You Know What They Say: A Failure to Plan . . .

When I was younger, one of my favorite comedy movies was Sugar & Spice. (I have an eclectic taste in movies, so we’re not here to judge this reference.)

If you know me, you know that I tend to really like quotes, cheesy though they may be, and one that I picked up from the above-mentioned movie is: “A failure to plan is a plan for failure.”

I’ve said before, both here and on The Happy Dance Podcast, that I believe it’s really important to always, always have something wonderful toward which to look. Something to look forward to, said more simply.

In my opinion, always having something awesome on the horizon is motivating, inspiring, and gives us a reason for getting out of bed in the morning. I think this is true in life and that it can also be true in business.

You may call it “innovation” or “scaling.” I think it’s the concept of always creating new beginnings and continuing a thing by way of continually generating different ideas. I’ve found that focusing on improvement, or starting new programs, or developing new skills–all within the same business or under the umbrella of the same project–are great ways to keep the spark within a business and to keep making it fun and interesting. It gives us something to look forward to.

The longer that I work as an entrepreneur, the more strongly I believe that idea that “there’s always more where that came from” (which I believe I originally heard from fellow multi-passionate creative entrepreneur and lover-of-dance Marie Forleo). And, since there’s always more where the rest came from, there can always be something on the horizon to excite us, motivate us, and keep us going, even through the tougher or less interesting times in growing a business.

What do you have on the horizon for your business or project? Tell me about it in a comment!

Saumirah

Foggy Today? Focus on the Future

What keeps you going when you’re just not feeling it as a creative entrepreneur?

As I’ve said before: Even if we completely love what we do, we won’t love every single minute of every single day of what we do.

For example: I absolutely love being an entrepreneur and directing dance programs. But I strongly dislike returning phone calls (I prefer emails 100%), organizing information into spreadsheets, ordering costumes, booking performance locations, and more. But I made myself do those things when I was directing in-person dance programs because the return on the investment was so great. The kids loved it, and families wanted it. (This is a story for another blog, but I actually really struggled with even beginning to develop a performance program because I wanted to be so process focused. I love teaching technique. Performing was a great experience for me personally, but I never felt compelled to find and facilitate performance opportunities for my dance students until families expressed that they desired this from my program.)

When I worked as a classroom teacher, I loved being with my students, creating community, and finding different ways to open those little minds to understand new concepts. However, I completely hated (strong word, but likely extremely accurate . . . ) parent-teacher conferences (they always gave me extreme anxiety, even when the kids were A+ students), decorating my classroom, updating bulletin boards, and most staff meetings. But I made myself do it because decorating my room with student work made the faces of my kiddos just glow with enthusiasm or because it helped parents know what was going on in our classroom. Again, the return on the investment was worth it.

So, when I’m hitting a slump (as I am right now), and when I don’t want to do anything business related, I try to focus on the return. I try to remind myself that all of the work I’m doing will result in either an end goal toward which I’m working or that the work of the daily grind will continue to fulfill me, provide helpful information to my audience and clients, or put good into the world in the way that I feel compelled to do.

In short, when the now is foggy (or what it’s just outright terrible, horrible, no good!), try to focus on that potentially fantastic future feeling. You might find that the future isn’t so far away and that you’ll receive your ROI sooner than you think. Fingers crossed! ;)

Forever filled with the audacity of hope,

Saumirah

Reasons Why You Should Start Today

I take my time with everything. Everything. I don’t believe in doing anything before I’m ready. Except, that is, when it comes to entrepreneurship.

When it comes to business and creativity and getting ideas out there I believe the following:

  1. There’s more where that came from. (You can’t “run out” of ideas or creativity. There will always be more.)
  2. You owe it to the world to get your ideas out there. (Why wait? It’s probably already been done before anyway, and it’s probably already being done currently in a similar way. But the world needs it from you. Which leads me to . . .)
  3. Your voice is unique. (Guaranteed: I can find it somewhere else, probably free or cheaper. But it won’t be from you. You’re the magic of what you’re making.)
  4. The fears are usually methods of procrastination. (Yes, someone might steal it. That’s happened to some of the best. It still won’t be yours. No, it won’t be perfect, but get it out so that you can get proof of concept and improve over time based on real-life feedback from your audience/consumers/the people who are invested in your work and are paying you for it and paying attention to it.)
  5. What you put out today won’t be your best. (But if you’re a true artist and a true professional, you’ll get better over time. I used to teach all my dance classes with a binder of notes on the floor and use the same exact playlist for at least 4 weeks straight. I got better over time. But my students who took classes from me when I would spend precious moments of class reading my typed detailed notes because I was so afraid of making a mistake and when I’d play the same music several weeks in a row because I thought it was just so perfect for my class and couldn’t bear the idea of using different songs, they needed me then. The world needed what I was offering then and I needed those early first experiences so I’d have somewhere from which to go further. I needed a baseline. I needed to begin the work.)

So, while you won’t see me impulsively rushing into friendships, marriage, buying property, eating twice as much as I’d planned, or adopting a new dog, you’ll see me getting my ideas out there fairly quickly.

I owe it to the world to get my ideas out there. They’re good ones. And they’re getting better every day.

Saumirah

I WANT to be paid to think.

I’m a hardcore entrepreneur. I live to create. I thrive on bringing ideas to fruition through the art of starting and developing business ventures.

But I’ve mentioned it before on The Happy Dance Podcast and I’ve mentioned it in my Lunchtime Entrepreneur Chats on Clubhouse: I like to keep some freelance work or a super easy part-time gig in my back pocket so that I can always make sure the bills are paid.

So the other day, when I was working at one of my part-time gigs, I overheard someone say, “I don’t get paid to think here!” He went to explain how, when he’s at work, he’s thinking about what he’s eating next or how he will be getting to the next level of a videogame, but not about the work he’s doing for the company.

I thought to myself: THAT’S what’s wrong with this situation. I WANT to be paid to think.

When I worked for a large charter school management organization a few years ago, I remember one of the principals was always emphasizing that we, as the teachers, were the experts in the room. She said this as a way–not to make us feel that we were all-knowing or that we should be teaching our students in a top-down way, but instead–to encourage us to feel comfortable and confident in our background knowledge, life experiences, and professional training to do our job properly. When I worked there, even on the really challenging days, I felt like I was getting paid to think.

When I’m running my dance programs, maybe a few parents think they’re paying me to entertain their child for an hour each week, but I think most parents knew they were paying me to:

  • Develop and facilitate engaging, challenging, and developmentally appropriate programs
  • Be the best or hire the best talent I could find to help their child discover and explore the art of dance in a safe and nurturing environment
  • Put money back into the business by the way of performance opportunities (including space rentals and costume purchases), buying and maintaining props (such as scarves, ribbons, balance beams, hula hoops, etc. for my Creative Movement classes and Dance Daze Birthday Parties)
  • Create appropriate music playlists that would guide the atmosphere of the class and support my instruction
  • Develop and maintain the best systems for relaying information, collecting payments, ensuring their child’s safety, and more.

When I’m working as an educator, I’m paid to think.

When I’m working in education, all of me matters.

My thoughts, experiences, and professional background are important because I’m taking on the extremely important work of supporting, informing, and influencing the minds and shaping the experiences of the next generation.

And I like it that way. I love being paid to think.

Any job that doesn’t pay me for this beautifully developed, empathetic, thoughtful, passionate, sensitive, curious mind of mine is 1) missing out and 2) will be short-lived.

PLEASE: Pay me to think. I like it that way.

Saumirah

Making Time + Being Present

I’ve been around long enough to know that “enough time” will never exist. It won’t exist in the course of a day, a week, and–if we’re doing it right–a lifetime.

For those of us “ambitious” souls (the word is in quotes because for my fellow dreamers and do-ers, you know there’s absolutely no other way we could be . . . . we’re not aspiring to be this way or this good, we simply are . . . . *smile*), there will always be another scent to smell, food to taste, sight to see, other world to experience, or other adventure to be had. We will always be hungry for all of life and all of its offerings.

But how can we go on this way if it always feels like we’re playing catch up and working with the bare minimum of the hours that have been allotted to us?

I believe that our ability to continue on and a sense of fulfillment in the actions we have taken may come from being present in each moment, so that each moment is given its full attention and can satisfy the needs of our soul in that time.

For example, a few minutes ago, I was creating new content for Dance Daze, Inc. Then, I got distracted (and was fully immersed) in making a few super quick updates to dancedaze.org and making notes in my iPhone for items I need to return to at a later date. Now, I’m sitting here, allowing my brain some space to think before heading out into the rain to walk my dogs and run off to the next thing.

The point, though, isn’t how much I feel compelled to do or about how much I’m accomplishing before 8:00 am. (But it must be said: Kudos to me. I’m am ROCKING the productivity so far this morning.) This point is that in each of these activities, I’ve allowed myself to be completely and entirely engaged.

Often, I become overwhelmed because I will sit down to write, and then I’ll think, “Oh, but this was my night to catch up on that Hulu show.” So then I’ll turn on Hulu and begin watching the show, only to pause it 10 minutes later because I’ve decided to return to the writing that should really take priority. Then, I’ll remember that I have a pile of dishes in the sink to wash, and I’ll hop up to get to those dishes. When I’m acting in this way, I’m not being fully present in anything.

I will say, for someone like me, being present in every single moment can be extremely difficult. Because I do live with a constant knowing of what else needs to be done. Sometimes, it’s almost painful to force myself to “relax” and “do nothing.”

But I’m working on it. Because I do believe that we can do it all, but not at the same time. I also believe that balance is impossible to reach, but that allowing (or forcing?) ourselves to be fully present in each task on which we are working (even if that is binge-watching a Netflix or Hulu original on a Saturday evening) will allow us a feeling of satisfaction in knowing that even if we aren’t always making the “right” choice, we are always choosing. And in choosing we are taking ownership of our life and happiness. And in that, I believe we will find a sense of satisfaction and peace.

Longer letter later, friends!

Saumirah