Maybe it’s the European in me, but during this time away from the podcast I didn’t feel guilt.
I felt completely ok. I knew I wanted to bring it back, but I also wanted to do it right.
And I felt okay leaving my business too. Not posting to social media, not constantly showing up on any platform. I was still making sales, because I’ve set up this business to run even if I’m not behind the wheel at all times.
And even more than that, my business and financials didn’t suffer.
I’m sure you’ve seen the meme floating around social media, it goes something like:
“European out of offices: “I’m away camping for the summer. Email again in September”
American out-of-offices: “I have left the office for two hours to undergo kidney surgery but you can reach me on my cell anytime.”
And as a European living in America, as a creative entrepreneur, I can with 100% certainty say that I’ve felt both sides of this spectrum.
As my business has grown, I’ve also made intentional steps to building a life with more hygge, and a little more European mindset to work.
What I’ve realized as I’ve been on this journey to creating a business that allows me to life the life of my dreams, not the other way around.. Is that I don’t have to sacrifice money or impact while still making time for what matters most – freedom and flexibility.
I don’t know about you, but when I left corporate America… Or got kicked out head first, head back to episode 1 if you’re curious about what I’m talking about… And the 9-5 lifestyle, it was in an effort to create more margin, more flexibility, and more freedom.
And while the exact details might look a little different, I know so many of us share that same desire. To build a business that allows us to be present for life; yet, so many entrepreneurs end up creating businesses that turn into their own personal prisons.
Tighter than the walls of their former 9-5.
Today I want to talk about how to build a business built for life. A business that allows us to be present for the things that matter to us, instead of letting our business decide everything for us.
If you’re wanting to add more hygge and less hustle into your life, this episode is for you!
Get clear on your priorities
If you’ve been around the online entrepreneurship world for any amount of time, I’m sure you’ve seen the 10k month mark of success.
And while there is nothing wrong with wanting to hit those 10k months, or even using it as a benchmark or goal to strive towards, there is so much more to life and business than this.
While I certainly believe that we’re all capable of hitting those 10k months, we also have to realize they come at the expense of other things. Time with our family, projects that light us up, margin in our lives.
Everything is essentially a choice.
In episode 7, I talked all about the power of saying no in your business, and I think that is an important lesson in building a business that serves your life.
So the first step here is to get clear on your priorities and your goals.
Is hitting 10k months what you want? Is that what your priority is? What are you willing to sacrifice in order to get there?
As I’ve reflected on the priorities I value in my life and business, impact always comes in high. Sure, I don’t want to run a charity or an expensive hobby, but I truly want to help others reach their goals and potential. That is what really motivates me more than the financial aspect of it.
I also value flexibility, white space in my calendar, and time to just be. Which is part of why I’ve set up my business with at least one week off client work each month.
I’m still making good money, but rather than the money being the deciding factor in whether or not I take on a certain project, or say yes or no to a certain opportunity, I use these other priorities to guide the decision.
I want you to pause the podcast right here, and make a note. It can even be in your phone. What are your priorities? What do you value? Mine is a simple list in the notes app of my iPhone, so nothing fancy. What do you want to make space for in your life? What do you value?
Write some thoughts down, and then come back to the rest of the episode!
Like we touched on before, the 10k/month trap of the online business world can be scary. If you’re following a lot of entrepreneurs and coaches who push that this is the only metric of success, it’s easy to feel like you’re not enough if that’s not your reality. Or even feel guilty if that’s not what you want to be your reality.
It’s also easy to see these people’s highlight reels on Instagram, and forget the hard work that goes into creating this kind of reality. If that is your goal, then awesome. Go get it. But don’t think that their goals have to be your goals.
Define what is enough for you, and let the rest be a bonus.
Again, it’s a fine line of balance here. I have financial goals. I have good, better, best when it comes to the financial aspect of my business. But I also know that if I truly wanted to, I could probably make more. But, it would come at the expense of something else.
Like my ability to renovate houses with my husband. Or spontaneous trips to coffee shops with friends. Or even just a random target run in the middle of the day just because.
I love how Shanna Skidmore talks about intentionally choosing less in a “more is better” world.
Shanna provides such a good perspective that it is okay to want less in your business so that you can leave room for more elsewhere. For her, it comes back to naming your values. She takes it one step further in naming your values in this season.
And I think that is what is so important. We all have the same amount of hours in a day, but we don’t all have the same values right now. And then combine that with understanding what enough is to you and your family. How much money do you need to take home at the end of the day?
To me, these numbers often have a little bit of a stretch but still feel comfortable.
You know the kind of enough that allows me to still feel like I’m growing and reaching for something, while still leaving time for what matters most.
I am an entrepreneur after all.
And then from those numbers, work backwards to figure out what you actually have to do in order to reach them.
What do you need to sell? How much? And then, when you hit that, you can be ok knowing that you don’t have to keep pushing. Unless you want to, or it’s just fun.
Set clear boundaries:
Next up is boundaries, I almost like to think of the first two – defining your priorities and defining enough as the overarching goals.
More so the guiding lights in building a business that allows us to live our best lives, and then the boundaries become part of how we’re able to actually do that.
You know, the opposite of New Year’s resolutions that we break by week 2.
Response times and expectations
Honestly, one of my biggest pet peeves is when I see people posting on their Instagram stories that they’re away from their computer for the weekend and will get back to all inquiries when they return.
Not because it’s necessarily bad… But, because it’s such an obvious example of creating a business that becomes your personal jail. And here I’m not talking about those one off circumstances if your email is down or your website is down. More so if you’re stepping away from your email for the weekend or taking time to spend with your family.
You don’t really owe anyone an explanation. Yes, I know they pay your bills, and you want to serve people well. But there are better ways to do this that don’t involve an announcement every time you want a break from your laptop.
Early on in my business ,I heard a business coach talking about expectations and that people listen more to what you do rather than what you say.
For example, if you let them know that your response time is 48 hrs, but they get a response within 5 minutes every time they email you… Well… That one time you don’t email them back within 5 minutes, they will think you aren’t meeting their expectations.
This is a learning curve for me because I love responding right away, but have learned it’s okay to let emails sit a little bit. Take a look and find what boundaries you could set for yourself.
Are you clearly communicating your response time? Clarify things so you can take time away from your laptop whenever you want!
Who you take on, how much you work, and creative schedules
I only ever take on projects that completely light me up. If I’m not excited about the project on a consult call, I will turn it down and refer the project to another designer.
It’s absolutely nothing personal, but I believe in being protective of both my own and others’ energy, money, and time.
As I’ve grown as a creative, and found my style, I’ve also realized what kinds of projects truly light my soul on fire.
I want to encourage you here to think back on the clients you’ve worked with over the past year. Who stands out as an exceptional experience? Who allowed you to truly be your best self and show up with ease?
Because business doesn’t have to feel hard.
I think a lot of it starts with the boundaries we set.
Did spending time with a client feel like spending time with a friend?
The other thing here is being clear on how much you want to be working, and what your schedule looks like.
It’s okay to turn down a project if the timeline doesn’t fit. Or if the way they would need you to work doesn’t align with how you like to work.
In my business, I have really clear processes set up for my client experiences. I’m not afraid to turn down a project if it doesn’t fit within those.
Not because it couldn’t be a good project, but because I’ve found that the more I can work on autopilot as far as my systems and processes go, the better I’m able to show up creatively within those boundaries.
The best creativity is found when boundaries are set in place!
Plan your life first, and then let your business fit around that.
Summer 2021 I had big hopes to go to Norway, but with the current climate of international travel, I also knew it would be very last minute. Knowing that I typically book out my calendar months in advance, I blocked off time hoping we’d be able to go, and knowing that if not, I’d have some creative white space in my calendar.
I have learned time off is good for the soul either way.
So as you start planning for next year, be sure to add in that family time or traveltime, whatever it is. Make blackout dates on your calendar that no one can touch, no matter what they offer in exchange for it. Because after all, a burnt-out creative does nobody any good!
That’s it for today’s episode, friends! I hope you’re able to use these tips to build a life and business that you love, with a little more hygge and a little less hustle along the way.
I’d love to hear which one of these tips you plan on implementing in your own business, so head over to Instagram and send me a message! I’d love to cheer you on as you build the life and business of your dreams.