What Do You Dream for 2014?

I’m so NOT good at resolutions, and to be perfectly honest, sometimes I find myself feeling more overwhelmed on Jan. 1 and even more anxious for the year to end, come Dec. 26. Like, every year.

But I’ve made some decisions. Some plans. I’m taking some time the rest of this week to really lay things out with concrete goals and targets. What about you?

Have you seen my end of year review? It’s a couple years old, but still highly relevant, me thinks.

I’ve got a Dream List I’m working on, and I’d like to share it with you. It’s small, to start, and will surely be added to, modified, and rearranged to suit my every whim. My goal in sharing is to hopefully inspire you to create your own Dream List for 2014, and share it with others, as I am with you.

Please share any links to your Dream Lists in the comments! I’ll be back here after the first with some concrete plans laid out for you, for me, and much more!

Last thing – I saw that I had a few un-subscribers when I wrote my last post… they said “I never signed up for VILE language in my inbox!” and things like that. While I understand that the occasional drop of a “naughty word” may offend some people, if you’re an adult living in the modern world, I’m quite certain it wasn’t the first time for you. I don’t want to alienate anyone, but I’m going to be me, and I’m sorry if that bothers you, but there’s no reason to bother with trying to change me. Just unsubscribe and be done. It’s okay, I’ll live, and so will you. Promise. :)

 

Figuring Out The Art of Re-Invention

It’s really difficult to come back from some of the crazy, curve ball black eyes we get in life sometimes.

Throughout most of my life, I was able to bounce back from just about anything. I never worried, I didn’t ever second guess myself.

I was always positive that the “next thing”, that proverbial opening door after the one that closes, was going to be even better than the last.

I went to college to pursue my dream of working with animals. Afterward, I got my first job at a zoo, and then a month later 9/11 happened and both of my full time jobs disappeared.

I moved back to my childhood home, head hung low and fighting off some serious depression over watching my dream go down the drain… then picked myself up and used my skills and interest in web development to get some work with an SEO company.

A year later, they dissolved my position and the owner told me that she thought I should go out on my own. So I did.

I mean, why not? My father was self-employed most of his life, my mother had done the same, so why not me?

After a few years I landed my best client ever, Darren Rowse of ProBlogger. I worked with him for many years, and wouldn’t trade a second of it. I met so many amazing people, many of whom I call friends to this day. I left ProBlogger for Blog World Expo, and then fast forward to November 2011 and I was unemployed.

One would’ve thought that I could’ve just picked up some new work and that would’ve been it. I mean, I’d worked with Live Nation on a project for Coty and Madonna. I’d worked with Kraft Foods on several projects of theirs. But every job I sought out wanted me to move across country for their startup and way too little pay, much less any security.

Then my only grandparent passed away, and two weeks later? I was pregnant.

Talk about an emotional roller coaster! I had desperately wanted my whole life to become a Mommy. But what the hell? No job, losing my Gram, and NOW?

Don’t get me wrong… I was ecstatic. But I say this with 100% certainty – being pregnant and subsequently giving birth to a perfect, healthy baby girl is what kept me alive.

See, I’ve always tended to identify myself heavily by what I do for a living. I wanted to be a zookeeper since I was 5, and when I finally did it, I was “there”. But at this point with not having any work coming in and after nearly 600 resumes, not getting anything… I was thoroughly depressed.

I tried to focus on my art. It was one thing that has always brought me immense pleasure and joy… that sense of accomplishment. I still do spend as much time with my art as possible, though having a wee one who’s learning to walk makes it somewhat difficult these days! :)

I did eventually get a job, back in August. I love it. I’m helping people create 6-figure incomes for themselves using some really amazing tools. It’s such a joy to get the emails from people who were on the verge of homelessness and are now using our software to build their businesses and care for their families.

But to be absolutely honest – as much as I love what I’m doing, and I really don’t have any plans of leaving my job anytime soon, part of me still misses being self-employed, and wishes there were a way to sustain my family on an artist’s income. Not happenin’, man. Not in this economy.

So I guess what I’m saying is that I’m no stranger to re-inventing myself. In fact, I think I’m pretty damn good at it by now. And I want to help people, be it to re-invent themselves, get inspired, or care for their families, or discover their inner child’s audacity to get what they want.

I think it’s time I get to working on something I’ve had in my head for a while. I want to put some stuff together to help people… what’s sticking with me is time, but I’m going to simply have to figure it out. I do know one thing, though. I need to come here and write more.

“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.”
~ Walt Disney

I promise, during my own re-invention, the following:

  • Everything you read here, from this point forward, will be part of a bigger story. It will be authentic, no mincing of words, sheer honesty from yours truly.
  • My aim in everything I do will be to help people. Sure, I’m going to make some money along the way, but my goal is to help others, be it one at a time, or en masse.
  • I will acknowledge both failures and successes, and share them with you. Hopefully we can all glean a lesson from everything.

So yes… this post was inspired. This post was something I needed to get out. And now, it’s time to move forward. Come with me?

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Finding Your Childhood Audacity

Or… Remembering Your Inner 10 Year Old’s Bravery.

Do you remember your first lemonade stand? I do. Vividly.

Where I grew up, we had well water. An Artesian Well, which to me always sounded so sophisticated.

Our runoff went into the creek across the street, while my neighbor’s runoff came out of a pipe at the end of his driveway, into the rain ditch. People used to “sneak” up in the middle of the night and fill their containers with this “miracle water”. They came from all over. Eventually, they stopped being sneaky and just boldly would park their cars in our yard, driveway, and even would block our driveway, to go get this delicious water.

Remember, this was the EXACT same water that came out of my tap.
The exact same water I made my delicious lemonade from.
Which I was selling for 25 cents a cup.

childhood-audacity-post

So I got really tired of seeing people pass me by to go get this not-so-special “special” water, and not stop to buy my lemonade. Potential customer after potential customer would drive by, smile, even wave at me. And grab some water from the “spring” next door instead of stopping at my stand. So tired of this that I decided to yell over to one man in particular while he was filling up his glass.

“Hey Mister! This lemonade was made with that very same water!”

He looked at me and laughed to himself. I assumed he was going to get into his car and drive off, shaking his head with a smirk or something. Nope, he walked over to me, wiping his forehead with a handkerchief he’d soaked in the cool water first.

My mom had heard me, and of course came outside to see what I was yelling about. The man looked at my pitcher of lemonade and said, “So this WHOLE pitcher was made with the same water as from that spring?”

I said, “Yes, sir. It’s the same water that comes out of my faucet ‘onnacount it’s well water.”

He looked at my mom and smiled, and then asked me how much for the whole pitcher. I tried to imagine just how many 25 cent cups of lemonade would come from that pitcher, and while I was counting in my head, he put a $10 bill on the table and asked if that would cover it.

I looked up at my mom and she smiled. She told me we could always go make more.

He then patted me on the head and said, “Little girl, some day I want you to come work for me. You’re an AMAZING saleswoman!”

As he walked back to his car, I realized that he didn’t even take more than one cup of lemonade with him. He left the whole pitcher.

Now, this can be absorbed with any number of “morals of the story”, but the truth is this: I sold one 25 cent cup of lemonade for $10. Just by being honest, bold, and having audacity.

Fearlessness.
Guts.
Confidence.
Assertiveness.

You HAVE to know that what you’ve got to offer is just as good if not better than what’s available elsewhere. Even if it costs more, even if people prefer what’s free or cheap. By thinking that you have to lower your prices, or just sit there and wait for people to come to you, you’re shortchanging yourself. You’re missing out on your true potential to make money, be successful, and build your business and better yet, your own confidence even more.

I was inspired to write this because lately I’ve seen more and more artists and crafters, even designers and small businesses, just doing the basics (if that) and not going after what they want and deserve.

Is this you?

You need to learn how to market yourself for what you’re worth, regardless what your business is. What you’re worth is what people are willing to pay for your services, and just because your Aunt Sally thinks that you’re charging too much, doesn’t mean you are. Just because other people doing the same thing as you are charging less, doesn’t mean their work is as of high a quality as yours. It doesn’t mean that they have more sales, and even if they do, they’re putting in more actual labor than you are, to make the same amount of money (or less).

I sold a $0.02 (materials cost) cup of lemonade for $10. Just by opening my mouth. By being bold and assertive, all while being honest.

If I just sat there, with my little table, sign, and pitcher that day, I may not have ever sold a single cup.

How can you be more bold and assertive in your business? How can you attract buyers better?

The “What The Hell Is Going On With Lara?” Post

It’s so funny how when your life changes, people on the “inside part of outside” of your life change too. Many of my colleagues and friends have stuck with me, stayed in touch, actually interacted with me, but to be honest most have not. And you know what? That’s okay. Because my life, my passions, my plans… have changed quite a bit since you probably last talked with me. And I’m SUPER THRILLED about it! :)

So, let’s see. I’m going to go back to the end of 2011, just because that’s when it all changed, really. I had stopped working with Darren and gone to work for Blog World in August, and by mid-November, had left Blog World. I then decided that I was going to spend some time working on my art and jewelry through the holidays, and see how much fun I could have. (LOTS, in fact!)

Then, here come the whammies. My only living grandparent passed away at the end of December. My father’s mother. So after the mourning time came the clearing out of her house, which is when I discovered I was pregnant. Yes, I’ve heard it often happens that way, and I’m terribly sad that she never got to know about (much less meet) my wonderful daughter. But in the meantime, there was a house (her house) to work on so that we could move in and raise our child in a safe, stress-free community.

September 2013…

sofia-newMy daughter, my one and only child (because I’m sotally a ‘one and done’ mom), Sofia was born. My heart just about blew out of my chest and I don’t think I ever, ever cried so many happy tears in my entire life. Combined. She came a month early, but without imperfection of any kind. She’s healthy and happy and now 8 months old. :)

sofia-feet2So during the pregnancy and aftermath, what have I been working on? Besides being a new mommy, I’ve been creating and licensing more of my art, working on some new business ideas, taking on some client work here and there, and truly just loving life. I’ve also signed on to do a mural on an exterior wall in the city nearby, which you can read about if you’re so inclined. So I’m really thrilled about that!

Have I given up on working in social media/community management? Nope.
Have I changed my direction a little? Yes.
Will I spill the details just now? No way, not yet. Patience, dear one.

Let’s just say if you’re a creative person like me, but without the whole “business brain” of it, you’re gonna be very excited! New business(es) and projects on the way!

Now, I know it’s been a long time since I’ve actually blogged regularly (anywhere, as a matter of fact), but I’ll be making announcements and updates soon. Just know that if you don’t hear from me for a while, it’s probably because I’m covered in baby food or paint or something equally fun!

Hey, 2011… Good Riddance! (Or: What I Say Every December 31st)

I’m by no means a “resolution” making type person, but I do know when I’ve had enough and am ready for a new chapter, and changing the calendar is always like turning the page in the book of my life for me. Kind of like when I was a kid and school supply shopping was the highlight of my year, because there was something about fresh, blank notebooks and pens filled with ink that just felt so good to me. As I aged, it became the annual switch to a fresh new year that took the place of that.

As I’m sure you’re aware, I don’t do much without a plan. I like to plan out my year after a good, solid review of the previous one. I developed a tool to help out with that, and I’ve tuned it up and shared it with you (for free) here: Annual Review & Planning Spreadsheet.

From a business perspective, 2011 was turbulent to say the least. For me, but also for many of my friends and family, so I’m sure you can acknowledge that for yourself as well. My own work brought me into the headquarters of one of the most well-known Fortune 500 food companies in the world, traveling across the country twice in a matter of two months, working way too many 18+ hour days, and sometimes, feeling like I needed to make some changes to my own expectations and efforts.

On a personal level, the year was full of ups and downs. Finances ebbed and flowed as they often do when one is self-employed. Friendships began and ended, babies were born and people passed away. Notably, one of my oldest and dearest friends, Howie, lost his battle with life at way too young an age over the summer. And just days ago, my paternal grandmother, the only grandparent I really ever had for more than 95% of my life, passed away at a young 86 after a brief battle with a bacterial infection that spread to her bloodstream. I spent what felt like weeks (but only amounted to two days) in the hospital with her and my father. Just before they sedated her so she could get some rest, we were fortunate enough to exchange “I love you” with her. We will be honoring her life with friends and family for the next two days, and forever beyond that.

So… as you can see, I’m already tripping up on starting this new year, this new chapter in life. But I vow to continue to make her proud, care for her only son, and live in the home she made with my grandfather with love and respect for them both.

Plans For 2012

I’ve got my categories from my spreadsheet, and have been working on my action items and deadlines. Keeping in mind that all aspects of my “plan” are changeable and updates will be made on the regular, I’ve plans to fix things I’ve been unhappy with such as spending more time with friends and family, taking better care of my (and Erick’s) health, keeping my home free of clutter and chaos, and getting even more obsessive over my finances. We’ll be working towards building a family, growing our businesses, and having the life we dream of.

I also plan on focusing my efforts on things I love in both my career and personal time. I’ll be developing my coaching programs, working more consulting projects and speaking engagements, and writing a book or two. I’ll be working on my websites more, blogging more, and diversifying my income in many ways. I’ll be painting more and making more jewelry, and have plans in the works for teaching some art classes. Since I’m moving back to my hometown, I’ll be spending more time at the firehouse again, which is something I’ve been missing a lot since moving away two years ago. I’ll be closer to my retired racing greyhounds again (they live with my dad), and I’ll be taking more time to work with the rescue group.

I’ve always been one of those people who had a long list of interests, projects, accomplishments and failures. I’m passionate about whatever I’m doing at any given moment, and it’s time for me to focus my efforts on just a few things that make me most happy.I just know that I have this need to always be “busy”, and I sure have that part of the plan covered! However I’m also going to be working on relaxing, not stressing so much over things, and really taking the time to enjoy life as much as possible.

My Advice…

Make 2012 a year for growth, both on a career level and a personal one. Find two or three main things you want to focus on for your work (33% of your time), and five or six you want to work on for the self-preserving, personal 33% of your time. Relax and sleep for the last 33%. You deserve it, and your mind, body, and soul require it to be healthy.

Get control of the things you feel you’ve lost control of. Money, health, organization, business management, whatever it is, wherever you’ve felt you were “slacking”, get control. Have a plan.

Share your love, approach everyone with kindness and respect, assume the best of people. Don’t ever forget to tell people how you feel, and never miss a chance to celebrate life with those who love you in return. Eliminate toxic people from your life – it’s gonna hurt, but in the end you’re going to feel better, I promise. When that negativity bug bites you, suffocate it with hope, dedication, inspiration, and passion. Work hard for what you need, and what you want will come to you.

Give what you can, even if it’s only your time, as that’s often much more valuable to an organization or cause than your money is. But find something you can do and even if it’s only for one day a month, do it. Help people, even if it’s rooted in your career (ie. “for profit”) because I can’t even begin to tell you how good it feels to know you’ve done so.

And last, but farthest from least, love yourself, know that you’re being the best you that you can be, and have faith that things will be great. A positive outlook goes a long way for making good things happen for you, and it’s also contagious! Don’t sweat the small stuff, ask yourself if someone or some thing is going to matter to you a year or five from now before you start to panic or get upset.

I wish you a fabulous, prosperous, happy 2012 – Let’s kick ass!