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

Four Ways To Instantly Boost Your Self-Confidence

As a solopreneur, I’ve experienced moments when I’ve felt like I can take on any challenge—and moments when I’ve felt like I can’t do anything right.Confident woman with clenched fists

 

Like when I accepted an assignment to write birthday card copy. My confidence was shaken after spending far more hours than I anticipated on the project and after dealing with almost two weeks of ideas not flowing as naturally as I expected them to.

 

Other self-employed friends have told me they, too, have stretches of self-doubt that rattle their confidence.

 

When you find yourself questioning your capabilities and competency to perform to expectations (typically your own!), sometimes you need a little kick in the pants to stop you from kicking yourself.

 

Need to be kicked?

 

Here are four ways to instantly give your self-confidence a boost:

Revisit positive feedback from clients.

Re-read testimonials on your website or LinkedIn, or look at thank you cards and emails that you’ve saved. They serve as reminders of how much others appreciate you and respect your work.

Eat the frog.

I don’t mean this literally (blah!). What I’m suggesting is that you dig in and take care of a task you were avoiding either because you were intimidated by it or you were dreading it for some other reason. When you “eat the frog” before you tackle the rest of your to do list, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment—and relief. With the worst thing awaiting you that day out of the way, all else will seem easier.

Look back on how far you’ve come.

When you feel like you aren’t measuring up or haven’t accomplished enough, do a reality check. Focus on what you have achieved, rather than what you haven’t. Reflect on the new clients you’ve recently acquired and the long-term clients you’ve built relationships with, take stock of how far you’ve come with your social media presence and website, applaud yourself for how many blog posts you’ve written in the past year, congratulate yourself for being asked to join a prominent networking group, etc. You’ve made progress. That’s something to be proud of!

Help someone else.

There’s nothing like empowering someone else to give your own self-worth a boost. When you share insight and information to help others avoid pitfalls or improve their skills or knowledge, you remind yourself of the value you bring. Doing that can be as easy as emailing them an article about an issue they’ve been struggling with or giving them a quick phone call to share some golden nugget of valuable info you just discovered.

 

Not feeling confident kills motivation and productivity. Don’t let lack of self-confidence linger and overshadow your solopreneur super powers. Confidence, combined with hard work and continual effort to learn and grow, breeds success. You can’t get there without it.

 

How do you conquer lapses in self-confidence and bring your self-esteem back up to speed?

 

Bonus! Here’s a list of some other helpful articles from some stellar sources about self-confidence:

 

Confidence Breeds Success—And It Can Be Taught via Forbes

Science Says Overconfidence Key To Success via Inc.

9 Ways To Show More Confidence in Business via Entrepreneur

Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Ways to Whack Your Inner Whiner

When running a small business, you face a lot of challenges. And as a solopreneur whose quality of work can largely No Whiningdepend on your ability to stay focused and function within the right frame of mind, dwelling on what’s not going your way will sink you quickly. To be a successful solo-professional, you can’t be whiner.

We all have those “Whoa is me” moments. I know I do, and I don’t know anyone who is immune to them. And I know some people who just don’t seem to be able to get past them. But on the flip side, I also know people who are dealing with some quite heavy, incredibly sad circumstances, but yet somehow manage to see the positive in every day and give others hope and inspiration.

As a solopreneur, it’s important to remain cognizant of – and appreciate – what’s going right even when certain things are going all wrong.

How?

Make it a habit!

A few ideas to help you keep your chin up and cop a “lemons into lemonade” attitude:

  • Write down the steps for tackling whatever’s challenging you. Creating a plan will help you see that you do have some control over the situation.
  • Every day, start the day by reminding yourself of at least three things that you should be thankful for. And it’s OK if they’re the same three things every day!
  • Think ahead to an event or activity that you have planned and are looking forward to in the near future. That can serve as a source of light at the end of the tunnel.
  • Remind yourself that our mistakes – and those made by others – can be our best friends and best learning tools.
  • Listen to music that lifts your mood.
  • Get outside for a breath of fresh air a few times every day – even if only for a minute or two at a time.
  • Make a sincere effort not to complain. In many ways, we create our own attitudes by how we choose to react to situations. I haven’t taken it to the extent of the 21-day complaint-free challenge, but I’ve experimented with it to some degree and have absolutely noticed some positive changes in my level of stress.
  • If possible, minimize your exposure to people who are consistently negative. And if you can’t avoid them, recognize that it’s not you, it’s them!

Again, mumbling and grumbling every now and then about less than ideal circumstances in business is perfectly normal, but don’t get settled into “victim mode” where the pity party never ends. Your prospects and clients need to know that you’re capable of weathering the occasional storm – and that starts with your ability to shed your inner whiner and focus on making the best of every situation.

Your turn: Know anyone in your professional circles who is an incessant whiner? What techniques help you stay positive during challenging times?

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

Solopreneurs Self-Assessment: “Fascinating” Approach to Personal Development

Learning. When starting and running your own business, there’s no way around making it part of your everyday routine. There’s always something to learn about your industry, your clients, your competition, AND yourself!

As a solopreneur and the one person ultimately responsible for the success or failure of your business, it seems silly not to learn and pay attention to your strengths, what motivates you, and which of your qualities makes you influential. And thinking through it on your own, doesn’t always lead to an objective and honest picture of who you really are.

In the past, I’ve completed the DiSC assessment and StrengthsFinders 2.0 – twice each. And found them both to be relatively accurate in describing my motivators and approach to working and communicating.

Just recently, I was presented with the opportunity to participate in another self-assessment program: Sally Hogshead’s Fascination Advantage Test. The Fascinate test required only about 10 minutes of my time to answer 28 questions targeted at determining which one of 49 personality archetypes match me. The premise of the personality archetypes is that there are 7 different “triggers of fascination” that are combined in different ways according an individual’s personal style for catching the attention of and influencing others.

Immediately after finishing the test, I received an email with a basic report identifying my archetype and triggers. Those results alone seemed to accurately describe my personal/professional style and approach:

  • My personality archetype: Connoisseur
  • My primary trigger: Prestige. Described as, “You earn respect for your higher standards.” “WHO YOU ARE: Ambitious • Detail-oriented • Recognized • Uncompromising • Focused”
  • My secondary trigger: Passion. Described as, “You quickly create warm emotional connections.” “WHO YOU ARE: Expressive • Intuitive • Social • Impulsive • Enthusiastic”
  • My dormant trigger: Power. Described as, “You are unlikely to fascinate others through command and control.”

But where the rubber hit the road was when I received my “custom report” in a PDF via email several days later. The custom report gave a deeper dive into my archetype and each of my triggers. More significant to me (the solopreneur), however, is that it delved into the unique traits that give me a competitive advantage – and those that might be potential pitfalls. And it gave me strategic tips for leveraging my strengths for professional success. Better still, was the realization that my dormant trigger, Power, could make me more effective in business.

“POWER commands people to pay attention by exerting some form of

influence. With your dormant POWER, it’s possible you might be missing

out on opportunities to distinguish yourself, especially at work. If you can

identify and increase your use of this trigger, your messages can earn greater

respect and a bigger audience, thereby increasing your influence.”

 

Ouch! But it’s absolutely right! O.K., I’ll work on that!

Like StrengthsFinders, the Fascinate System isn’t free, but it is reasonably priced. For individuals, the Fascination Advantage Custom Package that I tried sells for $47. There’s also a more basic package available for just $17.

Of course, much of the success you can expect to achieve from self-assessments like this one largely depends on what you do with the results and insight they provide. I think many solopreneurs (myself included) often dedicate time and energy to understanding who we do business with – and who is competing for that business, but we don’t always make a conscious effort to dig into what makes us tick. Nor do we put much thought into how to strategically develop our personality traits to make people more inclined to pay attention – and react – to our calls to action. As solo business owners who are our brands, it makes sense that we should.

Sally Hogshead’s Fascinate System is one way to learn how to use your unique strengths to be more influential. What other methods have been effective for you? StrengthsFinders? DiSC? Myers-Briggs Type Indicator?