Robert M. Coles

Author, World Traveler, Public Speaker

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Stop and Smell the Roses

My thoughts on passion projects and finding inner happiness in a world of struggles and stresses

fortuneThere’s a strange thing that happens when I open up a fresh word document, or open a brand new notebook. I somehow loose myself and forget all of the struggles that have plagued me as of late. Whether it’s the fact that I basically haven’t had any alone time in over a month, or that I’ve worked 60+ hours a week for almost a year. Maybe it’s that I’m publishing a book in February and a text book in the spring. Any combination of these could cause the normal person to stress.

But I’ve got words, and they never fail me.

I’ve been so tied up in projects that are going to bring me closer to my long-term life goal that I’ve forgotten to stop and smell the roses for the past few months. I’ve forgotten to take time to write for pleasure, instead of for purpose.

That stops today.

I live my life on a very regimented schedule. I work a normal day job doing what I love, then teach acting to my students every day, which I also love, but I’m lacking the free time to work on my passion projects. So, I’ve developed five life goals that will allow me to complete my passion projects.

1 – Make time

There’s always going to be an excuse. There are a million things that have to get done, and that’s never going to change. Projects get piled on top of other projects, and just when you finish one thing, another one pops up. My new goal is to make time, and it should be your goal, too. I use Google Calendar for everything these days, and I love it. I’ve started to plan out my day according to my writing hour (first thing in the morning) and my project hour every evening.

2 – Stick to the schedule

I love living a flexible life, but sticking to the schedule is the key to maintaining balance.  I’ve decided that nothing comes before my passion projects and my fun writing times; not even the writing time for work.

3 – Have someone hold you accountable

I’ve got a group of writing friends that keep me on track with my books, but I’ve got another friend that keeps me on track with working on projects that I love. It’s not about them telling you what to do, it’s about them checking in on you to see if there’s anything they can do to ease up the time to give back to you. Just make sure that you do the same for them. I’ve been fortunate enough to gain friends that share common interests and help me when needed, and I help them.

4 – Silence the outside world

I’m one of the most connected people I know. Face to face interaction, phones, texting, email, and social media have gotten us all more connected than ever, but during your passion project time, you’ve got to shut the rest of the world out and dedicate yourself to what you’re working on. It’s you time to the extreme, and it happens daily.

5 – Forgive yourself if you break the schedule

You’re bound to falter. Maybe you’ve set your passion project hour to first thing in the morning and you’ve got to get that extra hour of sleep because the night before was rough. Maybe you’re going on vacation for a while. Whatever the situation may be, forgive yourself if you miss a day or two, but don’t let yourself fall out of the habit. It takes 21 days for something to become a habit. Don’t break it for too long.

Whatever you do, take time to stop and enjoy life, and do what makes you feel good. That’s the ultimate purpose, isn’t it?

What are some of your tips for making time to do what you love?

Small Business Marketing Is A Big Job

You’re Only Hurting Yourself

small-business-marketing-planLet’s face it, there are never enough hours in the day, yet for some strange reason small business owners are expected to cram multiple days worth of work into a single workday. It’s not healthy, and it’s no way to expand your business. It was once said that, in order to be truly successful, you have to stop working inyour business, and start working on your business. I don’t know about you, but that sounds a little convoluted.

We’ll break things down with some facts and figures. Currently in the United States there are roughly 23 million small businesses that account for around 54% of all sales. Through the recessions of the 90s and 2000s, while big businesses cut jobs, small businesses continued to add job. Small businesses are no small business.

But how in the world does one get to the point of expanding and growing? What does it take to build a better business, not just a sustaining business? Sure, we all want a sustaining business. It’s easy, cheap, and efficient. But is there any room for advancement? One of the biggest areas of concern that cannot be avoided is small business marketing. It directly ties into the business’s successes and failures, and it’s too much for a small business owner to handle if he or she wants to join the other successful businesses climbing their way to the top. Here are 3 reason marketing is too big of a task for small business owners.

#1 – Marketing takes time

If you’re fighting the 12 hour (or more) workday blues, the last thing you want to do is interact with your customers when they aren’t even asking for anything. Save your energy for something more worthwhile, like relaxing. Marketing has become a full-time job for small businesses. The world has changed, quickly, and it’s difficult to keep up with whatever latest trend has come up in the marketing world.

Fortunately, there are services available for the savvy small business owner who wants to begin working on his or her business. For starters, you don’t have to do everything yourself. Hiring someone to handle the marketing and design aspect of your company frees you up to deal with so much more. If you’re really looking for a good deal, be sure to choose a marketing agency. It’s less of a financial commitment than a full time staff member.

#2 – Marketing isn’t an ad in the paper anymore

If you haven’t noticed, there’s this little website called Facebook, and this other one that’s slightly smaller, called Twitter. Together they account for over 64% of the internet’s activity.No doubt you’re a technical person (you found this blog, after all) so we’re not going to dumb things down for you. Marketing has gotten harder.

Marketing is no longer putting an ad in the paper and making sure your storefront is clean. No, those days have long sense past. In fact, it should be noted that roughly 74% of consumers look up a company before entering the store or picking up the phone. People are looking at your brand and social interaction on websites. They’re picking apart every word you say to see if you fit in with their personal style. The ones who don’t fit will be left in the dust. Do you have the hours a day it takes to monitor your online and social media presence?

#3 – Customers have evolved

By show of hands, how many of you have always heard, “The customer is always right?” Now, keep your hands up if you still believe the customer is always right. Several of you just put your hands down, no doubt because you’re a business owner or you’ve worked retail. In fact, it should be pointed out that now even the customers don’t think they’re always right. Sure, they always want the best deal, but they’re willing to bend for quality.

Consumers are starting to bounce back from the recession. Spending is up, and businesses that are prepared for the new-age customer will profit. The new-age consumer is looking for the best product or service to enhance their personal image. What does your marketing strategy offer your customers looking to build a reputation and enhance their image? If it doesn’t speak to them, you can bet they’re going to keep moving.

Marketing is a tough job in today’s economy, and it takes a village to raise a business. Don’t attempt to raise the business by yourself. Stay focused on your advancement goals and make sure you’re letting a dedicated team of individuals take care of all your company’s marketing needs.

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