Creativity Blocker #1 = Money

pexels-photo-164661.jpgDisclaimer:  I’m not claiming to have it all together.  This series is meant as a somewhat personal attempt to pass along some knowledge that I have gained along my journey.  These are merely suggestions. 

I’m going to begin with one creativity blocker that at first mention would not seem to have anything to do with creativity–money.  But when you think about it, everything in our lives has to do with creativity, whether it stimulates it or hinders it.  So, here’s what I have to say about money.

I was notoriously horrible at managing money for the first (long) part of my life.  It just wasn’t a skill that came naturally to me, and I never had the motivation to learn how to manage my money.  Until, I DID have the motivation to learn to manage my money.  Life handed me a wake-up call, and luckily I was smart enough to (finally) accept it.  I say all of this because I think advice (or whatever you want to call this) sometimes comes better from someone who was not so good at something and then ended up being pretty great at it.  I wasn’t good at managing money, and then I ended up being pretty good at it.

You have got to get your money life in order.  No one ever regretted becoming debt free, I promise.  How does this relate to creativity?  You can’t focus on your creative endeavors when you are worried about how you are going to feed your family or buy diapers or keep the lights on.  If you are living paycheck to paycheck (or less than that, even), you don’t have the mental space to focus on that creative passion that is within you.  You are purely in survival mode.

Creativity blocker #1 = money problems.  My suggestion:  Dave Ramsey.  I adore Dave Ramsey and his money advice. I listen to his radio show nearly every day.  It’s free.  I’ve read several of his books.  I’ve been through his Financial Peace University.  I’m not saying you have to become a hardcore Dave Ramsey fan, but he can help.  He offers common sense advice and a simple six-step plan to become debt free and save and give money.  It really is life-changing.

If Dave simply isn’t your style, I do have one other suggestion:  Ruth Soukup’s “31 Days of Living Well and Spending Zero.”  This book was a game changer for me.  It truly was the reset button that was promised.  I’ve mentioned Ruth a few times on this blog before because I really do love the “practical solutions to overwhelm” that she offers.

Bottom line:  You’ve got to get your finances in order, even if it’s just to improve your quality of life.  Admit it… Living a life where your money goes to everyone but you is no way to live.  And, even if you aren’t swimming in debt, living paycheck to paycheck is no fun.  Get your finances in order, pay off your debt and start focusing that energy on the creative life you crave.

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Speaking of Ruth Soukup…

I just shared with you an email that I received from Ruth Soukup on Friday.  Within that email was a link to The Genius Blogger’s Toolkit.  While the toolkit looks amazing, that’s not the point of this post.  I LOVE the story Ruth shares about how she began her blog.  Very inspiring and definitely worth sharing.

Here’s the story from Ruth’s blog:

I don’t usually write about the business side of blogging here at Living Well Spending Less. My main focus and passion is helping my readers discover simple ways to live better, spend less, and have more time for the things that matter most.   

That said, as someone who earns a full-time income through blogging, the topic of how to start a blog and how to make money blogging is something I get asked about all the time! The truth is that I am incredibly passionate about helping other bloggers—or those who aspire to be—gain the knowledge to do the same.   Don’t get me wrong, blogging is by no means “easy money”, but it is very possible to earn a full-time living writing about what you love and care about.

I know because I’ve done it.

You see, when I first started blogging, I set a goal to make enough money from my blog that my husband—an aerospace engineer—could quit his job and become a stay-at-home dad.  At the time, it was a completely crazy goal that seemed utterly impossible, and my husband told me as much, insisting that I would never be able to make money from a blog.

But I wanted it so bad, I could almost taste it, and I was determined to do whatever it took to make that crazy dream a reality.

And so, with two toddlers at home, I started getting up at 3am every morning—and sometimes even earlier—in order to work on my blog before anyone else was up.  I took advantage of every naptime, every weekend, and every spare moment.  And when I wasn’t working on the blog itself, I was learning everything I could about blogging, from SEO to social media to how to monetize.

I’m not going to lie, it was a pretty exhausting time.  There were lots of downsides.  My husband couldn’t understand why on earth I was spending all my time on a blog that he was sure would never amount to anything.  My real life friends made fun of me and talked about me behind my back.  My kids watched way too much Dora the Explorer.  I didn’t get nearly enough sleep.  I had almost no life.

But to me, it was all worth it, because I could see the vision, even if no one else could.

And eventually, that vision paid off because in 2013, 2 ½ years after starting my blog, my husband was able to quit his job, and we’ve never looked back.  The blog—and the business that has grown out of it—has continued to grow and flourish.

Such an inspiring story!  You can read Ruth’s full post here.

How to Find Time for Your Dreams

I’m really loving the emails that I get from Ruth Soukup.  This one showed up in my inbox on Friday, and I thought I would share it because it’s so relevant to the book and moms everywhere.  From Ruth:

I don’t know about you, but over here this has been a busy week of trying to settle back into a productive groove after being out of town for a week and then moving to a new house, pretty much all in one fell swoop!

But the thing that is on my mind today is a question someone asked me this week in response to something I had said about goals.

The question was this:

“How do you find the time to pursue your dreams and accomplish your goals? I feel like every minute of every day is spent running around and putting out fires–I can never get ahead.”

It’s a great question, and one I’m sure we can all relate to! The reality is that we’re ALL busy, and that for most of us, life gets pretty crazy sometimes.

And sometimes all those demands on our time can mean putting our dreams on the back burner. We tell ourselves we’ll get to them when things slow down, or when there’s more time, but then we never do.

But the reality is that there will never be enough time for our big goals and dreams unless we put them first.

In my own life, I have discovered that the secret to making my goals and dreams a reality is getting up early every single day–even on the weekends and even when my schedule is disrupted by life events like travel and moving–and dedicating those first few hours of the day to the big things. Those early morning hours, when the rest of the world is asleep and there are no other demands on my time, have made all the difference. Without them, there would be no LWSL Blog, no books, no Living Well Planner, no Elite Blog Academy.

But make no mistake, getting up early every day comes at a cost. In order to get enough sleep and keep my immune system healthy, I have to be very diligent about getting to bed on time. I am almost always asleep by 9pm, and sometimes even earlier. And this usually means skipping out on evening activities that I enjoy, like going out, or reading a book, or playing games or watching a movie or favorite TV show.

It’s not always easy to say no to the fun things, but the truth is that every time we choose to say yes to something that is not a priority, we are–however unintentionally–saying NO to something that should be.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once noted that “things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.” Along those same lines, Jim Rohn pointed out that “if it is important to you, you’ll find a way. If not, you’ll find an excuse.”

In other words, if we want to find time to for our dreams, we have to make them a priority.

My challenge for you this week is to resolve to become more intentional about making time for your big goals and dreams. Block time out in your calendar. Start waking up 30 minutes earlier. Skip your favorite TV show. Make the choice to do whatever it takes to get one step closer. A year from now, you might just be amazed by what a difference it will make.

In the meantime, live with purpose, friends, and have a wonderful weekend!

xoxo, Ruth

Permission to make your own dreams a reality

The following is from an email from Ruth Soukup.  I subscribe to her email mailing list, and I’m sure she wouldn’t mind if I shared her wonderful message with you.  I was first introduced to Ruth through her book “31 Days of Living Well and Spending Less.”  Because of this book, our family just went through our first spending freeze.  We called it “No Spend September.”  It wasn’t exactly fun, but we learned a lot.  She has some really great ideas.  I recommend you check out her website.

From Ruth:

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to connect with a small group of LWSL readers for a special private Goal Crushing Mastermind. As part of our time together, two brave volunteers stepped forward to go on the “hot seat” to share some of the time management issues they have been struggling with, in the hopes that together as a group, we might be able to brainstorm a few solutions.

While the challenges each of the two women were facing seemed quite different on the surface, it soon became clear that there were some common threads to both.

First, both women were struggling with the overwhelming feeling that there wasn’t enough time in the day to get done everything that needed to be done. There were simply too many things to do, and not enough hours to do all of them.

But as we dug deeper, it became clear that this wasn’t just a problem of having too much to do, but of constantly feeling torn between those tasks that they felt had to be done and of longing to make time for those tasks that they really wanted to do.

Can anyone else relate?

As we talked, I realized just how common this feeling really is! As women and moms, we tend to put SO much pressure on ourselves! There’s the pressure to be a better mom and a better wife and a better cook and a better homemaker, the pressure to be more organized and make more money and to create more work-life balance. There’s the pressure to lose weight or to wear nicer clothes or drive a better car or have a bigger, more impressive house. There’s the pressure to have a healthy, organic, homemade dinner on the table every night, and to somehow always magically keep the laundry done, and to keep the house perfectly clean and to have kids that are smart and talented and always well-behaved.

There’s so much pressure that we put on ourselves to live up to someone else’s ideal, that we forget it’s okay to make our own dreams and goals a priority too.

The reality is that we can’t do it all. None of us can. And I promise you that even the perfect mom you are watching from afar, the one you’ve convinced yourself has it all together, has her own set of struggles too.

And that is exactly why it is so important to stop comparing and to stop putting so much pressure on ourselves to live up to a standard that doesn’t actually exist!

Instead, we need to be brave enough to spend our time and energy doing the things that spark our passion and make us feel most alive, even if that means letting the laundry pile up or choosing takeout over a home-cooked meal sometimes.

Nelson Mandela once said, “There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”
Along those same lines, Mae Jemison once wrote, “It’s your place in the world; it’s your life. Go on and do all you can with it, and make it the life you want to live.”

In other words, give yourself permission to go after your dreams.

Your goals and the things you are most passionate about are worth making time for, not just because they’ll bring more joy and fulfillment to your life (which they will), but because giving yourself permission to live in your sweet spot will make a difference in everything else you do. It will make you a better wife, a better mom, a better friend. You’ll have more energy to get things done. The world will seem brighter and clearer and more alive.

And so, my challenge for you this week, is to stop being so hard on yourself and to start giving yourself permission to make your own dreams a priority. Stop putting pressure on yourself to live up to an ideal that isn’t real, and instead be honest with yourself. What secret goals have you been pushing aside because you’ve convinced yourself there’s no time? What are the things you wish you could be doing that fill you up and spark your passion and make you feel like the best version of yourself? Make time for them, friends, before it’s too late.

I dare you.

That’s all for now–have an amazing & joy-filled weekend!

xoxo, Ruth

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