Why You Won't Achieve Your New Year's Resolutions

During the holiday season, we overeat, overspend and “under” work. It’s the adult version of recess before the new year. “New Year, New Me”, we proclaim. It’s like we expect a mythical switch to turn on at midnight on NYE. From that moment, we transform into mean, lean, resolution crushing machines. NOT!

In fact, according to Forbes only 8% of people actually achieve their New Year’s Resolutions. In 2018, I was an 8%-er! Not only did I crush my New Year’s Resolutions, I accomplished much more. I quit my job, launched my blog, landed 3 freelance writing gigs, was recognized as one of 35 top millennials in the nation and finally took the kids to Disney! As I reflected on the year and prepared for 2019, I found three things that helped me accomplish my goals in 2018:

Determine Your Why

Superficial goals look amazing on paper but are rarely accomplished because they don’t mean anything. In her book Becoming, Forever First Lady Michelle Obama talks about the positive reactions that she received as a child when she told people that she wanted to become a lawyer. The praise felt good, but she’d later discover that wasn't what she really wanted . I’m guilty of allowing others’ excitement (or that they were impressed) about a goal lead to me to believe that’s what I really wanted. Trust me, you will not be motivated to pursue a goal that you are not emotionally attached to.

So, how do you determine which goals are superficial and uncover what you really want? Ask yourself The 5 Why’s. The 5 Why’s is a problem solving exercise that I first learned about in corporate America. This technique helps you get to the root of a problem quickly. I use it to get to the real reason that I’m pursuing a goal. In this exercise, ask yourself “Why?” five times to help determine if the goal is truly what you want.

I’ll share mine.

Goal: As a freelance writer, to land a column in a global publication.

Why do you want to land a column in a global publication?

If I had my own column, I’d be offered book deals, increase my asking price for speaking engagements and get called on as an expert on panels, tv shows and gain new clients.

Why do you want these opportunities?

I’d be able to work on my own terms, “write my own checks” and help people in a meaningful way.

Why are these 3 things important to you?

Working on my own terms would provide the freedom that I’ve been searching for my entire career. With the time and financial freedom, I’d spend more time creating memories with my family.

So as you can see, my real goal is freedom, and it didn't even take all 5 why’s to uncover that! Landing a column in a global publication is the vehicle through which I can achieve freedom. It may be helpful to walk through this activity with another person that will push you to dig deeper.

Anticipate Obstacles

Life comes at you fast. And sometimes, hard. Regardless of how it comes at you, life happens. Often when we decide on our goals and create plans to execute, we are doing so with the expectation of perfect conditions. If you hire a trainer, stick to meal plan and ditch sugar for 90 days, you will likely lose the 15lbs that you resolved to. But, what if you unexpectedly lose your job 30 days in? You can no longer afford a trainer or meal planning services and you cancel your gym membership to save money.

What do you do? If you’re a part of the 92%, you’ll likely abandon your weight loss resolution and focus on landing a new job.

Those of us in the 8% think differently. Are there not other ways to lose 15lbs? Of course there are! YouTube has tons of videos that show you how to utilize items in your household as workout equipment. There are free Meetup fitness groups as well as fitness apps on your phone.

Remember, not everything will go as planned. Even the best planners cannot anticipate what life events will happen. However, I’ve found that when I expect the unexpected, I am better able to recover, pivot and continue moving toward my goals!

Fail Fast

Failure sucks and you will fail at something…more than once. There’s no need to sugar coat it. The difference between the 92% and the 8%, is that the latter doesn’t make the failure itself an event. Instead, we (the 8%-ers) accept the failure, learn from it and move on. I’ve interviewed for jobs and ultimately was not offered the role. Instead of turning up at my self imposed pity party, I was intentional in identifying what I could use from the experience to help me continue to grow. I’d had the opportunity to interview (great practice), be exposed to people that I may not have otherwise had access to and gained confidence to try again.

It’s easier said than done, but try to find the rainbow in every failure. Remember, just because you don’t achieve a goal as quickly as you’d hoped, doesn’t mean that you’ve taken an L. Dust yourself off and try again…with a different approach.

Fail fast and keep moving!

Are You A Part of the 8%?

Dig deep to uncover your real goals, not just those that look good on paper or to other people. Expect the unexpected and be prepared to re-route the journey to your end goal. Fail fast, learn from your missteps and continue to diligently pursue your goals. I’m excited to hear what 2019 has in store for all of my 8%-ers!

If you’d like one on one coaching to help identify, plan and pursue your goals, I ‘d love to work with you! Shoot me a note and let’s get connected!

Until next time..

Nakisha

How to Quit Your Job By This Time Next Year

Social media glamorizes entrepreneurship.

Memes will make you feel like you should quit your job today, start your business tomorrow and travel the world next week. Hence, living your best life. Slow down, cowgirl. It’s not as easy as it looks. With that said, you CAN leave your cushy corporate job and be successful . But first, you must first have a plan.

I quit my job in July 2018 to pursue blogging and freelance writing full time.

One part of my entrepreneurial strategy is to “keep my ears to the (corporate America) streets.” As a lifestyle and career blogger, it is important that I continue to gain experience both in and out of the traditional “office. I take corporate contracts as a Senior Learning Consultant to continue to expand my network, grow my skills and let’s be real…earn income to fill in the gaps between writing assignments and to support my shopping habit. You might include a similar strategy that not only earns additional income but provides opportunities to grow in other ways during your entrepreneurial journey.

12-month Guide to Chucking the Duces to Your Day Job

Moment of transparency: I didn’t have a plan when I decided that I was ready to make my grand exit. With hindsight being 20/20, I now realize that everything that I did in the 12 months prior to leaving my role was actually a plan. My last official day in corporate America was July 27, 2018.

Here’s what I did in the 365 prior to logging out of my corporate laptop for the last time:

T-12 Months

Preparation is key. At this point, you should volunteer to gain valuable experience in areas that will benefit your future (or current side hustle) business. Take advantage of this time, while you have a primary source of income, to get experience and exposure for your business or yourself...for free. Use PTO or volunteer time off so that you still get paid from your corporate gig. Take advantage of opportunities that your employer provides for you to take classes or earn certifications that will help you in your business later on. Be sure to look at the qualifications to find out if you are required to stay at the company for a certain time after using the education benefit .

Now is the time to access your financial situation including spending habits, healthcare expenses and living arrangments. Ask yourself, if you made no money in the first six months of entrepreneurship, how much money would you need to survive? That’s what your savings goal should be. Start now. If you have the capacity, find a part time job or other way to earn income to help save.

What I did: I took a writing class at a local community college to sharpen my writing skills. To earn extra money, I updated resumes (clients came by word of mouth), wrote bios for local professionals and picked up one off contracts to ghostwrite for a number of projects. I also offered personal styling services.

 

T-9 Months

Find people who have done or are doing what you want to do. Connect with them and ask questions. They will be helpful resources that can share their journey’s with you. They can also point you in the direction of resources that can help you. Continue to build and grow your product or service. This is the time of trial and error.  Host informal focus groups, pilot your ideas….now is the time to begin building tangible pieces of your business.

What I did: I kept a running list of topics that I wanted to share on my blog as well as pitch to larger publications. I asked friends, colleagues and social media if the topics were of interest to them. I also asked for feedback on to present the content (blog, podcast, social media, etc.).

 

T-6 Months

It’s grind time! You should work on your website, branding, content and marketing materials. Just because you are a new business owner doesn’t mean that you have to look the part. You want to present yourself as a professional.  Now more than ever, start getting the word out. Let people know what you do or will be doing. Network in your new field/industry.

What I did: If someone complimented my outfit, I’d tell them to follow me on social media because I was starting a blog soon. When someone asked that I work on their resume or ‘ghostwrite’ a resignation letter for them, I let them know that I’d be launching my freelance writing business soon.  I used Canva to design my business cards and printed them on Vista Print. I started developing my blog on Squarespace and spent long nights playing around with templates. I began writing blog posts and brainstorming. In the upcoming months, I finished enough posts so that I had 6 finished posts when I launched this blog.

Planning and getting yourself ahead will be helpful in the long term, especially once you get busy and opportunities begin popping up out of nowhere.

T-3 Months

The last 3 months will fly by! Use this time to buckle down on savings and planning for medical and other expenses. It was around this time that I came up with my rates. For many new entrepreneurs, its easy to get discount our prices because we are new or feel like we need to build up to higher prices. I did research on the going rates for freelance contributors to publications. I also considered the number of hours I wanted to commit to writing. Also I thought about the costs to have photos taken for headshots. For speaking engagements I came up with a different rate to include travel fees. It’s ok to adjust your price as you learn more, but definitely be proactive in pricing instead of reactive when someone wants to purchase a service and then you are coming up with a number at whim.

What I did: I also explored different ways to make money.. I knew that I was interested in not only writing about lifestyle and career topics, but speaking about them as well. I created a speaker’s reel and bio. I also wanted to do podcasts so I recorded myself speaking. I wanted to write for lifestyle and career blogs so I prepared posts for both as writing samples would be required when I submitted. 

 Sign, Sealed & Delivered: It’s Time to Resign!

Now that its time to turn in your resignation, here are a couple of things to remember:

·         Set your successor up for success. Make sure that information is easy to find, finish projects (or provide an update of your status) and tie up all loose ends.

·         Remain professional. Even if it’s a job, or people, that you hate do not leave in a blaze of fire. #ItsaVerySmallWorld

·         If you can, be transparent. Let your coworkers know about your business. They could be future clients!

Remember , there is no shame in returning to corporate America if you need to do so in the future. Each of our journey’s are unique. Do not let social media (or your friends, family or neighbor’s) dictate what your journey should look like. 12

With the start of a new year, there’s no time like the present to begin your 12-month exit plan!

 

Attending Conferences: I'm Just Here for the Food

Imagine being surrounded by Black Girl Magic in its literal form: electrifying energy, innovative ideas, a strong sense of community and excellence.

Now, imagine someone declaring “I’m just here for the food”. That’s basically what you are saying if you attend a conference and don’t engage with the other attendees.

I’ve attended conferences alone. I felt awkward. It can be intimidating when it seems like everyone else has a ‘person’ but you. I left without meeting a soul. Money, time and energy wasted. Yeah, I was that girl.

Don’t be that girl.

Here are 3 ways that I was able to overcome the awkwardness and meet my business BFF:

 Be Social

In the months and weeks prior to the event, you should follow the conference pages on social media. In addition to providing information about the conference, the social media pages are a great way to pre-network!

 Are you traveling to the conference from out of state? Find and follow locals that are attending.  Ask for their recommendations to non-touristy restaurants, or where to find the best spas or boutiques. Common interests are another great way to build relationships. Go ahead, click on the profile of someone that has commented on the event page. You may find that you graduated from the same school as one attendee, work in the same field as another or share a love for traveling with yet another. Don’t be afraid to show some love or send a DM to introduce yourself. It’s great to see familiar faces in the crowd, especially if you plan to attend alone. If you are an introvert, this pre-introduction will relieve the anxiety of introducing yourself to strangers and help build the confidence to build even more relationships in person.

Be a Connector

Don’t be the girl that’s always looking for a plug. Be the plug. As you meet people, listen for opportunities to lend yourself as a resource. It could be as simple as recommending a graphic designer that you’ve worked with to a business owner that’s looking to re-launch her website. If you’ve met individuals that work in the same field or live in the same city and don’t know each other, introduce them! Make the most out of your investment (time, energy, money) by positioning yourself as a connector of people, resources and opportunities. Be intentional about how you connect with people.

Be Bold

Stand out! Try a bold lipstick, wear a funky piece of jewelry or steal a page from Issa Rae’s Insecure wardrobe and rock a shirt or bag with a positive quote or funny saying. Make a statement. Women love to compliment each other and connect on all things beauty/fashion related. Giving another woman a sincere compliment is an easy way to begin a conversation with someone you’ve just met. I’ve had conversations that began with “You are ROCKING those faux locs girl!” and ended with “Let me introduce you to my colleague that’s looking to invest.”

 

Most importantly, be YOU….and who knows, you may meet your business BFF at the next conference that you attend!

Stop Chasing Your Goals

Chasing goals has become #goals. I look at success (achieving goals) as being incremental and not as a singular event. Every action, ounce of energy and small win that lead to monumental accomplishments should be celebrated. There are times that I’ve been so laser focused on a particular goal, that I discounted the value of the journey to get there. Often, the biggest lessons learned happen during the journey and not at the destination. Realizing this, I’ve changed my approach to goal setting.

As a journalist, contributor, content creator and public speaker, I’ve bucketed the way that I spend my time when working toward a goal into four categories: teach, learn, consult and develop. I’m able to celebrate key accomplishments in each category as well as ‘stay ready’ so that I don’t have to get ready if an opportunity presents itself in the meantime. As an example, one of my short term goals is to land a paid speaking engagement. Completing activities in each of these categories (teach, learn, consult and publish) will not only help me better position myself to be selected for a speaking gig but can uncover (or create) opportunities that I hadn’t thought about.

|Teach|

The most successful people are teachers in some way. Think of teaching outside of the literal sense. It could be sharing knowledge with colleagues or fellow entrepreneurs. Recently, I heard someone say that we assume that everyone else is good at the things that we are naturally good at (or something like that). Basically, we take our innate abilities for granted. I have always been really good at interviewing. I volunteer with Goodwill by teaching an interviewing skills class. Not only am I sharing my knowledge, I gain insight from the participants. If you have a colleague that’s struggling with Excel, show him/her a few tricks. Remember, when you are teaching, you are also sharpening your skills in that area.

|Learn|

There’s no excuse not to learn something everyday. At minimum, use your smart phone to get smart (sorry, I had to do it). I have hundreds of books downloaded to my Kindle app on my phone. If I arrive to a meeting early, am in the waiting room at the doctor’s office or anywhere else that I have downtime, I read. Read blogs, articles, ebooks…anything that you come across. There are also lots of free resources to learn new skills. As a content creator, I’ve become interested in photography. As a proud member of #teamiPhone, I found out that the Apple store offers FREE iPhone photography classes. There are so many resources that you can take advantage of to learn new skills. Local libraries offer free classes and sites like Udemy offer thousands of courses on topics from project management to public relations.

|Consult|

On the corporate side, as a learning & development consultant, I provide training solutions to organizations. As an entrepreneur, I consult with my peers (bloggers, writers, content creators, speakers). Consulting is lending yourself as a thought partner by asking guiding questions, providing expert advice and helping someone solve a problem. Consulting requires that you think outside of the box, explore new ideas and is a great growth activity for all parties involved. Find opportunities to use your expertise to help someone solve a problem.

|Publish|

You want to be a writer, but what have you written? I used to say that I’d wait until someone hired me to write a guest post or share an article, but how would I get paid if I didn’t have samples of my work? I started publishing the type of content that I wanted to be hired to create on my blog. We get caught up in waiting for someone else to give us an opportunity, but you have to just do it. If you are an aspiring makeup artist, start by doing friends/family faces and posting (publishing) on social media. If you are a business coach, start coaching and sharing testimonials from your clients. Whatever ‘publishing’ means for you, just get your work out there!

Each month, I am intentional in making sure that I am involving myself in activities that allow me to teach, learn, consult and publish. I celebrate each of those opportunities as I know that the skills and experience that I gain will help as I continue the journey to the larger goals.

Hope this was helpful!

Unfinished Cliff’s Notes: Entrepreneurship

I was the girl that said I'd never leave corporate America. Entrepreneurship wasn't for me, y'all can have that, I'd say. I like my benefits, my cushy office and fancy title.

Then I had an Issa moment. The moment began with a feeling that I ignored for a few years. Well, I didn't exactly ignore it, I started job hopping. I wasn't being fulfilled and blamed it on whatever role I was in at the time. Five jobs (I was a contractor so save your judgement) later, I realized that it wasn't the roles, it was me. I had come to a place where I wanted more. Not more money or more responsibility but to do work that aligned with my passion and purpose...whatever that meant. And just like that, I walked smooth out of corporate America.

Taking a step outside of my comfort zone and jumping into the world of entrepreneurship, here are a couple of lessons learned so far….

No Coupons

Don't discount yourself because you are new to entrepreneurship or entering a new industry. You aren't 'new' to the transferable skills that you bring to the table. If you have worked in project management for 5 years, you don't need to do projects for free to "gain experience". You have the expertise, you can consult and take on PM projects for clients. This is not to discourage you from taking projects for free to gain additional experience, gain exposure to potential clients or to build an important relationship. Articulate your experience confidently, share how you can solve problems for potential clients and compile a list of key accomplishments, testimonials and references. Bottom Line: Know and communicate your worth. 

When the cat's away...

…the mice will play! Early in my career, when my supervisor was out of the office…#StraightChillMode. As an entrepreneur, you are the cat AND the mouse. It's easy to procrastinate, get distracted or sit in one spot on Instagram for two hours doing "research" when you are managing yourself. With that new freedom comes new responsibility. Your reputation is at risk each time you fail to deliver a quality product or service on time. As the sole representation of your personal brand, you don’t always have the luxury of having set office hours. If you aren’t naturally disciplined, you need to put a plan in place to help you stay organized. I tend to procrastinate (a lot) and stress myself out trying to throw things together last minute. Here’s what I do:

  • Divide my work into sprints (google agile product development). A sprint is a set period of time in which specific work must be completed. For example, when writing a post, I’ll say “I’ll complete (write, edit and review) a paragraph in a half hour.” After each sprint, I’ll take a break to refocus or switch to another task to keep my day interesting.

  •  Find accountability partners. Personally, I’ll waste my own time but never miss a deadline when I am accountable to someone else. For that reason, I’ll ask a friend or colleague to edit or review a piece that I’m writing by a certain date. Knowing that I am accountable to someone who has taken time out to review my work, I finish my work on time…sometimes even ahead of schedule.

Everyday I’m learning, growing and experiencing new things in my journey as a freelance writer. I wish I had the cheat code to running a successful business, building a powerful brand and securing what will become generational wealth. In the meantime….I’ll continue to develop Cliff’s Notes that hopefully will help us all.

What have you learned as an entrepreneur?