Cheers to 2021 Being a Better Year—More or Less

And just like that, the year we all couldn’t wait to end has passed.

2020 was indeed tough—for many people, it was far more so than for others. My family has felt the same effects of the restrictions on socializing and traveling that everyone has faced. Rather than spend time in person with our relatives and friends (aside from a few small, social-distanced outdoor outings and some meals at restaurants abiding by state and CDC guidelines this summer), we’ve kept to ourselves. We grappled with our daughter’s high school graduation being something much different and less momentous than what we envisioned. And her first year of college—which she welcomed with anticipation of more independence and new social connections—brought a much less satisfying reality (after two weeks, COVID-19 cases on campus were rising and she opted to move home and finish the semester online).  

Still, we’ve been extremely fortunate.

We’ve stayed healthy, and our friends who have fallen ill from the virus have recovered. Our daughter finished her first semester at college with a 3.8 GPA. My husband’s place of employment is in an industry well-insulated from the pandemic downturn, and my freelance content writing business has continued to thrive.

I don’t take these blessings for granted.

An Opportunity for Reflection

I’ve never been one to make New Year’s resolutions. After all, does the calendar page flipping over to expose January of the year ahead make us any more committed to achieving the goals that we’ve pushed to the wayside before? I think not. However, 2020 and the pandemic have allowed more time to pause and consider life, work, and everything that goes with them. That has prompted me to create a list of my intentions for improvements in the new year. Ultimately, I’ve realized that while some things are not in my control, many are. A lot has been going right, and to remain on a positive trajectory, I need to continue to do more of some things and do less of others.

My 30-Point “More and Less” Plan for a Bright, Shiny New Year

Rather than “resolutions,” the below list represents the promises I’ve made to myself for 2021.

  1. Be more present in the moment with my family and friends. (Whether that be via phone and video calls or (let’s hope!) in person.)
  2. Spend less time on Facebook. (Politics, disagreements over wearing  masks…need I say more.)
  3. Spend more time on Babbel. (Before my trip to Italy in late 2019, I used the platform to get some basic knowledge of the Italian language. I’ve recently signed up for an annual subscription to learn Spanish.)
  4. Do less scrolling on social media. (It’s far too easy to spiral out of control down that rabbit hole.)
  5. Do more muting and unfollowing consistently negative and combative people on social media. (Adios, amigos!)
  6. Continue to focus on eating whole foods and invest in quality vitamins and supplements to maximize health. ( I am a loyal fan of the Shaklee brand. I suggest contacting Jennie Weinhold if you want to learn more about them.)
  7. Limit alcoholic beverages to a maximum of two drinks on two days a week. (Or the equivalent of one glass of wine four days a week.)
  8. Drink lots of water. (I always feel and mentally and physically perform better when I drink at least 64 ounces per day.)
  9. Spend less time in the vicinity of my smartphone. (I’m more focused, productive, and content when it’s out of reach.)
  10. Consume more kombucha. (It’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Ha, ha! See what I did there? But I enjoy this probiotic, fermented tea drink. Notably, Health-Ade Kombucha Pink Lady Apple, KeVita Master Brew Kombucha Blackberry Hops and Blueberry Basil, and Brew Dr. Kombucha Island Mango.)
  11. Don’t take things personally.
  12. Have more patience. (No easy task, right? But I’ve found that taking a deep breath and giving a moment to process the situation before responding helps diffuse an immediate emotional reaction and allow for a measured, intentional response.)
  13. Show and express more gratitude for and appreciation of the people in my life.
  14. Refrain from jumping to conclusions about people’s intentions. (Less judging, more accepting.)
  15. Make more sleep a priority. (There’s no glory in trying to thrive on minimal amounts. My ideal shut-eye range is between 8.5 and 9 hours. What’s yours?)
  16. Create less self-induced stress by worrying about things out of my control.
  17. Initiate more phone and video calls to check in with family and friends to fill the void of face-to-face interaction.
  18. Find more opportunities to show kindness and give hope to people who are feeling down or struggling.
  19. Watch news broadcasts less. (I’ve learned there’s a fine line between being informed and being indoctrinated.)
  20. Do more Schroth Method. (This specialized form of physical therapy for scoliosis has been a godsend for me since I began practicing it faithfully in May of 2018 with the guidance expertise of Andrea Yaktus at Empower Physical Therapy.)
  21. Suppress negative self-talk.
  22. Stay the course with my cardio and light weights regimen. (As a former amateur competitive bodybuilder, the mandate to stop certain weight-training exercises due to my scoliosis progression was a tough pill to swallow for me. But I’ve learned ways to adapt.)
  23. Avoid interrupting people while they’re talking. (I am guilty of this!)
  24. Continue to practice intermittent fasting and keto-friendly eating. (While many people have complained of putting on the dreaded “COVID 15,” I’ve lost 15 pounds by doing these things and staying true to my exercise regimen.) 
  25. Get annoyed less. (i.e., Don’t let little things derail my attitude. Most people are doing the best they can.)
  26. Don’t obsess about my weight. (Eating restrictions and exercise enthusiasm are a double-edged sword for me. I’m an anorexia survivor, so it’s a struggle to keep healthy intentions from transforming into a self-damaging obsession with exerting control.)
  27. Complain less. (Again, most people are doing the best they can.)
  28. Keep my mind more open to opportunities that may be outside of my comfort zone but ultimately worth taking a chance on.
  29. Explore more ways to provide value to my clients and expand my business’s revenue streams–without overextending myself.
  30. Stop neglecting my blog. (As my work for clients was at an all-time high in 2020, I ignored my own blogging efforts. One might argue that if business has been so good without it, why bother? Well, it’s a matter of committing myself to what I want my blogging clients to commit to. In 2021, I need to get over not always having the “perfect” idea for a captivating long-form article. Small observations and short nuggets of wisdom can be of value, too. With that epiphany, expect to see much more coming your way from dawnmentzer.com this year.)

Forging Ahead into 2021 with Intent

Nothing that I’ve mentioned above is unattainable or too much of a stretch. Still, it will require self-determination and the recognition that no desired results come without effort.

What have you set your sights on accomplishing in 2021? What will you do more or less of?

None of us are strangers to working through adversity after experiencing 2020. If we all apply our newfound resilience to following through on our self-development goals, the year ahead will undoubtedly bring a much-improved experience for all.

Happy New Year to you!

Crappy Day? Consider These 18 Ideas To Make It Less Crappy.

These past several weeks have been tough. My freshman daughter took a hit to her self-confidence after making it to call backs for young-african-american-girl-with-thumbs-upthe high school fall play but not getting chosen for the cast. We rescued a sweet Staffordshire terrier/Pitbull mix (Loki) and discovered that the fit won’t be a good one with our resident female pitty mix. And my last remaining grandparent was diagnosed with esophageal cancer; it could be just days or weeks before she departs this earth.

Unable to make it all better for my daughter, grappling with the feeling of failing Loki even as we have found a new loving home for him, and losing my 91-year-old grandma—all at once—has tested my strength and coping abilities. Very little of what has come our way has been in my control. I struggle with that.

Feeling sorry for myself and unempowered isn’t an option. And while I realize I can’t change the present circumstances, I know there’s always a way to make any situation better by doing something that you feel really good about. So after experiencing the mental after effect of giving a homeless man a $5 bill in downtown Lancaster last week, I felt inspired to tweet this the other day…

Tweet by Dawn Mentzer

Staying aware of moments when you can do something nice, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, really can help restore some hope, happiness, and control when you’re at a low point.

And there are plenty of opportunities to make someone else’s day a little brighter or easier; we just have to listen beyond the noise and look beyond the dark veil of our own misfortunes to hear and see them.

Whether with friends, family, clients, colleagues, or complete strangers, you can help turn days around—for them and for you—with…

Simple and immediately uplifting random acts of kindness.

1. Buy them a cup of coffee.
2. If they’re sitting alone, ask them to join you.
3. If they drop something, pick it up for them.
4. Open the door for them.
5. Give them a sincere compliment.
6. Offer to push their grocery cart back to the cart return area.
7. Tell them you appreciate them.
8. Tell them you’re proud of them.
9. Help them with a chore or task.
10. Ask if they need someone to talk to.
11. Tell them they’re good enough.
12. Forgive them.
13. Listen with your full attention.
14. Tell them you understand.
15. Tell them they’re not alone.
16. Send a funny e-card.
17. Call them to just say, “Hi.”
18. Smile at them.

According to an article in Tech Times, research indicates people who perform acts of kindness may help reduce their stress level and improve their outlook.

Put simply, doing a random act of kindness can turn your crappy day around. And that’s a win both personally and professionally—for relationships, productivity, and ability to deal with whatever comes your way.

I’d say that’s a worthy investment of just seconds or minutes each day, how about you?

Your turn! What random acts of kindness have you done lately?

Image of young girl with thumbs up is courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net





“Better Is The Enemy Of Good”—Fortune Cookie Friday Small Biz Wisdom

Complacency to remain “status quo” as a solopreneur or freelancer can mean a shorter shelf life for your small business.Fortune Cookie Friday

 

This week’s fortune cookie reading, “Better is the enemy of good,” reminds us of that.

 

Good is…well…good. But only by getting better can our businesses achieve respect and create greater demand for our services.

 

Good might get the contract, but better is the key to keeping a client for life.

 

Lots of other businesses are good. What are you going to do to be better—to give clients a reason to work with you rather than your competition?

 

Fortunately, striving for better doesn’t always require significant effort. Tweaking minor aspects of your M.O. can make a big difference in the perceived value of your services.

 

Doing business better and adding value can mean:

 

  • Reading one article a day that can strengthen your knowledge in your field or help you hone your skills.
  • Returning emails and phone calls more quickly.
  • Responding to inquiries from your website contact form within 8 business hours.
  • Never forgetting the personal touch when communicating with clients. Show you care by starting with sentiments like, “How was your weekend?” or “I hope all is well with you.” End on a note of, “Have a wonderful day,” and “Thanks again for the opportunity to work with you.”
  • Sending customers links to blog posts and articles relevant to a particular challenge they’re facing or a topic you’ve recently discussed with them.
  • Showing clients some love on social media by connecting with them on the channels you share and liking or sharing their content regularly.
  • Proactively suggesting projects that can either save them time, money, or make them more money.

 

Now the question: If better is the enemy of good, is best the enemy of better?

 

Endeavoring to be your best (not to be confused with the unattainable goal of perfection) will always take you farther on the road to success. But take care not to thwart your efforts to better yourself by comparing yourself too closely to your competition. Keep an eye on what your competitors are doing, but focus on developing your own unique value.

 

Good. Better. Best. Raising the bar is the enemy of ordinary.

 

Over to you! What do you do to continually better your business and raise its value to your clients?





Fortune Cookie Friday Small Biz Wisdom: Do You Dare?

What a fine specimen for this Fortune Cookie Friday’s nugget of takeout wisdom.Fortune Cookie Friday: Dare

 

 Fortune sides with him who dares.”

 

As solopreneurs and small business owners, we constantly meet opportunity. And with it, we face uncertainty and risk.

 

Going into business for yourself in and of itself stands as the perfect example of how opportunity, uncertainty, and risk are intertwined. To reap the rewards of opportunities, you sometimes need to put yourself out there and expose yourself to the possibility of not succeeding.

 

It’s scary. But, “Fortune sides with him who dares.”

 

To start and grow a business, you must dare to take some chances. If you don’t, you’ll find yourself at a severe disadvantage.

 

By “dare,” I mean you have to exit your comfort zone more than you care to.

 

Otherwise, you likely won’t:

 

  • Find as many potential clients.
  • Discover new ways to expand your offerings.
  • Learn crucial new business technology tools.
  • Significantly hone your skills and knowledge.

 

Don’t dare and you will get left behind and lost in the shuffle.

 

Do you dare…

 

  • Go to a networking function where you’ll know no one?
  • Talk with a competitor to see if you might form a collaborative partnership to serve more clients?
  • Invest dollars in a social media management tool?
  • Fly across the country to attend training?

 

True, there’s always the risk things won’t work out as well as you hope they will. But fortune favors those who dare with new perspectives—and new opportunities.

 

What have you dared to do lately to better your business? Dare to share it here!

 

By Dawn Mentzer (a.k.a. The Insatiable Solopreneur™)





6 Ways to Rock Your Week, Week After Week

Rock the weekIn response to me retweeting one of his tweets on Monday, one of my favorite quality content connections on Twitter, Brett Relander, responded with a “Thanks” followed by, “Rock the week!”

 

Rock the week.

 

While I’m typically self-motivated and ready to go on Mondays, those three single-syllable words gave me a little nudge. An added push to pick up what this week will lay down. It injected some extra motivation into my mindset.

 

So I got to thinking, what if we solopreneurs would approach every week with a “rock the week” attitude? What if we’d start every week with some fire in our bellies to dig in and do it like we know we can?

 

More importantly, how can we approach every week that way?

 

Reflecting on work habits that have helped me get enthused and stay productive, I’ve listed a few tips that might work for you, too.

 

Six Tips For Rocking Your Work Week

Get organized.

Have a plan for tackling what you need to do each day of the coming week. Schedule time for projects, tasks, and meetings on your calendar. By having a plan for getting things accomplished, you’ll minimize the risk of things slipping through the cracks.

Leave some wiggle room.

Even the best-laid plans go awry. Impromptu, last minute projects. Requests for changes to work already submitted. Unexpected RFPs needing near-immediate attention. Technical issues. All of those things take time you didn’t plan on spending. By building some unspoken for time into your schedule, you can address the unexpected without falling too far behind.

Get energized.

Pump yourself up for the week ahead. Play some music by your favorite artist. Watch a motivational video. Listen to a motivational podcast. Read a motivational blog post. Even take a brisk walk or work out to get your blood flowing.

Eat like you mean business.

Fuel your body with the good stuff—veggies, high-quality protein, lots of water…you know the drill!

Reflect on what’s good.

Yeah, sometimes life as a solopreneur gets tough. But there’s always something to be thankful for. Consciously embracing an “attitude of gratitude” really can shift your perspective and make challenges and business roadblocks less intimidating.

Keep your eye on the prize.

Stepping away from the minutia to focus on the big picture can help, too. Rather than viewing tasks and projects as “just work,” instead view them as serving a greater purpose.

  • Opportunities that can lead to larger, more lucrative opportunities.
  • Revenue to get you closer to your financial goals.
  • Opportunities to demonstrate your expertise and build your professional reputation.
  • Activities to make your business operate like a well-oiled machine.

 

No secret formulas or rocket science here, but hopefully some actionable advice that could make the difference between a “blah” week and one that rocks.

 

Rock on!

 

How do you keep your motivation from waning and productivity from slipping in your business? Please share your tips here!

 

By Dawn Mentzer (a.k.a. The Insatiable Solopreneur™)

 

 





Fortune Cookie Friday: Push Yourself

After several readers inquired, Fortune Cookie Friday posts are back!Fortune Cookie Business Wisdom

What is Fortune Cookie Friday, you ask?

It’s the day when I crack open a fortune cookie and dig deep into the hidden meaning within to glean some small business wisdom.

And then I share it with you (of course).

Here it goes…

Get your goals high and you will always move forward.

(Yeah, sometimes I get lucky. Could this one be any more business appropriate?)

My interpretation from a solopreneur’s perspective: Keep reaching to keep motivated!

Goal-setting is so very important for even the smallest of businesses. Without it, you can become complacent—and, dare I say, lazy.

We need to strive to achieve something every day. We need to take steps toward our larger, overarching objectives. We need to maintain momentum.

“Getting your goals high” doesn’t mean setting yourself up for failure by aiming for the unattainable. It means endeavoring to go beyond your comfort zone so you have to stretch a little.

• Connect with someone on LinkedIn who you’ve perceived as out of your league.
• Write a blog post and ask someone else for constructive feedback.
• Seek out a speaking engagement where you can share your expertise in your field.
• Accept a type of project that you’re capable of but haven’t done before.

Personally and professionally, I find that pushing myself keeps me motivated. As a former gym rat, I equate it to doing “just one more set” on the squat rack.

Never settle for just enough.

By Dawn Mentzer
Another Insatiable Solopreneur™ post

 

 





Be Like a Tree in Autumn: Shed to Grow Your Business

Right now in Lancaster County, PA, the leaves are in the process of turning from green to hues of orange, yellow, and brown. Autumn leaves Fall is a beautiful time here…and it’s a season that offers a lesson in professional and personal development.

Solopreneurs: Don’t be afraid to “lose leaves.” Shed to grow!

Just as trees need to shed their old leaves to advance to the next stage of their lives, so do we need to at times shed to grow and prosper. Not everything  – no matter how well it suits us at one time or another – can continue to be an ongoing part of who we are and what we do. Sometimes we have to let go to move onward.

As a solopreneur, I think it’s particularly important to know when enough is enough and to recognize when something has run its course.  You have limited time and attention as a solo biz owner. There’s no time for what no longer serves you and your business well.

Just as the trees are undergoing defoliation and ditching what they no longer need, I encourage you as a solopreneur to take careful note of what’s hanging from your branches. Do you see any “leaves” you should drop to become a more effective and efficient solopreneur?

  • “Busy work” you can eliminate?
  • Services that don’t align with your business vision and goals?
  • Clients who create more stress than is worth the income they’re bringing your way?
  • Colleagues who serve to deflate your confidence rather than build it?
  • Networking groups that don’t deliver a return that’s worth your time and effort? (Note: You first have to spend some time and effort on them before you can judge!)
  • Online social networks you can’t keep up with?
  • Personal habits – or lack of good habits –  that are holding you back (not getting enough sleep, eating junk all the time, not exercising…)?

As the leaves of Lancaster – and wherever you are – continue their transformation this season, think about what you might change to make your personal and professional life a little lighter.  You might not find it easy to say “goodbye” to certain practices or people, but find the strength to do it. Change is vital for realizing and reaching your potential!

What “leaves” might you shed to make your business move forward?

By Dawn Mentzer





Solopreneurs, Let’s Celebrate Independence this 4th of July!

This 4th of July is for you! As we celebrate our independence as a nation, don’t forget to celebrate your independence American Flag/Shieldas a solopreneurial small business owner, too!

As as solopreneur, it’s easy to get caught up in the constant and accumulating “to dos” that you face day in and day out. That often prevents us from recognizing our achievements. Our accomplishments often happen gradually over time as opposed to us experiencing them in single, gloriously victorious moments.

So, pat yourself on the back. Fix yourself a special cocktail (you know, the fancy kind with an umbrella and swizzle stick). Relax with family and friends. Reflect on how far  you’ve come. Take time this Independence Day to acknowledge and celebrate the fruits of your labor.

And if you need some justification for doing that, remember how hard you’ve worked and what you’ve achieved…

  • You’ve put in long hours.
  • You’ve sacrificed.
  • You’ve conquered fear.
  • You’ve conquered doubt.
  • You’ve succeeded.
  • You’ve failed.
  • You’ve built something from the bottom up.
  • You’ve defined yourself.
  • You’ve discovered your strengths and areas of improvement.
  • You’ve stuck with something through good and bad.
  • You’ve built a following.
  • You’ve contributed to supporting your family.
  • You’ve helped your community.
  • You’ve made others’ lives easier.
  • You’ve created professional relationships and friendships that are long-lasting.
  • You’ve lifted others up with advice and feedback.

What can you add to the list? I know you can!

No matter what  efforts and accomplishments comprise your list, make this 4th of July a day to not only observe our nation’s freedom, but also one to celebrate your independence as a solopreneur. You deserve it!

Image courtesy of nirots / FreeDigitalPhotos.net





Ring in the New Year with a New Attitude

I can’t speak for all solopreneurs, but there are times when I need a kick in the pants to put my head on straight and gain aPerspective fresh perspective. As small business owners, we’re constantly busy “doing.” Of course, we’re “thinking” an awful lot, too, but that’s not the same as “reflecting.”

No, I’m not going to get all Kumbayah on you, however, I am advocating that you consciously take some time now and then to get beyond the busyness of business and immerse yourself in some “what really matters” thought. Why? When life seems out of control and too many balls are airborne, recognizing what you can be thankful for and realizing there are things you shouldn’t take for granted will get you grounded. You’ll gain a new appreciation of all that you have – and you’ll find ways to make the most out of those things.

What better way to kick off the New Year than with a new attitude…or a simple attitude adjustment! And here are a few reads that I found might help with that…

Any of Us Can Fall by Geoff Livingston – Geoff shares an experience and gives us a sobering reminder that none of us are immune to hard times – and that we should never judge.

Five Ways to Amp Up Your Holiday Conversations by Dominque O’Rourke – Not all conversations are created equal. Dominique shares some wonderful ways to make yours more meaningful.

How to be Happy by Dan Waldschmidt – We so often think about being happy as something that happens to us rather than it being a condition within our control. Check out Dan’s tips for bringing happiness to you rather than waiting for it to randomly appear.

Small Business, Big Lessons: How To Learn The Hard Way And Live To Earn Another Day by Carol Lynn Rivera – We ALL make mistakes. No, we don’t like to make them (or admit to them), but they’re inevitable for even the most accomplished and intelligent professionals. Carol Lynn shares her own experience to help us “get out of the manhole” when life doesn’t go according to plan.

Enjoy! And I hope that, like I did, you’ll garner some inspiration to greater appreciation from them, too.

How about you? Please share the links to any articles that you’ve found particularly inspiring and motivating.

Image courtesy of razvan ionut / FreeDigitalPhotos.net