It’s a perfect example of how Julia took her skills she learned in a job she applied for, and turned it into a side hustle and then a full blown business that almost runs without her.
Now she has a completely different business and a new team, and is well aware that she needs to remain relevant in an industry being very much affected by the future of work – in that accountants are being replaced with systems and automation.
Julia is well aware of that and we discussed how they’re adapting to stay relevant and thrive in this new era, and in many ways she’s always been adapting and following her heart.
Julia’s journey began in college where she started her solopreneur career of being a caricature artist. She was able to grow her skills into a six-figure business and hired other artists as well.
However, after a year, Julia realized that she wasn’t being challenged anymore and that her successful business (which she’s still running today) was not going to be able to grow anymore.
So what did she do next?
She went back to her roots as a graduate with a B.A. in Accounting and teamed up with a friend and started a company that does bookkeeping and accounting for small businesses and startups.
It was a completely different realm of work from the caricature business, but Julia found it to be exciting plus it tapped into her sweetspot of her accounting knowledge and what she knew would be profitable to her AND beneficial to her clients.
By taking a risk and changing her business, Julia was able to have a business that had a recurring revenue model – something that her caricature business lacked. She also found that she thrived in having a team and didn’t enjoy being a lone wolf after all.
If you’re also in a rut and feel like you’re not progressing or enjoying your work anymore, definitely check out the full interview to learn more about the art of changing your business and how to tap into your potential!
In this episode you’ll learn:
What it’s like to go from a solo operation to being in a partnership and having employees
Why Julia started another business in a completely different industry and what she learned by doing it
How to juggle two businesses by having one on autopilot
The most common mistakes business owners make with money and how to avoid them
Check out Rigits for Julia’s bookkeeping and accounting business.
Head to jkexpressions.com to learn more about Julia’s live digital caricature business.
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.
What is the future of the future? And how the heck can you be a part of it so that you’re not left behind in the past?
That is the topic of my conversation on this episode of the Untapped Podcast with the one and only Frances Valintine, founder of The Mind Lab & Tech Futures Lab.
Frances is one heck of a mover and shaker. And she believes that we’re living in a time of great advancement as well as rapid disruption. She believes that the progress and the ability to look forward and plan for tomorrow is essential for long term success.
Frances is at the cutting edge of what we need to do to stay relevant as we move into a new era filled with uncertainty as technology takes over our jobs allowing us to essentially tap into more of our human skills.
If you listened to Episode 32 – The Future of Work Is Learning, I shared what the future of work really is, the major trends and forces shaping it and why it’s more important than ever to become a lifelong learner and keep upskilling to remain relevant and ahead of the curve.
Frances takes us even further because she is living and breathing this. At the time of our interview, she had just finished up the Future of the Future conference that she hosted where she interviewed all these incredible people on stage.
What I love about Frances is that she’s extremely forward thinking by the way she looks at how we reinvigorate our existing skills, adopt new practices, and integrate people who think differently in our businesses.
As the founder and CEO of The Mind Lab & Tech Futures Lab, Frances works in the space between the whole ecosystem of learners from young children to experienced corporate leaders.
While Tech Futures Lab helps organisations and individuals to navigate the contemporary world of business, The Mind Lab was developed to empower students, schools, teachers and principals to develop contemporary knowledge and practical skills for today’s rapidly evolving world and the future of work.
She knows that our economic success has a greater reliance on people who can combine science, technology, design and creativity in ways that we are only just starting to realize.
So in our interview, we discuss a lot of those things. And I think you are going to find it fascinating. I hope it’s going to open your eyes, expand your mind, and really get you thinking about what role you are going to play in the future of work and just how you can thrive in it.
In this episode you’ll learn:
What the future of work looks like and what that means for you
Why reinvigorating your skills and learning new skills is vital now more than ever
How to thrive and remain relevant in the rapidly evolving world
Frances’ journey to become one of the most influential leaders in New Zealand
I’m both excited and nervous for this sprint triathlon.
It seems insane to think for the last three months, I’ve been consistently training 5-6 days a week, doing what my awesome coach Nathan Martin tells me to do.
All that training for a sprint race, that should be done in less than 1 hr 45mins (if I’m on pace)!
A Sprint Triathlon is made up of a:
20km bike (with hills)
And ONLY in the last 3-4 weeks have I noticed the compound effect of all that triathlon training.
What I know to be true is that consistency and daily habits lead to micro improvements that turn into bigger improvements as you get better and adapt.
Along the way I’ve done multiple events I’ve like the Splash n Dash or Super Sprint tri or the Wellington Classic Ocean swim.
During several of those I was on a high one moment, wanting to quit the next and then wondering why the heck I was attempting to be a triathlete the next!
The very first Splash n Dash was painful and made me wonder what on earth I was taking on.
The most recent one I competed in, while tough, was my best performance. It brought out this inner strength that I was waiting to emerge, and a sense of competitiveness to do and be better that I felt was hiding up until that point.
Then this weekend gone, I smashed my training doing the 3 disciplines at race distance and pace and got a bunch of personal bests!
The point of this story is to encourage you to NEVER give up.
Rewards and results come through showing up and doing the work. Always.
There’s TONNES more I can and want to do to get better but for now I’m proud of where I’ve got to.
I’m in this for the journey, to find my next finish line and the next.
In this podcast I share
1. How my training has progressively stacked to build a better, faster, stronger me and how you can apply that in life
2. The power of mind over matter to get you through the tough times
3. The 3 key things I’ve layered into this journey that have led to my success so far
As we near the end of January 2019, I want you to ask yourself how those New Year goals and resolutions are going?
If you’re like 92% of people, you won’t have stuck to your resolutions, because you likely set vague ones or had unrealistic expectations like:
“I’m going to become a celebrity game show host” or “I’m going to break a world record in gumboot throwing”.
Champagne can do that to the best of us…
There’s another factor here, that has likely led to you not succeeding…yet, which is that you probably didn’t have a plan to make your lofty goals or resolutions a reality.
That’s where you need intentions to go along with your goals, to ensure you will actually succeed.
What’s the difference between goals and intentions?
Goals are focused on the future. They’re about a destination or a specific achievement. For example I am aiming to compete in the Kinloch Sprint Triathlon on February 10th.
I’ve been training towards this for almost three months now, up to six days a week, so I damn well hope I hit my goal time on the day.
My big hairy audacious goal is to qualify to represent New Zealand at the World Champs in September this year. Eeek!
Intentions are in the present moment. Intentions are lived each day, independent of reaching the goal or destination. They are about the inner relationship with yourself.
What I know to be true, is that the journey of getting my level of fitness up to speed (pun intended) to be able to compete in this event, has been the really rewarding part.
Everyday, I’ve turned up with intention to make a micro improvement in my run, bike or swim. No matter how tired I feel or what my last result was.
The actual event, although it matters, is not going to replace all the hard work, commitment and dedication that I’ve put in to my training since October.
The real intention is to get into peak health, and maintain that for the rest of my life!
Why Goal Setting Sucks On Its Own
I’ve always been an avid goal-setter. For most of my formative years, I used my competitive nature and Upholder tendencies of always doing what I say I will, to achieve my goals.
And I did achieve a LOT of them over the years. I was determined to.
The thing is, once I’d achieved a big milestone, I was often left feeling pretty empty.
What I’ve noticed over the years, as I got older and thankfully wiser, is that I was putting all my eggs into one basket, and setting myself up for a let down, rather than focusing on the journey of continual improvement.
And I know I’m not alone. I’m 99% certain you’ve experienced this in life too.
But, if all we focus on is working long and hard to reach this one monumental goal, when you finally hit it, all those links you’ve created between yourself and your sense of worth disappear.
So now you can’t define yourself the way you did. And you have all this time on your hands that you don’t know how to fill.
I felt like this after I won my Regional Body Sculpting Championship – something I dedicated myself to for 9 arduous months, I felt a severe lack of identity.
I had a bright shiny trophy, some bling and a tub of protein powder, but my quest to be the best had now passed, and I didn’t know what to do next!
She notes that added to that is “neuroscience kicking you in the face while you’re down.”
In short, your brain releases dopamine, a hormone associated with both motivation and happiness, in anticipation of reward.
That’s what keeps you working towards your goals, especially where each milestone you set towards achieving it gets hit, it gives you more reason to keep going, and a biological position to feel good.
The problem is, when you reach your goal, that release of dopamine drops and it’s harder for you biochemically to have joy.
The other reason goal-setting leaves you disappointed is that it moves you towards what you think you want, and takes you out of enjoying the present moment.
So instead of being grateful for the here and now, you’re left feeling like what you currently have isn’t enough, and you must strive harder to get the ‘next big thing’.
Which leads to you being stuck in an endless cycle of goal setting to fill the void.
Living your intentions, on the other hand, is much different than having a goal-oriented focus.
That’s because it allows you to focus on how you want to be in the moment, how you want to feel right now, and everyday.
It’s not about winning or losing, hitting or missing, it’s about tuning in to your moment to moment focus.
This means you live life by your values and what matters most to you.
And that’s a beautiful way to live, right?!
How to combine goal setting with daily intentions
The key thing to understand is that focusing on your intentions does not mean you give up your goals.
It actually means you’ve found a great partner to achieve your goals with.
I like to think of intention as your personal trainer. It gives you the daily rhythm, motivation and accountability you need to transform yourself.
By being intentional you’ll enjoy the journey as much as the destination, and therefore bring more joy to everything you’re doing.
Intentions really act as a reminder on how you want to show up in the world and live each day. They give you the purpose to show up to meet your goals!
That’s why my partner Josh and I baked in intentionality into our Life Pilot tool and methodology.
We’d both had enough life experience and exposure to all sorts of methods, strategies and frameworks, to know that goals are devoid of joy, unless they’re backed by daily intention.
That’s why when people join our Life Pilot Challenge, we ask them to set no more than 3 goals OR intentions – each day, week, month or quarter, based on their chosen life categories.
This takes some getting used to, but once you tune into it, it makes life planning way more enjoyable and ‘sticky’.
My real life example of intentions supporting goals
If you’d looked at my Weekly Tab in my Life Pilot spreadsheet last week, my ‘work’ category goal was to Finish first quarter of Content Editorial calendar.
I smashed that by Friday afternoon, because when I planned out my week in advance, I had set ‘working on my content calendar and brainstorming topics’ as one of my three ‘Daily’ actions on both Wednesday and Friday.
I didn’t just hope that by our Sunday Reflection time that it would have magically have happened. I had stated it in my daily actions and scheduled it into my calendar!
My intentions backed up and supported my goal.
Same with my triathlon training. Last week’s ‘health’ goal was to Plan / prepare and nail swim event.
When I turned up on Sunday morning to choppy ocean conditions at Oriental Bay in Wellington, I was tempted to not compete.
Thankfully, I’d set several daily intentions throughout the week to be fully present at my swim trainings.
As a result, I knew I was more than prepared for the event and just needed to stop being a wuss and get to the start line.
Once I stopped swallowing water from the barrage of waves, I actually enjoyed it!
How to apply intentions to your life goals
Let’s say you wanted to finally develop a meditation practice, so you go with:
Monthly intention for January – Deepen my meditation practice to improve my appreciation of life.
Your weekly goal might be: Commit to doing at least 4 guided meditations.
Your daily action then could be: Use Insights Timer App to do a guided meditation
Each morning you look at your journal, notebook, whiteboard (or your trusty Life Pilot spreadsheet) where you’ve recorded this, check your daily actions, then schedule in time to make them happen.
That night you check back and record whether you hit, progressed or missed your action.
Doing that alone, often reveals, after several days and weeks, trends and patterns of what you like to do and what you avoid.
That way you can break the pattern by getting an accountability partner, setting a different goal or figuring out whether your values are aligned with what you’re setting.
Like anything in life worth doing, you need to always remain curious as to why you do some things easily and put off others.
You need to ask better questions to make sure you are digging into these patterns, behaviours and habits, so you can continually be working on being your best self.
Now, what do you intend to do next?
Want to test out our Life Pilot tool and methodology for yourself? Join our next 10 Day Life Pilot Challenge starting February 1st. Details at lifepilot.co
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This year, I want to help you to do something that you’ve been putting off for way too long, whether it’s a vlog, a blog post, writing a book chapter, launching a website, going on your first run, or going out on your first date.
If you want to show up and tap into your true potential, the key is to ask yourself better questions.
So I took the ten questions and answered them for myself, and I’d love you to do the same because they are juicy, and they WILL help you unlock your potential:
1. If I could write a letter to the 2009 version of myself what would it say?
Grab a piece of paper or a journal and write a letter with advice to the version of yourself that is 10 years younger than you now. What would you tell yourself ten years ago that’s going to help you through this period?
What I like about this is the author actually is pretty funny. In his version he was still a teenager. So he’s like “when you go to have your first tequila, don’t have any more. Just trust me on that.”
For me, ten years ago I would have been 31. Almost.
I was in Vancouver and this was the year that I was in my first ever startup, a tech startup called Connection Point Systems and launched FundRazr. We were about probably only three to four months in, and I was diving deep into the world of entrepreneurship for the first time.
That was a pretty formative year for me!
I learned how to be an entrepreneur. I learned how to raise finances. I was playing Ultimate Frisbee and skiing in Vancouver, Canada. I was learning a lot about this new country and the city I was in.
I was also starting to blog. I had a blog and I was starting to blog more consistently and it was around the end of that year that I started realizing I think I wanted to just turn this blog into my business …but that’s a story for another day.
So what would I tell ten year younger self?
I would tell myself to not drink so much coffee, to not stop playing Ultimate Frisbee… even though you’re working like crazy because you’re in the startup and you’re hustling.
I would say it’s good to hustle but life is short and you can’t spend all of it working. I think it would have given me more perspective if I’d had that advice back then.
Everything else was going pretty well that year probably that I should always believe in myself and then I have more skills, experience and knowledge than I realize and then I should put it into action.
That I should trust in myself. That I should be using the fact that I’m a female founder in a tech company to my advantage.
To not be intimidated by the lack of women in this area and to really use it to stand out and to make the most of it.
I probably will give myself some romance advice. So I will say, you will find some awesome men who are ready to man up, be a great friend and potentially an awesome partner.
Don’t be put off by the Pacific Coast attitude of being too chillax for their own good and just focus on enjoying yourself, going on dates with hot men and just being in the moment.
The rest of the year was pretty damn good.
I think it would just probably be to go easier on myself and not take life too seriously, to not work so hard and have more play.
I would love in the comments, if you wouldn’t mind just sharing a little bit of that letter to yourself.
2. If I could only accomplish one thing before I die, what would that be?
Think of one thing you want to achieve, accomplish or experience more than anything else.
The reason for asking that question is that once you figure that out, you will pursue that with every ounce of hustle you’ve got because life is just too precious for regret.
I’m pretty thankful that I’ve accomplished a lot of things that I really wanted to do in my life.
I’ve done a lot of travel, written two books. I’ve created a six figure business from scratch which has been pretty epic.
And now I’ve had the chance to be a puppy parent which I take pretty seriously and freakin’ love – the best role in the world.
Also, I have the opportunity right now to be a triathlete and to really continue on that journey so that I can represent my country in the future or just become the best version of myself.
There’s a lot that I feel I’ve done over the years – crazy challenges, body sculpting, dragon boating, world record breaking, gold medals and Frisbee. It’s been epic.
I would love to be a prolific author whose book has sold a million copies and touched the lives of half a million plus people. Even if that’s a 10 year journey.
I’d like to write a book that has massive lasting presence, because I’ve been touched by so many books and I just think there’s kind of no greater honour than writing something that resonates with so many people and makes a difference in their lives.
I’m listening to a great audio book right now, The Barefoot Investor by Scott Pape. It has sold a million copies to date, but it’s also been out since 2004!
You can tell by the feedback that he includes in his book and the case studies of people he’s helped, that he’s genuinely changing lives and making everyday people more financially astute.
Books change lives and when they are written in such a way that they just spread and everybody talks about them, that’s a beautiful thing.
There is something really special about that because I think it means you’ve really mastered the craft of fantastic writing, empathy, compassion and also covering a topic that so many people are challenged by and need help with.
That would be one thing I’d love to do before I die.
I’d also love to achieve a world record in something. That sounds so vague doesn’t it?
So what is it for you? What is one thing you want to accomplish before you die? What would that one thing be?
3. What are the top three things that make me feel happy and fulfilled?
#1. I am absolutely at my happiest when I’m out in nature.
I could spend all my time wandering around our garden, spotting new flowers and buds on trees, listening to the birds, looking at the grass and off into the distant hills.
I mean nature just brings me so much joy and it’s free!
It’s worth protecting, it’s worth nurturing and growing and I really love here where we’re at our house and in New Zealand.
We’re planting trees because we’re stewarding this land for the next generation of people who come to live here and they’ll do the same for their families and their children.
#2. Another thing that makes me feel happy and fulfilled is hands down animals. My dogs just light me up. I’m so surprised at how much joy they bring me.
Giggles, laughter, love, cuddles, surprises, learning, patience and so much awareness around how they live their life, how they view the world, how everything is fun, adventure and exciting.
Animals in general make me appreciate them and what they bring to this world.
#3. Being in the company of fantastic friends and awesome people who just give me a fresh perspective on life, who challenge me, who make me laugh, who hold space for me, who make me appreciate and understand different perspectives and who just get me.
Those are my top three things that make me feel happy and fulfilled.
Once you’ve figured out your top three things, then you really should be building and scheduling around them for a happier existence.
4. What are the top three things that distract me from enjoying my life?
#1. My own inner thoughts, especially on days when they’re negative and I find myself getting down on myself, or in a headspace that doesn’t serve me.
On the whole, I’m an incredibly optimistic person but I have noticed that my attitude, thoughts and beliefs have got the better of me a lot more in the past year than I thought.
Thanks to 20 days in a row of meditation and yoga right now, I can already feel me becoming the master of my own ship (mindset) and getting control back.
#2. Getting caught up in the mundane details of things that are not important – getting stuck in to dos and things that are simply not a priority.
I noticed that even just last week, I put off doing some really important pieces of work because life admin got in the way and I put a whole lot of other things in front of me that were not my core needs.
I was the one who let them take me away from doing the really important work and also experiencing more joy in my life.
Some of them are necessary. Some of them though, I prioritized because I felt I needed to be responsible for them.
Such as looking after our WWOOFers, making sure our dogs were happy all day long, organizing events and activities, rather than actually getting onto the things that I had put into my weekly Life Pilot plan.
#3. Negative people or getting caught up in other people’s stuff.
When it comes to closer friends and family, I’ve been noticing recently that I care more than I’d like to about some of the stuff going on in their life.
I’m not saying it’s a bad thing to care about people you love and value! But you don’t need to own their crap. You don’t need to get caught up in some of the stories they’re telling themselves.
You get to be there for them. You get to support them but you don’t need to take that on.
So those are the three things. I’m curious to know what yours are?
5. Am I in control of my thoughts or am I at the mercy of them?
On the whole, I do believe that I do a really good job of being super grateful every day. I am incredibly present in the moment. I’m always looking at things that light me up.
I get so much joy and pleasure and happiness from the simple things in life. I appreciate them. I talk about them. I thank them. I’m grateful for them.
And then every so often my goddamn mind goes to something that’s just so unhelpful. And it’s usually a belief or a thought or an idea that is not true and is not serving me.
And it’s typically around not being enough, or having these ridiculously high expectations that I’ve had all my life, and thinking that I’m not meeting them.
I was looking back over some notes from my first ever coach I hired, when I was in Vancouver, and he wrote that I was too hard on myself …and he’s so right.
What’s the verdict for you? Are you in control of your thoughts or are you at the mercy of them?
I’d say it’s probably a combo and we want it to really be that YOU are controlling your outlook on life.
6. Am I in control of my eating decisions or am I at the mercy of them?
Now the reason for this question is that your thoughts influence your perception of reality yet your eating decisions influence your mood and energy levels.
Happy, healthy people consciously choose to eat foods that make them feel alert, focused and energetic.
We all know when we’re unhappy and maybe unhealthy, we unconsciously allow our mood and social surroundings to dictate our eating decisions.
I’ve been keeping a food diary for about two weeks and I’m going to continue to do it because it makes me conscious of what I’m putting in my body, and keeps me honest.
I showed it to a nutritionist who I hired the other day, to specifically help me with my training and fueling my body for my upcoming triathlons, mainly because I hit a bit of a wall this week.
Turns out that I’m eating all the right things, being really healthy, but I’m not eating enough and I’m not eating at the right times before a workout and post workout.
She was like “I’m not changing anything in your eating habits, I’m just getting you to get your timing better.”
The fitter I get and the more training I do, the leaner I get, and the more energy I typically have.
The more I can handle the training load, the more focused I am, the more vibrant I am, the more disciplined I am around my work as well as my personal life.
It just had a massive positive knock-on effect to every area of my life.
When it comes to eating and fuelling your body and viewing your body as a vessel, are you on the good side of it or are you on the not so good side of that?
Be honest with yourself. Do you need to improve your relationship with food and love yourself more?
7. What strengths did I use to achieve three major goals in my life?
Think about three of the biggest achievements of your life.
That could be when you graduated from college. It might have been when you got a really big pay raise at work.
It might have been when you started your business and you never thought you would. It might have been publishing a book.
It could have been winning a competition. It might have been marrying or being in the relationship that you’re in. Getting your first house.
Think about all the major goals.
Then think about what are the personal strengths you use to achieve those things?
Do you see any trends there? Typically if you do, that’s the road that leads to success and it’s right in front of you.
For me, buying my first house at age 21 was a pretty damn big deal. I’d always been really keen on real estate.
I’d watch my parents do a very good job of buying these houses, doing them up, selling them, taking that investment, putting it into another and doing better each time.
They built up capital that way and secured some financial stability for the family.
I also just was fascinated by property portfolios and real estate and how they were such great investment if you bought right.
Another big major goal in my life would be starting my business in 2010.
I used my strengths, I backed myself, I believed in myself. I took a chance. I’m really good at taking big leaps and taking chances.
I thought screw it, what’s the worst that could happen? I could always go back to a job.
I made things happen and I took action every day. When I had fears and doubts and I just kept hustling and kept experimenting and kept staying passionate and curious.
Those were some of the strengths that served me there.
Again just major belief in finally having a story and a message to share. A real desire to get that book out there and to go through the journey of writing it, publishing it, marketing it and making a difference in people’s lives.
I think the discipline, combined with the motivation, and the pure desire to make a difference – made it a reality.
So those are my three major goals and strengths that come with it.
I would love to know what your three major goals are in life that you’re really proud of and also some of the strengths that used to achieve those?
8. How can I use those strengths more often?
Which of those strengths are lying dormant right now, which of those you are under utilizing, which are those of you’d like forgotten that you had?
Was there anything you can think back to when you’re a teenager or even younger that you are really not utilizing, that you’re really good at but you’re not tapping into.
Now is time for you to tap back into that potential!
I would say a couple of things for me right now probably are:
Speaking is a strength that I do think that it is something that really brings me to life and I can do a really good job of and touch a lot of people’s lives in.
Another strength that I’m tapping into more now is coaching. I’ve been slowly focusing on getting clients again, bringing that in back as an arm that supports this business of content creation in my business.
I am also really enjoying diving deeper, learning more and adding more strings to the coaching bow which I think is always a great thing to do.
But I look forward to exercising those muscles even more and stretching myself more so that I can stretch my clients more.
9. How do I want people to remember me?
So rather like question one, which was what advice you would give to your younger self, in this instance, my question to you is – how do you want to be remembered?
You’ve probably seen examples or read articles where people have suggested that you write almost your own eulogy for your funeral of how people would remember you.
In many ways it’s a chance for you to step up and claim who you want to be – right now.
For me, I want to be remembered for being passionate. For being kind. For being motivating. For being inspiring. For being a little bit crazy. For being adventurous and for being a lifelong learner. For somebody who loved deeply, who gave her all and who generally tried to leave the world a better place.
In my eulogy, that’s how I’d want people to remember me. And also that I love to freakin’ dance and sing and that everything should be celebrated with champagne!
10. Why do I exist?
So now that you’ve done quite a lot of thinking and answering all these other questions hopefully this will come to light a little bit more.
If you could write your own biography, what would it actually say about you? If you could write your entire life as the author of your own book, what would it say?
For example, are you a humanitarian? Did you win a Nobel Peace Prize? Did you invent something crazy? Or did you just live a really good humble, purposeful life?
You gave, you contributed, you educated, you learned, you maybe raised some amazing kids.
You lived a quiet yet peaceful, environmentally, friendly low carbon footprint and you always listened to people and saw their side of the story.
That would also be an absolutely beautiful reason as to why you exist. So I would love you to answer that question.
I think for me, I really believe I exist to be a shining example to others of living a very good fulfilling and purposeful life.
One where freedom, adventure and being present in every single moment trump everything else and that any work that you do do is rewarding and purposeful and helps people immensely.
So those are the 10 questions that you can ask yourself to unlock your potential. What did you learn about yourself? Share it below!
This basically means, that if I commit to a goal or if I say I’m going to do something for myself or for you, you can damn well be assured that I’m going to do it.
Which is typically fantastic but sometimes can cause problems, because I don’t let up on my own self!
So here goes.
#1. I will not sign up to any more newsletters or optins in 2019
I am really excited about this. In the last two months of 2018 I ruthlessly unsubscribed from hundreds of e-mails that I was getting, these included:
those I never read or I no longer wanted to read
those who I never remembered signing up
those spamming me with crap, who’d likely bought my email from someone
The result? I now get between 10 ten to 15 emails over the space of a couple of days in my personal inbox..
And in my business inbox, which is separate with it’s on gmail account, I still love using Sanebox which automatically filters newsletters into SaneNews, and other emails into SaneLater.
This means I only get the important emails in my inbox, from people I actually want to hear from and emails I want to action.
This makes a massive difference to my sanity.
#2. I will not check email everyday.
I am going to attempt to stick to only checking emails three days per week and I’ve decided on Monday Wednesday and Friday.
This one I think is going to be particularly challenging because we all have a tendency to use our inboxes to distract us and make us feel like we’re being really productive – when we’re not.
We use it as a form of procrastination, because when we process all emails and achieve inbox zero, which I do almost all the time, we feel like legends.
It makes you feel like you’ve achieved something, when really you’ve just given your time and attention away to other people’s problems or demands.
So three days a week is when I’m going to check email. I am most likely going to check it at 10am after my deep work sessions.
I have also put an autoresponder message on to let people know this and my response time, so they know what to expect and get trained to know when to get in touch with me.
Also my lovely virtual assistant Angeline, who is still with me after six years, goes into my business inbox each day to clear out anything that’s not important, or answer any customer emails.
Unlike people like Pat Flynn, I do not get thousands of emails in my inbox. I have really really streamlined it.
I think people know not to contact me unless it’s really necessary – thank you folks!
I’m really curious to see how much more efficient this new habit makes me and, whether in the hour or so that I’m allowing myself to go through my emails, whether I am actually more focused and doing a much better job of responding and actioning what matters?
Use the ‘Getting Things Done’ Method by David Allen.
If you can’t answer the email you’ve opened in five minutes or less, you:
Delete it (if it’s really not important and most of the time, let’s be honest, their not)
Delegate it (forward it to a team member to take care of, a colleague or the right person)
Defer it – use Sanebox to ping it back into your inbox at a more appropriate date, for example say it’s a task that’s not needed until a week from now. Or use the new Gmail ‘Snooze’ settings to pick the exact time and date you want that email back.
#3. I will not sign up for any webinars
Back when I started attending and hosting webinars in 2011, people used to offer up tons of valuable content and webinars were really entertaining and educational.
After sharing all that value, they would naturally have a call to action to join sign up or buy from them, which was totally legit, after teaching for 45 to 50 minutes of solid content.
Then, over the years, as more and more people jumped on the webinar bandwagon, the Internet marketers basically spammed you for an entire hour, and then pitched you for 50% of that hour to sell you their thing.
Typically the first 50% was usually taken up by them telling their story and putting up photos of them sitting in fancy cars and making lots of money.
As a result, I think people are much more weary of webinars, yet the work to actually put on a really high quality one is, well a lot!
So for those people who to still do great webinars, like Amy Porterfield who’s a great educator, then you know you’re going to get a high quality webinar.
Those folks deserve to be heard and you deserve to show up to them, if you’ve registered for it and give them your time and attention.
For myself, I don’t want to sign up for any webinar ever again. I’ve already reduced that a ton over the years.
Ultimately, what you’re seeing here is this trend towards being very very ruthless about where I do spend my time and who gets my attention.
#4. I will not buy any more online courses.
As a course creator, I do have a caveat here. Or perhaps a clearer definition of this new rule.
I will not buy any more online courses UNLESS, they are extremely relevant to what I want to learn or experience.
In other words, I’m not buying any courses for the sake of trying them out, or testing out that person’s sales funnel or software setup, or because I want to support them.
#5. I will not fall victim to the comparison game.
I will not. This one’s gonna be tough, as 2018 I fell into a hole of comparison and it was not pretty.
We all do this. The comparison game is just a really tough thing to move past, but all I’ve realized is how futile this is to do to yourself.
All it does is make you feel less worthy less awesome less skilled less experienced.
Most of the time you’re doing it because you’re looking at social media feeds that are completely unreal and don’t show the true picture of that person’s journey.
As Oscar Wilde wisely said,
Comparison is the thief of joy
And in 2019 I want lots of joy.
No thieves so no thievery and therefore I want to disrupt this pattern.
How I’m going to do this, is by actually reducing the amount of time that I am on social media which leads me to…..
#6. I will not spend more than 1 hour a day on social media.
A little like email, I am gonna be massively reducing the time that I’m on social media.
To be fair I don’t think I’m on it that much, but the new iPhone ‘screentime’ feature, which lets me know how much time I spend on my phone each day, and on which app, will keep help keep me honest.
When I’m on social media, I want to be really strategic and engaging in the right way.
Given I’m bringing back my podcast and vlog and blogging more in 2019, that hour should technically include my time to post, share and promote my content.
However this is quite a tall ask, so that time on social media will fall under marketing as my focus is entirely different.
Overall, this new habit/ rule will also greatly help with the comparison-itis – mainly caused my Instagram!
#7. I will not buy any coffees.
This might sound extreme, but I live in New Zealand. The land of coffee.
We make the best coffee in the world. There is no denying it.
For those of you crying out ‘nooooo, that’s not true’, come to New Zealand and try out one of our coffees for yourself, then tell me whether I am lying.
Coffee is an art form in this country and a National pastime. Baristas are immensely proud of their creations, as can be seen in the beautiful images created in the milk froth topping.
I have never seen so many coffee shops in a country with a population of four and a half million, as we have in New Zealand.
What’s more they are often right beside each other and the best ones, in our cities, almost always have lines out the door each morning.
The milk here is amazing. The coffee is made with love and it is all too easy to get coffee wherever you go.
Along with this comes what I consider to be a hefty price tag of $4.50-5:50 for a coffee.
I worked out that, over the space of the year, if I had coffee five days a week that’s $1200 a year towards coffee that I could be putting towards other things.
It’s also really not so much about the money, it’s about the fact that I don’t need to go out to buy coffee when I can make perfectly great plunge and filter coffee here at home.
I also don’t contribute to the plastic cup consumption and I will inevitably drink less coffee, which, as Dr Libby and others have proven, is something we don’t actually need, and should take a break from, of at least 2-4 weeks, more often.
I want to experiment with having more herbal teas and turmeric lattes too.
My final reasoning, for everyone who thinks I’m insane, is because so many people are obsessed and drink coffee all the time and ‘can’t do anything until they’ve had their morning coffee’.
I kind of want to rebel against the coffee movement even though I enjoy it so, I’m only going to buy a coffee when I absolutely feel like one and I’m going to enjoy it immensely.
8. I will not hide behind any preconceived identity.
I will not hide behind any preconceived identity that I have for myself or that I think you have for me.
I actually saw speak about seven years ago and he was incredible, as is this book.
Deep Work is essentially the art of doing work that is incredibly focused and not distracted, which is getting increasingly hard to do in this very connected and distracted world.
In order for me to be able to write another book this year, I want to understand and research a lot more about and tapping into your human potential.
Therefore I need to be writing reading researching on a much more regular basis – and intensely .
What Cal suggests in the book is two to three hours at least, but preferably even days at a time, of deep work, where you take yourself off to a place where you can just be completely undistracted and focused.
So I have a couple of places I’m setting up in the house, with a desk that looks at a blank wall. and I’m going to fine-tune this rhythm to be the same days as I check my email, from 7am to around 10am.
#2. I will meditate daily.
No matter how short I will do this. My intention is for 30 consecutive days, and my bigger goal is for an entire year and beyond.
I first came across meditation on a retreat with friends in Costa Rica in 2009. William, a larger than life, energetic character, was sitting still, by the pond edge just meditating.
I joined him and couldn’t stop fidgeting or swatting away mosquitos. So I sat watching how calm he was, marvelling at his ability to just breathe and be aware.
He told me he’d been doing it for years and it took time to develop this conscious awareness, but that it was so worthit.
I did nothing further.
Then when I was living in Amsterdam back in 2012, I happened across a lecture happening in a gorgeous theatre, attended by thousands, on the benefits of meditation.
Enough is enough. As an upholder, I said to myself before New Year’s “Natalie, if you can’t even meditate for five freakin minutes a day you are not worthy of all the amazing benefits of meditation”.
I’m happy to say I’ve done 7 days of consecutive meditating (at the time of writing this on January 9th), and sometimes two in one day.
I am using the Insights Timer app on my phone – best free app I’ve ever had, although I’m going for the pro version to access them offline and also all the useful courses.
I’ve been much more clever about it this time and I’ve booked mark my favourite five to fifteen minute meditations, so that I can easily get to them.
I will continue to extend the time I meditate, and look to try different ones through the app – some of my faves are the well known loving kindness meditation, and of course the simple awareness and breath meditation.
#3. I will write down three things I’m grateful for each day.
In my journal by my bed, I write down three gratitudes each morning, at the very least I say them out loud.
Doing it first thing in the morning always brightens my day and sets me up with an attitude of gratitude.
Then I tend to then go into a bigger list, and throughout the day I simply stop to appreciate the amazing garden we have, the stunning beauty of flowers and nature in general.
It also makes you appreciate all that you have and leaves you feeling abundant, rather than in a place of lack.
I know it’s going to come in particularly helpful when I’m in a noisy, busy airport with a cancelled flight, as I’ll draw on all the things, in that moment, that I’m grateful for…that’s the aim.
To better handle my emotions and behaviour, so that I can act from a place of compassion and love, not impatience or selfishness.
#4. I will read everyday.
I don’t mind if that is reading a brilliant blog post, a chapter of a physical book, listening to an audio book – so long as I’m learning.
Preferably the goal is a chapter or more of a book.
Right now I tend to do more than that as I listen to audiobooks while out training for my triathlon, or while traveling.
It’s also a great habit/ rule as I have so much great content to consume which ties in with the deep work.
#5. I will paint once a week.
We have a little art studio on our property that I created for the sole purpose of creating.
It has a window that looks out onto the field and hills. An easel I bought second hand online. A collection of acrylic paints and brushes.
The easel has a canvas on it, with this beautiful background that has been there for about nine months, which I haven’t finished!
There is no excuse not to pull out my creative side, walk down to the studio in the barn and paint!
I also know how important making time for creativity is. It will impact every area of my life…plus our living room wall deserves a large piece of art on it.
#6. I will write every week on my personal blog no matter how brief.
I am excited and ready to get back into the habit of putting out regular, valuable content.
So I want to get into the habit of writing and I want to turn a lot of my content into a book by the end of the year. That is my big goal for this year.
I initially had write every weekday on my blog, which is a stretch goal, but for now it is just to get back into the habit of writing which I really miss.
#7. I will join at least one mastermind in 2019
I have run many masterminds in the past. I have been part of masterminds and last year I was part of none, which made me really appreciated how important they are.
If you haven’t heard of this term mastermind before, essentially it’s a meeting of minds, that together, can help you personally go further than you could on your own.
With more minds looks at your challenges or opportunities and sharing their advice and wisdom on what you can do, you naturally go further, achieve more and are held to higher standards.
It’s best with four to six awesome people. You don’t have to be in the same space, industry or even location, so long as you but you have similar goals and outlooks on what you’re wanting to do.
It helps if you get into a mastermind with people who are ahead of you and where you want to be, that will stretch you further!
You meet regularly every week, every two weeks, or every month at least and you basically champion and challenge each other.
You share information, knowledge, tactics and resources. You are there to be each other’s advisory board.
It is a beautiful thing when it works really well. Everybody has to commit you have to turn up and it can be absolutely amazing for you personally and professionally.
I’m pleased to say this one is underway already with a local women’s mastermind I’m pulling together.
However I’m keen for masterminds across different areas of my life.
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.
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.
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 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!
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.