Posted on / by Natalie / in Season 4

How to Task Out Your Lifestyle Goals

Think back to the last time you had an outing with a friend or significant other. What did you do prior to actually spending time with them?

Did you give them a vague idea of what you’d be doing? Did you tell them that your visit could happen whenever you felt like it? Did you show up to your outing without any expectations of how things would be going?

If you’re the average person, the answer is most likely a no. You and I understand the importance of planning when it comes to major events.

Similarly, you need to apply the same type of careful planning to major lifestyle changes as you do to visits with friends or dates with significant others.

Only through planning, goals, and expectations will you be able to transition into the type of lifestyle that you have dreamed about.

#1. Categorizing Your Lifestyle Goals

Josh and I have been playing with a system to bring meaning and purpose to our lives called ‘Project Life’ – working title. It is something that we love doing and we do it every single day. We have this weekly and monthly check in. And later this month we are doing a quarterly check in and we are doing that as an away weekend. It is something I hope to release as a program or app in 2018.

We’ve drawn on other tools like my personal favorite Zig Ziglars Wheel of Life that helps you to achieve a more balanced lifestyle of your choosing.

Ziglar’s Wheel consists of 7 different sections that include the following:

  • Personal and Social Goals
  • Work and Career Goals
  • Family Goals
  • Spiritual Goals
  • Financial Goals
  • Mind/Intellectual Goals
  • Physical/Health-Related Goals

We may not realize it yet but the way in which we approach our lives can be entirely unbalanced.

For example, someone who is fulfilled in their career may be devoting every available minute towards working but they may be deeply suffering in the family aspect of their lives.

Another person may be at peak health but could have absolutely no social life.

We are each unique and there is always an area in which we could improve. Take a look at the categories above and make a list of things you would like to do in that area.

The actions don’t have to be large in order to make an impact. A goal in the financial area could be as simple as saving $10 by the end of the month or $100,000 by the end of the year.

However, you need to be sure that the goal you set is realistic. If you never work out, you can’t expect yourself to lose 50 pounds over the course of a month.

Plan based on your habits, personality, and motivation to accomplish your goal.

#2. Tasking It Out

It’s great to have goals but it’s better to have actionable steps that you can take to be able to reach those goals.

Let’s pretend that one of your goals is to lose 20 pounds over the next 3 months. It’s a great goal and it’s realistic. However, how are you going to get there?

This is where you need to further specify your goal and map out your actions. A sample might look like this:

  • I want to lose 20 pounds over the next 3 months.
  • I can do this by cutting back on sweets, tracking my calories, and ditching my daily soda.
  • I can also do this by being more active and moving during my off time.
  • One thing that may help me is an exercise program I found here…

Once you feel as though you have sufficiently come up with all of the actions you can take to reach your goal, you can write them down and look at them daily to start incorporating these important habits into your day.

Under Ziglar’s Wheel, he also provides seven of his own steps to create actionable goals.

  1. Identify the goal you want to reach as specifically as possible.
  2. Come up with a list of benefits that will come out of reaching your goal.
  3. List some of the obstacles that might hinder your progress.
  4. Figure out what you need to know or learn in order to reach your goal.
  5. Think about some of the people who can help you to achieve your goal.
  6. Create a plan of action.
  7. Set a deadline for your goal.

#3. Ensure Passion

Without passion, whatever goal you set for yourself is going to fall through. If you don’t feel the need to lose 20 pounds, then working out will be a chore and a waste of your time.

Only set goals for yourself that you truly want to achieve. You’ll know when you want to truly take action because you’ll be excited every time you take action towards your desired result.

Along with tasking out your goals, tools such as journaling and vision boards can be extremely helpful in creating the lifestyle you have always wanted. This is what we will be tackling on the next podcast.

While you are waiting to continue your lifestyle freedom journey, feel free to visit my website because you are in for a treat at the end of November, I am running the How to Plan Your Ideal Freedom Year Workshop”. It’s the 3rd year that I am running this and I absolutely adore doing it.

In it:

  • We set out and achieve your perfect 2018 year and we get started on planning it out
  • I show you exactly how to prioritize what you are putting into your calendar for next year.
  • We move into goal setting.
  • You get my content, editorial and marketing plan template.
  • We look at how we can plan out your entire content for all of next year regardless of what business you are in.
  • And so much more!

It’s a 90 minute DOING workshop. So if you want to find out more details about that, head here. And the most genius part about it is even if you can’t come along live, after it I get it split out into a mini course that you will always be able to refer back to and look at.

So if you want to enter 2018 like a rockstar, I think it’s probably going to be a pretty awesome deal for you.

Tune into the next episode where we are going to be talking about the lifestyle freedom journey and continuing on with what we’ve been doing in Season 4.

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  • HostGator won’t take up any room in your suitcase, but will still be there for every step of your adventure with their 24/7/365 live support.
  • Thanks to their 24/7 – 365 days a year live support – which you can get via chat, phone and email – any and all questions you have can be answered in no time at all.

HostGator has partnered with me to help my listeners get started. Click the link below to get 50% off any shared hosting plan.

Visit https://www.hostgator.com/quest

Posted on / by Natalie / in Season 4

Discovering Your Ideal Lifestyle

In the previous episode, we discussed two major emotions that can hold you back from living out your ideal lifestyle.

Now that you’re prepared for what is to come, we need to discuss the most important question you will encounter along the journey to lifestyle freedom.

What is important to me?!

It’s both extremely simple and extremely complicated. We all seem to know some of the things that are important to us such as maintaining our fitness and cultivating meaningful relationships.

However, very few of us have actually explored some of the most basic human needs and figured out the type of actions we need to take in order to thrive in those aspects of life.

Today, this is what we’ll be discovering together.

Discovering Your Ideal Lifestyle:

Imagine that you’ve woken up one day with the ability to do absolutely whatever you wanted. You have no monetary restrictions, all of your friends and family are ready to join you in your adventures at a moment’s notice, and you are able to travel anywhere with ease.

What would you do?

It’s a difficult question to answer. You may not be able to answer that question because you have never considered lifestyle freedom a possibility before.

Since we were born, we have been surrounded by societal trends such as 40-hour workweeks, flawless bodies that require extensive gym visits, and family lives that are more stressful than fulfilling.

Here’s the truth: It doesn’t have to be this way!

In life, you are your own boss. You control what you do, how you go about it, when you do it, where you do it, and who you do it with.

You may be thinking, Natalie, I do have monetary restrictions and other things holding me back from living my ideal lifestyle!

I understand you completely.

While you may not be able to sit down right now, map out the rest of your life, and make it happen by snapping your fingers, you do have the opportunity to make the choice to start moving into a place of freedom.

Make that choice right here and right now. Take the leap with me and begin your journey to a life of freedom by figuring out what it is that you truly want.

Step 1: Dream, Dream, Dream

Remember the question I asked you earlier about your ideal day? I want you to answer it right now. Most importantly, I need you to answer it as specifically as you possibly can.

For example, this is how I envision my perfect day:

“I wake up in the morning with no alarm and no phone next to my bed and I wake up naturally. I turn to my lover Mr. Josh and I give him lots of kisses, hugs and cuddles.

And then little Kayla, who is not so little anymore comes around my side of the bed in for a cuddle, who just snuffles her nose into my hand and I just lovefeel so much love for my white German Shepherd puppy.

I throw open the curtains and right outside our windows this gorgeous creamy white rose which is just in full bloom right now.

It’s the first thing that I see in the morning with the sunlight coming up and all the trees and the gorgeous greenery in our garden, and looking over to the hills in the distance.

It’s a pretty spectacular way to start the morning and given that it’s spring here right now, the sun is already shining on me. So when I’m on my yoga mat I’m getting heated up by the warmth of the sun.

I typically do about 30 minutes of yoga with Adriene. I recently did a Facebook live about her and I think she is fabulous. She has a free Youtube channel and I just love her yoga.

She’s funny, she’s joyous, she’s grateful and she doesn’t take life too seriously and it’s just a pleasure to do yoga with her.

Then I will roll into anywhere from a 10-30 minute meditation. I’m working my way up into doing more of that and by this stage and really like Joe Dispenza’s work.

Otherwise I will walk to our barn with Josh to do a boxing or crossfit workout in our gym and put on some great motivational music. The sun streams in through the roller doors and the fresh air is magic.

Then I have a lovely hot shower which I am so grateful for.

I go through to the kitchen and typically make breakfast with Josh and make a green smoothie with something really awesome from my garden like kale or spinach that I grabbed after my workout, and then frozen strawberries, blueberries, banana and coconut water .

I also will have visited our five chickens to pick up the fresh eggs so that we can make a delicious omelette, scrambled eggs or poached eggs with avocado and smoked salmon or bacon because breakfast is my favorite meal of the day!

And then and only then, do I actually head over to my laptop and I either set up in the lounge or in the study or out in the coworking barn.

I start working in my most important action of the day which I have typically written up the night before or in that moment into our Project Life (working name) spreadsheet.

We always try and balance this out across the week between the 8 sort of areas of life that are really important.

And that my friend is just the start of my Perfect Day and I am living it right now which is pretty fantastic.

I want you to be able to describe the type of room that you are waking up in. I want you to be able to describe the food that you are eating throughout the day. I need you to be able to envision the exact temperature on the thermostat of the home you are living in.

Why am I asking you to be able to state the exact temperature of your house? While it may not seem important, specificity is key to designing your ideal lifestyle.

In fact, one study conducted by Gary Latham and Edwin Locke found that 90 percent of people who set challenging, specific goals were able to actually meet them rather than those who had simple goals with no direction.

No matter how silly it may seem, think about every possible angle of your perfect day and write it down. You may not need every detail but you will be better prepared for the next step.

Step 2: Determine What Matters Most

Now that you have a better idea of what you would like to be doing with your time, take a look at your list and go through the 5 W’s:

Who- Who was it that you wanted to spend your time with? Did you list your spouse during your perfect day vision? Did some of your old friends crop up while you were daydreaming? Review your notes and come up with a list of the people who appeared most.

What- What were you doing during your ideal day? Were you working from home rather than in an office? Were you working out in your own yoga studio? These actions will help you to identify some of the major areas that you want to focus on in the future.

When- When were you the most active? On the other hand, when were you experiencing the most relaxation? You may find out that you are currently working when you want to be relaxing and relaxing when you are most energetic.

Where- Did you travel? What type of house were you in? What did nature outside of your living area look like? As the saying goes, “if you don’t like where you are, move. You are not a tree.” You may not be happy with where you are currently living and this daydream session will tell you exactly that.

Why- Why are you doing the things that you are doing? If this is your perfect day, you must care about the actions you are taking. Evaluate each action you have written down and ask yourself whether or not you care about the thing you are doing, if it adds value to your life, and if it helps you get towards where you want to be.

Make sure that you have done this thoroughly. Each category helps you to better determine what you will be working towards once you’ve decided to live a life of freedom.

Step 3: Come Up With a Rough Life Sketch

Take what you’ve collected over the past few steps and compile it into a rough plan.

For example, let’s pretend that I’ve come up with my own life vision where I am living in France, running my own clothing business during the day from my large, well-lit apartment, and spending the majority of my time with my friends during the night.

Although this a brief example, I’ve identified who I want to spend my time with, where I want to be, when I want to be doing things, and what I am doing with my time. Why am I doing this?

Clearly, I’ve crafted this plan because I truly want to live in France, I love the idea of running a clothing business from home, and I want to be spending my time with friends who care about me.

This is by no means a list that will help you to reach said goals and lead a free life. Instead, this is the foundation upon which you will build your ideal life.

In episode 3, we will be discussing how to categorize and task out these goals in order to assure complete domination over your ideal lifestyle.

In the meantime, sign up below to download the free guide.

If this is opening your mind up to the possibilities of what you really want to be doing with your life but you don’t feel like you are close to that or if you are actually just wanting to rock out 2018 then you are in for a treat.

On November 29th, I am running a LIVE online workshop called Plan Your Ideal Freedom Year!”.

I will personally walk you through my step by step process to have your ideal year, including how to:

  • SET YOUR VISION FOR 2018 and plan out your entire year so you prioritize what matters – we will map this out real-time together and I’ll show you behind the scenes of how I plan out my year.
  • MAP OUT YOUR QUARTERLY, MONTHLY and WEEKLY ACTIONS based on your annual goals and the calendar so you know exactly what to do to achieve amazing results in your business in 2018!
  • Take your big vision and plans for 2018 and put them into your OWN CONTENT, MARKETING and
    EDITORIAL CALENDAR so you feel focused and in control – I’ll show you my calendar as a real example of what’s possible.
  • Learn my 6 STEP DAILY SUCCESS PLAN to become more productive in a week than you are in a year – no seriously.
  • PLUS you’ll learn the key questions EVERY entrepreneur should be able to answer to get you fully prepared to get the most out of this course and your year ahead.
  • BONUS #1: You’ll get my awesome Content, Marketing and Editorial Calendar template to use to plan out your amazing year.
  • BONUS #2: You’ll get follow up access to the recording of this workshop, broken down into a micro course to work through at your own pace, at any time, as well as a PDF summary handout.

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  • Thanks to their 24/7 – 365 days a year live support – which you can get via chat, phone and email – any and all questions you have can be answered in no time at all.

HostGator has partnered with me to help my listeners get started. Click the link below to get 50% off any shared hosting plan.

Visit https://www.hostgator.com/quest

 

Posted on / by Natalie / in Personal Freedom

My New Found Freedom

Yesterday I made a pretty damn big announcement that I thought might surprise or even shock many people.

Instead it ended up rocking my world with over hundreds of heartfelt and insightful comments on my personal profile and well over 5,000 views already!

So what is this news you may ask?

Watch this Facebook Live Video to find out.

 

I am still nervous, yet also excited, to let you know that after seven years, I am stepping away from my beloved business and brand, The Suitcase Entrepreneur.

Instead I’m fully embracing stepping into being ME and my own brand as a FREEDOMIST, and focusing on YOUR personal daily freedom.

I’m going 100% in on developing a freedom framework from the research that started in late 2015 over at Right2Freedom, and through my new podcast that started in January this year, Quest for Freedom.

This is my calling and I feel so much more FREE to expand both personally and professionally now.

Yes, this will mean some significant changes coming up that you will be the first to know about. But for now all you need to know is that I aim to bring more joy, happiness and freedom into your everyday life from now on.

PS. This was the best decision ever I’ve ever made and, it seems from the overwhelming feedback, is needed now more than ever.

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  • Thanks to their 24/7 – 365 days a year live support – which you can get via chat, phone and email – any and all questions you have can be answered in no time at all.

HostGator has partnered with me to help my listeners get started. Click the link below to get 50% off any shared hosting plan.

Visit https://www.hostgator.com/quest

 

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?

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  • HostGator allows you to run your business from anywhere, at anytime, with their 99.9% uptime guarantee.
  • HostGator won’t take up any room in your suitcase, but will still be there for every step of your adventure with their 24/7/365 live support.
  • Thanks to their 24/7 – 365 days a year live support – which you can get via chat, phone and email – any and all questions you have can be answered in no time at all.

HostGator has partnered with me to help my listeners get started. Click the link below to get 50% off any shared hosting plan.

Visit https://www.hostgator.com/quest

 

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 / 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.

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  • create your own course website, with your own custom branding, so you get all of the credit for how professional your course website looks.
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  • 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.

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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.

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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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