Summer Mastermind

June 20, 2016 by  
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Who: Past or new clients interested in some summer accountability, but not full-on coaching OR interested in coaching but can’t afford it.

What: Group coaching on a bi-weekly call/video chat, led by Lara.

When: Week of July 11 – Sept 19th (6 calls total)

Why: Prevent “summer slide”, check some to-dos off your “working on the biz” list

Pick your payment option and register now. Get all these session for $399 or for 3 monthly payments of $149.

1 x $399 3 x $149

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How to Avoid Burning Out as a Mompreneur

June 17, 2016 by  
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Today is a topic that we as mompreneurs don’t often prioritize like we know that we should: self-care.

This post is dedicated to those of us out there who people always ask “How do you get it all done?” Those of us who set goals for our families and businesses then consistently surpass them. We have it all together. We are overachieving and exceeding expectations in every area of our lives. It is also dedicated to those of us who want to be that mom, but just aren’t quite there yet. Of course, I’m being a little tongue in cheek here.

I am one of those mompreneurs who is often asked how I do it all. I have a lot to manage, admittedly, but I also prioritize myself and my self-care routine to make sure I am able to keep up with my commitments. When you are seen as successful in juggling all these things, you feel accomplished. But what falls by the wayside and causes the breakdowns is lack of self-care.

We have so much to balance and keep track of that we are too busy taking care of everyone and everything else that sometimes we forget about ourselves. All that energy that you are spending taking care of others has to come from somewhere. And, let me tell you, it comes out of your personal bank of physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health. It is draining you—even if you sometimes don’t feel it.

When you start to feel the effects of your balancing act and are getting exhausted, it’s time to check in with yourself. Examine your self-care routine, because the only way to achieve or do more is by making sure that self-care doesn’t get compromised. I hear it already, you’re saying “I don’t have the time.” I get it. I really, really do. I get how much is on your plate due to your commitments and that it feels like there is no room left for self-care. But, I’m going to respectfully push back against you on this. I have the utmost respect for your commitments, but you are on the path to burnout if you are always last on your list of things to accomplish.

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Running with friends is my favorite self-care.

Establishing a self-care routine doesn’t mean that you have to find a way to block out an entire day for yourself once a week. Self-care can be very different for different people. Some people need a 60 minute weekly back massage. Others just want to have a standing appointment once a month to get their hair done and a mani/pedi. And then, some others like me, want to prioritize our exercise habits like running. Take the time and make the effort to put yourself on your calendar like any other appointment. Give yourself the opportunity to handle your self-care. You will refill your tank and stop draining all of the energy out every day caring for your family, business, house, and everything else you manage. They drain you. The only person who can refill that tank is you.

It is your job to make sure that you take care of yourself. It doesn’t have to be major, but even small things planned ahead in a routine will make a noticeable difference. Just getting yourself on a calendar as a priority can make you feel better—and do it consistently. Don’t let a breakdown or exhaustion happen before you prioritize taking care of yourself. Make it work for you. If you have a crazy load on certain days, then schedule that self-care on a day that you know you can really relax for a minute and care for you. Even just reading a book or taking a bath. Get something on your schedule to take care of you. I promise you will be better for it.

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How to Stay True to Your Family Priorities as a Mompreneur

May 27, 2016 by  
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Have you ever felt like though you are succeeding in business, you are not doing so well as a mother? This can be a very common issue for mompreneurs, and you are not alone.

As a business owner, you have probably set goals, timelines, and measurable metrics for where you want your business to go in the future. But, unfortunately, many of us don’t often do the same for motherhood.

Women who find success with how their businesses are going oftentimes realize after accomplishing their business dreams that they don’t feel successful with their families. There are so many pieces and dynamics at play when you are both a mother and a business owner. One of the biggest is that it is very easy to get caught up (and carried away) in business. Your business, clients and schedule have needs and demands that are right in front of you demanding your attention. You are always quoting a potential client, building a new sales funnel or keeping your many appointments each day. Your business has its own ways of keeping you accountable—we just don’t have those metrics to keep us accountable in motherhood.

Sometimes, even the best laid plans of “making time” (planning to work until 2pm, then have family time from 2pm-5pm) can be sent completely off the rails unexpectedly. Humans can be tricky. Especially humans of the smaller variety! They are sleepy, hungry, grumpy, or just plain fussy. When you make a plan and can’t stick to it for some reason, it can be very difficult for some of us to bounce back when the plans change unexpectedly. These changes can cause stress and unhappiness and, after a pattern of this, it can be tempting to get frustrated and stop trying to plan. You will find yourself drawn to focus more on your business because it is predictable and you are in control. You just feel happier and more relaxed when you make a plan and stick to it—and that’s generally easier with your business than with your family.

Here are the three things I recommend if you see this becoming a pattern for you:

1. You have to force yourself to put real metrics in place. Because we know that best laid plans don’t always work out; but having some plans and some routine helps. Help your children and family members know what to expect because it will help you have much greater chances of accomplishment.

2. Make a point to always minimize your business or work distractions during your allotted family time. Don’t allow yourself to zone out and just get on the internet or check your email “real quick”. Create a very real boundary between work and family time.

3. Plan ahead for quality time. Sit down, free from stress and distractions, and make a hit list of 5-10 quality activities you can do in just 30 minutes at a time (walk around block, going to open swim, craft time). Put things on your list that make you feel successful as a mom—because that’s what this is about!  Now, when a moment comes up where your kids need you, you’ll have a list of activities ready to go and not waste time trying to decide what to do together.

If you can implement just some of these rules and do so with determination, you will feel a huge shift in your ability to “mom” just a little better. You will feel more connected and present in the time that you are spending with your family. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend grabbing my book Moms Mean Business. My co-author Erin and I really dig deep into creating metrics for your business and your family so you feel successful on all fronts.

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Things to Think About When Setting Your Prices

May 11, 2016 by  
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If there is one question that can keep you up more than any other as an entrepreneur, it is probably the question about how you value what you do or sell. How do you set effective prices?

Trouble can easily be created when you set your prices too high or too low. It can be very challenging to know exactly where you should be pricing—it’s not an exact science—but there still is some science that can help you. Pricing can be especially difficult if you are just starting out in your business or if you are rolling out something new. How do you know whether it’s the right price and if it is going to work for your audience?

There are three key factors to focus on when setting prices:

  1. Your target customer
  2. How much your competitors are charging
  3. Understanding the relationship between quality and price

It can be a very common mistake, especially in the beginning of your business, to underprice everyone else. It is a common misconception that if you are the least expensive, you will get more volume, purchases, or sign ups. This is simply not always the case. If you have less of a reputation than the competition you are undercutting, you risk being perceived by potential customers simply as cheap. You will see that most people are unwilling to purchase from someone who they believe has less value.

As a dear friend of mine always says, be wary of the bottom feeders or the ones who are just looking for the cheapest price. That person will never be loyal to you, they will always move to the lowest price.

Who is your ideal client?

No matter what you are creating, if you take the time to figure out who your ideal client is, that information will serve you well in the long term. Are they an avid shopper? Coupon collector? Are they more price or value sensitive? Customers need to believe that they are getting the best value for their money. It’s hard to drive value when someone cannot come in and touch something physically, so you have to focus on creating your customer experience.

What are your costs?

Something that absolutely everyone should do, but gets skipped all too often is knowing your costs. What costs do you have do you have to run your business, develop your products or services? Hard costs and soft costs should both be factored into your overall price model. Do you have costs for labor, marketing and selling or operating expenses? Literally, keeping the lights on, using your cell phone for your business, mileage on your car and your personal fixed assets. These are all things that are depreciating in value and being used due to you owning your business.

How much do you need/want to make?

It is also a critical step to define what your revenue target is for the year. From there, you can determine how many of each product or service you need to sell to reach that target, which can in turn shed some light on your pricing structure.

What value do you add?

Always remember your individual value that you bring to the table. Do you add extra services, guarantees or bonuses that your competition do not? What do your customers receive for buying from you instead of someone else? Figure out what your audience will pay for what you are selling, and then consider what you can do to distinguish yourself from the rest. Your pricing will fall into place.

Need help figuring out the answers to these questions? Not sure where to start? Contact me today for one-on-one coaching!

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How to Streamline Your Business Finances & Stress Less

April 15, 2016 by  
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Today’s post was inspired by a conversation I had recently with a fairly new member of my Metro Detroit Mompreneurs group. She had just joined, was still very much in start up phase of her business, and had a lot of great questions about recommendations for bookkeeping, invoicing, and financial organization as a business owner.

I decided that would be a great topic to cover with you! I want to help you set some systems in place for your business financials so you can feel streamlined, supported, and organized for the rest of the year. Established systems will benefit you both now and in the long run with growth or scaling in your business. There is absolutely every reason to invest your time, money, and effort into the organization of your financial wellness as an entrepreneur. This venture could save you incredible messes and headaches in the future.

One of the first and biggest things I always talk to my clients about with their finances seems so basic, and yet is commonly never really planned. You need to know how to properly charge your clients and customers. You need to define how to set value to your services or products and how to best invoice and collect money. For any business, it pays off in spades to nail your pricing early on. This can be hard for service-based businesses or businesses that provide custom, specific products, but is absolutely one of the first steps to streamlining your processes. You should develop a rate card. It’s exactly like what it sounds like it is, just a simple card with your prices for your standard items or services that you have to offer printed on it. This will save you the difficulty and mental energy of having to figure out what to charge every single time. Take the time to really organize your thoughts around what it is that you sell and what you feel is a fair value for that. Do you sell your time, advice, or expertise? Consider arranging packages for a set recurring payment once per month for a retainer for certain number of hours.

Once you have developed your rate card, it is important to decide what types or avenues of payment you would like to accept. I, personally, work entirely from digital transactions. Allowing my clients and customers to use credit cards has saved me time, energy, and quite a bit of stress without having to worry about cash, checks or bank runs.

One of my line items is monthly retainers for coaching and I have a rate card printed that I can show any prospective clients. They can simply look it over, pick level of service and see very clearly the price. My workshop rate card is organized with a rate for each type of workshop (1 hour, 3 hour, all day). I even have a rate card established for my in person speaking engagements depending on whether they are all day requiring travel, a local non profit, or simply a keynote. Save yourself some headache and at least write down some standard pricing or price ranges.

Next, you need to get paid right? I thought so! You’ve got to make payments as easy as possible for yourself and your customers alike. As I said, I personally don’t accept any form of cash or checks, only cards. Even when or if I am somewhere in person and selling my books at that event, I use a card swiper such as Square or Paypal! Low fees for myself and it’s just an easy one click, one swipe, and done process!

Even for live events, I suggest considering a service such as Eventbrite. I used this before when I did Mom Biz Coach Retreats and it was so easy and saved me so much stress. The registration system collects their pertinent contact information for you, allows you to provide information to them about the event, travel recommendations, etc. and then you can simply connect your Paypal and they can pay through a beautiful, integrated gateway.

Invoicing and bookkeeping is the last step and is the main reason I don’t use a pen and paper for anything anymore. That awful, piling, necessary paper trail in business was just too much for me. It was hard for me to keep up with receipts, avoid losing things or making accidental mistakes. So for me and my business, the beauty of accepting all payments online is there is a full online account of each transaction, date, amount, etc. This helps me so very much during tax time!

These are some of my favorite tips and tricks for keeping everything as simple, streamlined, and easy as possible. Did I miss something? What are you using that makes running the finance side of your business easy for you?

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Permission Granted: You Don’t Have to Make Your Passion Your Job

April 12, 2016 by  
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Guess what you get today? You get my permission (not that you really ever needed it). Ready? Permission granted. You are granted permission to free yourself from “shoulds”, the “woulds” and the “coulds” that can be thrown at us by our daily lives and the media. These things tend to have an uncanny power to stress us out and make us unhappy.

When you set goals for yourself, you probably create an action plan and get going right on it don’t you? I know you do! And sometimes, you find yourself doing it all right, following the plan & meeting the goals and yet you are missing something. There is some element missing from the equation that would’ve made that goal truly fulfilling and satisfying for you. Unfortunately, sometimes it can be nearly impossible to figure out what or why that is for you. The reality is things can always change mid-plan. So many different things can happen in the time frame that you are so focused on your plan that you are distracted and don’t even notice. Then, you wind up reaching your goals & benchmarks and realizing that you are still feeling unhappy.

Sometimes, I think a large part of this can be the alignment or misalignment with your purpose and your passion. Good jobs financially stable, offer a predictable routine, benefits like sick days, time off and insurance. But, what if you have a “good job” but your true passion is something completely different? What if you are a nurse who loves public speaking, a waitress who feels inspiration in writing short stories or a paralegal who thrives through her photography? All of the sudden in the media it has become a very common theme to push people that if they are not doing work that you love, there is something wrong with it. That you had better feel a burning passion for what you do or quit and search until you find it. There is a crazy pressure to measure yourself and your success based on whether you truly love your work or not.

Well I’m here to say it is not one thing at the expense of all else. There are certain passions or hobbies that will never make good money. There I said it. Something were just never meant to be a profit turning venture. You can do your passions that you enjoy in your off time, while also keeping you fulfilling, stable job, then I say go for it.

Happiness and fulfillment aren’t always in the same package. I can’t feel right coaching someone to start a business doing something they love, but also isn’t necessarily something that will ever be a profitable, sensible business. Or if it could, it would no longer be any fun anymore. Starting a business means wearing many hats, of which have nothing to do with the thing you are passionate about like bookkeeping, paying bills, keeping schedules, appointments, managing people and budgets.

You do not have to leave your job, take off and quit just because your job isn’t fulfilling you. If your job is providing you with things that you value and need for your priorities, and you can find some other way to use, develop or enjoy your passion that will allow you to leave the mark or legacy that matters to you – that’s how I would do it.

I’m lucky to be passionate about being a coach, but I also don’t have to be a breadwinner. I don’t have a weight on my shoulders to support my family financially. I chose this path to spend more time with my kids and family while also doing what I love. If I wanted to build a huge business and wanted to define success in terms of extreme growth and profitability, I could do that. But, it would also cause a major cosmic shift in our family dynamics, which is most certainly not something I want—at least not right now. I like the time I am around to spend with my kids, responding to emergencies or anything wrong while still getting to enjoy my business. When my kids are older, I may shift that to a more growth and profit driven model, but only when it doesn’t affect my ability to spend my time with my family.

So, you’re welcome. Stop listening to the media and getting pushed around that you are some sort of failure if you are just doing a job that suits you and your priorities right now. You are not a failure. You can do a job to is serve your family and find time and ways to get you that passionate fulfillment and satisfaction elsewhere in your life. You get to be happy and successful on your terms.

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Defining Your Values is the Key to Your Success

April 1, 2016 by  
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Today we are going to talk about one of my most vibrant, creative clients. I mean inspiration and creativity just oozes out of her and she would love to be able to dedicate herself to helping others find imagination & fulfillment in their lives the way she has in hers. Sounds absolutely wonderful, right? Well, of course! But, there is just one big, burning question. Can she create a successful, happy business from this ideas and be successful on her own terms?

Her values & priorities are things like: being fulfilled, having a creative outlet, doing meaningful work, leaving her mark on the world & creating a legacy she can be proud of. Those are the major, important things to her as well as her family and financial security, of course.

Now, let me just tell you, she has a great business idea. Absolutely so great that I feel honored to be able to help her achieve that and think people will love it! But, she needs to be the one to define what it means to her to consider this a successful business.

Thinking through questions like:

  • Is she looking to quit her job and do this business full time?
  • Does she intend to scale to the point that she can entirely replace her full time, primary source of income?
  • What if it only makes a little money? Will it feel successful and fulfilling at any level of success or does she have a benchmark?
  • Or do you NEED to make enough to replace your income?

Once she has answered those questions, she will need to consider business models that can help you accomplish that. There are many different models and things to consider. One of those things to consider is the investment into your business. Investment will affect your “salary” from your business, which is not something you will be used to after being paid from an outside employer. When working for an employer, you have a salary for your position, but you also don’t pay any of the money required to make your job happen. You don’t have the overhead and expenses that you have as a business and as an entrepreneur. Do not neglect to think about costs to make your salary possible or any team members you need to reach your goals.

Bottom line is if you want to do something that fulfills your purpose and passion, do it. But, in order for it to be a viable, profitable business then it takes some hardcore thinking about things.

Sometimes, the business model that will yield the most success will often create more work than you ever thought you wanted to do. And that work will commonly be far and away from your passions, products or services offerings. Be sure to understand your values and choose a business model that you can keep up with and that aligns with you and will provide success and balance.

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How to Get Healthy Food on the Table

March 18, 2016 by  
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It can be hard when routines change (back to school, new schedules) to be able to fit everything in that you have had set on a pretty rigid schedule up until now. Simple evening activities like showering, homework for children or chores can be thrown for a loop even with a 1 hour change in your routine or schedule.

One of the tasks that can be the most daunting and time consuming for mom business owners can be simply making dinner for their families and themselves. Getting food made, on the table and the family fed can feel like an impossible mission on some days, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Now if you have been following me for awhile, you know that not only is cooking a passion of mine, but it is also fundamentally in my business plan. What I mean by that is that it is part of my schedule everyday. I’m committed to making it happen as much and as successfully as possible. It is one of my defined goals is to have a home-cooked meal on the table for my family at least 5 nights a week by around 6:30.

I have been successful with this goal for the most part in the past, but it is getting much more difficult with my children getting older. They have their own schedules, commitments to work around instead of just the adults.

I have used these four basic principles to help me to remember how to prioritize meal times:

Make It a Commitment

Commit to yourself and your family to making your mealtimes a family connection time. Try having no technology at the table: no tvs, computers, phones. Try just talking, connection and sharing together. This can be a magical time, even if it is only 20 minutes. Also, be sure to put it on your schedule. Try to have a set goal time for dinner every night. Make sure that everyone knows when that is and to not schedule other (avoidable) things at that time. And, just because it is a commitment, does not mean you have to be rigid about it. Be flexible, sometimes it will be a picnic at soccer or at the park, it will be a box in the minivan, but it is still a home cooked meal that you are having with your family.

Make It Simple

Don’t overthink meal time. Don’t put so much pressure on needed a freshly-cooked, just-out-of-the-oven full meal every night. That’s unrealistic and very difficult to do. Instead, try and make extras when you do cook to be frozen already prepared. Having things pre-cooked, pre-chopped and packaged for future meals will help immensely when you are short on time. You can pull them out and thaw / warm them even when you need to run out the door and still have a home cooked meal on the go!

Make it fun

Make a conscious effort to involve your kids and spouse in the meal-time process. Encourage selecting your dishes for the week as a family and allow them to help you prep and cook meals whenever possible. Not only will this give you more family bonding time but it will also teach your children a valuable, important life skill for their future. Win-win!

Make it matter

Make mealtime an important part of your family time. Dinner time doesn’t have to be long-stemmed candles and linens. It simply means sitting down, enjoying your food and being together. It means truly connection and conversation without the constant distractions of our busy lives. It may only be about 20 minutes, but it can be a 20 minutes that really, truly matters. If you have to have dinner separately due to certain (unavoidable) commitments, then make an effort to possibly sit down once you are all home to have dessert together, or a family breakfast time the next day.

Being a mompreneur is about keeping your priorities in order—and dinner is one way I make sure I’m meeting all my goals. I hope this gives you some ideas on how to set more concrete measurements for your home life, even if dinner may not be one of yours. Even personal goals need to be specific and measurable, just like your business goals.

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Why Striving for Work/Life Balance is Stupid

March 11, 2016 by  
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Did my title get your attention. Great! Now, I will admit it was a little bit misleading because it may seem very contradictory with my mission when you first hear it. You all know that I am a business coach especially for mother entrepreneurs, so when you hear me say striving for work life balance is stupid you may be like “wait, what?” But just hear me out!

In this blog, we’re going to revisit my humble beginnings in business and in motherhood. I like to refer to this time in my life as my “perfect storm”. I started out becoming both a business owner/coach and a mother at the same time. I know, right? Hello, stress! I went from just a person one day to so very much more in such a short time. And you guessed it: I struggled. Just like you probably have as well.

I have very high standards for my business as well as my family life. I had a business coach of my very own at the time kept and she kept noticing my unhealthy relationship my work/life balance. She noticed that I wasn’t living it. She noticed I complained for being unable to accept new clients by spending too much time on my baby. Yet, caring for my baby and living up to my own standards as a mother had become all encompassing for me.

My coach did something for me at that time that I will never forget and that has continued to help me grow even to this day. She forced me to have a terrible coaching call one day that ended in tears, and I thank her for that immensely. See, she knew my unhealthy attempt at balancing my life, so she scheduled a coaching session with me while I took my baby to the public pool. I thought she was crazy, but I obliged after much urging. That call was an absolute mess that I was constantly pausing trying to focus on both baby at the pool and the session at the same time. I wound up, unsurprisingly, in puddle of tears

I had been so heavily compartmentalizing my life and she could see that. I was trying desperately to keep my work life and my parenting life entirely separate and if they ever collided I got very upset. I felt like I couldn’t handle anything fully. I learned that day and every day since that life isn’t about balance. It isn’t about giving your best to both your business and your parenting at the same time and balancing them together. It’s about integration.

Focus on your priorities. I have 4 of my own. They are my well being, my marriage, my family, and my business. Rather than trying to evenly split myself between those 4 things, I integrate them together. It’s impossible to have precise balance between all your priorities.

What I mean is this: recently I had a speaking engagement in Las Vegas that happened to fall on the weekend of my wedding anniversary. So, instead of feeling the need to choose between a work engagement and my marriage/husband, I integrated them together. My husband came out with me to Las Vegas for the entire weekend before my speaking engagement on Monday. We spent the weekend together and made a mini-vacation out of the experience. Not to mention, we hiked and explored outside in the beautiful area outside of Las Vegas. In just that weekend, I integrated together my husband/marriage, my business and my wellbeing. All at the same time. And I loved every minute of it! Similarly, when I go for runs from home, I will often invite my son to run with me. This integrates my wellbeing and my family.

Instead of striving for balance, strive to integrate your priorities together. I promise you will feel more relaxed, fulfilled and you will have more time to truly devote to each one, individually and together.

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Doing What You Want to Do on Your Own Terms

March 1, 2016 by  
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I have noticed a pattern in some of my coaching recently. I have been working a lot with clients on defining how to live their lives on their own terms. Helping them to gather the skills and confidence required to really getting to the core of their why and how they want their life to feel.

I have a client who recently suffered great loss. Both her mother and father passed on close together. In her eulogy, she was sharing that there were some great parts of life and love, but there were also some parts of her father’s life that she cannot forgive.

She has worked so hard to live life on her own terms and making choices for herself everyday. And I really challenge you to do the same. What can you do in order to make sure that when you pass on, you are satisfied, fulfilled and happy? By living a life on your own terms and having done what you really wanted to and what really mattered to you.

It is all too simple to sometimes feel like your whole life revolves around your obligations. It can feel like all you do is worry about what your kids need, spouse needs, house needs, what your business wants and needs from you. These are and absolutely should be priorities. But at the end of the day, are there parts of your life that you are forgetting about or not fully fulfilling that really matter deep down to you?

Living life according to your most basic values can be so rewarding and yet so much more difficult than it seems it should be.

There was a woman who wrote a about entitled Top 5 Regrets of the Dying, she was a nurse who spent a lot time caring for those at the end of their time. In this book, written by a nurse, individuals talk about getting caught up in daily life and the needs and expectations of others, and letting life pass you by. It can be hard to get around to what truly matters most to you when you have so many things pulling you in different directions. In her book, she says that most people regret working too much, and expressing their thoughts or feelings too little. It’s easy to fall into work and become a workaholic or fall into the rabbit hole of always seeking more money or success, but at the end of the day, that’s not what is most important for us.

Most everyone has a family member or a friendship in our lives that needs our attention and nurturing, but that can be hard to keep up with if you are distracted consistently. It should be important to spend time connecting with that person or making time for them.

Mindset can be a very powerful thing as well. It is common for people to sometimes feel like they don’t deserve something, or are getting too much. It is normal to have a lot of inner voices in your head, but at the end of the day they can convince you that you shouldn’t try, or make the effort because there is no point. But that can easily breed regret in the future.

Considering instead of reasoning or making excuses, trying to ask yourself if, doing something, will make you happy. Make it less complicated and just ask yourself “Will trying this make me happy?” It can feel foreign, but it can really produce a more authentic response.

Have you ever felt the friction in your life, of putting someone else’s expectations of you, above your own values? Do you think when it is your turn to be in the hospital, talking to the nurse, that you will feel fulfilled? Spend some time this week evaluating your to do list and find those things that really matter. If there’s nothing on that list for you, it’s time to clean it up!

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