Posts in Mindset
How Excuses Are Killing Your Business (and what to do about it)

Being told that you are making excuses— that you are standing in the way of your own success— is never easy.

I was recently told that it seemed like I was making an excuse for my own struggles, and you know what my knee-jerk response was to that?

You betcha. Another damn excuse. It's like they show up without being asked for, a little army of reserve excuses, ready to head out (except p.s., they're not doing you any favours).

Sometimes taking action is absolutely scary. Getting out of your own way and chasing down success means that you have an opportunity to fail. If you're telling yourself you can't do something, it's not scary, because there is no opportunity to fail. Ditching the excuses means you're vulnerable. It means that you're now giving it your all, and if things don't work out— well, that's on you.

But there's a way around the excuse-making I've been thinking a lot about lately, and it comes in the form of a question.

What if you're wrong?

Yes, that's it. What if you're wrong? What if your assumptions about yourself, your abilities, your situation, your future—what if they're wrong?

I might say: I really can't do this because I just don't have time.

Well, what if I'm wrong? What if I can make the time and make my desires an actual priority? We all have the same 24 hours.

I always struggle with getting things done on time because I'm so disorganized.

What if you're wrong? What if you tell yourself you're actually an organization master, you just haven't found the right way to organize for you?

Often I even hear people discrediting themselves before they even try.

I'd love to make a comic some day, but I sooo can't draw.

And when I ask if they'd ever really tried drawing, if they spent time practising every day, they said no. So why believe that they don't have any ability to draw? Why not choose to believe they can draw, they're just a little out of practise?

Your thoughts about yourself, the things we think we know, are beliefs— and they're not necessarily any more right than what someone else might think. They are not unshakeably true simply because you're the person thinking them.

The next time you find yourself putting up excuses for why you're not chasing down your dreams, for why you can't make it work, ask yourself:

What if I'm wrong?

How You Can Conquer Creative Fear & Transform Negative Feedback

So you've had this amazing idea blossoming in your mind for ages now, and it's bursting to get out into the world.

You've spent ages putting your best effort into your passion project, but you feel a total twist in your gut when it comes to actually letting your dream out into the world.

This fear has plagued artists, inventors, and entrepreneurs since some dude said "I think maybe round is the better choice, here." It's not new, and it's totally normal to feel a little nervous when we take that first step to getting out work out there. We may not want everyone to like us— in fact, we're pretty sure that universal admiration has never existed— but what if no one likes our work?

It's a basic human need to want to be seen, to be understood.

We all want someone to get it.

We want the community that comes from a common interest and a common pursuit.

There's good news: just as universal admiration is a full-on harmful fallacy, so is universal dislike.

I mean, there are thousands of people who are perfectly willing to vote for Donald Fucking Trump. If that's not proof, I don't know what is.

Some negative feedback is inevitable— I'd even argue it's necessary. It stings, but it's how we learn and grow— and learning and growth is the foundation of any creative endeavour or entrepreneurial project. We can take this negative feedback and we can find the spark of positivity within it. We can use it to transform our creative lives and businesses, without letting it tear down our confidence and smother our passion.

 

1. STAY CALM

Most of the time the occasional snippet of negative feedback doesn't make your blood boil— but every now and then? A killer doozy that makes you want to put someone's head through a wall. If you've worked in customer service before I can almost guarantee you've experienced one of these unless you're one of those totally unflappable goddesses, in which case, I salute you.

It's so hard to really internalize this information, but the truth is customer anger is almost never directed at you. Not you personally. They've probably had a bad day, they're frustrated with lost time and money and they want someone to hear them— as would anyone. I mean, the majority of us deal with our frustrations gracefully and without shitting all over someone else's good day, but what can you do? Understand that blowing up will only make the situation worse. The best way to diffuse a tense situation is to reign in that alpha female who wants to give your rude client a smack down. If you're in a face-to-face situation, keep your voice slow, quite, and relaxed— your customer will be more likely to match your approach.

If you're dealing with criticism through email, blog comments or other social media interactions, take a moment to breathe. Write out the angry response you've always dreamed of (without the email address), get that salty shit out of your system, and take a beat. Consider what they are really upset about, decide if you can improve their situation, and take it from there.

 

2. DON'T DWELL ON 'YOU SUCK'

Before you really let any feedback into your heart, make sure you determine what kind of place this feedback is coming from. The feedback might be critical, but has it been given to you from a good place? Is the reader or customer trying to help you learn something? What can you learn from them?

If someone is simply coming along to say "Hey, I think your blog is shit," let that go. Delete and move on, baby. You don't need that crap. It's not contributing to the conversation, and it's not contributing to your blog or business. No one is learning anything here, except that some people are d-bags. If someone else isn't taking the time to contribute usefully and authentically, you don't have to either.

 

3. ACCEPT YOUR HUMANITY

Getting your art, your blog, or your business out there often requires a lot of self confidence. Often we've broken away from the pack because we want to be doing things our way without the pressure and restraint of The Boss, and The System. However, it's important to remember that we can still be wrong. Really wrong. We're still normal people, and humans make a lot of mistakes.

Try and step back from the situation and look at it from an outsiders point of view— or better yet, get the point of view of a trusted outsider. Someone you can count on to give it to you straight without worrying about breaking apart a friendship. Are your instincts and judgements on track, or is there maybe some aspect of this situation that you're struggling to see?

 

4. PICK YOUR BATTLES

You can't always be on the front line, fighting it out. If someone is coming at you with a criticism and a request, sometimes it is simply easiest to honour your request. Is it worth the social media smackdown your business will get if you don't leave your customer with a good impression?

Definitely not. If they're unhappy with something, you have a golden opportunity to make it magic for them. Going the extra mile will ensure that the gossip they're spreading about you and your blog or business is the kind of gossip you want. They will remember the person who reached out to them with willingness and a smile. It can be tough when you're just starting out to give up that sale or reimburse someone's payment, but if you look long-term, rather than short-term, this is money in your pocket. These are future sales you're not going to miss out on because of a spoiled reputation.

However, there are always those people who simply cannot be pleased. When you put your life and your business on the Internet for the world to see there will always be people waiting to talk shit about you, to bring you down. Don't let it hold you back. Those are not your ideal customers and readers, and if you lead by example and show the world you're awesome, the people who matter will notice.

 

5. STICK TO YOUR CORE

It's so important to get really clear on what our core principles and values are. Where are you not willing to budge? Feedback is almost always useful, but there are definitely going to be times when you get feedback that simply doesn't jive with you.

Don't shift your vision simply because someone else isn't on board with what you are trying to accomplish, with your message and your dream. You know what values lie at the heart of your endeavours. If you are offering tarot sessions to help spiritual business mavens get on track and someone comes along and says they like your advice, but don't think you should be using tarot...

This is not your person.

 

6. THE OPINIONS OF OTHERS DO NOT SHAPE YOUR WORTH

No matter what feedback you get, no matter who loves your work, or who hates your work, in the end the only thing that matters is you. The opinions of others do not determine whether or not it is worthwhile for you to make art. They don't determine whether or not you get to write, or share that art, or turn that creative passion into a business.

Do you think Neil Gaiman spends time thinking about whether or not he should write because there are lots of people out there who can't stand his writing?

Hell no.

He writes because it gives meaning to his life. If six, or six hundred, or six thousand people tell you they don't like your art, it doesn't matter. What matters is that it enriches your life, that you learn and grow in your experience, and that you share authentically. All the rest is just sprinkles.

The thing is, you'll never know until you let go of your message in a bottle, until you send it out there and see who picks it up. Creativity is a solitary endeavour, certainly, but it can also be a community one— and to build that community, you have to welcome vulnerability. You have to open your arms and take whatever comes back to you, good or bad.

You will only be all the stronger for it.

MindsetDanna Rowan
Leap: How to Take a Risk

Imbolc, impulse.

The quickening of new life. A time of action, motion, new beginnings, and taking risks. Starting a new blog, business, creative project, or taking a step towards a major life change can be scary— and it's often at least a little bit risky. You could be a totally beginner in your field, working a day-job while trying to launch your side-hustle, moving to a new country, or starting a new relationship.

In these times, money, security, and comfort are all up in the air in pursuit of what you really want in your life. Sometimes to move ahead we have to make a choice without knowing exactly what the outcome will be. We step forward into murky future full of that dazzling mix of uncertainty and promise.

 

"Sometimes you wake up. Sometimes the fall kills you. And sometimes, when you fall, you fly."  Neil Gaiman

 

Here are the five things you need to consider carefully before taking a risk.

 

1. WHAT DO YOU WANT?

Before you jump head first into a risky decision or venture it's important to get super clear on what result it is that you want. What are you hoping to achieve? What is your ideal outcome? It's important that you nail down the specifics here, just like you would while setting quality goals. If you're buying a course to invest in your business, what do you want to learn from the course? How is it going to concretely improve your business? What changes are you going to make?

You also want to consider what emotional outcome you are looking for. No matter the type of risk, you want to make sure that your choice is going to get you feeling the way you want to feel.

 

2. WHAT DO YOU RISK LOSING?

This is where you have to be really honest with yourself. It wouldn't be a risk if there wasn't something important at stake. What is it? Are you putting up a little more money than you're comfortable with as an investment? Are you risking your blog or business by refreshing your branding? Are you risking a relationship by coming clean with what you really think or feel about a situation that has been bringing you down?

Sometimes we're tempted to downplay the risk in order to justify making it, because we want the positive outcome. But folks, it's just important to consider how you're going to get by when the thing you were risking is gone from your life for good— whether it's a friend, a lover, or a cheque for $10,000.

 

3. WHAT IS THE WORST CASE SCENARIO?

We're almost done with the doom and gloom, I promise. This is what I like to call The Apocalypse Scenario, and although it may seem counter to all of the love, light, and manifesting that has taken the world by storm, it's important to understand that while it probably won't happen, it might, and you're going to have to deal with it.

So get zombie-invasion serious here. What could really go wrong for you? What could happen if your risk backfires and you lose not only what you were intentionally putting on the road of uncertainty, but other things, too? Thinking about this not only prepares you for what may happen, but gives you a serious dose of gratitude-fodder for when it doesn't. When you consider the worst case scenario, a neutral outcome becomes pretty desirable, and a successful outcome all kinds of epic.

 

4. WHAT IS THE MOST REALISTIC SCENARIO?

Now it's time to reel it in a bit, put away the HAZMAT and Nuclear Winter stash. What is the most likely outcome? If you're not sure, it's probably in that fairly unexciting middle area between epic success and epic failure. More likely than not, some aspects of your ideal scenario will come to fruition, and others won't. It's the way of the game.

Get detailed— seriously. Get out a pen and paper and write in detail your most likely, most realistic scenario, and make sure you're okay with this outcome. I would also recommend getting an outside opinion at this point. Often, the scariest part of risks is that we ourselves cannot clearly see the most realistic scenario. We see the polarizing opposites and forget about the hazy grey area in the middle.

 

5. WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO TO GET THERE?

A risk is a type of goal, and with all goals, carefully thought-out and actionable steps are the key to getting a good results. When do you expect to see your risk pay off? How long will it take before you start to see success (or failure)? Is the risk a primary step in implementing a longer term plan?

To get the most out of your risk, break it down into the smallest parts you can. What do you need to do to bring about your ideal scenario? Are there any steps you can take to be as prepared as you can and to help ensure success? Think both long and short term. Break down larger sections of action into small, manageable tasks that you can do today to move towards the result you want.

You've done a lot of thinking and you've approached your risk from many perspectives. All that's left is to decide whether or not to leap.

MindsetDanna Rowan
You Write Your Own Story: How Your Words Are Shaping Your Success

Alright guys, here it is.

I'm hearing an awful lot of negative shit-talking lately, and I'm here to tell it straight. But I'm not rude to others! you might be thinking. I'm not involved with Facebook group drama, and I always try to be kind.

Hell yeah you do! My community is full of whole-hearted, loving superstars.

There's just one thing.

You're shit-talking yourself.

Words have a tremendous amount of power, and with each word you write, think, or say, you are creating your story. You're building your reality.

You might want to ask yourself: is it a reality you want to live in? Is it a reality where you're rocking your business, learning and growing, building community, travelling the world, and taking on each day with a FUCK YES? Or is it a reality where you're telling yourself that you're a savage cow without coffee, that you look like garbage, that you never have your shit together and your business and blog are doomed to fail.

Words have power.

 

"Thoughts become things."

Gala Darling

 

You have the power to tell your own story. So you just launched a course and you pre-sold to 6 people. But the time before that? You didn't sell anything. You might be writing this off as a failure, but this is a victory my friend.

It's all about the perspective you choose to take. Each time the universe slaps a situation in front of you, you have a choice. Do you turn away, or do you hold out your hands and receive that opportunity, standing in your fear?

When you have an epic business fuck up, do you tell people that you were a total idiot and you can believe you screwed up so badly? Or do you tell people that you got a business smack down and you are now four hundred percent prepared to tackle the next situation.

When you feel yourself coming up against this negative brain chatter, ask yourself this:

  • Where is the evidence?
  • What is the proof that these thoughts are valid?
  • Was my day really the worst day ever, or have I just been thrown off by an unexpected shit sandwich?

You can use your words to change your story. Generally, people will believe what you tell them. Am I suggesting you lie?

Absolutely not. Am I suggesting you shift the focus away from the crap, and onto the things that make you a fucking rockstar? Yes, yes I am.

You're the storyteller. You are the Neil Gaiman, Donna Tartt, Shakespeare, or J.K. Rowling of your own life. Don't pass up that opportunity.

MindsetDanna Rowan
10 Habits of Successful Creatives

We hear a lot these days...

... about what it means to be a successful creative— how we get there, what the view looks like from the top. But we hear somewhat less about what it takes to get there. There are so many ingredients that go into the making of an amazing bread (that's you, you're the bread).

Since starting The House of Muses, I've met and talked to a lot of creatives from all different types of blogs and businesses, and there are a few things that I see again and again that help people become successful in a mindful and creative way.

Ten. There are ten things.

 

1. THEY MAKE GOALS

Goal-setting, yeah yeah yeah. I'm sure you've heard about this before, but it's so important that it's worth mentioning again. And again. Goals change lives. Goals provide the fuel and the map to getting where you need to go.

Successful creatives break their big dreams down into smaller and smaller manageable goals that they use to build their day-to-day list of tasks, moving them unstoppably towards their dreams.

 

2. THEY CHECK IN

One of the best things you can do for yourself is to regularly check-in— I do this weekly, usually on Saturday or Sunday mornings.

Check in with your goals. How are they coming along? Where do you need to make changes?

Check in with your feelings, and your health. Are you stressed? Are you sleeping enough? Are you feeling like you've thrown your life out the window? Now is the time to notice, and to make a change.

 

3. THEY GET ENOUGH SLEEP

Successful people sleep. Full stop. I know it can be hard to set work aside if you're already burnt out and overwhelmed, but not getting enough sleep will wreck out. Ask Arianna Huffington.

 

4. THEY REST

Resting is different than sleep. Resting is doing something that isn't work to refresh and heal your mind and body. Resting could be reading, walking or meditating. Resting means getting mindful and understanding what your body is telling you.

 

5. THEY'RE ACTIVE

If you're a creative entrepreneur or blogger, there is a really good chance that you spend way too much time hunched over a desk, whether you're typing, sketching, writing, or making some other amazing art.

This works for a while, but eventually, you will start to notice the hunchback. Balance yourself and bring energy back into your days by keeping up a consistent practise of light activity— nothing crazy, a few times a week. If jogging or yoga aren't your things, try weightlifting, dance classes, or aerial silks classes.

 

6. THEY SCHEDULE CREATIVE TIME

Simply put, we can sometimes get too wrapped up in the business part of things. Neil Gaiman once said he knew things were out of control when he was no longer really a writer but a person who professional responds to email.

Don't be that person. Schedule time to make the art that drives your passion. Stick to that space of solitude and creativity religiously.

 

7. THEY FOCUS

Perhaps it's easier said than done, but the real quality work comes when you set aside multi-tasking and simply focus, mindfully, on the important task before you. If you're addicted to multi-tasking, you might try finding your focus with intense bursts of work coupled with frequent breaks (check out the Pomodoro method).

 

8. THEY NOURISH THEMSELVES

I promise you, you are not doing your best work on a diet of ramen, oatmeal, and those 100 calorie Special K bars.

Successful, mindful creatives know that nourishing their body is also nourishing their creativity. Take time to make meals and to enjoy them as their own activity (yes, that means doing nothing else while eating).

In the words of Michael Pollan: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."

 

9. THEY WORK WHEN THEY'RE NOT INSPIRED

Uhuh. In fact, most of the time, creatives are not inspired. Creatives who work for a living are doing just that— work. And much of the time, they don't feel a whole lot like getting on with the business of things.

Successful creatives have the discipline to do it anyway.

 

10. THEY FOCUS ON THEMSELVES

This is a biggie. The people who are really successful? They're not focused on what other people are doing. Often, they have no idea what other people are doing— they're just doing what they think is interesting, and exciting, and sometimes it fails, and sometimes it's incredibly successful.

Just check out the story of I Wear Your Shirt.

MindsetDanna Rowan