Business Freedom

How I Reinvented Myself and Started Over

Madonna has truly mastered the art of reinvention, so when a friend told me she was coming on the Graham Norton show this weekend, I stuck around to watch her segment.

I couldn’t recall the last time I’d seen Madonna speak and was intrigued to see what she would deliver.

Naturally, she didn’t disappoint.

She walked on stage wearing an eye patch and a sexy number which had her boobs almost falling out of her corset (a wardrobe malfunction I’m sure she would not be thrilled with knowing about since she controls her image with immense care).

Madonna - queen of reinvention

Yet her star power was undeniable, and the guests on the couch alongside her were left to sit quietly as she answered Graham’s questions with mystique, cheekiness, strength and an appropriate amount of intrigue.

She has just launched a new album and is going on tour at the age of 60 years old!

This in itself is a huge testament to her longevity, creativity and ability to keep on changing with the times and reinventing herself, to not only survive in a super competitive market dominated by teenagers, but to thrive in it for over four decades.

Reinvention is a necessity to remain relevant

In the past few months, several of my friends compared me to Madonna – not because I like to sing and dance to 80s music (which I really do) or because I wear sexually enticing outfits (I don’t), but because they said I’m always reinventing myself.

I have to admit I was surprised by this as I personally couldn’t see it, and so they explained to me that I had successfully, in their eyes, morphed from corporate career girl to Tech CoFounder to blogger, to being The Suitcase Entrepreneur with relative ease over the last 10 years.

And that when I returned home to New Zealand in late 2016, I apparently made it look easy to morph into being a brand …ME here on nataliesisson.com

Yet that couldn’t be further from the truth.

In my world I’ve been through a two year long metamorphosis filled with doubt, fear, curiosity, joy and exasperation.

If you’ve listened to my podcast or read my blog post on When Too Much Change is Dangerous, you’ll know that I did a 180 degree life flip that entailed going from:

  • Constant full-time travel out of my suitcase to living in one house, with no international travel for the first three months of being back in New Zealand.
  • Being single in December to a loving full-time relationship, moving in together in my apartment for a few months, to then buying a house together, creating joint bank accounts and taking on this beautiful property – Josh’s first ever property ownership.
  • Zero responsibility to having this mortgage, getting a puppy a week after moving in and five chickens the week after.
  • Owning so little stuff to having to furnish a 369 sqm house with four bedrooms and two living rooms in just a few weeks.  (People who visit us now say how it looks like we’ve lived here for years).
  • Having a full on business period, getting it ready for my sabbatical and writing the Freedom Plan book manuscript which I finished on March 30th, to NOT working.
  • Eternal summers traveling the world to my first ever autumn (fall) and winter. And that was probably the biggest kicker – I hate being cold.

Thankfully I’m almost 2.5 years down the track and LOVING life, but it hasn’t been an easy journey and what surprised me most, was an event that happened in late October 2018.

The untold story I’ve kept ..until now.

Not long after a pretty successful book launch of the Freedom Plan (audio book coming out this month!!), I also relaunched my most successful course ever of the same name that, to date, netted me over US$500,000 in sales – which still blows my mind to this day.

Except this time, I decided to totally redesign it and upgrade it to better align with my new book and to be more focused on how to work less through systems, outsourcing and clever sales funnels.

It catered to an experienced business owner wanting more freedom – the folks I wanted to work with as I could see them experiencing burn out and overwhelm and I truly wanted to help them.

Yet in doing so, I overlooked the majority of my community I’d lovingly built up over the years, who in reality, were still wanting to build their online business, learn how to earn more money and gain financial freedom.

The launch result?

I failed in an epic way.

That hurt, a lot. I cried in the final days of launch and sat there in disbelief as literally nothing happened – at least that’s what it felt like.

It caused me to doubt everything I thought I knew and was really good at, built up over nine years of business.

I was in shock. I was numb. I felt like a fraud.

The facts didn’t help either. I’d spent too much money, hired too many people and ended up handing over most of the things I’m great at, and got stuck with managing people, logistics and operations.

Along with that, I had not listened to my intuition and how I felt energetically, and forged on regardless as I wanted to stay true to my word and launch this course I said I would – damn upholder in me!

(Check out The Four Tendencies Quiz I talk about in my book to know what I’m referring to).

When I did my launch analysis, which I do faithfully every time, it wasn’t as bad as I thought but the damage was done. My confidence was knocked and I wasn’t bouncing back like I normally do.

Can you relate?

I was desperately trying to find the lesson in the failure as a good entrepreneur will always do that, but I was taking it way too personally.

After almost a decade it felt like I’d made a rookie error and it had cost me more than just money and a bruised ego.

The truth was I wanted to quit my business.

Deep down I was quite tired of my business. I’m sure I’m not alone when I admit this. For most of my business journey I’ve loved every aspect of my business, but there’s only so long one can continue to talk about the same thing all the time, before they don’t get a little bored, stifled or jaded.

Despite continuing to learn I had gotten comfortable in my knowledge and expertise and was looking for a challenge. Most of the time I had managed to find that within and apply it to my journey and clients.

But with all the life changed I’d experienced, and the time off I had taken from my business in 2017, I had never really found my flow again and I felt like I was holding onto something that I wasn’t passionate about anymore.

Josh and I headed away on a break to sunny Gisborne that December, and had some long walks and talks on the beach to explore my options, how I was feeling and what would make me happy.

While he had utter faith in me and felt it was just a minor setback, I wasn’t so sure.

One of the options that had come up was taking on a contract to experience the things I was missing as an entrepreneur:

  • Being part of a physical team (not just virtual)
  • Not having to lead and manage everything all the time
  • Experiencing being part of someone else’s business and to learn from them
  • Have a consistent income while I bounced back
  • Getting into the city so I wasn’t so isolated out at our rural lifestyle property
  • Be energized by the city vibe and socializing and;
  • Getting some structure back in my day

We used our own Life Pilot system and a Seasonal Dreaming session – which we do each quarter, to share our hopes and dreams across the eight areas of life we value most highly and by the end of that week away I had a plan.

I’d looked at job websites, which I happen to know every great business owner will look at even when things are going well, and wasn’t impressed.

Job descriptions made me yawn and sounded so formulaic or stifling and salaries seemed on the low end compared to what I know I can make in my business – but that wasn’t the key criteria – if I was referring to my criteria in the bullet points above.

Then I saw a role of Learning Designer, that I didn’t realize existed, yet wasn’t dissimilar to what I had learned and applied in launching online courses and designing curriculum’s to educate people.

I then sent possibly the worst email to a recruitment person ever that went like this:

Dear Beth

Very keen to learn more about your freelance opportunities for learning designers.

I’ve developed many curriculum’s for online courses in my own business and am known for making the complex simple and breaking things down into bite sized content that is practical and implementable.

Natalie

Naturally she asked for more details including my CV, which I then sat on for a while until I replied again, rather nonchalantly with this response:

Hi Beth

I’ve realized I’m not going to create a CV anytime soon. I just know after 8 years of creating, building and running online courses, events and retreats that this is my sweetspot of what I do well.

My LinkedIn profile is here www.linkedin.com/in/nataliesisson/

Understand if this is not conventional for you 

Natalie

This resulted in her Googling me where everything I have ever done is publicly available to see – proof of what I’m capable of, calling me up and having a good chat.

She saw an opportunity and my potential and took a chance on me.

A week later I was having an informal coffee with the CEO even though there was no role for me and less than a week later I had a job offer and a start date in 10 days time!

As you can imagine this wasn’t quite how I anticipated it happening but I took the leap.

Strike forward almost five months and I can hand on heart say it’s been the best thing for me.

Within Constraints Exists True Freedom

My working week went from working on my business anytime to having only Monday as my One Day a Week business day and Tuesday – Friday working at Inspire Group in the city including a remote day at home.

In and around that – yes even some evenings and weekends, I did paid consulting for four gigs I’d inadvertently picked up since January after volunteering my time to help these purpose driven companies, plus working with a few coaching clients.

I was truly living in the GIG Economy and am tapping into Future of Work by doing this.

If you’re wondering, YES I was at capacity!

For the first time in a decade, after preaching freedom and time off and experiencing that in droves, I was now energized by maximizing every hour I had – plus still having time out in the evenings and weekends AND training for triathlons.

In fact I credit triathlon training for instilling confidence, focus, drive and momentum back into my personal life, along with a self belief and mindset I had been missing, that then overflowed into EVERY area of my life. It’s been remarkable.

I also used all my own tools, systems, content calendar and 1 Page Biz Plan that I teach my clients and are featured in the Freedom Plan book on MYSELF and, low and behold, they worked a treat.

I’m not going to lie commuting via train, car or bike an hour each way into town wasn’t entirely thrilling initially but I used that time to work on my business, contracts, or listen to audio books.

I genuinely enjoy my job, the team and simply being in a different environment, which has allowed me to stretch myself, learn and grow plus take on an entirely different outlook and put myself in other peoples’ shoes.

Then something magical started to happen.

I got my mojo back by returning to being ME!

A combination of fewer hours to work on my business meant I became ultra focused again and started enjoying every aspect of it.

I cut my team down to just me and my Virtual Assistant so that I could get back to more of the doing, and experience what that felt like again.

This brought back fond memories of my hustling days early on in my business and showed me all the things I had almost forgotten I knew how to do. I decided not to outsource anything for a few months and ‘get my hands dirty’ doing all the doing.

This increased my love of all the things I missed or realized I’d lost touch with and things started picking up in my business.

Revitalized energy shows in business and people pick up on it. Before long I was vlogging, podcasting and creating again and getting back to being Natalie, doing all the things I did so well when I started out in business.

I did the analysis, I looked at what had worked all those years before and what I’d stopped doing or needed to stop doing to fully realign with who I was, how I could help people and how I wanted to show up in the world.

Then in June I totally redesigned my own website home page with a brand new look and direction – even though this felt like I took three months to actually get it done.

I was so proud as this is the first website I’ve fully designed by myself. Clean, clear and to the point. Let me know in the comments what you think!

2019 Design

2018 Design

I did this by using the best and easiest WordPress theme I have ever come across, Thrive Architect.

In fact I shot this vlog Thrive Architect – Your Must Have Website Builder Tool to show why it rocks and how to use it to redesign your website.

As you can see by the live demo I give it was before I had learned how to use it fully and well before I’d finished the homepage design – but you’ll appreciate it.

The messaging was clear as I’d been working/ procrastinating on it for months after many conversations with friends, peers and clients, and through a lot of internal introspection.

I listened to my own advice I hammer home to clients all the time:

1. Niche down

2. Keep it simple

I have a tendency to want to offer the world and help people on all fronts and this time I looked back to what I have consistently been doing ALL throughout my career and business – seeing your potential and helping you to monetize it by getting paid to be YOU!

While recording my Freedom Plan audiobook I had two major realizations:

  1. This book is full of gold nuggets that are damn useful (remember my previous knock to my confidence around the book launch time in October 2018…yeah it had the knock on effect that my book wasn’t good enough either).
  2. It would work really well to also pull out Chapter 6 on How to Monetise You and turn it into a teaser episode on my podcast, as well as to repurpose it into a standalone audio.

I then went ahead and created my first new freebie (gift you give in return for a person’s email address and trust – AKA optin) in ages – and I’m damn proud of it.

It’s this audio I created accompanied by my brand new amazing step by step guide.

 

​Download my Get Paid to Be YOU Audio and Bonus 9 Step Guide. You'll learn how to combine your knowledge, skills and passions into multiple income streams that amplify your purpose, impact and profit.

​Download my Get Paid to Be YOU Audio and Bonus 9 Step Guide. You'll learn how to combine your knowledge, skills and passions into multiple income streams that amplify your purpose, impact and profit.

I emailed my community, some of which have been following my work since the beginning to share it with them and the response was awesome.

More importantly close friends and peers personally messaged me to say this was completely me and so on point and that I had truly found my sweetspot – the intersection between what you’re good or great at, what you love doing and what people will pay you for and that aligns with your purpose.

Ironic really given this is what I’ve been teaching in courses, my book, podcasts and interviews since…oh you know 2013!

From this I have gotten so much clarity on exactly how I want to help YOU get paid to be YOU and thrive in the future of work.

In fact, I tested my theory around this with a mini launch in June which went amazingly well and helped me appreciate that I was back on track, doing what I do best and how my mission was to help others turn their skills, knowledge and passions into multiple revenue streams.

You’ll see this rolling out in the coming weeks and months, and I hope you’ll like what you see and get to experience it as a result.

But first, let’s recap on the method I used to reinvent myself. Even if you can’t see the method in my madness, it’s all there:

The ‘Natalie Sisson’ Reinvention Method 

  • Get super honest with yourself when you feel you’re not aligning with your intuition or your energy.
  • Throw in an epic failure or an event that makes you stop, reflect and take action – if you really want to create change!
  • Reflect back on all the things you know you love, are great at and have been paid well for in the past and compare them to where you’re at now.
  • Assess the situation and look at what you need to STOP doing and START doing. This may mean taking on a side hustle, starting a new business, taking on a few gigs that help you upskill and challenge you.
  • Talk to good friends, peers and mentors to get an outside perspective too.
  • Take definitive steps to be the architect of your own life and design it around what you really want out of life.

I hope there have been some key takeaways in here that you can learn from and apply to your own situation.

Never give up.

Always keep learning.

Trust your gut.

Listen to those who love and know you well.

Embrace the lessons failure teaches you.

Then pick yourself up and reinvent yourself!

How I saved $3,000 on tools and technology for one hour of work

Do you want an awesome hack for the holidays? One that could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars  for about an hour’s worth of work?

Looking back, it seems so simple and obvious that we should all be doing this. So here’s how it all came about.

Two weeks ago I took a long-ish hard look at my business expense lines in my Profit and Loss Report on XERO (awesome accounting software – made here in New Zealand) and I was like:

Wow.  Why am I spending so much on all these things?’.

This report scared the bejesus out of me. It very clearly showed me that my software costs alone each month were around $700-1,000.

Now normally this might be fine, but none of these were actively contributing to revenue I was making. Turns out I had blown out my costs for team, tools, software and technology for no good reason!

I immediately asked myself if I really needed to be spending all this money on tools and technology?

The answer was NO!

It all started because I got an annual bill for tool I’d previously been using for years,  and I was like Why am I still paying for this because I haven’t used it since the start of the year?

When I dived deeper, I realized this was happening across the board.

How to dramatically reduce your business expenses

Step 1. Take it down a level

I looked at the tools that I use all the time to see whether I could drop the plan down from a pro plan to either a more basic plan or even a freemium free plan.

For example I downgraded my Zoom account. I adore Zoom and use it everyday for calls, interviews, team catch ups and more, but since I’m not using it for group coaching or programs for now, I went back to the free account.

What I love about Zoom is that they offer you a monthly contract, so you can upgrade and downgrade whenever you like, and add on features like their Webinar Platform for a few months, rather than being locked in all year.

Then I looked at Typeform, a great service for being able to collect surveys and use conditional logic depending on peoples’ answers.

But I didn’t need to be on the super pro version as I’d finished collecting responses for the surveys I’d run for feedback. I simply exported all my responses and went back to the free account.

Plus Google Forms works perfectly as a free survey tool, without the fancy functionality.

Another example is I pay for Google suite and apps so that I can have my own separate email domain. At some point I’d put eight emails under that one account for various courses that I’ve run.

I didn’t realize that every single email address that I created cost me about US$6 a month. It doesn’t seem like much but I didn’t actually need to to that, I could have simply made them alias addresses within one account.

Just like that, I have saved US$40 a month and cut down the complexity of my email accounts!

For almost all of the tools, it was possible to downgrade or switch to the free version without losing any of the functionality I used.

Top Tip: When you login, simply navigate to Account Settings or Billing. They spell out your options there.

I was surprised to see several of them even offered up multiple months of refunds if you let them know that you’d be inactive or not using their tool/ software. Bonus!

Almost all of them had a contact email, form or one click downgrade you could use. All up this took me about 10 minutes for four tools.

Step 2. Stop paying for nothing!

I then looked at all the tools that I’m not using all, that I’m still paying for.

I started with Shopify, even though it’s great and I think it’s the best option out there for selling products online, I’m simply not using it since my eCommerce experiment ended.

Why should I pay around US$30 a month for something that is not being put to use.

I did the same with Zapier, which is an awesome tool for connecting and integrating apps. We don’t need to use it anymore because we have a workaround with my email provider ConvertKit and my online course software of choice, Teachable.

And that was the only thing we were using it for. And they just billed me for a full year. So I got that back – their helpdesk was amazingly responsive and proactive too. Thanks Zapier!

I recently trialled some pretty cool educational software but it just wasn’t working for us. I approached the founder and they very generously gave us a pro-rata refund for 9 out of 12 months as I’d paid for a full year.

By this stage I realized that if I extrapolated all those monthly subscription fees out for a full year, plus the lump sum refunds I got, it was already over US$3,000 in savings that I’d reclaimed.

All of this took less than hour to do via email, forms or simply one click of a button.

How to reduce your life expenses

This got me thinking about what other services I was paying for personally that I’m not actually actively using.

Luckily there were very few. But the first to go – which had been on my mind for months, every time I saw the charge on my credit card, was for an online fitness program membership I had not engaged with since signing up.

So I simply emailed their support and asked to cancel, and here’s the thing, I also asked if they could retrospectively refund me several months.

I’m a big fan of the following motto, and a handy habit to get into, which is…

Step 3. Don’t ask don’t get.

I wrote an email that said:

‘I’ve not been using this membership for five months and you can see that through my lack of login activity. Is it possible to refund a couple of extra months?’

They said yes to two months. Better than nothing!

I don’t think most of us think about the simple act of asking for what we want.

If you ask for a refund, my recent experience is, almost every single software company or service is happy to do this.

Since I was on a roll, I then extended it when my car insurance renewal bill came through yesterday.

I had to change the address, so got on the phone to do that and while there asked if there was a way to reduce the premium.

Turns out they had my car value at $5,000 more than it’s currently worth –  because cars sadly depreciate at the speed of light.

And POOF! $100 knocked off my bill that I was about to pay on autopilot.

I just wanted to share these as examples as quick and painless ways to add some extra savings (or reclaim your hard-earned dollars) back into your bank account, for very little time and effort.

What have you got to lose?

And I figure it’s about this time of year where it’s pretty nice to have some savings in the bank and a bit of extra money to play with to spend on the things that you do love, or the people that you love or the causes that you really support.

Step 4. Go on a cleanse

If you’ve been in a little bit of denial (like me) about your spending or you’ve signed up for all these things and forgotten to cancel them, or simply can’t be bothered, I hope this gives you the kick in the butt you need to take action!

Right now is a really good time of the year for you to take a bit of a cleanse on both your business and personal subscriptions that you may have been paying for.

You can take it a step further by uncluttering your life too!

If you were one of those people who’s bought a gym membership and you haven’t been at all yet, but you’ve been paying for it all year please please please cancel that.

Instead use that money to do something else, like hire a personal trainer, go to a CrossFit gym you actually turn up to, buy a piece of equipment that you know you’re going to use at home or partner up with a friend to train outside together.

We are paying far too much money for services or products that we just aren’t using.

You may find that with all the money you saved from doing the above steps I’ve laid out, that you’re now able to pay for or afford a subscription that you really do want or maybe even a course that you been wanting to take.

I encourage you to go ahead and declare you’re going to downgrade or cancel subscriptions and services in time for the holiday seasons, that are costing you money, with no return.

You deserve it!

Share what you’ve done recently to save some money or cut your business expenses in the comments below.

3 Lessons I Learned from Tony Robbins

I recently attended a Tony Robbins event in Sydney called ‘Unleash The Power Within.’ It was an incredible event – I laughed, I cried, I had breakdowns and breakthroughs!

During the event he got us to really think through who we are, how we could be growing and learning, and what actions we need to be taking to be our best selves in all areas of life. It was inspiring and transformative.

I have narrowed down all my learnings from the weekend into the three key messages that resonated with me most, which I share in my latest vlog in more depth (plus some footage from the event to pump you up).

Three lessons I learned from Tony Robbins:

1. Always be learning AND aim to be learning from the best
2. Invest in working on mastering your mindset and rewiring your brain!
3. Build your Dream Advisory team to help you grow beyond belief

I’ve realised that while I’m proactive about continually learning and growing, I need to make sure the people that I’m learning from really are the best of the best (aka Tony Robbins!).

Mastering your mindset is NEVER a one-and-done sort of process; it’s something that we all need to continually work on, re-shifting how we think about ourselves, others, and life.

I’ve also now made a goal of creating my Dream Advisory Team by the end of this year.

Because no matter how wise or knowledgable you are about your business, you absolutely need people to give you advice, encouragement, and critiques.

No one has the answer to everything, but when we help each other grow and share our knowledge and skills we can truly become our best selves!

Another thing that fascinated me at Unleash The Power Within was learning what the #1 fear was out of all those 8,000 amazing, excited, and driven people attending. Can you guess what it was?

Money. It’s frustrating that this continues to be a fear and source of worry for so many of us (really, who hasn’t been worried about money at one point in their life?!). But it needs to stop. Money shouldn’t be such a strain on so many people!

That’s a topic that I want to tackle with you right now.

What would it feel like to YOU to wake up every morning and see $200 of recurring revenue landing in your bank account?

Would that ease some of your financial stress? Would you be able to enjoy life more, going on fun excursions and trips with friends and family? Would an that $6,000 in income each month make a difference to you?

Perhaps you’re thinking to yourself that creating that sort of recurring revenue simply seems impossible right now.

But it’s not! It’s totally doable and people do it all. the. time.

How do I know? Because since starting my blog back in 2010, I’ve created an incredible online business, writing books, releasing podcasts and vlogs, and creating courses, workshops and retreats.

I’ve seen my revenue consistently grow to multiple six figures, while enjoying more and more lifestyle and business freedom! It’s been an amazing dream, and something that I’d love all of you to experience as well.

So as part of my new FREE Video Workshop I’ve released a video training on how to monetize your skills and talents and grow your business.

I show you how to do this with my 1 Page ‘Miracle’ Business Plan, and walk you through the steps within it to help you get a real handle on your goals, objectives and current and future revenue streams that will bring you financial freedom.

I’ll give you plenty of real-life examples of how to add more revenue streams AND show you how quickly they can add up to 6 figures and beyond.

Plus you get to download the template and use it for free!

So if you’re tired of not making the income you know you’re capable of or feeling like how you earn your income isn’t aligned with who you truly are, then click here to start making your dream life a reality.

3 Ways to Publish Your Bestselling Book

The Freedom Plan Book. Redesign your business to work less, earn more and be free.

Grab the first 3 Chapters of my new book The Freedom Plan for FREE in digital format here: thefreedomplan.co

 

Have you ever wondered exactly how all those uber successful writers actually publish their books?

Or have you ever wanted to publish a book of your own (but had no idea where to start)?

Well there are actually THREE different ways that you could publish your book: self-publishing, hybrid-publishing, and traditional publishing.

They each have their pros and cons (I’ve published books using each of the methods), but for me one stands above the rest giving you maximum reach for your book and minimal stress.

1. Self-Publishing

While self-publishing allows you to have full control over how your book is published, you are solely responsible for making sure you book becomes a best seller and effectively reaches your audience.

So while it’s great to have complete freedom over your book’s publishing process, you frequently have to put in an extraordinary amount of time and effort to ensure your book really takes off.

2. Traditional Publishing

This used to be a huge deal – the big juicy publishing deal that all authors hoped for!

It still is exciting, but the power of traditional publishing has diminished. Traditional publishers have much less influence and reach then they used to. Now they only want to work with authors that have a large audience or circle of influence already in place.

This is great if you have a wide following on social media, your podcast, blog etc.! But if you don’t, traditional publishers generally won’t be interested in taking on your book.

3. Hybrid Publishing

With hybrid publishing you still provide the community and do a lot of the marketing, BUT you don’t have to do the distribution, figure out how to get it into bookstores, create the book design, do the layout or do any of the copy editing.

So while you still have to put in time and effort to get your book out there, but they take care of the bit that you may need help with and the parts that are particularly complex. Win win!

This has been the ideal publishing option for me! I’m still able to feel in control of how my book is presented and published, but I still had their expert advice and guidance on hand.

With hybrid-publishing you still have to put in time and effort to get your book out there, but they take care of the bit that you may need help with and the parts that are particularly complex. Win win!

And if you didn’t grab it above, I highly suggest you check out the first 3 Chapters of The Freedom Plan for FREE here: thefreedomplan.co

In the first 3 chapters you’ll learn:

  • The freedom mindset you need to make your dream life a reality
  • How to design your own Freedom Plan
  • How to create and design your perfect day

And if you’ve had any experience in publishing a book, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

Natalie xo

Monetize Your Free Content and Create Multiple Revenue Streams

Are you sitting on a wealth of content and have no idea how to monetize it or create more revenue?

This is a question that SO many of you have been asking me – in fact it was the #1 question from the hundreds of you who answered my Freedomist survey.

It pains me to think that you’ve already put a ton of time and energy into creating loads of incredible content and it’s just sitting there, instead of monetizing it.

So in this vlog I share a case study of how I took a humble, but well thought out and crafted, 12 part blog post series and turned it into multiple revenue streams for the next 3 years, that has netted me over $500,000 in revenue!

It astounds me even to this day, but that is the power of creating content that people value, and valuing the content you create. You can monetize that!

By the way there is also a myth that content is free to produce. I’m here to tell you it can take a lot of time, money and effort to produce, but the rewards are SO worth it.

I’ll definitely discuss that on an upcoming vlog if you’d like?

I hope you enjoy this vlog and go ahead and apply some of my methods to your own content.

And click here to subscribe to my vlog if you haven’t already (I’d hate for you to miss the new hacks and tips I’ll be sharing soon!).

How I plan my day (and entire week) for success

I am always deeply curious about how the really effective, productive, successful people plan their days and spend their time.

Do they spend it swanning around, lazing by the swimming pool or perhaps hanging out at rooftop bars?

I think not.

I think they are ruthless about their time management and planning what matters in their life.

And if there’s one thing that I’ve learned over ten years in business, is that:

Discipline equals freedom.

I’ll let you in on a secret. I’m a free spirit, who for many years used to say “I want to do what I want, when I want and I want to choose where I want to travel and I only want to work on these things today.”

I realised pretty quickly though that what I was doing, wasn’t actually giving me freedom.

This was being disorganized, not being accountable to what matters and not taking responsibility for how I wanted to live my life and how I wanted to spend my time.

If you are one of those people too, I totally get it.

But you are actually becoming your own worst enemy by living like this. You are creating your own version of chaos by not planning out what matters, what is actually important and how you wish to spend your work, creative and free time.

If you are somebody who has so many daily things on your To-Do list you’re also setting yourself up to fail because, what I realised a couple of years ago, when I took a very good hard look at my calendar is this:

We don’t actually have that much time. We don’t have that much time from the moment we awake.

If you take out time for eating sleeping, fitness, friends, family, social events, meetings appointments and all those other wonderful things that just make up life and are also important, guess how much time you actually have?.

Research has proven it to be around three focused productive hours of work a day. THREE!

Results from a study by VoucherCloud in the U.K revealied that employee productivity averages just two hours and 53 minutes per day.

Now of course, we have more than that depending on how effective we are as entrepreneurs and freelancers!

But in reality if you take into account disruptions, distractions, procrastinating and life, at the end of the day if you actually just allowed yourselves three hours a day, and that’s all you do, I can guarantee you would use those three hours so much more effectively than you currently do.

Behind the scenes of how I plan out my day and week for productivity

If you watch my vlog here you’ll see me actually sharing my calendar on my laptop screen.

I want you to not freak out because it looks really full on with lots of beautiful colours. What I want you to focus on is how I block out exactly what I want to work on as well as my free time which is baked in to my calendar.

That means date nights with Josh, walking with the dogs, fitness, massages, dinners with friends, cultural events and afternoons off.

What I’m then left with then is exact amount of time that I have in my day to work on the stuff that matters.

This might be more free time and fun events with people I love. Or it might be really really focused work on my business.

Doing this, is the single most important switch that I have made in my life. It’s  what we teach in our Life Pilot 10 Day Challenge – how to structure out your goals and actions each day, week, month etc and put YOU time + self care + holidays first.

That’s because you and I know, from experience, that the first thing that gets taken away when you’re stressed out or really busy is your free time on weekends and evenings, as well as your holidays and vacation time.

If you’re saying “Natalie, I never give up my holidays!” – well good for you because that’s the way it should be.

But I do see too many entrepreneurs going:

“I’ve just got to work this weekend” or;

“I’ve got to do another late night” or;

“I’m going to skip yoga to finish this client deal” or;

“I’m not going to make it to my gym class because I have to finish this proposal today”.

This has to stop!

If you knew how much as possible to achieve in a day, in fact in three hours or less, and you actually were more realistic about where your time goes and what you can achieve, you would condense the amount of work that you have to, into a shorter time frame and do far more effective work.

How I use my calendar for daily planning

Step 1: Block it out

I block out 15 minutes of planning every single morning at 6:45am. This may not sound like much but it lets me look at my three things in my Life Pilot spreadsheet for the day and ask myself, whether these tasks (that I set the night before) are still a priority for today.

I also look ahead at my weekly goals to make sure I’m on track to meet them, and then I check my calendar to make sure that once I’ve hit those three most important things, I’ve allocated time for other activities too, including downtime.

Then I go in and schedule chunks of time throughout the day for work projects including a time for email, so that it doesn’t distract me from the important work.

Most of this I colour code in blue for business, that way I can see green for lifestyle, yellow for personal growth/ learning and more.

Remember what gets scheduled, gets done!

The only reason my calendar system works is that I commit to it.

If the rebel in you looks at your calendar you’ve set out and says “Nah, I don’t feel like doing that right now”, then make damn sure you move that task to a time on the same day, or that week so it still gets DONE!

Step 2: Track your time

I use toggl.com for tracking every minute of my day. I love it.

I use the desktop application and simply put in the description of what I’m working on, assign it to a project e.g Freedom Plan Book, Freedomist Vlog, Launch Planning etc.

That way at the end of the day, I can see exactly how much time things are actually taking me to do throughout the day.

Over a period of days and weeks this gives you a really clear picture of where your time is going, versus where you think you’re spending it.

It also gives you a very clear idea of what things take up too much time and where you don’t spend enough time. You can’t hide from the data.

What’s more you can share this with your team members and also see their reports, you can Toggl client work to the second as well.

Step 3: Pomodoro it

The Pomodoro method is a lifesaver. You simply set a timer on your phone, watch or use the Toggl Pomodoro setting, and work for 25 minutes on ONE thing.

After that time is up take a 5 minute break. This is critical to your energy and motivation levels.

Even if you’re in flow, trust me, take a break!

I go out and throw the Frisbee to the dogs, I drop down and do some press ups or sit ups. I jump around and dance to music I love, I kiss Josh, or jump or I might leave a friend a quick video or audio message to say hi.

When that timer goes off, get straight back into it. That’s it. Then rinse and repeat, but after 2-3 hours straight, take a good half hour break for lunch or a workout or a walk in nature.

I can I tell you those time constraints by using the Pomodoro methodology is amazing for making you just focus in on what exactly needs to be done and do it as quickly and effectively as you can.

Step 4. Schedule in fun and reflection

In my calendar I have breakfast with Josh or at a cafe, lunch, workouts and fun time. 

At 9pm I also have reflection time where I look at how my day went, I do my gratitudes and I check the Life Pilot spreadsheet to see what I hit, missed or progressed in terms of my three most important actions.

Steph 5. Rinse and repeat

After the reflection time I then set my three goals or intentions for the next day, based off my weekly goals and even my monthly. That’s because I have all those baked into the Life Pilot tool, including my 3 year vision.

The results speak for themselves

For those of you always wondering how to turn your big dreams into a daily action, this is how.

Life Pilot, Google Calendar and Toggl have helped me build a very clear picture about my behaviours and habits.

It  has shown me a clear pattern, over 17 months of using it, for what is really working in my life and where I continue to procrastinate or let myself down. 

These colour-coded trends on the key areas of my life show me what times of the day I really shouldn’t schedule in deep work focused work – like writing, producing, strategising or proposals.

As well as the best times of the day that I’m better off doing a workout and recharging, or hosting a meeting.

Before I never fully understand just how ‘little’ time I actually had in any given day, I was always overestimating and putting too many tasks into my days and weeks to achieve and then coming up short.

I also wasn’t balancing out the key areas of my life – not that it was all work, in fact if anything it was more lifestyle!

But health, my relationships, wealth, personal growth – I wasn’t factoring them into my everyday activities, which meant I wasn’t focusing on them, which ultimately meant I didn’t improve them or get anything done or progressed.

It’s been a game changer for me and has been transforming other people’s lives because it is a system for life planning that focuses on your head, heart and gut – therefore what really matters to you.

It’s the reason why I can go into September feeling excited and nervous about the launch of my Freedom Plan book and Accelerator, but fully aware of exactly what I need to accomplish and how to fit that in around life, fun and self care.

Its been transformative. I want that for you to. 

Head to lifepilot.co to join our next LIVE 10 Day Challenge.

My Energising Morning Routine

Did you know that, according to IDC research study, 80 percent of smartphone users check their phone within 15 minutes of waking up?

I don’t think that’s the sort of productive start to the morning that I’m personally looking for. And yet I know I’ve been guilty of checking my phone in the morning and doing the old “I’m trapped in the social media news feed scrolling”.

What I do know to be true is this, how you start your day determines exactly how the rest of your day will turn out. Wake up like a champion and you’ll likely have an amazing day.

Wake up and let others dictate your day by replying to notifications, emails and ‘urgent’ requests, before you’re even out of bed…your day will simply suck.

That’s why I want to share science-backed proven research around how make your mornings magical and why these new habits I’ve been implementing actually work!

My New Energising Morning Routine

I want to share with you my new morning routine that is leaving me energized, excited, happy and fresh faced.

I’ve actually put together a really beautiful pdf which shares with you not only the steps of my routine, but how you can create one for yourself, because I’m well aware that what works for me might not work for you.

Download my routine in a handy FREE checklist!

So here is my current morning routine (video version here):

#1. Wake up early

I am waking up pretty naturally around 5:30 AM. I always set my Fitbit Versa watch for 5:45 AM just in case. 

But typically for the last month or so, I’ve been waking up really naturally around 5:30, which is pretty awesome news for me because like many people, I’m usually a night owl so I can stay up pretty late.

I don’t typically work in the evenings as that’s my social and relax time. However I can work really effectively at night and I like staying up late. Even so I’ve been pretty good at getting up in the morning too.

I’d consider myself a night and morning person if that’s even possible?!

Once I became an entrepreneur and once I enveloped this freedom lifestyle – being able to do what the heck you want when you want, I did notice myself getting a little lazy on the early start time and expanding my work to fit the ample time I had.

So I had to nip that in the bud with waking up early and setting an alarm to develop a great early morning routine.

#2. Drink Water

The first thing I do, after waking up and doing a big cat stretch, is to drink a big glass of water. It flushes out the system and also it’s just like a really refreshing, beautiful way to start the morning.

#3. Move my body with Yoga

I roll out of bed and I literally have about three meters to walk to my drawer, where I pick up my yoga gear, which I’ve  preset out already, including the g-string for my yoga pants!

That’s easy people because it’s been proven, that if you have your exercise or workout gear right near you, you’re far more likely to kind of like fall/ roll or leap out of bed and get straight into it.

Therefore you’re more like to make the workout or exercise happen.

$4. Essential Oils

I then put on my lovely oil diffuser and I usually have put in a concoction of essential oils the night before that I really like.

One of my favourites is a refreshing, energising citrus mix of lemon and wild orange. Sometimes I go for the more soothing, calming, lavender and Frankincense essential oils. I get my oils here.

Grab my new routine in a handy FREE PDF!

I breathe that in deeply and then I roll out my yoga mat. If I’m honest, I usually have a little cuddle with my dogs who are like, ‘Is it yoga time yet Mum?’

They are pretty sleepy in the morning since Josh and I have changed to this earlier time. He and I typically do yoga on either side of the bed, which is pretty fun.

We do 15 to 30 minutes of Yoga with Adrienne, who is my favorite yoga goddess. She’s made home based yoga is such a pleasure. It means you can do it when you’re traveling. You can do it from home, you can do it from anywhere. 

Her free YouTube channel is fantastic. I’m also a member of her Find what Feels Good community. A little shout out to Adriene. She’s one of the most wonderful people on Earth and it’s pretty rare for me to say that.

I just find she is such a breath of fresh air, such a positive, refreshing, joyous, happy, positive person who also makes me feel like no matter what stage of yoga you are at, you can do it.

#4. Meditation

After I’ve rolled up my yoga mat and am feeling pretty good about myself, I sit on the comfy rug at the foot of our bed, and lean my back up against the bed, and I open up my insights timer app.

Not: This is the ONLY time I grab my phone.  I will choose somewhere from a 10 to 20 minute guided meditation, a chanting mantra meditation, or simply one that just plays a really beautiful chime or gong, when the time is up.

I’ll focus on my breath. But I’m more of a fan of the guided meditation because I still haven’t quite worked on the focusing the mind.

Depending on how excited I am about the day ahead, which is usually a lot, my mind can be wandering to some of those tasks and projects already. So I really liked the guided meditation. This app is free.

You can bookmark your favourites.

You’re probably realizing a pattern in my morning routine – that is to have stuff preset. I have:

  • The playlist of Yoga with Adriene ready to go.
  • My yoga clothes ready to jump into
  • My essential oils pre chosen the night before

All of this routine and this discipline gives you more freedom in the morning because let’s face it, even when you are jumping out of bed, you’re not always firing on all cylinders until you get really used to it.

So make your life easier by setting up everything in your routine beforehand.

#5. Hot and Cold Shower

After meditating, I jump into a nice hot shower. I’m actually a pretty quick showerer. Josh, however, on the other hand takes a long time in the shower!

Recently I have been finishing off with the cold water trick. I have it on nice and hot and before I even know it, my hand just turns it around to cold and it absolutely shocks my system into being awake!

So I enjoy the nourishing hotness of the shower. And then I have an instant wake up from the cold water. Thank you very much cold freaking shower.

It is also the fastest way to get out of the shower I can tell you that, but it absolutely wakes you up and livens your senses and invigorates your muscles.

#6. Get Dressed

Next I roll into getting dressed, doing whatever I need to look refreshed and feel ready for the day. As a minimalist I keep makeup light and cycle through my clothes regularly with favourite combinations.

#7. Hot Water and Lemon

I then go through to the kitchen, around 6:30am and I make a lovely warm water and freshly squeezed lemon drink to kickstart my metabolism in the morning and feel really cleansed.

Did you know that lemon in warm water has a bazillion benefits including:

  • detoxification – flushing out your system
  • antibacterial – they help you fight the common cold
  • hydrating
  • great for skincare and anti aging.

There are numerous benefits and I’ve popped them in a downloadable pdf for you that includes this energizing morning routine.

Get the FREE downloadable PDF routine checklist

From here I’m often just gazing out the kitchen window at that point at our beautiful view of nature and doing some deep belly breathing.

This is where I will verbally state what I’m grateful for, if I haven’t already.

#8. Daily Greens

I happen to use Dr. Libby’s Daily greens and Radiant reds powder that is is at least one of my servings of vegetables for the day. 

It tastes disgusting by itself, so I put it into coconut water and then it tastes so good. It’s like my way of cheating to get it in first thing in the morning, just in case I don’t get my salad or veggies intake.

I hope you have enjoyed my new, energizing, morning routine. It’s likely you are doing something similar already and I would love to see what the results are for you if you followed this or your own version of it.

Remember I’ve put this all into a really cool checklist laid out in a pretty PDF book for you to download. It includes more details about each of these routines and why they work.

Grab my new FREE routine checklist here!

In the comments below let me know what you liked about this, or share your own routine!

How to Change Your Life For the Better on a Sunday

Research has shown that you are what you believe. You are what you think and what you think drives everything you do and experience in life.

Research has also shown that what you perceive is what you believe….anyone else reading this in the voice of Napoleon Hill from Think and Grow Rich?

Your personal perception of reality is determined by the beliefs you hold. This does not necessarily make them real, except for the fact that you believe they are.

Your beliefs create and dictate what your attitudes are. Your attitudes create and dictate how you respond — in other words, they dictate your feelings.

And your feelings largely determine how you behave.

But what does this really mean for your life?

Basically you have the opportunity to change the way you think, and what you believe, and therefore change your life.

Have shitty negative thoughts, experience more of that in your life.

Focus on gratitude and abundance (even when you don’t feel like you have either) and it starts showing up in your life.

Get really clear on the ideal client you want to close in your business this week, guess who turns up on Monday?

Train smart and do a daily visualization of you completing your upcoming triathlon in your personal best time…and you likely will.

The thing is, that isn’t easy to do if you have no idea what you want to think, how you want to change and what you want your ideal life to look like.

So it starts with getting clear on what matters to you, what your priorities are and what would feel like you’re living with purpose.

Enter Life Pilot.

Life Pilot Sunday Reflections that work

Every Sunday, for the last year, my partner Josh and I have taken ourselves off to a lovely cafe or on a nature walk to do our our weekly Life Pilot Reflections.

Basically over breakfast or a ‘walk and talk’ we reflect on the week that’s gone.

We ask each other some of our prompt questions to dive deeper into what really went on.

Like what went well this week, what could have been better and what was holding us back or moving us forward?

One of our favourite prompts is to do Roses, Thorns and Bananas.

What the heck is that?

It’s a great way to look at what is going well in your life and the week (roses), what wasn’t so hot (thorns) and what surprised you (bananas!).

It’s an extremely illuminating and effective exercise. We usually start with roses, for example:

“I finally finished that report and it felt like such a big project to wrap up and I’m really proud of it” — rose.

“I noticed I procrastinated like crazy on starting that new project” — thorn.

“I was amazed at how much extra energy I got from our boxfit sessions this week” — banana.

Paying attention to your life and how you’re living it, allows you to focus in on fine-tuning it to be the best possible life you can live.

Everytime we do this we uncover truths like what activities hold us back, where we are limiting ourselves, what things put us in flow.

Using our spreadsheet we can see patterns over days, weeks and months of what’s working for us and where we procrastinating or getting stuck.

Being more intentional about how we spend our time and tracking that every day using our spreadsheet and toggl.com has made us far more productive, effective and present in our every day lives.

As a rather famous man once said:

You underestimate what you can do in 3 years but overestimate what you can do in one year. ~Bill Gates

And it’s true!

Which means we think we’ve cracked the issue of goal setting which comes down to knowing what the heck you’re actually capable of achieving.

That’s because we’ve gone from dreaming and scheming about our 3 year plans, and then reverse engineering those lofty dreams into 1 year goals, then quarterly, monthly, weekly and right down to daily.

It’s been transformative. It’s a simple methodology for winning life one step at a time.

After years of personal development and testing tools, templates, strategies and methods of others, I feel like we’ve combined all of that and simplified the heck out of it, to make it doable and effective.

One small step per day, one seemingly insignificant action, can lead to a ripple effect in a short amount of time — weeks or even days.

That can lead to all sorts of amazing changes in a matter of weeks and months that shift your life direction into what you wish it to be.

Like Ruby, who joined our Life Pilot Challenge in July:

“I joined Life pilot hoping to gain a bit of control and calm over what was shaping up to be a ‘busy’, exciting but at times overwhelming year. The life pilot system has allowed me to dream big in ALL facets of my life, not just my business. Incorporating regular check-ins to prioritise, reflect, learn and grow helps me remain focused and on track to turn the vision I have for my business, family, health and relationships into reality. A month seemed like the perfect amount of time to begin embedding life pilot and I really valued the three zoom calls and weekly emails. I never felt overwhelmed by the level of content and in fact found that they were perfectly timed, just as I felt my attention slipping they’d arrive and keep me on track.”

What exactly is Life Pilot?

It started out as a geeky, colour coded spreadsheet Josh and I put together last June to help give us more direction in our life. We had big dreams but were well aware that we needed a better system of making them happen.

Simplicity and essentialism was our focus. We didn’t want to end up with tonnes more on our plate and feeling overloaded.

The 3 x 3 theme of Life Pilot is what makes it so user-friendly and why it gets results.

By that I mean we have a 3 year vision template, and to make it a reality you’re can’t set any more than 3 goals a day, week, month, quarter or year — which has proved massively challenging for all the overachievers in the world and those who have way too much going on.

But boy does it work!

It’s more than a spreadsheet, it’s a way of living and staying focused on your dreams, and as far as I can see, from researching a multitude of others tools and journals, it’s the only one that shows you how to look at a 3 year vision and translate that into an action you have to do tomorrow!

In a matter of months, it allowed us to achieve more than we thought possible, and not just in our work lives, but across all areas including health, relationships, personal growth, wealth, lifestyle and impact.

It gave us daily focus and momentum, and at the same time allowed us to focus on our individual dreams, as well shape our joint ones together in a way that was exciting, fun and doable.

Life Pilot is unique in that you can do it yourself, but it’s even more powerful if you buddy up with a friend or partner and do it together.

Even better the time you’re investing in doing it, is time spent making your life better, because you put it to work immediately and can start to see the results.

The truth is Life Pilot works because it keeps things simple and adds in accountability. Two of the most important things you need to succeed.

If you know it’s time to overhaul your goals and turn your long-held desires for your health, wealth, personal growth, business, relationships and impact you want to make into reality, then

Come join our 10 Day Life Pilot Challenge.

A Simple Methodology to Win at Life One Step at a Time

Last April I did a complete 180 degree shift in my life and learned three valuable life lessons from it, that I want to share with you here.

You see, I went from being the ultimate digital nomad, traveling the world, being single for almost 6 years and running my online business I loved, into a completely different life.

This included buying and moving into an amazing ‘lifestyle’ property with 5 bedrooms, 2.5 acres of land and a 240sqm modern barn!

Kairangi Haven

I did this with my life partner Josh, even though we’d not been together that long, we were both up for an adventure. Soon after moving in we got our adorable puppy Kayla, the White German Shepherd and I started my three month Business Sabbatical.

In short, a massive amount of change in a very short time frame, not only in my life, but to my very identity.

I’m not sure I recommend it. I mean I love change but this was a bit too much, all at once. But it knocked me down on my ass and forced me to get back up again, and again and again.

The Six Human Needs in Life

Many years ago I read Personal Development ‘Guru’ Tony Robbins book. Awaken the Giant Within. Regardless of what you think of Tony, I can’t speak highly enough of this book.

In it he describes the six human needs we should fulfil in order to be happy and successful.

No 1. is Certainty — you know a roof over your head, food on the table, stability, security. Basically assurance you can avoid pain and gain pleasure, which in many ways I now had.

No 2. is Uncertainty/Variety: the need for the unknown, change, new stimuli. I definitely had that too as this was a whole new lifestyle for me and now I had a fur baby that challenged me in more ways than one.

What I realized I was lacking pretty early on, that I had when I was traveling the world and running my business and helping people change their lives to have more freedom, was No 3. Significance: feeling unique, important, special or needed.

I was no longer feeling unique as a digital nomad living life on my own terms, as I had technically ‘settled down’, I didn’t feel important, in fact I felt like I’d become an overnight stay at home Mum!

It was winter, and the first one I’d experienced in six years, and we had a puppy Kayla, that I would stay at home with for the first 2 months full time as my partner Josh was finishing up a teaching stint at his business so commuting into town each day.

Kayla at two months old

On top of that ‘Project House’ as I called it lasted around two months and was pretty intense, as you could imagine after living out just a suitcase. But when it finished, I didn’t have a project to keep me feeling on purpose.

Sure I had trees to plant and gardens to establish, a community to build in a new town and so much newness to get used to, but I had lots of time on my hand as I was taking a break from my business, which really had been my life (in a great way) for so long.

I did have No 4. Connection/ Love: a strong feeling of closeness or union with someone or something — with Josh, Kayla, my family who I was finally in the same country as, and our new lifestyle.

I did also have a personal version of No 5. Growth: an expansion of capacity, capability or understanding as I was learning a lot about ‘lifestyling’, gardening, permaculture, rural life, puppy training, being in a relationship and not traveling.

And, after too many years of dabbling, I was deep diving into yoga and meditation properly, to give me a foundation and feeling of being grounded in amongst the change. Yoga with Adrienne was a godsend!

What I didn’t have was No 6. Contribution: a sense of service and focus on helping, giving to and supporting others.

After years of coaching, mentoring, advising, teaching, creating and helping others to find their own version of freedom in business and adventure in life, I felt like a bit of a phoney.

Most people who knew me as the Suitcase Entrepreneur, were wondering what on earth I’d done taking on this new life.

I felt personally disconnected as I’d deliberately taken time off my business to recharge and prove that everything I teach and stand for — automating your business so it can run without you, is true.

Turns out it was, but not at a cost. My identity was too tied to my brand and my work. That meant my significance was not linked to being of service, but to being important and needed.

Basic human needs sure, but when all is said and done, and you’ve had your success, fame and glory, people will forget you unless you leave a legacy, unless you change lives, unless you take actions that really matter and make an impact.

Unless you show up in this world and lovely deeply, both yourself and everyone else.

Lesson 1: Significance is not about you, it’s about who you serve in life

A few months into my new life I went into a rare dark state of ‘not muchness’. It wasn’t depression but a deep sense of feeling lost, unworthy and as if all I had achieved in life, all the skills I’d learned and shared, everything I’d spent years working so hard to build, simply didn’t matter.

Of course none of this was true, I was just feeling sorry for myself and deliberately wallowing in this feeling.Contemplating what matters in life

This is probably one of just two periods in my life where I’ve felt this way, for which I feel blessed, and I drew on the lessons I’d learned from reading Awaken the Giant Within when I was in my early 20s.

I purposefully lingered in this uncomfortable place because I know, and you know, that growth and learning come from being uncomfortable.

Of the 6 Human Needs stated above, each of us puts these six needs in their own unique order of importance. That said, the first four shape our personality, but growth and contribution shape our spiritual needs according to Tony’s blog post:

“The problem is, if you have significance or certainty as one of the top two needs of your personality, your life is guaranteed to have problems.”

Yep. I was having them.

Ironically not because I had no certainty, which means you like to keep life the same so you have to artificially control your environment, control the people and control yourself.

According to Robbins, “the only way to achieve that is to lower your expectations or just be stressed out all the time, neither of which are a good option.”

I had too much certainty, and more than I was used to. I’d say uncertainty would be in position 1, and all those years of travel and moving about and constantly making decisions about everything catered to that.

But my real problem lay in significance, and “if it’s one of your top two needs, you always have to be competing with someone else. More than likely, you have to lie to yourself about your real abilities or surround yourself with people that are less skilled.”

I’m not sure I went that far, but I had certainly been lying to myself. I had become stagnant in a world where growth is a constant. Many people I had mentored or coached were outgrowing me.

I’d relied too much on my earlier success and had stopped learning — well not completely, but not with the voracious appetite I had before.

I’d become tired, jaded and disenchanted with the industry I was in and longed for something fresh and new. But deep down that wasn’t totally true.

It was up to me to fall in love with what I stood for, with what I already knew, with what I did well, all over again, but this time with a renewed energy, mission and outlook.

Apparently “all dysfunctional behaviours arise from the inability to consistently meet these six needs. But, if you are able to reach them, in a healthy order — meaning significance and certainty are not at the top — you will have fulfillment.”

And if you go even further to understand them, you can start to create new patters that stop any self-sabotage and create new patterns.

So that’s what I set about doing. And it wasn’t easy and it certainly was a long, slow process compared to what I’m used to. I tackled it in two ways:

1. Introspection

I revisited everything I knew to be true, and threw out what was not serving me, to come away with a fresh perspective. I sent emails to five people I trusted and respected and asked them some specific questions about how they saw me, what they thought I had that was unique and valuable.

Then I went back over four tests I’d done, in some cases, years before like Wealth Dynamics – to reassess my entrepreneurial superpower, Strength Finder, How to Fascinate and The Four Tendencies and dug deep into the results to relearn about myself.

I write about these more extensively and how they can help you in my new upcoming book The Freedom Plan.

2. External Reflection

Then I focused on what I loved most about my work – which was helping people to achieve their own goals and dreams.

Luckily I had kept an email folder full of wonderful feedback from my community over the years. This is something I recommend everyone to do, because on those days when you’re feeling down it can bring you right back up again.

These loving messages, praise, testimonials and simple shoutouts, meant the world to me. Not because they made me feel special (which they did), but because they reminded me what happens when you put yourself out there to make other people feel special.

That was my why. That was the reason I had to continue on and giving of myself, day after day. These people needed me, and I needed them. Together we are making the world a better place through our actions and intentions.

Lesson 2: Create fake constraints in your daily life

One thing that has never wavered throughout this major life change is my commitment to understanding, nurturing and having true freedom.

The thing is with this new lifestyle, peace, quiet and nature surrounding me daily, I’ve done an almost too good a job of prioritizing life and fun!

That may not sound like a bad thing, and I agree, it’s not, we all need to recharge, take time off and be present on a daily basis.

Use fake constraints to be more productive

The thing is, too much of a good thing is a curse not a blessing and I got a little lazy. Not in the physical sense of the word — I got fitter with all the dog walking, gardening, hiking, tennis, boxfit and outdoor activities, but in terms of my own time management.

It’s incredible how quickly a day can escape from you when you don’t have any pressing engagements or real priorities.

In a bid to fully embarce my business sabbatical I’d removed all constraints, yet as I have preached to all my clients and customers, friends and family, discipline gives you freedom.

I had lost my discipline. So I set about taking it back to get more freedom — sounds ironic but it’s true.

I created fake time constraints every day.

If you’ve never used this technique, and find yourself procrastinating a lot, or you work from home and get distracted by ‘other’ to-dos, then try this out.

Simply create hard stops in your day that you have to stick to, like lunch with a friend, a gym class, an art exhibition you want to see and then stick to it.

That act alone will force you to condense your available time into a shorter period, instantly making you more focused and productive.

I did it by using a powerful morning routine, including yoga to get up early and get in a daily rhythm. I made sure by 9am I was doing something of purpose — training the puppy or doing several hours of learning of a course I’d enrolled in online to learn new skills.

I created ‘meetups’ in town to get out of the house and out of my familiar surroundings (still sounds so strange to say that after 6 years of being nomadic, where everything was strange and wonderful all the time).

I put them at 3pm in the afternoon or earlier so I had less time to ‘faff’ about and do odd jobs around the house and garden that were nice but not truly useful.

Before I knew it I was pumped to get back into work and reinventing my business and brand over at nataliesisson.com

It started to work. My spirits lifted, the funk I was in receded and I felt more in flow, and as if I was moving towards my new found purpose.

I could now see that true joy lies in richness of experience in all areas of life and that not all of them can realistically be in balance at the same time.

The beauty lies in accepting that and owning it while always correcting course. Luckily I had been working on that too.

Lesson 3: We are all our own Life Pilots

In June last year, deep in the heart of my ‘funk’ period, Josh and I flew to Melbourne as he had a conference he was speaking at and I needed a change of scene and to travel again.

It was exactly what I needed. Simply a change of scene sparked my creativity, drive and imagination as to what I wanted to work on.

Josh and I walked and talked, sat in cafes and dreamed and schemed on life’s possibilities. We came up with several businesses I could choose to pursue.

He wisely knew that if I could find one thing to focus on I’d be off and running.

He was right. What I chose wasn’t the right thing at all it turns out, but it led me to think deeply about what excited me, what this next stage of life could look, feel, smell and feel like.

Together we got thinking about purpose, missions and goals. Something I thrive on but had been missing since I took time out.

Before I was like a ship out at sea with no wind, letting the waves take me whereever they wanted, with no real purpose or direction.

And now I was full sails ahead with a chart to guide me and a journey I had chosen with destinations to arrive at along the way!

Unbeknownst to us, that day was the start of Life Pilot, a system we developed together that we’ve been using for over 12 months, that lets us envision our best lives, set and track our goals and hold each other accountable.

But it’s more than a damn effective life planning tool, it’s become a compass for whether we’re being present, courageous and focusing on priorities.

It shows us if we are aligning with our values and putting our time and attention into the causes that matter most.

What started as a simple, yet slightly geeky colour coded spreadsheet and a deep and meaningful chat about life back in June 2017, has turned into a system that sees us setting our 3 most important actions every day together.

Life Pilot planning

Each Sunday we make time to reflect on our weekly goals and ask ourselves important questions. This ties into making sure our monthly and quarterly goals in 8 areas of our life, are in line with the three year vision we set for ourselves.

We plan holidays and adventures around this too to turn it into something fun and even magical.

I think the reason it works so well is it’s not just me setting goals and trying to meet them, it’s both of us building a life together and helping each other dream and take purposeful action.

We think this could be a system you could use in life and benefit from immensely, because unlike the plethora of tools, journals, books and apps out there, this one works as you have someone you’re sharing it with.

Yes you can use it by yourself, but it’s even better if you do it with your partner, spouse, best friend, peer or simply someone who’s willing to hold you accountable and ask you the right prompts and questions, to help you achieve what you really want in life.

The more we’ve told our friends and community, the more interest we’ve had to share it with them. So we ran a small pilot throughout the month of July and the results have blown us away.

We had no idea whether our system would work when used by other lovely humans, but it has and more effectively than we could have imagined.

That’s because everyone has dreams and desires and needs, and yet ‘finding time’ to make those a reality is so much harder than we realize.

There are many reasons for this but the primary one is that if we haven’t take the time to dream, scheme and visualize our ideal life, there is NO way we are going to get there if we don’t back it up with a plan and focus and daily actions.

That’s what Life Pilot solves, the rest is all up to you.

Each month we open up a new Life Pilot 10 Day Challenge to take people through exactly what we do, and give you the system we’ve created that’s made a massive difference to our lives.

I truly hope you join us!

What 7 Years of Podcasting Has Taught Me

I made a pretty big decision this weekend to end my podcasting journey, without any fanfare or second guessing.

It dawned on me that I have been podcasting for 7 years. Seven freaking years of putting out episodes!

What started out as monthly back on May 16, 2011, turned into twice a month around 2012 and at at the end of 2013 became weekly.

By 2015 I’d decided to up my game and go twice weekly, with one interview one ‘Fresh in Fifteen’ 15 minute show with my own tips.

In august 2016 I hit 1 Million Downloads which was a pretty awesome achievement for me and a show of wonderful support from listeners and the Suitcase Entrepreneur community.

As I wrote in that article:

I started my podcast in 2011 on May 16th. I actually had to look that date up as I couldn’t remember!

My first guest was the lovely Colleen Wainwright from Communicatrix and the interview (from my side at least) was pretty mediocre. You can check it out here.

Episode 4, I convinced Laura Roeder to talk about The Art of Not Doing Everything Yourself.

From there, I was off and running.

At it’s peak 40,000 ‘Freedomists’ tuned in from all over the world, every month. To date it has over 1.8 million downloads which blows my mind.

I know many of my peers have podcasts that do that in a few months, but I’m proud of that result plus 200+ five-star reviews.

In late 2013 the podcast was nominated and made a Top 10 Finalist in the Business Category at the Podcast Awards and it consistently ranked in the Top 100 category for Business in iTunes.

Weekly interviews with successful entrepreneurs and digital nomads included Michael Hyatt, Amy Portereld, Pam Slim, Chris Guillebeau, Pat Flynn, Jaime Masters, Chris Ducker, Jill and Josh Stanton, Josh Turner, Nisha Moodley, Mark Manson, Nick Loper and Denise Duffield-Thomas to name but a few.

Podcasting Benefits

A few other valid points I made in that article:

  • I love podcasting – I enjoy it and it works for my natural talents – I like to talk a lot and I like to interview all types of people, treat it like a casual conversation, and bring out the best in them so they can share their stories far and wide
  • It’s a fantastic community building tool – I love my Freedomists who listen in every week and then meet me in person to tell me how much they enjoy the show – and that I sound exactly like I do on my podcast. Their engagement and feedback makes my day.
  • It’s a fantastic business marketing tool  – I’ve indirectly traced more revenue thanks to listeners telling me that they signed up to a program or a retreat or a mastermind because of hearing me talk about it on my podcast. I’ve also increased my list thanks to people who opted in to get my podcast bonus guides.
  • It’s an excellent way to engage with and partner with sponsors – I’ve been fortunate to have a host of amazing sponsors over the years like 99Designs, Hostgator, Upwork, Skross and more. Some I approached, others approached me and it’s been a brilliant source of revenue to not only fund the costs of running a podcast but as a revenue stream all in itself.

Podcasting Realities

You have to go all in, or not at all.

Sure you can start out like I did, with my laptop, Skype and no fancy microphone and do just fine, but if you want to be top of class you need to up your game as you grow.

I’m talking great equipment – I use the Zoom H6 Handy Recorder and an external Schuh Microphone.

I outsourced editing within the first month knowing this wasn’t where I wanted to spend my time. And it was a brilliant investment.

Over time as I’ve learned more and done more with my podcast, it’s meant hiring more people to help with show notes, content upgrades, formatting, images and hosting.

Our SOP (standard operating procedure) for editing and producing a podcast – which is also a full Asana template for our team now, is impressive and something I’m so proud we’ve built.

But it sure does take time, effort and money.

I asked Rolly, who’s been my amazing podcast editor since January 2014, to total his hours worked on my podcast and it’s approximately 1,200 hours to date!

Batching recording my podcasts in advance has helped a great deal too, meaning you can take time off, go on holiday or simply not worry about scrambling last minute to get an episode out…which has happened a lot to be fair!

Sponsors were a big part of helping out with covering the considerable costs of running a podcast, which I think a lot of people starting out underestimate.

To date I’ve earned over US$100,000 in sponsorships.

That is amazing in itself, as are the relationships you forge with the sponsors.

Podcast Guests Really Make a Great Show

I’ve been privileged to interview some amazing guests when it was the Suitcase Entrepreneur and these have made a huge difference to the quality of my shows, my reach and also credibility.

While I never assumed those I interviewed would share my show (although many did), just being able to put their name as a guest on your show gave you instant kudos.

I also loved interviewing those folks who were up and coming or just doing really cool stuff but were not ‘big names’ or influencers, because frankly they were in the thick of it all and told it as it really was.

Their stories resonated even more with my listeners, because they could relate.

Here are the TOP ranked Suitcase Entrepreneur Podcasts:

I finished my Suitcase Entrepreneur interview series on Episode 300 and that felt awesome.

Switching to a New Podcast Format

In January 2017 I switched over to a narrative style format and rebranded to Quest for Freedom when I also switched over to posting more on this new website and moving away from The Suitcase Entrepreneur.

I’d fallen in love with this format after listening to Startup by Gimlet Media and loving the storytelling and seasonal aspect of their podcasts.

Of course they had built an entire company to produce quality podcasts and had a whole team of editors, journalists and writers behind them but I figured I could do my own version and I was a bit ‘over’ the interview format that so many people do.

In April 2016 I went on my sabbatical and took a three month break from all content creation and my business. This didn’t affect things too much but I did quite like the break from having to come up with themes for the season and all the research.

Turns out narrative podcasts by yourself are much more work than interviewing fab people!

I navigated away from seasonal podcasts to more topical themes so mindset, meditation, productivity etc.

This helped me get my head around what to focus on, otherwise I could talk on all sorts of topics!

Losing My Podcast Mojo

Post my sabbatical was, incidentally, also around the time I realized my enthusiasm and desire to produce high quality content for free (but at my investment) week in and week out was waning.

And so it leads me to this moment in time, when I can quite happily walk away from seven years of committing to this amazing medium that has brought me so much joy, happiness and personal growth.

It’s also brought me new friends, connections and insights with incredible entrepreneurs and taught me a level of work ethic and discipline like batching and organizing well ahead of time, that’s permeated every aspect of my business.

It’s been profitable and pleasurable.

For now though, I’m looking forward to listening to other people’s podcasts and appreciating just what goes into theirs.

At some point in the future I have ideas for new and more targeted shows, but for now I’m hanging up my podcast boots with gratitude to all my listeners and supporters who made me want to turn up for 7 years and hit publish.

The great news is you can forever listen to the 48 Episodes of Quest for Freedom right here, the first 300 Episodes on the Suitcase Entrepreneur here.