Why Mompreneurs Avoid The “No Excuses” Approach

young and nice woman in a black tailleur working as a hostess and checking listOne of my favorite personal trainers thinks most people are full of excuses. “I’ve seen every excuse in the book,” she insists. Call it an occupational hazard – she’s watched countless people invest in their fitness only to fall short by not showing up to do the work. But what she may not realize is that there’s a difference between excuses, obstacles and choices. And what sounds like an excuse is often an obstacle or a choice.

So how can you tell the difference? Well, if we’re still talking about the gym, let’s take a look:

You don’t show up for a workout because one of your kids got sick = obstacle.

You don’t up for a workout because your husband came home from work early and you realized it would be the only day that week you could eat dinner as a family = choice.

You don’t show up for a workout because you overslept = excuse. (Unless, of course you were up all night with a colicky baby, which caused you to oversleep. Then, I’d call it an obstacle. Maybe even a choice!)

Regardless of WHY you skipped the workout, the next day, when you show up at the gym, you’re likely to catch some flak for your so-called excuse. The intention is to motivate you, but it doesn’t always work. Who wants to face all that humiliation the next day?

Leaving Room for Grace

Like fitness experts, many business professionals find it motivational to take a “no excuses” approach to their goals and success. You know what I’m talking about. You’ve been to those conferences that are more like pep rallies for struggling business professionals. Where everyone gets “fired up” to make a commitment and meet a goal. And they all agree to make it happen. No. Matter. What.

Well, there’s a fine line between motivating people and setting them up for failure. And for me, the “no excuses” approach crosses the line. Why? Because when you accept the “no excuses” approach, there’s no room for grace.

When you’re filled with excuses, faced with challenges and making difficult choices, you don’t need a reprimand. You don’t need to feel shame or guilt or hopelessness. The one thing you need is grace.

Mompreneur Obstacles

The moms I know and work with need grace. I mean, we REALLY need grace. We have good intentions. We have goals and strategies and skills and creative ideas out the wazoo! But we also have kids and laundry and teacher meetings and church festivals and bake sales and soccer practice. Just to name a few of our “excuses.” [Read more...]

Avoiding Friendly Fire: Tips for Setting Boundaries When You Work From Home

boundariesIt’s no secret that many work-at-home moms have a difficult time getting things done. We’re constantly being torn in conflicting directions. No matter how old your children are, or how many children you have, there always seems to be one demanding your attention just as you sit down to write a blog post or review your financials. If it’s not a child, then perhaps it’s a phone call from your mother or an unannounced visit from a neighbor.  Or even a client texting you in the midst of an artificial crisis. We are frequently under attack by the mompreneur version of “Friendly Fire” in which our own team is unintentionally sabotaging our success.

It’s not just interruptions that derail our productivity. Oftentimes it’s our own delusional drive to be a multi-tasking super mamma. We set ourselves up for failure simply by believing we can do all things and be all things for all people at once. Truthfully, it’s not our children, friends, neighbors or clients who are to blame when we suffer from chronic interruptions. It’s our own fault for failing to establish firm boundaries.

It may sound harsh and uncaring, but even the most loving mom needs to set boundaries at times. I know our MOST important job is being a mom, but I personally believe that doesn’t mean we have to drop everything and be at the beck and call of our children at all times. And the same goes for our clients, co-workers and employees. This is the generation of connectivity and it takes every ounce of self-control we can muster to disconnect for our own good. But it’s worth it. In fact, I think we do our families and clients a disservice by teaching them to seek instant gratification via our immediate response. Rather, I suggest we teach them the value of boundaries.

Now, only YOU can determine exactly what those boundaries should be…and exactly how you plan to enforce them. But if you’re being assaulted by Friendly Fire on a daily basis, then you might want to try some of these tips for setting boundaries.

Tips for Setting Boundaries for Work-at-Home Moms

1. Get clear on your priorities. The number one thing that gets in our way when it comes to setting boundaries is guilt. We feel guilty if we don’t play with our children when they ask. And we feel guilty when we tell a client we’re not available because we’re taking the kids to the park. But if you wake up each day with clarity of purpose, then you will know how you should spend your time and you won’t feel guilty about your choices. Not sure how to get clear on your priorities? Spend some time in prayer and in your journal.

2. Set expectations. Once you are clear on your priorities, you actually have to tell others what to expect. If you’re a stay-at-home-mom embarking on a new business venture, you will have to explain this change to your friends and family so they don’t expect you to be free for coffee every day at 10 am. If your little ones are old enough to understand, try telling them why it’s important for mommy to work and how you are fulfilling God’s call by sharing your gifts and serving others. And if they’re teenagers, maybe it will help to explain that the extra income will pay for their summer vacation. Need to bring your husband on board? Try these five ways to help your husband fall in love with your business. [Read more...]

Put Jesus on the Shelf

ElfontheShelfFor the past five years, December 1st has marked the arrival of Elf on the Shelf in our home. It’s a highlight of the season. You’re probably familiar with how this works, but I’ll fill you in just in case. Affectionately named Goody, our Elf’s job is to observe our behavior and report to the North Pole every night to let Santa know if we’ve been naughty or nice. When Goody returns each morning we find him in a different location. Peeking out between the leaves of a silk poinsettia plant, dangling from the dining room chandelier or munching on some snacks in the pantry. We engage in a month long game of Hide-and-Seek with our felt-covered friend! (Some people claim their Elf on a Shelf gets into mischief while they sleep, but Goody is on the straight and narrow.)

The other day I was trying to figure out exactly why my children love this game with Goody. They are more excited for his arrival than they are for Santa – and Goody doesn’t bring presents! Then it dawned on me – Goody brings out the best in them. He encourages them to be kind and helpful. And it feels great when you are your best self.

You know who does that for me? Jesus. Of course you knew I was going to say that. But what if I told you I was going to make Jesus my Elf on a Shelf? No, I’m not planning to create a fabric Baby Jesus and hide him in my house every night. (That might be frowned upon in some circles.) But here’s what I am going to do:

Three Ways I’m Going to Put Jesus on the Shelf this Christmas Season

1. I’m going to look for Jesus every day. Just like my children search for Goody in anticipation first thing in the morning and then delight in his discovery, I’m going to make it my mission to seek Jesus in the most unusual places each day. I’m going to keep my eyes open for the presence of Christ in every corner and crevice of my life. I’m going to recognize his light in the grouchy sales clerk and the impatient driver honking his horn behind me. I’m going to marvel at his works shining brightly despite the bullying and terrorism and apathy and despair of our world. I will not give up until I find him. And when I do, I’m going to jump for joy!  [Read more...]