24 things I’ve learned about life & business

TODAY’S MY BIRTHDAY, Y’ALL. You know what this means, right? It means that all day I am going to totally abuse the phrase “It’s my birthday, I do what I want!” Including as justification for wearing a sexy villainess dress that will probably require double-sided tape to keep everything decent (it’s supposed to get here today, so I can’t confirm this yet…but c’mon, look at that thing*) for a low-key get together at a pub. Yup. It’s my birthday, I do what I want.

It also means, sexy birthday dresses aside, that:

  1. I am going to do one of those “(insert number) things” posts. Because it’s my birthday & I do what I want.
  2. I’m doing an early bird special with charity benefits for the Systems 201 class. More deets at the bottom of the post. Or you can just click here.

Ready?

24 Things I’ve Learned About Life & Business

(in a little over three years of busting my ass & working hard to work for myself)

One: Nobody ever knows what the hell they’re doing.

You’re looking at someone elses’ business from the outside, and think they have it all together? They almost certainly don’t. Even if they aren’t on the verge of total chaos (and a lot of them are, trust me on that), they have days where they think to themselves “I have no idea what the fuck is going on. I am going to ruin this. Everyone is judging me. I’m going to change my services and people will think I’m a flake. I’m going to up my prices and people will get pissy.” You think you’re the only one that has days like that, but you are soooo not. Getting to the point where you know this makes a huge difference in your peace of mind. And makes it easier when you do have days like that.

Two: On a related note, people are going to look at you and think you have your shit together.

When this happens, it is generally considered bad form to laugh hysterically and explain to them all of the myriad of ways that you emphatically do not have it together. At least until you’re down a few drinks – then it’s somewhat more acceptable.

Three: Support systems are vital.

Not just things like “remembering to take breaks” and “eat breakfast before you start working” (ah ha ha, like I’ve ever forgotten to do that…ahem). Though those are obviously important. But things like having a snuggle buddy who doesn’t care how your business is going or someone to go to networking events with you and make them entertaining is huge. I love my friends who aren’t located near here, but the first year in Austin was one of the hardest of my life because I didn’t feel like I had any kind of support system here. Don’t do that to yourself.

Four: Your family, and some of your friends, might never “get” what you do or why people pay you for it or how you’re “qualified” to do it.

That’s okay. As long as they aren’t being judgey assholes about it, just ignore it and love them anyways, like they love you. (If they are being jdugey assholes about it, sit down and have a talk about boundaries. Or something. I haven’t had to do that yet, thankfully, so I’m not the one to ask.)

Five: It’s really surreal the first time someone actively seeks you out for advice.

It doesn’t get any less surreal, but you get used to it and learn to step into it.

Six: Nobody ever feels like a grown up.

One of my friends posted something on Facebook once: “Conclusion: Every adult I know is convinced s/he’s a sixteen year old wearing a grown-up-suit and they’re going to get found out any minute now.” True dat.

Seven: Nobody ever winds up doing what they started doing.

This doesn’t make you a fraud or a flake, it makes you human. (I started out as a freelance writer-slash-style blogger. Yeah.) 

Eight: Try to stay grounded in reality.

We all forget that we’re totally immersed in this little bubble of the world and that 95% of the people out there don’t know who Chris Guillebeau or Danielle LaPorte are and why it’s so awesome that they knew your name or talked to you or linked to you in a blog post. (I use those two examples because they *are* grounded in reality and are perfectly aware that “famous on the internet” is not the be-all-end-all of life, the universe, and everything & they’re also some of the nicest people you’ll meet; I don’t think Chris could be egotistical if he tried.)

Nine: Buy yourself nice things.

Screw practical. I make it a habit now to buy myself something every time I have a business win, and I used to make it practical things – “Oh, I can wear this dress every day”, blahdiblah. But sometimes, you just need to buy yourself something nice, whether it’s practical or not. (See aforementioned “sexy villainess” dress.)

Ten: Impromptu play breaks = necessity.

Your work will still be there when you come back in 10 minutes and it’ll probably be better off for you taking that break.

Eleven: Don’t waste time waiting for the other shoe to drop when things are good.

Everything goes in cycles and things might not be as good as they are now later, or they might be better. But dwelling on it won’t do anything except suck all the fun out of what you’re doing right now.

Twelve: If it’s important to you, it’s important enough.

Don’t minimize it or be dismissive of it. (Thanks to Lisa for pointing this out to me earlier this week when I was referring to my love of aesthetics as “silly” or “geeky”.) 

Thirteen: When in doubt: make a pot of tea, wait 24 hours, and come back to whatever you’re freaking out about.

It will probably look like not nearly so big of a deal. (See also: ask yourself, “In five years, will this matter?” – thanks Alex!)

Fourteen: People love enthusiasm, even if you’re worried about coming off like a dork.

Tell your new client you’re superexcited to work with them and that they’re your dream client. They won’t judge you.

Fifteen: It’s okay if you don’t want to read something deep and meaningful at the end of your work day and you’d rather watch Buffy instead.

I promise that doesn’t make you shallow. (Or, if it does? You’re in good company, ’cause I’m shallow too!)

Sixteen: The world doesn’t stop turning if you take a day off work.

Really for-reals.

Seventeen: Worrying about your competitors is a waste of time.

It’s much more fun to be friends with them instead.

Eighteen: For the love of everything good and holy, spend the extra time, effort, and money to make sure your workspace is set up correctly.

Your back, ass, and massage therapist will thank you for it.

Nineteen: Yoga is a good idea.

Twenty: In general? People are paying much less attention to you than you think they are.

At least in that hyper-critical way we’re all afraid of. If you change your copy or switch up your service structure or whatever, you are not going to get a flood of emails criticizing you for being a massive flake and demanding the old way back.

Twenty One: On the total flip side of that, people are noticing you (in a good way), even if you don’t feel like it.

People notice hard workers and people who are genuine, and if you fall into those categories, you’re showing up.

Twenty Two: It’s almost never about you, it’s about them.

People react to things based on their experiences, personality, history, and what kind of day they’re having. Sometimes this is obvious and easy to remember (“Hey guys, I’m having a sale!” “WHAT?! How dare you try to take my money, you charlatan!”), sometimes it’s not. But it’s always worth keeping in mind.

Twenty Three: If it’s not about you, don’t make it about you.

(And, as noted in 22, it’s almost never about you.)

Twenty Four: It’s all going to be okay. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end. 

And on a related note, I want to also say a massive THANK YOU for the people who have helped me out in various ways too many to name, who’ve supported me and listened to me and given me advice and loved me: Shenee, Kathryn, Erika (& the other Daily Whip alum, a fantastic group of women), Megan, Dyana, my family, my various friends who are not immersed in the business world but are supportive and loving and helpful anyways, my puppy-dog, my awesome clients, and…YOU, for reading and being here and following along. Even if you’ve never bought a planner or signed up for a class. I know you’re there and I want to say THANK YOU.

This past year has not exactly been a cake walk, it’s involved a lot of self-doubt and tears and loss, but also involved a lot of coming in to my own, growth, and learning how to be independent and interdependent without sacrificing one for the other. I’m really, intensely, snifflingly grateful for my life today. And I couldn’t have done it without support.

Okay, now that the touchy-feely stuff is over: the birthday sale!

Remember Systems 101? I created a follow-up workshop, Systems 201, which goes on sale today! It’ll take place in mid-October and from now through midnight on the 30th, I’m having an early bird sale + charity benefit. Right now, the workshop is $25, and 30% of all sales (between now and midnight on the 30th) will go to Women for Women International. After the 30th, the price goes up to $35. So get in now, get a good deal, & help a charity out to boot.

Here’s to another fantastic year!

*I feel it’s necessary to update this post and say two things: 

  1. Look at the birthday dress! Eee! I loved it!
  2. It actually didn’t require double sided tape, if you can believe it. Can I get a hallelujah for super-stretchy fabrics? Modern technology, y’all. Gotta love it. 
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