40 Before 40 List: Roundup #4

We are just six months away my 40th birthday so it’s time to check in on how I’m doing with my 40 Before 40 List. Here’s what I’ve accomplished since my last recap:

#4. Wear my joy. 
When I last wrote about wearing my joy, I had just taken a class by Kelly Rae Roberts. Then, last fall, I enhanced that practice by applying Marie Kondo’s Konmari method to my clothes. Now all I own are clothes that bring me joy, which certainly makes wearing my joy easier.

#7. Try Scandinavian food.
Last February, friends and I gathered at Pläj restaurant in San Francisco to try Scandinavian food. I was surprised by how many offerings were cold, given that Denmark, Norway, and Sweden have colder climates, but we enjoyed our tastes of pickled herring, gravlax, and trout. The dessert was my favorite, though: sorbet, princess cake, and chocolate cake (kladdkaka).plaj-restaurant

plaj-desserts

#10. Attend an NFL game.
I originally had this one on my 40 After 40 list but, last September, Brian’s cousin invited us to the season opener for the 49ers. So we went. The Niners won, which was pretty cool for a team who ended the season 2-14, and we had a great time. Thank you, Laura!

49ers-opener-pano

49ers-win-2016

#18. Visit Mendocino, CA.
Before my husband started his new job in April, we took a weeklong driving tour of Northern California, including a stop in Mendocino. It was a lot smaller than I expected, but pretty cute.

mendocino-pano

#23-25. Visit Europe.

Originally #23 was a trip to Scotland and Ireland, but we decided to go to mainland Europe instead. Brian and I had last visited Europe in 2008, which seemed like a long time ago, so we visited London, UK; Bruges and Antwerp, Belgium; and Amsterdam, Netherlands in December. It was my first trip to London in 20 years, if you can believe it. We did some cheesy things there—like tourist photos at Platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross Station—as well as the regular must-sees, like Stonehenge (#24), traveling through the Channel Tunnel (#25) and the London Google office. 😉

watsons-in-london

stonehenge

london-kings-cross

#30. Do something fun with my hair.
In late 2015, I dyed my hair a warm brown-red and then one of my besties gave me hot pink extensions for my birthday. Love them! I might need more extensions.

pink-hair

#34. Drive a dream car.
For my 2015 Christmas gift, hubby gave me a supercar driving experience with LTF Adventures. Over Easter 2016 weekend, I got to drive a Ferrari F430, Ferrari 360, Lamborghini Gallardo, and Porsche 911. My favorite car to drive was the Ferrari F430, maybe because it was my first. The 360 moved around on the road more than the heavier F430. The Porsche was a lot of fun to drive, but the Lamborghini was perfection.

supercar-driving-adventure

#37. Learn CPR & first aid.
In October, I completed a one-day class in CPR and first aid. I’m now certified but I still feel like I have a lot to learn, especially on the first aid piece. Maybe next I’ll take a more in-depth first aid class.

Cheers,
Kate Watson

 

Curious About Coaching? Try A Free Session Today

Curious About Coaching? Try a Free Session Today

You’ve got big dreams, but maybe you need some help reaching them. Coaching could be just what you’ve been looking for. And now is a great time to try it—because I am offering individual sessions at a fabulous rate (free!).

In January, I joined the Courageous Living Coach Certification program and, as part of my practicum, I’ve been accruing one-on-one hours working with clients. Now I’m ready to work with you.

People come to coaching for a variety of reasons. Some want to achieve big dreams, others need help overcoming obstacles, and still others want to talk through challenging situations.

Generally speaking, coaching clients are seeking more fulfillment or balance in their lives, and they want accountability and support to help them get there. That’s where a coach comes in.

If you’ve been considering coaching, I would love to work with you.

For the next three months or until my client roster fills up, whichever happens faster, I’ll be offering a free consultation and coaching session for new clients. This is a great opportunity to experience coaching and see if we’re a good fit. But there are only 5 spots available, so…

book your free coaching session here

Want to know more about what coaching is and isn’t?

The International Coach Federation defines coaching as “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.”

The coaching relationship is a co-created one in which client and coach are equals. The coach provides tools to help the client:

  • get clear on what s/he seeks to achieve and then align sessions toward that goal,
  • engage in self-discovery,
  • uncover strategies and solutions that will work best for his/her life, and
  • remain accountable throughout the process.

Coaches come from the perspective that the client is the expert in her or his own life, and honors each client’s creativity, resourcefulness, and wholeness of being. The client’s role is to take responsibility for his or her life decisions and to engage fully in the process.

Coaching isn’t advice giving, counseling, mentoring, or training. Instead, it’s an intentional conversation to elicit a client’s own wisdom and solutions for optimal growth.

Taking that first step to enter into a coaching relationship can be vulnerable but, when you have trust for your coach and a willingness to show up, it can help you unlock your potential and improve your life and work in ways you never imagined.

Curious about how this coaching thing would work?

To get started, simply book your free session. We’ll then meet via my teleconferencing service to discuss what brings you to coaching and how we can best work together.

If we decide we’re a good fit, I’ll send you a client agreement and questionnaire to help guide our ongoing sessions, and you’ll select a coaching rate you can afford from my sliding scale.

Although I’m not requiring a long-term commitment during my coaching practicum, most clients choose to work with a coach for at least three months (or six sessions) to provide time and space for significant progress to be made.

Have a few more questions? Feel free to drop me a line—or set up your free session. I look forward to working with you!

Cheers,
Kate Watson

P.S. If you subscribed to my newsletter, you would have learned about this all the way back in February. To avoid missing out on other special offers ahead of the pack, subscribe today!

Coloring for Stress Relief? You Betcha

Last year for my birthday, my mother-in-law gave me a coloring book and some markers. Little did she know, it was a perfect gift! In fact, I was already hooked by the adult coloring craze, and had downloaded some blank mandalas online and purchased a set of fancy colored pencils from Amazon.

What I’ve discovered is that coloring is a lovely, ease-filled de-stressor.

Coloring for Stress Relief? You Betcha

 

Here’s an example: I was feeling creatively uninspired the other day. I had not practiced adequate self-care due to my busy schedule and, frankly, I was feeling grumpy and, dare I say, petulant. I knew I had to do something to improve my mood, but nothing inspired me.

I considered painting, but setting up my watercolors seemed hard.

I looked toward my journal, but my standard stream-of-consciousness journaling practice didn’t rev my engine.

I then glanced at my bookshelf and saw a coloring book and pencils. That seemed possible, even easy. And it was. All I had to do was select a few colors and start filling in empty spaces.

Coloring has become a new form of meditation and mindfulness training for me. Lately, I haven’t been able to sit for 10-15 minutes in traditional meditation; the most I can manage is about 3 minutes and sometimes even that seems impossible.

When I turn to my coloring books, I am able to concentrate on a simple, enjoyable task for 15-30 minutes, calm my monkey mind, and refresh my creativity and spirit.

There is a reason this works. As clinical psychologist Ben Michaelis explains, “There is a long history of people coloring for mental health reasons. Carl Jung used to try to get his patients to color in mandalas at the turn of the last century, as a way of getting people to focus and to allow the subconscious to let go. Now we know it has a lot of other stress-busting qualities as well.”

I’ve written about the benefits of having a creative outlet before, which include increased mindfulness, reduced stress, improved mood, and decreased risk of age-related decline. All that, from something so simple? Believe it.

What if you’re too busy to color? Well, studies have also shown that stepping away from a thorny problem and occupying your conscious mind with another activity increases the likelihood your unconscious mind will find a novel solution.

As psychologist Richard Wiseman writes in 59 Seconds: Change Your Life in Under a Minute, “Genuine creativity can come from spending just a few moments occupying your conscious mind, thus preventing it from interfering with the important and innovative activity in your unconscious.”

So, while coloring may at first appear unproductive, it can actually be quite helpful in boosting your ability to solve problems along with a whole host of other health benefits.

If you’re new to this and feeling a bit silly, Dr. Michaelis writes, “Try thinking of coloring like you might think about eating your vegetables: just one is not going to kill you, and who knows, you might actually like it!”

I also know that sometimes the burden of choice can be an impediment to starting so, to avoid any analysis paralysis, here are the colored pencils and books I use, along with some free coloring resources:

And if you’re feeling a bit uncertain about adopting what was a child’s pastime now that you’re an adult, don’t take my word for it. Check out:

Like this post? Share it with a friend or leave a comment. And happy coloring!

Cheers,
Kate Watson

Self-Care, What is it Really?

Self-Care, What is it, Really?

During a coaching session a few months back, a client told me she didn’t know what self-care meant. I blinked a couple of times—she couldn’t see me because we were coaching over the phone—and then asked something along the lines of, “What do you think it is?”

She reiterated that she didn’t really know and that she was uncomfortable with the idea of being unproductive, having grown up with role models who demonstrated the value of hard work and staying busy.

As a self-care proponent, I thought her take was interesting. While practicing self-care might not appear productive in the sense that “I have to finish this report because I promised it to my boss,” I believe it’s very productive when you think of it in terms of providing for your well-being so you can bring the best of yourself to the world.

It’s kind of like the well-known airline edict to put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others.

This coaching session got me thinking, however: If my client was struggling to understand the concept of self-care, surely others must be as well.

So I ask you, dear reader: Do you understand the value of self-care, or do you feel like you’re missing something? Do you prioritize your self-care, or do you treat it like one more to-do item you can’t find time for? I’m genuinely curious, so please feel free to share your thoughts at the bottom of this post.

In the meantime, I’ll continue my story. During our session, I asked my client to tell me about a time she felt healthy, nourished, and at peace. She recalled participating in a 5K with her friends and spouse.

I then asked what, in particular, felt nourishing about that experience, and she told me it was having something to look forward to, spending time with loved ones, and getting good exercise. From there, we were able to brainstorm a list of 15 things that could serve as self-care for her—because, you see, it’s unique to each person.

As self-care mentor Christy Tending writes, “I hear the myth repeated often that self-care is all about bubble baths (or similar indulgence).” That makes it sound silly and unnecessary, doesn’t it? But really, caring for yourself is one of your primary responsibilities in this life. If you don’t take the initiative, after all, who will?

And while my brand of self-care includes reading, quality time with my husband, long walks in nature, and yes, soaking in hot water, I know that may not be your definition, as it wasn’t for my client.

So, if self-care isn’t all bubble baths and self-indulgence, what is it really? One of my favorite definitions comes from a publication of the University of Kentucky, which says, “Self-care includes any intentional actions you take to care for your physical, mental, and emotional health.”

In determining what self-care means to you, consider this: When do you feel nourished? Is it when you visit friends, practice yoga, run a mile, or something else entirely? Whatever that is, that’s your version.

Practicing self-care pertains to every aspect of life. It could mean setting boundaries around when you’ll answer client phone calls or schedule meetings, choosing to eat food your body likes vs. what momentarily tastes good, getting an appropriate amount of sleep, or ensuring that you have adequate time alone or with your family and friends.

As I’ve written before, however you choose to practice self-care, make sure you’re doing something you want to do, and something that makes you feel good both during and after the activity. Taking care of yourself works best when it feeds your soul, not when it’s another “should” on your to-do list.

In asking my client’s permission to share her experience in this post, I also checked in to see how her own self-care practice was coming. She replied that she’d tried most of the items on our list and that she now chooses not to label these activities as self-care, but rather as things she does when she needs an energy boost, a mood shift, or just to take care of herself. There ya go, folks, that’s self-care, whatever you choose to call it.

Like this post? Share it with a friend or leave a comment.

Cheers,
Kate Watson

Solopreneur? Here’s Why You Need Community

Solopreneur? Here

Recently, I realized that I’ve been self-employed for a decade. If that sounds like a long time, I can assure you it is.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s pretty awesome to do work you love and set your own schedule, but it can also be a lonely road. That’s why building your community is essential.

When I was a 9-to-5er, I had an office, co-workers to kibitz with at the water cooler, colleagues and supervisors to strategize with, and a chain of command to turn to if something went wrong. Oh, and let’s not forget that steady paycheck.

As a decade-long “woman of the world” (as Michelle Ward calls we entrepreneurs), now my office is anywhere I happen to be; if I need a chat, I make an appointment with a friend; my poor husband has developed a bad case of sounding-board burnout; and the good ol’ buck stops right here with me, whatever the issue at hand.

All of this has been feeling like a lot of pressure lately, which reminded me of the importance of community.

Community isn’t a one-size-fits-all proposition. Your inner circle can fulfill a lot of roles but not all at the same time (as I discovered when I tried to make my husband my strategy partner, for example). So let’s look at some of the roles your community can fill and who best fits each role:

Need a break?

Hey, we all need a tea or lunch break (preferably at least once a day). When you’re looking for company, anyone with a flexible schedule could work. Students, stay-at-home parents, retirees, all are great places to turn when your 9-to-5er friends and family are busy.

You could also hop on a Skype call with a colleague in another city, if you want some business talk combined with camaraderie.

Having trouble staying on track?

What you want here is an accountability partner. Again, this could be practically anyone.

An accountability partner is exactly what it sounds like: Someone who (kindly!) holds you accountable to your stated goals.

How it works: You let them know what you want to accomplish and then either they check in with you or you update them at a regular interval.

Whether this relationship takes the form of a phone call or email to say, “Hey, I wrote today,” an accountability partner is a great way to stay on track—and connected to the rest of the world.

The key to finding the right fit is to make clear what you need. After all, having a partner who chastises you can be a real buzzkill if you really want a cheerleader, and vice versa.

Need a collaborator?

Having business peers is essential for so many reasons, and collaboration is a big one.

I’ve met most of my co-conspirators through online courses and forums. Other ways are by introducing yourself at conferences or via e-mail, asking for an introduction from a mutual friend, and commenting on other folks’ blogs and social media posts.

Asking someone to collaborate on a small project like a blog crawl, e-book, or free community challenge is a good way to learn how they work and whether you can trust them for a more involved project or partnership later.

Wondering how to price or launch your next offering?

Here’s where solepreneurship gets a bit trickier. When you strategize with people who don’t know much about business (or your business in particular), you don’t know what you’re going to get. As we all know, everyone has an opinion—and it might be as odoriferous as your armpit.

Among the best people to strategize with are your trusted peer network. You are looking for two things in a member of your trusted network:

  1. Respect for each other’s opinion, and
  2. Commitment to each other’s success.

If you respect a peer’s opinion but he sees you as a competitor, you’re not going to get his best ideas. And if your peer is a terrific champion but has questionable business instincts or ethics, you’re not going to trust her advice.

Developing a trusted peer network takes time and refinement just like any other important relationship in your life.

Need a stronger community right now?

There are a couple of possibilities if you want to fast track the development of your trusted peer network.

The first option is to join a mastermind group. Of course, many mastermind groups self-organize, but some business coaches and consultants create mastermind groups to help their clients meet like-minded entrepreneurs.

Another way to get experienced business support is to hire it by working with a coach or consultant. What’s the difference?

A consultant typically has a specific methodology for working with clients and offers targeted advice. Also, he or she usually doesn’t stick around to help you implement said advice.

Less experienced consultants also tend to advise people based on what worked in their own businesses whereas experienced consultants are able to provide a variety of suggestions better tailored to your unique situation.

A coach may share her personal and professional expertise, but what she really does is help you tap into your own wisdom to make the right choices for your business. Another perk of a coach: She’ll stand by your side while you experiment with various strategies, holding you accountable and helping you further refine your plan without becoming attached to the direction you take.

Having been a consultant and now in training as a coach, I have a unique perspective on each role’s strengths and weaknesses, and their overall value to small businesses. Check out my About page for more information.

As you can see, while the moniker ‘solopreneur’ suggests you work alone, you really can’t do it without your community—however you choose to build it. After all, friends make everything more fun!

Cheers,
Kate Watson

P.S. If you’d like to try out coaching and see if it’s a good fit for you, book yourself a free consultation via my online schedule. It’s simple, fast, and there’s absolutely no obligation!