Celebrating Second Chances

You know, it’s a lot easier if we get things right the first time. But the fact is few of us are close enough to perfect to not have to go back and proofread our work or do a second interview or ask follow up questions or try another marketing campaign or have to practice before we become good at something. And sometimes we never truly get it right and just get it a little more right with each attempt, and that’s as good as it gets, like with parenting and many of the other ever-changing aspects of our lives.

I get it, we’re in such a rush and there’s so much on our plates that it would be easier if everything worked out the first time, but it often doesn’t. Today I was reminded that sometimes second chances are awesome. Sometimes that redo is something much more productive and successful than the first try could have ever been. Sometimes you learn and grow more from the second (or third) chance or try than you do from the first. Sometimes you meet someone or make a connection that would have never been made if you didn’t have to do a redo. Maybe the redo isn’t so bad after all.

What if the second chance, the opportunity to redo something, the second round was actually a good thing? What if instead of giving firsts all the power we instead started to value the seconds? What if instead of hating the time it took to go through additional rounds, instead we cherished the relationships it helped build, the opportunity to make things better, and the things it taught us? What if instead of trying to be perfect on the first try, we just let our brilliance loose for the first round and then took care of the details in following rounds? How would your life be better and different if you stopped trying for perfection on the first try?

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Let’s Talk about Organization

One of the things that a lot of people do in the beginning of the year is get organized! The new year is a great time to evaluate what you’ve got and how what you got over the holidays works in with all of that.  It’s a great time to donate what you don’t use anymore and throw out what isn’t good anymore, donating to some of the needy communities who can really benefit from it during the winter months.

It’s also a great time to get organized and help your kids get organized.  Teaching your kids about organization at a young age is important because it helps them start thinking in ways of organization, which will benefit them in many ways throughout their adulthood. Organization also helps to keep the clutter down and make cleanup easier because everything has a home.

So how do you organize?  When you’re organizing think about what works for the people who are using it. Don’t forget to make lots of storage available at kid level for the kid’s daily use, and higher for more permanent/seasonal storage. Don’t force your partner into a storage system that doesn’t work for them (there are lots of storage options out there than can easily be changed around to accommodate lots of different needs and styles).

There are tons of great companies that have come up with lots of products that make it easier for us to be organized, but if you’re just looking for something simple that is versatile, just start with putting up shelves, shelves that can have their height adjusted so that they grow and move with all of you.

It doesn’t have to be a new year’s resolution, but I would encourage you to take the time to get organized this year because it will make your life easier and make everyone happier.

Getting a Productive Start

This year I’m going to be talking a lot about living (and working) in the moment and really pressing into the time that we’ve got, making the best choices for us that empower us and make the best use of our time. On the topic of productivity, you’ve probably heard about the Tim Ferriss book “4-Hour Work Week,” and while most of us will work more than 4 hours a week and like to work more than 4 hours a week, the only way that something like that is possible is if we delegate and if we really manage our time well.

Most business owners struggle with having a long to-do list and never having enough hours in the day. Often the reasons include not delegating well and not being as productive as they could. I understand that it can take some work to find someone you can trust delegate to and work with well, but when you’ve got someone in that position it makes your work go a lot better and you get more done. As far as productivity goes, scheduling and focus may be your real issues, and working on adhering to a schedule may help you greatly in getting more done in a more efficient manner.

If you want to be a truly productive business owner this year I would challenge you to review your schedule, frustrations, to-do lists and productivity, and take the time to ask yourself some questions: Are you truly productive for some time each day? What stops you from being productive? Why do things stay on your to-do lists? What do you keep putting off and why? Are you hesitant to get help, and if so, why? Are you able to focus when you need to? How has your lack of productivity limited your business growth? What are the 3 biggest (and easiest) changes you could make right now that would greatly impact your productivity?

Will this year be the year that you’re productive in and with your business? I hope so! I invite you to add a comment letting me know how I can help you be more productive this year too.

Living Today

The new year has arrived and we’re almost a week in! I love that we have life divided into days, months, years and lifetimes. It helps us to process better and plan both short-term and long-term goals which give us small and large victories throughout our lives.  Each one is filled with a different set of opportunities for us to live and love and build relationships and be successful.

I don’t always go with a year theme, but lots of people do. I’ve seen lots of different words this year including spaciousness, time, intention, substance, experience, purpose, promise, change and clarity. This year I’ll be doing something different and not doing monthly themes for every month as I’ve done in the past, but instead going with a yearly theme. This year’s theme is going to be ‘today.’

Why ‘today’? Not because of how fast-paced our world is, but rather because I want us to take a step back and live in today, accomplish things today, appreciate today, learn from today and enjoy today. Yes, we’ll still talk about goals, planning, the future, and the bigger picture, but I want to focus on appreciating, enjoying and acting on each day.

As we’re constantly reminded of in the news each day is a gift. What you do in that day may make or break your future. It can overcome what you’ve done in the past. You can end the day satisfied with what you got done that day or feeling like it was all a waste. It may be one of your last days, will you look back and know you lived it well?

What will you do with today?

The Legacy You’re Creating

The new year is here!   Are you looking forward to the year ahead?  This year I’ve got some great topics planned to support you, your significant other and your family.  Today I thought we’d start the year off by talking about the topic of legacy.

We each leave a legacy when we leave this world and the legacy we create leaves an impact on those who personally knew us as well as everyone else directly or indirectly who are influenced by the choices we made, which comes down to basically everyone.  Each day the choices we make add to or take away from that legacy.  Our choices influence the choices others make too, especially when it comes to those we’re in relationship with or are considered to be our family.  Tina Turner said:

“My legacy is that I stayed on course… from the beginning to the end, because I believed in something inside of me.”  

Will you choose to make this the year that you stand up for yourself, your partner, your kids or other family members and finish what you’ve started?  Or will you let another year go by without making the decisions that need to be made and taking the actions that are needed to free you from the baggage holding you back?  I encourage you to choose to start and finish this year stronger than you ever have before.

Thoughts for Business in 2019

We’re in a new year, and you’ve probably seen a couple of those posts about trends for 2019 and what 2019 may hold for companies. Today I thought I’d share a few thoughts about where I hope or see or hear business may be going in 2019. Don’t forget though, the year is just beginning and almost anything is possible if you’re willing and able to put the time and effort in.

Websites: I think that we’re going to realize how important websites are if you want to stay relevant in 2019 and finally prioritize keeping it updated and helpful to visitors. If you don’t have a website, now’s the time to get one, even if it’s one that you design yourself or a more basic one that doesn’t cost thousands. Make sure that you’re able to update it on a moment’s notice or you’ve got the access to a tech team and they’re able to do it.

Market Specifics: I don’t really think it’s possible anymore to claim you sell to “everyone.” Even if you look at the big guys (big box stores/sites), they’ve got some pretty clear haters who would never shop with them, even if they sell the exact same product as everyone else (i.e. a name-brand paper towel roll available at a grocery store in every town or most comparable websites). Whether you call it your niche, tribe, community or something else, it’s time to really dial in on who you sell to the large majority of the time (if not all the time).

Context: whether we’re talking marketing in general or specifically with emails or social media or other types of publications in line with the previous point it’s time to be more specific and helpful with what you’re sending out. Make sure it’s clear why people would be interested in it (what’s in it for them) and don’t be afraid to ask them to join specific groups or newsletter subscriptions to narrow down the focus of what they’re receiving from you, especially if you do speak to more than one specific audience.

Love: your audience and potential customers should love what you can bring to the table. This means working on your brand, having a clear brand, and showing that brand consistently in all you do. It’s also about having mutual respect and appreciation for all people at the table from suppliers to customers to employees to the management team.

What else will be big this year? Some of the more obvious ones are improved and increased focus on metrics and data, collaboration, innovation, tech and AI allowing us to focus more on what only humans can do, and more planning and strategy (and implementation).  What do you think will be big or lead the transformation in business this year?

Moments of Peace

One of the topics we’ve talked about this month is the topic of peace.  It’s a word that we typically think about when we see the snow sweetly falling, watch the crackling logs in the fire, and hear the story of Jesus in the manger.  It’s not typically a word we apply to Christmas morning with the kids or midnight as New Years Eve turns into New Years Day.   But if you really think about it, there is something fulfilling that brings an intense feeling of satisfaction as you sit and watch the kids around you with their newly-opened gifts, it’s almost a sense of peace if you think about it.

Peace isn’t always about that present-perfect feeling, about having a perfect moment that has nothing else intruding and nothing else involved except that peaceful feeling.  Sometimes it’s simply feeling the sensation that comes along with a job well done or feeling fulfilled or satisfied.  It doesn’t mean your kids won’t frustrate you, your partner won’t forget things and you won’t have bad hair days.  It doesn’t mean that every single aspect of your life is perfect or at peace, just that in that moment you’re at peace.

As we enter the new year in a few hours I would encourage you to make this a year of moments.  Welcome and cherish the moments of peace that you encounter.  Dig deep to find the courage you need to navigate the challenges and take action to conquer them.  Choose to invest in the relationships that will fulfill you the most and you can invest in with a clear conscience.  Choose to be at peace with what this new year will bring, knowing that you’re going to face it head on as best you can giving it your best effort.

Hope for Navigating A New Year of Changes

It’s kind of ironic how little most people enjoy change yet how eagerly they anticipate the new year and the new beginnings it often holds. But if you think about it most of us do enjoy new things, such as new food in our fridges (rather than moldy or nonexistent), new clothes (rather than those with holes or worn out or completely outdated), new haircuts (so our hair isn’t dragging on the floor), new articles to read and TV to watch (rather than rewatching/rereading all the time), new gifts each birthday and Christmas, and new children for the next generations.

So why have we accepted that some things need to be new or replenished, but we don’t have that same acceptance or openness in other areas of our lives? What can we do to see beginnings and new things as healthy and welcome parts of our lives?

I think one way to help ease the challenge of changes is to exert some control and keep consistent some areas of your life in some ways. Maybe it’s making time to read a book every day. Maybe it’s always having a box or bag in the closet or frozen meal in the freezer of go-to foods for comfort or stressful days. Maybe it’s getting up at a point in time every morning so that you’re able to prepare before the rest of the world is up and going. Maybe it’s shopping at the same stores each week/month. Maybe it’s coffee or drinks with friends and your partner each week/month without fail.

Another thing that can help is to have a schedule. No, it won’t be perfect and sometimes things will get moved around because of changes or new things, but being able to follow it most of the time means that you’ll have some peace knowing what’s coming. It also can give you an opportunity to schedule in “change time”, and be able to work through some of the changes that come your way without feeling all the pressures of the rest of your life.

You know you can’t control everything and that there will be changes in life, and if there are too many changes it can feel like you’re out of control or floundering through life. But with a more open attitude, some go-to’s that remain consistent in your life and a schedule to help you manage your life and the changes that happen, maybe the changes and new things won’t seem as intimidating. How do you manage and navigate your changes and new beginnings?

A Holiday Success Story?

Over the past month or so I’ve been reflecting on the holiday shopping season and some of the things I’ve learned and think that business owners should strongly consider applying to their businesses in the new year.

Black Friday showed that stores that would be generally consider to be in the same market and sell the same products can still offer different deals. I can’t say that there were really great deals for Black Friday this year, but I was pleased to see that the stores had different items as their big deal items. While I doubt that they sat down and said “you offer a deal on sweaters, you offer a deal on scarves, you offer a deal on PJ sets, and you offer a deal on flannel shirts,” it was educational and encouraging to see that stores that offer the same items can all be successful, even simply by focusing on different things. If everyone’s offering a deal on cooking pots, yes, you can too if you sell them, but why not offer a deal on prep appliances like blenders, mixers or choppers that someone might use at the same time as that cooking pot?

For Black Friday there were also a couple of favorites/classics that were on deep discounts. But this wasn’t true across the board and the classics/favorites that have been on sale previous years weren’t on sale this year, which was a little disappointing.  The lesson? Just because they’re classics, it doesn’t mean that the market is completely saturated yet, and you never know if the product wore out during the past year and they were waiting for Black Friday to buy a replacement.

One of the big opportunities that some stores took advantage of but a surprising number definitely did not was to extend their hours for holiday shopping. If you’re balancing between online and a physical store or focused on running a physical store you have to do something to stand out as a physical store, and one of the simplest ways to please customers and differentiate yourself is to offer better/different/extended hours. There are a couple of businesses that are never open hours that are convenient for those who work odd hours or even those who work regular hours (9-5). Some things simply can’t be done on a lunch break or on the weekend, and if stores aren’t open late/early at least one day per week it makes it challenging to shop there and certainly discourages shoppers from wanting to shop there.  That doesn’t mean you have to be open crazy hours every day, but at least one day a week would be helpful.

Something many businesses did do well this holiday season was to offer free shipping any level at least 2-3 days per holiday season, or at the very least something less expensive like $2-3 shipping.  It’s a simple thing that could mean all the difference between people choosing to buy with you or buy from someone else.

Finally, a bit of a mixed bag on Christmas Day.  Quite a few companies sent well wishes, but almost no one had a special sale that day.  Today there were just a small handful of after-Christmas sales, but not remarkable numbers.  What’s interesting about this? Well, I appreciate that companies chose to send cheer on Christmas and celebrate and thank their customers.  But the fact is lots of people give money or gift cards for Christmas and there are people looking to spend them, so the few companies that have post-Christmas sales are going to finish stronger than the others.  Don’t give up on the year just because you’ve had good pre-Christmas sales.

What have you learned from this holiday sales season?

A Family Christmas

One of the things I love most about this time of year is how much we focus on family, whether you define family as those who share the same blood as you, those who you’ve known your whole life, or those you’ve met along your life journey that have become as or more important to you than those who you share blood with. Something about Christmas brings out the need to be with family in all of us. We desire to spend time with those who are important to us, we enjoy giving them gifts and showing them small tokens of our appreciation for being in our lives, and we talk about memories of those we love.

The stories of Christmas are also all about family, both by birth and by choice. Santa and the elves are a family by choice, they work together at the North Pole and are often thought of as a package deal. The Bible stories surrounding Christmas are all about family, both by birth (Mary and Elizabeth) as well as through marriage (Joseph and Mary). Even the story of Scrooge talks about family by birth (nephew Fred) and by choice (the Cratchit family).

Family should be the people that you want to spend the special occasions with, that you want to create lasting memories with, that you want to build a future with. They should be the people that you would miss if you never saw them again, think of when you want to share something with someone, and can do big activities as well as absolutely nothing with. Family are the people who see you through thick and thin, who you can rely on to give you an honest but loving opinion, and who will support you through the changes and challenges of life. Those are lots of great reasons to celebrate family this Christmas.

So whomever you’re gathering with in the coming days, I encourage you to make it merry and celebrate the people who matter most in your life.  Learn from the stories of Scrooge, Santa, Mary and Joseph, and put family first this Christmas.