How to Change Your Life: Make Time Count
Alice said to me recently ‘thinking about your business can be much more draining than working on your business’. I agreed instantly and translated it to ‘thinking about change can be much more draining than making the change’.
How many of us do that? Spend all our spare time thinking and dreaming and talking about our ideas or the changes we’d like to make but never actual follow through? Conversely, have you ever just acted or made a decision and thought ‘wow, that was not as bad as I thought – I wish I’d done that sooner’?
In fact, I think there is a famous quote that says “I wish I’d waited longer to follow my dreams…said no-one ever”.
Now I’m the first one to put my hands up when I’m guilty of a dream stealing sin and I’ll be the first to tell you what not to engage me for. For example, do not engage me to advise you on your finances. You need a financial advisor for that. Do not engage me for personal fitness. You need a trainer for that. On this count – changing your life and making the most of time – I’m getting pretty darn good at that!
Over the last 18 months, whilst paying off debt, losing the extra weight, downsizing one business and building another I’ve managed to do a great deal of work and it’s starting to pay off. Now, truth be told, it’s taken me over a year to start making a real living doing what I love (discounting the first five – six years I spent splashing around in business before I uncovered my true purpose and passions) and in that time I’ve learnt quite a bit about how to make time count to change your life quickly. I would like to take a moment to share my top six tips with you here.
Don’t wait for perfect, just press go
When I launched the first version of my online course, I only created the first module (out of six) – just enough to give people a good flavour of what’s involved. I launched it, sold my first few places and then built the rest as I went. It was amazing because I could test my idea without investing all my time in building the full course and I also benefited from the pressure of having live, paying customers meaning I really had to focus on producing real and meaningful content.
I did the same with a mini free 6 day version of the course. I created the landing pages and the welcome video and then built the rest once people signed up. 126 people signed up in a week. I worked hard and around the clock to get the videos live (I had days this time instead of weeks) and when it was all live I went back and improved each video and each landing page one by one using the feedback I had from people along the way. During the whole process I told people it was a work in progress and I was making it quickly to gauge their feedback. And guess what they gave me? Feedback! It was fab.
So don’t wait for perfect, just press go and build as you go. As the saying goes ‘if you’re not embarrassed the first version of your product, you’ve waited too long’.
Don’t expect a quick turnaround
Now I’m all for ‘dream big’ and ‘you get what you ask for’ but I also think a little realism goes a long way in managing your long term success. It takes a lot longer than we expect to build our brands, win our first few customers, lose weight, find a new job etc. and if our expectations are too high then it can be hard to maintain our enthusiasm…especially if we’ve promised family and friends dramatic results in 48 hours.
And do you know what? That’s okay! It takes times to change your life or build a business or launch a movement. It takes time.
This is why, for new business owners, I advocate calculating how much they need to live month by month and waiting until the business is producing this (at least!) continuously before taking the plunge and leaving jobs. For people making changes that don’t involve launching a business, the principle still applies. Don’t tell yourself that dress will fit in a month if it will take six. Don’t promise family you’ll be more present it it will take a few weeks to clear your workload. Don’t tell yourself the debt will be gone in 12 months if it takes three years. It’s okay for it to take time.
I didn’t always know this though…
I remember when I was 23 and I was launching my first business – a graduate coaching business. I didn’t have any money so I’d bought a book from Waterstone’s on how to build web sites. I built my site and once it was finished I waited a few days before I launched it. I was terrified, convinced as I was, that I’d be inundated with calls and enquiries from all the new customers wanting to work with me that I wouldn’t be able to keep up. Haha. Safe to say I didn’t get my first paying customer for weeks and the value was £25. I had a few things to learn about marketing back then!
Give yourself time.
Don’t go online without a purpose (yes, I’m serious)
Facebook did a piece of research recently asking people the number 1 reason why they go on Facebook. Do you know what the biggest reason was? “I don’t know!”. We don’t even know why we go on Facebook. We just do haha.
I’ve been guilty of this in the past. I get a notification about a photo from five years ago, I head into the App and then thirty minutes later I’m saying ‘Lisa, put down your phone!’. I’m not the only one am I?
I rarely go on Facebook to browse any more. I know it might sound severe but it’s so easy to get lost, especially with all the paid ads that are tailored to our interests. Before we know it, we’ve signed up to three webinars, said yes to two events at opposite ends of the country and scrolled through the news feed of someone we haven’t seen in years. Erm??
We all need to ‘go online’. What I try to do is have a clear purpose. ‘I’m going online to book travel for this trip’. Or ‘I’m going online to research XXX’. Even when I’m writing, I don’t log on to check a reference or get the exact quote. I just type, type, type, highlight anything I need to check in yellow and then go online once the piece is complete to check my references. This is how I get so much work done every single day.
Seriously. I know we all need the internet for our work and for our lives but we also need to turn it off (phone too) sit down and do the work at times, or get out and get on that run, or visit the bank or read that book. Try not to get lost in the romance of what people are telling you online so much so that you never take the action yourself.
When you do go online, make it for a really good really. Like watching dogs sleeping in pyjamas. I’m joking. Of course. Ahem .
Have three core goals in focus each week
What do you want to achieve this week? People rarely know and when they do, the goals quite often revolve around other people’s requirements.
Take a moment for yourself and ask ‘what do I want to get done for me this week’? Be really specific and make the goal something you can tick off in an hour or two. Can you imagine how much you’d accomplish in a year if you did that every week, or even once a month?
My three big goals for me this week are to:
- Complete chapter four or my book (2 hours)
- Write two blogs for DARETOGROW (3 hours)
- Decide on a posting schedule and share it with the people on my mailing list (2 hours)
When I reach the end of the week, I review my vision for the year, my big ticket goals and I set three more mini goals for the week.
Reward every small success
This week, Alice and I have been to the cinema twice. We saw ‘Collateral Beauty’, which we loved – it has us both in tears and we both came home buzzing about life. And we saw ‘Passengers’. I’m a secret ‘action movie’ fan and Alice was graceful enough to come with me. It was my turn to pick after all!
We went twice because we’ve worked so hard already this year (yes I know it’s only 18th January!), we’ve had a couple of small wins and we wanted to celebrate. The successes we were celebrating weren’t huge, not at all. If you imagine that we’re planting oak trees, what we were celebrating was planting the seeds but both actions needed celebrating. Taking action is brave and bold. It’s a statement of intent. It’s a slab of pavement laid on the path to your future? Okay, I went too far with the metaphors there but you get the point. Action, any action, that contributes positively to your ideal future is worth celebrating.
Book in your downtime (again, yes, I’m serious )
How many times do you check your phone when out for dinner with friends? How often do you bring your work home to do after dinner? How much of the conversation is about how busy you are and not what’s happening in the other person’s life?
Working hard is a good thing. I commend it. But, there is no point getting to where you’re going if you lose all your relationships in the process.
Alice and I have a rule now. We always put away our phones for every meal and we pick two or three days in the month where we switch off fully and give each other our full attention. It might sound simple but we’re so passionate about what we’re doing and we spend all day and night (most weeks) sharing our ideas, working on our dreams and talking to each other about the future we’re building that we physically have to make time for living life, seeing friends and having fun. Even if working on your business is bloody fun hehe.
Today, we got up, worked really hard for the three hours, got lots done and then went into town for a 3 hour lunch. Just me and Al. It was lovely. Then we came back and Alice went to a meeting and I did another three hours of solid, productive work. Now? It’s movie time!!