What does soul have to do with business?

I was having a conversation with a friend-colleague-retreat guest late last year and she asked, tentatively, “Isn’t your work kind of spiritual?”

I paused awkwardly, unsure whether an enthusiastic “Yes!” was going to put her off or draw her in. It turns out it was the latter, and since then I’ve been more determined to say it the way I’d say it in a cosy retreat space… (Because retreats are truly my best work.)

Here it goes…

Your soul (or deeper wisdom or inner mentor or best self) is the part of you that isn’t worried, isn’t caught in the day-to-day doing. Your soul is the part of you that cannot fail, that knows you are worthy and deserving if health, happiness and peace.

This part of you is wise, open, and totally original. It is the BEST place from which to make business decisions.

It doesn’t worry about comparison or looking goofy.

It doesn’t get distracted by other people’s priorities or “shoulds”.

It doesn’t believe that everything’s already been done, and there’s no point.

It simply leans quietly towards the best next thing for you.

When we align our everyday actions with the wisdom of the soul (or whatever you’d prefer to , we create authenticity, we feel REALLY good, and we’re exactly where we’re meant to be.

What does soul have to do with business? It’s the secret link to success on your own terms.

How to get more in touch with your soul, inner wisdom, or deeper truth

There are lots of ways you can sink into your inner wisdom. I’m a big fan of taking time out, on a regular basis, so that you can quieten your monkey mind and keep things centred on you. (I even made this free video series to help you learn more.)

I recommend connecting with people, practices and books that are meaningful to you, the things that make you feel wise. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert is great. So is going for walks in nature.

And, of course, my own retreats and day retreats are created with the particular purpose of soulful business decision making.

Spaces are open to book for my day retreat on 10th May, or my March 2020 weekend retreat.

My word for 2019: grow

I can’t quite believe it’s mid-March and I’m only just writing about my word for the year! That’s how 2019 has been so far… A bit of a whirlwind.

Just in case you haven’t followed along with the concept of word of the year before, it’s a ritual of choosing a guiding word for the year, brought to popularity by Ali Edwards in 2006.

For some, it’s an alternative to resolutions. For others, it’s a summary of intention, a set of values and meanings swirled into a memorable guiding word.

For me, it’s somewhere between the two. And words are a big deal for me, so I enjoy the process of uncovering a word each year that speaks to my energy and intention.

Like many things, I usually aim for a word that is as applicable to my personal life and journey as it is to my business goals and intentions. Which can be a bit of an art! But this year, it really hits the nail on the head.

Last year: light

In 2018, I had just re-structured my business, especially Copper Boom Studio, and I was still finding my feet given all the big changes that had brought. My word for the year – light – reflected the antidote I craved: fewer heavy decisions and responsibilities, more lightness and fun to my days, a lighter to do list.

And it also spoke to the idea of shining my own light into the world. Helping others (always), creating a sense of hope, even in the dark places.

2018 became a year where I got more comfortable with shining a light on my own darkness, seeing things I hadn’t seen before about my beliefs and habits, and learning to look for the light once again.

It was exactly what I needed!

Deciding on 2019 and a little magical intervention…

I find that a word starts whispering to me in around November, and usually I play with it, not fully committing, but secretly knowing what the new year will bring.

When I found out in early November that I’m growing a tiny human, the word grow started talking to me…

Initially, I wasn’t sure. Setting an intention to grow, especially from a business point of view, when I knew I’d be taking time off, felt counter-intuitive. In fact, part of my ever-so-logical business brain told me I was crazy. How could I possibly grow the business, while growing a human and taking significant time off?

But grow felt so right on a deeper level. My body would grow. We’re growing our family. My heart was already expanding to make infinite room for a tiny person.

So I journalled it out, thought about a few other options and ultimately decided to redefine what business growth meant to me.

In fact, this year, my business is growing. Financially, yes, but also growing in strength and clarity. My courage is growing, the courage to talk about the things I really believe in and know to be true. My voice is growing, my reach is growing. It’s small, it’s slow, but it’s true.

And I know many people reading this have already balanced business and maternity leave, so I’ll say this as an homage to them as well as encouragement to myself: for the business to support me in this next phase, the business model has to look a little different.

I won’t be coaching as many people one-on-one this year. In fact, I’ve already limited my coaching calendar, but increased the accessibility to my group coaching course.

I’m also stepping back from copywriting in a huge way, but planning to fill that gap with a copywriting course to launch later in the year.

Growth doesn’t just mean doing more. It means doing what’s important with confidence, commitment, and clarity. I’m growing in tenacity, resilience and determination. I’m also growing in heart, soul, and community.

Feeling good, feeling bad, and feeling right in an atmosphere of growth

Ultimately, two things tipped me over the edge to choose grow. I knew grow was right for me when I read the above line by Gretchen Rubin. I was re-reading her Happiness Project for maybe the fifth time, and this wise concept really stood out to me.

The idea of an atmosphere of growth really struck a chord. An environment and phase where we’re all making wonky but positive progress. Acknowledging the good and bad, and working towards what feels right. That speaks to me in all sorts of ways.

Because growth isn’t linear – as we all know. And it’s not all leaps and bounds (though taking a leap seems to be important to me, too). It’s small progress. Micro decisions. Proactive actions.

The second thing was at my January retreat. The lovely Betsy Benn made our retreat stars this year (a tradition that the retreats centre around). While I had asked her to make enough words for everyone to choose, she had sneakily added in an extra star, with no input from me. It was engraved with a word intended just for me.

You know what it is, right?

So I’m growing in 2019

My commitment to this year is to grow, in the right direction for me, and through personal, family and business development. I’m trusting that my heart will continue to grow, that my capacity to help others will increase, and that my sense of success will increase over the year, too.

So far, 2019 has been wonderful and challenging. Which feels a lot like how growth works! My January retreat kicked things off beautifully, and I already have plans for the next retreat weekend in March 2020, plus a whole load of confidence in my unique brand of creative business work.

The challenges have been on my time, especially balancing family life. While pregnancy so far (touch wood) has been pretty lovely, my husband has a pretty significant knee injury, requiring extra care and time from me. Good practice for the months to come!

How’s your year (and word) going?

Do you choose a word for the year? I realise that you may already have shared it, and possibly allowed it to fade a little now that it’s March.

But I’d love to hear how it’s going for you. Maybe you’d like to recommit? Maybe you’re ready to adjust? Maybe you haven’t chosen a word, but fancy picking one now?

Wherever you are, I hope that your intentions and plans are feeling right for you.

Here’s the thing: your sales aren’t shit

First, excuse the language, if it’s not the wording you’d use.

But perhaps you’ve said something like that? “Sales are so bad.” Even if it’s just in your head, if you’ve repeated a phrase similar to this more than three times, we need to talk.

I’ve heard it hundreds – if not thousands – of times from clients who are pretty low on energy, looking for a magic answer or at least some kind of good news. And, truthfully, I’ve been there, too.

I’m not one to sugar-coat things. I don’t like spiritual bypassing or anything similar. (“It’s not that bad! Just look on the bright side!” No, thanks.)

But this is where self-discovery and self-development are incredibly useful. Using awareness of what’s going on in our brains, we can change the story, and change the situation.

Here’s what I mean:

You’ve looked at a number, or several numbers, and something in your brain has said, “Sales are shit.” It’s such a clear and powerful message that you may have questioned it briefly, but it’s basically taken hold.

Then, because it’s not a great feeling, you’ve told someone else. “Sales are kind of shit.” And this person tells you they’re sorry to hear it, or that they’re in a similar position, and you feel not alone. Which feels better than sales-are-shit-and-I’m-all-alone.

So the mantra takes further hold.

And then when you sit down to write a to-do list or you’re thinking about your business, your brain is thinking from this “sales are shit” place. You feel desperate, or uninspired – both sides of the same coin. Maybe you have that frantic energy: you’re getting a lot done, but it’s not really changing sales or changing your mind. Or maybe you just… don’t do very much, because it all feels overwhelming and out of your control.

This story – one that you decided on in the blink of an eye based on something that isn’t the full picture – has become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Want to get out of the downward spiral? There are three essential things to do.

Check the numbers you’re looking at.

If you decided sales are shit based on a two-second glance at a dashboard that doesn’t take your entire business into account, you absolutely need to dive a bit deeper.

If sales are down, you’re likely to be looking at turnover, rather than profit. Which is a false success metric, and is definitely going to give you misinformation about your business and your efforts. Track and look at profit as a marker of where you are, rather than assuming turnover is the same – broadly – as profit. (My business is way down on turnover compared to a couple of years ago, but my profit is significantly higher.)

Check the language you use. Clarity is power.

Okay, so as I said, I’m not one to sugar-coat the truth. Telling yourself things are fine when they’re not won’t help you to improve your business or your situation. We need truth. We need clarity.

But there are ways to phrase things that honour the truth without getting stuck in a story.

First, let’s get the facts. If you’ve looked at the numbers, you’ll hopefully be able to say something like, “My turnover is 30% down on last year.” Or, “My profit has dropped.”

Then there’s something to add…

“My profit has dropped, and I’d like to change that.”

“My turnover is 30% down on last year, and my profit is, too. I’m ready to improve my profit.”

Sticking with true statements, we want one that expresses something true about the situation. You’ve got a fact statement about the numbers, and then it’s best to add something that shares what you want to change. In a positive way, of course!

Get a new game plan.

With a more positive mantra, like, “I’m ready to improve my profit,” you can start to put together a more proactive game plan.

The thing about the “sales are shit” mantra is that it keeps you stuck. You can also get stuck with a positive mantra (even if it’s amazing), if there’s no action that relates to it.

So if you truly are ready to change your profit levels or improve your enjoyment levels, it’s time to get creative about how you want to do that.

I’m pretty clear on something: most business women I know can come up with 3-10 great actions to take if they have half an hour and a positive environment to picture possibilities.

Maybe it’s creative ways to reduce your costs and streamline things. Maybe you can create a more efficient way of fulfilling orders. Maybe (and I say this with many years of experience) you need to put your prices up.

You don’t have to change your entire business overnight. But find a starting place. The second part of your new mantra should encapsulate the way you want to feel, say, a year from now.

When you write your next to do list, include something that is linked to how you want to feel.

What do you think? Does this method resonate with you?

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