Stop Hitting Snooze

Snooze Button - May 2016BZZZZZ! BZZZZZ! BZZZZZ! BZZZZZ!

How many of you wake up in the morning to an alarm buzzing in your ear?  Do of you automatically hit the snooze button to sleep just a couple minutes more? Do you hit it more than once?

There’s nothing wrong with a little extra sleep, but the reality is that hitting snooze does not really gain anything because you’re not getting restful, restorative sleep, you’re just crashing and then being jarred over and over. Plus, you’re wasting 10, 20, 30 minutes each day that you could be using to finish the things that are keeping you from getting your beauty rest.

So ask yourself these three questions:

  1. What’s keeping you from getting enough sleep?
  2. What will happen if you just get up?
  3. What changes will you make to stop hitting snooze?

The same holds true for your business. When you delay a task or delay making a decision, you may get a few minutes of not worrying about it, but the fact is your tasks just keep piling up and your decisions keep being left unmade and you’ve suddenly got a mountain staring you down.

So here’s an example of a task people hit snooze on a lot: updating your website. (Just to be transparent, updating my website has been on my To Do list for quite a long time and I’ve hit snooze on it more than once.) You know that the longer you wait, the more work you have to do because more changes occur that need to be reflected on your site.

Since there’s no question that having an up to date site is critical to your business success, ask yourself these three questions:

  1. What’s keeping you from getting your update done?
  2. What will you gain by updating your website?
  3. What changes will you make to stop hitting snooze?

The list of reasons you haven’t gotten your site updated is probably pretty long. You know what your excuses are so it’s easy to say why it isn’t getting done. But let’s look at the other side and see what you may gain by making time to get it done.

Obviously, one of the tangible things you’ll gain from updating your website is you’ll have a reliable place for your clients and customers (and future clients and customers) to go for current information. Your products and services will be clearly laid out and many questions will be answered effectively on the site. You’ll have your offers and you have a place to make purchases as well as contact info for more info. And that translates into increased sales opportunities.

A less tangible and quite significant gain is you’ll find your stress is reduced simply because you know your site is up to date. Another gain is focus. You’ll be able to focus your energies on other revenue generating activities because you’ve minimized the distraction of updating the website.

So what changes are you going to make to stop hitting snooze? Whatever it is, you have to make getting it done a top priority or you’ll just stay in the spin cycle and your site just gather dust and become useless. Maybe you’ll finally decide to hire someone to help you get the work done. Maybe you’ll ask for help from someone who knows what they’re doing. Maybe you’ll just take a weekend and knock it out yourself. You decide, just make sure that you make a wise choice.

Since I have a business to run just like you, and I like to walk my talk, I’m giving myself a challenge to update my website within the next 30 days. This means you are all invited to be my accountability partners and you are allowed to ping me if I do not get an update completed.

All I ask is that you do something right along with me:

  1. Pick a task that you’ve been hitting snooze on and make a commitment to get it done within 30 days
  2. Post that commitment here in the comments so you’ll have accountability
  3. Report your progress

Let’s get to work on this together and stop hitting snooze!

©2016 Cass Mullane – All rights reserved

Cass Mullane is an artist with an MBA. Her calm, comfortable approach consistently yields positive results for clients. Her business and personal coaching practice, www.ProsperCreatively.com, specializes in delivering solid left brain business skills to right brainers and creatives in a fun, visual way.  She’s a best selling author, textile and mixed media artist and creator of the Cool Stuff Jar™ coaching program. Her next book, Cool Stuff Jar™, will be available this Fall.

 

 

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Turn Judgement to Joy

Turn Judgment to Joy

I was at my Women’s Chamber of Commerce luncheon and heard a great speaker who has a huge job running the largest hospitals in the region. She is a delightful person who maintains her sense of humor while demonstrating what it’s like to be a very successful businesswoman. She was talking about leadership, passion and health and a particular line stuck with me:

“Turn judgement into joy.”

Look at this from the perspective of constantly judging yourself. Obviously this is a recurring theme amongst women, but it applies equally to men. Whether you’re judging your mental shape, your financial shape or your physical shape, you tend to set up standards that are unreasonable and you then berate yourself for falling short of perfection. What gives?!

Do you realize how much of your precious energy is wasted feeding the negative judgment into your mind? Are you paying attention to the impact of that judgment … sucking the passion out of your life?

If you were to check in with your body you would immediately feel that negative energy. To see what I mean, say this sentence out loud: “I totally screwed that up, I’m a completely worthless person.” Check in with your body and you’ll likely feel your shoulders slumping, your energy draining and your mindset heading into a downward spiral.

Now say this sentence out loud:  “I totally screwed that up, and I learned some important lessons.” Feel the difference? Maybe you shrugged your shoulders, but your body didn’t slump. Your energy probably remained stable and your mindset went into I-have-to-figure-this-out-now mode. You acknowledged the screw up but instead of collapsing into a trembling blob of goo, you shook yourself off and looked ahead to see what you learned in order to not repeat the same screw up. Small shift in thinking, huge difference in your energy.

There’s joy in learning lessons, because there’s joy in learning. Think about it. When you learn something new, your brain is engaged and you are fully present. Whether you’re learning a new painting technique or learning a better way to handle a business situation, you’re staying in the moment and being proactive. And when you’re fully engaged, there’s joy. In fact, when you’re fully present, there’s very little room for judgment because so much of your self is focusing on learning something new.

So, when you fall short of miraculous, instead of being so harsh on yourself, find the lessons learned and apply them. One lesson might relate to the actual situation and how you could have responded in a different way. Or it might be how the situation could have been defused or avoided all together. Or it could be a serious look at the expectations and seeing how they were or were not communicated. Another might be checking your standards against reality and making some very appropriate adjustments.

Regardless of the lesson, put what you learned into practice and turn that judgment into joy.

 

©2016 Cass Mullane – All rights reserved

 

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The Spider Women

Magic hand-cropped

I have the distinct pleasure of co-hosting a four day retreat this weekend for a group who call themselves The Spider Women.  For over a decade, these ladies have been getting together annually to go on a journey to discover something new. They are vibrant, juicy women who drink up knowledge like sponges. They dive into the classes with tremendous enthusiasm and joy. They are open to trying new things and applying what they’ve learned. They come from all over the US and from Canada. They have diverse politics, diverse backgrounds and diverse personalities. Oh, did I mention that the youngest is in her 60s, the oldest in her mid-80s?

And the glue that binds them together is art.

Art is a most wonderful thing. As artists, we find it a means of creative expression. As viewers, we can receive inspiration, perhaps a challenge to our thinking and even have our souls stirred by art. For me, art is a never ending source of exploration and growth. When I look at these ladies I see the joy of the journey.

This retreat never would have happened if my studio mate and I hadn’t been business minded artists. We saw the opportunity to create an event for The Spider Women and we made it happen. We came up with fun and creative class proposals, did the budget, calculated the supplies costs, estimated the number of hours we’d be teaching, came up with a fee for the retreat, negotiated the contract and managed the logistics. In essence, we married art and business.

I’m lucky enough to have a Spider Women-like group of my own. We’re called Full Circle. We‘re all artists and we’re all businesswomen. We meet regularly in a mastermind format and, once each year, we all go off to the beautiful mountains of Colorado for our own retreat, specifically to work on our businesses. There is great power in this retreat as we strive to challenge each other and to hold each other accountable. These are smart, amazing women and our collective brainpower and creativity makes for a marvelous group of creative cohorts.

What I’d like to have you walk away with from this post is that art and business can, and should, go hand in hand. It takes work and really understanding how to run a business. It requires you to consistently show up as your true self. It means being both strong and vulnerable. It is essential to surround yourself with other amazing people who challenge you and who tell you the truth. It demands that you be open to learning and to making changes.

The bottom line is when you put in the effort to marry business and art, magic happens!

©2016 Cass Mullane – All rights reserved

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White Space

calendar red

I recently wrapped up a six year stint on my local Women’s Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, the last two years serving as the President of the Chamber. While it was full of ups and downs, the experience was wonderful and the results of my hard work and the work of the many, many people who served with me are definitely evident in the growth and progress of the organization.

Now I find myself without the constant work of the Chamber. I equate this to sending my “child” off to college knowing I’ve done my best to set her up to make intelligent choices in her life. Tough to let go, yet exciting to see what blossoms.
So now I can attend chamber luncheons without wearing my “President” name tag, I can interact with my peers as a member without worrying about what’s next up on the event schedule and if everything is running smoothly. Yea!
But the best thing about completing this phase in my professional life is that I’m seeing some delightful white space on my calendar. And I have the delicious choice to either fill it… or NOT!

A huge benefit of white space on the calendar is that I can make sure that my self-care is always honored rather than making that the thing that was most easily given up. I can take time during the “work” day to get massages, get my hair cut, take walks and amble (not race) through the art supply store. I get to have lots more meals with my husband, hang out with friends more often, take a few classes and still have plenty of time left over to just be.

I’ve also noticed a definite correlation between having white space on the calendar and having clear space in my head. I know that’s no big surprise. Heck, I’ve even blogged about how important it is to not overfill our plates. The reality is that all our plates can get overfilled at times. The critical thing is learning to quickly get the overload off our plates and then leaving that spot open. I have to say that I’m enjoying the clear reminder that not having an overloaded plate is a really good thing!

An unexpected benefit of having white space is that I’m being asked to create more classes. But not my normal business type classes, exactly the opposite… ART classes! So now I’m adding bookbinding, art journals, felting, watercolor and ink, metals, textile art 101, and others to my repetoir. Who knew!

The real beauty is, I get to choose to fill the time or to leave it open. I get to choose when I have classes and what kind of classes I teach. I get to choose to join my wonderful husband for an impromptu lunch date and I get to choose to say no to things without any guilt.
So what can you change to ensure that you have some white space on your calendar? What are you choosing to add to your calendar, and what are you choosing to leave off? What will you do with your wonderful, delicious white space?

Here’s to lots of white space in 2016!

©2016 Cass Mullane – All rights reserved

Cass Mullane’s calm, comfortable approach consistently yields positive results for clients. Her business and personal coaching practice, http://www.ProsperCreatively.com, specializes in delivering solid left brain business skills to right brainers and creatives in a fun, visual way. She’s a best selling author, textile and mixed media artist and creator of the Cool Stuff Jar™ coaching program. You can also visit Cass on Facebook!

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BSOs*

Shiny gold balls

I’m sure by now you’ve hit your stride for 2016. You’re crystal clear on your direction, you know exactly the action steps you need to take to get there and you’re moving along at a good crisp clip.

Right! … No?

You’re not totally clear on your direction? You have a good idea of your direction, but not sure which action steps you need to take? You know the action steps, but just cannot seem to get moving?

If you’re having difficulty, you’re not alone. I can tell you that many, many businesses experience this challenge at the beginning of the year. Of course the reasons vary, but here are a couple of things that may be tripping you up:

1. You’re distracted by all the BSOs that are inherent in any new year.
2. You forgot to plan for success in 2016 while you were in 2015

So let’s take a look at these two whoops moments.

It’s 2016 and everything is bright, shiny and new. You’ve got new energy, new resolve, new ideas. You’ve also got an email box full of everyone else’s bright, shiny new things. “Look at the newest version of my great program!” “Look at my awesome organizing system that you cannot live without!” “Look at a brand new way to market your stuff that is guaranteed to bring in six figures this month!”

So you’re distracted. You’re diving down rabbit holes checking out all the things that might make your day more productive or your time more managed or your webinars more marketable. Now, one of these BSOs could be a perfect solution for you. You know you need a new Fill-in-the-Blank, but you don’t know what kind of Fill-in-the-Blank to look for because you don’t know where you’re going this year. You have no filters.

So let’s look at the second whoops.

If you forgot to plan for 2016 during 2015 that typically means you lose the first 6-8 weeks of the new year. You spend the first couple of weeks of January settling in from the holidays, then you start thinking about what you want to do, then you spend the rest of January into February figuring out how to do it and laying the groundwork to do it, before you can actually even get around to launching at the end of February. That’s 6-8 weeks that are simply flushed.

If that’s where you are, don’t beat yourself up about it. Instead, decide now to lift your head up, look around then take an intentional, proactive step and make your plan. What do you want to accomplish this year? What impact do you want to have? What resources do you need to get there? What is the result you’d like to see when you get there? Where do you start? How do you measure your progress along the way?

These are all questions you need to answer in order to get going now.

When you take a longer look, and get clear on where you want to go, this serves as a built in filter for BSOs. You tend to get rid of the distractions and focus more intently on what’s really important. You pay attention to what will help you get to where you want to go and you jettison the extra stuff that’s distracting you and holding you back.
So, make your plan for 2016 now with no regrets and no apologies. Go after what you really want. Be sure to include in your plan, for the fourth quarter, plenty of time to make an awesome plan for 2017. Then you’ll clear away all the noise and sail right into the coming year with ease!

* BSOs = Bright Shiny Objects

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Permission Granted!

Permission-Granted-Shine1

We all have moments when we hold back. Sometimes it’s holding back from doing a big or important thing. Sometimes it’s because it feels like ego and we don’t want to stand out. Sometimes it’s ignoring the little voice that says, “Go ahead, be curious.” The problem is repeating this behavior over time makes it a bad habit that can result in keeping us from growing into our wonderful, delicious selves.

Permission Granted!

Sometimes we just need simple permission to do the things we need to do to make ourselves happy, to get unstuck, to dream, and to grow. Since 2008, I’ve created handmade permission slips to give to clients, colleagues, friends (and myself!).

I started out with permission slips relating specifically to my artist friends. They were made out of hang tags that I inked, painted, printed and tied with fibers.

They said things like:

You are hereby granted permission to:

  1. Call Yourself An Artist
  2. Embellish
  3. Be Fearless
  4. Break The Rules
  5. Try Something New
  6. Pillage The Dragon’s Hoard (this means actually using the special stuff you’ve been carefully protecting!)

Then, they morphed into customized hang tags for clients and colleagues. People loved them and I made it a practice to create at least one for almost every client. They said a variety of things such as:

You are hereby granted permission to:

  1. Own Your Money
  2. ROAR!
  3. Know You Are Enough
  4. Pick Your Perfect Clients
  5. Dream YOUR Dreams
  6. Take Care of Yourself First
  7. Reclaim Your Joy
  8. Celebrate!
  9. Have FUN!
  10. Smile the Big Smile
  11. Wink
  12. Go After The BIG Stuff!

I keep a supply of them handy and just fill in the appropriate words for a given situation. Sometimes they’re fully decorated, sometimes they’re done spur of the moment and handed over immediately.

The current permission slip on my own wall is “You Are Hereby Granted Permission to Use the Good Stuff” and it relates to me tapping into what’s so good about me and bringing that to the forefront as often as possible.

So, write yourself a permission slip and tap into your delicious, juicy self! Then write one for at least two other people so they can also share the joy.

P.S. I realized, when writing this post, that I had not written any permission slips in a while… I hereby grant myself permission to write a plethora of permission slips by the end of the year.  Would you like one?  Just let me know!

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Unexpected Free Time

10-15 - Clock - resetting hands - 3 til 4

Do you notice how often you hear complaints about how there are never enough hours in the day? How there is never enough time to get all the stuff done?

Well, I have to say that I often feel pressed for time and that I’ve made the same complaints on occasion. I’ve even secretly wished for my own personal Cass Clone!
Time for me falls into two buckets, the time that you control and the time that is affected by outside influences.

The responsibility for landing in a time crunch is usually mine because of choices that I’ve made. It’s my responsibility because I said yes and added something to my plate. It’s my responsibility because I chose to procrastinate. It’s my responsibility because I did not delegate as well as I should have.

So instead of lamenting my perceived lack of time, I step up to the mirror, say, yep, I chose this, and I make a plan to keep moving ahead with something productive. I slide things in and move tasks around to make sure I always know what’s next and then I give myself a kick in the pants and get back to work.

There are also occasions when your time is affected by outside influences. What happens when you’ve got everything lined up and planned out and then someone throws in a wrench? Is your response, “But wait, I have deadlines! I have a big show to finish prepping for, I have a Board meeting to run, I have appointments, travel, clients, family, friends all depending on me to do what I said I was going to do!!!”

Here are a couple of scenarios:
I’m in my studio waiting for my client to arrive. I’ve had a busy morning, a quick lunch and I’ve prepped for our session. Then I receive a text that he’s going to have to cancel. … Ok, that’s an hour.

I’ve cleared the books for a three day workshop, lined up the travel arrangements and I’m working on a few details before I head out at the end of the week. Then I receive an email saying the workshop is postponed for a couple of months. … Grrr, sigh… hmmm, that’s a gift of three days.

I’m cleaning up my space and moving things around because I’ve got a lot of work to do and I need things to be put away before I start a big project. I pick up a box, turn to put it back in the closet and, POP! my meniscus tears and that means surgery. … Seriously?! … Well, that’s a gift of couple of weeks (ok, a week since there will be a LOT of sleeping time)!
What should I do with all this unexpected free time? Complain about it because it is not what I planned or make the most of it and treat it as a bonus? If you add up the three examples above, I suddenly have almost two weeks of free time sitting there grinning at me.

So the question becomes, how do you look at your unexpected free time? Is it a burden… or is it a bonus?

My vote is: It’s a BONUS!

A final note: Because we tend to work so hard on so many projects we tend to forget a crucial element: Celebrating! Instead of focusing only on what’s remaining on the never ending To Do List, remember to make sure you acknowledge what you did get done today, move it to your “Ta Da” List and drop a note into your Cool Stuff Jar™ to celebrate!

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