Here’s the thing: how I first became aware of depression and anxiety

18/08

depression and anxiety 18 08 (1)First, a big thank you to everyone who got in touch after last week’s blog post. I had a LOT of “me too” emails, and I can’t wait to bring you more support if you are managing depression and/or anxiety in your life and business.

Today I thought I’d share a bit about when I first became aware of depression and anxiety for what they are, as well as some of my beliefs about what it’s like to live and work with mental health challenges. It’s in telling these stories and offering tools and resources that I hope to help other business owners thrive, even with limitations.

When Jenny met Depression

I was on the bus. I was maybe 19, and travelling between my part-time job and my shared house. It was miserable outside, I remember that. I felt like, despite long hours on uni work and a part-time job, I wasn’t getting anywhere. I felt stuck. I had a boyfriend, but not in the same city, and we didn’t often have the time or cash to visit or call or text. I had friends, but didn’t feel I could share feelings with them – we were meant to be having fun and changing the world and having an awesome time. It was raining, and the prospect of getting home to more work and eating something rustled up from fairly empty cupboards wasn’t particularly cheering.

This is the first moment I remember being aware of depression; aware of the heaviness and the potential for hopelessness. I felt the stuck-ness, and it felt like it was sucking me in.

My external circumstances weren’t great, but they weren’t dire. This was the day when I realised it was more about the internal landscape than the external. This wasn’t “having a bad week”. It was a sense of futility and sadness and loneliness that I couldn’t shake with an early night and decent meal. It was longer term and further reaching than being in a funk or struggling with a heavy workload.

It would take me another couple of years to seek dedicated support or even say aloud, “I think I’m depressed.” But this was the moment when I knew it was something that was more than “normal” struggle.

At the time, I turned my attention to working harder. I read some self-help books. I dealt with it in the way I’ve often dealt with adversity: by over-performing. I thought if I just “snapped out of it” and found success, I’d feel better.

Well, I got a degree and a job and had a good relationship, and I still found myself feeling hopeless and tired and emotional. I found a therapist. I started admitting that this wasn’t about the circumstances. I started to realise that no matter how much I achieved, Depression wasn’t going to fade.

And this is why I believe so many self-employed people can struggle with depression – because we’re always waiting for success to tell us we’ll be okay, that we deserve it.

I’ve heard from people who thought their depression was one-off, was based on a specific occasion. And while certain circumstances can trigger grief and sadness, they can also open our eyes to patterns and to the realisation that something bigger is going on.

My journey with anxiety

My experiences with anxiety are different to depression. In general, these days, I don’t struggle with anxiety very much. But I certainly have. The first time I really struggled was maybe a year or so after that day on the bus, and just after I’d started seeing a therapist. I was at a gig, and had that sudden sense of not being safe. I couldn’t get out of the building – I couldn’t see the door.

For me, panic attacks are nauseating and light-headed. I can’t stand up by myself and I can’t imagine walking. At that gig, I got outside and sat in probably a pretty horrible smoking area and waited until I started to feel normal again. At the time, it was coupled with the fact that I felt I’d ruined the gig for my friends, so I was desperately trying to be normal. I think I even went for a drink afterwards. (Which isn’t what I’d recommend!)

These days, I’ve worked through a lot of the things that triggered anxiety for me, and it’s a long time since I had a panic attack. I’m more grounded than I’ve ever been, mostly because I don’t fight myself anymore.

But I remember. And I know how anxiety can affect people. So it’s also here, as part of the work and the support. Anxiety and worry – chronic or otherwise – has already been a theme of my work with clients. So many come to me when they can’t see the wood for the trees. I’ll keep working with it and talking about it, alongside depression.

Here’s the thing: your story

First, there’s no shame in acknowledging that depression and anxiety are part of your life. Especially around here. I think some people are afraid of it, and I understand that. But I truly believe it’s possible to live a good life and to manage depression and anxiety – so many of us are already doing it. (Around one in four adults struggle with depression. One in four! Let’s talk about it.)

And as I said in my last post, if this isn’t for you, no worries! Maybe you’re not as far down the line as “depressed”, but you’re still interested in integrating human with business. Because a lot of the depression management I know about can also apply to heart-led, soulful and highly sensitive people. Or maybe you’re just interested. That’s cool. Great to have you.

If you know you struggle with depression and/or anxiety (or suspect that you do), I encourage you to remember when you first noticed it. By claiming your experiences and your stories, you get to notice that you’re bigger than the struggle.

Here are some writing prompts:

  • What’s your first memory of experiencing depression or anxiety?
  • What was going on at the time?
  • How did it feel, physically and emotionally?
  • What was your reaction to it? Did you try to stop feeling “bad”? Did you seek help? Did you accept the experience or squash it?
  • Looking back, what did you need at the time?

I’m not a certified therapist, so go gently with this, and seek support if you need it. These prompts are intended to help you explore your experiences, but please take care of yourself if you’re not in the right frame of mind to explore this right now.

What’s your story?

As I build up my resources for business owners with depression, I’m inviting anyone who wants to to get in touch with their story. Not only do I want to support you and allow you an outlet to share your experiences and understand your story, it also helps me to understand what I can offer in more detail.

So please, if you want to, let me know your story. Get in touch. Let’s talk about how we can survive and thrive while managing mental health challenges.

Jenny x

Here’s the thing: two things I need to tell you about my work and life

11/08

two thingsHonestly? I don’t know exactly what’s next.

Honestly? I don’t know which of the many, many things to offer right now.

Honestly? I don’t know if I’m relevant to the people I was relevant to before – and sometimes I don’t know if I’m relevant to anyone.

Have you been there? Have you had that feeling when you wake up, when you’re just not sure? If not, then I salute you, and I hope that your enthusiasm and confidence continues to support your endeavours.

If you have, you’re not alone. Me too. And many more of us, I’m sure of it.

There are some things I need to tell you now, on this Friday in August. Because until I get them out, they’re just getting in the way.

The first thing is this: My work and audience are changing. 

Over three years ago, I left notonthehighstreet.com, having worked there for five years. I wanted to help small businesses in a wider capacity than I’d been able to. I wanted to write. I wanted to bring my skills and experience to people who needed them.

It’s broader now. It’s not that I don’t know anything about selling on NOTHS. It’s not that I can’t (or don’t) support people who do. I still work with clients regularly on their NOTHS store, and I still know a lot of things. But I’m not the NOTHS-whisperer! I can’t guarantee sales. I don’t know their strategy. I haven’t worked there for three years.

And the things I work on are about a bigger picture: creating the business and life that you really want. Seeing you as a person within your business, and creating a business plan that’s uniquely yours. I’m a coach-therapist-mentor, and I believe in addressing our personal selves in order to do the big business work and find the answers. It’s not just key terms and marketing – though I love weaving them in. It’s the whole package.

(As an aside, Copper Boom Studio is now officially recommended by NOTHS, which is kind of a wonderful new way of working with them.)

The second thing is this: I have lived with depression over many years.

It’s August. Which means it’s nine years since I started seeing a therapist. (Who I still see regularly.) I’ve had periods of depression since at least early teenage years. I’m high functioning, that’s for sure! But it’s something that can wipe me out and that I’ve had to learn a lot about.

Why am I telling you now? Because depression and anxiety are things I see in my clients fairly regularly. Not always diagnosed. Not always severe. But it seems to me that being self-employed can open you up to having to deal with depression and anxiety, even if you didn’t need to (or realise it) before.

I’m also telling you because yesterday I started working one-on-one with a client specifically around her depression and anxiety. My aim is to build a series of resources and courses that support creative entrepreneurs and makers who struggle with these issues. It’s not a cure for depression, because I don’t think that exists, but it’s to tackle some of the ways running a business with depression is different, and requires a different approach. I’m also hoping it’ll be a way to say you’re not alone.

Honestly? I wasn’t planning to tell you all this today.

But these are two things I’ve been thinking about for months. That I knew I needed to get out.

They fit together, because supporting clients with depression and anxiety is becoming more of a focus for me, as well as being part of the more personal work I’m doing now. I think it’s important that I tell me own story, in order for you to know why I’m expanding my direction (and letting go of some of the types of work I’ve done before).

What does it mean for you?

As I said a few weeks ago, if these things mean we’re not a good fit anymore, please change your subscription preferences. I won’t be offended. Maybe you signed up when I was very NOTHS-focused, or you’re still looking for someone who can help you with just the practical business stuff. There are plenty of people around. They’ll serve you better if that’s what you need.

Some of the things I did by myself before (like storefront reviews, product descriptions, and other copywriting) are available with the support of my amazing team at Copper Boom Studio.

If you don’t want to go deeper into depression and anxiety – if you’re not ready – that’s fine too. Whether you struggle with these issues or not, I send you well wishes and positivity on your journey.

But if you’re interested in integrating being human with running your business, or you have struggled with depression and/or anxiety, or maybe you’re intrigued by adding intuition into your business planning, I hope that you will join me. You can get my email updates here, and you can follow me on Instagram and Facebook.

My work is shifting, and I think some of the audience is shifting too. Today, I needed to tell you that.

Here’s to the next chapter for all of us!

Jenny x

Here’s the thing: don’t wait for the golden ticket

04/08

golden ticketSometimes I just don’t know where to start. There are so many people telling us we could and should be better, earn more, achieve more.

I get swept up in it. I wonder whether I should be writing click-bait blog titles or adding more semi-shaming posts to scare you into buying my services.

I can’t. I can’t do it. If that makes me naive or stupid or unbusinesslike, so be it. I want you to know that working with a coach or mentor or even a good friend can make a huge difference to your business.

I want you to know that I know the dark places, the scared places, the stuck places. I want you to know that there’s so much hope even when things can look extremely dark. I want you to know I haven’t made it yet, but I still show up and help people every day.

I’m not for everyone, and that’s okay.

I care, deeply. Some have said too much. But truly, I adore holding space for the confusion and sitting with it as it turns into clarity. I can see a dozen ways forward – at least – for any decision you’re facing. But it’s in everyone’s interests to let you choose the best one for you.

I don’t sell four-figure business solutions. I don’t sell guarantees or pre-made business plans

I offer emotional, practical, effective support for people who want to do it their way, but sometimes get stuck. I’m not better than you. I just spend my time learning how to be their true selves in business. And I hope to share that with you.

Wouldn’t it be lovely to learn the secret? Wouldn’t it be just wonderful to replicate a proven formula for the perfect creative business – not too hard, more than enough money – that looks just like hers?

But it’s not how it works. Otherwise we’d all be doing it.

By all means, learn about colour theory and Instagram hashtags and bookkeeping and different sales platforms.

By all means, read stories of others’ success and failures and take in the lessons.

By all means, stay engaged and open in your quest to understand what people want, how they work, and how you can help them through your business and products and services.

But your business is your own. There’s been nothing like it before. It has different goals, different needs, different limitations to any business on the planet. Yes, there are similarities for all of us. But on a subtle, day-to-day level, it’s different.

“What about that copycat who took all my designs and is making a fortune without having put the work in?” I hear you ask. How long do you think it’ll last? Truly.

“What about all these young folk starting their business now with access to recommendations and resources and marketplaces that didn’t exist for me? I had to do it on my own!” Then you’re set up to keep finding your own way. You already have skills and resilience that they haven’t had the opportunity (or inclination) to learn yet.

There are always people who appear to have it easy. I believe two things: the first is that we don’t truly know what’s easy and what’s not for people. The second is that karma exists, and we’re often given lessons we need to learn.

Here’s the thing

The thing I want most for you is that you go your own way. I believe it’s the most powerful, the most authentic, and the most rewarding path.

Here are the things I ask myself when I’m surrounded by big promises and a foggy outlook:

  • Am I looking for a quick-fix, golden ticket answer to a complex and unique question?
  • Is this article / post / video asking me to pay a load of cash for a “guaranteed success”? If so, it probably isn’t for me.
  • Who are my trusted people? The ones who hold similar values to me, and don’t succumb to quick fixes. (Tips: Rachel Cole, Brene Brown, Randi Buckley, Harriet Lerner, Paul Jarvis, Tara Gentile)
  • What do I need to learn about from someone who’s further ahead on the path?
  • And what’s my lesson to learn?
  • What do I know to be true for myself and my business?
  • Where am I getting distracted by something shiny?
  • Am I being kind and respectful to my clients and potential clients?
  • Am I being kind and respectful to myself?

There’s wisdom out there. But there’s a lot of chaff as well. Go for the good stuff. Find your people. Trust yourself.

Jx

PS One-off one-on-one mentoring will officially return next week. If you’re interested in a power hour of untangling or just want a taster of this work, please get in touch while I sort out my work with me page.

Here’s the thing: “too tired” won’t be an excuse anymore (but it’s not what you think)

23/07

too tiredA couple of weeks ago, I wrote this post about tiredness, and it’s resonated widely. I’m glad. Let’s keep the conversation going.

Last week, I had a pretty full-on week. Travel to and visiting Harrogate Home & Gift, running an open day at Copper Boom Studio, my usual client calls, plus my husband’s (big) birthday and lots of social events. By the end of the week, my brain and emotional resilience were fairly wiped out!

All those things were important to do. And sometimes timing means that several things come at once. (I know the mum bosses currently dealing with school holidays will agree…)

The only thing that’s helped me get back on track is sleep, quiet time and unstructured time. 

Caffeine won’t cut it. Sugaring up doesn’t improve my mood or my cognitive abilities. And even the most brilliant conversations with my most treasured friends don’t get me back on track.

It has to be rest.

It has to be quiet, cosy introversion.

It has to be coming back to myself.

And as I lie on the sofa watching The West Wing, I realise something: “too tired” is no longer an excuse I’ll use. It’s not something I’ll say.

And that’s not because I’ll be pushing through or hustling hard. It’s because I’ll be sleeping, resting, meditating, and generally taking care of myself.

I’m no longer prepared to burn out. I’m no longer willing to sacrifice my own health and wellbeing, when all burnout and overtired does is lessen my ability to do my job(s) to the standard I expect of myself.

Tired is the signal to rest. I welcome it with open arms, a nice blanket, and some time to myself.

Tired is a friend.

Here’s the thing

We’re told to hustle. We’re told the only way to succeed is through hard work and more work.

We see the ideals of “work smarter not harder” and we think that’s nice for other people, but there’s no way I can do it too. I’ve got too much on.

We hold up “tired” like we hold up “busy” – as evidence of our worthiness. As what’s expected of us by society. The acceptance we need from friends and family.

Tired isn’t your modus operandi. Tired isn’t a problem. It’s information. It’s instruction: REST. Take time out. You’re running low.

Imagine if you bank sent you a message every time you get low on cash. Or that instinctive thing where you know whether you’re low on milk or tea because you have to. That’s what tired is. It’s the signal to replenish the supply.

My suggestions, if you need them, are:

  1. Notice what your thoughts are when you’re low on energy. Are you telling yourself they should be different? That you can push through? Just notice the response you have to your body and mind’s requests for rest.
  2. Give yourself some unstructured personal time. Yes, this can seem like a dream if you have kids. No, it’s not impossible. Watch a film. Read a book. Nap. Lie around. You probably need it more than you think.
  3. Give yourself permission to change your carefully bullet-journalled work plan when you’re tired. Join me in modelling a different way of working to staff and kids and partners by resting when you need to and working when you’re ready to. It’s the future, but we have to be brave enough to do it.

Need a specific and personal permission slip? I can make one for you. Go here and tell me what you need. I’ll pop one in the post.

Changing the internalised thoughts we carry on tiredness and worthiness is a big task. It’s one that I come up against every day, and it certainly seems to be my big project at the moment. But we can change it. A rising tide lifts all boats. We can create our own atmosphere for creativity and productivity that doesn’t require burnout and hustle and questioning our worthiness.

Join me?

Jenny xx

Here’s the thing: you are your business and you’re not

14/07

you are your businessI’ve believed for a while that most of us creative entrepreneurs and makers and writers and designers and photographers and coaches etc are our businesses. We run personal, whole-hearted, authentic businesses that have personal brands (or brands with a highly personal touch) and that, in many ways, we are inextricably linked to our business.

But there’s a counter-argument, a koan-like opposite that I also hold true: our worth as humans is separate from the external success or failures of our businesses.

When we create businesses based on our unique personal talents, they are so closely linked to who we are, how we feel, how we express ourselves, and how confident we are. That’s part of their power: that the business is close to our own power.

But creating such a tight bind between self to business and business to self can be damaging to both.

Because when you’re not seeing sales, does that mean you, as a person, are not worth money (and love and attention and care and more)?

Does negative feedback mean that you’re damned for all eternity as a person, as well as a business?

And does a successful business month or year mean that you’ve won at also being a friend, partner, sister, parent, human? Not necessarily.

You are your business

You’re the life force that created your business. You’re the mother – you birthed it into the world with the vital elements required for it to live.

Your wellbeing, the care of your heart and mind and soul and body, has a direct impact on how well you are able to continue putting love and life and care and wisdom into your business.

You are the place where the buck stops. You ultimately make the key decisions of your business. You are powerful. You’re the queen and the king and the boss of your business.

I am utterly convinced that, for the majority of us, starting a business and managing a business and continuing a business is a process that magnifies the nuances of our personal strengths and weaknesses. Your beliefs about money, rest, hard work, self-care, other people, boundaries, entitlement, connection and so much more are out in the arena for you to battle with.

If you had an underlying belief, perhaps secret even to you, that people are inherently judgemental and mean, this will become clear as you work with people, sell to them, and connect with them. It might become clear because you suddenly don’t want to show up anymore, or that your internal dialogue condemns all your critics as the mean, nasty teacher you had at school.

I say this not to put you off, or to imagine that you’re the only one. That example in the paragraph above, that’s one of mine. Of course, I don’t 100% believe that people are inherently judgemental and mean. I have a lot of evidence that people are kind and generous and supportive and creative and sometimes just plain ambivalent. But somewhere along the way, this darker belief surfaced, too. The one that leads me to hide away for weeks at a time and not put myself out there.

And in order to be successful in business, I have to work with this belief, and many more like it, in order to have a functional, thriving, successful relationship with marketing and managing my businesses.

This is what I mean: our beliefs will shape at least some of the success (or not) of our business.

You are not your business

You, the person, are already whole, worthy, and amazing.

You are allowed to be happy, to rest, to love yourself, to be loved by others, even if you haven’t made a sale or done everything on your list today.

You are bigger and more complex than a business. You are heart and mind and body and soul. You get cold and hot. You feel more emotions than any non-human entity. You get tired and you get inspired. You have instincts and dreams and desires.

You and your business are separate, like lovers or partners or friends. You give to your business, and you receive something in return. Your business gives to you, and you have the gratitude and energy to give back. (When you’re in a functional relationship, that is.)

Your business may not survive without you if you took your love and energy and attention away from it right now. But you would survive without it.

There is part of you – even if it feels very small and invisible – that does not rely on your business being successful in order to survive. It doesn’t need you to make five figures this month or gain 15k followers on Instagram. It doesn’t even need you to break even. This part of you is already whole and worthy of love and belonging, no matter what happens.

Celebrate your successes, by all means! It’s incredible what you’re putting into the world. Every product published, every sale made, every glowing review deserves a little toast of a cup of tea and piece of gratitude. You did it! You put it out there. And it paid off.

But please, oh please, watch the belief that one failure, one negative piece of feedback, or even a million of both, means that you are failure.

You are separate.

The personal and professional balance

In order to do the work we’re called to do in the world, the creative work, the heart-centred work, the personal business work, we have to take care of our own minds and bodies and hearts. We have to take care of the human at the heart of the business.

For many of my clients and retreat-ers and friends, it is immensely helpful to hear that self-care has to be part of their business plan for long term, sustainable business. That they are very much linked to their business success on that energetic level.

That means self-care: rest, nourishment, nurturing, exercise, healthy environments to work in.

It also means self-development and awareness: investigating the beliefs and re-writing the things that hold you back. Healing your relationships to money, hard work, receiving, creativity and more. An example: do you believe that you’ll somehow ‘use up’ all your good ideas? This is proven not to be the case, but many creatives believe that they won’t find the next big thing ever again. To quote Maya Angelou: “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”

It’s also vital to see that you’re in relationship with your business. And like any relationship, to be healthy, you need good boundaries, good give and take, and good communication.

So here’s the thing

This balance, this dichotomy of being connected and separate from our businesses is the heart of my work. These beliefs and approaches and ideas are what I bring to one-on-one coaching and mentoring, as well as to my retreats, courses and workshops.

I can’t shy away from it any more. That part of me that believes everyone reading this is judgemental and mean and will think I’m totally crazy? I’ve got that part in check. I’ve chatted with her, figured out that she’s trying to keep me safe, and these days, I can keep her happy enough to get myself out there with these ideas about working with the human within the business for success all round.

If this isn’t for you, I understand. Possibly time to find another business coach or mentor to follow.

If this intrigues you, if you feel your heart or soul or body or some small part of you yearning for care and balance and coming alive and intuition, then perhaps working with my one on one or a workshop or retreat is something you’ll consider.

Let’s find our true path, within and separate from our businesses.

Jenny xx

Here’s the thing: thoughts on being tired

06/07

tiredAre you really tired? As an entrepreneur. As a boss. As a creative. As a parent. As a person. It’s tiring. There’s always so much STUFF to do. Never ending. Doom-laden.

I can totally relate.

I was on holiday (honeymoon) recently and I actually got to a point of not-tired. Which was amazing! How long is it since I felt like that?!

And so obviously I wanted to keep feeling not tired, even when I got home and was back to the normal routine and pressures. One of the best things about my honeymoon (that I can talk about publicly – oo-er!) was the clarity it allowed me. Space to think. Space to reflect. No deadlines. No ‘must-do’ items. No urgency.

You know what came up five days in? I was afraid of getting tired. Deeply afraid. Like it would break me to get even a little bit tired.

What I thought of as ‘tired’ was actually ‘totally burnt out with nothing left’. 

Lightbulb moment!

Tired is not bad.

Tired is not failing.

Tired doesn’t mean I’m not fit enough, strong enough, good enough.

It means I need to rest and receive. It means I’m human.

Because I’ve frequently pushed myself beyond merely ‘tired’ and into ‘burnout’, I’ve become afraid of tired. But tired is fine and natural and enjoyable when it works. When it asks for rest and respite and is allowed.

I see so much pressure in the online world, on social media, among creative entrepreneurs, to hustle and get it all done and be total and utter superheroes. The answer to productivity? Schedule everything to within a millisecond! Not getting the sales? Work harder and longer! Something you’re not sure about? Worry until your body is shot through with adrenaline fatigue and the effects of long-term stress.

You know what? I don’t see respect for our humanness in that.

What if we respect tired more?

What if we acknowledge that the response to tired isn’t more caffeine or a tighter schedule or more sugar and carbs and Buddha bowls?

The natural response to tired is rest.

Somewhere along the way, we forgot.

If you, like me, have been on the brink of breakdown or quitting or burnout, will you look at your relationship to tired?

Here’s the thing: dealing with tired means we can deal with everything else

How does your body tell you it’s tired?

How does your brain tell you it’s tired?

(I’ve noticed that my brain often gets tired first, so walking or running or yoga helps my body to take over for a while, so my brain can rest. There’s no point sleeping when my body’s pumped, even if my brain thinks it’s ready for sleep.)

Where can you find, schedule, and commit to resting your weary brain, body, heart and soul?

What’s the moment you could take your foot off the pedal so that tired doesn’t turn into burnt out?

Which expectations do you need to let go of? When do you tell yourself you ‘should’ keep going, even when your body is telling you it needs to stop?

Who do you need to follow or unfollow to encourage your healthy relationship with rest and humanness?

Here are some of my favourite resources:

You know what else helps? Connecting with other people who treasure rest. Who value it and recognise that we’re worth the rest we need, no matter what. But sometimes we have to stand up to the whole world that tells us we have to earn it in a plethora of ways.

If you need encouragement, I’m here. If you need strategies, I’m here. If you need to talk it through or work on how to stand up to others or figure out how to grow your business without burning out, I’m here.

We can do this. (And I don’t mean hustle hard.)

Jenny xx

Here’s the thing: we’re more powerful than we realise

30/05

our power as consumersI’ll be honest: there are times when the world of retail gets me down. Meaningless purchases that end up in landfill, a huge volume of plastic that our planet doesn’t enjoy, an increase of consumer debt… It can all add up to something that just doesn’t feel good.

I’ve been thinking recently about how to get more comfortable with retail again. I’ve been thinking about what’s important and necessary and meaningful.

And it strikes me that we’re more powerful as consumers than we realise. The money we spend tells companies what’s important to us, whether it’s environmental, aesthetic, cultural, idealistic or other factors.

I read an article recently which claimed women make 80% of household purchasing decisions so even if we’re not earning the money (let’s change that anyway), we’re highly influential. Imagine if 80% of household decisions were made based on where our food came from, how it’s grown, where our clothes come from, or whether those companies treated people well and supported women in the workplace – or whatever is important to you.

I guess I’ve been thinking about it recently because of the election, and because the world seems a little chaotic, and I have to hope it’s being shaken up so that we can create something better.

Yes, we can go to the polling station and vote.

But we can also vote for the world we want with the money we spend.

That’s a huge part of my belief in small businesses. I adore the Just A Card campaign – if we all purchased the cards and small gifts we love to give from small businesses, we’d keep an entire industry of creatives (and increasingly female creatives) in business.

And it goes for the bigger purchases too.

We get to put our money where our values are.

I’ve long been about quality over quantity – a single pair of good quality jeans over throw-away pairs that last a couple of months.

And I want to support people who are doing good in the world: lifting others up, creating unique work, showing up as themselves, courageously making the things only they can make, working towards healing and happiness. (Is this you? Tell me, and show me where and how I can support.)

I’m an advocate. I care about people. I care about the people behind the business, and I want to support them. Not only with the mentoring, retreats, courses, services and love I offer professionally, but also in the things I buy from them.

Here’s the thing

We each have our own set of values. They fluctuate from time to time, but we mostly know what we care about, deep down.

Let’s stand behind them, and allow the money we spend to speak for us (as well as our words and other actions).

Let’s make purchases from people we like, of products that we love and reflect our values.

Let’s ensure our decision-making counts.

Maybe even just your next purchase. Buy something from someone doing good work in the world. They’ll thank you for it, and so will all the people they support, and so on.

***

PS If you need to find your own meaning, or at least a little more, join me on Thursday for an online mini retreat. Read and register here.

Here’s the thing: dealing with uncertainty in business

13/03

how to deal with uncertaintyWe all know that being self-employed has its risks. When you step away from a regular paycheck, you miss out on the security of knowing how much you’re going to get paid and when. Someone else takes on the challenge of making sure everything’s in the black, and you get to show up, do your work, and get paid for it. Not all the time, because there can be uncertain times in permanent jobs for sure, but quite often.

When you run your own business or are freelance or whatever your preferred way to say it is, there’s much more uncertainty.

And right now, in my client circles and networks of online retailers, it feels like there’s quite a lot of uncertainty flying around. Perhaps it’s that sales are down, or that retail patterns seem to be shifting more drastically than they have before. Perhaps the market is shifting. Perhaps Brexit and world politics are changing consumers’ behaviour.

And perhaps not.

As I think about how I deal with uncertainty and how I help my clients deal with it, the first thing that comes to mind is one thing: data. What data do we have? Can we trust it? What does it actually tell us?

Because we can get wired up and insecure and swayed by anecdotal evidence. If you don’t read any further or get the printable worksheet below, at least take this:

Check what you know about what’s true for your business and your industry. Fact-check. Don’t rely solely on others’ opinions or anecdotes for data you’re going to use to make your business decisions.

You might do some of your own research. You might find some specific statistics. Or you might stop looking outward at other people and go inward, looking at your business. Make sure your information is good.

Here’s the thing

When I’m faced with decisions or situations coming up, I like to look at the options and possibilities so that I can see potential outcomes and plan what I’ll do if any of them actually happen. This also gives me the opportunity to check in on how likely each possibility is.

Ultimately, I make plans based on what I can control and influence, which gets me out of paralysis and worrying, and into positive action. And as my mum would say, “Where there’s clarity, make decisions.”

I’ve included a few prompts below, but I’ve also made this longer worksheet version that you can download and print so that you can use my own process for dealing with uncertainty.

  • What do I actually know about what’s facing me right now?
  • What am I worrying about right now?
  • Is there anything I’m ready to stop believing, because there’s no evidence?
  • How do I feel about my current situation?
  • How can I manage or deal with my feelings so that I can consider the situation from a practical point of view?
  • Have I been in a similar situation in the past? What happened then?

I hope this all helps. Uncertainty is not easy to deal with, but having the support of a network or mentor (hi!) can really help.

If you have questions or are still feeling stuck or worried, I’d love to hear from you. If there’s a video or course or blog I can offer to help YOU (yes, you), I’m all ears.

Until soon,

Jenny x

Here’s the thing: respect and how to get it

03/03

respectBefore we begin, let’s all have the R.E.S.P.E.C.T. middle eight from Aretha in mind. (Go here for a reminder.)

Now that that’s out of the way, I want to share that respect is something that’s been on my mind recently. How do we show respect to others? How and when do we want to receive respect?

You know what I’ve noticed? When people feel respected, they do better. They feel better. And when people feel disrespected, unnoticed, taken for granted, they get resentful. They act out, they’re less generous, they blow up out of the blue.

I’ve been there, on all sides. And these things happen in business relationships, in friendships, in family relationships – the whole spectrum.

Relationships all take maintenance, and especially working relationships require clarity, communication, and upkeep. It’s not often a one-off conversation that fixes things (though sometimes that can help).

And if you’re a kind, generous person who loves to help (me too), it’s even harder to ask for respect and hold your boundaries.

So, before I get to some questions for you to reflect on, let me tip my hat to the wonderful Randi Buckley and her upcoming course, Healthy Boundaries for Kind People. Because Randi has helped me exponentially with firming up my boundaries and get the respect I deserve without turning into a cold-hearted you-know-what.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I’ve been thinking a lot about boundaries given a) I’m now managing a team of around eight people and b) politically and morally, there seems to be so little respect going around.

We can’t force other people into respect, but we can demonstrate incredibly clear (and kind) boundaries on what is acceptable to us. We can also ensure that we’re given respect to others where it’s due. Because sometimes, when we’re really busy, it can be easy to forget.

So here’s the thing

I’ve put together some questions for you to consider. Maybe you’ll journal about them, or think about them, or discuss them with friends.

Who do you respect? Not envy or put on a pedestal, but actually respect? How do you show them?

What do you want to be respected for?

How do you prefer to receive respect? For you, what does respect look like?

How do you demonstrate your respect for others?

Are you allowing yourself to be disrespected by anyone? How can you show them, gently, respectfully, that it’s not acceptable?

 

And if you need help on that last question, or indeed any of them, my highest recommendation is to take Randi’s course which starts next week. If you want more clarity, less resentment, more confidence, and better conflict resolution, you won’t regret it.

Here’s the thing: saying no

20/02

how to say no by Jenny HydePre-S: Looking for the printable? Skip to the end. But come back to read more good stuff!

You know what I think? I think we’re all busy. I think we’re all trying to do lots of cool things. And I think there’s always opportunity to do more. There’s always another article to read, another email to answer, and another product to design (or blog post to write!).

And I believe this: We have to stop the glorification of busy.

We have to put things down. We have to change our minds and actively demonstrate to ourselves and others that “busy” doesn’t mean “successful”.

For our sanity, for our health, for our sustainability, we have to get comfortable with saying “no”.

Here’s what happens when I say yes when I really needed to say no:

I tell myself it’s not a big deal – I can just do the work or the favour and then it’ll be done. I’ll feel better about it and I’ll be helping someone.

I try to squeeze it in (whatever “it” is) but usually end up procrastinating or rolling it over to tomorrow or next week or similar.

I rush it, so I don’t do a good job.

I start to doubt my abilities. I worry about it when I’m in the shower or boiling the kettle (unlike when I’m doing work I’m fully invested in, which I can usually leave at my desk).

The client or friend or family member chases me. I feel bad and defensive and frustrated.

Resentment starts to build up and I get into black and white thinking (“I’m never going to do anything for them ever again. Look how ungrateful they are”) even if they’re just asking me to do what I said I’d do.

This is an extreme example of what happens, but it’s true. Do I end up feeling good? Occasionally. Do I add more stress to my life? Definitely. Does it benefit the other person? Possibly. But do they also get annoyed with me and wish they’d asked someone else? I imagine so.

Saying yes to stuff I can’t do or am not really invested in doesn’t serve me or anyone else.

But.

We’re nice and generous and we want to help. We don’t like letting people down. And of course there’s the “well, I have to say yes because I need the money / they’re family / I owe them” guilt and fear.

So how do we balance what’s best for us with others’ requests?

This is still a practice for me, but here are the things I’ve been working on:

  1. Get clear on your own priorities. I did this towards the end of last year, when there was just too much and I was pulled in a thousand directions. My priorities are: existing client work, marketing and developing Copper Boom, my family, my home, and my health. There are specifics within that, but it makes it very easy to see what I want to have time, energy and money for.
  2. Be clear that you’re going to start saying no to anything that doesn’t make the list. Once you have your list, you have a reference point. Something that you created in a calm moment, not the heat of the moment when you receive the email or the phone call and can get sideswiped by old habits.
  3. Share your “yes” list. This can be helpful with family, friends and staff members. If you’re going through a big change or finding that you’re overwhelmed, it can be really helpful to let loved ones and the people involved know upfront, before you start saying no to things you usually say yes to. (I’ve included some wording you can use below.)
  4. Start practicing AND understand that no is a complete sentence. We often think we have to justify saying no, but we don’t. We might put a “thank you” on the end, but we don’t have to apologise for not meeting someone’s expectations or give an excuse. Start practicing saying no in a way that feels comfortable to you, even to small things. (Again, more wording for you to practice with below).
  5. Let go of guilt. This one is an ongoing practice. Because we’ve been brought up and conditioned and generally expected to say yes to everything. Because fear and guilt sound the same, and are both trying to keep you safe in a very old-school sort of way. (“If you piss this person off, everyone in the whole world will be pissed off and you’ll never have a business or belong anywhere ever again.” They’re pretty extreme.) You might find physically shaking off guilt is helpful, when you’re feeling it. You might find it helpful to read some of the statements below. You might need to breathe through it and look back at your “yes” list to remind yourself that you’re really saying yes to those things.

It’s easy to write a list, and harder in practice. I know. But I hope that giving you some clear pointers helps to create clarity of thought.

I always find it helpful to think about the actual wording I’m going to say to people. It helps me to feel confident in dealing with requests off the cuff (like on a phone call or face to face), and like the “yes” list, I create them outside the heat of the moment, so I know I can trust them.

Here are some wording suggestions:

  • Thank you for thinking of me! This isn’t something I can commit to right now.
  • I need to consider my current schedule. Can I get back to you in a day / week?
  • I’m currently prioritising my business / family / health and can’t take on extra commitments for the foreseeable future.
  • No.
  • Thanks for your email. This isn’t a good fit for me. I hope you find someone else who can do the project justice. Good luck with it!
  • I’m not a specialist in ______ so this project isn’t something I can take on.
  • This isn’t an option for me.
  • I’d love to, but my priorities lie elsewhere right now.
  • I have to say no. Thank you for the opportunity.
  • Thanks for the suggestion. I’m not in a position to take it up.
  • That isn’t an option for us. (This one’s particularly good for staff, when you don’t want to say why.)
  • Thanks for the suggestion! I need to consider it in context of our other designs and what we’re trying to create. (For feedback on creative suggestions.)
  • That doesn’t fit with what I’m imagining. What I’d LOVE is _____.

Notice that these responses are short and sweet! It will feel awkward saying them (or writing them) at first, especially if you’re used to saying yes and/or explaining yourself. Know that they’re enough: short, sweet and respectful. No apologies for committing to yourself, and no excuses.

I also recommend that you don’t say “maybe later” if you don’t mean it. If you’re never going to say yes to something in a billion years, don’t give someone false hope.

Need a reminder somewhere you can see it? Download the free printable here!

I’m sending so much courage and love as you go forth and say no so that you can say more YES!

Until soon,

Jenny x

Further resources:

Meet Jenny

I’m passionate about creative small businesses and the people behind them. My unique blend of industry experience and creative intuition allow me to guide entrepreneurs towards their full potential, whatever stage they’re at. My specialities are storytelling and finding clarity in busy and often messy places. Read more.

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