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Structure That Doesn’t Suck, Part 4

Structure That Doesn't Suck, Part Four

This is part four of the Structure That Doesn’t Suck podcast series!  Listen to parts one, two, and three before proceeding, okay?

Now that you know whether you use time like a Luna or a Hermione, we’re ready to talk about priorities.

Priorities are easier to spot from a bird’s eye view. Think looking down on an enormous crowd from a balcony, or flying over a scene while riding a winged creature. HELL YES I BUILT BUCKBEAK INTO STRUCTURE THAT DOESN’T SUCK!

For the not-Harry-Potter fans, Buckbeak is a magical creature who Hagrid cares for within the Forbidden Forest. You must present yourself to him and bow before you are granted any further interaction. He sizes you up. If he bows back, you are free to pet his enormous beak and ride him as you would a horse, only with wings.

Buckbeak is saved during a pivotal point of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and he’s my favorite not-human character in Harry Potter. Favorite like, when I met Buckbeak at Harry Potter World, I squealed and bowed to him. From my spot on a roller coaster. I was shrieking with joy as we continued the Hagrid ride, overwhelmed with my love for Buckbeak.

Because Buckbeak is capable of taking in the entirety of both a human being and a scene at once, he’s a master of helping you to spot priorities.

The flying high, framing Buckbeak question: what is the Next Most Important Thing to be made?

Not the next 17 Most Important Things to be made.
Not what you’ll work on after the laundry and the donations and the shopping and the cleaning.

The next. Most Important Thing.

For Lunas, it’s generally been living in you for months, if not years. It’s time to bring that to light.

For Hermiones, it’s generally been the thing you’ll get to ‘later.’ Like when you’re old, retired, or on vacation. Preferably all three.

Everyone fears that the Next Most Important Thing is simultaneously not important enough to take up so much of your time and too important to do imperfectly.

Some part of you wants to protect the Next Most Important Thing because it will require something of your soul.

Yes! What’s that thing?

The vision that keeps you up at night?
The weird dream you keep on revisiting?
The class that’s been calling to you at 3 a.m.?
The book that’s only a few scribbles so far?
The project that’s plans, plans, and more plans at the moment?
The piece everyone is sick of hearing about because they wish you would do it already?

This isn’t the thing your grandma approves of or your partner most wants. It’s the annoying, irascible thing inside of you that won’t take no for an answer.

Let’s start there. The whole point of creating structure that doesn’t suck is to bring that thing into the world.

Your work deserves better than to continually be pushed to ‘later’ or ignored for the sake of scrolling on your phone or returning emails in the timeliest fashion humanly possible.

Which project would it hurt you to leave by the wayside, undone?
Which project calls to your soul in a really annoying, won’t-give-up way?
Which phase of your work is next, but you’ve been putting it off for days, weeks, or years?

For many of my coaching clients, teaching is the next step. For others, producing more work instead of teaching is the next step. I’m not trying to steer you in any direction except toward your own desires and your greatest potential.

Whichever project makes you both scared and excited — Glennon Doyle calls it ‘scited,’ a combination of both feelings — is exactly right.

If you have utterly no idea which project I’m talking about right now, imagine that I called your best friend and asked ’em what you’ve been talking about but not doing for a while now.

YUP THAT’S THE ONE.

Your best friend has kindly and lovingly listened to details of this unmade project for months, if not years, and it’s time to show them that you’ve got the followthrough necessary to make it happen.

This project will generally be wildly impractical and/or utterly terrifying.

Buckbeak wants to remind you that he spent time in friggin wizard prison as an innocent being, so figuring out your taxes and then creating a savings plan in order to afford the next thing is totally doable.

Whether you’ll need a bigger budget, a little more time, a little more energy, or simply a plan, you’ve got this.

Write it down! Scribble as much of the how and who and what and where of your vision as you have down right now.

…no really, write now. Before your asshole brain can bat you down and get you to push this off for another three to five years.

The next right thing is generally obvious and simple.

If you want a gallery exhibition of your paintings, you’ve got to paint. That’s step one, and you can schedule it as such. (I’m not saying to stop dreaming! I’m only asking you to balance that dreaming with actual work in the physical world, on this plane of reality.)

Likewise, if you want to write a book, write.
Want to teach? Start working on your curriculum.
Want to coach? Get yourself a test client.

If your Next Most Important Thing requires schooling, it’ll never be earlier than it is right now. Get the brochures, the loan forms, the applications, the meetings, the whatever-is-necessary in motion, even if you’re certain that I’m a delusional maniac and this thing you want can NEVER happen.

We are living in apocalyptic times and the earth is quite literally dying. We’re running out of time to make a more gorgeous, loving, and creative world.

Please don’t tell me your email is more important right now, or your 401(k) just needs a few more thousand dollars before you can summon the courage to do X.

Start.
Begin.
Go go go go go!

Further: let the next right thing be enough.

If you tend toward Luna, you might spend lots of time dreaming of something bigger, more ‘important,’ and more awesome than what you’re doing right now. A single painting isn’t enough; you’ve got to create a show. A show isn’t enough; you’ve got to create an art crawl. And on, and on, while a single painting fails to get made for months on end. Buckbeak is here to remind you that one wing flap at a time gets you from here to there.

If you tend toward Hermione, you’ve already listed 83.9 internal reasons why the Next Most Important Thing won’t work. You don’t have time, you’ll need 20% more income, you’re out of energy, the holidays are approaching, the slow/busy season is coming, you need 1 to 5 weeks of utter silence in order to begin, you’re not sure your people will approve.

Buckbeak was rescued by a bunch of teenagers using time travel, so he really doesn’t care about your excuses.

Everyone fears that the Next Most Important Thing is simultaneously not important enough to take up so much of your time and too important to do imperfectly.

Please don’t let perfectionism ruin you.

Start.
Begin.
Go go go go go!

If you’d like to share your Next Most Important Thing with me, please do so! Email k@kristenkalp.com and tell me what you’re going to do!

P.S. If you’d like my help bringing your Next Most Important Thing to light, 6 coaching spots open for KK on Tap in January. Get on the waitlist at kristenkalp.com/tap!

Finally, if you’ve enjoyed the podcast this year, a quick funding note! I’ve created 35 episodes for you this year, so ponying up $35 to help me continue doing this work on a completely-free level seems fair. If I’ve helped you make more than $35 this year, please pay your dues so That’s What She Said can continue into 2020 and beyond.

The first 10 people to chip in $35 get a secret prize (NOPE I won’t tell you, it’s a SECRET!), so pitch in now!

Let’s talk Steady and Experimental income.

Before we dive into this episode of the podcast, please click here to find your enough number. That way, you’ll have precise and accurate estimates to work with as we create a strategy for the coming months in your business.

This podcast episode comes as a result of looooots of coaching clients (spots open in January, get on the dibs list!) wanting to abandon projects and services they’ve worked on for years to start something entirely new, then pushing on that new thing to start making income immediately. Like, it launched on Tuesday, and by Wednesday we need to be making $4,000 a month, every month until the end of time.

What if we could actively arrange for you to earn two types of income in your business?

And before you ask, NOPE, they’re not active and passive income. These are much bigger, broader, and more interesting categories than those served up by cis-white-male marketing gurus.

There are two types of dollars you can earn in your business at any given time: steady and experimental.

Steady, as in, a product or service is selling well, and it’s been selling well for a while.

Experimental, as in, it feels risky to make the work, and/or you’re in some kind of new territory.

If you’re completely new to business, it’s all an experiment, but this might help you reframe some of your ambition in interesting ways, so keep going!

Let’s walk through my numbers, with my steady and experimental breakdowns from years past, so you can see what I’m talking about in practical terms.

In 2013, the biz income was 31% steady and 69% experimental.

The steadiness came from ghostwriting, previously launched programs, and a few coaching calls.

The experimenting came from creating a summer camp for adults and then selling the shit out of it.

That experimental nature paid off, so the pendulum swung to experimental in 2014.

High on just how much amazing and wonderful shit had panned out by experimenting, I went even more experiment crazy. 83% of the year’s income came from launching and holding Brand Camp, writing Introverts at Work, and hosting a few coaching sleepovers.

The remaining 17% of income came from steady, previously released or available sources: coaching, books, workshops, and ghostwriting.

And then the pendulum swung the other way.

In 2015, I swung wildly toward steady income, as Brand Camp the camp was like dropping a financial devastation bomb on my business.

65% of income came from coaching, previously-released programs and books, and ghostwriting.

Experiments made up only 35% of the year’s income, in which I repackaged the (admittedly brilliant) Brand Camp classes as the Business Blitz, launched a program, offered a 1-on-1 year-long coaching package, and founded three new workshops.

Less risk, more month-to-month work. Less launching, lower costs, more 1-on-1 clients.

And on and on it goes.

In 2016, I paid off the $43k in debt I’d accrued the year before, and in 2017 I released a bunch of new and exciting stuff: a different coaching package, lots of breathwork classes, and one-off courses to help peeps communicate and break up with their phones.

I’m always playing with the balance of how much work is entirely risky and how much is completely stable.

The trick of earning income through your business without being utterly bored or utterly broke lies in balancing your steady and your experimental income sources.

Further, steady work funds experimental work.

I’ve come to learn about valuing steady work the excruciatingly difficult way: by devaluing it and then scrambling to make ends meet at the last minute.

I always want to throw out what I’ve done and start over. I want everything I do to be an experiment. And yet.

The way to build a sustainable business is to innovate on some fronts while remaining stable on others.

2020 is about taking on a few more yearlong clients while playing with breathwork programs like The Softness Sessions, podcasting regularly, and keeping an ear to the ground for what’s next.

AND YOU, FRIEND! HOW DO YOU WANT THE NEXT FEW MONTHS TO PLAY OUT?

STEADY QUESTIONS:

Which income is steady in your business?

Which products or services consistently bring you income, month after month and year after year?

Which income-generating elements of your business do you want to keep?

Exactly how many clients do you need?

How many products do you need to sell, as your steady baseline?

The more you feel your health or your personal life is wobbly, unsteady, or overwhelming, the more likely it is that your business should be focused on steady income.

Steadiness requires time, energy, and consistency. Releasing a weekly podcast, showing your work on social media, sending regular e-mails and updates, responding to client inquiries in a timely manner, talking about what you’ve got for sale, and following up with inquiries: these are consistent practices that bear fruit over time.

If your work is consistent but sharing your work is not, that tweak alone might fix the income weirdnesses that ail you.

Once more, in case you missed it because you were skimming: if your work is consistent but sharing your work is not, that tweak alone might fix the income weirdnesses that ail you.

With steady work squared away, we move on to trying new things in experimental phases.

EXPERIMENT QUESTIONS:

What are you dying to try out in small doses?

Do you want to hold an event, start a class, write a book, release a project, try out a new product line, or offer an all new service? You can choose anything, but you’ve gotta choose one. Just one.

Do you want to collaborate with someone else? Do you want to try something entirely new and completely unlike what you’ve been doing all along?

What does the experimental thing look like, and what would be a first step toward making it happen?

If you’re like, ‘I can’t possibly talk about that while I also sell THOSE,’ think again.

I sell business coaching and also host regular gatherings for breathwork, both in person and on the internet. You can say those things are entirely unrelated, or you can say that when people opt in to hearing more from Kristen at Kristenkalp.com, it all fits. It’s all welcome.

Unless I start selling buckets of canned food and potable water for the apocalypse while spouting Biblical verses about the end times, because WOW I’ve been presenting myself as the opposite of that for a decade, I’ve got free rein to experiment with whatever has captured my fascination, has helped me, or has borne fruit in my life.

You get the same freedom, too.

You can absolutely be a photographer and a painter. A writer and a maker. A health coach and a reiki master. A coach and an author. A floral designer and a teacher. (Of course these are real examples of past coaching clients, by the way…)

You deserve the right to experiment. Period.

Further. Instead of deciding you have to give up X entirely in order to start Y, you can do both.

You can design t-shirts and see how they sell while you continue to be a doula, or plan larger and larger events while you keep on podcasting and mentoring colleagues in the wedding industry.

LIFE IS AN ‘AND.’

When we treat it as a series of ‘or’s, we limit our potential and clip our own wings. Whatever it is you want to do, yes you can do that AND you can keep on being a person with that degree or those experiences. ‘Or’ people end up switching focus a bunch of times, while ‘and’ people make room for ebb and flow. Some products come in, some go out. Some services last a long time, and others are offered only once.

You don’t have to do that mental and energetic thing whereby committing to a single project suddenly means committing to doing that same thing for the rest of your life.

Clipping your own wings is fucking tragic, so let’s not do that, okay? Let’s make some stuff, sell some stuff, and then repeat the process all over again.

And let’s not make any of this a BIG HUGE DEAL HOLY SHIT WOW while we’re at it! Amping up the energetic value of a new product or service is a sneaky asshole brain move to keep us stuck in fear and overwhelm.

STEADY AND EXPERIMENTAL QUESTIONS:

How much steady work do I need to sell each month to reach my enough number?

EXACTLY what sort of experiment do I want to make in the next six months?

And how much money will that make me, in a perfect world?

In a realistic world?

In a horrible world?

What you want to make as an experiment is entirely separate from how much money you want to make.

In fact, for our purposes, it’s safe to assume your experiments will cover costs and make very little money. That way, you’re as free as possible to make an amazing thing, and then to iterate on that thing with profitability in mind.

Assuming minimal profitability instead of a sold-out spectacular keeps you from blowing $20,000 on an experiment your first time out of the gate.

If you assume you’ll be making only your minimal costs back, what shape does the experiment take on?

It will generally get smaller and more doable when you limit the budget to something entirely reasonable. This is not downsizing your dream, but testing the viability of your dream before you swipe every credit card you’ve got to rent an arena. And a 7-piece orchestra. And a team of trained dogs. And a donut wall.

How can you build sources of revenue elsewhere in order to fund that project?

How can you use stable income sources to build experiments for yourself, and vice versa?

Can your experiment be added as a bonus gift or limited edition offering for something you already sell regularly?

PUT IT ALL TOGETHER AND TIE IT IN A BOW:

For the next six months, I’ll sell #___(quantity) of ________________ each month to reach my enough number.

I’ll also offer ____________ as an experiment.

#___ (quantity) are available, and will be released on this date: ___/___/___.

Again, this is a super-chill, low-key, NBD way to do business. You’ve just banked on your steady income while opening yourself up to an experiment, too — thereby assuring that you won’t die of boredom in the coming months!

If you dig this podcast episode and it helped you out, please leave a token of gratitude.

Tipping means I don’t fall into the despair of working for free, and it means you’ve actually enjoyed the material, too! We both win!

P.S. Here are six potentially devastating side effects of bringing your business dream to life — and why you should do it anyway.

Healing doesn’t always hurt.

The most painful parts of healing happen at the beginning of the process, when we’re shedding old skins that have calcified, or crawling out of boxes where we were contorted into cramped positions for lots of time, or walking with a limp because we’re still bleeding out from several wounds at once.

This is an episode of That’s What She Said, my weekly podcast! Keep reading or listen in below.

As we staunch the bleeding; as we shed the skins; as we move around and learn to shake out our wings, we soften and grow.

We start out shedding the debris that’s hardest, structurally — walls, gates, and shells — and move into ever softening variations over time. Imagine pulling sticks and bricks over your softest bits, then imagine pulling tomato skins over them. That’s how healing unfolds over time. It gets far less brutal, stabby, and hard as the years go by.

We consciously clear the old shit that needs to be cleared, tossing it onto the great compost pile of life, so we are free to push through the soul’s soil in new and tender ways.

The new and tender soil pushing doesn’t hurt. It’s an expression of life that’s far more lovely and new and invigorating than we can imagine when we’re on the bathroom floor, weeping, certain that life is over and nothing will ever change.

(Spoiler alert: life is not over. And everything will change.)

I promise healing gets better — softer, lovelier, and more full of wonder — with consistent courage and hard work.

My god, the softness that’s possible.
The depths that are possible.
The waking up in wonder that’s possible.

I’m telling you, after having slogged through two decades of depression, that it’s possible.

It’s possible to wake up and not worry about how you’re going to find the energy to shower or to eat breakfast or brush your teeth today, where once that consumed the first hour of waking.

It’s possible to do your work with far more enthusiasm and far less effort, so that what took you three hours a few years ago takes you thirty minutes today. And it’s possible for that work to be better and more nourishing than the work of years ago, too.

I promise it’s possible for depression to leave you.

It can. It does. It might take meds and new meds and acupuncture and dietary changes and working out and cannabis and trial and error and hopelessness and breathwork and days that are so horrible you’ve blocked them from memory, but it can leave your system. It can be cleared.

I can’t promise that I’ll never be depressed again, but I can promise that I’ve learned the language of my mind and body to such an extent that I’m only 3 steps into The Dark Woods before I make changes, instead of waking up 30 miles into The Dark Woods and then battling my way out.

Over the weekend, I texted Bear that in the past month or so, I’ve started to take for granted that I feel good when I wake up. When we begin to take something for granted, it’s the new normal.

It’s possible to recover from The Big Enormous Darkness so completely that you eventually wake up and feel good, with no weird remnants of the big dark hanging on to your body, mind, or spirit. It’s possible to feel so good that you make a new normal, and that new normal is light and requires only a cup of coffee to reach its maximum potential.

I promise that sometimes it gets better for no discernible reason, lest you think you have to earn healing like you’d earn a master’s degree.

Sometimes the season finishes and the fog lifts with no effort on your part.
Spring arrives.
The beach opens for summer.
The book is finished.
The neighbors move.
The kids graduate.

Seasonal resolution is a gift, so please embrace it without any guilt.

I promise the path is worth the price.

At the very least, those of us who are committed to healing and growing, experimenting and failing, get to see far more of the world than our inner basements and a dusty collection of untouched emotional boxes.

We don’t live in fear of ourselves, and that is a rare trait in the modern human.

To put it another way: I am not afraid of myself.

I have been to the basement and in the attic, up on the roof and all around the internal property. I have seen my darkest, worst sides, and I’m aware of my most flattering angles.

I am not afraid of myself.

As the fear of ourselves falls away, we’re far less likely to fall into hoarding of any kind. We stop trying to protect what we already have at the expense of everything we haven’t yet seen — and so we’re far more likely to make changes as they’re offered by life circumstances, rather than three decades too late.

We live with fewer regrets because when you have confronted your biggest pain, your deepest secrets, and your shame, you travel lighter and further than ever before. Inside, outside, mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and physically.

I promise the growing is far more pleasure than pain.

Whether you want to learn to be in your body, enjoy sex more, clear emotional debris, receive more of life’s goodness, or give up on the ‘next level‘ of business and enjoy the phase you already inhabit: there is pleasure waiting.

Sure, there are rough patches, but those rough patches are often helped along by drinking plenty of water and going to bed earlier than usual. (I wish I was making this up or exaggerating, but I’ve often found solutions to my own bullshit by going to bed with the sun.)

Your growth creates resiliency without any extra effort on your part, and that resiliency is tended through sleep and rest.

I can *also* promise there will be resistance.

Whenever we know something is important — a conversation, a workshop, an event, or a habit — we resist the shit out of it.

We pretend we’re too busy to make it, or it will ‘only’ be a little money we’re wasting if we cancel, or we’ll do it next week/month/year, or we don’t have to participate because X. (Where X is usually something really clever like, ‘You deserve it!’ or ‘You need a rest anyway.’)

Resistance is common for everything important, and it doesn’t stop just because you’ve been doing something for a long time.

I’ve been doing breathwork weekly for a bunch of years, and instead of running toward a recent training weekend with arms open, I almost ran home scared.

Resistance is normal, but it’s not something we have to give in to.

We can listen to the asshole brain voices that say we’ll do it ‘later’ or we ‘don’t need to do it’ or ‘there’s probably nothing to learn anyway,’ and then laugh.

We can observe the fear doing its fear thing and then show up anyway. Likewise, we can move toward what we know is important instead of downplaying it, pretending it’s not calling to us, or acting as if it’s no big deal. (Related: coming out of the spiritual closet.)

I promise you will wake up one day and notice the ways the landscape has shifted.

Maybe you push through resistance for one more day, and tomorrow it will disappear entirely.

Maybe you used to trudge for forty-three minutes up You’re Not Enough mountain to get to your truest work, and now it’s only three minutes. Progress!

Maybe you used to take three hours to write to your peeps, and now it only takes two. Progress!

Maybe you used to associate your work with your worth, or give up on selling after you mentioned a thing once, or refuse to ask for money owed you, or trust doctors with poor solutions instead of putting your own health at the center of your quest for wellness.

One day, you realize you don’t do those things any longer, because you’ve been training the emotional muscles required to withstand greater and greater challenges.

You’ve been doing emotional weightlifting this whole time, and no one thought to stop and say they’re proud of you, because emotional weightlifting is mostly invisible and internal.

So right now, lemme say: I’m so proud of you. I see how hard you’re working — yup you, just by virtue of being here — and you are doing such a good job.

SUCH a good job.

Which brings me to my last point.

I promise that you’re making progress so long as you’re committed to making progress.

It’s almost impossible to see this when everything appears to be standing still. But the world is never, ever standing still. We’re always moving in the direction of growth or of decay, and simply choosing to be committed to growth for its own sake is enough to ensure that progress is happening.

When we step into the world in the spring, we know things are happening below the surface for weeks and weeks. Then, one glorious morning, the daffodils burst open and spring arrives. The patience through the standing up in soil, the lengthening, and the creation of buds isn’t so obvious in humans, so we tend to think we’re useless or hopeless and should throw in the towel.

Please, don’t.

So long as you’re willing to wrestle with and to explore your interiors, progress is assured.
So long as you’re willing to show up and do your work in the world today, progress is assured.
So long as you’re strengthening your emotional muscles, one day at a time, progress is assured.

Even if you’re drowning in emotions or emails or both — please don’t give up on yourself, on your interiors, or on your own progress.

And for what it’s worth: I’m so very proud of you.

P.S. As you heal, you hide less.  Here are 29 ways to stop hiding.