This isn’t an episode meant to teach you the fanciest deep-dive marketing strategies or where I’ll dive into the newest social media methods we’re trying over here… Actually, I’m not trying to “teach” anything at all, but more so I want to share from my heart some of the things I’m working on and going through, even though I don’t have the answers or know the end result yet. It’s the idea of showing up in the middle of the process, not just when you have the shiny after photo to go along side the before.
I admire SO much when other leaders and people I look up to can honestly show up and let you into the process. When people admit and share their faults, their challenges, and vulnerabilities, it’s almost like a permission slip for us to do the same. It makes me feel like I can understand them on another level when they’re just honest and real and tell the truth, so that’s really what today’s all about.
Not “leading.” Not giving you a blueprint to nailing X, Y, or Z in your business… Just an honest convo with your gal pal Jen over here, from my heart to yours. Here are some of the challenges from 2020 that I’ve been ruminating over thoughtfully as we transition into a new year and continue to adjust, pivot, learn and grow into more resilient and kind humans… or at least, that’s the goal.
#1. Family planning
Drew and I wrapped up 2020 with certainty in our hearts and that this next year and phase of life should be spent trying to grow our family once again. We always have wanted to have 2 kids, if not three, but I also knew that I needed to give myself time to settle into the role of motherhood and get a grip on it before I was ready to start the process over. There’s this beautiful piece of knowing kind of what to expect with growing your family when you’ve done it once before but it also sheds a new light on the things you might not have understood pre-kids.
Truthfully, it feels like a good, natural time to try for baby #2… but there’s also a lot of “extras” to take into consideration. In hoping to grow our family, I have to realistically consider things that I now know to be true… it might take some time, we might encounter loss again, pregnancy might now come without complications like the fact that I was really, realllly sick in my last pregnancy. There’s just a lot to consider and wrap my mind around in the realm of being the kind of mom I want to be and run the business I want to run while having enough energy to grow a new little human!
While I don’t want to live in fear or base my life and decisions on “what ifs,” as women I do think there’s so much to consider between pregnancy and fertility and the fourth trimester and that can affect so much of our lives, especially as working women.
#2. Needle movers
The next thing I’m taking into account big-time this year? My team and their livelihoods. Last year it hit me harder than ever that I have not one, not two, but TEN women who rely on me and this business to put food on their table and care for their own families. While it’s a great blessing, it, at times, also felt like a burden, a worry to shoulder as we navigated 2020 together.
I’ve always known it was a significant responsibility, but I think with so much of the uncertainty of 2020 and as I watched peers and other business owners have to make the devastating decision to lay off or fire members of their teams or downsize their businesses, it hit me that I want to do whatever I can to sustain what we’ve ALL worked so hard to build.
So moving into 2021, it’s one of my biggest goals to make sure that all the work we are doing is moving the needle forward so we ALL benefit and gain from it. I don’t want to just continue doing something because we’ve always done it, or say yes to things because I feel obligated. I want to encourage my team to view each and every business decision, project, and system in a way that forces us to prioritize looking at what strategies are working, and to let the rest of the noise fall away.
Another thing that’s in an adjustment phase this year? Getting into a new flow of life after 2020. I have to be honest: rest has been challenging for me in this funky season. Usually with my schedule and the rapid pace that we travel and work, rest would just happen along the way when there were pockets of opportunity to slow down after the busy times.
We didn’t have to work hard to build rest into our lives but instead I’d take the chance to slow down, well, whenever life wasn’t moving so fast. We’d have crazy travel seasons or big launches to prep for and execute, and then I could take a day or a week or a month off to just totally chill and unplug.
But now since everyone has been at home waaay more this year, with requirements to pivot and pivot often to stay on pace and even as our way of work has been adjusted, I had to figure out a new way to incorporate rest and boundaries while everything was feeling uncertain.
I got wrapped up in the whirlwind for a few months there, of going and going just to create and show up as best and as big as I could for my people… until I realized, things will ALWAYS be changing, the future will always be uncertain. I was in this mode of just wanting to help everyone else secure their oxygen masks when I hadn’t yet secured mine, so to speak.
And while it’s important to show up and be a resource for others in those seasons, it’s just as important to take care of me, my family, my team, and all of our needs. I quickly realized that we were going to be in this for the long haul and if endurance would be required of me, I needed to rest and take care of myself in order to give as fully as I possibly could.
I hit a feeling, about 6 months into the pandemic where I did a little body scan and realized, whew I AM TIRED. When I assessed all the reasons why I was feeling drained and exhausted, I realized I hadn’t take time off in that entire timeframe. While my weekends were protected, I was deeply desiring more time off to rest and recharge and feel creative again. Towards the end of summer I took an entire week off and it was just what I needed and a time where my family made some really precious memories, I am so grateful I was able to just hit “pause” and catch my breath.
I’ve been working hard at incorporating those boundaries and finding a new normal in this season of life. For me, it looks like later start times so we can have a family breakfast before I begin and midday workouts to get the blood flowing and my eyes off the screen! At the end of the day, I always, always feel better and more balanced when I’ve given myself these gentle nudges to slow down, protect my peace, prioritize rest, and take breaks.
#4. Trusting what’s worked
We’re also focusing on trusting that what we do works. As someone who studied business a decade ago, I pride myself on leaning on those timeless principles when it comes to marketing and creating. There are so many things that stand the test of times and when we lean on those as our foundation to the work we do, we will be able to weather the storms.
With covid and quarantine, I mentioned that I watched as everyone started to panic a bit because it was brand new to all of us. We collectively were processing the same the information in real time and while we didn’t know how long it would last, we didn’t know what it was going to look like, and we didn’t know what normal was anymore, we had to lean on the universal truths in business to stay tethered to the work. Heck, I had my own panic moment there when I was wondering what the future might look like for business owners in the digital space.
But then I realized, and have had to continue to remind myself that we HAVE to trust in the systems we’ve built that have produced results for us in the past. By trying to pivot TOO hard too fast, you can lose sight of what matters and what people actually need from you long-term. Instead we’ve decided as a business and team to really trust in what’s worked before and refining and leaning in there so we can double down on our impact and continue delivering tools and resources that we know to be valuable and helpful.
There are so many things that we did RIGHT last year when we focused on optimizing and strategizing the things that already produce results, so a big focus is for us in the new year is to put the blinders on, don’t get sucked into the panic or the new trends and just stay on pace with our processes and stay connected to our mission.
This one, I’ve put here last because it penetrates my personal life and my business life so much. Now, I’ve always considered myself a proud lifelong learner and boy, did I learn a lot in 2020. I’m working on proactively taking a backseat as a leader and teacher, even when my tendency is to teach through the processing or learning. One of the most beautiful parts of 2020 was that we were given the time to pause and ponder, to question and learn or unlearn things we once held up as truths in our lives.
In 2020, several of my own blindspots were revealed to me when it comes to race, privilege, and equality. I learned about true allyship and that while intentions are important they just don’t speak loud enough. I was forced to pause and really reflect on what I believe to be true and in that pausing I understood there is so much for me to learn and it’s my job to take on the role as an active student.
While privilege is something I’ve been aware of for many years, I never had to look it as square in the face as 2020 made me — and I’m thankful for that. It’s undeniable that the color of my skin has automatically set me up to succeed in a LOT of ways that other people don’t have the privilege of. That I have no way of knowing a Black or Brown person’s experiences, and that empathy isn’t about attempting to walk in someone else’s shoes but comes from a deep desire to rely on shared emotions that can guide my actions. It was a lesson filled with both learning and unlearning that challenged me to do the work both online and offline. It was a year of being open to growth and learning and changing and breaking down some of the structures that we’ve
I can only speak on my own, very-flawed experience here, and I understand it’s not my role to teach or lead in anyway in this space. What I can do is continue inviting guests onto the show from diverse backgrounds and walks of life and colors of skin to share THEIR experiences, so we can all understand how to do and be better. I can look at my business and investigate the holes in my own ways of thinking and processing. And I can challenge myself and my team to do the work that we have started. Work that will hopefully be seen and felt by our audience and our community!
The Big Picture
Last year was messy and hard, not just for me, but for all of us. I’m never going to deny that. But if I could encourage you in any way, I’d tell you to not avoid the work of reviewing the year for yourself. Growth causes growing pains and while we collectively grieved the world as we once knew it, we also are poised with an opportunity to rebuild what we hope is to come.
It wasn’t my favorite thing to really ask myself: what worked, what sucked, what will stay the same, and what needs to change, but it’s important work. I look at these episodes as little time capsules to be able to see and measure the growth that each year brings. I sincerely hope you can find grace with your own mistakes or dark periods of the year past and I hope we can fill those spaces with resilience and hope, I pray you can view it all through a fresh lens and even use your challenges as a tool to adjust and do better now that we know better and are moving into this fresh new space or a fresh new year.