Posts Tagged ‘simplify’

The Joy of Essentialism

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Have you ever heard the saying “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear?” Well that is what Greg McKeown is for me–a teacher. I am on my second reading of his book Essentialism. I discovered this book last year thanks to a course I was taking online by Hilary Rushford (she taught a great class on doing less by the way!) and this book changed my life.

So now that I have made some MAJOR changes over the last 9 months personally and professionally (we’ll talk about those more soon – I promise!), I decided to read it again. I knew that I would hear things that I didn’t hear the first time around because I am already in a different place thanks to my pursuit of a simpler life and my resolutions to find more joy and love myself more.

I think the biggest gift from Greg’s book is this:”If it isn’t a clear yes, then it’s a clear no.” WOW! Talk about a litmus test for what to allow in your life! And I don’t know about you, but I think I have a harder time dealing with some of the small things like whether to go out with my girlfriends on a weeknight vs. staying home and getting a good night’s sleep than I do with big business decisions sometimes. But whether the decision is big or small, this concept makes the choice crystal clear. If you waiver at all, the answer is no. What a relief that is to me in so many ways. It stops the conversations in our heads, the guilt, the waffling. What a lot of time this one concept can save in our decision making and in our lives in general. Time that we can spend doing something truly meaningful.

Greg and I have a similar vision about people. I love to help others find their passion and purpose, live their best life, find happiness and joy in their businesses and in their homes. And I see so many people doing things because they think they “have to” but not because they want to or like to. And I have definitely felt that way at times. But the truth is this…

Very few things are essential. There are so FEW things that we really must do to be happy or profitable. This is completely in line with my mantra “Say no to the good so you can say yes to the best.” What stresses us out, overwhelms us, makes us want to escape work and life, is saying yes to all those non-essential things that we somehow can’t say no to. How many times I have heard people I am consulting with on their businesses say “Well, they aren’t my ideal client but they were a referral from a friend so I HAVE to take them on.” No you don’t! Or what about when people say “You know, I don’t want to offer that service, I don’t even like doing that, but I feel like to be in this business we have to have that service or people will not hire us.” Ok, so they don’t hire you – you don’t like working that way anyway! The list of things that I hear people doing daily that they don’t want to but “have to” is endless and if we are perfectly honest, it’s also a lie. We DON’T have to do it. We have a choice.

Oh wouldn’t life be so beautiful and people so happy if they had the courage to live a life that is true to themselves. I want this for my daughter, heck I want this for me!  I want this for my niece and nephew, my husband, my mom, my brother, my friends. I want this for our world. A life of authenticity, to truly be who and what you want to be. That would be the most refreshing and inspiring world I could possibly imagine.

I can’t say enough things about this book by Greg McKeown and how this way of thinking has changed my mindset. And it builds so beautifully on other great books I have read like Tim Ferriss’ idea in The 4 Hour Work Week of making as much money as you can in as little time as possible so you can spend the rest of your time doing what you want. Yes, that definitely fits my idea of the essentialist lifestyle and it’s a plan I am putting into place more now than ever.

I don’t know about you, but hitting mid-life made me re-think what I want for the next half of this life. And I definitely want more listening, pondering, meditating and enjoying the most important people in my life. One of the most interesting things in the book to me was discussion of priorities. The word “priorities” only became plural in America in the 1940s. Prior to that is was priority, singular, because really you can only have ONE MOST important thing. But in the ’40s, Americans started trying to do more and be more and at work we were expected to accomplish more.

And now in our lives and businesses we talk about priorities and the list could include dozens of things. DOZENS! Then we wonder why in the world we are so tired, so overworked, so confused and so ineffective all the time. This way of thinking is a sure-fire way to fail every single day. And I don’t know about you but I feel like that often. I rarely feel like I win when I go head-to-head against my to-do list.  But if we had one true priority every day, could we really hit that? I suspect we could. If we removed all the non-essentials from our to-do list, it would probably be really short.

So I want you to know the JOY I am finding in Essentialist thinking and in the quest to move closer to this way of living. It is definitely what helped me find more Joy in Quitting and I know that the more I practice the “Disciplined Pursuit of Less but Better,” the more Joy will surely come into my life and the lives of those I love. Cheers to Essentialism!

Joyfully yours,




What if?

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There have been so many years that I have created a laundry list of goals, intentions, and plans to start the new year. I’ve hit the ground running with intensity and focus. And I am not saying that I don’t have goals for the year, or at least that I will. But I am still fleshing them out, I think. I am taking my time deciding what I want for 2017. I am not putting a time limit or pesky deadline on myself. I have so many deadlines already in life, so this year I am being kind to myself. Staying peaceful and relaxed. And this cool state of mind has me wondering…

What if I only had 2 goals for this whole year, 1. Finding JOY and 2. Loving myself more? What would happen?

It’s simple, its profound. And I have a strong feeling way deep down in my gut that it might just change everything.

What do you think? Are you ready to simplify to succeed? Let’s continue this conversation in the comments.

Joyfully yours,




Come On, Get Happy!

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joyI’ve said it before – and it still holds true – running a business is hard. Really really hard. But it shouldn’t be so hard that you resent it, or even hate it. It shouldn’t become a grind that you dread every single day. Otherwise, why do it at all?

Yes, there are stresses, there are problem clients or employees, and there will be times when you wonder where the money will come from to keep the doors open. But that shouldn’t be every single day. There should still be moments (days, weeks) of joy! There should be some (or lots of!) fun and laughter – or none of your hard work is really worth it.

If you find yourself caught up in the grind, or unable to see the pretty forest for all the mean trees, then I have 10 tips to help you get your happy back!


1. Schedule joy. While you’re setting your schedule and packing it full of meetings, remember to schedule something fun in there, too. At least once a week, put a fun item on your calendar. It can be as simple as going to a museum or picking your child up early from school for an ice cream date. But put it on your calendar and don’t move it off for any reason.

2. Turn it off. It’s a proven fact that our electronics cause us stress. If the election is making you crazy, don’t watch it on TV. If your phone buzzes all the time, turn it off so you can get some work done. And stop scrolling through Facebook. You may think that you’re just connecting with friends, but when you’re under the gun, those photos of someone on vacation may give you some serious guilt/envy.


3. Simplify. Put only 3 things on your “have to do” list for each day. If you keep making super-long lists of things to do, you’ll only make yourself feel like a failure if you don’t accomplish them all. It feels so good to check things off your list, so make your lists achievable!

4. Take care of you. Why is it that we seem to push our own self care to the back burner? We are our company’s best asset, so why in the world do we come last in most cases? You have to eat right, get plenty of rest, exercise regularly, and be mindful of how you’re moving through your life. It’s critical to your personal life and your professional life. Make the time to take care of yourself.

5. Have a gratitude attitude. I keep a gratitude journal every single day. I always write down the things that I’m grateful for in my life, or that happened that day. It reminds me of why I started my business, of what life is really all about. That’s so important. And celebrate every single success in your business! We tend to just push towards the next goal without really celebrating, and that is a real thief of joy.


6. Laughter IS the best medicine. You should find the humor in something every single day, even in some mistakes or challenges. Sometimes it’s either “laugh or cry” so choose laughter! And really, if you ask yourself how much something will truly matter in a year, in most cases the answer is that you’ll barely remember it.

7. Meditate. I can hear you say, “How in the world am I supposed to schedule joy, make time to exercise, AND now meditate? I’m too busy!” I get it. We get caught up in the whirlwind and we think everything is so critical that it just can’t wait. But you know that isn’t true. You can take 10 minutes to do some yoga poses. You can have that phone meeting while you’re walking. And you can definitely take 5 minutes to be still and breathe. It’s been proven to reduce stress levels AND to help you focus!

8. Keep your eyes on your prize. Don’t look at what others are doing and think they have some magic sauce that you don’t. You don’t know what their struggles are (and they definitely have them), so don’t be envious of what you think others have. Keep the focus on you.


9. Delegate. It can be tough to shoestring a budding business, but you definitely need help. Don’t try to build your own website, don’t try to do your own books, don’t try to take on every task by yourself. You’ll burn yourself out! You should focus only on what makes your company money – that’s it. Outsource anything and everything you can – and if your budget for that is tiny then just pick one thing that someone else can help you with right now.

10. Don’t blame your business. Your business is not there to make you happy. It can help you get to goals that will eventually make you happy – but it can’t be the entire source of your happiness or your life. That’s expecting way too much from your company. Look outside your job for other sources of happiness to help get you through the stressful times at work.

Try these 10 tips to get you back on the happy train! You’ll be amazed at how much more you’ll get done when you’re feeling more upbeat – and at how much you enjoy it!







Saturday’s Secret Sauce: More Work Doesn’t Equal More Success

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Every day I hustle. I leap into each morning with either gusto and zest for life or like I am being dragged behind the run-away train of my to do list, already behind and more to do than I could ever accomplish. Does that mean life is hard? Or am I just making it that way?

The dictionary has a few definitions for hustle. One is to “obtain by forceful action or persuasion” as in the CEO used his business savvy to hustle the book deal. Another is “busy movement or activity” as in the “hustle and bustle” of life or the holidays. A third definition means to play a sport in an aggressive way. And finally a fourth definition means  “a fraud or a swindle”.


My goal when I hustle is typically one of the first 3 definitions…to obtain a deal, to be busy or active or to be aggressive in the way I attack my life. But the more and more I strive, the more I am feeling like #4…a fraud. What do I mean? No I’m not taking advantage of people, well except one person. Me. I am feeling like a fraud because what I am telling myself will work, never exactly does. I am succeeding in my efforts and crossing off lots of lots of to do’s, only to find myself miserable at times, when my intention was to feel strong and accomplished.


I’ve been “hustling” at my job for 17 years. And boy has it paid off in many ways. My list of accomplishments is long. I look super-successful “on paper”. And depending on how you (and I ) define success, you could definitely say I’ve reached it. But longer than my list of accomplishments, is my list of lessons learned and one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that more work doesn’t necessarily lead to more success. I’ve also learned that to hustle, to bust your hump, to strive and do and push makes you tired. It wears you out. It’s exhausting.


Think about it. There are people who work really hard every single day and they don’t have more success and they don’t have more money. Assembly line workers can break their backs working for 30 years and have very little financial success to show for it and they certainly don’t have much control of their lives or their schedule. But some high-powered and very smart business people can take very little time and energy investing in the right deals and make bookoos of money in a small amount of time so that they can live the rest of their time the way they desire on their own terms.


Now I’m not suggesting there is an easy way, but I do think there is a better way. Yes those CEO’s work hard and spend many years getting to where they are. There really aren’t any get rich quick schemes. But there comes a time when you can’t keep “paying your dues”. There is a point in which you have to decide what you want and how to get there or it will never happen. And complaining about it but not taking REAL action will not get you anywhere. It’s hard to change, but it’s harder to work hard without the results you want.


So what if the Secret Sauce isn’t working harder, but rather it’s doing the RIGHT things the best you can do them and saying no to the rest. You might call it working smarter and not harder. I think “working smarter, not harder” is one of those phrases that is often over-used because we hear it all the time but I am not sure we REALLY know what it means. I think we all think we’re working smart when we’re hustling. But really we are just hustling. We’re frantically doing a bunch of stuff we think we need to do, but those things aren’t actually moving us closer to our goals. And no that’s not smart, but I don’t think we realize it’s not working smart or we wouldn’t be doing it, now would we?

Imperfection is a form of freedom. (1)

This goal of finding freedom is my focus for 2016. And I was just watching a great video from Hilary from the fashion blog Dean Street Society and her new class about living with Elegant Excellence and she said if you’ve been striving for years and putting things off like your health or your happiness and telling yourself “just let me just get through this week (or launch, or project) and then I’ll workout (or slow down or make money or start living my dream)”, then you are never going to do those things. Hilary says “there isn’t a day you’ll finally finish your to do list” and “Perfection, Completion, and Total Control are NOT right around the corner”. Ah-ha moment, isn’t it? These things don’t come with just working a little harder and a little longer. Trust me, I’ve been trying this approach for years and I would say my to do list is longer than it’s ever been and my schedule stays jam packed.


Get off the hamster wheel. Rest. Slow down. Journal. Decide what you really want. No one says, “What I want in life is to work really, really, really hard, period.” The working hard in and of itself isn’t our goal. But those of us who are driven and super responsible, and committed and people of our word who pride ourselves on our work ethic, and who strive to be like our hard-working parents and grandparents, confuse working hard with what we want. We want freedom, and money, and experiences, and travel and things and we think that working really, really, really hard is the way to get all of that.


And yes working hard has helped me have many things, and experiences and travel and I’ve made a good bit of money, thankfully. At least all my efforts have been worth something. But what I haven’t achieved with more work is more time. What I haven’t achieved with more work is freedom. And having freedom of time and financial freedom so I can design the life of my dreams, now those are my true desires. Are they yours? If they are, then that requires us to stay hyper-focused on these goals while changing our methods for reaching them.


So the key is figuring out what few things make the most difference in getting us to our REAL goals. We need to decide what can go away from the plethora of things on our to do lists or in our minds or hearts that we “think we SHOULD be doing”. It’s likely that 75% or more of the things on our list aren’t making a difference in our financial or time freedom. And we also have to give ourselves a break at the end of each day when we haven’t marked every thing off our list. We have to stop working every night and every weekend. We have to rest and replenish and let our minds focus on those few things that we truly want so we are ready to start the next day smarter and more organized and NOT hustling. It’s like spending time sharpening our axe so when we do go to work it we will be sharper and smarter than ever. We will get more done, in less time.


In other words, it’s time to stop the madness. Do you want to work on the assembly line of your life for the next 20 years and never reach where you think you are going, because thats what you’ve been doing and it’s all you really know how to do? Do you want to win the medal for hardest worker and get an award to hang on your wall and admire for the rest of your life.  Or do you want to be sitting on the beach with your family, having paid for that trip by working smart, and be able to stay at the beach for a month because you can work for a few hours a day from there with a big payoff?  Now that’s what I dream about! So I am basing my decisions on the beach.  I can already feel the sand in my toes.Want to join me?

Working harder doesn’t equal success. And that’s the secret sauce to reaching your dreams.

Happy Saturday! xo,

Tobi Signature