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The Two Week Evaluation Every Entrepreneur Should Take

The Two Week Evaluation Every Entrepreneur Should Take.pngAs an entrepreneur, the only thing that is constant is change. There is an ebb and flow that takes some getting used to – if you can ever really get used to it at all. To make things more complicated, try throwing a family into the mix. That means other little humans rely on you for both time and money to keep them going. You begin carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders, and after enough time, you forget how to relax and enjoy downtime.

Candidly, I’m describing my personal scenario since I became a business owner nearly six years ago and a mom nearly four years ago (and again just last year). Ever so gradual I have taken on more and more responsibilities in my day. To think back to simpler times, I wonder how I could ever feel like I was busy then. It’s true. Life can gradually add weight to the baggage you carry; you hardly notice as it happens, then all of a sudden it feels like it’s going to bury you.

What I’ve discovered to be effective for “checking” yourself every so often is a simple two-week evaluation that forces you to recognize unhealthy habits that could send you into a downward spiral of stress, anxiety and overload. It can also help you identify where you’re making progress so that you stay on the right track. Take a look at the eight questions I ask and answer every two weeks to gauge my happiness and satisfaction with my business. I highly encourage all fellow entrepreneurs (and especially hybrid moms) to do the same!

Overall, would you say most days you felt happy/positive/fulfilled or sad/negative/stressed?

This questions is so important to note trends in your mood that could signal a need for a change in your lifestyle. To live, even just two weeks of your life, where you felt sad more often than you felt happy is a waste of precious time we have here on this planet.

On average how many (waking) hours a day do you spend working?

Through this question, if you realize you have been putting in 10+ hour work days (even if not consecutive hours) for two or more weeks, your life is greatly unbalanced. This means you’re splitting the other half of your day among sleep, family, hobbies, self-care and household duties. Something is bound to get pushed out!

On average how many (waking) hours a day do you spend NOT working?

This is essentially a follow-up question to the one prior. Say you work 10 hours then sleep 8 hours in a day. It’s a shock to realize you’re giving yourself, your family and your friends just 6 hours of your day, at best. In the grand scheme of things, isn’t this where you would rather spend your majority of time?

Have you felt like you had time to pursue hobbies that weren’t work-related?

I can’t recall (seriously) the last time I read something for fun. That’s sad. In my latest two-week evaluation, I realized I really needed to carve out time for personal reading. It’s a simple fix, like putting down my phone before bed and replacing it with a book. Catching this early will help you dedicate time to your hobbies so you don’t risk losing a sense of self.

Have you dreamt, or woke in the middle of the night thinking about work responsibilities?

If the thought of work is now disrupting your sleep (especially on an ongoing basis), something needs to change. This means you’re struggling to “shut down” after works hours and you are carrying the stress of work with you wherever you go.

What costs you time, and that you don’t enjoy doing, which could be outsourced?

If there’s a responsibility on your plate that takes up a good chunk of your time, you don’t enjoy doing it and your time would better be spent elsewhere – see if it can be outsourced! For me, this was cleaning. For my husband, this was lawn work. It sounds very “real housewives” of us, but when ran the numbers of the value of our time versus employing someone who runs a business doing these tasks, it just made sense. And it might make sense for you too!

Have you let someone guilt you into taking on more responsibilities when you did not want to?

Oh how I struggle saying now! A little pro bono work here and there is to be expected, but if you’re allowing multiple people to guilt you into to lightening their load, while adding to yours – that’s not right! Not only will this cause you stress, it will negatively impact your relationship with the person long-term. Put a plan in place for standing your ground and being upfront with people when you simply don’t want to take on more work.

What is the one thing you want to improve in the next two weeks?

This question is aimed at getting you to set a short-term goal. If you wanted to improve only one thing in your life in the next two weeks, what would it be? For some of you, you might discover it’s the need to let a trouble client go. For others, it might be getting on a better exercise routine or taking up a new hobby to relieve stress. Set this goal today, and in two-weeks you’ll again have the opportunity to see if you made progress toward reaching it.

Are you up for taking this two-week evaluation? I would love to hear what you discover as a result. Join in the conversation by leaving a comment below!

 
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Posted by on April 17, 2017 in Business & Success, Life

 

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Life Inside a Chaos Bubble

The first Monday of each month, I dust off a favorite post from the Bennis Inc Blog archives and give you another chance to enjoy the wit and wisdom that’s been shared. Enjoy this month’s treasure – and if it inspires you – be sure to share it with family and friends!


Life Inside a Chaos BubbleRecently I used the term the “Chaos Bubble.” It happened during a conversation in which I was describing how some people whose time is in such high demand actually become immune to the whirlwind of chaos surrounding them. So to properly define this new concept, a Chaos Bubble occurs when the heavy demands of your work and hectic lifestyle create a protective layer to the outside world and insulate you from the chaos.

I’m of course basing this off of several people I have met who have the “luxury” of experiencing this Chaos Bubble phenomenon. These people are in such high demand that their email and voice mail are consistently filled to capacity. Not a single new message can be received. Their phone rings but almost always results in a missed call due to a dead phone battery or because they’re in and out of meetings all day. Their secretaries or personal assistants are the gatekeepers. If you need input or an approval, your best bet is to get the message to their #2 or risk it bouncing off this Chaos Bubble never to be seen, heard or so much as acknowledged.

To reach such a threshold where chaos becomes a protection and no longer a threat, first takes going through many uncomfortable, and at times unbearable, levels of chaos. It’s fairly comparable to being in the eye or a hurricane. Outside of this inner circle a fierce storm of mayhem is constantly brewing, but inside all you experience is an eerie silence and false sense of calm. To get inside this eye, you may spend years being whipped by the winds and swirled around to the point of not knowing which end is up, but once you make it to the inner circle, the chaos spins around you—not within you.

For the most part, chaos is an unwelcome and heavily avoided part of life. But when the dinging and ringing of emails, iPads, cell phones and calendar reminders reach a high enough volume, they have the ability to create a white noise that cancels out their sounds all together—leaving just you and your thoughts inside your own Chaos Bubble.

 
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Posted by on August 1, 2016 in Life

 

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Taking Control of First Impressions (Guest Blog by Britany Wallace)

The following blog post is part of the Bennis Blogger Battle. Support Britany by “Liking” this post, leaving a comment and sharing it on your social media! The blog with the most hits, wins.

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First impressions are important, but another person’s view of us is ‘outside our control’. So what can we control? The most important thing in our control is our personal commitment to ‘leading ourselves’. If we can’t lead ourselves we can’t lead others. The first step is recognizing that ‘Everything We Do In Life Counts’. This is a constant process and includes everything we do both public and private.

Every choice we make must have a purpose. There are no insignificant choices in life. The small things always matter. What are some other things that COUNT?

 

  • Self-discipline in every area of our life
  • Developing Personal Character
  • Personal Development
  • Commitment to Excellence
  • How we invest our energies and time
  • How we treat others

If we take this approach in life our ‘first impressions’ will be driven by a set of core beliefs that stand on their own. It is said that we become the 5 people we spend the most time around. Look at your 5 closest friends (their character, habits, attitudes, etc) and you will see yourself. If we are committed to developing the character qualities of a leader, we will draw to ourselves people who are just like we are. The ‘lasting impressions’ of those closest to us are the ones that really count. First impressions will take care of themselves.

What is a First Impression?

We know what first impressions are but we DON’T know how much they can help or harm you and the relationships you try to build. A first impression is formed between the first 10 seconds and 5 minutes you are in someone’s presence. PROBLEM: They are private and we have no idea what other people are thinking about us.

First Impressions:

  • Can improving or degrading
  • Are private
  • Can be informed and influenced by personal values and biases; therefore preempting the impression to a particular state (before the meeting even occurs)
  • Are formed based on our actions and reactions, language, tone, appearance, even environments (i.e. what or whom we surround ourselves with)

We may not know or want to believe it (Wizard’s First Rule), but people are watching us… Yes, WATCHING… Scary, right? But true.

Can I Control the First Impression Formed?

Yes, and no. We can control it by preparing for that first meeting. If we do, the first impression will be more stable and likely more positive. However, Geoffrey James cites that there isn’t a logical thought process which individuals experience. Truth is, it’s a reaction both immediate and unconscious. Many sources detail how to form a positive first impression, but they want you to ACT LIKE SOMETHING YOU AREN’T!

David Wygant discusses that your self-confidence is the most important part of your first impression. Low confidence makes it hard for anyone else to believe in you. The best way to market your personal brand is BUZZ marketing. Let people talk about you. LeadershipFreak says that other people will talk about you if you let them. Let other people’s words give you confidence and pride in who you are.

First impressions determine how each interaction proceeds from that point forward. The first impression made on anyone is foundational.

Take Initiative. Research:

  • The person
  • The company
  • Purpose for meeting
  • That person’s values
  • Their superiors (subordinates)
  • Try to find a contact within the company or close to them in the hierarchy

Mark Oakes encourages us to monitor and protect what we can control about our first impressions. You CAN control what you do and say that people will see and interpret; not their thoughts. Be cognizant of those things; use them to your advantage.

How do I Control My First Impressions?

  • Stay Positive
  • Be yourself
  • Be confident
  • Let others market your brand
  • Pay attention to your actions and words; they can help or hurt you
  • Be unforgettable; not memorable
  • Ask relevant, interesting questions
  • Do preliminary research
  • Ask for information to look into and follow-up on

“Wizard’s First Rule: People will believe anything you tell them because A) they are afraid it is true or B) they want it to be true.”   -Zeddicus Zul Zorander, Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind

Credits:
Edberg, Hendrik. How to Make A Great First Impression. Retrieved from:  http://www.positivityblog.com/index.php/2007/03/16/how-to-make-a-great-first-impression/.
Goodkind, Terry. Wizard’s First Rule.
James, Geoffrey. 2011. How Important Are First Impressions? Retrieved from:  http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505183_162-28554948-10391735/how-important-are-first-impressions/.
Laskowski, Lenny. 1998. How to Create A Great First Impression. Retrieved from: http://www.ljlseminars.com/impress.htm.
Willis, Janine & Alexander Todorov. 2006. First Impressions: Making Up Your Mind After a 100-Ms Exposure To A Face. Retrieved from:  http://pss.sagepub.com/content/17/7/592.short.
Wygant, David. 2010. How Important Are First Impressions? Retrieved from:  http://www.davidwygant.com/blog/how-important-are-first-impressions/4398/.

Other Resources:
http://www.mindtools.com/CommSkll/FirstImpressions.htm
http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200405/the-first-impression
http://thinkexist.com/quotes/with/keyword/first_impressions/

BritanyBritany Wallace is a senior business student at Moravian College in Bethlehem and loves blogging in her free time. She expects to travel for volunteer and learning opportunities during the summer and look for permanent work afterward. She enjoys volunteer work, mostly construction and helping at animal shelters and in her free time she reads for knowledge and pleasure. Please support Britany by “Liking” this post, leaving a comment below and visiting her at kebperspectives.wordpress.com, lifelongstudentofbusiness.wordpress.com or bwallaceperspectives.blogspot.com. (Introduction by Mark O. Oakes, a wonderful contact of KEBPerspectives. Follow him on Twitter @MarkOOakes)

 
 

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Life Inside a Chaos Bubble

Chaos BubbleRecently I used the term the “Chaos Bubble.” It happened during a conversation in which I was describing how some people whose time is in such high demand actually become immune to the whirlwind of chaos surrounding them. So to properly define this new concept, a Chaos Bubble occurs when the heavy demands of your work and hectic lifestyle create a protective layer to the outside world and insulate you from the chaos.

I’m of course basing this off of several people I have met who have the “luxury” of experiencing this Chaos Bubble phenomenon. These people are in such high demand that their email and voice mail are consistently filled to capacity. Not a single new message can be received. Their phone rings but almost always results in a missed call due to a dead phone battery or because they’re in and out of meetings all day. Their secretaries or personal assistants are the gatekeepers. If you need input or an approval, your best bet is to get the message to their #2 or risk it bouncing off this Chaos Bubble never to be seen, heard or so much as acknowledged.

To reach such a threshold where chaos becomes a protection and no longer a threat, first takes going through many uncomfortable, and at times unbearable, levels of chaos. It’s fairly comparable to being in the eye or a hurricane. Outside of this inner circle a fierce storm of mayhem is constantly brewing, but inside all you experience is an eerie silence and false sense of calm. To get inside this eye, you may spend years being whipped by the winds and swirled around to the point of not knowing which end is up, but once you make it to the inner circle, the chaos spins around you—not within you.

For the most part, chaos is an unwelcome and heavily avoided part of life. But when the dinging and ringing of emails, iPads, cell phones and calendar reminders reach a high enough volume, they have the ability to create a white noise that cancels out their sounds all together—leaving just you and your thoughts inside your own Chaos Bubble.

 
9 Comments

Posted by on October 10, 2011 in Life

 

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Technology: Bridging the Gap or Building the Wall?

My day begins with technology. The first sound I awake to in the morning is the ringing of my phone alarm which I immediately grab—but not just to shut it off. Instead, I proceed to check the weather and then my email all while still lying in bed. If I head for a run, I use the RunKeeper app on my phone to map my miles and track my pace along with my iPod to ensure there’s not a moment of silence or serenity from the time my feet hit the ground.

Before 8am I feel so connected to the world, but yet I haven’t had one single face-to-face interaction.

Let’s rewind this scenario and this time take away technology. I might wake up and have a cup of coffee with my boyfriend instead of checking my email. Without a phone or an iPod to keep me busy, I might choose to walk with a friend and catch up on each other’s life. Without the technological noise, I’m now available to engage a neighbor in a morning hello and actually get to know the special people who live right around me.

So what role does technology play in our lives? It’s certainly the Great Connector, but just like any other tool—it’s all about how you use it. I can use smart phones and social media to stay connected with people all over the world; for this reason, technology bridges the gap. But the moment I refuse to “disconnect” long enough to interact with the world right around me, technology instead begins to build a wall—a fortress, really.

At one point or another, we have all found ourselves in at least one of these scenarios: G-Chatting with a friend sitting two computers away. Sitting at a restaurant where everyone at the table is looking at their phone, texting. Thinking the person in the bathroom stall next to you is engaging you in conversation, when really they’re on their phone. Breaking up via phone call, email—maybe even by simply ending the relationship on Facebook. Asking someone for directions only to realize they have an iPod in and didn’t hear a word you said.

These are such trivial examples, but they’re signs that bigger problems are on the horizon. When did we become a society more comfortable Skyping with someone continents and oceans away, but too uncomfortable to talk to the person bagging our groceries?

Technology is one of the greatest tools we will ever possess, but it’s up to us to use it to build bridges not walls.

 
14 Comments

Posted by on September 22, 2011 in Technology

 

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Making Time to Live

Before I officially took off the training wheels and launched Bennis Public Relations, Inc nearly two months ago, I found my mind often fantasizing about the free and flexible time I might have as my own boss. I could make weekly trips to the farmer’s market, eat lunch on a park bench by the river and become a regular at the city library. I could use the free WiFi from a trendy café and sip lattes while I clicked away on my laptop or take an afternoon cat nap after watching the Price is Right. While some of these visions were both dramatic and unnecessary, I’m disappointed to admit that two months later, my “new boss” hasn’t allowed me much more free time to pursue life’s little slices of happiness to exist all around me.

Harrisburg's McCormick River Front Library

I can’t blame this on my boss, or maybe I can since I am my boss, but in either case I’ve decided to take the opportunity to close my laptop more often and step out into the bustling and beautiful world that exists whether I make time for it or not.

The week before my North Carolina vacation I realized I needed some new beach reading materials and so I stepped inside the Dauphin County Library for the first time since I moved to Harrisburg in December of 2009. While I’m now a proud owner of a shiny red library card, I can’t help but feel a pang of regret for not having done this sooner. The library isn’t big, it’s just one of several branches that the county manages, but it still evoked the same rush of excitement that I felt as a child eying up the rows and rows of colorful treasurers—all for my taking. And so I limited myself to just 5 books which I never read or heard of before but will know intimately, page by page, in just a few weeks.

Now that I’ve experienced the joys (and sorrows) of being a functioning, taxpaying, member of society, I feel that it is my civil duty to make use of all of the free resources this affords me. The County Library is just one. I’ve started a list of all of the other things this area has to offer that I’ve never made time to take advantage of before. So here’s the bucket-list-in-progress that I hope to get through before 2012:

  • Buy my fresh produce from the Farm Show Complex’s Farmer’s Market
  • Complete the ropes course at Ski Roundtop
  • Visit a corn maze, pick pumpkins and drink apple cider
  • Kayak the Susquehanna
  • Visit the Renaissance Festival
  • Ice Skate
  • Go to a Haunted House Tour
  • Read a book by the river
  • And more to come…

If you have any suggestions for fun things to do in Central PA or even just in the autumn season—I’m interested!

 
15 Comments

Posted by on September 12, 2011 in Life

 

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Last Glimpse of Summer

I’m taking a brief hiatus from blogging this week, but in the meantime enjoy some images of my last glimpse of summer before I inevitably springboard head-first into Autumn.

And I think after seeing these, you’ll understand my reasons for the blogging break….

The shoreline at Topsail Beach, NC

Patrick lives for beach vacations each year

 
8 Comments

Posted by on September 8, 2011 in Life

 

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