This post is part of our new Real Life Diaries of an Entrepreneur series. Copywriter Jess Jordana Paxson of Jess, XO pulls back the curtain on the ins and out of scaling her business. Since starting in 2018, she’s quadrupled her monthly income by continuously trying new things. Follow along to learn what worked, what didn’t, and what she’s trying next.
In case you missed the rest of the series:
Have you ever heard of taking a business sabbatical?
Bonnie Bakhtiari does it.
Shanna Skidmore does it.
Ashlyn Carter does it.
So, I can do it – RIGHT?!
Well, last year, I had a total sabbatical fail. I planned to start the day after my last client timeline ended. The project went over two weeks, and I spent the rest of the time catching up on content creation and other things I’d been putting off.
This year, I planned ahead. This year, I stopped client work well before my sabbatical date. This year, I put off all calls until the week before sabbatical, and I worked to the bone until that stop date. Again.
So, while I technically stuck to my start date for my break, it turns out that creating the space to plan for 2020 and dream big was less about a stop or start date, and more about cultivating a healthy business mindset.
Y’know that CEO headspace everyone says we should always be in? I totally get that it’s easier said than done.
In this case, I had to stop, get quiet, and return to the basics in order to get there.
So, in this installment of The Real Life Diaries of an Entrepreneur, I want to talk you through some of the business mindset shifts I put in place to help me dream big when I felt like my brain literally could not.
AND, I’ll also share some ways I’m hoping to incorporate these shifts more day-to-day. That way, I don’t need quite as much time to decompress and get into that business growth mindset on a regular basis.
Business Mindset Shifts to Help You Reach Your Goals
Where do you want to be in 10 years? Does that question really scare anyone else, or is it just me?
In the past, I’ve really struggled with visualizing the long-term because my job LITERALLY DIDN’T EXIST 15-20 years ago. Who’s to say it’ll exist in another 15-20? But, this time I identified that as an excuse, and decided to find some tools to help me visualize what I wanted things to look like in DETAIL.
I turned to my friend Jen Diaz’s amazing visualization resources.
Jen’s been my Instagram friend for awhile now. She was also my fitness coach, and now she’s our mindset expert in my 2020 mastermind. This girl knows how to help you craft a vision.
I started with the 10 year visualization. I did the 1 year visualization (available here on her blog). I journaled, and let my mind wander. Then, I did it EVERY DAY for a week. Let’s just say finding Pinterest images for my vision board has never been easier because I got SO DANG CLEAR.
Star Retrospective Exercise
I got this exercise from my mastermind coach, Shannan Monson.
Basically, you draw a five point star on a big piece of paper like this:
In each section, you label it with a reflective topic:
Section 1 – Keep Doing
Section 2 – More Of
Section 3 – Less Of
Section 4 – Start Doing
Section 5 – Stop Doing
This was a really helpful, super objective way to review the year. It got me in the headspace to remember that 2020 can be different than 2019 because of small tweaks, not total overhauls.
Imagining the Ideal + working backwards from there
Have you read the book Traction? I’m working through it on my third try, because it is GOOD, but it is A LOT. Basically it walks you through structuring a company that can truly gain (and retain) traction in the market. One of the most valuable exercises is the 1 year vision, 3 year vision, and 10 year vision exercise. I don’t know about YOU, but ask me to name a 10 year revenue vision, and I’ll go CRAZY. BUT, ask me to name the 1 year vision and 3 year vision that can actually lead to that 10 year? It gets a little hazy. This exercise forces you to get REALLY clear on what you’ll accomplish, and how you’ll accomplish it.
I’ll be honest. I didn’t fully flesh out my 3 year, but I got much further on the 1 year and 10 year goals this time around, and it’s given me so much more focus in my goal setting.
I think I’m going to just go ahead and dub September through November my Dark Days. I barely “had time” to move my body at all. Imagine me doing air quotes, because I KNOW you don’t ever “have time,” you have to “make time.” But, I totally overloaded myself and one of the most important things fell to the wayside.
Here’s the thing: My business hinges on my BRAIN, you guys. The health of our brains (i.e., creativity, efficiency, strategic ability, etc.) is inextricably linked to the health of our bodies.
In fact, according to the NeuroMolecular Medicine Journal, “Exercise, especially cardio exercises like vigorous walking, running or dancing have been shown to actually help your brain to create new neurons (neurogenesis) in areas like the hippocampus, which is a vital brain structure when it comes to learning and memory.”
MINDBLOWING – right? (See what I did there? 😂)
So, with all of these headspace-altering epiphanies, I set some intentional (kinda crazy, but calculated) goals for my business. BUT, I also made some decisions about how I’ll be going about my days differently this year. I thought you might want to implement some of these, too!
My REAL 2020 Goals: Creating Space on the Daily
(instead of going down in flames and finding space as a default)
It’s time I stopped apologizing for having limited availability.
I’m so stinkin’ guilty of letting anyone who pops into my inbox have total dibs over my calendar. So much so, in fact, that I had a week in November that I had 13 CALLS. IN ONE WEEK. Client calls, inquiry calls, podcast interviews, all the things. It was that day that I decided to ask for help with my scheduling from my business manager (sometimes I think she should be labeled my MOM-ager).
We decided to set ONE day per month that I’m allowed to take inquiry calls. Once those spots are taken, they’re taken.
We set boundaries on how many podcast interviews or guest talks I can do each month.
We set the days for our team meetings – FOR THE YEAR.
And I took a deep breath of fresh air (because I finally got out for a walk) knowing that saying “no” or “not right now” to those people in my inbox would mean saying “yes” to my friends and family a little more intentionally this year.
Need to write an email? Use a template. Don’t have one? Make one.
I’m getting more and more serious about this one that I preach to my clients all the time. You should have an email template ready to go for any and almost every frequently asked question that comes into your inbox.
Remember: Templates don’t have to mean impersonal communication. They simply give you a starting point for your brain, so you don’t have to use your CREATE juice for every single message you’re inbox ninja-ing every day.
Write it once, save time FOR-EV-ER, Smalls.
Try the business management software that’s freeing Jess from ever having to write an email from scratch again. (Oh, and it does so much more.) GET 50% OFF FROM JESS
Client Education Video Library
I’m working to implement the “template” concept from above to serve my clients REALLY well in 2020. There are questions I know they’ll ask, and maybe even some that I think they should be asking, too! I want to take those questions and record video tutorials answering anything and everything they need before they ever have to ask. It will all be in a password protected Resource Library for clients only. COOL, right?
In addition to it being really cool, it’ll also save me HOURS… probably days. And, it’ll help my people feel super served along the way.
Limit social media to one time block per day.
I don’t know about you, but I’m totally addicted and consumed by social media most days. It’s a problem. I find myself checking it over and over again, whether I mean to or not.
Sometimes I tell myself “it’s work,” but I had a little SELF REALITY CHECK over the break: Scrolling and not engaging is NOT work.
So, I’m attempting to implement a 90 minute max amount of time for social each day. Each time I get on social, I have to be either posting or engaging. Otherwise, NO GO, Jess.
Have you implemented any boundaries like this? Have you maybe gone a little lax with them? Let me challenge you to get stricter and more intentional with your time, like I need to!
My goal for this is not to lose weight, or make any crazy GAINZ.
My real goal for 2020 is just to get moving every single day.
That means it could be a tough workout, or just walking my pup, Joey. Either way, making sure that I’m prioritizing movement will train my brain that it’s a priority, and it’ll actually rejuvenate my brain for my work throughout the rest of the day.
Remember that 5-point chart I did as an evaluation? My goal is to implement that exercise during my quarterly CEO day.
The reality is, January isn’t the only time we can make BIG CHANGES.
Part of a great business mindset is being so tuned into the health of our businesses that we can tweak, change, alter course at any point on our journey. Doing this exercise regularly will hopefully help me stay in that CEO mindset all year long, instead of just in December.
The visualization part of my goal setting was totally my favorite, but it was also really stretching. I found it really hard to get my brain to ACTUALLY PICTURE those big, crazy dreams.
Just like anything worth doing, visualization takes practice.
So, I’m hoping to implement it on at least a weekly basis (although, daily would be awesome!). I can’t wait to see how this practice helps me take action more intentionally over the course of the year, and changes my business mindset to the core.
Daily Shut Down Routine
Have you ever quit work for the day or the week, and felt like you are still there? Like you can’t turn your mind off, and there’s no way you’re going to feel truly rested by the time you have to head into your office and open up that computer again?
*and all the entrepreneurs said, AMEN*
Part of a great business mindset is knowing when and HOW to turn it off.
I’m working on creating the feeling of being OFF of work when I’m done for the day, even when I work from home.
So, I’m implementing a daily shut down routine. I learned this concept from the book Deep Work (which I highly recommend!).
My shut down routine:
- Clear inbox (if possible)
- Write to-do list for the next day
- Turn off all notifications (if I have any on)
- Close computer and say, “SYSTEM SHUT DOWN.” (concept from the book!)
Next, on the Real Life Diaries of an Entrepreneur
Now, I get it. That was A LOT, when it comes to goals, right? I get it. But, this is what’s really important to me in the new year.
I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of spending my days as a “successful” person who just checks off her goals rather than feeling like I’m truly living my best life as I run after my dreams on the daily.
So, next time on The Real Life Diaries, I’m going to update you on how the whole habits situation is going! Don’t worry, I’ll be honest.
Plus, I’ll be sharing some team growth strategies that Jess, XO is working through in Quarter 1. See ya then!
So, tell me! What are your REAL GOALS for 2020? What are you going to implement in your day-to-day that will change literally everything else? I’m calling them “real goals,” but they’re really more of business habits rather than boxes to check. I can’t wait to hear how you want to change intentionally this year.