Do you often feel overwhelmed, as though each day you're simply trying to keep from drowning? We've definitely had days like that before! Maybe you've just started a blog or business, and you're struggling to grow it while also finding time for everything else.
If you're anything like me, you're thinking, “I'm already overwhelmed. What am I going to do when this thing actually takes off and really keeps me busy?!”
Today on the podcast, we'll hear from a blogging veteran on how she manages to walk the tightrope of blogging, writing books, mothering, her marriage, and bettering herself too. Does this feat seem impossible? Crystal Paine is here to tell you that it's not.
Press play on the podcast player below to hear her best advice on getting rid of survival mode, setting and accomplishing goals, and what balance looks like for her.
On the Podcast
01:36 – Slay Survival Mode with Goal-Setting
02:37 – Prioritizing your Passions
05:07 – Turning Off + Breaking Down (+ why these are good things!)
09:15 – Short-Term Sacrifice for Long-term Gain
13:51 – A Makeover for Crystal?
15:26 – What Busy Moms can Learn from Tightrope Walkers
20:40 – Guilt and Grace (+ how owning your own business makes both easier!)
21:49 – Making Memories + Fun for the Paine Family
Slay Survival Mode with Goal-Setting
Crystal talks a lot about goal-setting in her book, Say Goodbye to Survival Mode. Here's why Crystal thinks goal-setting can eliminate the survival-mode mentality that's so common for busy moms:
If you don't have anything you're aiming for, it's very easy to go around in circles without truly getting anything done. You'll spend all your time putting out fires instead of spending your hours and minutes with intention. Crystal often used to feel like she was very busy each day but would look back and realize she didn't actually accomplish anything. She certainly didn't get done the things that were most important.
Now, Crystal has written goals for the year, the month, the week, and even the day. She knows what her target is, and every day she can take small steps in the right direction. For busy moms, those steps may feel like tiny little baby steps, but they equal progress and a life of intention versus survival mode.
Prioritizing your Passions
Crystal encourages everyone to take the long view when it comes to their lives. At the start of each year at a minimum, ask yourself where you want to be a year from now. For some, a year away feels too overwhelming, so start with where you'd like to be 6 months or 3 months from now.
Crystal asks herself which key areas of her life, when she places effort into them, will make the biggest impact. In 2014, Crystal set four key areas for herself: marriage, mothering, herself (exercise + continual learning), and MoneySavingMom (the business).
Knowing that she was passionate about these key areas of her life, she made them the priority for the year. Crystal knows that there are many good or even great things to be involved in, but she can't do everything. She chose to put her energy and efforts into those four key areas, while saying no to other things.
After discerning her top priorities for the year, Crystal broke those down into 12 goals. Crystal admits that she didn't finish all of those goals, and in all honesty, only completed a few of them. Still, when she looks back at the past year, she knows that she invested a lot of time into her marriage, mothering, herself, and her business. She saw a lot of fruit from that effort. So rather than be discouraged that she didn't accomplish all of her goals, she's encouraged that she made progress and focused on what was most important to her. She has seen growth as a result, and that keeps her motivated and inspired to continue working on these goals.
Turning Off + Breaking Down
As a work-at-home mom with many years of experience, we asked Crystal to share some wisdom about how moms new to business or blogging might be able to get things done without entering into dreaded survival mode or getting burned out.
Crystal shared two killer points when it comes to accomplishing your goals:
- Turn off the noise. Crystal says, “we can get all distracted by all these shiny things… we have to focus on the best things, especially when we're moms and we're busy with so many responsibilities as it is. We can't do it all.” This might mean only listening to a few podcasts that make the biggest difference for our business or only reading those few websites that are most helpful. It's so easy to get overwhelmed with all of the information out there, and you simply can't implement every tip you learn online at that given moment.
- Break down each goal into bite-size pieces. Pick your two or three biggest priorities for the next 6 months – the ones that will have the biggest impact. Once you define those things, break them down into tiny, manageable pieces. For example, if you've decided that growing your Facebook Fan page to 500 fans in 6 months will make the biggest impact, then break that goal down into all the little steps you'll have to take to get there. Such as 1. Set up the page 2. Post to that page often. 3. Watch other successful Facebook pages, and so on.
Crystal gave the example of a course that she's creating and launching this year. The idea of such a huge project can feel overwhelming. However, instead of only looking at the big picture, Crystal breaks that project down into all of the steps necessary to get there.
She opens her Google Calendar and schedules in the bite-sized steps she'll take each day. Every task has its own assigned date and time. For example, on certain days she may be writing about a given topic for the course. On some days, she may already be packed full with other commitments, so she'll skip that day and move onto the next.
A huge project is completely do-able when it's broken down into its parts. Breaking things down keeps Crystal motivated and inspired that she can actually accomplish the end goal.
Short-Term Sacrifice for Long-term Gain
Crystal employed a very unusual method for writing her most recent book. We asked her to share more on the reasoning behind this decision and whether it worked well.
Crystal starts by saying that she wouldn't necessarily recommend her unique method, but it worked for her for a season. Crystal often hears from other women that they'd love to start a blog or write a book, but they simply don't have the time.
Maybe we're under the wrong assumption that because Crystal has a successful blog and business, that she's somehow miraculously gifted with more time or more ability to get things done each day. Crystal shares that that simply isn't the case.
“We all have the same 24 hours in our day. We all get the same amount of time. It's a matter of what we're choosing to do with that time.”
Instead of giving the excuse that we don't have time, we each need to own our time and accept that we're choosing to spend our time in a different way. Certainly, some of us may have more obligations than others, such as a newborn or ailing grandparents to care for. But regardless, Crystal strongly encourages others to realize that they're in control of their time.
With that being said, Crystal quickly realized that she would have to get creative with her time for her third book. She successfully wrote her first two books by waking up and writing early in the morning. However, after encouraging her readers to wake up early, all of a sudden she faced many new emails and blog comments early in the morning.
Crystal often has to be online while she's writing for research. So when she would search her inbox for a certain email or her blog for a certain post, she'd be distracted by all of the new messages and comments from her readers.
Crystal sat down with her family to discuss a solution to this problem. She was really passionate about the book, but she couldn't figure out when to write it.
She settled on something that was completely out of the box. For two months, Crystal went to bed early, then woke up at midnight, wrote from midnight to 4 AM, then went back to bed for a few more hours. She feels grateful that she could try out this unique strategy since her husband is self-employed and her kids are home-schooled.
Ultimately, Crystal and her family chose a short-term sacrifice for long-term gain. Looking back, she's so glad she tried this method and wrote her book because she's very passionate about the topic and felt called to write about it.
A Makeover for Crystal?
We couldn't help but ask Crystal about her new course for 2015. While it's still in its early stages, Crystal shared that it will involve a makeover.
It's not what you think! Crystal's course doesn't involve make-up, but instead, making over your mornings.
Crystal is spending several months living out the principles of the course in her own life to make sure they truly work, then she'll work on content to encourage other women with practical ways to make the most of their mornings.
Crystal knows from experience that the first hour or two of your day can set the tone for the other 22 hours. She admittedly wrecked her mornings a bit in order to write her third book, so she's excited to get back on track, and ultimately, help her readers to do the same.
What Busy Moms can learn from Tightrope Walkers
We asked Crystal about that elusive concept of balance. Does it exist? What does it look like for her?
Crystal shared two principles that help her to maintain a sense of balance.
- She surrounds herself with truth tellers – those wise mentors who will not only celebrate the good, but call you out when you need to get back on track. For Crystal, those truth tellers are her husband Jesse, and her two managers. They each know her goals, her struggles, and what her long-term goals are, and by holding her accountable, they help Crystal to get there. They remind her to practice what she preaches and keep her from veering off course by focusing too much on one area of her life to the detriment of others.
- She remembers that balance means making constant tweaks. Crystal has learned about tightrope walkers, and, surprisingly enough, they don't stay balanced on the tightrope by being perfectly still. Instead, tiny muscles all over their body are constantly moving. They make continuous tweaks to their position to stay on the rope. This is true of motherhood too. In order to be balanced when it comes to our marriages, mothering, our businesses, and so many other things, we won't ever find that perfect routine and be able to just stay still. We're constantly making little tweaks to stay balanced.
In Crystal's own life, this meant that for two months, her sleep was off-balance as she wrote her book. In December, however, she's making a tweak in the other direction and spending lots of time with her husband and kids.
Balance doesn't mean doing the same thing every single day. There are seasons where you may have to step back and focus on just one thing. However, over the course of a year, balance means that youu've spent a lot of intentional quality time investing in the things that are most important to you.
Guilt and Grace
When it comes to balance, we moms, whether working at home or outside the home, can often feel guilty for the choices we make. Crystal believes in giving yourself grace.
Of course, there will be emergencies or a stressful time that comes up, in which case your kids may get a little less attention and perhaps an extra movie or two! However, there's no need to beat yourself up over these small choices as long as they're the exception to the rule and not a lifestyle.
Conversely, one of the wonderful things about owning your own business is that you can choose to shut things off and fully focus on your family.
Guilt comes easier as a work-at-home mom, but hopefully grace comes easier too!
Making Memories + Fun
We interviewed Crystal at the beginning of December, and it was so fun to hear about their family's plans for the month. Crystal shared that since the beginning of her marriage, she and Jesse have been intentional about keeping December simple. They like to have a December bucket list, where each family member gets to pick one or two things they want to do that month. Beyond that, they don't commit to other obligations.
This December, the Paines are watching classic Christmas movies, driving around to look at Christmas lights, watching Frozen on Ice, and going to Ann Voskamp's Christmas tour.
They're doing the things they love to do together rather than feeling overwhelmed. Crystal encourages others to decide for themselves what's most important to them. If you don't want to put up a Christmas tree or send out Christmas cards, then don't worry about it. “You're not being a bad mom if you're focusing on what's most important to your family.”
(Amen to that!)
Stay in Touch with Crystal!