A guest post by Cori Padgett from Big Girl Branding..
Being self-employed, whether you’re a Ghostwriter like me, a ProBlogger like Darren, or a Funny Entrepreneur hating on cockroaches, things can be unpredictable. There are ups, there are downs, there are in-betweens, and there are twisted pretzels that have you walking sideways up long dark alleys. Echoing with all the things you’ve done, plan to do, or are thinking about doing someday. Whew.
Regardless of how well-intentioned your plans are, or how meticulously your create some sort of “schedule” for yourself, or how on fire you are to “do the damn thing”… there are always days your plans get thrown out the window or shot out of the sky and you’re left wondering what the heck made you think you could do THIS (whatever this is for you) all on your own anyway? Sheesh. You MUST have been crazy when you made THAT winning decision. (That was good-natured sarcasm btw.)
Working for your self can be lonely. As a freelance writer and “tadpole” blogger myself eighty percent of the time I’m pretty much immersed in my own mind and my own thoughts, left with my own company. And trust me, too much of my company is NOT a good thing. I get cranky. Everything falls on me in my business and if I don’t do the damn thing then it just doesn’t get done. Period.
The problem is… life happens whether you like it or not. Sometimes, regardless of whether it’s all on you or not life happens and getting it done just isn’t in your cards at the moment.
It could be an illness that strikes, a family emergency, or maybe just plain ‘ole lack of motivation and focus. It happens, and you just sort of have to accept that it happens, hitch up your socks… and keep moving forward.
Like this TV show…
Maybe you’ve seen this show, maybe you haven’t… either way, here’s the skinny.
A mom gets prego’s in high school by the school jock with a baby girl… never tells him and gives it up for adoption, then goes about her merry (or not so merry) way.
Fast forward 16 years later and the kids been in and out of foster care, bounced from crappy home to crappy home and the mom is a high-profile radio DJ. Oh, and the dad’s a loveable but overgrown man-child who runs a bar with his equally overgrown man-child mates.
The baby girl tracks down her biological units seeking emancipation so she can live with her foster buddies as an “adult”. Only instead of that happening the court awards the biological parents joint custody, denying emancipation. Ouch.
Long story short?
The two kids that “were” are now two parents that “are” to a 16 year old baby girl that isn’t a baby anymore… and none of them have a clue what to do next. Ready or not, parenting here we come!
Working for your self is a bit like becoming a parent. Expected and planned, or unexpected and unplanned, the only thing you can REALLY plan on… is nothing going according to plan!
Life unexpected. Ready or not.
So what can you do to cushion the blow when life doesn’t go your way, or business doesn’t stay on track, or your blog doesn’t seem to be going anywhere? Whatever your situation happens to be?
A few things actually.
Just because things rarely go according to plan, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have one. That old saying “Fail to plan and you plan to fail” should be your MANTRA when it comes to your goals.
Write it on your white board, paint it on your wall, or stamp it on your forehead but never forget that while even the best laid plans can go off the rails… if you don’t have rails in the first place how do you know where you’re headed? And forget fixing it because you won’t know what’s broke.
Oh, and don’t count on the North Star either because guess what boys and girls? This isn’t a hike in the hills, not if you’re serious about your road to freedom. Financial freedom, personal freedom, freedom of speech… whatever.
This is your life and your business.
Make a plan, find a direction, create a goal. Then get to work and make it happen. Like Nathan Hagen says, elbow grease is how you succeed.
When you hit a roadblock go over it or around it or plow right through it if need be. Whichever suits your personal style but don’t let it get the best of you or beat you. Don’t let it derail you from what you want to accomplish. Do the damn thing.
So that’s first. Make that plan.
The second thing? Make a back-up plan!
Sure it’s kinda boring making all these “plans” and maybe your more a “fly by the seat of your pants” guy or gal but trust me when I say… having a back-up plan doesn’t make you boring it makes you smart.
NOT having a back-up plan makes you dumb. Or lazy.
Or maybe just overwhelmed, which is totally OK as long as you know that you NEED to get that back-up plan in place and it’s on your priority to-do list.
For instance, I recently had a client that pretty much kept me busy for 7 months straight with fairly large projects that paid my bills quite nicely. I got comfy and lazy and stopped marketing the way I did before and guess what? That job came to an end and I was stuck with no back-up plan in place. Bills unpaid, stress and worry, hard lesson learned.
Or an even more recent moment… just this past week I was sick as a dog. Which meant no writing got done and my blog mojo I’d been trying so hard to keep flowing dried right up because I didn’t have anything planned for when I wasn’t up for writing. No blog mojo= no blog visitors= no blog growth. Equals BIG bummer.
So make that back-up plan, whatever it needs to be.
Get some support. Find some friends.
Build some relationships that can help keep you going through hard or scary or exciting times. Build a network that can help you leap over those roadblocks and set-backs and kick your butt into gear should you need said butt kicking.
Stepping out on your own is an amazing journey. Working for yourself and nailing it is a special kind of freedom you have to experience to fully appreciate. And doing it yourself gives you a killer feeling of satisfaction. But you can’t do it completely alone.
Look at it like this.
Sure it’s fun and exhilarating to parachute out of a plane all on your own, especially if you’ve never done it before. You’re “The Man”! (Or “The Woman”!)
Maybe it’s common sense, maybe it’s the mom in me. But the first time I step out of a plane, I plan on going tandem… not on my own!
Life unexpected ain’t got nothing on me, how about you?
Cori is a freelance ‘ghost’ for hire and the creative brains and dubious brawn behind her blog Big Girl Branding. She’d also like to note that ‘big’ does not mean what you think it means. It was meant to indicate being a grown up. Sigh… Of course you probably didn’t get that, and it totally loses its effect when she has to explain it. So I guess she’ll just have to put on her ‘big girl’ panties and deal with it. She’ll feel better about the whole misunderstanding though if you just visit her and say hello. Don’t be shy!
Life sure comes at you hard when you least expect it! I had a similar experience last week losing an awesome contract. Working as an independent energy consultant, I stumbled upon a project that would have provided several months worth of work and around $100K in consulting fees. After starting the project and moving along quite well for two weeks, I was notified by the company paying the bills that the rules had changed and my side of the work was no longer needed. That sucked!!
I’ve always had back-up plans, but in this economy they don’t always pan-out. Networking, building relationships and being flexible should soften the blow; that’s what I found out on Thursday when a another client let me know they had a similar project (although smaller) in mind and this time the rules weren’t going to change.
Keep working hard and keep your eyes on the prize. Like the saying goes, “The harder I work the luckier I become.” Things usually work out for those willing to put in the effort.
Very refreshing article Cori! You are right we must set goals regardless of the roadblocks that we encounter. As I sit here right now typing this, I have a goal that I would like to meet for the day.
I’m optimistic that I’ll accomplish it but it’s always good for me to have a back up plan in the event that I don’t meet my goal. Thanks for reminding me of this.
Well said Cori,
First off I love that show and think it’s going to be a big hit. To your point about not planning being planning to fail, i agree completely. I think people should be making plans for their success because it sets them up to be successful. I say a 3 month outlook and strategic plan for a blog is really a useful way to go about things because it gives you a sense of direction.
@Jarrod Thanks hun! Glad you liked it. :D And good for you for setting some daily goals. I think they are great benchmarkers of progress myself. :) Appreciate your comment babe!
@Srinivas- Agreed on both counts! I adore that show, lol. It’s my newest favorite and think it will be big as well. And a 3 month outlook/plan is perfect… it’s not so far into the future that you feel overwhelmed, but long enough that you can really track some progress and see how you’re doing in terms of meeting milestones. Well said!
Inspiring and motivating!! thank you
Wow…a very inspring blog post Cori…has got me thinking about my own blog and more importantly I’m finding the enthusiasm to PLAN! – Being highly organised I love a bit of planning but sometimes it can be hard to get the much-needed inspiration.
It is very inspiring post.
(I think that in course of life a true teacher or senior firend is very important.)
@David..aww thanks hun! Glad you liked it! :D
@Luke… Thanks Luke! :D So glad you enjoyed it and found a bit of inspiration. Now get to work on that plan! ;)
Well that just made me go and look at our site and tweak some of the text.
And I have subscribed to http://www.biggirlbranding.com/ (via NetNewsWire my newly discovered RSS reader which I like a lot)
Cori I love the ‘not having a plan makes you dumb or lazy’ it is SO true! I have fallen into that trap before and it always ends in disaster! but having a plan – as hard as it may be – is so worth while!
thanks for such an honest post. for some parts (not the teenage pregnancy, or the teenage daughter showing up! hee.) i felt like i was reading about my own experiences. i’ve got lists and plans, both short term and long, but my difficulty is with keeping all the balls juggling at once – marketing, blog posts, newsletters, promotions, new products, on top of the daily work that is bringing in money right now. gah! anyhow, it is nice to know i’m not the only one… =)
your post motivates me :)
it is true that we need plan to determine what we gonna do next
I agree-I’m going to prepare for the unexpected.
A little late though, as I was recently hacked (and my web traffic virtually oblitherated),
But I’m preparing a backup plan, which is investing in a few avenues like Freebie Marketing, and making a blog powered completely from freelancers and guests…but that’s another story entirely.
@Karen.. You’re welcome! So glad you enjoyed it! :) And no, definitely NOT the only one. LOL We’re in this together lady, we all do the juggling act at some point. Feel free to shoot me an email if ever you feel overwhelmed and want to feel you’re not alone. lol I’ll commiserate with you! ;D
@Maren… Thanks babe, and thanks for stopping in to read my post. :) Totally agree on both counts. How do you know how to get somewhere if you don’t actually know where you’re going? And by the same token how can you expect to get somewhere if you don’t know HOW you’ll get there?
@David.. ha.. Thanks David, glad to have you as a subscriber. I hope you enjoy my content. :) And good for you for tweaking some of your site.. always strive to improve!
@Lee..thanks Lee! Glad you enjoyed it! :)
@Mark.. It does! :) Sorry to hear about the loss of that contract, I’m sure it did suck pretty bad. Luckily you had a similar project fill in the gap, it’s great when that happens. lol I like that, ‘The harder I work the luckier I become’. I’ll have to remember that one. :) Thanks so much for taking the time to comment!
@Hokya.. thanks hun! Glad you enjoyed it! :)
@Aaron… oooh…sorry to hear about that hack. :( That’s a huge bummer. Take it on the chin and keep moving forward though. Sounds like you’re on the right track, and good luck with that blog…I’m certain you’ll make a success of it if you apply your self to making it happen! :)
Actually life is unexpected regardless where we stay, what we do. The most unexpected outcome for an employee is getting fired!
Hey Cori great post! As usual!
I am on Cori’s rss feed and it is wonderful! I fully recommend her!
Once again your insight is incredible :) I often get caught up in these sort of “paradoxes” I suppose – you know like “Expect the unexpected” Like duh! But we always say you need a plan, a plan B, and then a “wet weather programme too” ‘cos one day it is going to rain.
But, as for parachuting, every time I have climbed out of an aircraft I have made sure it is already on the ground. I PLAN to keep it this way too. :)
This post came at just the right time for me. Thanks Cori. I’ve been blogging about nine months and have been realizing I’m on a bit of a plateau. What I want to say very briefly here is the difference there is between ‘theory’ and making it all happen in practise.
So I had read a number of times about the importance of leaving comments on other blogs but I haven’t been doing it.
Maybe Easter is a good time to truly let that shift from theory to practise happen. Anyway, suddenly I am VERY much looking forward to making a daily regimen of commenting — and focusing a lot of energy on ‘building a relationship’ as you so well shared with us.
There’s an ancient law, ‘As you sow so whall you reap.’ I’m going to sow positive comments on blogs I like and admire and see what the result is.
This post really couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I’ve been working at making a freelance career happen for a while now, blogging, writing articles, etc. Recently though I realized that I was always ‘waiting’ for something, not sure what, maybe the feeling of comfort that I had when working 9-5. Knowing where my next paycheck was coming from and exactly how much it was going to be. Then I realized that I needed to stop ‘waiting’ and just own the fact that I’m a freelancer and nothing will ever be that predictable again. It’s meant a change in my entire mental attitude and reading this article was perfectly in tune with what I’ve been telling myself.
Thanks for the awesome advice!
Really great article. I have never commented on a blog before but wanted you to know I thought this was excellent.
Cori, great post! It was through a series of “unexpected events” that I am celebrating 3 years as an entrepreneur, with a backup plan that was never really a back up. It was a “I’m going to do this but maybe not right now” plan. Plan to succeed, believe, persevere, work hard at your craft and always be learning. Transitions are beginnings and adventures”. Mine was.
@Scheng.. agreed…the only thing we can expect is to always expect the unexpected!
@Dave.. awww…thanks Dave! So glad you’re enjoying my blog. I like that, the wet weather plan. Can’t say as I’ve yet jumped from a plane either, but it is on my list. You could say that’s MY plan. LOL Thanks for commenting hun!
@Deborah.. thanks Deborah! So glad you liked it! Congrats, 3 years is awesome! And definitely, I love that…transitions are beginnings and adventures. Perfect way to look on the positive side of everything!
The importance of a backup plan is indeed an often overlooked value. I personally become so comfortable with my first plan that I go “this will work out no matter what”. But unexpected things will happen, and having a Plan B would really save you from much stress and inconvenience.
“Planning is everything; plans are nothing.” D. D. Eisenhower
Actually, Eisenhower was probably quoting a German General. Nonetheless, it’s no the plan that’s important, it’s the thought process that prepares you to deviate from any plan.
@Lynn… aww thanks so much Lynn! :) Glad I could be your ‘initiation’ into commenting! :D Happy Easter!
@Moki.. Yes definitely…get over that waiting habit, it’s never gonna happen as a freelancer! Lol.. So glad you found something you could take away from the article, and good luck with your mental shift. It’s hard, but well worth it!
@Christopher… You’re welcome Christopher! Yes, a daily commenting habit is a great one to put into practice…even if you only commit 10 minutes of your day to doing it, that little bit of connection with others in your ‘realm’ makes it well worth it. :) Good luck in your commenting journey, I’m betting you’ll reap much reward.
@Rick..Hmnn..you might be right. Mental prep can make you ready for anything. :)
I’ve been following you since your last guest post on ProBlogger. Not in a creepy stalkerish way–let’s clear that up right now–but in a ‘I really want to know what this lady has to say next’ kind of way.
Thanks for the reminder of the importance of goals. One of the problems I’ve noticed when not focused on my goals is I become side-tracked, like the talking dog in the movie up. I’ll be working on a particular task, then out of the blue–
And I’m off doing something random, throwing all my precious time out the window.
@Kristin.. aww…that is so awesome! :) Thank you so much for the kind words. And yes, I totally KNOW that feeling! LOL In my case it’s an ingrained urge to procrastinate so I allow myself to be distracted by other things… and then woops! find I’m under the gun and stuffs not done! lol So glad you’re enjoying my stuff, I hope you continue to do so!
“if you don’t have rails in the first place how do you know where you’re headed?”.
This sentence really had a resonance for me. I think many people fails in planning because it implies the risk of derailing… If you make a move you could make a mistake; so you remain quiet, but it is the quietness of graveyards :)
Thanks for the post
I’m an inbound marketer, so when I’m not blogging, I’m engaging in social media or seo optimizing my pages or thinking up new content or planning a webinar… Whoops, looks like people like me who try to do all of these things probably end up doing none of them very well. I hope that’s not true, but your blog inspires me to plan these activities out better and focus on each one to do it well before moving on.
I always try to have an A, B and C plan. But sometimes don’t none of those plans work. LOL!!! So I have to start all over again.
This statement is much deeper than appears at first glance. It doesn’t matter who you are, at some point a major challenge will appear in your life. The true mystic understands this, and prepares for these experiences by using the powers of acceptance, gratitude and personal enlightenment.
I know this might sound crazy, but the next time you find yourself in a traffic jam, be grateful for the experience. Be grateful that you have some private time to visualize your next great achievement, or be grateful you will soon be home to a wonderful dinner, or be grateful the a/c works in your car.
If you have lost your job due to economic reasons you cannot control, then be grateful for the time you have to learn new skills. Take advantage of the situation! Do not marinate in your own misery by focusing on how difficult your life seems to be.
No matter how bad you have it right now, there are billions of people who are worse off than you, so always try to look for the opportunities to grow no matter your situation. Look for the best in all things and you will start to experience the best of all things.
Once you accept and are thankful for your current situation, even if it is not your preferred situation, you will begin to see opportunities appear that otherwise would be unexplainable! These will be opportunities for growth and opportunities for cleansing.
You Can Run but You Can’t Hide
One path to cleansing suggests if you are not happy with your current life, then stop and focus on the things that do bring you joy.
Instead of putting your focus on creating a new life because you hate the life you have, focus instead on what is good about your life now and settle any ongoing disputes amicably.
Remove yourself from any situations you find unacceptable in the most honorable fashion, and be thankful for those experiences and the personal growth they provided.
“Oh, and don’t count on the North Star either because guess what boys and girls? This isn’t a hike in the hills, not if you’re serious about your road to freedom. Financial freedom, personal freedom, freedom of speech… ”
Lol!! Cori …
Planning is imperative. And a back up plan even more so…
It’s tough to kick your own backside when you get too cozy work enough to keep the cash flowing in!
Sit there waiting someone will show up & rescue you… much like following the North Star
@John..Good for you John.. :) I vote outsource and delegate whenever and wherever possible!
@Sam.. LOL..yeah that happens. But it sounds like you bounce back with new plans pretty quick, and I think that’s key.
@Nacho..Thanks Nacho.. glad you found something that connected with you. :)
@Curtis..Well said Curtis! :) Thanks so much for taking the time to comment and share you’re own thoughts on the topic. I agree, focus on the present and what’s good, and inevitable things start to look up!
@Ashwin..Lol..thanks hun! Glad you enjoyed the post. You’re right, it is hard to kick your own butt in gear sometimes. But if you can’t do it yourself, try finding an accountablility partner or joining a good mastermind group to keep you on track. ;)
It’s been the toughest 2 years of my life financially!… May 19th 2010 will be exactly 2 years since I started my on-line venture. I’ve invested all my time and energy and also all the money I have in “A Sitting Duck”…
I have seen it build, I’m on Google Page Rank 4 now, over 100,000 YouTube views and a video game launching in November.
I have to set up the shop properly and launch the next viral video and it should make awesome money, maintaining that will be a challenge but certainly not as tough as the set up phase!…
@David.. Thanks for the comment hun! It sounds like you are on the right track, congrats! I really hope this next phase goes phenomenally well for you. :)
tanks for sharing cori..
i hope i can prepare for what that is unexpected….
sometime, it is scary to think about the future..
@ibnujusup… You’re welcome hun! :) Yes, the future can be scary, but have a few plans in place and you can face anything!
Exactly what do you think is the most effective weblog system to make use of for a person with a rather reduced practical knowledge of technology?
Hi Elly! Honestly I knew nothing when I started, but I immediately gravitated towards self-hosted wordpress. WordPress is pretty easy for a technophobe like me, and there are literally tons of tutuorials if you get stuck.
Plus it has a ton of plugins that you can use to tweak your site and make it shine. And I always recommend self hosted because the free sites like blogger.com or wordpress.com can literally ‘giveth and taketh away’.
And when they taketh, all your hard work and any streams of revenue are down the toilet.
I need help with criticism. The problem I’ve with it, I consider it to seriously and it ends up getting to me and lowering my self-esteem large time. I need assist finding methods to obtain over what people say that ends up hurting my feelings. Any suggestions? Thanks.
Hi Garland! Unfortunately the only advice I have for that is you simply most grow a thicker skin. Criticism (when constructive) is a healthy part of growth.
Consider the source of criticism and if there may be some truth in what they’re saying. If there is some truth, then it’s possible there are some changes that need to be made.
If someone is criticizing just to be a jerk, then let it roll off your back and don’t take it to heart. Lots of folks offer criticism as a cleverly veiled way to make themselves feel better or feel important. Screw people like that and don’t take it personally. :)