When it feels like ten thousand steps

For the past eight weeks, I’ve been walking 10,000 steps a day. Yes, I’ve missed my goal about eight of the past 40 days, but most days have a minimum of 10K or more. Some days it seems to take no effort. Other days, I look down and it’s like, “Four hundred? I’ve only done 400 steps? I’m NEVER going to make it to ten thousand today!”

But then I start walking. Just 15 minutes. Just start moving one foot in front of the other. By the end of the first week, I had walked the equivalent of a marathon. Recently, I hit 1,000 stories worth of stairs: the equivalent of a skydiver. Today’s log is at 9,341, so I’ve got a few more steps to get in before I “call it a day” well walked.

As I was belaboring my 400 step horror and stamping about the neighborhood in a huff, I turned my thoughts to business and how the metaphor of 10,000 steps works for our small businesses as well. It is so easy to get overwhelmed. Especially, if you are in that “working two jobs diligently phase.” It’s a lot of work. A lot of extra hours. A lot of robbing Peter to pay Paul and then shaking all the cushions out to try to pay Mary her fair share as well.

For you who might just find yourself in a similar place, consider these few things:
1. The discipline to run this small business is not insurmountable if I take it in steady, daily chunks. Walking 10,000 steps a day can be done. Walking 70,000 steps in a day to “catch up” for the week, can not. Honest. It just can’t. Not by normal humans.

2. You don’t have to do it all at once. 15 minutes here. 15 minutes there. 30 minutes at a stretch here… these things all add up and suddenly you find that you’ve accomplished way more than you thought possible when you started the day (whether that was at 7 a.m. or 3 in the afternoon!)

3. Procrastination will kill your business faster than anything. You must MOVE to the next right action and the next one and the next one. You’ve got to have lists and a calendar that you actually use (start with 4 daily things).

4. Once a week, do a mind purge. Write it all down. Make that long list. Just get it out.

5. Once a day, set the “this has to get done” list. How many is on it? More than 10? Not realistic. Priorities, Honey. I said, “HAS” to get done. The HAS list is more like Three items.

6. So, now that you have your “HAS” list, what couple of things can you add as “Bonus”. Those “Bonus'” are your gold stars. They are mental adrenaline and when you hit those, it’s automatically a really good day.

7. Add some movement. You need to get up. Get outside. Move your bones. Clear your head. Sift your thoughts. Listen to birds, and frogs, and crickets. You need the sunshine, and the clouds, and even a little drizzle: you will be better all around for it.

So, have at it! I’ve got an item on my list waiting to be crossed off, but first a quick 700 steps. Yes, I know, I’m procrastinating, but only a wee little bit!

Only the Needful

Only the most needful things got done today.
And I wish that I would have given myself permission to do that and that only at the beginning of the day. Perhaps, because it is Saturday and before me stretched a full day of hours without other pressing engagements, I felt compelled to “use the time wisely” and catch up on what feels like an overwhelming amount of work.

Yet, over the past seven days, I have driven 1,500 miles, met with dozens of people, been engaged, dynamic, and active listener and participant… and today my brain rebelled and said, “Nope. Not having it. Not even an hour of it.”

So, I meditated. I breathed. I meditated some more. I ate good food. Engaged with the family. Walked outside. Collected shells found on the shoreline. Washed dishes. Decluttered the minutest of items. Took children on a short outing. Waited for the mail. Sang my current favorite song out loud on repeat in the car. Repeatedly.

But could I concentrate on deep work? No. It was like a bolt cutter and disengaged my brain and the act of turning on the computer just caused me to go numb.

So, I set the timer: 15 minutes. What do you absolutely, positively HAVE to do before the day ends, before a new week starts in the morning? And I did that. And only that. And now, sweet friends, I’m going to bed. I have hit my limit. Hard.


Hot & Bothered

Taking a collective breath away from the anger and rage floating around, let’s rather steady ourselves. When reacting out of anger, we do not see clearly. Anger gives a flashpan of energy, but does not sustain results that are for any of our long-term good.

Scorched earth tactics do not work well with humans.

Take a moment. Breathe. Let’s find the generous room inside ourselves to see beyond our righteous, justified, and possibly well-deserved anger. We can consider the choices of grace, compassion, and mercy instead.

Be Audacious

Be bold enough to fill out that application for the dream job you’ve always wished for.
Be brave enough to send in a pitch to your client regarding an effort that when carried out would be of benefit to them and their audience.
Be courageous enough to go in and ask for the raise you and they know you deserve.
Be honest enough with yourself to stop settling for a life that is less than your full potential.

If you do those things, “they” will call you names. Be audacious enough to push ahead anyway.


But I don’t want to work today

Be wary of “mental health days”.

Every once in a blue moon, you may well and truly need one. I have found; however, that what I really need is an order to my days and the ability to “turn off” work on regularly scheduled days (maybe it is Saturday or Sunday), but right now, it is rarely both.

Having one day a week that you can count on as “I don’t have to think about work day” really does help you recharge.

Otherwise, you find yourself escaping into “mental health days” far too often on days you should actually be working.

How do you protect your work?

Once again, I seem to have not learned the lesson of strong communication… and now that I’ve sent an invoice, the client does not want to pay, wants to keep my work, and now somehow wants to get more work from me.

So, again, I get to learn a lesson here. The fact that it is coming right on top of an earlier lesson, makes it stand out sharply with all its rough and jagged edges. I’m not used to working with such people. Not used to this caliber of person calling themselves a professional.

But I will learn this lesson. If I don’t, I’m going to be out of business very soon, for who can afford to work and not get paid? Volunteers are wonderful folks and we need them in our society… and I do plenty of volunteer work, but this is my livelihood. Using my work without my permission and without payment is not an acceptable arrangement. Not to me. Not to my family.

Learn from me, Folks. Avoid this costly and painful mistake.

Getting Schooled in Generosity

You’ll know it when it happens: that extra serving of sumptin’ sumptin’ piled high on your plate or in your arms or into your truck bed.

Y’all today I got me a lesson in generosity.

No animosity. No lecture. No, “Honey, that’s not how we do things around here.” No blank stare of unbelief at your ignorance or thoughts of ill will towards your fellow man. Nothing in fact to make you even realize that you might have misstepped.

Just poured over the top of you abundance. Where you walk away dazed and wondering, “What just happened?” And if you can manage to sit still for a moment and go over the conversation/event and ponder “what just happened” it will dawn on you with humility.

Child, what happened was you were just modeled a lesson. A lesson in generosity. In how we are all supposed to behave and treat each other in every circumstance of our lives.

Learn it so you stop embarrassing yourself. And be glad you have such mentors in your life!

Caterday: snap

Snap! When it’s 10 pm and you think it’s a good idea to send emails: think again.

Snap! When it’s Saturday and you think a client or subcontractor or partner won’t mind answering a work question: think again.

Snap! When your kids act out for the fourth or fortieth time this month and you are tempted to get irritated with them, but you’ve worked late every night: think again.

Snap! When you think you can skip setting aside that tax money each month: think again.

In general, it never hurts to think again. You just might save yourself a load of hassle!

Facing Dragons

Recently, I had to face some dragons. My belief before the last 48 hours had passed was that the dragons in my line of sight were the fire-breathing sort that were more than likely going to turn me into the proverbial #burntToast.

So, I spent weeks mentally preparing myself. Looking into alternate plans and routes and tactics. The future seemed shrouded in mist.

Literal months moving piles of paper around on my desk: organizing and breaking them down six ways crosswise. My head was full of numbers and rationales… and procrastination:

  • Do I have to face this now?
  • Is there an alternative?
  • What are the risks involved?
  • The long-term effects on all parties involved

Forty-eight hours later, I have faced my dragons. They turned out to be the stone dragons. Intimidating in appearance, but upon close inspection (and action) unable to harm. I wondered how many had turned back from the path when seeing them in the distance? How close was I from running away in fear and terror of the possibility of failure.

Like fire drills and tornado warnings, it is a good, safe practice to have plans in place and to practice walking those plans out “in the event of”. These past few hours have been that for me from a business perspective. But it was, in truth, not a drill.

Be prepared to face fire. Do not be afraid to do what needs to be done. What you need is on the other side of what frightens you.