Productivity… Challenge Yourself in This Area
Productivity and time management are topics I never thought I’d be known for during my lifetime. Yet, not long after coming online I realized that I was accomplishing more than ever. I’ve even hosted online Productivity Challenges, and this year will mark the 14th consecutive year where I’ve focused for thirty days on the topic of productivity. Challenge yourself to improve in this area, and I promise this will make a difference for your life, both personally and professionally.
What does it mean to be productive and to be able to manage your time well? In my thinking, it means that you take advantage of the hours in the day when you are the most focused and alert and optimistic. For me, those hours come very early in the morning. I’m not likely to schedule anything during the early morning hours that will take me away from my thinking, writing, introspection, meditation practice, and other parts of my morning routine and visualization exercises I prefer to do while I’m alone in my home office.
Tomorrow I’ll share the first day of the Productivity Challenge 2023 online course and training, and I encourage you to set aside a half hour or so each day to read and follow through on what I’m discussing and recommending. My goal and intention is to help you make a difference in your life and business, and this can be a new beginning for you. For today, think about what you want in your life experience and why you haven’t created and manifested it in exactly the way you’re dreaming of already. Your life is about to change!
Day One: Productivity is a Choice
In Day One of the Productivity Challenge 2023, I want to get you thinking in a way you may not be familiar with in your personal life or for business. The concept is around taking full responsibility and the precept is that everything we think and believe is a choice, and that once you make the choice to live a life based on self-direction, you can achieve any goal you set your mind to. Yes, changing your outlook on life will change your life, and faster than you might imagine. I did this in my life beginning in 2005, and throughout this Challenge I’ll tell you more about some of the results I continue to have.
I’ve been mentored since 2005 by Raymond Aaron, and he has a goal setting program I use regularly. Without this program, I never would have had the courage to resign from the school district at the end of the school year in 2006, and give away my real estate clients to others who could better serve them. I’m now living the life I always wanted and now know I deserve and you can do the same thing.
Raymond has us set goals each month in several areas, including doing something new, increasing our income, and acknowledging others. We set a target for what we will achieve and choose to either do the minimum required to say we met the goal, hit the target we have selected, or go above and beyond and do something outrageous in terms of our goal setting and achieving for that month.
When you have a job, the boss or supervisor typically sets the goals for the workers. I have to admit that during twenty years as a classroom teacher, there were only a handful of years where I did more than the minimum required by the administration. During the years where I went above and beyond and set an outrageous goal for myself as a teacher, everyone benefited. Why didn’t I do that every year and strive to reach my full potential? The answer to that question is the basis of a book I published called “Rethinking the Work Ethic: Embrace the Struggle and Exceed Your Own Potential”.
These days, I choose to take responsibility for my actions and every day I am productive in several areas of my life. The result is that I have more free time and disposable income than almost anyone I know. It’s all about the mindset we have and the outlook on life we embrace.
NOTE: My most popular article on this topic of productivity, in terms of views, personal interactions, and sales is called “Double Your Productivity”, and you may benefit from reading it as well.
Day Two: Creating Your Five Year Plan
If you’d asked me to make a plan for the next five years back when I was teaching full-time and working part-time in real estate, I might have told you that I didn’t yet have a solid plan for the following month. I was more reactive to what came at me, instead of someone who planned out my life in advance. Now I understand that creating a five-year plan makes sense and that by doing this I’m almost always completely in charge of my destiny.
How do you go about creating a plan such as I am recommending to you here? It starts with you sitting alone and thinking about what you want in your life. Then, begin to make some notes about it. If you have a spouse or partner or adult child who is a significant part of your life, bring them into this conversation as early as possible.
When I shared this concept several years ago with my stepdaughter and her husband, they discovered they were not on the same page about so many things. I had them read Pat Flynn’s “Will It Fly?: How to Test Your Next Business Idea So You Don’t Waste Your Time and Money” where he goes into great detail with a five-year plan that could make excellent sense to you. Pat and his wife continue to use these strategies in their personal life, as well as with their family.
Day Three: What Do You Want to Create?
Most people don’t get what they want in their life for one simple reason: They don’t know what they want! Looking back on my life over the years leading up to when I resigned from my classroom teaching job and gave away my best real estate clients in favor of coming online to start my business, I realized that I had no idea what lifestyle I wanted to create for myself.
The teachers played the lottery every week as a group, and there was no way I was going to let them win without me. Every Wednesday I put in my two dollars and for just a minute or two I dreamed of what it would be like to win. I would quit my job at the end of the school year, stop selling real estate and driving so many hours to do appraisals, and I would buy a new car.
It turns out lottery winners have similar dreams, yet the overwhelming majority of them are right back where they started after a few years, and their relationships with family members and friends are strained. It turns out a million dollars doesn’t come close to buying the happiness and security we crave.
When I found out people just like me were starting businesses on the internet that could be run exclusively from a home computer, I wanted to know more. In April of 2005 I attended a real estate conference at the Los Angeles Convention Center, and stumbled into a breakout room where Raymond Aaron was speaking. A little more than an hour later, I was carrying a box of notebooks, cassette tapes, and other assorted items out to my car. I was ready to live what Raymond had described as “the mentored life” and nothing would ever be the same in my life.
Oliver Wendell Holmes told us that “A mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.” That’s what happened to me on that day, and it wasn’t long before I knew exactly what I wanted in my life, and I began connecting with the exact people and resources that would bring my dreams to life.
With Raymond’s help, I began planning what I needed to do in order to resign from teaching at the end of June, 2006, just over a year away. I asked people I knew to connect me with anyone they knew who had changed their life completely, such as leaving a job or a career and starting to do something entirely different in order to have a life that was more satisfying. Sure enough, two of my friends each knew people who had successfully changed their lives and we were introduced.
One couple invited me to go hiking with them on Sunday mornings. They took me to their house and showed me the inside of the pantry and the refrigerator. Their transformation was one that included a complete makeover with their eating as well. Then they took me to the Agape International Spiritual Center, a trans-denominational community of spiritual practitioners from around the world, located in Los Angeles. We went to the bookstore after the service and they picked out several books for me to buy. I had never experienced anything like this, except for a visit to a Rosicrucian service my mother had taken me to as a child.
I didn’t know it at the time, but within a few short months my life had been changed at the cellular level. I would never again feel like the life I wanted and deserved had passed me by. Instead, I realized that I could have and achieve anything I wanted. On July 1st I began my new life as an online entrepreneur, and now I am dedicating my life to helping others to do the same or something similar.
Day Four: Money and Its Meaning to You
Money is simply a tool used to exchange goods and services. I wrote about the history of money in my book on “Kids and Money: Teaching Financial Responsibility and Values to Children” as a way to share my thoughts, beliefs and experiences around this topic with others.
As I began thinking about and subsequently researching my ideas for this book, I began to think about the history of money. I knew that bartering was an early method of paying for what you wanted and needed, and that gold and silver represented early forms of currency, but I knew it would be important to share more details about how money came to be before I could continue with a discussion of how to teach the child or children in your life about valuing and respecting money. We must understand what something is and its origins if we expect others to form their own values and beliefs. I believe this is the very best way when seeking positive outcomes as kids grow into financially responsible adults.
Where Did Money Come From?
Bartering was the original method of exchanging something you had an excess of, such as cattle or grain, for something that you needed, perhaps salt or tools. It’s an excellent idea, if you stop to think about it. Two people come face to face and agree to trade items back and forth in a way where each side benefits. If it feels like a fair exchange, it’s a done deal. I have bartered in my business many times. like my first year working as an online entrepreneur when I bartered for the technical skills of someone who was seeking help with marketing.
This arrangement lasted for two years, at which time I began to pay for her services. Most recently I bartered for editing from someone who needed help with writing and marketing. As a child you may have bartered by trading baseball cards or other collectibles. This is the most basic form of exchange that has gone on since the beginning of time.
Money is an emotionally charged subject for most people I encounter. My challenge when helping people start and grow an online business seems to come down to how they think about money. Early on, I mentored a woman who wasn’t taking her business as seriously as I had hoped she would. When we sat down in person for a heart to heart discussion, she revealed that she had a trust fund and a staff of people managing the money and other assets. She told me that she was having fun with her online business, and that it wouldn’t matter if she never earned any income from it.
That’s when I realized that I would be a better mentor to people more like myself; ones who needed to earn income from a business in order to meet their financial obligations. These days that describes everyone I work with closely, but there is another issue that comes up regularly. That is the issue of money blocks and not feeling worthy of earning more than enough money than you need.
I’ll say more on this topic through this Productivity Challenge, but for now suffice it to say that I want you to believe that you deserve to be paid well for the knowledge, expertise, and experience you bring to your business. Helping someone in an area of their life where you are knowledgeable and they are struggling is a worthy goal. Think back to the time when someone made a difference in your life by helping you with a situation you knew little about a d didn’t know where to turn. We’ve all been in those situations, and serving in this way is life-changing for both parties.
Day Five: What’s For Sale?
When you think of your business, what comes to mind? When I got started in 2006, each day began with me thinking of ideas for new blog posts, or following through on the topics I had come up with previously and had not yet written about. I took my inspiration from my daily life, writing about my years as a classroom teacher and also in real estate. Also, I wrote about what I was learning from mentors, authors, and marketers I was connecting with in the online space.
Blogging, sharing those blog posts on the article directories that were popular at that time, reading, building my email list, attending and finally hosting my own teleseminars, and finally, affiliate marketing to recommend what I was purchasing, benefiting from, and truly loved took up four or five hours each day.
But it wasn’t until a mentor pointed out to me that sharing something for sale, at that time through my affiliate link was the only income producing activity on my list of what I wanted to accomplish each day.
We must ask ourselves each day, What’s for sale? As you become more proficient as an online entrepreneur and marketer, this will become more natural for you, but you need to practice and stretch that muscle every day in order to increase your income steadily over time.
Two years ago I worked with a woman who came to me for help with starting her online business. She had great potential; she was kind and funny and highly educated, and even knew the niche she wanted to be a part of online. But there was one area that made her uncomfortable and that was asking other people to spend money, whether it was for one of her products – gorgeous, helpful printables – or for an affiliate product and course.
We traced her beliefs back to something her grandmother had taught her decades earlier… “A lady does not talk about money in public.”
My work with her became more about shifting her mindset and reframing her beliefs than about creating products and choosing affiliate offerings to share with others. She did move past some of her money blocks and other limiting beliefs, but it was a slow process that kept her from being active in the online community that had embraced her early on. It saddens me to see this, and it happens very regularly. Please, get used to asking people to spend money and know that your role as a trusted advisor is a valuable one to everyone whose lives you will touch.
What’s for sale in your business right now? Start with your favorite product, course, book, or program that you have benefited from and have become an affiliate for, and then as you create your own products and courses you’ll be excited to share them with others.
Day Six: Creating a Simple Product
Today we’ll discuss how to create your first product, and why it doesn’t need to be a huge, complicated process at all. Be thinking about what you would like to teach and share with others who are interested in your niche topic, and how and why your first product will change your life as an online entrepreneur forever.
My first product was not created until I had been online for almost a full year. Why? Because I could not think of what my product would be about. I was no new to the online world, and I allowed the entire process, as well as the people I was meeting with virtually and connecting with back them to intimidate me.
Instead, it would have been far more productive, and definitely more lucrative for me to put something together to sell, no matter how short and simple that would have been.
Finally, I decided to share with others how I had been writing blog posts on topics of interest to me on my many blogs – can you believe I had a dozen blogs those first couple of years? The niche topics ranged from healthy walking and reinventing your life to wine and cheese pairing ideas and law of attraction.
I would then wait for a day or two before sharing each of these short – about two hundred fifty words – posts to the article directories that were popular at that time. At the end of each blog post, as well as the articles, I had an “author bio box” where I told about myself and gave a link to an affiliate product.
My product was a three session live course, where I shared what I had been doing on a live teleseminar – I wasn’t ready to host my own webinars at that time – and included a Study Guide that was about twelve pages in total. Each weekly session was recorded, so when the three weeks were finished I then had a product to sell that was complete.
I sold this product for $99 and soon had a few affiliates who were willing to promote it for me. Over the next year or so I had earned more than ten thousand dollars with this product, and had already outlined the next products I would create and courses I would teach. For the courses, my model was to first teach them live, and then continue to sell them as “Home Study” and this is the model that continues to work well for me all these years later!
What do you know that could be taught as a course or created as a product? I’ll bet you have ideas that could be put together and monetized quickly. Brainstorm on paper or out loud with a Mastermind partner and see what you come up with that would allow you to share your knowledge, experience, and expertise with others.
Day Seven: Connecting with Other Like-Minded Individuals to Grow Your Business
As an introvert, I was excited at the opportunity to start an online business and work from home. The thought of making my own schedule and not having to interact directly with others throughout each day sounded like a dream come true. My bubble burst when I quickly realized that I would need to connect and make friends with others working online.
No man is an island is the saying that comes to mind. This is from a poem by John Donne, where he’s exploring the connectedness of people. Who knew that I would make more friends and be connected with more people than I ever could have imagined, all from the solitude of my home office? Not me.
Now, I cannot imagine my life in any other way. Some of the people are ones I have met in person, typically at live events – those hosted by others as well as hosting my own marketing conferences and small group retreats.
Other people are ones I only know from the various social media platforms I frequent. Many of them are online sporadically, yet some have a profitable business that makes sense for them and the lifestyle they wish to embrace.
No matter how you think of it, connecting with others from your online community will serve you in untold ways as your business grows and evolves into something that works for your dreams and goals.
Day Eight: Recommending What You Love
I think of affiliate marketing as being the perfect opportunity to share and recommend what you buy, benefit from and love with people who could benefit. I began doing this soon after coming online to start my business in 2006. I was just too excited to keep everything to myself, and my friends and relatives became the recipients of the excitement that was spilling out of me every day.
I will tell you that at that time, I did not know anyone personally who was an online entrepreneur, marketer, or author. Neither did my friends and family members, so it was new territory for all of us. When I first started my blog, and then began to syndicate my posts as articles on the article directories we were using at that time – this was before Medium was even a glint in anyone’s eye! – people in my life were excited to know more about what I was doing.
Instead of inviting them to join my list, I told them that I would share what I was doing through personal emails. I encouraged them to click on the links I would include each time, and to never make a purchase of anything I was sharing until they emailed me back or we spoke on the phone or in person so I could tell them more about whatever it was.
Every day I emailed one or two people. These were friends, family members, and people I was just getting to know through the non-profits and service organizations I was now involved with in my new life. As I learned more about email marketing and affiliate marketing, they began to make purchases through my affiliate links. It was a win-win and everyone was excited, especially me!
This strategy led me to what I now refer to as “email every day” and I have even created a new online course where I share the details of this profitable marketing strategy.
Day Nine: Adjusting Your Money Mindset
What Is a Positive Money Mindset? And How to Start Changing Yours Today…
Do you know your money mindset can determine whether you have a profitable, sustainable business… or not?
It’s true: While you obviously need to do basic market research, produce stellar work & deliver a high-quality customer experience for your business to do well, you also need to work on your own internal thoughts and beliefs about money.
Let’s back up for a moment here. If you have been in the entrepreneurial world for a minute (this is a slang term I love – The Urban Dictionary defines “for a minute” as a time span implying a very long time), you have probably heard the term money mindset. But do you actually know what a money mindset is and how it affects you and your business–and lifetime earning potential?
If not, no worries. Below, you’ll find a brief overview of what a money mindset is and how to cultivate a positive one to create a better financial future for you and your business.
What is a Money Mindset?
Money mindset – put simply – refers to your beliefs and attitudes about the almighty dollar.
It’s the internal, mental framework that shapes how we think about money, including how we earn it, spend it, and save it. It influences all of our financial decisions and behaviors, from how you price your services to how much you spend on business-related items each month.
In short, it can directly impact whether you make money in your business… or not. This was my primary area of focus when I started my online business, as it became glaringly obvious that my money mindset leading up to that time and spanning decades, was not a healthy one. It’s why I struggled for so many years and always felt like I was just a few months away from not being able to pay my bills and cover even my basis financial obligations.
However, I am grateful to have gone through this experience, for if I hadn’t I more than likely would not have pursued having an online business and changing my life so drastically.
If you have a healthy money mindset (sometimes called an abundance mindset), you innately believe that you deserve and are able to earn good money. You are open to new opportunities and willing to take risks. You understand that making more money requires hard work and dedication, but you also aren’t afraid to ask to be paid what you’re worth. You generally view money in a positive or neutral light, and you see it for what it is: a tool to help you achieve your big dreams and goals. You’re not afraid to spend where you need to (especially if it will directly or indirectly lead to more money), but you also know when to snap your wallet shut instead.
On the flip side, if you have a not-so-great money mindset (sometimes called a scarcity mindset), money is usually a major source of stress, anxiety, or fear. You might struggle with managing your finances, from sticking to a budget to keeping up with your business bookkeeping.
It also usually means that you struggle to charge prices that align with the value you provide. You think of money as something that’s hard to make and even harder to hang on to.
Our money mindset isn’t something we come up with on our own, though. We develop our ideas about money early in life, thanks to family, friends, society and our unique experiences.
For example, if you grew up in a home where your mom was in constant financial panic like mine was, always juggling bills and living one paycheck away from eviction, well, it’d be no surprise if you don’t have the healthiest money mindset.
If you have a more positive money mindset, on the other hand, maybe you grew up surrounded by wealth, or saw your self-employed parent transform their dreams into a (very lucrative) reality right before your eyes.
The good news? Our money mindset is not fixed. You can change it over time… with intention, awareness and, of course, action.
So, where do you start?
There are many ways to work at changing your money mindset so it’s more positive. Here are a few options for getting started:
1. Learn about finances. Knowledge is power, especially in this case. Learning more about basic financial principles can also help you see money in a more positive light. By simply soaking up new knowledge and practicing healthy financial habits (like budgeting, saving and investing), you can develop newfound confidence in your financial decisions.
2. Cultivate self-awareness about your beliefs, attitudes and self-talk around money. You can do this several ways, including carrying around a journal and writing down any money related thoughts for a day.
3. Surround yourself with positive money influences. You know how they say you are the combination of the five people you spend the most time with? One way to naturally start believing more positive things about cash is to surround yourself with people who already have it and tend to it well. This might include befriending other entrepreneurs or colleagues crushing it in your field, financial advisors or mentors or even your favorite rich relative.
When you do one (or all) of the above, you’ll not only learn loads about yourself, society and money management–you’ll also be well on your way to cultivating a positive money mindset and putting any money stress, sweat or struggle in your rearview mirror.
For Day Ten, we’ll explore how to start emailing every day, before you have a list!
I’m bestselling author, marketer, and entrepreneur Connie Ragen Green, and I look forward to sharing much more with you on this topic of productivity. Challenge is always important as we grow and change, so please connect with me here and follow me on Twitter so that we may take this journey together.
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