Posted on / by Natalie / in Personal Freedom / 1

How To Have More Personal Freedom

I am on a mission to help you find more personal freedom in your life every single day.
That’s why I write this blog and produce the Quest for Freedom podcast.

In order to make my mission a reality, I’ve been working on a bit of research background around what personal freedom really means to you and I.

This is really what the true essence of this podcast is and it’s going to become much more about this from today on.

That’s because, a couple of years back I had this HUGE vision. It was so big it scared me.

How was little ol’ me going to conduct the world’s first research into freedom and create a framework that allowed people to figure out where they were on the scale of freedom?!

Despite my fear (that always comes after a burst of enthusiasm at a new idea), I put together the vision at right2freedom.com and started getting survey responses when I put it out to my community.

Maria Nicholas came on board to volunteer her time looking into how we could turn my vision into a framework and I created the 7 Phases.

She flew over to New Zealand even to make it happen and we worked away looking into successful social enterprises, non profits and frameworks that have been proven out.

I had my CFO at the time,  Jon Roberts, look over some of the survey responses and start to pull out some trends and findings – he liked data, I preferred the findings from it.

I engaged with the group of lovely Right2Freedom volunteers, who’d taken the survey and then offered up their time to help in various ways as indicated here, to start helping with some initial research on articles, blogs and books to define freedom.

Michelle Frost kindly headed up some Zoom calls to delve into this deeper with them.

And then I stalled, and the project stalled.

I left it alone for a bit, focused on my business and let other things distract me away from it.  It still felt too big.

Then, along came the idea for this blog and podcast. What about doing the research and experimenting real-time, on my own journey to personal freedom, while helping others.

That felt much more doable. A way to dip into it and make some progress, without letting the pressure of my own expectations get to me.

A few months ago, after a discussion with one of my Freedom Plan members Nina Frankowski, I felt reinvigorated with this project.

She, like me, is fascinated by freedom and loved the concept behind Right2Freedom.

With her background of making sense of research and data and analysing into something meaningful, she set to work looking at everything that had been done to date, to pull this into a framework.

It felt like overnight she brought to life what I had been dreaming of from the beginning.

She dug through the surveys and found the nuggets of gold. And now with over 600 global responses and counting, she’s done an incredible job of making sense of it all.

Then a few weeks ago, I asked the team at Lifehack if I could write a topic on personal freedom and unleash the first initial findings and thoughts behind this framework in the blog post.

They loved the idea, and so as a contributing writer I published this piece originally

It’s based on some of the ideas in my TEDx Talk, but it’s the first time I’ve released this information around this new freedom framework that I am working on.

So with Lifehack’s permission, I’m sharing the article here (and on the podcast).

How to Break Free From Your Own Constraints And Live the Life You Want

I’d like you to imagine waking up tomorrow with no limitations whatsoever.

How would you spend your day?

Who would you spend it with?

Where in the world would you be?

How would you feel?

Over the past 6 years I have asked hundreds of people this question. And guess what? 99% of them have no idea how to answer it. They have never thought about what their perfect day looks like, let alone how to describe it in vivid detail.

Somewhere along the way, people stopped chasing their dreams. They stopped imagining what their perfect day looks like and they started handing over the reigns to society who told them what to do and how to live. I found myself in this place too, where I’d given away my freedom. And I wanted it back.

What Exactly Is Freedom

According to the Oxford Dictionary, it’s the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants. But is that really what true freedom means to you?

I shared in my TEDx talk The Surprising Truth About Freedom that I believe freedom is a right not a privilege, and it’s up to YOU to create your own freedom plan.

I personally spent the last 6 years living out of a suitcase, traveling the world to 69 countries. I did this because I wanted to explore the world and experiment with living and working from anywhere and everywhere until I designed and created my perfect freedom business that supports my ideal lifestyle.

Then in early 2017, I chose to flip my life 180 degrees when I bought a beautiful house and 2.5 acres of land in New Zealand with my partner, got five chickens and an adorable puppy and put down roots.

I discovered a different type of freedom that’s based around family, friends and a sense of community, as well as a profound connection to being on nature’s doorstep for my ideal lifestyle.

Why Freedom Feels So Elusive

As I’ve already stated, your version of freedom is totally unique to you, so it’s up to you to choose.

Freedom for some people it’s sailing around the world. For others it’s living in a yurt in the forest. For others it’s the right to vote. To get married, or stay single. To have a beautiful home or to have no home at all.

When I ask people if they feel free, they almost always respond with saying that the answer depends on something out of their control. For example “when I have more money and feel financially free”.

Or “when I can make my own schedule and do what I want”. Or “when I’ve quit my job and can do my own thing”. Or “when I don’t have to be stuck in one place”.

THEN I’ll be/ feel free.

Here’s the thing that most people don’t realize though:

Freedom is a state of mind rather than a specific condition of existence.

True freedom starts with your thoughts, and freeing yourself from your own inner critic, or limiting beliefs that tell you what you are and aren’t capable of.

We may not have been born with the same privileges, access to education, money or political rights, but we are all given the same amount of time in a day to pursue our dreams and make them a reality. And if we can’t control our external circumstances, we can definitely control our internal ones.

Freedom is the possibility to have choice and purpose helps you choose. Freedom is the space around you, where your purpose is your compass showing you where to move in that space.

Choosing Your Version of Freedom

I’m obsessed with Freedom and the definition of it. I created the Right2Freedom survey to ask people this very question. Over 500+ responses later and there is ONE universal truth emerging.

Freedom usually is split into positive and negative freedom. “Freedom from” (absence of constraints) and “freedom to” (freedom to do what we want). There is also a third level “freedom to be”, which is also a positive freedom but on a deeper emotional level; inner freedom.

It is this inner freedom that I believe is the most important, and that we intend to research further.

Your definition of freedom may be completely different to mine, but one thing remains the same, it’s our ability to CHOOSE that makes us feel truly free. Through the answers we’ve collected so far we’ve identified four elements of freedom.

  1. Flexibility – What you want, when you want and where you want. In short this is independence and choices free from restrictions.
  2. Self-actualization – This is about fulfilling your dreams, being free to pursue your passion while being free from judgement. This is strongly linked to doing work of your choice – a career or business you love.
  3. Responsibility – Creating stability for yourself and others by having control of your own security, health and financial situation ultimately makes you feel more free.
  4. Contribution – The ability to contribute, help others and to make an impact is a feeling of freedom on a whole other level.

Going For More Freedom

How do you go for achieving more freedom? Follow these baby steps:

Step 1 – Awareness of (your) definition of freedom (what do you want)

Not many people have truly thought about the definition of freedom and what it means to them personally, but when asked, most can tell you a few things that makes them feel free. These are usually literal things they attribute to the meaning of freedom.

So ask yourself the question “What makes me feel free?” Then write down your answers, discuss them with friends and start the conversation with people who matter in your life.

Step 2 – Understanding of (your) needs and purpose of freedom (why do you want it)

Not everyone thinks about why they define freedom a certain way, but everyone does have a deeper reason for why they desire freedom.

If you understand your needs and reason for wanting those “freeing” things in life, it is easier to achieve them.

Again, write down your why. Why do you want more freedom?

Step 3 – Action: map out personal plan (how can you get it)

Mapping out a plan needs to be done on an individual level based on your needs and wants, so who is better suited to do it but you?

It starts by getting very clear on your ideal lifestyle and what that looks like to you. Let the questions at the beginning guide you to finding your answers.

For more expert guidance, you can start by picking up a copy of my book The Suitcase Entrepreneur: Create Freedom in Business and Adventure In Life.

In it I talk you through the three stages of Mindset, Business and Lifestyle that have personally led me to being a Freedomist, and thousands of others.

So, what does freedom mean to you?

Reclaim Your Time Today. Join my Outsource Like a Rockstar Freedom Lab starting October 10th.

Posted on / by Natalie / in Season 3 / 1

11 Benefits to Learning Something New

I don’t know about you, but I’m always curious about the world, and always aware of how much I still have to learn.

The day I’m not curious about anything will be a day I personally don’t want to see, as I’ll either be a know it all and completely deluded or on my deathbed!

Yet in an increasingly connected world experiencing information overload and a certain amount of burnout from that, it’s become critically important – and I do mean critically, to curate your learning experience and limit the information highway to some specific side streets and cul-de-sacs of your choosing.

I wanted to talk through how I’ve been ‘easing’ back into learning zone post my Business Sabbatical and what steps I’m taking to expand past my comfort zone, increase my skills and knowledge and deepen my understanding and perceptions around areas I’m not often exposed to.

But first let’s focus on the benefits of learning something new and why you should want to do this in just 50 minutes a day.

I was reading a piece on Lifestyle Updated about the seven benefits of learning something new, and the very first one was fun.

I thought to myself how often do we, especially as adults, do something for fun. The example they gave for this benefit was a friend who’d recently learned to surf and how much fun they’d had.

I thought back to the 20+ surf lessons I took in Portugal last year and how I was constantly out of depth (no pun intended) and challenging my assumptions about what I was capable of, while learning something new every single time, if not several new things.

I quite enjoyed being a complete newbie to this sport and taking a mix of private and group lessons. I loved how our instructor, crazy Nelson as I like to call him, would draw diagrams in the sand and make models of waves in the sand to illustrate a point.

Along with this there was yelling and enthusiasm, practicing the technique on land and of course getting out in the ocean and doing it.

Full immersion so to speak – pun intended this time!

FUN! Why on earth learn something if it’s not fun?

Everything that’s taught can be fun, even accounting, especially when you’re shown real case studies and examples that resonate with you and make your learning that much quicker and effective.

Another on their list that is obvious but often overlooked is..

A sense of accomplishment and pride.

I know back in 2004 when I had landed my biggest job to date as National Brand Manager at Schwarzkopf Professional, working quite long hours but loving learning on the job at speed, I also took on more learning for the ‘fun’ of it.

It still amazes me that not only did I start training in January of that year for a bodysculpting competition, I then decided to enrol at Otago University for an extramural 1 year certificate in Fitness Management.

I was also going through Anthony Robbins Awaken the Giant Within book and working on some NLP for past events in my life, and listening to his CD series in the car on the way to work.

Once I’d finished with his CDs I recall listening to around 5 audiobooks (on CD of course) during my long-ish commute…back in the days when I actually commuted.

The results of this year were still my most impressive ever, at least in my mind.

I got straight As from University, and some A+ – proof that when you have experience in time management and a full time job you study much more effectively than when you’re doing it full time.

I won my Regional North Island Body Sculpting competition and went on to compete at Nationals.

And I had a rocking first year in my job running the best ever New Zealand Hairdressing Awards – most ticket sales and under budget.

And I felt immensely proud at what I was able to accomplish in just one year.

Naturally there were several things I had to give up in order to achieve that, like a life…no I’m kidding but I did literally eat chicken and brocolli all the time during my training and my boyfriend certainly didn’t get the time and attention he deserved during 2004.

So I’d hasten to add learning should be fun, give you a sense of achievement AND fit in with your lifestyle, not take over it. Much like my take on business supporting your lifestyle too.

So what else? Well Jon Lebreton from Sydney, Australia also shared 7 reasons why learning new things is important, what’s with the magic number of 7.

My favourites are, and I quote:

  1. You can grow as a person, develop your knowledge base and improve yourself for the better.
  2. Learning something new gets us access to new and different opportunities and the chance to try new experiences that might be the best ones you have ever tried
  3. You could potentially earn more money in your work life from learning a new and appropriate skill or by developing one that links to the work you do. You’ll rejuvenate your working life and get so much more from it.
  4. Developing a new skill will influence the way you do things day to day and they will make doing things quicker and easier, saving time, energy and stress.

While these are all obvious reasons, it’s worthwhile letting them sink in. Because at the end of the day scheduling in time to learn and the actual act of learning takes time and effort.

But the payoff can be phenomenal.

To cap off the benefits may I point you to a final article written by CCSU Continuing Education titles The Top 7 Benefits of Learning a New Skill seriously again 7 reasons? I swear I didn’t search on that specifically on Google!

The 3 most important ones they stated in my opinion are, and I quote

Your brain chemistry changes.

The white matter in your brain is called myelin, and it helps improve performance on a number of tasks. The more people practice a new skill they are learning, the more dense the myelin in their brains becomes, which helps them learn even better.

Your learning speed increases.

Learning a new skill helps you learn things faster over time. By stimulating neurons in the brain, more neural pathways are formed and electrical impulses travel faster across them as you attempt to process new information. The more pathways that are formed, the faster impulses can travel.

You could stave off dementia.

People who learn a new skill are less likely to develop dementia, which has been linked to demyelination of your brain. People who actively learn new skills don’t give their brains a chance to demyelinate, and their neural pathways are ready for new impulses to travel along them.

Perhaps the most important reason of all though is this….

Learning something new will make you happier

According to an article in Psychologies, I quote

‘It’s actually a core need for psychological wellbeing. Learning can help us build confidence and a sense of self-efficacy.

It can also be a way of connecting with others too,’ says Vanessa King, positive psychology expert at Action for Happiness. ‘As human beings, we have a natural desire to learn and progress. Psychologists call it mastery.’

There is evidence to suggest that adult learning seems to have its most positive impact on self-esteem and self-efficacy when the learning provided meets the needs of the learner, and when the learner is at a stage in their life when they are ready and receptive to benefit from it.

‘Learning also fuels our creativity. Ideas can come from making connections between seemingly unrelated things,’ says King.

‘Learning something new in one area of our lives can trigger ideas in another. So curiosity and creative thinking go hand-in-hand.’

This can also help with creating what psychologists call ‘flow’ or ‘being in the zone’ – when we’re so absorbed in what we’re doing, we lose sense of time and of ourselves.

‘It’s not passive, like when watching TV – it’s active,’ explains King. When we’re in flow, the level of challenge in the activity just exceeds our level of skill.

We’re also getting instant feedback from the activity on whether what we are trying is working, so we can adjust what we’re doing accordingly. As our skill increases, so does the challenge.

So there you have it, more than 7 reasons to learn something new. The reason I’ve researched into this, above and beyond my natural curiosity, is that it’s important to have a foundation of your why.

A strong why linked to learning on a daily basis will keep you motivated during times when you feel you can’t afford the time or energy to learn.

And in the next episode I’m going to be covering off on exactly that, the how of effective learning and hacking techniques to learn more in less time.

As well as the what. What on earth should you actually be learning?

Tune in on all good podcast platforms like Stitcher, iTunes and Anchor.

This episode is proudly brought to you by Freshbooks.

So you’re racing against the clock to wrap up 3 projects, prepping for a meeting later in the afternoon all while trying to tackle a mountain of paperwork. Welcome to life as a freelancer.

Challenging? Yes, but our friends at FreshBooks believe the rewards are so worth it.

The working world has changed. With the growth of the internet there’s never been more opportunities for the self-employed. To meet this need, FreshBooks is excited to announce the launch of an all new version of their cloud accounting software!

It’s been redesigned from the ground up and custom built for exactly the way you work. Get ready for the simplest way to be more productive, organized, and most importantly get paid quickly.

The all new FreshBooks is not only ridiculously easy to use, it’s also packed full of powerful features:

  • Create and send professional looking invoices in less than 30 seconds.
  • Set up online payments with just a couple of clicks and get paid up to 4 days faster.
  • See when your client has seen your invoice, and put an end to the guessing games.

Go to freshbooks.com/quest and enter Quest For Freedom in the how did you hear about section when signing up.

Get the latest blog post and episode delivered straight to your inbox.

Posted on / by Natalie / in Season 3 / 2

How to master self learning

How do you decide on what you should be self learning and the most effective way to do it?

That’s what Season 3 of Quest for Freedom is all about.

I’ll be talking about hacking the way in which we learn and going down the unconventional route of creating your own learning University, plus throwing some stats and interesting factoids at you about why the traditional route of education isn’t the best.

Before we dive in, I just want to give a quick update as to why you might even be listening to this podcast (and reading this blog).

So hey, it’s Natalie Sisson and I am on a quest for freedom for you in 2017 to uncover what you can do to simplify your life, feel connected, live mindfully and develop true personal and financial freedom.

In Season 1, I covered off around personal freedom and I really delved into that mindset freedom through meditation, through mindfulness.

In Season 2, I talked about business freedom and all about the business sabbatical that I went on where I essentially fired myself from my business for three months.

I shared the outcome, I shared the results and the journey of taking that much time for your business as well as flipping your life 180 degrees which was an added bonus.

Season 3 is about self learning, a topic that has always fascinated me because I believe that if we really want to truly grow and learn and later very fulfilled life we need to be constantly learning.

We need to stay curious.

And yet as we get bombarded more and more with information, how do you consume it in a way that feels good, that feels fun, that feels like you are actually developing, growing and taking things in?

Where you are not just consuming stuff because it’s in front of you. You are curating what you want to learn, what you read and what you take in.

And so that’s what this season is all about – self learning mastery.

I recently read an article on Quartz by Zat Rana called ‘If you want to be smarter, learn to say “I don’t know’”

The Value of “I Don’t Know”

When you think about it, acknowledging ignorance is actually productive.

Sometimes, the best answer is simply “I don’t know.”

Now, that isn’t to give you a reason to exercise indifference or to avoid making difficult decisions. It’s just about choosing to stick to your circle of competence and awareness.

At any given point, there’s only so much information we can make sense of. On a daily basis, there will be things we don’t understand.

If they aren’t relevant, it’s okay not to know. If they are, it’s better to take time to think.

This may seem fairly intuitive, and yet, the vast majority of people rarely find themselves comfortable enough to be at ease with not knowing.

Instead, they recite from memory whatever has been ingrained into their mind.

They would rather stand for something with a loose foundation, and they prefer certainty even after being challenged rather than to reconsider.

In the long-term, none of these tactics tend to lead to a healthy outlook.

“I don’t know” not only keeps us in our circle of competence and awareness where the risk of potential harm is low, but it also works as a feedback tool.

It’s a competitive advantage because it adds an incentive to critically break things down rather to take the easy way out. It forces us to get smarter.

There’s no point standing for something if you have a bad reason to do so.

Life is complex and messy, and it’s okay not to know everything. It’s fine to take time to form an opinion, and it’s useful to acknowledge ignorance.

We live in a world saturated with ideas, and not all of them are good, and not all of them are right for everyone.

Ask questions, be critical, and don’t be afraid to change your mind. There are no solid rules against doing so.

No one makes progress by standing in the same place, and we didn’t get to where we are by always being right. Everything is trial and error, and if you truly want to understand the world, you have to be comfortable with that.

It’s okay to open your mind.

I want to share with you that I’m experimenting with up to 60 minutes of active learning EVERY Day.

Apparently it’s good enough for Oprah and Bill Gates and other super smart, successful people.

I’m doing this because if I can’t even commit that amount of time to invest in my myself, and in my mind, then I’m clearly saying I’m not worth it.

Robin Sharma believes you can grow effortlessly in 60 minutes and unlock your hero potential.

Robin is considered to be one of the top 5 leadership experts in the world.

His work is embraced by rock stars, royalty, billionaires and many celebrity CEOs, so again I’m going to heed his advice and suggest you do too.

Listen to the podcast to get the snippet of him talking to Vishen Lakhiani, founder of MindValley, about why 60 minutes of learning each day can unlock your Superpowers.

They go on to discuss Traffic University – as in listening to a podcast when you’re stuck in traffic and learning something new.

Or Running College – where when you’re out running you go with someone you can learn from, or again you listen to an audiobook or educational podcast.

Or School of Walking – same concept.  Listen to a course while you are walking.

The real point being – anything that you’re doing you can be learning – working out, grocery shopping, walking to your airport gate.

What you feed your mind is ultimately what you will believe and become.

So why not take the time to curate it carefully with what you WANT to expand your mind with, not narrow your mind.

So how do you go about self learning anything faster and better?

Well as part of my self learning I’ve been looking into this.

In Elle Kaplan’s Medium article she shared some tactics on this very topic.

In fact Elle quotes research that says Robin Sharma’s 60 minute principle is 10 minutes too long.

And I quote:

“Ellen Dunn of Louisiana State University explains that “anything less than 30 [minutes] is just not enough, but anything more than 50 is too much information for your brain to take in at one time.”

To put this into practice, make sure you’re scheduling your learning sessions for short bursts of time, using quick methods like flashcards.

Schedule at least a 10-minute break between sessions to give your brain some much-needed R&R.”

Elle also quotes Tim Ferriss who seems intent on hacking everything in life from your brain to food to health.

“He says you should focus first on the most important 20 percent of what you’re trying to learn, which will actually cover 80 percent of what you need to know.

Ask yourself: What are the most important elements that yield the biggest return on investment?

For example, if you’re learning a foreign language — what 20 percent of words are used 80 percent of the time?”

When I read that I instantly thought to myself: But of course!

I mean this is the Pareto rule we’re talking about here, where you aim to focus on the 20% of whatever it is that you do, that gets you 80% of the results.

I typically apply that in business whenever I can, but I hadn’t thought about applying it to learning before, and frankly I’ve no idea why!

Why do we learn all this extraneous stuff that doesn’t serve us, instead of narrowly focusing in on the most important.

Now to find a language app that does just that….anyone have the answer to that? I’m happy to put my hand up and say “I don’t know”.

And the final tip I liked most in her article was this one:

Think about modifying your self-teaching techniques as you learn.

A Johns Hopkins study found that “if you perform a slightly modified version of a task you want to master, you actually learn more and faster than if you just keep practicing the exact same thing multiple times in a row.”

If you use flashcards in one session, think about a more hands-on method the next time, or listening to a podcast or webinar. This will help your brain remember and recall information at a quicker rate.”

So I think that’s enough learning for today, I wanted to start off light, and build up over Season 3.

That way I won’t lose you in information overload.

Instead I’ll help to expand your mind in the best possible way, and learn more than ever before, that’s actually relevant to you and even better, curated by you.

More on that in the next episode when I bring on Phoebe for more insights.

This episode is proudly brought to you by Freshbooks.

So you’re racing against the clock to wrap up 3 projects, prepping for a meeting later in the afternoon all while trying to tackle a mountain of paperwork. Welcome to life as a freelancer.

Challenging? Yes, but our friends at FreshBooks believe the rewards are so worth it.

The working world has changed. With the growth of the internet there’s never been more opportunities for the self-employed. To meet this need, FreshBooks is excited to announce the launch of an all new version of their cloud accounting software!

It’s been redesigned from the ground up and custom built for exactly the way you work. Get ready for the simplest way to be more productive, organized, and most importantly get paid quickly.

The all new FreshBooks is not only ridiculously easy to use, it’s also packed full of powerful features:

  • Create and send professional looking invoices in less than 30 seconds.
  • Set up online payments with just a couple of clicks and get paid up to 4 days faster.
  • See when your client has seen your invoice, and put an end to the guessing games.

Go to freshbooks.com/quest and enter Quest For Freedom in the how did you hear about section when signing up.

Get the latest blog post and episode delivered straight to your inbox.

Posted on / by Natalie / in Season 2 / 3

When too much change is dangerous

In my previous episode called ‘You are the answer’ I talked about the results on my business that my sabbatical had.

Namely all the changes I made before taking time off – new website, new brand, new systems – and how they initially negatively affected the business.

I think this is partly because it was too much change all at once.

Now, fortunately the changes are making a positive impact on my business and the results we track weekly. But it seemed pretty dire at the time!

Then I realized that this happened in my personal life too, with the complete 180 degree flip I’ve made since April.

I tell you, business is one thing but massive life changes are something else!

As Shana Aborn said in her article Coping with Life Changes:

“For many of us, disruption to familiar routine sparks anything from mild anxiety to extreme terror.

Maybe something’s been pushed on us, like being downsized or getting sick. Just as likely, we’ve made a risky but necessary choice, like relocating to a new town or having our elderly parents move in with us.

Shift happens, like it or not—that’s part of the human adventure. Then why do we resist so much?

It’s partly a natural fear of the unfamiliar. People think of change as something dangerous. But it helps to remember all the ways your life has been altered in the past and realize that not only did you not keel over and die, things often turned out for the better.”

I’ve never been afraid of change, I’ve always welcomed it with open arms. The very nature of how I’ve lived my life for the last seven years is testament to that fact.

Changing locations every couple of weeks has meant a constant barrage of change – new surroundings, often a new language, new people to meet and things to learn – all the time.

This is something that many people find daunting, but I really love.

Or did, until that time that I felt like slowing down a little, having a base I can call my own and being surrounded by more nature, less fast paced city life.

But the changes I made come April 5th, when Josh and I flew back from Bali to move into our new property, a huge house with 2.5 acres of land, have actually thrown me completely.

It was too much change, too fast and I completely underestimated this.

While my friends and community were quick to point out that it was a massive shift in how I live my life and that it must be quite the shock, I saw it as exciting.

Let’s put it in perspective.

  • I went 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.
  • I went from being single in December to a loving full-time relationship, and 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.
  • I went from zero responsibility to this mortgage, getting a puppy a week after moving in and five chickens the week after.
  • From 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).
  • I went from 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 NO work.
  • And I went from eternal summers traveling the world to my first ever autumn (fall) and winter. And that was probably the biggest kicker – I hate being cold.

So with all that in mind, no wonder I’ve had moments of doubt, and even mild depression – or more rather feeling simply lost.

I had literally taken everything that is my identity – travel, my suitcase entrepreneur brand, business and singledom and thrown it out the window!

Too much change all at once.

It didn’t hit me straight away, but I can definitely see the path now, and why even just a few weeks ago, I was still feeling demotivated and lost.

The initial three to four weeks were pure excitement due to what I term ‘Project Set up House’  which involved constant daily checking of Trademe.co.nz (like eBay and Gumtree) and winning auctions and buying used furniture.

I was shopping for house stuff, and then going to collect it via trucks we hired – doing it DIY style – super fun by the way, but a lot of organization and effort.

Then it became settling in and a few ongoing projects and trips to get other things we needed ike bins and ‘domestic bliss’ items as I call them, that you just don’t realize you need until you’ve been living in a house for a while.

Next up we collected Kayla, my adorable White German Shepherd eight week old puppy within just one week of moving in.

To be honest I had NO idea how much energy a puppy has and how much attention and training you need to do with them, and for yourself.

It was constant supervision and learning, coupled with lots of beautiful moments, followed by pain, bites, scratching, peeing, pooping and me yelling or losing the plot.

Now I know how it feels to have a low maintenance kid over an intense period!

Yes it’s like having a kid, but luckily you can put them in their happy place (aka crate) when you need some time out.

That was my other problem, I spent too much time with Kayla, wanting to be the best puppy Mum and learning as much as I could through books and videos about her training.

I didn’t give myself time out, instead I became rather isolated out in our home at the same time Josh’s business schedule turned into a full on one, that saw him leaving the house on the 6:45am train and getting back after 7pm.

For a social butterfly like me I severely underestimated how much human connection I crave and require to feel motivated, valuable and helpful.

Not having the workload from my business was pure bliss but at the same time quite a transition as it’s all I know.

And to not have to worry about it suddenly meant I threw myself into online learning taking a number of interesting and varied courses on areas I don’t know much about.

I also had to train myself not to watch, monitor and get caught up in what other entrepreneurs were doing.

Hence the previous episode about not playing the comparison game but instead being your own No #1 fan and believing in your abilities.

At one point I was raring to dive into something new and start a fresh business project, but I restrained myself as I knew, at that stage, I didn’t have enough energy yet for that.

It also wasn’t the solution I was after. I just needed to be and stop doing.

Which brings me to a conversation I had last week with my dear friend Gideon Shalwick, who himself has gone through many reinventions himself in the last four years, from personal brand and video expert, to starting a new video software business and more.

He’s been digging into and learning a lot about the Universal Cycles of Change via Tim and Kris Hallbom over at The Wealthy Mind.

I had never heard about it, so before I share our snippet of conversation I wanted to give you and I some background on it because it’s juicy stuff and it’s important.

Universal Cycles of Change

According to the Academy of Leadership Coaching and NLP there are seven change patterns that govern our lives.

In a business context, leaders who are able to embrace this cycle often emerge stronger and more emotionally aware and understand how to best support themselves and their team members through change.

  1. Creation

The word creation evokes pictures of new beginnings. It is the beginning of a new life event – the starting point that typically begins with an idea or an action.

This could be the start of new business, or a new stage of leadership development.

Creation marks the point where we begin our journey. It is an “X” marks the spot kind of moment – and once we move from that location, a new journey starts.

  1. Growth

From the moment creation begins we start to grow. We develop and become “self-organizing.”

This means is that once the creation takes place, new patterns of behavior start to develop, and the system organizes itself around the original creation.

For example once a new business is launched, the business owner needs to start making plans – this could be product development, marketing plans, new clients and new staff.

The business has taken its shape as a business (it was created), and now it is starting to grow.

  1. Steady State

A steady state is a place of great comfort.

It has past the point of creation and through the pains of growth to a place of what feels like you have arrived. It is a place where all systems are go and are firing correctly.

Everything is moving forward as planned and everyone is in their sweet spot. It is a position to which most leaders aspire.

And, if leaders are not careful, it can also become a point of complacency which will inevitably lead to the next phase in the cycle

  1. Turbulence

I have heard it said that we are either in a crisis, coming out of a crisis or heading back into a crisis.

Turbulence occurs when the system becomes too complex, or we become lax in our preparation, and problems begin to develop.

Times of turbulence can be viewed in two ways depending upon the maturity of the leader. They can be used as a warning sign to right the ship and get back on track, or they can be ignored.

Ignorance, however, often leads to chaos.

  1. Chaos

Chaos is when the system begins to fall apart.

It is past the point of the bumps and jolts of turbulence to a full blown tail spin. It is the time when leaders need to take control before something catastrophic happens.

  1. Dropping Off

Dropping off is the point of acceptance for many leaders. It is often the lowest point in the cycle of change.

The point when an individual has no other recourse but to let go and move on.

It could be closing a door on a failed business and moving elsewhere or getting rid of a caustic employee. It can be painful, but also should be viewed as an important turning point in the cycle.

It is the point when a leader takes control.

In order to move forward through a difficult life challenge, we often need to let go of a limiting belief, a dysfunctional relationship, change a behavior or reorganize how we view the world.

This allows us to make the space to create something wonderfully new.

  1. `Meditation & Dormancy

Meditation and inward silence (dormancy) are the final point in the Universal Cycles of Change.

Just as a tree stands without leaves in the brisk cold winter, leaders need to “be” like the tree, standing in the moment and accepting who they are and where they have been placed.

It might be uncomfortable for a while, but meditating and inward silence can be very healing and ultimately can set the tone for a new Universal Cycle of Change, creativity and growth.

So now you have that context, let’s pick up with Gideon and I.

Gideon: “I am so glad that you took that sabbatical.

It’s so important that you go through this stages of the droppings off, and the shedding where you let go or prune something off, and then you just have a break.

If you jump straight from the chaos stage to a new creative cycle, then you end up taking that back with you and you don’t rest.

You are just depleting the tank more and more.

So you might get a bit of energy from this new creative process but if you didn’t deal with that previous cycle properly, it holds you back on the next cycle.”

Natalie: It’s so true because I think back to where I’ve tried to step back a little before and take a small break. It helps you for a little.

Then there have been times where you’ve been excited by say, maybe another business idea.

But I am really proud of myself because I have had that moment and I thought, ‘Is it just exciting because it’s totally new and therefore it gives me energy right now?’

What about coming back to what I’ve got and getting re-energized about the stuff that I know I love and I’m good at, and that’s where I think I’ve got to on that stage now.

But I needed that break and then I needed to come back with a new perspective and go, “You are not throwing all that hard work away, all that credibility and all the things you’ve built up.”

Just come at it with a fresh perspective and improve upon the bits that you really believe in and you think are amazing.

And that’s why with the Freedom Plan I have this whole new perspective about it. I want to have this freedom tracker, some apps and make it world class.

And that is new to me yet that’s my core offering. So that’s where I came to in this circle as you said.

Gideon: We understand this cycle and that each stage is really important. It gives you perspective but also patience.

For this latest cycle that I went through, I realized that I was actually in the rest phase. Previously I would try and rush it.

But then I just went “Screw it.

I am not going to push anything. I am just going to sit back and I don’t care what happens.

I am going to let the universe share me what is the next step.

When have you found yourself rushing into the next thing because it feels energizing?

Only to realize after a few months your energy is depleted again and your motivation is waning. As Gideon points out, that’s because you really haven’t dealt with the shit that was holding you back or troubling you before. You’ve just transferred your attention on to the next bright shiny object.

Back to my business sabbatical story….

I had a beautiful period where the weather was amazing, where I could finally take Kayla out into the public (post her vaccinations), and we started discovering beautiful nature bush walks.

I also was loving the house more and more, as well as pottering in the garden and being outside.

I was becoming truly grateful for this amazing location and our joint vision for what it could become.

I had new friends I’d made starting to come over each Tuesday for coworking sessions and things felt good.

But then things shifted.

Josh wasn’t here at all during the weekdays, our workouts in our crossfit barn gym had stopped, the weather was getting colder and the novelty of this new life started wearing off.

I’d scan my Instagram and Facebook feed to see beautiful photos and videos of friends in exotic locations and for the first time ever I could see how my life ‘used’ to look to others – damn it looked amazing.

The odd thing was I didn’t want to be there, but I did want the feeling of what they were experiencing.

And I missed Portugal – as I would have been there in my three bedroom town house and learning to surf, if we hadn’t bought here.

So how did I get myself out of this funk of too much change?

Well it took some work. It helped that my Science of Happiness course was taking me through the stages of empathy, kindness, compassion and mindfulness.

I was putting that into practice.

I talked it through with friends, I read up a little on it, and mostly I stepped back to see what was really going on to change how I was feeling.

In Shana’s article, she shared this advice, that I hope is valuable for you if you’re going through change:

“Fighting what’s happening just leads to frustration and keeps you from growing to your full potential. When you try to put your life in a box and keep it the same all the time, you’re making something dead out of it.

Welcoming new things can even be good for your health. People who greet what life offers with curiosity have stronger immune systems and live longer.

The first step is realizing that even though you can’t control what pops up in your life, you can alter how you react. When change happens, say yes. Learn and grow from it.

Taking a live-in-the-moment attitude will help keep you from miring yourself in what-ifs and should-haves.

The most important thing to remember, though, is that you already have the inner resources to make the most out of anything that comes your way.

Bring out your natural resiliency by taking a look at how you can deal with six of life’s most common upheavals.”

How I handled it was slightly different. I pretty much NEVER get down or depressed, but after two many weeks of waking up and feeling lost, unmotivated and down, Josh and I had a heart to heart, and here’s what I came up.

Five Ways To Get Yourself Over Too Much Change All At Once

And here are my five tips.

  1. Focus on quality time.

We both agreed to make more time for each other, that he would get some time off teaching in his business and we’d take long weekends or have days together here at home. Essentially we’d spend more quality time together.

As an entrepreneur I appreciate some periods in your life are just going to be crazy and full on and you need to show up to them 100%, and Josh is going through one of those periods.

But I could also see how it was draining him and therefore me, even though we supportive of each other.

Once we acknowledged that things became a lot better instantly and we felt so much more connected.

  1. Make time for you.

I started putting Kayla into dog daycare once a week and heading into town to cowork, meet with friends and entrepreneurs and enjoy the city vibe.

I also started meeting more people in the area we now live, making friends and going for dog walks, having them over to visit or visiting them and making time for lunches or meetups.

  1. Wallow where necessary.

That may sound odd but too quickly we try to come up with solutions and find the answer.

I purposefully wallowed in how I was feeling, on the good moments and bad ones and asked myself how I was feeling, what did I think the cause was and could I shift it with an attitude reset, or a change in activity or scene?

Practicing mindfulness, like I discussed in this Mind Your Mindfulness really helped to be aware and present, and not listen to the voice inside my head, that at the time, was not helpful at all!

  1. Embrace the seasons.

I’m a summer baby, but this has been a particularly beautiful winter in New Zealand with more sunshine than ever. We are also blessed to have two fantastic woodburners that pelt out the heat.

So I started to appreciate clear blue skies on these wintery days, the sunshine and the opportunity to rug up and go walking with my gorgeous puppy.

I also got over my minimalist suitcase self, and simply bought warmer clothes which made me feel much better and more inclined to get out and about.

I lit more fires, drank more hot herbal teas and nourished myself with homemade soups.

I also started the 30 Day Yoga Challenge with Adrienne – can’t recommend her free YouTube Channel enough. She’s an angel.

I notice the effects of yoga on my body and mind very quickly. I felt amazing.

The seasons are here for a reason, as I read in Elizabeth Peru’s Global Energy Report (if you’re into that kind of thing, I’m experimenting with reading it daily and taking what I need from it).

Winter is the time for focused project work and doing, spring is time for launching and summer is the time to take off and enjoy the fruits of your labour.

So I am focusing my efforts on upgrading and transforming my content, my Freedom Plan program and my offerings.

  1. Learn, grow and relearn.

A lot of the stories that were circulating in my head simply needed to be replaced with better ones. I needed to take control of my own attitude and focus on what I wanted.

Even when I got sick and was feeling less than sure on what the heck I was doing, I knew that it was up to me to CHOOSE what I wanted to happen.

And for me that meant reading inspiring books – both novels and business related, learning new things from online courses, meeting new people and getting involved.

Like running popup coworking trials in Upper Hutt to connect with more entrepreneurs (and making the news).

I coupled this with relearning.

A big part of my sabbatical was to get a fresh perspective and I’ve since fallen back in love with the foundations of why I started my business and what made it successful in the first place.

I’ve been conducting interviews with Freedom Plan Alumni members and getting jazzed up at making it a World Class experience when I relaunch it in spring.

I’ve been doing interviews for podcasts and sharing my story and this new story and it’s been super cathartic for me and great for the interviewers who’ve loved hearing the rawness of it.

I’ve taken opportunities I’d been saying no to on my sabbatical and they’d reenergized me and fed my soul.

It led to me being on stage with Roger Hamilton at Fast Forward Your Business the day I was officially back in business, and getting interviewed by NBR (National Business Review) this week!

And while in Melbourne Josh and I did our three year Life Plan together which was huge, because I finally had the clarity and energy to know what I want out of life, business and love over the next three years.

So those are my five major takeaways on my Quest for Freedom….for now.

And it seems a solid place to round out Season 2 before embarking on next season where I’m going to head into the realm of Self Learning and Mastery.

Never lose sight of the ability to design your freedom lifestyle around what you most want.

This episode is proudly brought to you by Freshbooks.

So you’re racing against the clock to wrap up 3 projects, prepping for a meeting later in the afternoon all while trying to tackle a mountain of paperwork. Welcome to life as a freelancer.

Challenging? Yes, but our friends at FreshBooks believe the rewards are so worth it.

The working world has changed. With the growth of the internet there’s never been more opportunities for the self-employed. To meet this need, FreshBooks is excited to announce the launch of an all new version of their cloud accounting software!

It’s been redesigned from the ground up and custom built for exactly the way you work. Get ready for the simplest way to be more productive, organized, and most importantly get paid quickly.

The all new FreshBooks is not only ridiculously easy to use, it’s also packed full of powerful features:

  • Create and send professional looking invoices in less than 30 seconds.
  • Set up online payments with just a couple of clicks and get paid up to 4 days faster.
  • See when your client has seen your invoice, and put an end to the guessing games.

Go to freshbooks.com/quest and enter Quest For Freedom in the how did you hear about section when signing up.

Get the latest blog post and episode delivered straight to your inbox.

Posted on / by Natalie / in Season 2 / 1

You are the answer

So I promised to tell you what I think the biggest lesson from my business sabbatical was as well as the result that I got from it. And for me it’s this: it’s time for me to back me. To believe in myself.

I think it’s time for us all to back ourselves.

And what do I even mean by that?

Basically, to me, it’s about serving up your own delicious cocktail, alcoholic or non-alcoholic and being happy with what you are drinking. It’s like drinking your own goodness. It’s talking about you and why you rock versus everybody else.

So basically it’s being a bit of a celebrity in your own right and believing in yourself!

I think I’ve mentioned this in the past couple of episodes where I talked about the Power of a Business Sabbatical, is that the biggest thing for me in having time off and away from my business is, that I had to get past some really bad feelings when I got to thinking.

I’m talking about the dangerous and pointless ‘comparison game’ or thoughts like ‘What have I actually done? What have I actually achieved? Have I made an impact? Who am I to have built this business over 7 years? Oh my goodness. I’ve done nothing!’

Yes, all this crap came out of it.

Once I got through this little moment of self-doubt I was like, ‘Wait a minute. I’ve done some pretty fantastic things. I’ve published a best selling book on Amazon. And that’s now been picked up by Simon & Schuster and the third edition is coming out this September!

I finally got to speak on stage at TEDx and I get paid to speak around the world.

I’ve built a multiple six figure business that has been that way for several years and I’ve been in business for 7 years. That’s no mean feat!

I started reading back through people’s lovely emails and just seeing the impact that I’ve made.

And then I even put a post up on Facebook a couple of weeks back before ending this business sabbatical, when I was having a little moment of doubt and asked:

‘What is it that you actually think is my superpower?’

It was absolutely overwhelmingly beautiful how many people commented and how they saw me versus how I saw myself.

The long and the short of what I took away from all of these people commenting: friends and clients and just people on Facebook was, “Natalie I think you help people to believe in themselves. You show them what’s possible and how amazing they can be.”

That came through as one of the most common aspects of my superpower.

Which is so incredible right? Because I wouldn’t have necessarily seen myself that way and inspire people to take action. Yet that is exactly what I desire to do, day in and day out.

I have a broad depth of knowledge across a range of topics that helps entrepreneurs to build and design their perfect freedom lifestyle and business.

Believing in yourself

I think the most important thing about the business sabbatical was to step back, reflect and come back to this point of I have built and designed a business that I love that fits and supports my ideal lifestyle.

At the time that I’m recording this I am sitting in front of a gorgeous fireplace. My puppy is sleeping to my right. The sun has gone down. It’s been a beautiful day.

I’ve co-worked with a friend. We’ve come up with some entrepreneur business ideas about where we want to head next, grow and what we want to be doing next.

So I am excited again and I’ve got my mojo back. I’m almost over being sick and I am ready to drink my own Koolaid in the best possible way.

So what are the results of my Business Sabbatical?

From a Google Analytics point of view, website visits have actually gone up and down over the space of that three months, which shows that if you stop posting content on your blog which we’d pretty much have done throughout May, June and July, if you got great organic reach and you’ve got excellent content and articles from years before, your traffic is going to remain pretty consistent.

People are still going to be finding you on your site.

My email optins have stayed fairly consistent and because I haven’t been emailing at all and that my team didn’t email much I’ve had way fewer unsubscribes. So my net positive effect is pretty good.

I canned all my advertising during the last three months so I haven’t actively promoted outside of my normal social media posts my assistant does.

I’ve only just started doing interviews again, so basically over the three months there was a net gain in website traffic after a dip thanks to some Google algorithms that probably didn’t help, and then my traffic came back.

My subscribers have stayed pretty consistent and I haven’t lost as many because I haven’t been emailing as much.

And from an online sales point of view, that dropped quite significantly. Because I wasn’t promoting anything. I wasn’t doing anything new. I wasn’t actually there behind my business. There were no Facebook ads going on. There was no other form of advertising and as I mentioned the content stopped as well.

I am actually quite happy that the months have been fairly good when I look at the sponsorship for this podcast and online sales continued to come in, as well as other affiliate sales that came through during that time.

So it has been a really positive three business months.

Now I am raring to go to really amp up the revenue, amp up the business impact and also I have a couple of businesses in mind that I will be embarking on, researching, validating and prototyping for the first time in seven years of just having one business.

I guess that gives you some insight behind a business sabbatical. For me it wasn’t a massive growth during that time, nor did I expect it to be.

I actually expected a decline in my business if I am going to be really honest but luckily it sailed pretty steady. Slight dips and then growth.

I really attribute that to fantastic systems, to having great sales funnels in place, to having a small and nimble team and for a wonderful community who continue to support me throughout.

It just shows that after seven years in business all the things that you’ve done leading up to that point stand you in good stead, that if you really have a good foundations nothing tragic is going to happen and that by not being actively behind or running your business it will not die.

It will not fall over without you if you’ve put those systems in place.

I feel pretty happy about that.

On this important point, I wanted to share with you an excerpt from my friend Amy Schmittauer, the vlogging boss.

I saw her blog post about how she hasn’t had a break in 2 years and how she was giving herself permission to go on a two week vacation. In this blog post she almost sounded like she had to convince herself that that was a good thing.

So I asked her to record her favorite part of the blog post, I Haven’t Made a Decision Like This in a Long Time. Here are her nuggets of wisdom.

“This is typical practice for me. Fit in the free time when I can. Fit in family when it works out.

One of the things I most Iooked forward to when I started working for myself full-time in 2011 was the fact that I could decide to do this whenever I wanted. Not having to worry about whether a boss approved of it 2-weeks ahead of time.

I can take the afternoon. I can take the day. I can take a week.

Hell. I can take a vacation.

It’s not very often that I actually take advantage of my business ownership perks though. I love what I do and it keeps me busy and fulfilled. Genuinely.

But upon coming back from a business trip last week, I was exhausted. I started to think about how I’ve been feeling lately. So tired and busy. I’ve been talking about 2017 like it’s already over and it’s May!

We have multiple trips and events planned every month for the rest of the year such as speaking engagements, client business trips, family visits, our wedding and the parties around it. So. Much. Awesome.

Our honeymoon is planned for January of next year because that’s the earliest we’ve been able to fit it in. I finally started to wrap my mind around that while on this plane ride home and thought , “Is that going to be the next time I get to just take a break?”.

It suddenly became an overwhelming feeling. A tired feeling. Then I thought, “when was the last time I took a vacation?”

To finish off, I want to share a couple of things back when I was talking to my friend Lauren Parsons, and we were discussing what I’ve learned out of this experience and what I wanted to do.

She summarized it in an email back to me and I thought I’d share it here, as this was around 2 months ago but it still stands:

  • You mentioned being in a transition period career wise with your move back to NZ. (I had no idea how much an impact that has actually made on me. How much changing your entire life can mess with your identity)
  • Following a lack of energy which started Sept 2016 you want to move towards more people coming to you, more off line, in person. Fewer people, bigger results.
  • 1 year from now you want to:
    • Have had a successful re-launch of my updated Suitcase Entrepreneur book (It’s happening in September)
    • Work as a paid writer, speaker and influencer
    • Successfully rely on my properties for income
    • Be able to invest my time as I wish and volunteer in ways that are fulfilling that I choose
    • Be able to enjoy the right balance of art, fitness, time with my puppy, Kayla and to create the retreat lifestyle property that I want (and of course Josh!)
    • Spend 3-5 days at home enjoying nature/animals etc with some national travel and one international trip each year at least
    • Ultimately to feel light hearted, joyful, powerful, energised (by my work and people I spend time with) and in alignment with my purpose
    • The biggest barrier may be me – saying yes to things and busyness

We talked about scheduling in time for the key things that I WANT to have in my  life and prioritising these first which includes focusing on ‘Reclaiming My Time’ through:

  • 1 hour per day invested in learning
  • 2+ hours being active outdoors (in every season)
  • 3-4 hours of focused effective work time

Something that came out of this is I said I will complete my own Perfect Day exercise that I take all my Freedom Plan members through and my three year vision – working title Freedom Vision Map.

At the time when I chatted with Lauren about this, I just couldn’t complete it. There was nothing concrete there that made me want to jump up and do it.

I am really pleased to say that over the weekend when I was in Melbourne with Josh, the four days that I had out there were just fantastic and were so good for me just to get away from it all, and go into the new city,  have a timeout and just be in a new environment.

On Monday we were so motivated we sat back and did our three year plan together in the space of half an hour or an hour.

So now I am going to put that into my Freedom Vision Map and I am going to share it with you guys. It’s the first time in a couple of years that I’ve done one and it’s going to be completely different to my last one where I’ve achieved a lot of that. My whole emphasis has changed now.

I hope you’ve enjoyed coming along with me on this ride of the sabbatical.

And now back into work and to several different areas that I’m looking at, that I’ll be sharing here soon.

I hope that you’ve been able to hear my process as I’ve been going through this and understand and learn from it just as much as I have.

As I said, you will consider taking time out for you to get perspective, to get creative, to get re-energized and to totally make sure that you are aligned with what you truly want out of life.

This episode is proudly brought to you by Freshbooks.

So you’re racing against the clock to wrap up 3 projects, prepping for a meeting later in the afternoon all while trying to tackle a mountain of paperwork. Welcome to life as a freelancer.

Challenging? Yes, but our friends at FreshBooks believe the rewards are so worth it.

The working world has changed. With the growth of the internet there’s never been more opportunities for the self-employed. To meet this need, FreshBooks is excited to announce the launch of an all new version of their cloud accounting software!

It’s been redesigned from the ground up and custom built for exactly the way you work. Get ready for the simplest way to be more productive, organized, and most importantly get paid quickly.

The all new FreshBooks is not only ridiculously easy to use, it’s also packed full of powerful features:

  • Create and send professional looking invoices in less than 30 seconds.
  • Set up online payments with just a couple of clicks and get paid up to 4 days faster.
  • See when your client has seen your invoice, and put an end to the guessing games.

Go to freshbooks.com/quest and enter Quest For Freedom in the how did you hear about section when signing up.

Get the latest blog post and episode delivered straight to your inbox.

Posted on / by Natalie / in Season 2

Your Daily Freedom Routine

As my three month business sabbatical comes to an end, I’ve realized that you can have a little sabbatical every single day of your life by using your daily freedom routine.

Through practicing what I talked about in Season 1, Mindfulness, Meditation and breathing – these things alone give you headspace and a beautiful perspective of space and ease in your everyday life.

I am studying these very things right now studying that through “The Science of Happiness” on edX, which is an awesome online platform of amazing courses from incredible universities around the world, many for free! I am actually going to be revisiting a lot of what I spoke about in Season 1 back before I knew so little and now I’ve learned so much.

It has absolutely opened my mind how every single day it’s the little things that you do in 10, 20 or 30 minutes of time that all radically change how you feel and how much more freedom you have.

In this episode, I am going to talk about your daily freedom routine because I think it’s really important.

Before I jump into that I just want to share with you a snippet from Hilary Rushford’s Elegant Excellence video series.

Hilary went on a sabbatical about a year ago for three months as well. She talks about the fact that there was never going to be another time like now when she’d have all this time to read, relax, chill out and learn.

And when I first listened to it I was like, “Yeah I think you are right!”, but now having been on a sabbatical when I have all the time to read, relax and learn you still don’t because it is a journey.

It is ongoing. It is an everyday commitment to being your best self, to giving yourself the space and time to be.

Here is the snippet and her insights are really valuable:

“I’ve now built what is now over a million dollar revenue a year business in the first five years. And for me, three months into my sabbatical I just realized, I am not doing the things that I wanted to do.

I am not changing in the ways that I wanted to change. There’s still those things on my list where “I am wishing that I have more time to do” things. And here I am on sabbatical, one of the most times ever.

So I really just started to dive in and explore why are we not doing these things?

And I think one big reason for me is that I have these visions of “It’s got to be done perfect. It’s got to be this epic change. It’s got to be hours of a week. I’ve got to commit to it now for every single day for eternity”.

That’s wonderful but it so rarely happens.

And so challenging myself to just take 10 minutes a day. Commit just 10 days and to not do things in some perfect epic change but just something, just take a step.

Make a small step towards what I think is the biggest game changer that not enough people talk about in business which is you as a CEO, your joy, your peace, your rest, your emotional health, your ability to make big decisions, your ability to tune into your gut and what you really want.

And I think the reality is that so many of us are exhausted, anxious, overwhelmed, depressed, unhappy. We want this to be just a little bit easier but we are not actually doing the steps to make the change.”

And then recently I received an email from Suzi Dafnis who owns herbusiness.com and she said this:

Since starting my business 23 years ago, I’ve been given lots of advice. And, one of the best pieces of advice I ever got was to hit the “pause button”.

What? Wasn’t I meant to be hustling?

Pushing? Striving?

Nope.

There have been times where what I really needed to do, was pause.

Pausing is not stopping.

Pausing is simply taking time to reflect, recharge and renew – free from distractions and free from the daily push and pull of commitments and catering to others’ expectations.

In his book Thank You for Being Late, the New York Times best-selling author, Thomas Friedman writes:

“… opting to pause and reflect, rather than panic or withdraw, is a necessity. It is not a luxury or a distraction — it is a way to increase the odds that you’ll better understand, and engage productively with, the world around you.”

‘When you press the pause button on a machine, it stops. But when you press the pause button on human beings they start,’ argues my friend and teacher Dov Seidman, CEO of LRN, which advises global businesses on ethics and leadership.

You start to reflect, you start to rethink your assumptions, you start to reimagine what is possible. And most importantly, you start to reconnect with your most deeply held beliefs. Once you’ve done that, you can begin to reimagine a better path.”

Choosing to pause has been hard.

Up front, it’s felt expensive and like an investment I couldn’t afford. I had so much to do, so many commitments and deadlines.

Looking back, I know that had I not made the investment in pausing, I would not be where I am today.

I would not have made important pivots and changes that have allowed me to stay in business, to continue to evolve, to keep loving my business — and to stay relevant and producing results.

This October I am taking time out to ‘pause’ once again.

Thank you Suzy for those wonderful wise words!

That’s exactly what I’ve found on this business sabbatical where little times business-y things would creep back in, where I am tempted to check on email or how things were going.

But when I wasn’t and when I was just being, enjoying and learning, I was back in my creative zone.

I have had so many wonderful thoughts, ideas and improvements that I want to make.

I’ve got my mojo back for my business!

I’ve also got a whole new perspective on it that I just couldn’t see before I took a break. Because I wasn’t giving myself space to pause, reflect and observe.

I recently spoke to my friend Colin Wright of Exile Lifestyle, who like me for so many years has been location independent, and every three months lets his community choose where he is going to travel next.

I had emailed him about my Suitcase Entrepreneur book and updating his story in it since the third edition is coming out in September. Woohoo!

A post shared by Natalie Sisson (@nataliesisson) on

Colin told me what he’s been up to and I was really really blown away that he had just taken a year out from it all:

“I’ve been meaning to learn to cook for years, and finally got around to doing that; I have made every meal for almost a year and am loving it as a craft. I’ve also wanted to learn to play the piano, and to learn some music production skills to go along with the guitaring and singing I’ve always done, so that’s also been quite rewarding.

Beyond that, I wanted to do really, truly boring things, like buy furniture, because I haven’t done so since 2009.

I haven’t owned a car in all the time, and I was curious how I would use such things, and live such a life, now that I’ve done so many other things and been so many other places.

Getting mail is a novelty, as is having reliable and consistent internet access and electricity. So bizarre how much cultural understanding is dependent on having these things.

So many things I could understand intellectually, but not really get. I do get them now, though, to some degree.

I’m sure you can relate to that — do anything long enough, and it becomes a little bit predictable.

And the one thing I kept coming back to that scared me a little was holding still in one place for a bit, buying my own furniture, and owning a car. Weird, but the concept was mildly frightening to me. So, of course, I had to do it :)”

I just love that people around me are doing what they need to do to pause, to reflect, to recharge, to re energize, to take these many sabbaticals from not only their business but their everyday life.

So if you are like, “Natalie, I can’t take three months off!”

Well, first off, I challenge you, you should be able to. It’s your life. You get to choose.

And I appreciate other things get in the way, you might have commitments and family but instead today I am offering you up a few doses of daily freedom routines that you can include to have a more simplistic, beautiful day and those little moments to yourself.

I got some of my freedomists and my Freedom Plan community to share some of their daily freedom routines.

Daily Freedom Routine Ideas

The first is from Fiona Hall:

“My freedom chores in the morning I journal three questions. This helps me get my mind see it really fresh and ready for the day. The first question I ask is what am I curious about?

That’s from Elizabeth Gilbert’s book “Big Magic”. I love that question. It gets my mind into problem-solving mind and I always come up with something new and exciting for myself.

The next question I ask is how am I feeling? Because if I don’t acknowledge how I am feeling and I am not feeling that good. It really impacts on my productivity, on my fun, on my ability to deal with my children first thing in the morning.

And then the last question I ask is a productivity question it is what actions am I going to take today? And because of those first two questions I find the action one as really simple. I’ve worked through what am I curious about, what am I feeling and process anything that I need to process until I am ready for the day and my mind is how I need it today, and the other things I do in terms of exercise as I try to is 30 minute walk 3-4 times a week.”

This next one is from Ricardo Ferreira:

“I ride a bike everywhere.I think it’s one of the ultimate expressions of freedom. You can go almost anywhere on a bike.

You can be fast or take your time and you’re free to stop whenever and wherever you wish. It’s on a bike that you start thinking more about enjoying the journey and concerning less about the destination.”

What about this one from Sif Traustadóttir:

“Working in my little garden. I love to take a break from the computer and go outside work in the garden, dig in the dirt, rearrange things, plant seeds and watch the flowers and the vegetables grow.

I really love the feeling of growing some of my own food which makes me feel extra free. And this is what I do to be calm everyday because you have to work in the garden everyday.”

Here’s Stephanie McGuirt freedom routine for her inbox:

“My daily productivity tip or routine would be to use an extension, it’s a Chrome extension by Baydin called Inbox Pause. That actually does like it says it stops messages from coming into your inbox until you unpause your inbox or unless you have them scheduled to come in at certain times.

So I know that at 9am and 3pm everyday, I will get all of my messages that have been sent outside those times and I can focus on them for the next 30 minutes or hour. And outside of 9am and 3pm, I am focused on other tasks. So it has really increased my productivity and I highly recommend it for anyone that is overwhelmed by their inbox.”

I hope that you learned a lot from these lovely people who offered up simple, little tactics related to business and life that they are doing to create more time, space and freedom.

Of course I have a ton more of my own I talk a lot about them in the Freedom Plan.

On my business sabbatical, I thought of so many improvements to my signature program and just how much more amazing I can make it for you to really truly learn how to reclaim your time, make more money, work less, earn more and be free.

I hope you tune in to the next episode we are still on a digital sabbatical and the business sabbatical theme and how you can incorporate this in your life.

I am going to share the results of my business sabbatical essentially as come into first of July when I am officially back on board for business.

Tune into the next episode by subscribing in iTunes and Stitcher.

Want to sell your own online courses (and have a great launch)?

Selling online courses is one of my favourite things to do, but as I pointed out in this episode, it can be a real headache.

With Teachable, you don’t have to worry about the tech.

Teachable is the easiest way to create, sell and deliver online courses.

And while it is so easy to use, it’s also packed with a lot of powerful features.

With Teachable, you’re able to…

  • create your own course website, with your own custom branding, so you get all of the credit for how professional your course website looks.
  • accept payments and get paid instantly when you sell your courses
  • integrate with hundreds of your favorite tools and email service providers
  • create beautiful sales pages for your courses

Teachable is the #1 course creation software, with over 12,000 instructors using their software to create, deliver and sell online courses.

All types of business owners and online entrepreneurs use Teachable. Sure, that includes people like Pat Flynn or The New York Times. But most of their instructors are just regular people like you and me and who are looking grow their businesses with courses.

And guess what?

Teachable is offering a 30 day free trial to my listeners. To claim it, just go to teachable.com/suitcase.

Get the latest blog post and episode delivered straight to your inbox.

Posted on / by Natalie / in Season 2 / 2

The Power of a Sabbatical

Welcome back to Season 2 Episode 3. Today I am going to talk about the power of a sabbatical.

What I’m already finding, with just two and a half months off my business, is that I have finally given myself the space to reflect and to look back on all the accomplishments that I’ve had so far, that maybe, just maybe, I’d forgotten about.

If you are a business owner, you totally know what I am talking about.

How often do we pat ourselves on our back and congratulate ourselves on how far we’ve come?

Seven years in business, that’s how long it’s been since I’ve had my business, since I started officially in April 2010. Until I took the timeout and time off of my business I didn’t realize all the things that I’d actually managed to do.

The reason why that came about is when I had the down time to not be working on stuff, I took a trip down memory lane and thought about the products and services that I’ve created since I started and all the blog posts that I’ve written.

I had a few people linking to blog posts from like 2011 and I was like, “I wrote that post? This is actually pretty good.”

Then I just had a chance to reconnect with clients from years ago, from cleaning stuff up and going back through old folders, I forgot that I’ve coached these people. I wondered, where are they now and what are they doing?  

So when I am back online in July, I really want to reconnect with some of my first ever clients and community members.

What the business sabbatical has forced me to do is actually go back to my roots and think about all the things I loved when I first started out.

If you think back to when you started out, what were the things that made you so excited and so happy to be doing what you did that got you up every single morning and kept you up late at night when you were hustling and doing everything you wanted to do on your business?

The reason I even needed to take a break from my business is I’d forgotten what I loved about it in the first place. So this sabbatical has helped me to gain perspective.

It’s forced me into slightly darker places where I’ve been playing the comparison game.

Mainly because I’ve been watching on social media from the sidelines, people doing so many things and launching like crazy.

And I just get caught up in that and normally my go to is I’d follow that launch, I emulate it, I take notes from it, improve on it and learn from it.

But I don’t want any of that in my world! I don’t want any distraction. I don’t want to know what other people are doing. So I put the Facebook Ad Blocker on.

I just want to reconnect with my friends, get back to my roots and get perspective on how far I’ve come but also how much more I can do & how much more I can offer.

I needed to reconnect with what it was that I fell in love with at the very beginning.  

I just want to have a little insert here from my friend JC Bougle, who actually is recovering from burnout.

As I’ve mentioned before in this podcast, I almost burnt out when I first self-published my book, The Suitcase Entrepreneur back in 2013 and I didn’t even realize I was so close to it.

The problem is when you don’t take a sabbatical, a break or holidays from your business and you just go hard out for years, you burnout.

Then you are forced into a break that you don’t want to be on: where your body can’t recover, where your mind is jaded and stuck and where you actually physically aren’t able to do much work anymore.

I just don’t want you to get to that place.

This is gold. Here’s what JC had to say:

“What happened to me last year is that I was very close to burnout and I had no enthusiasm for business, for entrepreneurship and no energy. And I couldn’t take a long sabbatical really to disconnect from the business so I took a short sabbatical for a couple of weeks.

I really disconnected from anything online and after that, which was even more important in my recovery after 2 weeks of disconnection, I really paced myself along with the expectations of what I could achieve and I also set a less ambitious goals for myself and worked a little bit less intensely.

This helped me a lot to recover completely from this burnout. Pacing yourself after the sabbatical is as important as taking a real break.“

And then I had my friend Jesse Krieger of Lifestyle Entrepreneur Press, who posted on Facebook about a month ago about his retreat away from his business for a week. He wrote:

“I’ve just arrived back from a week retreat in the Sacred Valley of the Incas in Peru. Quite honestly, one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been.

This is the first time I’ve been offline all year and it was relaxing, reinvigorating and full of insights as I sat deep in meditation in the Peruvian Andes.

It’s hard to overstate the importance of taking time just for yourself. Not being beholden into anyone, not needing to have any conversation. People just simply sit and enjoy the surroundings and become aware of whatever thoughts and emotions arise.

While deep in meditation, it came to me that my role as a publisher resembles that of a crystal. A crystal such as the quartz is transparent and can be carved in a way that focuses energy, taking diffused light and focusing it on point almost as a laser.

In short, I got the insight that I am a crystal and you are the light and that is my new approach to working with authors and publishing and it’s good to be home.”

And now I want to bring back in Jason Van Orden who you heard about on the last podcast, “Firing myself” because he did exactly the same thing with his very successful 7-figure business that he ran with Jeremy Frandsen for years.

Here is what Jason had to say on when he made the decision to remove himself from his business and hire a full-time replacement CEO:

“Truthfully it was really fast for me. I am not saying it was the right thing to do. In hindsight, there’s a lot of realizations here. But basically I was so ready to be removed.

And that might have been maybe a little too fast to remove myself. We probably needed more processes in place, expectations set and measurements.

Fast forward several months and it kind of came to this realization that the point of the business is that when I left, when we left or we kind of stepped away, was she was going to be able to maintain it.

But we hadn’t changed things over in terms of systems and teams and all the other things that kind of needed to be there for a proper exit or removal of ourselves for it to continue growing consistently like it had been before.

So we are faced with this choice: do we go back in to start it growing again or do we just say, “Okay it is what it is. It’s this nice source of income and for now it’s going still but we have no more expectations of this actually becoming any bigger than it already is.

So insightful right? It’s really neat to hear from other people who have taken some time out or forced themselves away from their business or literally just shut something down because it’s not working.

I think as entrepreneurs we need to give ourselves that permission to do that more often than we ever think because it is incredibly powerful and you just don’t understand how important it is that we recharge our batteries.

I also like to think there’s a bit of a seven-year itch thing going on here.

I appreciate Jason and Jeremy it was well over a decade but a lot of people that I’ve been speaking to recently have been in business for around seven years and they are tired.

And let’s face it, any job that you’ve been in seven years is a long time in a job right? These days most people are in jobs for one, two or three years  max. It’s the norm for millennials to switch jobs incessantly.

Whereas back in my Dad’s/Mum’s days, you’ll stay in a job for 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 years plus!  And you get a little golden watch at the end of it if you were lucky, a handshake and a thank you very much.

But when I was in the corporate world, I’d switch jobs all the time because I would get so bored or I just wanted to change it up.

Then I realized I really just needed to be an entrepreneur where I could work on my own projects all the time, change them at a speed of light and work on multiple projects that excited me.

The great news is the whole point of this entire episode is that I found more freedom.

It’s so good! I am filling my days with painting and practicing piano. And training my puppy which is like a full-time job and I am learning so much. Training myself I should really say, not my puppy.

In training myself, I am effectively training my dog to be more obedient and awesome.

You can find Kayla, the white German Shepherd on Instagram at kaylathemajestic. If you want some joy in your day, go follow her.

And you can follow my adventures at nataliesisson or my Facebook page.

For me personally, now that I’ve eased into my sabbatical, I’ve had all these opportunities come my way to work with other people on their businesses, help them start businesses, be on teams and I am resisting all of these things until I finish my sabbatical.

I really want to look at where I am heading because I’ve got the mojo back, people! I have got the mojo back! And I am very excited to bring this back to my business. Natalie is back!

I am super excited to be creating and implementing when I get back into it but until then I am still on a sabbatical.

And in the next episode, I am thrilled to bring you daily habits of freedom.

Before I went on a sabbatical, I asked my community about their daily habits that they have to give them a little bit more freedom in life and these are going to apply to you personally and professionally, so make sure you tune into the next episode by subscribing in iTunes and Stitcher.

Want to sell your own online courses (and have a great launch)?

Selling online courses is one of my favourite things to do, but as I pointed out in this episode, it can be a real headache.

With Teachable, you don’t have to worry about the tech.

Teachable is the easiest way to create, sell and deliver online courses.

And while it is so easy to use, it’s also packed with a lot of powerful features.

With Teachable, you’re able to…

  • create your own course website, with your own custom branding, so you get all of the credit for how professional your course website looks.
  • accept payments and get paid instantly when you sell your courses
  • integrate with hundreds of your favorite tools and email service providers
  • create beautiful sales pages for your courses

Teachable is the #1 course creation software, with over 12,000 instructors using their software to create, deliver and sell online courses.

All types of business owners and online entrepreneurs use Teachable. Sure, that includes people like Pat Flynn or The New York Times. But most of their instructors are just regular people like you and me and who are looking grow their businesses with courses.

And guess what?

Teachable is offering a 30 day free trial to my listeners. To claim it, just go to teachable.com/suitcase.

Get the latest blog post and episode delivered straight to your inbox.

Posted on / by Natalie / in Season 2 / 3

Firing myself

Yup I fired myself. That’s what I did. April 1st, 2017 I fired myself from my business and went on a business sabbatical.

So you may be wondering what prompted me to take a business sabbatical in the first place. Let me take you back to September 2016.

I was in Australia speaking at Problogger and staying in this amazing suite Darren Rowse and the team organized for me as a paid speaker. The view was incredible and the hotel complex was too.

I was there to do a Tony Robbins style pump up session in between keynotes and also to run a session track on how to have a lucrative sales funnel that converts.

Josh was with me and that made it extra special as it was his first real look into my world and the circles I connected with as well as some of my community who were there. I even managed to get in some videos for a Ten Day Freedom Plan Blog challenge with my fave videographer Mick Russell.

After that we had some quality time in Byron Bay and a surf session before heading to San Diego, US where Josh was speaking at a conference in an entirely different area to what I operate in, and then I was speaking at FinCon.

Both our events were back to back and we were fortunate to stay in lovely hotels once again with sunshine and swimming pools. The trouble was I was in launch mode for my signature program, The Freedom Plan.

Even though I’ve launched this four times before, and even though I was super systemized this was my first time taking my team through a launch and training them up at the same time.  I was working in between time and not doing the normal networking and socializing at conferences that I like to do.

In fact I really didn’t feel like it. I was kind of tapped out and feeling a bit jaded and while I was enjoying the relatively new romance with Josh I wasn’t enjoying what I almost always have done, the art of launching and running my business.

It all felt heavy. And as much as my team tried to keep up and do their best, I just felt like I was pulling their weight and mine. As a result I was exhausted.

I’ve come to realize over the years that for whatever reason, I am incredibly focused and can work at speed on almost any task I set my mind to. Until I worked with around 6 people on my team during a launch I realized this was not normal, and that you have to respect and understand other people’s’ working methods.

It’s just that during a launch it’s really hard to do this – you NEED to work at pace and everything needs to be timed super well and you do actually need to do things on the fly and change tactics at any point to reflect the nature of how your launch is going, and how people are responding.

While this is great and exciting for a Wealth Dynamics Entrepreneurial ‘Star’ Profile like myself, it’s a nightmare for a Lord or Mechanic who have a much more grounded energy and need detailed plans and order to work best.

So to them it looked like we were out of control but to me it seems very very much in tuned with exactly how everything should be going along.

And slowly but surely deadlines got missed, communications broke down, things didn’t go out on time and it ended up being the worst launch that I’ve ever done.

I still made close to $40,000 in the space of a couple of weeks but I spent a lot more on my team. I spent a lot on advertising. And at the end of the day, it just really felt heavy.

And it wasn’t a successful launch and I felt like my list and my community just felt tapped out including myself.

I remember getting off a live webinar where a thousand people turned up and the energy was fantastic but the results from it were not great.

And I sat back at the end of that webinar and I was like,

“That’s it. I’m done.”

I just don’t understand why this isn’t going well and I’ve had enough.

I’ve run this launch before and it’s an amazing program and I made multiple six figures!

I know it works and I know it gets people results and I just don’t understand what happened. This was a flop.

The ironic thing was I was running a Freedom Lab at the same time and this is where I actually show you real-time, something that I am doing.

So I’ve done one on “Write the Damn Book – how to write a book in three months” but the first one was called “How to Launch like a Rockstar”.

And so people following along my launch live, every tactic we were doing around Facebook advertising, emailing and sales copy and I was sharing it live through videos, through blog posts.

Here I was at the end going AND it was a big flop!

It might not look like it to you, but transparently doing something live and sharing the real results when they don’t come off how they should is embarrassing and at the same time very real.

If anything it taught me, our team and everybody else out there a lesson that shit doesn’t always go right.

So that’s when I decided, I am going to fire myself and it was such a great decision to make, but that was in late September, early October and I didn’t end up taking my business sabbatical until the first of April.

And why was that?

A couple of reasons:

  • We were changing over to a brand new design for The Suitcase Entrepreneur which looks amazing. (Thank you Filipe – my team member in Portugal!)
  • We were changing the website over so we were using a new theme and Kasia – WP Rockstar, who has been through my Freedom Plan, she handled all of that.
  • We were changing from Infusionsoft over to ConvertKit for email, Clickfunnels for my sales funnels Leadpages and landing pages. Closing down the Leadpages pages that I had.
  • And shifting over my courses and creating new ones on Teachable.

So November and December were massive months. And even though I thought all those changes are beneficial, they actually affected my business for the next two or three months in a bad way.

Just because when you change systems and change lots of things –  like we took a ton of pages away from my website, we leaned it right out from over a hundred pages and 950 blog posts right down to just several pages!

We took a lot of our landing pages and sales funnels over to Clickfunnels and the traffic dropped because we were just cleaning everything up.

So what prompted me to think that firing myself was a great idea?

I’ve been on a few digital sabbaticals before when you go completely offline and of course when I was cycling down Africa in 2012, I was pretty much away from my business for a good two months.

I remember clearly from that that I forgot about my business, I didn’t worry about anything because I was so busy cycling up to a 150 km a day.

I felt freer than ever while I was cycling down Africa, simply just waking up in the morning, crawling out of my tent, putting out my bike, having breakfast and just hitting the road.

At the same time, my business was doing just fine. I was in my early stages, my virtual assistant, that I’d hired just before I left, was doing a great job.

And it made me appreciate that it had been a long time since I’d really left my business behind and handed it over to people I trusted or just trusted in the systems that I’d built.

I thought for me, as a freedomist who is constantly preaching you need great systems, you need to outsource, you need the right tools and you need great sales funnel, I was like,

“Well, why not put mine to the test by removing myself as the bottleneck of my business?”

Around this time I actually chatted to Jason Van Orden, a good friend who used to have Internet Business Mastery with Jeremy Frandsen and he had also gone on a business sabbatical.

In fact, they handed over to a CEO to run it, so I had a quick chat to him because I was interested to learn from him: what went well, what didn’t and why he took that step.

Here is the conversation we had about it:

“Eventually I had to stop and ask myself why there was that waning in motivation. I’m sure partly I was maybe scared a little bit to look at that but what does it mean?

What if I ended up figuring out I’ve got the wrong business or that I am done with this business.

One thing that finally helped is when I went on a personal retreat. By then we were living on Paris so I went to Prague for 4 or 5 days.

I did a little soul searching, journaling, thinking and I remember coming back from that and just saying to my wife, “I think I need a sabbatical from this business”.“

So I asked Jason, how long did that take you to remove yourself from your business and here is his response.

“Truthfully it was really fast for me but I am not saying it was the right thing to do. In hindsight, there’s a lot of realizations here but basically I was so ready to be removed and that might have been maybe a little too fast.

We probably needed a few more processes in place, expectations and measurements.“

So as you can see it was really quick for Jason once he made that decision.

I have to say for me, I made that decision pretty instantly, the minute that launch finished, that I was going to take a time off.

Then I spent the time just gearing up my team to be able to survive without me and to show them it was fully possible that without me in the business, it potentially would go even better!

Because as the CEO of your business often, you do end up still doing things, making the shots, calling the shots, having the key relationships and all those things.

Usually that’s a great thing but sometimes you can just hold on a little too tight.

You just need to release and beauty comes into the picture. Things that you’d never even considered before.

And I am going to talk about those in Episode 3 for Season 2, so make sure you tune into the next episode by subscribing in iTunes and Stitcher.

I would love for you to share in the comments section below:

  • Have you ever taken a business sabbatical?
  • What freaks you out about doing that?
  • Have you thought about firing yourself when you’ve been a little less motivated in your business recently?

Tell me where you are at. I want to know. I am doing this for you so I really want your insights.

Stay tuned for the next episode of Season 2 where Jason Van Orden will tell us about what actually happened when he basically took a break from his business. We’ll also have some other key guests on here that I think you are going to love with their discoveries on this topic.

Want to sell your own online courses (and have a great launch)?

Selling online courses is one of my favourite things to do, but as I pointed out in this episode, it can be a real headache.

With Teachable, you don’t have to worry about the tech.

Teachable is the easiest way to create, sell and deliver online courses.

And while it is so easy to use, it’s also packed with a lot of powerful features.

With Teachable, you’re able to…

  • create your own course website, with your own custom branding, so you get all of the credit for how professional your course website looks.
  • accept payments and get paid instantly when you sell your courses
  • integrate with hundreds of your favorite tools and email service providers
  • create beautiful sales pages for your courses

Teachable is the #1 course creation software, with over 12,000 instructors using their software to create, deliver and sell online courses.

All types of business owners and online entrepreneurs use Teachable. Sure, that includes people like Pat Flynn or The New York Times. But most of their instructors are just regular people like you and me and who are looking grow their businesses with courses.

And guess what?

Teachable is offering a 30 day free trial to my listeners. To claim it, just go to teachable.com/suitcase.

Get the latest blog post and episode delivered straight to your inbox.

Posted on / by Natalie / in Season 2

Behind The Scenes of my Business Sabbatical

Welcome to Season 2 of Natalie Sisson’s Quest for Freedom!

I’m delighted to be back and I know you’ve been missing me…at least 2 people have asked me “Natalie when is your next podcast episode coming out”.

So thank you to the two of you, I appreciate it.

Obviously to talk about a business sabbatical and how you can truly have a profitable business that can technically run without you, you need to experience that in full glory for yourself.

Luckily this podcast is about making me the guinea pig of my own experiments in order for us to uncover what true freedom really is.

Since the 1st of April I’ve been on a business sabbatical and in this episode I reveal all.

Well almost all, I’ll tell you the rest when I’m finished my break from my business. But here’s what I will share:

  • What a business sabbatical actually is (and why you get to define this for yourself)
  • Behind the scenes of what really happens when you take time out from your business

Then I went on to answer some great questions from a fan on my Facebook page that watched my previous video on this topic where I shared the realities of it, and why I was extending my sabbatical for another month (which has now turned into 3).

The only thing I’m bringing back is this podcast because it’s my baby, and it’s helping me to learn and grow realtime by sharing my findings, research and guinea pig experimentations on myself, with YOU.

So for the full lowdown you can watch the video below (here it is on my Facebook page) OR listen to the podcast by clicking the button at the top  OR you can read the full transcript below this video.

“For those of you who have been following The Suitcase Entrepreneur and my Quest for Freedom, you’ll know that I took the entire month of April off my business.

No checking emails, no checking in with the team, no watching anything related to business, not thinking about business and just taking a month off my business, The Suitcase Entrepreneur.

And I then extended it into May, I appreciate it’s May now but I don’t feel like doing Facebook live video to answer your questions it feels like business to me and I love my business so it’s you that I am here for. You guys have helped me build it.

I do think you’ve got to talk about these things in the moment because several months down the track I may actually forget what it really, really physically feels like to be in a sabbatical right now.

Continuing it on through end of June and next week actually I am going to be taking a digital sabbatical so totally offline, off the internet probably for 3 to 5 days. It’s been awhile since I’ve done one and I just want to disconnect.

I’ll be doing some reading, thanks to Brendon Burchard’s The Motivation Manifesto and Tony Robbins Unshakeable, so these are a couple of the things that I’ll be focusing on. I also got some novels.

And I just want to chill out by the fire, play with my puppy, exercise, read books and think. I want to practice the piano and I want to enjoy myself which I already have been doing. Just do more of that.

But today I wanted to answer specifically questions that you guys had from the reality of a business sabbatical where I took you behind the scenes.

The first month off was kind of weird.

I was one moving into a beautiful new dream lifestyle property, getting a puppy, getting 5 chickens, setting up an entire house because when you’ve lived out of the suitcase for close to 7 years you don’t really have much stuff.

 

Never forget to add play into your day. #choosefreedom

A post shared by Natalie Sisson (@nataliesisson) on

And I realized that I still hadn’t fully given myself the time out to just enjoy and re-energize and get my verve and my mojo back for everything that I love to do.

And the great news is it’s starting to happen so I’ve given myself more space, more time.

I can’t ever fully stop. So I’ve been reaching out to networks where I now live and looking at potentially helping getting a co-working space setup which would be so awesome because I’ve used so many of them over the years as a digital nomad.

And I’ve just been connecting with more and more people especially women entrepreneurs, getting to know the area and of course, dreaming up lots of visions and ideas for what I would just love to do in the near future.

Not only related to my books that are coming out but also making my Freedom Plan program best ever and just a bunch of other things that I’ve been wanting to work on for so long and now I have the headspace to think about them. So that’s one of the huge benefits of a business sabbatical – headspace.

But I wanted to answer some questions from Angela Fitradi who posted after my Facebook live a couple of weeks ago, she said,

“I’d love to know how the business runs without you? How often you check in? When you check in? What do you focus on? And how to know what to focus on and what can be managed without your attention?”

So the business runs without me because as I’ve been probably like blasting from the rooftops for the last couple of years.

You need to have sexy systems in place, freedom systems is really what I am talking about and ultimately at the end of the day there is a fantastic website that people can navigate to once they’re there, a fantastic sales funnel that takes them on a journey to show them exactly what content they can consume, that they should sign up to receive more email updates from you and what programs and products that you have to offer them that would be really beneficial.

Now I will absolutely say the business has kind of plateaued and even declined a little because I am a huge believer that energy in vs energy out applies to everything you do in life.

So if you are putting energy into your health and fitness, it’s going to pay off if you are doing it right. If you are putting tons of energy into your business and into the right areas as Jeff Walker was saying the other day in his video.

You’ve got to strategize and prioritize into the right areas not just throwing yourself at everything. But if you are putting the energy into your business in the right places, it will grow. So naturally when you take a step back from it you will find it doesn’t as much.

So I would say a fantastic website or place that people can land on whether it’s landing pages, sales pages, a great sales funnel really helps so all those things are automated.

And outside of that some key team members, definitely starting with a virtual assistant who can do your customer service, check your emails for you, answer on your behalf and to answer your question more candidly, Angela, anything that Angeline can answer, my awesome assistant.

We have some template canned responses and the things that are more important like somebody not being able to access the program or something not working, Angeline knows my business. She’s been with me for almost 3 years now, in a part-time capacity and so she knows often where the resources are or how to help those people.

That’s been hugely helpful and I have a small team around the world and most of them right now are kind of on a break from me as well. But if we do need to communicate, we do it typically through Slack. I am doing my best to not login to email at all but essentially Slack is a place where we can just communicate briefly.

And they all have their team objectives that they’ve been working on. Our marketing and editorial calendar, we know what’s coming out, we know what’s working and we apparently been reviewing that. I ask my team especially Debashish to review that while I was off on my break and come back to me with some recommendations so that when I am back we can change strategies or direction.

So how often do I check in?

For the first month, I didn’t want to be contacted at all. Typically I’d say if you are going on a sabbatical, the point is to be off but once a month is probably more than enough or if you feel that’s a little too infrequent or you really want to know things then probably every week and just make it a short check in and make sure you know what you are asking for.

Your other question was, how do you know what to focus on and what can be managed without your attention?

Most stuff can be managed without my attention. It’s only when I am creating new content or launching something that really all my attention needs to be on that and I need to be driving my team. But outside of that I’ve worked very hard over the years to set up Sexy Operating Procedures (SOP) and some really great strategies and direction for my team to be empowered to do their things and to do them really well.

So right now, I am focusing on my own learning and my own growth and understanding different areas that maybe I just haven’t put aside at the time to actually delve into so I am doing several online courses myself around science of happiness, around health and nutrition. I am learning or I will be learning when I am off my sabbatical around e-commerce and getting up to speed more on social media.

And I think most things don’t need to be managed by you. So the best thing would probably be partnerships and key relations. But even those have been really well managed by my team because they know that I’ve dealt with these people for years they can often answer their questions that those partners would like to ask me. But I think it’s nurturing those relationships that’s the key stuff that you still do want to focus on.

And the next part of your question, have there been any situations where your absence has created a situation and has your business income and finances has been affected by your absence?

On the second part, absolutely as I said energy in vs energy out. But I’ve been pleasantly surprised that it’s been earning really really well over the last couple of months without me there so that proves I don’t always need to be there.

And to answer your question about has my absence created a situation? I think it has probably provided relief to my team. They are probably enjoying the break from Natalieville to be really honest you know.

I think there have been no situations that have arisen. I wasn’t expecting anything major we had pretty much planned out a year ahead so I don’t expect any hurdles or anything major that would come up and so therefore no situations.

The only situation caused by you not being in your business for awhile would be a lack of clarity around expectations, priorities, objectives and milestones while you are not there.

  • Who to contact?
  • Who to reach out to?
  • How to move forward on projects if you are not the person who’s absolutely able to drive them like you normally would be.

So those are the sort of things that you probably want to think about.

I hope that’s given you guys some insight and I just wanted to pop in and say hello to my beautiful freedomist community and give you some understanding behind what a business sabbatical is.

You can make it whatever you want really but the point is to take time out from your business to get the creative juices flowing and to really just actually come back to your roots and focus on what you loved about your business in the first place and that has been so enlightening for me so far. “

Stay tuned for the next episode of Season 2 where I talk with other entrepreneurs about burnout and their business sabbaticals like Jason Van Orden:

“Eventually I had to stop and ask myself why there was that waning in motivation. I’m sure partly I was maybe scared a little bit to look at that but what does it mean? What if I ended up figuring out I’ve got the wrong business or that I am done with this business.”

Don’t miss a thing by subscribing in iTunes and Stitcher. Or jump on to get email updates whenever an episode goes live here.

 

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Posted on / by Natalie / in Season 1

The Art of Minimalism

“There comes a time when you say, “Right. Out!” And that’s what happened when I downsized.  I think we all have too much stuff these days.”

Those were wise words from my Mum, who I decided to bring on for Season 1 Episode 8 of Quest for Freedom.

This topic and this podcast today is all about …

The art of minimalism and freeing yourself from stuff.

If there’s one person who knows how to do that, it’s this girl. I think it’s a really important topic because whenever I am offloading stuff out of my suitcase, in my life I feel so much freer. I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders.

Which brings me to Christmas time last year, when I gave my sister and my brother-in-law the Christmas present of my time. And what I said I’d do for them is help them clear out their garage.

Now I have to say the garage was a complete and utter mess. There was so little room in there, there certainly were no cars, there was just all their stuff.

Now my brother-in-law Zanda, has 3 kids from a previous marriage and now they have my lovely nephew, Morgan and so as a family you do absolutely need more stuff. I can’t take that away from them.

I know I see friends with babies and they are like, “Every time I go out I just have to bring all this extra stuff.”

So I feel for those people. I haven’t yet experienced that and I get it.

But this garage was a piece of art. There was every single thing in there that you could possibly imagine. So they were thrilled needless to say that this was my Christmas gift to them.

So in January we set about decluttering the garage. Debbie, my sister, has been attempting to get Zanda to do this, as ultimately a lot of this was his stuff.

I think it’s one of those jobs that you can’t take on by yourself. You’ve got to do it as a team. You’ve got to do it as a family.

When we started, I knew that Debs would be okay with being a little bit ruthless with stuff but I wasn’t sure about Zanda. And it happened pretty early on.

I’m sure he is fine with me telling this story but I was starting to take stuff out of the garage to the car that we were going to put stuff in to get rid of. I checked with Debbie and Zanda if things are okay to move.

And then I started moving bits of planks of wood and jib board and Zanda was like, “Hey! Where are you going with that?”.

And I was like, “I was going to put it in the back of the car to take to the tip.”

“Yeah but I am going to make something out of that” and I was like, “Oh okay. What were you going to make?”

“I might be doing one of the cupboards for downstairs, like using it to make a perfect cupboard door piece.”

And I was like, “Okay. Well, let me just ask you a question. How long have you had this piece of wood?

“Uh, about 4 years” says Zanda.

“Okay and so when were you planning on doing this?”

“Well, yeah..”

And just in that moment there was this beautiful moment of realization or recognition in his eyes that he was in fact being a hoarder, and I wouldn’t say the top definition of a hoarder, because even though I do not watch TV, I’ve seen the ads for the TV series on hoarders.

You can’t even get in the door of the house. They live on piles of junk and rubbish …but that’s definitely not where Debs and Zanda are at.

Many of us have a hoarding mentality.

It really comes from just not wanting to let go of things that could be precious, that could be valuable, that you might do something with in the future.

But let me just push back at you, if you are one of those people going, “Yeah Natalie. Some things you just want to hold onto.”

Unless you are going to use that thing within the next 3-6 months, why on earth would you store it, keep it and have it cluttering up your personal space?

Why on earth would you keep something that you are not going to use and serves no purpose other than creating clutter in your living space?

So…back to that moment – a pretty great thing that happened, in that amazingly Zanda kind of turned completely around and started being really ruthless with stuff.

So there was an initial push back and hesitation and a real desire not to let go, but once he realized what he’d been holding onto he actually got into it and as the day progressed, we spent a good couple of hours in this garage.

He was throwing stuff in the back of the car and I was putting stuff off the side and he says, “Nope, that can go.” And it was so liberating.

We then went down to the tip and what was even more liberating. As you drive your car up and the trailer as well, then you get to chuck stuff off the side into this sort of pit thing, and then they either sort it, recycle it or take it away to go into the mound of dirt and create a big rubbish heap on some poor hill.

But, still it was really liberating.

We  also took stuff down to be recycled and you get some money for that and it was crazy actually how good that felt.

And we went back and we did another load and slowly but surely this garage started to emerge, corners of space started to emerge.

Now here is the funny thing, that was one Sunday afternoon and then I believe I came back a couple of weekends later because, it’s a bit hard to tie in with the family and things going on and it already had started accumulating stuff.

But all of the stuff was things that they had now sorted out in the house that they were going to take to the Salvation Army or they were going to put on TradeMe, which is the New Zealand equivalent of Ebay or GumTree.

And so the cool thing is that they kept at it. They didn’t just stop there with the momentum and motivation I provided them with.

They kept on going and they made several hundred dollars if not thousands of dollars selling on Trademe some of their stuff.

A lot of that stuff was children’s stuff that wasn’t needed anymore or baby stuff that could go to another deserving family. And all it took was to start taking the photos, documenting and putting up the price and description on TradeMe.

Turned out Zanda had a bit of a knack for selling things. So it was excellent.

Now the cool thing was not only were they decluttering and getting a greater sense of freedom and space in the house, they were also making money. And let’s face it, everybody likes to make money. So this was brilliant for them.

Now right about the same time, and this is why I find the start of 2017 kind of fantastic and it’s been one of the best years yet.

But in terms of a time of change, it was for the entire Sisson family and the Rock-Evans family, which is now my sister’s side – it was one of those times of just everybody kind of decluttering.

So as my sister and Zanda were attempting to get things out of the garage and out of their house, Mum was attempting to downside the four bedroom family home that her and Dad had been in for fifteen years, because she was getting ready to sell.

Dad passed away in December of 2015 and Mum just did not need to be living in a big house anymore.

And Mum is not a hoarder, in fact, she’s amazingly minimalist. She buys quality things and she’s done an incredible job over the years for our family of doing up houses beautifully, but always with quality in mind.

However, Dad was a bit of a hoarder. So the two rooms or the two spaces in our house that were the most cluttered were Dad’s office and the garage. You know a man cave full of stuff!

And Dad would, bless his soul, keep even rusty nails in jars. He had a place for everything but it wasn’t super organized but he kept everything.

And I used to remember as a kid growing up no matter where we lived, Mum would go down to our garage and say, “Oh Peter, could you try and clean up the garage a little bit.”

It was just incredible he just had so much stuff.

I knew that would be hard for Mum to do, so I came over and helped out as much as I could to really go through a lot of stuff – letters, cards, boxes, files from years if not decades, photos, projector slides.

All the stuff that you hang onto and you keep because you think one day you are going to pull out the projector and you are going to go through slides from like the 1970s and 80s.

For those of you listening you do it, you know it!

So I challenge you to get the projector out and have a projector movie night and then either get rid of them all, or get them put onto digital formats so you can have them on your laptop and eventually print them or do whatever you like.

But basically out with the old, put it into a format that is accessible at anytime but doesn’t take up space and move on.

So back to Mum’s house, so we have Mum downsizing and generously gifting to my sister and I, things that we would absolutely need such as linen, towels, kitchenware etc.

And at this point as you probably know from my Changing Plans episode, Josh and I hadn’t actually bought the house yet but we were looking really seriously.

Mum was making decisions based on the fact that we might end up with the house rather than both be living in a suitcases.

So to her credit she held onto things we may need and she sort of split up a lot of stuff between my sister and I.

And what happened is all those stuff that Debbie and Zanda had been clearing out, was now getting filled up with trips from Mum and her house with stuff that she was giving them.

Every time they got rid of something, more stuff was coming in.

And I felt like it was the same for me.

I don’t own much stuff but even in my two bedroom apartment in Downtown Wellington, I’d accumulated a little bit of the stuff to have it fully furnished for myself when I rent it out.

I also had about four boxes up at my parents. And all those boxes are my everything, my life packed up into four boxes. Or so I thought….

As it happens as Mum is going through more and more of the house and I was there with her, she was like, “Nat I found this box of your clothes or your school gear” and I was like, “Oh damn.”

“I found your bag of motocross gear” from when I used to race motocross. And I really never want to get rid of my helmet and my motocross pants and shin protectors. And I was like, “Oh damn!”

So every time I go to help Mum declutter, I ended up coming home with more stuff, which I would then have to sort through, get rid off, give to the Salvation Army or downsize.

I just felt like as a family we were doing this give stuff, receive stuff, get rid of the stuff, sort stuff, sell stuff.

It was crazy. I was selling my stuff on TradeMe. I was listing some of Mum’s stuff on TradeMe. Zanda was helping out and then there was a big garage sale where Mom made like $850 in half a day and huge.

Also she had to downsize her house in three weeks or less once she actually got an offer on it.

The power of downsizing and decluttering

And here in her own words is kind of this whole process for Mum on really downsizing a lifetime:

Natalie: Let’s talk about how it felt to downsize and move out of a very large house – four bedrooms and all your and Dad’s stuff for the past 13 years.

Mom: For the past 47 years.

Natalie: That’s true because you’ve been in the house for thirteen years.

Mom: Fifteen years actually.

Natalie: Oh. I should get my facts right.

Mom: Actually, I just felt sick. It’s too much. I think the thing nowadays is less… definitely less. But you don’t want to throw things away that your children have given you or presents, Christmas, birthday or whatever.

But there comes a time when you think, “What am I going to do with this? Where can I put it all?” And I certainly have to downsize to a two bedroom apartment. And I feel I still have a lot but I am keeping the best, the very best… but even then I feel like I don’t want it.

Natalie: Do you feel lighter now that it’s all done because it was quite a process, wasn’t it?

Mum: Yes. But I could still lose a bit.

Natalie: Yes, you’ve held onto the lovely stuff as you said and a part of that is your identity and what you’ve had in houses for years.

Mum: It’s what you worked for. It’s what you wanted but even that has changed these days. What we’ve enjoyed was antiques, crystal, lovely prints of the olden days – that’s all gone.

People don’t even want it. Antique dealers don’t even want it anymore. But I think it could all go around in circles again and one day it will. But who wants to keep it for that long?

Natalie: Yes exactly. Do you want to talk about how you even started on the process? So obviously you put the house up for sale and then what?

Mum: Oh I started way before. I went through wardrobes and drawers. I did a little bit everyday or every second day at least. A lot of it went to Salvation Army and Mary Potter Hospice. There comes a time where you just get rid of it.

Natalie: And then when you got the offer on the house, we made it a pretty short turnaround time didn’t we because you wanted to be in your new apartment.

Mom: Because I was coming over to Bali for your birthday.

Natalie: So it was three weeks and so you’ve done some of that sorting beforehand and then you started downsizing and taking things out of drawers.

Mom: And going through linen covers and just knowing I won’t need these, you might need it.

The other part is that in our days we use to entertain at home. That has changed. We go out into a restaurant nowadays so you have all these lovely dishes that costs some money because you wanted to look good but you don’t use either anymore. It just all changed.

Natalie: Did you have a process that you were going through?

Mom: The thing is we were brought up and we look after our things – clothes, anything. Every time we moved we would take it with us but you didn’t wear it or you didn’t use it.

There comes a time when you say, “Right. Out.” And that’s what happened.  I think we all have too much these days.

Natalie: I agree.

Mom: I use one dish, one plate, one cereal bowl, one mug at the moment because there’s just one. But even if there’s two you don’t need much.

Wise words from my Mum, Gina Sisson. I credit her so much in my life and that I really love being a minimalist.

And you know my sister and I differ a little on that. My sister is super creative and so she loves a lot of artwork up on the wall. I think she’s got tendencies to be a little bit of a hoarder and she’s cool with that.

But the point here I guess for every single one of us is every 3 months do a reconnaissance of everything that you own and ask yourself:

  • Do I really need this?
  • Is this better off in somebody else’s home or hands?
  • Could I sell this and give it to a more deserving person who needs this right now?

One of my best tricks that I’ve learned is that if you’ve put something away in storage that you are just not prepared to give up, if you have not gone into that storage locker or that space or whoever you are storing it within 6 months time then you need to get rid of it.

Because if you do not miss something and use it every single day it is very likely that you do not need it in your life and it is weighing you down as a sense of stuff.

Now one of my good friends, Joshua Becker over at Becoming Minimalist talks a lot about this and here is a short excerpt from a Ted Talk that he did on this very topic as to the benefits of becoming minimalist.

“Out of the corner of my eye I see my son swinging alone in the backyard.

And suddenly I had this further realization that not only was everything I owned not making me happy, even worse everything I owned was actually taking me away from the very thing that did bring happiness into my life.

But not just happiness but fulfillment and purpose and contentment.

There’s a very different realization and I think it is the very foundation of minimalism – the very foundational truth that would cause anyone to intentionally own less stuff.

This reality is that not only are things not making us happy they’ve actually become such a burden on our lives that they are actually taking us away from the very things that we would prefer to be living our life for.”

If you’d like to learn more about minimalism, listen to this podcast interview with Joshua Becker about How to Own Less And Live More By Becoming A Minimalist.

And the final thing that I am really really weary of is cluttering our new house. Josh and I both made a very conscious effort and packed with each other but we are not going to fill this house with unnecessary stuff.

So first off Mum has kindly gifted us all these amazing things including a beautiful old vintage dining room table, a dining room cabinet, a cabinet for the lounge, a king size bed which will be now in our bedroom and some chest of drawers and lamps and some kitchen stuff.

All of those things we actually need and that means we don’t need to go and purchase them brand new. We can recycle, we can reuse and we can keep these beautiful pieces in the family that have been a part of my life for so long.

The next part that we’ve been doing is I have become a bit of a TradeMe addict and we’ve set a budget and we’ve actually listed out on a spreadsheet, because we are geeky like that – all the stuff that we need versus what we’d like in the future.

We’ve listed those out so it’s by order of priority and then we’ve put next to it guesstimates on what we’re sort of prepared to pay or budget.

So we did a quick look online as to what things are going for and then we put in what we think we’d be prepared to pay.

And now we are playing a little game, so I love bargains and I love getting a good deal and I love negotiating.

I am setting out to become the TradeMe queen and I am finding incredible things because as you know the saying goes:

One person’s junk is another person’s treasure.

And just like we’ve been doing as a family for the last 2 or 3 months of this year, other people on TradeMe are getting rid of things that they’ve long held in their family or in their house and finally have just decided to release and let go of.

And so I’ve picked up the best bargains. I got the piano!

If you listened to Changing Plans and you heard me talk about the piano that I thought I’d missed out on, would you believe that lady had no luck with the person who bid and won on the auction and beat me in the auction?

They flaked on her and so she actually texted me while I was in Bali saying, “I can’t believe it’s happened again. Is there any chance that you would still like to buy it?” and I said, “Yes!”

Done. Put the money in her bank account and she sent me a text saying, “Thank you! You have restored my faith in humans.”

So I got the piano! And the piano stool and the sheet music for a $150. This beautiful, old, vintage piano which I am going to polish up.

I bought an entire bedroom set of furniture granted a little bit retro, like a round mirror, a chest of drawers, another chest of drawers, two bedside table and a headboard for a $100 NZ.

Even if it’s not great, it’s going to be a bargain and I can paint it and we can use it and then we can always resell it.

And I’m just honestly having fun. I also bought two single beds including the mattresses, the frames and the bedside tables, pretty funky for like $400.

And I just love this because why do we always buy new stuff?

I mean granted sometimes you just want new things like you are not going to buy second hand underwear or laundry. I get that but why do we have this incessant need for new?

I personally love reusing and recycling. You get some incredible, sturdy, quality crafted pieces of furniture, ornaments if you feel like ornaments, lamps, all sorts of things for so little.

Because people don’t see the value in them anymore and yet to me they are incredible.

I bought a 5 lights with brass stands for $100. I am going to continue to find these amazing bargains and only put things in our house that Josh and I agree on and to add value to it and make it a really beautiful home that we love being in.

As the Suitcase Entrepreneur and yes I am still Suitcase Entrepreneur even though I am moving into  a house.

The Art of Packing Light

I just wanted to pass on some packing tips and once again I’d love to bring you back into a short conversation that I had with my lovely Mom who I have to say is an impeccable packer.

And I definitely have witnessed her since being a kid packing for our entire family and we used to travel really light considering there were the four of us.

She now packs even lighter just for herself. it’s quite incredible.

Between us, we often look like overachievers. If we ever go on our girls trip together to Melbourne at the start of each year to see the tennis, (it would have been 14 times together or something), we just pack so little.

And it never ceases to amaze me at what people pack. Did they fit the kitchen sink inside the suitcase?

And if so how do they fit their actual clothes and the things that they really need on the trip. It does really astound me.

Here are some tips from the packing queen and her daughter. I credit her for everything that I do when it comes to being a Suitcase Entrepreneur.

Natalie: Because I think since I was two years old, you and Dad took my sister and I on around the world tours and trips ,which is amazing, and we no doubt learned from you how to pack really well.

And I think people still marvel now when they see how I live out of the suitcase. I know you used to pack for Dad as well.

Mum: In one medium suitcase.

Natalie: For the both of you?

Mum: Yes. And half of that we wouldn’t use.

And yet even when we had bed and breakfast some people would come with these enormous cases. Each one would have a big case,  plus overnight bags and God knows what.

And I used to think, “My God. And they are only coming for 2 or 3 weeks, when we would be away for 8 weeks with less.”

Natalie: So what are your tips for the art of packing light?

Mom: For underwear, one clean, one on, one used – that’s only three of everything which is easy.

Natalie: Really? I actually take 2 weeks worth of underwear because they are quite small and thin. And that means if I can’t find a washing machine or do my washing for two weeks, I’ve always got underwear.

Mom: Yes I take a few underpants but for Dad that worked for him.

Shoes, a good pair of walking shoes. Something that is comfortable if you go out at night and maybe some sandals depending on the weather where you are going.

And if you are travelling to lots of places it doesn’t matter whether you wear the same thing every second or third day. People haven’t seen it before.

I always felt that you take with you your favorite things, that you feel comfortable in and just something good at night like trousers and a shirt but women always seem to have to have more.

But even then, just a couple of tops and the rest is just casual. And things are very casual these days aren’t day?

Natalie: Well, that depends if you are going to a business event or something that’s more fancy.

Mom: Yes if you are just going on a holiday it is casual.

Natalie: And what about toiletries?

Mom: Sometimes I think that’s all a bit too much but basically again I take what I wear everyday – sun tan lotion and shampoo.

Natalie: Suntan lotion is expensive in a lot of countries. I do the same putting everything into small bottles because it can last for weeks.

Mom: When I am in England, sometimes I buy the smaller bottles.  You don’t get it so much in New Zealand or wherever.

Natalie: You do now.  Anything else in terms of where you pack stuff, because we all have different ways, some people use packing squares.

I have a two-sided suitcase so I put my better clothes on my left hand side and my sports care, flip flops and toiletries go on the other side.

Mom: Yeah, you’ve got a good system but I sort of use my suitcase as a drawer. I fold things so neatly and pack it in a way that I remembered Aunty  used to say, “Did you just iron that?”, I said “No I got it out of my suitcase”.

Natalie: I definitely didn’t pickup on that skill from you.

Mom: Yes, actually they were always fascinated with that. It’s just my way of packing.

Natalie: You also iron your sheets at home.

Mom: No I don’t, only B&B. Gosh no.

Natalie: Well, thank you. Those are the tips from the Suitcase Entrepreneur’s mom.

So I hope that those tips are helpful to you if you are really having trouble when you are travelling the world and you really just can’t pack light.

A couple of other tips I’d love to throw in there is put everything that you want to pack into your suitcase or your backpack on the bed before you go. Then once again do one more ruthless run through.

So if you’ve ended up with four black t shirts and three pairs of brown shorts, can you just not take one of each?

And if you put five beautiful dresses out and you are only going away for a week, could you not just take three and a shawl so that you can change your look?

And then put them into your suitcase or bag and if you find it still too full, take it all out and do the same ruthless routine again.

A couple of more tips:

You can buy anything you need typically in the place that you are going to. So if you are going to go from a summer environment to a winter environment, I wouldn’t necessarily pack all the things that you need for winter.

I would buy them in the country that you are in before you go into the other country or have just enough warm layers and as you get there you can stock up on anything you need.

The only caveat on that is sunscreen as I mentioned, when I was chatting to Mum, it can be really really expensive in other countries.

And obviously alongside that are your pills or your tablets or your supplements, whatever you really truly can’t do without that as specialists we need to get from your doctor or maybe a herbalist, I would definitely take those with you. But just take the quantity that you need.

So for example, on this trip to Bali I took a couple of supplements and vitamins and I put them all in one supplement container so I don’t need to take six or seven containers.

And the final tip for me is layers. Layering of your clothes allows you to be warmer because you can just put more and more layers on but it doesn’t add huge bulk to your suitcase.

I particularly love Kathmandu and IceBreaker products. IceBreaker is Merino wool from New Zealand.

It keeps you incredibly warm, wicks away any sweats, dries super quickly and you can wear it for an entire year without washing it and it still wont smell.

If you don’t believe me, Sir Peter Blake who is unfortunately no longer with us in this world who sailed around the world and set many world records and is q hero in New Zealand, wore his IceBreaker kit on the sailing yacht for a full year and it never smelt and he never had to wash it.

If you are really going for a long time travelling or you want lightweight, yet warm and efficient and trendy, IceBreaker all the way.

And finally, rolling.

There are a lot of people who pack in squares and you can put clothes in them and you can seal them and you can press them down, and you can fit way more in your suitcase, which is great.

I’ve never done it. I’ve never felt the need to take so many clothes that I have to compress them down. And then also I haven’t really felt the desire to unpack and uncompress all these squares but it is handy if you want to maximize your space efficiently.

But I love rolling clothes. One, it stops them from creasing and two, it actually does take up less space in your suitcase.

So those are my final tips on packing light and the art of minimalism.

I would love for you to share what tips you have below the comment section and tell me if you are you a hoarder or a minimalist?

Stay tuned for Season 2 either in April or in May. It’s not because I don’t love you, it’s because I am taking a business sabbatical for all of April.

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