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Learning web development: current status.

I first started learning to code (if you can call it that) from a book about FrontPage when I was 12 years old. I learned how to hand-code HTML.

In the years after, I built a few websites by hand, mostly using tables (remember tables?!?) to structure the pages. Then moved on to WordPress for faster development just a few months after it was released. Well, I should say, I started playing with WordPress as a blogging platform a few months after it was released. As it grew, so did I, and I’ve built dozens upon dozens of WordPress websites over the years, each increasing in complexity.

But I never actually learned to code.

I learned enough CSS, JS and PHP to be dangerous – to fumble around, fix things, tweak things, break things… But never enough to actually build anything from scratch, and certainly not to do it for money.

About 18 months ago, I decided to change that, and someone told me to take CS50 through edX. Which I started. And then dropped out of. Because it was demotivating to see how long until I could actually apply what I was learning.

Enter my brilliant software idea in the late hours of January, 2019, while hanging out in Southern California for the winter. A few conversations later, and I was knee-deep in a WordPress Development course on Udemy, watching YouTube videos until my bandwidth slowed to a crawl, and playing with Bootstrap in VS Code “for fun”.

So here’s what I’m up to right now:

  • Finishing the Become a WordPress Developer course on Udemy to shore up my WordPress skills by adding more complex CSS, JS, PHP, custom post types, and WP REST API
  • Studying crash-course style videos on CSS, JS, PHP, and SQL on YouTube
  • Playing on Grasshopper in my spare time to learn more JS
  • Staring, longingly, at my empty GitHub
  • Custom-building a WordPress theme for my new project, Tactile
  • Trying not to get distracted by Python (or React.js, or Node.js, or Angular, or…)
  • Puttering around on FreeCodeCamp.org
  • Joining way too many Facebook groups and newsletter lists for women in tech
  • Dreaming of 1000 projects
  • Sketching out websites using my massive collection of art supplies I’ll finally get to use

Note: before I finished writing this post, I signed up for a free Python course on Udemy. So there’s that…

Do the thing that scares you most.

Imagine you’re hanging onto a rope. You’re clinging to this rope for your life, as you hang above a dark pit. You cannot see what is at the bottom of this pit, you can’t hear it, smell it, touch it or taste it.

You’ve heard that at the very bottom lies a massive pile of riches, your soul mate, and a book containing instructions on how to fulfill your life’s purpose.

Everything you’ve ever wanted is sitting down there, in the darkness. And you can have all of it…

But you have to let go of the rope.

Most of us cling to the rope. We might try to lower ourselves down, to find a flashlight to peer into the darkness, to ask the others dangling around us if they’ve ever been. We try to ease our way into the darkness, not fully trusting the safety of it, never wanting to let go of the rope that is keeping us safe, without realizing that it is actually only keeping us away from what we want most.

We fear the darkness. We create fantasies and stories about what lies beneath to keep ourselves and the others dangling nearby up on that rope. To keep us afraid of the darkness. To keep us in the light, where we know we’re okay.

The others have gone, they let go and they never came back. We make fictional monsters in our minds that gobble up their souls so that we can understand what we believe to be their untimely demise. We tell the others – be afraid of the darkness. We’ve lost many a rope dangler to the monsters waiting to hold us in their depths.

But there are no monsters.

There is no darkness. There is nothing to fear. You’re dangling on a rope literally inches away from everything you’ve ever wanted, but you’re too afraid of the unknown to let go and have it all.

This isn’t a story, this is your life.

That rope is your comfort zone. That darkness is the unknown path ahead of you. And yes, everything you’ve ever wanted really is down there.

Let go of the rope.

Running on courage and vulnerability.

I’ve written about courage before.

It isn’t something I feel I have enough of. I let things stop me all the time. Some people say that I’m strong, or that I have courage, or that I am brave, but I don’t buy that.

Courage doesn’t come out of a desire for courage. It comes out of a desire to accomplish, create, or change something – a desire that is so strong, it pulls you through fear.

I’ve been battling postpartum depression for the better part of 2 years now.

It started after we had a late-term miscarriage with Ryder, my 3rd pregnancy. I fell into a deep depression, pointed with anxiety, hopelessness, loss of a sense of purpose, anger at myself, and more. I learned something very interesting from that experience.

There are support systems for postpartum depression after giving birth to a live baby.

There are support systems for grief after a stillbirth or infant loss.

There are no support systems for postpartum depression after a miscarriage.

In fact, it took a lot of digging to even admit that’s what it was.

I was depressed through my next pregnancy, and I’ve been in full-blown, darkest days postpartum depression ever since he was born.

I love him. I love him so deeply, so truly, with every inch of my being and every fibre of my soul, I love him completely. And yet somehow, this beast that is PPD convinces me every now and again that he would be better off without me. That they all would. That I need to move on, because I’ll never be enough.

People might think it is courageous of me to share that. It’s not.

I have a desire, deep down in my heart, to not only overcome this pain but to help others overcome it as well. That desire is stronger than my fear – it pulls me through the fear and out, into vulnerability.

After we lost Ryder at 15 weeks, I started running. I hadn’t run since gradeschool so I was a complete mess, but I loved it. I loved the challenge of it, I loved the trails, I loved being alone with my footsteps and getting better every time. I loved feeling myself accomplish something. And I started to love myself.

Pregnancy sidelined my running, and I started up again in January. Now I’m better than I’ve ever been, and I’ve set a goal.

I’m going to run.

For the rest of my days, as long as I can, I’m going to run for the women who have suffered with postpartum depression. Not for “awareness”, not for money, but to encourage them to get out there and run, too, so that they can overcome it. We can overcome it. Together.

I’ll bestow courage upon them – encourage them – by being the desire that pulls them through the fear.

The desire to do that, for them, pulls me through my fear.

I’m not courageous. I’m not brave. I’m not strong.

I’m just a woman going for a run, hoping the people who need to see me will see me and will pick up their shoes and run with me. Fast and slow, trail and road and treadmill, I hope they’ll run with me and learn what they’re capable of and overcome the muck of postpartum depression.

And I hope they’ll know…

Courage doesn’t come out of a desire for courage. It comes out of a desire to accomplish, create, or change something – a desire that is so strong, it pulls you through fear.

Business: Stop lying, it IS personal.

“Don’t take it personally – it’s just business.”

That’s what he said, right before he went into a huge rant and tore down a coworker to their very core. But everybody says that, right? “It’s just business” is supposed to mean that you shouldn’t show emotion, it shouldn’t hurt, you shouldn’t be personal or take things personally because it is “just business.”

I’m here to call BS on that lie, because let me tell you my friend, business is nothing if it’s not personal.

I had an experience yesterday that I will never forget, and I have to share it with you. See how you can relate…

I’ve been working with a new client, getting things set up for them to start a new program with me – let’s call them Client A. I’m used to most of my clients working in a very rapid-fire pace, but there were some things this client needed to do before we could start – fair enough.

While this client was getting things in order, another prospective client emailed me asking if we could talk – let’s call them Client B. Sure, why not – I’ll chat with them. My roster is technically full once Client A moves forward, but I’ll talk with them.

But Client B didn’t just want to talk. Client B wanted to work with me – and they were ready to move forward today. So I said “I don’t have the room for you to start today, Client B, but if you can wait a few days I’ll look into my other clients’ program dates and see when I can fit you in.” They agreed. No problem.

Client A was facing more and more challenges in getting started, though, and I couldn’t have a complete picture of my calendar until I knew when they were starting. Client B kept emailing – “any news yet?” And I kept responding, “No, not yet. Just a few more days.”

Days turned into over a week, and then the unthinkable happened for Client A – a big personal matter that needed all of their focus. One that, after my father’s strokes last year, hit close to home. I felt for them so deeply… But I knew I needed to give an answer to Client B.

So I did what the textbooks tell you to do. I did what the boss above would have done. I pulled up my business britches, expressed my condolences, and explained the situation with Client B. I asked if it were possible for Client A to move forward at all, even in the slightest way, so I could tell Client B with certainty.

Sometimes we make decisions based on whom we feel we should be rather than who we are. Those decisions, FYI, are typically wrong.

Client A came back with a no – it will have to wait, the personal matter was priority #1. If we couldn’t end up working together as a result, they were willing to make that sacrifice.

And in that moment, I had a decision to make. I could do the “business smart” thing, take Client B who was ready and willing and able to start right away, and send more condolences to Client A.

But here’s the thing – business isn’t just business. It is personal. It is intensely personal, especially when you spend all day genuinely caring about your clients and their success.

And so I did something that most hard-core business gurus, teachers, trainers, CEOs would write me off for. I emailed Client A:

“Client B can start in September, when another client is wrapping up their program. Your spot is waiting here for you when you get back. Let me know if there is anything I can do for you.”

A complete reverse in position, a shocker for Client A I’m sure. Then the email to Client B:

“I’m sorry, my roster is full until September. If you want to lay out a plan of action for then, we can get started after the summer.”

I still haven’t heard back, and don’t know if I will.

And that was the best possible decision I could have made.

It makes no business sense. I mean really, I just turned away a paying client for a client that is *likely* but not *guaranteed* to come on. I turned down money today for the potential of money next month.

But I couldn’t do it any other way. Reading their words, feeling the raw emotion of what they were going through – and then robbing them of something they really wanted to do? I couldn’t do it. There wasn’t a fibre in my being that would let me pull that trigger.

And that, my friends, is why business is personal.

Because sometimes you have to make the choice that will help you sleep at night.

I don’t know what will come of all of this, but I do know that no matter what happens, I can feel good about it.

When you spend your life building a business to serve others, when you spend your days genuinely caring about the success and joy and pain of others, business is deeply personal.

Have you had an experience like this? How did you handle it? Do you have any regrets? Share in the comments!

The importance of relationships.

I had a unique situation present itself in the past few weeks. It all started with an email dropped into my inbox about a company I knew, which led me to chase down their current status… And today, as a result, I’m sharing a cautionary tale with you.

This startup had an incredible product, huge potential, and a great team put together.

Within their first 3 months, they had made well over $300k – great by any standard.

But things started to take a strange turn from there. The relationships they had built to get them to $300k weren’t being respected. Some within the company thought they knew better, that the product would stand up on its own.

They thought they didn’t need relationships – that there was always someone else.

Time after time they lost partnerships, marketing opportunities, staff members, and sales because they didn’t respect their relationships.

They lost hundreds of thousands of dollars to bad contracts. Millions in potential sales to sabotaged marketing opportunities. They were even blacklisted by major brands, never to work with them again.

Their reputation began to precede them – and not in a good way.

I know that relationships are the most important part of any business. Every business is a sales business, and relationships are the foundation of sales. Unfortunately, they believed so blindly in their product that they thought they could succeed without anyone’s help. Today, as I just found out, they’re nowhere to be found.

I hear that they are technically still in business, waiting on something… But their phone is disconnected, their connections have abandoned them, and their team is all gone. There is nothing left.

Projected sales for their first year topped $1.7M – and they never reached it. Projected sales for 2014 are $0.

I’m telling you this for a reason.

This isabout making you aware of what can happen when you don’t respect relationships.

Nobody owes you anything.

Your product will not stand on its own.

Relationships are the foundation of every successful business, and a lack of relationships is the foundation of every failure.

I’ve made $100k+ just on relationships in the past two years – just from knowing someone, respecting them, helping them, and getting help in return. Clients, promotional partners, referral sources, and even people I refer to others.

You can do this too – if you respect the power of a relationship, if you understand the commitment of a partnership, if you give without expecting anything in return. You can do this if you genuinely form friendships, share from the heart, and be yourself.

Look at the most successful businesses online, and you will see one thing – they are all thriving on relationships. When they host a launch, everyone is promoting. When they mail to their list, 30k+ people are reading. Relationships are their business.

What will you do today to build a new relationship? Share in the comments!

Make new things possible – love the gap.

Ever since my husband and I met (over 6 years ago now…) we’ve been campers. We camped on Valentine’s Day (in the snow), over long weekends and late nights (in places you could only walk to), and slept 10 feet from gorgeous lakes seen only by the lucky few with a strong enough truck (or legs) to make it there. He even proposed while we were camping – on a cliff, above the river, in the woods. But 4 years ago, just before my oldest daughter was born, that changed.

Camping with a baby seemed like a crazy idea – especially the way we did it, in a tent in the backwoods. Suddenly our camping concerns were less about beer and a view than about diaper changing stations and climate control. Things changed. We decided that before we would go camping again, the kids would be a bit older and we would (gasp) have an RV.

There Was a Gap Between Where We Were and Where We Wanted to Be.

The past 4 years, we’ve moved twice, had another baby, started (and ended) my corporate career, and launched 3 businesses. Each time, there was a gap between where we were and what we wanted – and we closed it. But the RV remained elusive… Until a week ago, when we finally decided to make the leap.

Days and days were spent driving to dealerships, scanning Craigslist, driving for hours to see a tent trailer that turned out to be a piece of… “Junk”. We were almost giving up hope that we were going to close that gap, until we found it.

A 1995 Dutchmen with a toilet, shower, furnace, fridge and sink. Two beds, just the right size. A table and bench for seating and extra sleeping. And it was within budget! We towed it home on Wednesday night, and left on our first camping adventure as a family Thursday morning.

There were hiccups, of course. The winch stopped working – and we had to replace it (in the campground, with borrowed tools!) The showed leaked. The sink overflowed. The roof dropped a quart of water on Darren’s back at 4am Friday. All hiccups, but all fixable. We were camping, and we were in an RV!

But The Gap Remains.

We bought our first tent trailer, and once we make a few repairs it will be everything we need as a family. It would probably last us well into our old age if we took good care of it. No issues.

Pulling into a campground with tents and tent trailers, we felt like real “grown  up” campers. And then we saw it – the 23′ Creek Side bunkhouse we looked at last year. Hard walls. Proper water supply and holding tanks. Bunkbeds for the kids. A bigger fridge and more storage – all with a $20k price tag.

And we wanted it.

There we were, finally sitting in the tent trailer we’d been dreaming of for 4 years, and we wanted to step up. What we had wasn’t enough. And for a moment, I judged myself for feeling that way.

“Isn’t this what you wanted?”

“Shouldn’t you just be happy?”

“This is just rampant consumerism running through your brain!”

But I stopped myself. That was the gap. It never, ever goes away – every time you reach a goal, the gap will show you something newer, bigger, and better on the other side.

Before the tent trailer the Creek Side seemed a million years away, and yet now it is a simple trade in and a few thousand dollars to get an older model and we’re there. It is within reach in a couple of years.

So I loved the gap.

I loved it for showing me what is possible.

For bringing a dream closer to reality.

For reminding me that when we get the Creek Side, I’m going to want something else. A new truck, a bigger RV, a 5th wheel… Something else newer, bigger, better, and closer to my reality from that point.

The Gap Stretches Your Boundaries.

When you were 16, if you were anything like me all you wanted was to get your drivers’ permit. The symbol of freedom – being able to go off on your own somewhere. But once you got it, you probably wanted your own car. And then a better car (better on gas, faster, sexier, whatever your fancy.)

You didn’t just “get your permit” and stop wanting – having your drivers’ permit opened up new possibilities on the other side.

Embrace the gap for everything it is, and everything it shows you. Allow yourself to reach a goal, then revel in “what’s next”. Love the gap.

What is On The Other Side of Your Gap?

I want to hear from you – what is on the other side of your gap? What is your “big goal” – not the meaningless business one, with the numbers and the comparisons… The real emotional goal. Supporting your family? Getting the bigger house? The fancy car? The freedom to buy an RV and take off camping without having to answer to a boss, like I did?

Do you know how to close that gap? I want to show you – so let’s talk. For 15 minutes, I’ll listen to your biggest goals and refine them into a plan that makes sense for you. One you can actually implement (without the frustration and overwhelm of those boxed “systems” you see elsewhere.) Something that is personalized for you, your goals, your future, and your skills.

I’ll show you how to love the gap, and push it further – to stretch the boundaries of your imagination and reach entirely new goals.

And it’s completely free. No cost, no catch. You, me, and a plan to reach your next big thing. Just click here to schedule a time to chat.

See you on the other side…

– C

Minimum Effective Dose: Stop doing more than you have to.

Warning: Applying the lessons from this post will require some self-exploration and analysis, as well as some acceptance of who you really are. If you’re not ready to do that, this may not be for you.

I’ve been fielding a lot of questions lately about how to manage time. How can you get everything done in a day? How can I effectively build a business to the levels I want with only 24 hours in a day? How can I stop burning out?

To answer this question, I’m going to bring out one of my favourite tools – an analogy! (Insert shock and awe here…)

When you visit the doctor with a specific ailment, let’s say an infection, the doctor will probably give you a prescription for antibiotics.

Now in this case, would the doctor prescribe you 6 metric tonnes of antibiotics? 4 pounds? 800 pills 3 times a day, by mouth? Probably not, because that much would likely kill you (in the first case, by crushing you like an infected insect hitting an antibiotic windshield.)

It is highly likely that the doctor will give you the smallest dose he believes will work for your infection. You’ll have a follow up appointment within two weeks to see if it is working, where he may increase or decrease the dosage as needed or change the antibiotic entirely.

In other words, the doctor will prescribe the minimum effective dose because anything more than that is simply overkill.

By this point I’m sure you can see where this is going. While your business is hardly an infection that needs to be treated, the principle still applies.

You have a goal – curing an infection or reaching a specific revenue goal.

You have a tool to meet that goal – antibiotics or selling more stuff.

You want to use as little as possible of your tool to achieve your goal, so that you’re not wasting resources and throwing your system out of whack.

So, how can you apply this to your business? By doing as little as you can get away with.

I know, I know – it sounds like I’m advocating laziness here. And in a way, I totally am – because we aren’t lazy enough in these modern days. But what I’m really trying to do is get you to cut out all of the unnecessary, the judgement, and the busy-work to get to the core of what is needed – and do away with the rest.

What would you do if you were running your business on the bare minimum? If you never had to “look busy” for anyone, you just had your goals and that was your only measure of effectiveness?

What would it look like if 60 hour weeks were no longer a badge of honour?

What would it look like if you stopped caring what work was supposed to look like, and just did as little as you could get away with?

This is your golden opportunity.

Look at your working style…

Do you work better in big, long days? Or in small, scattered chunks?

Do you prefer a rigid schedule, or to work when you’re inspired?

Do you get lost without routine, or do you get bored doing the same thing all the time?

Pay attention to how you feel, and use that to guide your working style.

Once you know how to work and when to work, you need to determine what to work on.

This comes back to your outcome – what will produce the value of your business in the lives of your clients and customers the fastest, easiest, most effective way?

Twitter is probably not it. Client sessions definitely are. Candy Crush, not. Newsletter, yes. See the pattern?

We do so much in our day to day that is just killing time, keeping busy, doing things we “should”. We literally judge ourselves into doing things that don’t serve us to meet our own unrealistic expectations.

To get started with cutting out the excess and finding the minimum effective dose, write yourself a to-do list. (There are some fantastic ones in my annual planner.) Then scratch off everything that:

A) Doesn’t feel good AND wouldn’t feel good to accomplish (you can delay or delegate almost anything that doesn’t feel good.)

B) Will not move you toward your goal in a real, meaningful way.

C) Is only on your to-do list because you “should” do it.

Then every day, following your own unique working style, scratch items off of the to-do list – without judging the items that remain at the end of the day.

That is the key to all of this, letting go of the feelings of failure or judgement when you don’t do everything you could or should have done. So what if you didn’t fold the laundry, finish your ecourse, or do 10 posts on Facebook? If the world won’t end and you’re no further from your goal, there is no sense dwelling on it.

Acknowledge and express gratitude for everything you can and do accomplish, and give yourself permission to take the minimum effective dose.

Enjoy the ride.

Success.

Part timing, part preparation, part opportunity, and part luck. As human beings and entrepreneurs, we have a tendency to focus on our goals. This is after all what we’ve been taught for most of our lives – to set goals, and push forward to achieve them.

Goals are funny things, though. They are not absolutes, like the number of hours in a day, set in definite terms and scientific rules. They are fluid, ever changing and evolving, just as we are.

Many entrepreneurs set goals, and this is an important process. To get something off the ground and gain momentum, you must have some idea of where you’re headed. But many of us get stuck on our journey when things aren’t progressing the way we anticipated. We fixate on our goals, striving and pushing toward them with an almost reckless pursuit at times.

This does not serve us.

I’ve been asked quite a bit recently about the organic, unfolding nature of business. How one can set long-term goals effectively, without endlessly focusing on them and dismissing any results that fall short as “failures.” I myself have been guilty of this habit at times, and it is destructive – both to your mindset, and to your ability to actually reach your goals.

So how can you cope? How can you set long term goals, and not allow the pursuit of those goals to play a destructive role in your business?

You begin by understanding the nature of a business.

Just like goals and human beings, businesses are not absolutes. They are constantly in evolution, shifting, changing shapes and forms. This is the true nature of business, and with each new stage come new goals, opportunities, challenges, and lessons.

It may be helpful for you, on your journey, to think of your business as an oak tree.

In the beginning, you plant an acorn. You envision the tall, mighty oak towering overhead one day – this is your goal, your entire reason for starting a business.

If you were able to peer under the ground, within a few weeks you would see changes in the acorn. From a seemingly solid little nut, cracks form and a sprout emerges reaching toward the sky. This is the very early stage of your company, but take note – the acorn had to split and change for the oak to sprout. Your vision and your goal likely will as well.

Soon the sprout emerges from the ground, and begins the journey into a real tree. This is when the oak (and your business) are at their most vulnerable. Being exposed to the world, to the elements, to reality presents new challenges and opportunities. You must overcome fear to emerge into this stage and begin to take root.

The seedling grows, and over the years shapes into a small tree. It has grown stronger, no longer living in a harsh and unforgiving world it has adapted to life outside of the nut. It provides shade, beauty, and bounty as much as it can. This is your business in adolescence – when you’re gaining ground, become self-sufficient, and growth becomes more routine.

Eventually the small tree becomes a mighty oak, hundreds or thousands of years old. It has finally achieved what you intended, but it will not stop growing. The mighty oak will continue to grow until it dies, much as your business will have to continue to grow once you’ve reached your goal.

It is easy to get impatient with an oak tree.

You planted the acorn, why can’t you just have the 600 year old oak right now?!?! But ask yourself – if the acorn were to turn into a mighty oak today, what would you be missing out on?

The joy of seeing it first sprout, the shade of a young oak, the journey it took from nut to tree that hardened it into something capable of sustaining itself at those heights. Indeed there is much beauty in the growth of an oak tree, just as there is beauty in the growth of your business.

You can’t water an acorn like an oak.

If you get too caught up on your ultimate goals, it can be destructive. We have already established this. But why? Why is it such a bad thing to get fixated on where you’re going, rather than where you are?

Because you are where you are, not where you are going.

If you poured gallons of water on an acorn, it is very likely the nut itself would rot. If you watered a mighty oak with a few tablespoons of water, it would likely die. You have to nurture your business for where it is, not where it is going or where it has been.

This is why an obsessive fixation on the ultimate goal is unhealthy. We push too hard, we grow too fast, and not only do we miss the beauty of our young business but we sabotage our own success.

The secret to setting goals is in releasing them.

You have to be okay with what your business is today, and nurture it for what it is today. If you’re brand new, stop focusing on the money you have to make by X date and start enjoying the birthing of your business. If you only have a few clients, enjoy the free time to work on creative pursuits in your company. If you’re maturing and ready to hire staff, enjoy the interview process without fixating on training or HR policies. If you’re thinking of selling your company, enjoy taking stock of what you’ve accomplished and finding the right person to take it over.

Stop and smell the roses, and remember – success is a journey, not a destination.

On shortcuts and quick bucks.

This post is going to be short and sweet, but something you need to hear.

There are no shortcuts.

There is no “fast and easy” way to get a new client – you’ve got to go out, talk to people, and close a deal.

There are no “quick” ways to make a $buck. You have to offer something of value and put it out there in the biggest way possible.

We’re always looking for shortcuts. “How can I write this blog post faster?” or “How can I close a new client without having to pickup the phone?” or “How can I start my business today?”

Effort, passion, determination, and yes – time. They’re all required.

There are no shortcuts.

So go out, put in the effort, use the passion, be determined, and be patient. The results will come.

– C

Get focused now!

Have you ever seen “Where’s Waldo?” – the kitchy cartoon that causes you to spend minutes, hours, days or weeks hovering over a single image looking for a dude in glasses with a red and white striped shirt?

I used to play “Where’s Waldo?” when I was a kid. Back then, it was kind of fun. I mean, Waldo was always hiding there somewhere – I just had to find him. And he was always doing something interesting, like going to the beach or hanging out at the amusement park. A good way to spend time on a rainy day.

Now that I’m all grown up (though some people would debate that point…) Waldo just isn’t as much fun. Sure, if I had the time I’d love to sit down and show it to my kids. I’m sure they would be able to find him pretty quickly! But now, Waldo has become a metaphor for life in the modern world.

There is so much going on, so much to see and do and be, that the one specific thing you’re looking for can be rather hard to find.

In the past few days, I’ve had the great privilege of speaking with a few entrepreneurs who are struggling, like I did as a little Waldo-loving kid, to find their focus.

They feel stuck, like they can’t move forward without finding that missing piece.

They feel frustrated, because they can’t find what they’re looking for.

They feel overwhelmed with the amount of information to take in along the way.

In short, they’re discouraged. They need guidance. They need help. They need focus and clarity so that they can take action and move forward.

They need to find Waldo.

If you’re feeling stuck, overwhelmed, frustrated and discouraged, there is hope. This little exercise will help you move past whatever it is that is keeping you stuck, and get you into action!

5-Minute Focus

Follow along on a sheet of paper. This might be a bit confronting, and the first few times it may take you a bit more than 5 minutes. This takes some self-awareness to achieve, so you may have to work toward it. Have faith though, you will get there!

Step 1: Write Down Your Ultimate Goal

When you don’t know what to do, and you’re finding it hard to focus (perhaps procrastinating?), you need to pinpoint what you’re trying to achieve.

What is your ultimate goal?

What will your current task help you to achieve?

Write down your goal.

It can be hard sometimes to distinguish between where you’re stuck and the true goal – for example, writing your copy vs. launching your website. What you really want to do is launch your website so you can get customers, your web copy has you stuck.

There will be a dependant relationship between your goal and where you’re stuck. You will feel you have to complete X to achieve Y. “Y” is your ultimate goal.

Example: My ultimate goal is to launch my website.

Step 2: Identify the Distractions

What are you doing instead of what you want to accomplish? This could be anything from taking phone calls from your mother in the middle of the day, to organizing your desk, or yes – even spending too much time on your copy.

Write down everything you’ve done today, this week, and even this month instead of accomplishing your goal. Include anything you can’t seem to finish, even if you believe it will help you move toward your goal. Write down everything you can think of.

Example: My distractions are writing and perfecting my copy, redoing my graphics, researching my family tree, folding laundry, fixing the blinds and going to the grocery store.

Step 3: Acknowledge Them

The first time you go through this process, you might start to feel bad on step 2. You might even judge yourself. I myself used to think, “Why can I accomplish all of this other stuff but I can’t seem to finish X?”

I know from experience, that isn’t going to help. Everyone has a life, and we all have things that must get done. We all have other things we want to do. That is not only okay, but it is necessary! Your business would die if you couldn’t have a life outside of it.

Step 3 is all about acknowledging what had to get done, what you wanted to do, and what were the true distractions. The key to doing so without judgement is simple – gratitude.

Example: I acknowledge that I had to write my copy, fold the laundry, and go to the grocery store. I am grateful that I had the time and space to complete these important tasks. I acknowledge that I distracted myself by perfecting my copy, redoing my graphics, researching my family tree, and fixing the blinds. I am grateful for these activities, as they will help me to move forward.

Step 4: Look for the Resistance

Now that you know what you’ve been doing to distract yourself, you get to look for “why”. Why are you distracting yourself in the first place? What haven’t you addressed? Where are you experiencing resistance?

Go back to your initial goal, and imagine it is happening right now – is there something you are afraid of? Is there something in your imaginary scenario that is going wrong? Is there something missing?

Probably 99% of the time, lack of confidence is the core of the resistance. You’re not confident enough in your abilities, your methods, your choices, or some other aspect of yourself or what you’re doing to be able to move forward without fear.

Where are you lacking confidence? What are you afraid of?

Example: I distracted myself with those activities because I am afraid that my website will suck.

Step 5: Acknowledge, Release, and Move On

Now that you understand the true reason behind your lack of focus, which is a lack of confidence in one particular area, you need to practice gratitude. Be grateful that you have fear. If you didn’t care whether or not your website sucked, it probably would.

Then release the resistance. Make a commitment to use that fear in constructive ways (to drive you to achieve your goal), and understand that confidence will only come from putting it out there and watching it work.

Finally, commit to moving forward.

Example: I am grateful for my fear about the website. By using that fear in a constructive way, I will make this website better. I understand that confidence will only come from achieving my goal. I commit to moving forward and completing the website by 06/06/2014.

That’s it.

The key to this exercise is repetition. Yes, the first time you do it you will be able to release some resistance and make progress – but if this is a big, recurring issue for you, chances are you will get stuck again.

Every time you feel stuck, unable to move forward and make progress, complete this simple 5-minute exercise. It is almost magical the way this process can make things happen.

Have you tried it? Share your results in the comments!

– Cheryl

P.S. If energetic alignment is important to you, I highly recommend this exercise. Alignment with your goals through the acknowledgement and releasing of resistance is where the real magic of manifestation happens!The following two tabs change content below.