figure out what you want Archives - Page 4 of 8 - ⚡️Kristen Kalp

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Information overload (and overlords)

You’re going to start reading those books you’ve purchased or working through those programs you’ve been hoarding on your hard drive or listening to those language recordings tomorrow. Or next week. Or next month. Or this summer.

You’ve got no time right now, and you haven’t had time for the past few years. But someday…soon…SOON…

Let’s cut the bullshit, okay?

Either you care about that thing, or you don’t.

You’re going to survive either way.

You have permission to delete the recording or programs you’re not going to use. They’re eating up mental bandwidth and draining your energy by causing you to feel guilty each and every time you stumble across them.

Maybe you’ve moved on. That information is no longer fascinating, or no longer applicable. Toss it. Delete it. Donate it. Recycle it. Get it out of your life.

Maybe you’ve changed your mind. You were going to take up that one activity, but you’re no longer feeling it. No guilt! Move the materials you’ve gotten back into circulation, or at least eliminate them from a place where seeing ’em makes you feel awful about their lack of use.

Maybe your ‘shoulds’ aren’t strong enough. Yes, you SHOULD care about that thing, and you once cared enough to spend dollars on it! But the ‘should’ing isn’t strong enough to get you to take action. Stop giving the ‘should’s more energy.

Maybe it sucks. The program is too long, too boring, too fast-paced, too intense, or too cheesy. It’s not aligned with where you’re going. It feels heavy. You’d rather stab yourself in the eyes with spoons than listen. Honor those feelings.

You have permission to move along without doing the homework, completing the task, or listening to the audio.

You have permission to skip chapters, to delete videos, or to skim for the best parts.

You have permission to use only what you need and scrap the rest.

This is your business and your life we’re talking about, remember? You’re in charge.

Further…when you say you don’t have time for something, you’re actually saying it isn’t a priority.

And that’s okay. You can’t care about all the things. You can’t march in 48 protest rallies a week while running your business. You can’t give your all to 28 causes, 18 organizations, and 41.3 projects. You have to choose. And the choosing is good.

As for what to choose?  Listen in to the this week’s episode of That’s What She Said: Information Overload (and Overlords).

Subscribe to the podcast in iTunes, or listen to all the episodes here.

P.S.  How to claim freedom from all kinds of bullshit.

When perfect actually…sucks.

Over the course of a few years, I’ve watched a colleague make wildly successful stuff from a distance.

She’s reworked and reworked the same material until it shines. EVERYTHING is more beautiful than ever.

The website is glamorous and cutting-edge. The downloads are speedy, the content is precise, the user experience from start to finish is clean and has been absolutely perfected.

But it just doesn’t feel like it used to. It feels a little cold, a little sterile. A little too shiny.

I was clicking around, wondering how making something better and better could actually HURT an endeavor, when it struck me:

You can polish the life right out of a thing.

When you’re striving for perfection, you can erode the fundamental spirit of a thing.

You lose an edge here, a corner there. You keep chipping away, and suddenly the life is gone.

Sometimes the spirit is in the flaws.
Sometimes the charm is in letting us see your humanity.
Sometimes the most sacred bits are the parts your detractors might call mistakes.
Sometimes the best parts of a program are found in the outtakes.

When you find yourself in the ‘make it perfect, make it perfect, make it perfect’ loop…ask yourself whether what you’re making hums with life.

Ask a friend who loves you where it sings and where it falls flat. Ask if the whole thing reflects who you are and where you are in the world, or if you’ve accidentally picked up someone’s else’s voice. (Or worse, someone else’s aspirations.) Ask them if it feels like you.

Does it feel like kids covered in mud, or dogs digging in the sand, or those moments when you first picked up the instruments of your profession and thought ‘This is what I want to do with my life…’? If it does, no further polishing is required.

Let us see the work. Let your slightly-wibbly bits sing out to ours and make new off-key-but-lovely music together.

We’d rather have a spirited something than a lifeless lump of perfection.

P.S. You don’t want to be failure-proof.

“Should I get a real job?” and the sidecar.

Modern magazines and newspapers and TV shows like Shark Tank make owning a business look like the most glamorous thing on Earth.

Oooh, look at that hustle! Oooh, check out that drive! Wow, sales QUINTUPLED after being on the show, and now she’s the most fulfilled chocolate-pretzel-dipping factory owner on Earth!

Making your living through business is all fine and dandy, but no one is talking about the sidecar.

If owning a business is like riding a motorcycle, all the shit that comes with business is the sidecar.

(We’re not talking a cute sidecar like the one Sean Connery rides around in during Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, either.) The sidecar holds all the stuff you didn’t sign up for when you daydreamed about being paid to do what you’re good at: bookkeeping, accounting, social media management, time management, e-mail management, boundary-setting, promotion-making, cashflow projections, tax filing, client communications, employee hiring and firing, independent contractor management, conference attendance, and networking, to name a few.

Here’s the thing: the sidecar is unavoidable.

You can’t ignore too many of the things in the sidecar and reasonably expect to run a decent business. Burying your head in the sand and hoping social media will JUST STOP ALREADY doesn’t work. Ignoring your taxes until the second week of April will only lead to misery. Calling yourself “busy” and failing to return e-mails for six weeks will inevitably backfire. Refusing to market your work because you hope people somehow find you, love you, and book you with no incentive whatsoever will lead to an empty bank account.

The things in the sidecar have to be managed in an active manner. To some degree, they’re all a pain in the ass. You just want to write or paint or take photos or teach classes or do yoga or coach your peeps or whatever it is you do, and the sidecar activities aren’t your favorite. But they’re not going away.

You don’t have to do the work in the sidecar, but someone does.

Permission to outsource: granted.

Where can you get yourself another hour a day? Can you hire someone to help you blog, someone to take care of accounting, someone to help you master sales so you don’t have to hustle so freaking hard?

Where can you get yourself ten minutes a day? Would adding an e-mail autoresponder that says you check e-mail at 11am and 3pm mean you’d let yourself ignore your inbox every evening? Would scheduling your social media posts every Tuesday make it easier to keep up? Would writing canned responses for your top ten most-asked questions lighten your inbox load by 80%? Would admitting that you DON’T WANT EMPLOYEES, EVER, free up mental space for something else?

Start there — by getting your time back in small chunks. Then actively search for a peep or two to help you.

Permission to get yourself a partner or seven: granted.

Haunani has been making me fill out paperwork, booking my travel accommodations and flights, talking to my accountants, managing my payroll, making cashflow projections, and handling vendor relationships for me from the very beginning of Brand Camp. She takes on all the ultra-left-brained, no-wiggle-room type tasks that drive me insane.

You want me to call our merchant account people? On the phone, to talk about negotiating better credit card processing rates? AHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAH YAH RIGHT. Haunani is on it.

You want me to wrangle all those documents, print them, review them, sign them, scan them, and fax them back to you? You’ll be waiting until Miley Cyrus is President.

I have help. You need help, too.

Don’t tell yourself the sidecar items don’t suck, or that you’ll be fine without them, or that you can do them all if you just try a little harder and wake up a little earlier and double down in your efforts to be Super(wo)man. (Yah, I know all about that, and it doesn’t actually work. You can’t do all the things AND cook three meals a day AND hit the gym for an hour AND keep the house spotless AND return your library books on time AND get the dog walked four times a day AND keep up with the latest Buzzfeed articles AND maintain your sanity if you plan on sleeping in this lifetime.)

You don’t have to do this whole being-in-business-and-dealing-with-bullshit-tasks-that-suck thing alone. Promise.

Finally, it’s okay if you can’t accept the sidecar.

Though it might bring you angst or freak outs or panic attacks, it’s okay if this entrepreneurial thing isn’t for you. Just like not everyone can do ballet and not everyone likes to read books and most people over the age of 30 aren’t good at skateboarding anymore, running your own business isn’t a requirement of living in the modern world.

Sure, our culture paints owning a business as a glamorous route to freedom and never having to get out of your pajamas again. (How many Facebook ads have you seen that feature the word ‘freedom’ and show someone typing away on a laptop near a beach?)

But all of business exists on a continuum. Sometimes we get mired in the spreadsheets, sometimes we get to do the sexy stuff like traveling and speaking and hobnobbing with truly awesome people.

Sometimes we get hate mail, sometimes we get loving snail mail.
Sometimes we’re facing a season of meager sales, and sometimes we’re rolling in dough.


Permission to quit your business: granted. Even if you’re thousands of dollars in debt and you’ve spent eight years building it to where it is now.
Permission to scale back your business: granted. Even if you’ve been waiting until the kids go to school to ramp up, and now they’re in school and what you wanted is here and actually, you’re miserable.

The time you’ve put in as an entrepreneur isn’t wasted.

You’ve learned shit-tons of stuff. You’ve grown. You’ve mastered certain tasks, you’ve learned to deal with massive uncertainty, and you’ve taken matters into your own hands with varying degrees of success. You’ve got nothing to be ashamed of.

Just like you would leave a marriage that makes you want to hurl yourself from the top of the nearest skyscraper, you’re allowed to leave behind a business that no longer meets your needs.

Yes, really. It’s okay if you want to go back to your corporate job, or give up on trying to push your business into a full-time income, or take a year off to figure out what the fuck you actually want to do. It’s okay to stay home with your babies and enjoy them. It’s okay to pursue the other things in your life that are calling to you much more seductively than your current enterprise.

It’s okay. And it’s time to make peace with all of this.

P.S. I’ve recorded a whole podcast about the sidecar and these very issues if you want to dive further into this goodness — check out That’s What She Said, episode 4. (Because YES, I do have a podcast, and it’s awesome. Go listen now!)

Your Voice versus The Tyranny of The New

“I can’t do that…I’ve got a core group of people I serve, and they want to see new stuff from me,” she said, one month into motherhood and sleep deprived on a Thursday morning.

I protested. “But…it’s not like what you write only applies to one day. Brilliant articles about the way minds work or why consumers do what they do aren’t only relevant for one day a year!”

She sighed. “Okay…okay.

Like many of us, she’s tempted to keep creating and creating, pushing and pushing without end.

We’re all subjected to the absolute tyranny of The New.

(Note the caps, people: this is serious. The New.)

In social media terms, if it was created more than 30 minutes (or seconds) ago, it’s useless or worthless or irrelevant, unless it’s showing up in a retro-oriented Buzzfeed quiz or freaking ancient and on display at The Met.

Only The New isn’t necessarily The Best. Relentlessly pushing ourselves to produce and produce and produce — without stopping to reflect and to curate, eliminating our weakest works — doesn’t serve anyone best.

It keeps us grinding ourselves down, wearing away our shiniest bits until our messages are, collectively, muted.

It’s okay to show us what you’ve already created. We’d love to see your very best work.

Further, it’s okay to profit from the work you’ve already completed.

If you created 14 paintings you’re proud of last year, scan ’em and sell prints until you’re 89 years old.

If you’ve created a catalog of travel photography or stock photography, organize it and let yourself profit from it until you freaking retire.

It’s okay to keep talking about The Not-New.

Sell last year’s books.
Revive the “old” programs.
Re-purpose the blog posts, articles, essays, or stories.
Curate your collections.
Hit the highlights one more time.

We’d love to see your freshest stuff — but sometimes, we’d rather have your BEST work than your most recent.

Let yourself have Greatest Hits. Rhythms you return to. Stylistic patterns that repeat.

These are the basic components of your voice in the world.

They’re what make you…YOU.

Revel in them.  Refuse to give in to the tyranny of The New.

After all.  The stars have been doing the same old thing for millions of years, and we’re still quite smitten with their collective shine.

P.S.  I’m proud of you.

Photo // Lauren Guilford, Steer Your Ship Costa Rica

Your whole year, planned with one question.

There’s a point when I leave the Trader Joe’s.

Cart unloaded, car trunk full.

I’m angry every single time.

I’ve just spent $122.34 on things I need. Practical, everyday items. Avocados, bananas, that cheese-less pizza with the balsamic sauce and the veggies.

I’ve just paid $122.34 to survive. Without frills, sparkly additions or impractical purchases. (And I did NOT buy the Pumpkin Banana Bread Mix, dammit.)

I’ve just paid $122.34 for the bare minimum. UGH.

Planning for the bare minimum is a killjoy.

It occurred to me, whilst planning the coming business year, that planning for the bare minimum wasn’t going so well. I was running numbers and getting exactly 0% excited.

Launch this, push that, write this, hustle that.

I’m planning to pay the electric bill and the rent, feed the Hermione D. Granger and heat the house. But that’s the no frills, totally practical, just-existing-level planning.

No frills, sparkly additions, or impractical purchases.

Which isn’t exactly…motivating.

So I made a list. Fast. Of all the impractical and lovely things I want to pay for next year.

California. Venice. Those slinky garments I’ve been eyeing up on Pinterest. Ocean time. Reading time (in Europe).

And suddenly…I’m motivated. I’m more than willing to work for eating pizza and sipping espresso at a cafe by the Grand Canal. I can’t freaking wait to go surfing again, this time with someone who knows how and will take the time to show me without my practically drowning.

We unfurl when we transcend the practical.

What’s the impractical thing you’re working for this year?

Where are you going without worrying about whether you’ve got those bananas and some more toilet paper in your cart? What are you going to do when you’ve gotten beyond the Trader Joe’s parking lot and you’d like some chocolate, some lingerie, or some fine-ass new shoes?

What are you wiling to work harder to buy, to make, to grow, to experience, or to achieve?

Start planning your year there and lemme know how it goes.

P.S. Your year could use the Fuck Yah club, no matter what.  It’s free and glorious and I’ll email you the finest gifs that have ever giffed (in addition to my new podcasts and poems) about once a week.