Last year, my word of the year was “visibility”.
I purposefully chose a word I knew would challenge me to push myself over and over. You can read more about that here.
This year, I decided to go for something even scarier.
I chose “audacious”.
I love the word “audacious”. It has a couple of different meanings, but brazen and impudent are among them, and those are great words. I love that it can mean “bold” and it can also mean “defiant”. As I travel through the year, I’m looking for opportunities to be more audacious in both my personal and professional life.
Around the time I was deciding on my word of the year, I came across the blog Power, Peace, and the Porch Gym. In a series of posts, Bethany discusses cultivating habits. The idea of habits was interesting to me since the idea of a habit feels less stressful than big scary resolutions (which I don’t do anyway). It made me think about habits and how I could incorporate useful habits into my daily routine.
Sometime in the past six months, Selena of the Love You More Project posted this question on Facebook “What is one thing you can do to love yourself today?” The question stayed with me. It also struck me as such a fierce act of audaciousness – to choose some way you could love yourself more.
I decided I wanted to cultivate a habit of going to the gym for 60 days in a row as a form of self-care. This would be something I did for myself every day. Something I enjoyed. Something that was easy for me to do (the gym isn’t far from my house) and provided its own reward (thank you, endorphins). Choosing to prioritize self-care without tying it to anything but feeling good is both an act of boldness and defiance.
When I reached 60 days, I extended my goal to 100 days. Today is the 100th day.
I hadn’t intended to blog about the experience because my blogs are usually about marketing, and I’m pretty sure no one cares how many laps I swim. But, as I approached the 100th day, I started to look back at the lessons I’ve learned along the way. And, no surprise, they are kind of universal. But since this is a blog about marketing for small businesses, I’m going to talk about things from that perspective.
We need breath to function in our bodies, but we also need that quiet space to breathe in our business. When you own your own business, the space to breathe doesn’t always happen naturally. It is easy to work on just one more project or let work life seep into home life. But if we’re always rushing from one thing to the next, never catching our breath, we don’t give ourselves time to create, reflect, revise, and plan.
Focus on the day
I only focused on my goal for that day (going to the gym). I didn’t focus on the day after that. I showed up. I did the work. Every day. Over and over. When I was feeling unsure on day 27, I didn’t plan ahead to day 28 or day 40. I just focused on what I could do that day.
Obviously, we have to plan ahead in our business, but we also have to focus on what is happening every day in our business and do the work needed to get to the next day.
We need support and encouragement in our lives. We’re not meant to do it alone. Women, especially, need a cheering squad that has our backs. Whether it is online or in person (I’m lucky enough to have both!), find people who support you, believe in you, and encourage you. You’re worth it!
Learn from others
While I’m not a complete gym newbie, techniques and best practices change over time, and it had been a long, long time since I was a regular gym member. By interacting with and observing other members, I was able to pick up some new moves, and learn about the people I saw every day. Paying attention to what people you admire are doing helps you improve and introduces you to new ideas.
Celebrate your wins
Surpassing my personal records pretty much only matters to me, but it still feels fantastic. I celebrate the little victories because they matter to me.
Be prepared to change course
One night, on the way home from the gym, I was rear ended by a drunk driver. Although this was obviously something I didn’t have any control over, I was disappointed (and sore!). While I recovered, I reduced some gym activities and modified others. Taking it slow and changing my plans was a better decision for me than trying to do it all and injuring myself further.
During this project, there were actually TWO days I didn’t actually go to the gym. One was Easter Sunday and the other day I wasn’t able to get there on time. Instead, I used the ancient thrift store exercise bike I have at home (not comfortable for me, but the kids love it).
Set small realistic goals
Can I tell you a secret? My real goal is to go to the gym 365 days in a row. And that’s crazy, right? Who knows what could happen in a year? It is in the back of mind, but right now I’m focusing on the small achievable steps, the chunks of time that I feel comfortable doing as I work towards my bigger goal. My goal was 60 days. Then 100 days. Now it is 150 days. When I reach that goal, I’ll set another one.
I’ve been dealing with plantar fasciitis for a couple of years, and I wasn’t sure how it would affect my goal of going to the gym day after day. Although I regularly take my kids hiking and on excursions that involve a lot of walking, I wasn’t interested in purposefully causing myself pain every day. I knew I’d need to stick to exercise bikes, elliptical machines, and swimming so I didn’t aggravate it.
That is until I tried to use an elliptical machine. I lasted only one minute before the pain was too much, and I had to limp off the machine. No more elliptical machines for me!
Around day 80, I was inspired to hop on the treadmill since my foot pain had practically disappeared (What can I say? I’m an optimist!) Around day 85 things were going so well, I thought I’d try a little running mixed in with the walking. The first couple of days were fine, and I was thrilled with the new routine. Then the foot pain came back. No more running for me. I liked the running, and I’m disappointed that is a limitation I have right now, but I’m really attached to walking without pain.
As moms and business owners, we’re not going to have the same amount of free time as others. That is a limitation we need to accept and deal with, and why I think really looking at our limitations and planning accordingly can help keep us from burning out.
Don’t do something that feels wrong
Weeks after I was rear ended, when I felt I was completely healed, I tried a new movement. Almost immediately, I knew there was something about the movement that was wrong for me. I could have pushed through, hoping things would improve. Instead, I put the weights back, stretched, and moved on.
There are so many ways to market your business, and (I hope!) some of them will feel natural and fun. Some will feel challenging. Some will feel wrong. If you run into a program or method that feels icky and wrong to you – you don’t have to use it. If it feels wrong, move on to something that feels right and true for you.
I’ll be honest. There were some days I really would have rather stayed home. Not many, but definitely a few. I had lots of excuses and reasons to skip, but I went anyway.
Show up. Keep going. Do the work you need to do. Every victory you achieve gives you a chance to create another.
Tomorrow will be day 101. Sometime in the future is day 200. But right now, I’m celebrating today’s win.
Musings about marketing, social media, and small business.