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Are you an Idea Person? If you’re like a lot of my clients, you probably have no shortage of things you want to do, things that sound really cool or fun or exciting, or things you think you should do. While I definitely love and admire this trait, in the past it has gotten me into some pickles… until I started asking this powerful question before pursuing any ideas.
Now, some background—I started in the online business space in 2015. This was a really fun time in the span of running an online business history. Things were new and fresh and booming! And I dove in headfirst.
I didn’t make a lot of money in my first year, but I did—
- Have an epic free opt-in that was basically an entire course
- Grow my email list into the thousands (with that opt-in)
- Send a weekly newsletter
- Create and grow a Pinterest account to a substantial platform
- Start and run a Facebook group
- Do many joint webinars/ventures
- Guest blog in a lot of places
- Write my own blog and post multiple times a week
- Show up on weekly Twitter Chats
- Post and engage in many Facebook groups
- Get on coffee chats weekly with people
And so much more.
Now, here’s the thing—that’s A LOT. It kept me BUSY, but my business didn’t really have much to show for it in terms of revenue. I was doing all of these things because I figured I should do all of these things and I had a lot of time to do all of these things (because I didn’t have many clients).
When I moved away from branding design and into retainer work near the end of my first year in business I experienced a huge shift—I suddenly was making enough money to survive! I was growing! It was amazing.
And yet, all of those items stayed on my to-do list. So now my already packed schedule became busier and busier and there just wasn’t enough time in the day to do it all.
I maintained it as long as I could until I face planted straight into burnout and exhaustion and I ended up quitting almost all of those tasks overnight. I closed the Facebook group, I stopped scheduling coffee chats, I said no to JV opportunities, etc., etc. And something funny and surprising happened—
My income increased.
I had cut out a substantial amount of work from my to-do list and in the end it made me MORE money.
I was shocked, surprised, and had no idea how that happened… so I investigated. Turns out all of those projects and commitments weren’t actually the things that brought in clients. In fact, none of my clients had been through my free opt-in course or were on my newsletter list or in my Facebook group. This shocked me.
I continued to investigate and through some reflection (something I had not really had time for prior) it dawned on me that all of those things I was busy with weren’t actually leading towards anything. They lacked intention. They weren’t speaking to my ideal client for my services and so while they were attracting people, I had nothing for those people to buy.
To be honest, I felt kind of dumb when I realized that. But I know that in reality, I learned a hugely valuable lesson: Intention matters. Purpose matters. You can do just to have done it all day, but to what end?
Which leads us to the question I am constantly asking myself and my clients: what’s the intention?
Why do you want to do this?
What will it lead to?
Does it matter?
Now years and years later I still operate like this. A new platform might launch, like Clubhouse for example, and I might get that feeling that I should be there, shouldn’t I? But before adding more onto my plate I stop and ask myself: what’s my intention?
If I can’t land on one that actually serves my goals and desires for my business, I let it go. A lot of times what comes up is that I just don’t want to miss out on something… and for me that’s not reason enough to invest time and energy.
So, here’s what I want to offer to you—especially if you currently feel VERY busy in your business.
What are all the things you’re doing?
What is the intention behind them?
Are they actually fulfilling that intention?
If not, then it’s time to make an adjustment. You don’t have to quit everything cold turkey like I did—I was at a point of exhaustion when I made that choice. But you can make a tweak or a shift to make sure that the tasks you are doing day in and day out ACTUALLY matter.
For example, if you’re on Instagram and your intention is to use that platform to connect with ideal clients and it’s not currently doing that for you—why keep repeating the same things over and over again hoping it’ll just change? Why not try a new approach or a new strategy or a new process so that your intention can be fulfilled? OR you can look at how you are currently getting clients and if it’s not Instagram, but rather from referrals—how can you take that deeper and focus your energy more there?
I’m a big proponent of business getting to feel good, to be ease-filled, to give you time freedom—but the only way you accomplish that is by practicing this level of discernment and by choosing to do things that really make a difference.
The Pareto Principle is something that supports this. It states that 80% of impact results from 20% of effort. That means that right now there is likely 80% of your to-do list that does not impact your business as much as you think, and that there’s room to cut out or adjust a lot of what you are doing day in and day out.
Now you can do this retroactively on everything you’ve currently got going on (and I highly recommend you do!). But then I invite you to begin asking yourself “what’s my intention here?” for every idea, project, download, opportunity moving forward.
- How to create your NOPE list
- Does your creative business fit your life? 5 Questions to ask yourself
- How to work 10 hours a week in your creative business
- The Pareto Principle
Kaitlyn Kessler is a business coach and mentor dedicated to helping her clients create more ease in their businesses and lives.
Her support blends strategic thinking with the inner work and a whole lot of self-love. This supports her clients to step into more alignment with their offers, their business models, their values, how they want to lead, and more so they can continue to grow their impact and income in a way that actually feels good.