Kristen Kalp - Writer, poet, and business coach.

Ahoy there!

I help creative peeps and entrepreneurs connect to their truest selves through breathwork, books, and business coaching.

👉 New?  Please start here so I can properly introduce myself. 😉

🛳 Steer Your Ship, my six-month business coaching program, is now open for registration!  Book a 15-minute call with me to see if it’s right for you!

Stop the overwhelm.

When I talk to peeps about the most frustrating aspects of their businesses, they generally tell me that a.) they want to make more money and b.) they’re overwhelmed.

If you can’t handle what you currently have going on, adding more will only stress you out further.  Thus, being overwhelmed is the natural starting point for entering into a more meaningful and profitable business.

Let’s stop the overwhelm. This is a tiny portion of Phase One of the Steer Your Ship curriculum, to help you figure out whether it’s right for you.

You can listen to this on the podcast, or keep reading for the text version!

First, let’s talk muggling. I define muggling as ‘all those tasks that aren’t particularly magical but that keep you alive, functioning, and earning dollars as a business owner.’

Checking your email, for example, isn’t particularly sexy and doesn’t appear on the top of everyone’s OH HOLY WOW AMAZING list, but it’s an absolutely vital part of your business. Thus, it’s muggilng.

When you feel overwhelmed in your business, which is quite often for most of the peeps I talk to, muggling often comes into play. You avoid it, so it piles up, so it gets more unmanageable, so you do less of it, so it gets even more out of control, and on and on the cycle goes until you find yourself curled in the fetal position, staring at the 16,423 unread messages notice on your email app.

Stop the Overwhelm Question #1: which muggling is currently out of control?

In other words, what has you feeling buried, overwhelmed, or hopeless? I’m guessing that it’s your inbox, your voicemail box, your DMs, and/or any other way of communicating that gets a little full, and then a lot full, and then you throw up your hands and decide you’ll never get out from under it.

Now is the perfect time to schedule inbox management on your calendar, or to declare email bankruptcy and begin again. Find any peeps interested in your products or services that are hanging out, reply to them immediately with an offer (here’s how to make one), and then archive everything else. Sometimes starting fresh is the only way out of the mess.

Stop the Overwhelm Question #2: which muggling is absolutely, positively under your control, no matter how much time it takes up and how many people point out that maybe you don’t need to do that task?

Often, it isn’t absolutely necessary that you’re the person who handles a task in your business. You might be good at it, and you might even find it fun, but that doesn’t mean you have to be in charge of it forever. For me, that means building a new website with the help of another human instead of attempting to DIY that shit. (Yes, I can do it, and NO, I don’t want to, ’cause it makes me tired and uses all my juice.)

For you, it might mean hiring a VA to help you keep your inbox somewhat manageable, or having someone else handle the mundane tasks that eat hours of your week, every single week.

Maybe it’s getting passwords and logins to students, or editing photos ::cough every photographer ever needs someone else to do this cough::, or making tweaks to your online presence because you’re really not particularly techy but you keep trying to be, or insisting that you absolutely must have a social media presence on X platform when really, you don’t have to do that at all.

Which everyday tasks would give you the most time back if you gave up control of them?

Start there. Even if it’s hard, or it hurts, or you have to deep breathe and scream into pillows because you’re sure he/she/they will fuck it up. (Hint: they probably won’t.)

Stop the Overwhelm Question #3: which muggling tasks do you enjoy?

Keep it without guilt. If you actually like searching hashtags, writing captions, and choosing the perfect images for Instagram, keep doing it. If you actually like cleaning the bathroom, or making dinner, or graphic design — again, keep doing it. I’m pretty darn picky when it comes to foods, so I make my own meals and shop for groceries on my own because WHAT IF THEY PICK UP THE WRONG THING OR THEY PICK THE FAT CUCUMBER. I like the skinny ones, not the fat ones, and that level of detail passed to someone else is just too damn much. If you’re picky and you know it, and getting rid of it would take six times more time than doing the thing yourself, it’s okay to keep a thing.

If you think you *should* like something but really don’t, be honest with yourself. And then keep reading.

Stop the Overwhelm Question #4: which muggling absolutely blows?

Permission to ditch it, granted.

Maybe you can’t ditch it all at once, like OKAY COOL I JUST HIRED SOMEONE TO REWRITE AND REDESIGN MY WEBSITE FOR TEN GRAND, THANKS KRISTEN FOR THE IDEA, but you can absolutely hire someone to take care of a nagging task or two.

I’ve hired people to make custom blog headers and footers, to design PDFs, to switch up my hosting companies (DNS server hell no I’m not messing with that), and to optimize my website for loading time in the past few months. I have many interests, but optimizing the loading time of my website via image compression isn’t one of them. (I use Alison of Tiny Blue Orange, and here’s an interview with her if you also need help handling your DNS’s!)

Stop the Overwhelm Question #5: are you an every damn day worker or a batch worker?

In other words: do you prefer to batch your large tasks or to work on them steadily, day by day?

I’m a batcher by nature, so I’ll have a few moderately productive days and then one day, WHAM HOLY SHIT I GOT A WEEK’S WORTH OF STUFF DONE. My energy comes in big fits (see: if the sun is shining I have 30% more energy), and so my work gets done in big fits.

Trying to get me to work on things for 20 minutes a day, every day, instead of devoting big chunks of time to ongoing projects is okay — I’ll tap in and do the work — but my biggest changes and plot developments come all at once, in quite intense bursts.

And you? How do you work? Do you get overwhelmed by seeing the bulk of a thing, so you prefer to have one task at a time in front of you, or do you love seeing the big picture and chipping away at it from a bird’s eye view?

The way you work matters.

There’s no right or wrong here, there’s only acknowledging the ways that you work, and then building those preferences into your daily rhythm. Give a batcher 5 20-minute tasks to do and she’ll be struggling; give an every damn day worker 9 hours of free, unstructured time to accomplish a gargantuan task and they’ll run screaming for the hills.

Acknowledge your nature. Then work with it.

One of my favorite things about coaching is that I always schedule one work day without coaching calls. That leaves me free to take this show on the road and work from a coffee shop or from outside to my heart’s content. It also leaves me free to follow my batching nature to work on big projects without interruption.

You can do the same thing by scheduling a muggling day, a freedom day, a writing day, or a working-from-anywhere-you-want day — if not once a week, then at least once a month.

This really can be as simple as adding a different way of working to your calendar and then taking the appropriate steps to make sure you’ve got your regular tasks cleared to enjoy that working day as much as possible.

Here are the questions one more time:

Which muggling is currently out of control?
Which muggling is absolutely, positively under your control, no matter how much time it takes up and how many people point out that maybe you don’t need to do that task?
Which muggling tasks do you enjoy?
Which muggling absolutely blows?
Are you an every damn day worker or a batch worker?

Finally: what are three tasks you can add to or remove from your calendar in the name of stopping the overwhelm?

Write ’em down, and then actually add or remove them. I know you’re now overwhelmed by how overwhelmed you are, but I promise that getting the swirling tasks out of your brain and either onto or off of your calendar is massively helpful.

Again, this has been a tiny portion of Phase One of the Steer Your Ship curriculum!

If you’ve found this helpful, schedule a call to talk with me about Steer Your Ship, or download the Steer Your Ship brochure.  We can stop your particular overwhelm together.

P.S.  No more business frappuccinos.

How do I know if X program is for me?

When it comes to hiring a coach, bettering your business, or joining a community — you’ve got roughly one biiilllion options.  ::insert Dr. Evil laugh here::

There are plenty of opportunities you’re interested in, but immediately pass up because they seem to be expensive.  Only they’re actually investments, and the best investments double or triple or quintuple in value over time.

We often make the mistake of seeing investment in an experience as the risk, when the far greater risk is being stuck exactly where we are.

With simple math, we can see that if you are trying to make triple your money back and invest $2,000, you’re likely to make close to six grand — but if you invest $39 in some ready-made solution or template, you’re likely to make…NEARLY $120 when your investment triples.

As humans, we get so much life, aliveness, vitality, and soul juice from growth — from growing into who we are — but our brains keep us stuck because of things being “too expensive” for years, if not decades.  (Then we buy stopgap solutions, self-study courses that linger on hard drives, and/or self-help books we never finish.  I mean, not that *I’ve* ever done *any* of those things…)

The very biggest investment I ever made in my business topped what seemed like a bajiliion dollars to me at the time — twenty thousand dollars. When I was teaching in the inner city, that was the entirety of my salary for a freaking YEAR. I currently drive a car that’s worth less than $4,000. It was freaking scary to invest so much into myself. BUT I made back five times my investment within three months. And I grew like crazy. I understood so much more about my business, myself, other people, and my place in the world than I did when I started…and I learned so much about my own attitudes toward money that never could have happened if my brain had won out with the ‘that’s too expensive’ logic.

Logic says you only have $200 or $2,000 or $X in the bank. (That number will never be enough to overcome the logical argument, by the way. You can have $2,000,000 in the bank, but it will all be mentally dogeared for something else.) Logic says you really should be saving for your kids’ education or something nice and “stable.”

From a logical place — and you can ask my accountant, Karl, about this — my business is just plain HOSED. I release projects all the time. I make stuff up and some of it works.  Some of it most definitely doesn’t.  I defy logic and enjoy doing so. That’s because my business is based in numbers, but I’m not tied to doing things just to make the numbers sing.

My true currency isn’t money, it’s freedom. I’m interested in going where I feel free-est.

Where are you most interested in going? To safety and security? To time away from your work? To a new job or new business? To a place where people envy you and want to BE you? To time in the spotlight?

Where are you most interested in going?

And will this thing you’re considering investing in help you get there?

If it will, find a way to get it. If you keep ending up at the sales page, particularly if your eyes are leaking when you get there. If you keep being drawn to something about it, or you can’t get it out of your mind.  Buy it.  You don’t have to know exactly why, but your body will know whether or not you want to take part. 

If it feels heavy, run away.  If it feels light, breezy, quiet, soft, or soulful — generally GOOD in your body — pick it up.  Easy.  If it feels scary but right, get it.  If you feel like you SHOULD want it, leave it right now.

If it doesn’t sparkle for you, don’t buy it. Even if everyone else is buying it, or says it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread, or says you should get it RIGHT NOW.  (More on sensing the sparkle here.)

Holy Dear Jesus Rollerskating in Heaven Above, the e-mails about new programs never stop.  The videos, the advertising, the upgrades and bonuses and extra things and kickbacks and fist bumps and CRUSH IT NOW offers…yah, I know.

The question of cost isn’t nearly as important as whether you find this work compelling and necessary after you’ve taken a look.

Do you feel called to do this particular work?

That’s it.  That’s the beginning and end of what you need to worry about when deciding to join a program or hire a coach. 

I dive deeper into this and get really super-ultra-vulnerable in this episode of That’s What She Said, called Tell on Yourself Part II: The even more terrifying edition.  I talk about why coaching matters and the way my business works at a deeper financial level while making myself cry with both terror and love.  (Yay?)

Steer Your Ship is for you if you’re willing to do the work of aligning your source of income with your truest self — what some would call your soul.  It’s a six month intensive that comes with two live retreats, one-on-one coaching, group calls, and unfettered access to me for the duration.  It’s for examining those parts of your life that aren’t working — together — then tweaking them to see what happens.  It’s for stepping away from ‘should’ and ‘can’t’ and toward your most courageous self, time after time.  ::insert Phil Collins joke here::

Typically, peeps with businesses boost their income by 20 to 50% after finishing the program.  But that’s not the best part!  The best part is that you’re free to experiment and plan and struggle and strive and succeed while held in my support, as well as the support of your fellow sea(wo)men.

Read more about Steer Your Ship, or book a (quick, painless) call with me to talk about whether it’s right for you.

P.S.  Steer Your Ship info is here, take a look.

Photo // Lauren Guilford, Steer Your Ship Costa Rica

Tell On Yourself. (Or, how to be less afraid of asshole brain.)

Psst! This is an episode of my podcast, That’s What She Said. You can read it by continuing to scroll or listen in here. Either way, this is a snippet I wrote *years* ago, and I am in no longer in the place I describe. ::mwah::

I’m deeply depressed and can’t see it because I’m FINE, DAMMIT.

I wake him up and lay into him with a list of all the things he’s done wrong: too this, not enough that, too much this, not nearly enough that. Poke, poke, poke, poke, poke, poke, poke.

He doesn’t get angry.
He doesn’t even defend himself.
He just says, “If you really feel that way, maybe I should pack my things.”

Tears are streaming down my face and I can’t understand why I’m doing this, but I hear my voice mutter, “Maybe you should.”

He’s in the hallway gathering a handful of possessions when asshole brain pipes up: good. Now you can kill yourself.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME, ASSHOLE BRAIN?

You’re pushing away this person who adores me because he would never let suicide happen?

You’re taking these absurd actions — seemingly against your will — because you’re too cowardly to take action unless you’re entirely and utterly alone?

It only takes that one sneaky sentence for me to see the long, snake-like tail of depression slinking through my life.

I call him back into the room and tell him what’s going on, weeping and sobbing and hysterical and oozing snot like a sewer-dwelling blobby monster.

As long as Bear is in the house, asshole-suicide brain is permanently foiled. Asshole-suicide brain doesn’t like this, so it’s pushing as hard as it can to rid my life of him. I feel like an idiot and a moron.

How could I have fallen for this nonsense? How come I can’t see what’s right in front of my face?

He softens and holds me.
I apologize again and again.
He forgives me just as many times as I can utter “I’m sorry.”

We agree to tell on our dangerous thoughts from then on, no matter what.

We agree to announce, “Asshole brain is saying…” and then fill the other person in on the latest.

We agree to be uncomfortable with sharing our thoughts because shame can’t survive the light of day and an articulate conversation — and because losing a person you love is far worse than hearing what their whacked out asshole brain has to say in any given moment.

Tell on yourself.

Tell on your worst thoughts.

Tell on all the ways asshole brain has power over you, and suddenly, it won’t have so much power.

As a shame researcher, I know that the very best thing to do in the midst of a shame attack is totally counterintuitive: Practice courage and reach out! – Brené Brown

When you have a safe person to share asshole brain with — a friend, lover, relative, therapist, psychologist, psychiatrist, or doctor — asshole brain loses its stranglehold on your life.

When you share asshole brain’s rants with those in your inner circle, you stop being afraid of every thought that isn’t lollipops and rainbows.

You’re able to enter deeper into your own experience without fear of asshole brain, because you know nothing it says has to be yours to carry all by your lonesome. Further, when you say asshole brain’s thoughts out loud, you can see their absurdity with ease.

Yah, asshole brain? I should kick Bear out of my life because he didn’t run the dishwasher or take out the trash this week?

Yah, asshole brain? I should close down my business and work for someone else because I’m so good at taking orders and following rules?

Yah, asshole brain? I should stop working on my latest project because everyone knows it’s going to be a total fucking failure and the nuclear war is going to start any day now, so who cares anyway?

You don’t have to be scared of asshole brain.

You don’t have to believe a word it says.

….and if you can learn to share its macabre musings, your quality of life gets better.

Telling on asshole brain is like airing out a tightly enclosed, dark and dank room: when you throw open the windows and let the light come streaming in, it changes. There’s far less to fear when the sunshine can hit every corner.

Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light. – Brené Brown

A reminder: I’m not a medical professional, and if you’re experiencing dark thoughts like the ones described, please seek medical help AS SOON AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE. Please. If you’re having standard human asshole brain thoughts, know that I love you and you’re right there with the rest of us: human. And doing the best you can. 😉

Also!  This is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline!  You can call 1-800-273-8255 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for help, for free.  PLEASE don’t hesitate to use it!

Asshole brain is my name for what others call your ‘inner critic,’ but that doesn’t seem strong enough because FUCK it’s an asshole. Read the intro to asshole brain, then hit up part two.

P.S.  Here because someone is saying all the things about depression?  Here are more of my thoughts and struggles with depression.