Some people call it the daily grind. But I’m all about the daily groove. I figured this was the perfect thing to post today as a way to metaphorically dust the cobwebs off of this blog.
Let’s start at the beginning…I run a coaching and consulting business with a social mission. I work 7 days a week but I choose to start and end my day by LIVING. About 70% of the work I do is virtual which means that my home is my office, board room, lunch room and castle.
This is how I got my groove.
Fuel up. I find it impossible to do anything well without a good meal. I try to take a clean and balanced approach to food. I love my coffee (decaf, these days) and treats but the bulk of my day is filled with whole fruits, lots of veggies, nuts, vegetarian protein sources and yummy grains like quinoa and spelt bread. I find a little bit goes a long way in fueling my brain and body.
Check-in with your Zen Master. My most important meeting of the day is always a morning check-in with my personal Zen Master. Her name is Khailee and she is a 2 year old all-black shih tzu. She has a very soulful, all-knowing energy about her and that’s all I need to set my day right.
Be insatiable. I am always working toward goals and priorities. Everyday I put together a list of priorities and action items from my workplan for myself both in biz, health and life. As much as I love checking things off my list, I love knowing that I have more to work toward tomorrow.
Pick your moments of genius. You probably already know the optimal conditions for your own productivity and genius. Maybe you are a very early morning person who likes to get it all done quietly while the rest of world is still asleep. Or maybe you hit your creative peak after the kids are in bed or catch a second wind just after your 4:30pm yoga class. For me, I am oddly most productive during very specific periods of the day. For example, on weekdays between 8 and 11am, then again in the late afternoon/early evening between 3 and 7:30pm. But I really rock out on weekends – especially Sundays. As a result, I can transform myself into a conduit for creativity and innovation at the right times. (Psst RescueTime can offer some intel for those who haven’t yet found their most productive moments.)
Set boundaries. For me the most empowering word in the English language is “no”. I have learned through painful trial and error that sometimes you have to say “no” to others in order to say “yes” to yourself. So I am very conscious of setting boundaries on myself and my time. Trust me, the anxiety or discomfort that comes with having to say “no” is insignificant compared to the burden you will feel in biting off more than you can chew.
Forget multi-tasking. I used to be the poster child for the multi-tasking generation. I recently stepped down because my brain was too full that I was no longer able to juggle so many ideas. I have resisted the urge to open yet another tab in the browser of my mind. Try it.
Take a confidence vitamin. A positive pick-me-up or break from those hum drum feelings could be what you need. Writer extraordinaire, Alexandra Franzen has a whole whack of confidence vitamins to get your groove on.
Ditch the Debbie attitude. Have you become a Debbie Downer? Negative thinking is an act of volition. Business guru, Marie Forleo suggests giving yourself a spiritual smackdown. I did this recently and it worked wonders.
Contact the complaints department. Little hiccups in life happen every day and they can really get under my skin. About half the time, I forget about them pretty quickly. The other half of the time, I feel the need to state my case to the universe. I’m a big externalizer so in order for me to move on and be able to re-focus on the important stuff, I need an outlet. Usually a quick conversation that lets me get my frustration off my chest is sufficient. I have my go-to people for different types of annoyances. Once its shared, the complaints department is closed. Let it go and move on.
Breathe in. Fresh air can do wonders for productivity. It is a mood enhancer. The other day I opened the outside door of my sunroom along with all of the windows and let that beautiful breeze free flow as I got down to business.
Create your daily soundtrack. When you don’t want quiet, I think it is good to be mindful of the “noise” you have around you. I like music. A lot. I have playlists for everything: my mile run, commute via transit, weekend house cleaning, cooking, different types of work, road trips, etc… Here’s a favourite playlist to get you started.
Carry a personal totem. There are days that I know will require a superhero level of energy, grace and patience. And on those days especially, I carry with me a personal totem like this. That totem changes but usually there is some kind of symbolic or sentimental value attached to it. Whatever it is, there is something about being accessorized in love that helps me to take on the world.
Show gratitude and love. There are 3 amazing creatures, without whom, I would be significantly less groovy: my husband and my two dogs. But truthfully, there are so many people I engage with on a daily basis that add so much value to my work and life. Collaborators, friends, clients, family, and team members are part of a larger community for which I am grateful. The trick is not just acknowledging that but spreading the word.
These are just some of the many things that I do to transform the daily grind into my daily groove. I am curious to know: what works for you?
I am the first to admit that I am money-conscious. I love a good deal, have been called “frugal” more than once and spend untold amounts of my time creating budgets and cash flow projections. But I also engage in the risky business of being self-employed and there is always an element of the unknown. Unknowns can lead to anxiety.
Have you ever asked yourself: “What is my purpose for money?” Danielle Laporte asked herself exactly that and created a little list connecting money to her needs and wants. Through the Fire Starter Sessions, she encourages others to get clear on their purpose for money.
I have done my own reflections on value and wealth. I could keep them to myself – because money like religion and politics is not something I typically expound upon in public venues – but I think everyone should own her money story not hide from it.
So here it is. My truth about money.
I don’t love or hate money. I don’t care about “having” it. I care about what I can “do” with it.
I grew up financially enlightened. My dad took me grocery shopping with him every Saturday and once I started asking questions, he would talk to me about price comparisons of everything from a can of tuna to a box of cereal. I got a sense at an early age as to how much utilities like cable and hydro cost so that by the time I moved out on my own to pursue studies at the age of 17, I didn’t freak out about my bills.
Because I was extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to pursue private school education, I experienced the value of sweat equity going to nightly office cleanings with my parents as a source of supplemental income for my family. Each garbage can emptied or urinal scrubbed eventually translated into a tuition payment. I am deeply grateful to have had parents who were willing to do everything it took to support my future. And although I lived a very easy life compared to what they endured growing up, they didn’t excuse me from the necessary hard work to ensure that future.
I have been self-employed for the last 5 years but it wasn’t until this year that I actually feel satisfied with my earning potential. What changed? I became more efficient in how I work so that I could take on MORE work. I stopped undervaluing my expertise and services and instead, increased my rates. It has taken me awhile to get there, but I feel good about the fact that between 2011 and 2012, my gross sales have increased by 40%.
My approach to business sustainability has been to create long-term working relationships with a few anchor clients so that I can fill my docket for 4, 6, 10 and 12 month periods and fill gaps with short-term or one-off clients. I feel so satisfied to be able to generate positive and desired outcomes for clients that create repeat business and by extension, an ongoing pipeline of projects.
Each year, I give on average $600 of my own money in charitable donations and contribute over $6,000 in-kind to charitable organizations, pro-bono clients and personally-led community projects. I expect that over time this ratio will shift and become more balanced between monetary and in-kind contributions. Even still, I always imagine a time in which I will be engaged in some kind of service to my community.
When I planned my destination wedding, I negotiated every dollar with my wedding vendors and created a strict budget which I was determined to meet. I minimized floral, decor, cake and dress costs so that I could splurge on the venue. Most people guess I have expensive taste and that my wedding cost $40,000. The truth: we had a budget of $14,000 and came in $400 under it including travel and accommodations. I take great pride in knowing that the richness of that experience came down to the people, stories and shared happiness but at the same time, no one, least of all me, felt like we cheaped out.
My most expensive life lesson came with a $35,000 price tag after spending a year in law school in the United States. Today, I maintain that this was the best experience of my life to-date because without it, I would never have known a different future. I still wonder, if the lesson had been “free”, would it have had the same impact?
I have 2 credit cards – one with an annual fee and benefits, and the other without. I never carry a balance on either.
I can’t bring myself to pay to see movies in theatre. I wait until I have racked up enough rewards or points to get movie passes.
It bugs me that I knowingly pay too much in banking fees and for roaming charges. (There is a lot I can say about this but that is for another day.)
Over the last 4 years, I have soaked up a lot of good knowledge and tips on how to build wealth through real estate. This kind of education is worth millions but I was lucky enough to get it for free.
My mom taught me that the skills, experience and mojo I bring to the table are worth something. She also taught me that no one else will understand my value until I demonstrate it and communicate it.
I am happy to forego professional mani-pedis, expensive dinners and designer duds in order to put money toward something I really love like travel.
My philosophy around travel is 1) only travel with purpose (i.e. for family, work, or adventure), 2) never pay full price for accommodations, 3) create a little wiggle room in your budget for those unanticipated once-in-a-lifetime experiences and 4) always generously tip the chamber maids, bellhops and wait staff in hotels. (At least a handful of my family members were employed in hotels since arriving in Canada and knowing how hard they worked has helped me value the service others provide.)
I have been investing in socially-responsible funds since 2001. Some have been low-risk short-term investments like my “wedding fund” and others are for the long-term like my RRSP – which I have only recently been contributing to again. When you are running a business, it can be tough to “pay yourself first” but I think it is a good rule and I do my best to adhere to it.
So what does money mean to me? In general, freedom.
Specifically, it means:
- owning a beautiful, soulful home to grow a family and my business.
- churning out illuminating and transformative work that others value.
- a rock solid foundation even in the event of a worst case scenario.
- taking care of MY people (family, children, friends, kindred spirits, canines).
- investing in growing other people’s social ventures and brilliant futures.
- traveling to the far reaches of the earth before I die.
- seizing the day and experiencing those truly once-in-a-lifetime moments.
- retiring to a farm in the south of France – someday.