting over to non-fiction… and now, I really don’t read much fiction at all. I soak up knowledge like a sponge! I love personal development, Christian living, heath & wellness, plus books on marketing and small business.

Yet, something I am beginning to realize is that consuming knowledge isn’t enough. We have to actually apply what we’ve learned — otherwise, what’s the point? If we consume, consume, consume, but never apply, how is that really benefitting us?

And worse still, aren’t we, in some ways, robbing others of the insights they could have — via our unique viewpoint — regarding what we have learned? (These are the kinds of thoughts that run through my head, anyway).

So, how do you go about applying what you’ve read to your everyday life? Well, here are a couple of ideas:

O1. | SHARE IT!

Ray Higdon, a business owner and marketing expert, says, “Invest. Learn. Teach.Invest in your own “education”, via books, trainings, etc. Learn from those things. Then, turn around and teach others what you’ve learned — from your own perspective, using your own words.

You can write blog posts, make YouTube videos, record a podcast, or create your own eCourses or workshops. This is how knowledge spreads.

02. | USE IT TO UPLEVEL & GROW

Say you’ve read a business book, and it’s taught you some new ways to market your business. Pick one of those new methods, and start actually putting it into practice in your own business. Maybe it will benefit you, maybe it won’t. Either way, you will have the benefit of growing from the experience.


We cannot truly grow and change if we aren’t willing to step outside our comfort zone and try new things.

Again, this whole topic of applying what we learn is something I still, personally, struggle with. As such, I will be taking my own advice!

. . . . .

Which of the 2 ideas, mentioned above, will you commit to trying? Let me know in the comments!

No One-Size-Fits-All Plan

As a creative and free-spirit, I’ve always found it really difficult to do entrepreneurship the way the experts (or “gurus”) say you should do them. I’ve learned from them, of course, and I’ve tried to implement a lot of what I’ve learned. But eventually I feel restless, and need to shake things up.

And, I’m learning an important lesson — that it’s better to find what works for you, than to try to pattern your business off of what everyone else says is “right”.

You are unique. So, what works for others may or may not work for you. There is no one-size-fits-all plan for self-employment.

Sure, there are “best practices”. And I do believe it’s important to still learn what those things are. But, you then need to go through a trial-and-error process in order to really know whether or not these practices will work for you and your business.

So many people, I believe, are scared to venture off into doing things their own way. What if it doesn’t work? Will you not succeed if you don’t follow the “rules”? Won’t people fail to take me seriously?

I’ve been there and had those doubts, so I get it.

The truth is that you are less likely to succeed — at least, in the long-term — if you try to be something you’re not. You will always feel unfulfilled, maybe restless, and you will probably face burnout.

Whereas, by truly allowing yourself to release the shoulds and step into what feels right for you, things will flow much more easily, and you’ll be more likely to love what you get to do with your days.

So, go ahead, free-spirit! Let yourself be free to do what works for you!

Truly Yourself

It can be so difficult to fully be yourself — especially when this world is constantly trying to shape us into something we’re not.

Yet, just because something is difficult, doesn’t mean it’s impossible. It simply means we need to be more intentional … more aware.

I recently had the realization that, for far too long, I’ve allowed myself to be dragged along by the “shoulds” — I “should” do this, or be that, if I want to have a “successful” business.

And in the process, I forgot who I am.

Thanks to nudges from the Spirit, I’ve been reminded of the real me, and I’m working at bringing her out of hiding.

For example, instead of being so tightly wound and trying to control everything around me, I’m releasing my grip and surrendering to the flow. Instead of being driven by others’ “shoulds“, I’m asking myself what works best for me.

I truly believe — at my core — that we can be successful (more so!) by being fully ourselves . . . doing what works for us, as individuals, rather than copying others, or conforming to some societal standard.

What works for someone else isn’t necessarily going to work for you.

And this is why it’s so vital that you understand yourself fully. After all, how can you decide what does or doesn’t work for you if you don’t even know yourself?

So, where do you even start?

I started getting to know myself through a mix of personality quizzes (Myers-Briggs, Enneagram, etc.)*, journaling for reflection, and asking God to show me who He created me to be.

*[Note regarding personality quizzes: No one test is ever going to be completely, 100% accurate in describing you, as we are all unique. However, I still find it extremely valuable to take a handful of these tests, as it helps you start to see patterns, and realize what really is true of you].

All in all, don’t let society drown out the real you. Stay alert to its influence, and get to know all of the facets of what makes you, you, and then be intentional about remaining true to yourself.

Life is a lot easier when you know who you are!

Ever Shifting

As a multi-passionate creative, it can be really hard to stay consistent. All of the entrepreneurial (or, marketing) “gurus” will tell you that you must be consistent, or you will lose your audience’s attention. (Heck, I can’t even keep hold of my own attention! LOL — Squirrel!)

But, here’s the thing. . .

Once you understand who you are at your core, and what makes you come alive — once you know what does and does not work for you — consistency becomes so much easier. You begin to see ways you can work with your tendencies, instead of trying to fight against them in some wild attempt to conform to the “shoulds”.

As an example . . .

Not long ago, I discovered that the thread that ties everything I love together is GROWTH. I used to think it was “freedom”, or maybe “possibility”. But, now I’m clear (and Growth actually encompasses both freedom & possibility!).

RELATED: Get clear on YOUR overarching theme!

Knowing that “Growth” is my overarching theme, I’m now able to understand what does and does not fit with this, and it enables me to make decisions about my work far more easily. It’s like my North Star.

Recently, when –once again– thinking about changing up my content, I had an “aha”. I realized that my own topics will forever be shifting and changing, because I am constantly in the process of learning new things, and upgrading my mindset and knowledge. This –in essence– is what GROWTH is . . . forever evolving.

So, instead of fighting it in the name of “consistency”, I’m now relieved to see that I am still being consistent by remaining true to my overarching theme of growth… even if my content under that umbrella may shift and change, as I go along.

Now, how can you find that same freedom to work with your tendencies instead of against them? Here are 3 simple steps to get started:

01. LIST ALL THE THINGS YOU LOVE

These don’t have to be all work-related. If you love it, write it down. Write down things you’re currently into, and things you used to be enthralled by. Everything goes on this list.

02. REVIEW IT AND LOOK FOR COMMONALITIES

Once you’re done making your list, look it over and see if you find any patterns or commonalities. For example, maybe you love freedom, and possibilities, and personal development, and personality types, like me. In that case, you might say “growth” is a commonality between it all.

03. KEEP DIGGING UNTIL IT FEELS RIGHT

It may take some time, or a few tries, to figure out your own “North Star”. Like I said, my own switched up a couple of times before I found the one that best fit who I really am.

And, if you need help, I’m here to walk you through this discovery process. My North Star program does just that, so feel free to have a look.

Not Your Typical Christian Gal

I’m not your typical Christian gal. I don’t do the whole pushy, shove-it-down-your-throat stuff, or flaunt my faith piously for all to see. In fact, I’ve been dubbed “backslidden” and “far from God” because I don’t fit into the mold.

For example, here are a handful of things that set me apart:

  • I will go to bars
  • I like to drink alcohol (though, I don’t drink a lot)
  • I like Bohemian/Gypsy-style clothing
  • I don’t attend church
  • I follow my intuition (aka: Holy Spirit)
  • I don’t spew “Christian-ese” at people, or pressure others to convert
  • I read books like The Da Vinci Code, Harry Potter, Twilight, and even –gasp!– Rob Bell’s books
  • I love the Enneagram
  • I believe it’s okay –good, even!– to have doubts, and to question things
  • I was not (and still am not) a fan of Donald Trump
  • I refuse to watch Fox News



However, lest you think I’m a complete heretic . . .

  • I do not agree with homosexuality (though, I’m willing to befriend those who live this lifestyle)
  • I am against abortion (in other words, I am pro-Life)
  • I believe the Bible is God’s living & active Word
  • I don’t find it necessary to curse (swear)
  • I will not ‘hide’ my faith in order to seek approval, or be “accepted”
  • I do still avoid certain content, people, and situations, in order to guard my heart and mind (Prov. 4:23)



If you had a scale, with the far-left/Liberals on one end, and the far-right/Fundamentalists (& Evangelicals) on the other end, I’d say I fall somewhere just slightly to the right of centre.

I like to think of myself as a free-spirit or nonconformist Christian (heck, even a Christian rebel!). 😛

A lot of mainstream Christians and I do not see eye-to-eye on a lot of things, and I’m okay with that. (I do so wish, however, that more of them were open-minded enough to have healthy discussions with me, rather than jumping to conclusions, or judging me right out of the gate!). Sigh.

DECONSTRUCTING FAITH

Recently, I read an article that talked about “deconstructing faith”. I found this really interesting, especially since it’s quite similar to the process I went through, myself, quite a number of years ago (and am, perhaps, still going through).

Academics have dubbed it ‘theological deconstruction’, but in simple terms, they’re referring to what happens when a person asks questions that lead to the careful dismantling of their previous beliefs. Some talk about a “mid-faith crisis”, where deeply held doctrines are re-examined and sometimes jettisoned in favour of more progressive ideas. Many continue to self-identify as Christian throughout this time, others take on another label which they say carries less baggage, such as ‘follower of Jesus’.

Sam Hailes, Premier Christianity

The dilemma for those experiencing a shift in their faith is often figuring out which of their beliefs are true and good, and which are false and harmful… This period of questioning can be painful and often isolating, as Christians are sometimes afraid to voice their doubts or admit to a change of theology. 

Sam Hailes, Premier Christianity

The problem comes when people “deconstruct” their faith through questioning, but then fail to “reconstruct” it, afterwards. This is where you find a lot of the ex-Evangelicals, and those who’ve renounced faith all together. And it breaks my heart.

My sincere hope, in writing this post, is to find other free-spirit Christians, like myself, who don’t fit into the box (and don’t care to, either!)… those who are followers of Jesus, and hold to the inerrancy of Scripture, but who strongly believe that Jesus came to set us free — not to burden us under a list of “thou-shalt-not’s“. (Leave me a comment, if that’s you!)