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WORDS IMPACT [Makers Monday Motivation 2.12.18]
 
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You know that old saying, “sticks and stone will break my bones but words will never hurt me.”

Well, I think it’s flat out not true.

Words are one of the most powerful things we have.

They can motivate and inspire us to accomplish our dreams and overcome great hurdles or they can hold us back, weigh us down and limit what we believe to be possible. They can create stress and fear or even eliminate it and improve our health.

No doubt, the words that others say can have a profound impact on our self-esteem. However, in my opinion, the words we tell ourselves are even more important and have an even more powerful effect on our wellbeing. The good news is, these words we tell ourself are ones we actually can control.

So often I hear creative folks say things like, “I love to make ______, but I don’t think I could ever really make money selling it….” or “I make ______, but no one would buy it so I just keep it as a hobby.” Or, “I’m so busy, I don’t think I could ever find the time to grow a business.

These might not be blatantly self-defeating, but these subtle stories we tell ourselves become our reality.

If you don’t think you could ever make money selling your products...you probably won’t.

If you don’t think anyone would ever want to buy what you make...they probably won’t.

If you don’t think you have enough time to grow a business, you won’t make the time to make it happen.

Yet, if you turn those statements around and say: “I’m going to make money selling my products.” or “I know there are people out there who would love to have what I create.” “I’m going to commit the time to launch a business this year.”

You start to create a vision for your future that is filled with accomplishment.

Think of how a path gets made in the woods...over time the same path gets walked on, matting down the brush and making that one route an easy way to walk through. The same is true with our habits of thinking. If we are used to thinking a certain way, our minds will naturally go down that same path and keep thinking the same way. But, with effort, we can start telling ourselves a different story and train our minds to go down a different path. 

You can make a new way!

For this week’s Monday Motivation Challenge, consider the way you talk to yourself. Your words are powerful - they are also free, take some time to think about if you are using them to your benefit or disadvantage.


Consider the following:

  • What things do you tell yourself that are holding you back?
  • Do you speak to yourself with words of empowerment and possibility or limited beliefs?
  • What is one story you keep telling yourself that you could really benefit from shifting the narrative?

For many of us, the paths of thought we’ve created in our minds are well worn and have been made over many years of defeating thinking. Regardless, it is still entirely possible to create a new story for yourself. I hope this week you start to tell yourself some new, empowering, motivating, live-giving words.

As always, if you could use some support to help you realize what is possible and help craft a better story, I would love to work with you. Coaching is one of the most powerful ways to make big changes to launch, build and grow your creative business. Schedule a free 30 min intro coaching phone-session.

We’re in this together,

Ashley

 
TIME TO INVEST [Makers Monday Motivation 1.29.18]
 
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Sometimes wisdom comes to us in unexpected places.

A few years ago, while living in New York City, I was waiting in line behind a man at a corner bodega who was buying over $20 worth of lotto tickets. As the man finished his purchase, he turned around, looked me right in the eyes, smiled and said,

“It takes money to make money.”

I chuckled and gave him a smile back.

Years later, this interaction has stuck with me and I realize there was actually a lot of truth to this stranger's comment.

I don’t mean that buying lotto tickets is the best way to get money, but after running my own business for the last four years, I’d agree that it does take doing something - making an investment - taking a gamble, to make your creative dream profitable.

In an ideal world, we could simply be rewarded for having a creative idea and that alone allow us to earn money. Yet, the reality for the majority of us makers is that in order to have a profitable creative life, we have to take the risk and invest our resources, be it our time, emotion, sweat equity, or capital.

“It takes “something” to make money.”

Working toward profitability comes with trade-offs. We don’t live in a world of unlimited resources of any kind. If you put investment into your business (again this could be time, energy, or money), you won’t have that resource to put somewhere else. Investing in your creative dream is a choice.

This week we enter the second month of the year. Which means, it’s time for rubber to hit the road. It’s time to decide if you are ready to do the work needed to make your goals for the year happen. For this weeks Monday Motivation Challenge, I’ve compiled a few questions to help you reflect on where you are ready to invest, in order to grow your creative business.


Consider the following:

  • What resources (time, money, emotion, space) are you willing to allocate to make your goals and dreams happen this year?
  • Can you identify what area of your business would benefit the most from additional investment and really allow you to grow?
  • Is there something you’ve known you should invest in to take your business to the next level but you’ve been putting it off, or are to scared to take the jump?
    • If you still aren’t ready, can you make a plan and start taking smaller steps to get there?
  • Finish this sentence for yourself, “It will take ___________ to make money.”

Just like saving for retirement, even if you are not ready to make a major investment in your creative business today, the best thing you can do is to simply start putting the resources you can toward it. Overtime this investment will build on itself and start giving you returns.

If you don’t know where would be the best area for you to invest, or if you feel like you’ve invested and not yet seen results, let’s talk. Schedule a free 30 min intro coaching phone-session and see how investing in one-on-one coaching can help make your business profitable.

If you live in the Kansas City area and are able to invest 2 hours of your time this week, I’m hosting a FREE workshop, "Make Your Creative Biz Goals a Reality in 2018", on Wednesday, January 31 and I'd love to see you there. For more info and to RSVP visit here.

We’re in this together!

Ashley

 

 

 

 
EMBRACE WINTER [Makers Monday Motivation 1.22.17]
 
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Oh the joy of winter. It’s that magical time of year when you can’t leave the house without arming yourself with multiple layers to ensure no skin is exposed, the car and floors of your home are filthy with salt residue, local businesses temporarily close because of frozen pipes, sniffles abound, and it gets dark so early it feels like time for bed - before you even get home from working. The joy!

Yet, despite the many obvious reasons I find myself complaining about these months of cold, I want to share 5 reasons I believe creatives need winter and why I think we can each benefit from embracing the remaining chilly months.

1. Hibernating is good. 

Our lives are perpetually busy. Activities, meetings, social events, etc. While it is good to be active, taking some time to stay in, relax and rest is actually healthy. This past month at our house, we’ve been going to bed early and letting ourselves stay in bed a bit longer each morning. We felt guilty at first, but decided we were tired because our bodies actually needed the extra sleep. Hibernating a bit in the winter isn’t lazy, it can be renewing.

2. Deep winter freeze is critical for abundant new life come spring. 

Ask any farmer and they will tell you, the fields need a cold winter. An annual deep freeze kills off bugs and allows perennials to store up enough energy to grow more abundant in the warmer months. This cycle is also true for ourselves. We likely have a project, a relationship, or a habit that would serve us well if we let it “die off.” By letting something go, we make the space for something new to come.  

3. Connect with intention. 

When it’s too cold to bounce around to various social events or spend much time walking outside, we are less likely to randomly run into friends and acquaintances. Yet, no matter how cold it is out, we still need connection. For that reason, the winter forces us to reach out and connect to people with intention. It’s a great time of year to invite friends over for dinner, pick up the phone and call to catch up, or schedule a coffee meet-up with other makers who’ve been stuck in their studios and could use a good in-person chat.  

4. More time indoors means more time to create. 

The extra time on evenings and weekends spent inside doesn’t simply mean you should let yourself binge watch NetFlix. This is a great time to work on a creative project you’ve put off, or do some writing after dinner, or finally read that business book your friend recommended, or brainstorm new project ideas and get a jump-start on making before spring market season is here. The possibilities are endless.  

5. Gives us something to look forward to. 

I’ve always wondered if I lived in LA, if I’d appreciate the summer as much as I do in my current four-seasons life. For me, there is something about having the harshness of winter that makes me look forward to and truly value the spring once it arrives. I’ve heard that enjoying the anticipation of something exciting to come can be just as valuable as actually experiencing the thing itself. (Which is why it’s smart to plan a vacation months ahead so you can stretch out the experience!) This is also valuable for our creative businesses. It’s good to always have something on the horizon that you are looking forward to such as a future goal, event, or project that you can’t wait to start and get excited and motivated simply thinking about.

The comforting news is, no season lasts forever. Winter will be gone before we know it. With that, this week’s Monday Maker Motivation Challenge includes a few suggestions for ways you can try and embrace the remaining frigid days, so that you not only survive the cold, but thrive in it.


Tips for embracing winter:

  • Use this time staying indoors to work on a creative project you’ve had on the backburner
  • Invite friends over for dinner
  • Put in some extra hours working so you have more time to play when it’s nice out
  • Read books (both the professional and entertaining kind)
  • Get the extra rest your body has needed the last 9 months
  • Call a friend and catch up
  • Get inspired: go to a museum, or a movie
  • Consider, is there something that needs to “die” in your life before spring gets here?

The forecast looks like snow here in the Midwest today, so it is a great week to put these tips into practice. 

Make sure you get on my mailing list so you get a Maker Monday Motivation email sent your inbox every week, CLICK HERE!

We’re in this together,

Ashley

 
ROUTINES MATTER [Makers Monday Motivation 1.15.18]
 
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No matter how tired I am, or how busy a day I have, or how early I have to get up, or even if I’m traveling and it’s a weekend, there is one thing I do every morning without question....

I make my bed.

Surprisingly, this ritual was not something ingrained in me as a child as a chore, rather, something I chose to start on my own in my first year of college, and I’ve continued to do it every day since.

In a profound way, accomplishing this simple daily morning routine makes my days better. Making my bed makes me feel like there is at least some order in my life, gives me confidence to take on bigger tasks throughout my day, and provides me some reassurance that no matter what the world throws at me once I walk out my door, when I get home I will have a made bed to return to.

When the world around us seem crazy and so much of what we experience in life out of our control, our routines - no matter how simple - can keep us grounded and sane.

This is why I’m a firm believer that our morning routines matter.

For creatives, the idea of a routine may seem rigid and boring. However, I know for my own creativity, having some basic structure in place frees up my mental space from thinking about basic tasks and in turn allows me more energy for making.

The start of a new year is a great time to try to implement new habits that will set you up to reach your goals and live a more productive creative life. This week’s Maker Monday Motivation challenge includes a few questions to help you identify what you can do to insure you start your day strong!


Consider the following:

  • Do you have any daily routines?
    • Are there currently any morning rituals that you do that help set you up for a successful day?
    • Are there any habits in your life currently that get in the way of your productivity?
  • Identify one action/task that you can try to do each morning that can help start your day on a positive note.
    • Commit to trying this activity each morning for at least two weeks. Make note of any changes you notice.

Changing up our routines can be challenging, but sometimes little changes can make a big impact on our lives. If this week your reflection time leads you to realize that you have fallen into unproductive habits and routines that are preventing your business from growing, please reach out! I’d love to work with you to implement new daily rhythms that will support a thriving creative life and profitable business.

We’re in this together,

Ashley

 
STOP COMPARING [Makers Monday Motivation 1.8.18]
 
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It’s that fun time of year when lots of people catch colds or get the flu. Fortunately, as miserable as it is to get sick, for most of us with a little rest and some good self-care we recover within a short period of time.

However, this season, I’ve noticed a much more powerful bug going around my creative circles. Unlike the flu, this bug seems to linger for months on end and results in much more unfortunate, and unwanted side-effects.

Maybe you’ve noticed it too?

I’m calling it the COMPARISON EPIDEMIC.

Most people who have caught this condition can walk around for weeks on end unaware of what’s happening to them...then one day they wake up and are completely infected. That’s because comparison’s debilitating impact is sneaky and often does it’s damage to our spirit and minds in subtle ways, lowering our individual drive and enthusiasm and making us more susceptible to discouragement and creative paralysis.

I believe this is an urgent matter for creators and one not enough of us are talking about.

I see comparison’s toxic influence spreading and infecting more and more people each day.

In fact, it is completely possible that you are unknowingly currently suffering!

Here is a list of some initial symptoms I’ve recognized:

  • You no longer find your colorful social media feed inspiring & encouraging, instead seeing other creative folks growing successful businesses and living thriving creative lives leaves you feeling discouraged, unmotivated and even resentful.
  • Despite the many things you’ve accomplished and personal progress you are making, when you look at where others are at, you feel like a failure that doesn’t add up.
  • You were once really excited about a creative idea you had for a new business, or product. Yet, you decided it wasn’t worth moving forward on the idea because you found someone else was already making something similar.
  • You find yourself looking externally for ideas instead of internally, and as a result, your once unique style and creative perspective is starting to look more and more similar to others.
  • You worry that people will find out that your real life running a business looks a lot different than what you project on your social-media life.

As a creator, contracting comparison can be crippling. I’m well aware that there have been months, even years of my life when I have suffered from the comparison condition. Once you get it, it’s hard to shake.

That is why this year I’m working hard to inoculate myself early on. For this week’s Monday Maker Motivation challenge I’m sharing with you the most effective self-reflection questions I’ve found that can help you stay immunized so you avoid catching the comparison epidemic in the year ahead.  


TRY IT: Comparison Vaccine Exercise

Before starting, do a temperature check by taking a moment to honestly ask yourself: “Is comparing yourself to others currently hurting your progress, or holding you back from realizing your dreams?”

Consider the following questions:

  • Why do you create/ what drives you to make?
  • What are your strengths and the things that you do really well?
  • What do others tell you you do really well or compliment you on?
  • What makes you and/or your products unique?
  • What is something you’ve accomplished that you are really proud of?
  • What personal challenges have you overcome and goals achieved to get where you are today?
  • What does creative success mean to you?
  • Are there any distorted things you tell yourself that hold you back? Can you reframe these into more realistic/positive statements?
  • Are there any activities you participate in or people you spend time around that deflate your creative drive and motivation? Can you make changes to lower the impact of these things?
  • How would you rate your self-confidence? Is there anything you can do to improve this?

In our socially connected culture, comparison is hard to avoid, but I believe, if we spend more time working on ourselves and acknowledging the unique contributions we can make to the world, instead of how we measure up to others, it is possible to build creative businesses that thrive.

I’m confident that you have creative ideas and I trust there are customers out there that would love to purchase your products. This year, let’s be intentional about guarding ourselves against the contagious comparison epidemic and instead focus our energy on our own growth. I think it will bear fruitful results.

Make sure you get on my mailing list so you get a Maker Monday Motivation email sent your inbox every week, CLICK HERE!

We’re in this together,

Ashley

 
TIME TO RECHARGE [Makers Monday Motivation 12.18.17]
 
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I will humbly admit, this past week was one of those unproductive weeks. No matter how hard I tried, I struggled to get focused. Simple tasks I usually enjoy doing took me hours and I found myself continually checking my phone or finding things to do around the office to distract myself from my actual work. After months of pushing hard, my mind and body made it clear, I was in need of a break.

If we are honest with ourselves, no matter how much we love our work, or how motivated we are, we simply are not made to work all the time and at some point we run out of gas. Weekends exist for a reason. Our mind needs time to recover, our eyes need time away from screens, and our soul needs time connecting with friends. If we put this off for too long, continuing to push ourselves to do more, we end up unproductive and making careless mistakes, producing less-creative work, and possibly getting burned out - even from work that we really enjoy to do.

So today, I’m here to remind you and myself, that we aren’t meant to always have our foot on the peddle. If this week you find yourself feeling worn down, or catch yourself losing steam for the work you love, the best thing you can do for your business is to give yourself permission to unplug and let yourself recharge.

Gratefully, we’re in the last weeks of the year and the holidays present a perfect time to step away from our work. To help get you started, this week’s Maker Motivation Challenge includes a list of ideas to help you recharge.


Take a few minutes to review this list and try to commit to doing one or more of these recharging activities over your holiday:

  • Put up an away message on your email and commit to not checking it till you return.
  • Go screen free for at least 24 hours (all screens!)
  • Make plans with friends and family.
  • Take an actual vacation.
  • Take a staycation, and commit to not going in your studio or office.
  • Do something active, like taking a hike, riding a bike, or going on a long walk in a place you’ve not been.
  • Read a whole book - preferably a story you can get lost in.
  • Spend an afternoon baking or cooking.
  • Play a board game or cards.
  • Go to see a play or visit a museum.
  • Make something: music, art, craft.
  • Do something completely out of your routine.
  • Volunteer and spend some time using your energy for others.

I’m excited to share that writing this email inspired me to take my own advice, and I will be taking a break the week between Christmas and New Years to step away from my computer, recharge and connect with friends and family. With that, I plan to return energized and ready to dive back into work in the new year and I would love to work with you to help your 2018 be your best year yet. Today is a great time to sign up for one-on-one coaching, book before 12/31/17, and get 15% off your first session by using code ‘DEC15’.

Make sure you get on my mailing list so you get a Maker Monday Motivation email sent your inbox every week, CLICK HERE!

I hope you have a wonderful Holiday!

We’re in this together,

Ashley

 
Something to Celebrate [Makers Monday Motivation 12.4.17]
 
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We're officially in December, the last month of the year. With that, I'm taking an unofficial poll with only one question:

How you are feeling about your 2017? 

I spoke with a few friends this week who run creative businesses and asked them this same question. To my surprise, they all sounded a bit discouraged. When I pressed into it to see what was going on, they each said a similar version of, “I’m working so hard, but it seems like everyone else is doing better than me.” As we chatted further about their businesses, it became quite clear that they each were overlooking so much of their year’s successes. Sure there was room for improvement and things might not have all gone as they had planned, but we didn't have to talk long for me to see there was far more to celebrate then criticize.

My conversations with my friends made me realize just how often when we are working for ourselves, without the support and encouragement of co-workers, or a team, we may look externally to places like social media to gauge our success. This causes us to spend too much time comparing ourselves to how we assume other’s are doing and use this as a benchmark for our own success. We also may focus too much on the things that didn’t go as we had hoped, as a result, we quickly overlook just how much we have to be proud of. 

Which is why I wanted to ask you this same question: how are you feeling about your 2017?

Are you overlooking your successes? Are you benchmarking based on what you see in your social media feed? Are you being your own worst critic?

As the calendar year begins to wrap up and you start to review your 2017, I’m here to remind you that you’re likely doing better than you think you are. It's so important to realize that success comes in many different forms, and regardless of your year's accomplishments, it’s a good business practice to be kind to yourself. Even if you haven’t reached all your goals yet, it is still a worthwhile exercise to acknowledge what you've done while trying to get there. This week’s Monday Motivation Challenge will help you take a few moments to recognize your accomplishments and encourage you to stop and celebrate yourself.


Take some time this week to reflect on the following questions. Journal your answers.

  • What is one thing you have accomplished this year that you are really proud of?
  • What is something you have accomplished this year that you might not traditionally consider a "big success" but that you are proud of making happen or figuring out? Ex: I figured out how to set up online scheduling, pretty unglamorous, but a HUGE win for my own productivity!
  • Can you find a friend or family member to share these accomplishments with and take a moment to celebrate with them?
  • Share the love. Do you have a friend with a creative endeavor that you could reach out to and pass along some encouragement to tell them they are doing a good job?

However you feel you’ve done in 2017, I'm confident you have something to celebrate. I want to encourage you to be kind to yourself this month and give yourself the permission to be proud of the little things you are tackling every day. This isn’t self-centered, it’s self-care for your creative business!

As always, I’d love to hear from you with an update on how your year has been and what you are proud of making happen so far in 2017. If you’d like an outside perspective to help you review your year’s accomplishments, please don’t hesitate to reach out, I’d love to work with you.

I can't wait to see you find something to celebrate this week!

We’re in this together,

Ashley

Make sure you get on my mailing list so you get a Maker Monday Motivation email sent your inbox every week, CLICK HERE!

 
BREATHE MORE [Makers Monday Motivation 11.20.17]
 
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This week is the official start to the holiday season, or, as it could also be called, the “more-of-everything” season. Think about it, between Thanksgiving and New Years, our lives become supersized. We typically spend more money, eat more sweets, drink more wine, travel more than normal, do more celebrating, and we likely see more of our friends and family than almost any other time of the year. It’s both a wonderful and crazy time.

On top of all this “more-of-everything,” for those who run creative businesses, the holidays also mean there are markets to prepare for, weekends devoted entirely to selling at fairs, the excitement of more sales made and the pressure to package and ship last minute gift orders out the door to your customers.

All that said, the one thing there isn’t more of during this more-of-everything-season, are hours in the day. We still only get twenty-four of them. In turn, the holidays often lead us to feel more stressed and worn-out than usual, at a time when we would ideally like to be our most productive and social-selves.

If we aren’t careful, the joy and excitement of the holiday season can quickly be hijacked by more-of-everything-induced-stress - but we don’t have to let this happen. For this week’s Monday Motivation Challenge I didn’t want to add anything to your plate, rather, I wanted to share a very simple exercise you can do regularly over the next month to help you stay calm, creative and hopefully more sane this holiday.


TRY IT: Just Breathe

  1. Find the ‘Reminders App’ on your smartphone.

  2. Create a new reminder that simply says: Breathe

  3. Set the reminder to go off daily at a certain time of the day that makes the most sense for you. (I like to make 3-5 different  “Breathe” reminders and schedule them to go off at different peak-stress times throughout my day.)  

  4. When the notification comes up on your phone reminding you to breathe at the scheduled time you’ve set, stop and take a moment to check in with yourself and recognize how you are feeling (frazzled, tired, etc.), take one (or more) big, deep, belly-filling, healing breaths in through your nose and a relaxing, audible, releasing breath out through your mouth. (If your reminder goes off and you are around other people, such as in a meeting, or out with friends, you can still take the time to check in with yourself and breathe. No one will even notice ;) .)

  5. That’s it. Just remember to breathe more.

[If you need some tips on how to do a good relaxing breath check here.]


It may seem silly to encourage you to remember to breathe, but the busier and more stressed we get the more shallow our breathing can become, and this contributes to an overall sense of feeling on-edge. No one wants that!

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving this week. Know that I’m grateful to consider you a part of the Makers Megaphone community and wish you a holiday season full of sales and celebration.

Make sure you get on my mailing list so you get a Maker Monday Motivation email sent your inbox every week, CLICK HERE!

We’re in this together,

Ashley