What an Irish Goddess Can Teach You About Writing & Marketing Your Practice

If I had one wish for you, it would be that you would stand sovereign in your story and in the marketplace. Sovereignty is at the heart personal fulfillment and professional success. When you are sovereign, you are the confident, compassionate ruler of your own life. You don't assume that you can control everything, but you are sure of your worth and guided by your dedication to the greater good. For the healer, therapist, or coach who wants to change lives with her vision and her work, sovereignty is a beautiful thing to aspire to.

A quick Irish history lesson (and a good story to tell over a few pints of Guinness!)

But, before it was applied to the modern individual, “sovereignty” has belonged in discussions of royalty and statecraft.

Goddess by Moira age 5
Goddess by Moira age 5

At the heart of Celtic myth - and particularly Irish myth - sits the Sovereignty Goddess. She is divinity made flesh and an embodiment of the land itself. In order for the king to take the throne and guarantee the fertility of his realm, he had to win favor with this otherworldly woman. And then she took him to bed to seal the deal.

Across mountains meant to be her breasts and across rivers meant to be her blood or tears, battles were waged in her name. The Sovereignty Goddess did not rule, you see. She was the power behind the throne. Or, perhaps, it's better to say the power before the throne.

She supported his royal cause and she crowned the king, but then, she had to stand aside and let him define his own destiny.

Centuries later, when the Irish peasantry struggled under English rule, the Sovereignty Goddess represented dreams of independence. This time a fairy woman, the goddess would appear to young men in a dream and incite them to take a stand for themselves, their people, and their country.

(Does this sound a but like what you do for clients? You help them along their journey of becoming and giving them the tools to succeed on their own, right?)

What does the Sovereignty Goddess have to offer the modern transformation professional?

History is starved of powerful women, so this influential creature is a welcome shot of the feminine. Certainly she got my attention when I was a student, just as she got the attention of the people who used these myths to understand their world.

But a couple of generations of feminist literary and cultural criticism has taught us that “and then a woman appears” is not always a sign of gender equality and empowerment.

Though seducing mortals and actually being a country is all very fabulous, it’s quite disempowering. The goddess is momentarily star of the origin story, but then she is pushed offstage until the hero decides to invade a neighboring kingdom in her honor.

With this in mind, what can a kingmaking, rabble rousing Sovereignty Goddess do for the transformation professional on their own quest to change the world?

Well, being an essential part of the prologue or “just” having a recurring role in the supporting cast is actually what being a healer is all about.

5 Lessons About Storytelling & Marketing that Only a Sovereignty Goddess Could Teach You

When you’re a therapist or healing professional writing in support of your own work, the Sovereignty Goddess can be the perfect model.

As the writer or the healer, you’re not the star. The reader is the hero. The client is the hero.

Your role is to awaken, inspire, support, facilitate. Though you hope to sustain a long term relationship with your readers and your clients, the focus is on their process and growth, not your role as guide.

Here are five ways to embody the Sovereignty Goddess and make a difference in your business and in people’s lives:

  1. Live the Legend: Like the Sovereignty Goddess, you need a powerful legend. Through your writing and branding, you can build visibility and a strong reputation that invites people to learn more about what you offer. Intrigued by your story as well as the social proof (what people are saying about you), prospective clients (or, perhaps, perspective heroes) will be excited to explore how you can help them rewrite their own stories.
  2. Embrace the Magic: The Sovereignty Goddess used magic to turn commoners into kings and warriors. In our contemporary world, we have our own kinds of magic. After all, there’s something just a little mysterious in that alchemical process that turns ideas into words that help your ideal clients understand that you're the one who can help them become healed and whole.We create and connect to magic through stories. When you sit down and write out your vision for your clients, describing what sort of transformation you know is possible, you are taking the first step in making heroes who, in turn, can be sovereign in their own lives.
  3. Exercise Choice: Just as the goddess has the power to name her consort, you have a similar power when you decide on your ideal client and reader. Choose someone who has the life experiences that your stories can speak to. Write for people who seek the outcomes that your work can promise. It’s in being choosy and specific that you’re most effective, telling stories that go deep and doing work that changes lives.
  4. Seek to Empower: When that young man laid down with the goddess, it was guaranteed that he’d arise an empowered man ready to make his own way in the world. Your hero client/reader is going to use the seeds of your story to create his or her own great narrative. Ultimately, this is what you want: your audience’s new sense of success and happiness originates with you but does not permanently depend on you.
  5. Practice Trust: The Sovereignty Goddess understood her role in the grand scheme of things: kings would pass on and young upstarts would need her to help them take their place. She trusted that in every king’s court, her story was told around the fire - the modern equivalent of being shared on the Facebook wall, the Pinterest board, and the Twitter stream.Create content that matters to you and is designed to speak to your ideal readers and you can trust that your good work will inspire your hero client to share on your story (most likely by crediting your supporting role in their own remarkable journey).

This St. Patrick’s Day, as we celebrate all things Irish (both pagan and Christian), I’d be grateful if you shared the Sovereignty story with your community - who knows what getting in touch with their inner Celtic Goddess might do for them!

Do you need help discovering and telling your own Sovereign Story? Check out my writing coaching services.

If you're longing to meet the Sovereignty Goddess within, I can help you connect to her during a Creativity Healing & Coaching Session.

Sometimes, you'd prefer a soapbox in the town square

Sometimes, you'd prefer a soapbox in the town square #365StrongStories by Marisa GoudyAn ideal client becomes a match made in entrepreneurial heaven when she meets a tech mishap with "well, it is Mercury Retrograde..." If you're not familiar with that concept, you and I can still be great friends, of course. And if you're wondering, Mercury Retrograde happens three or four times a year. The planet seems to move backwards for about three and a half weeks. During that time, things here on earth seem to go a bit haywire. Communications are garbled. Travel is difficult. Technology refuses to cooperate.

Standard astrological advice has it that you should avoid signing contracts and launching new endeavors. And every stargazer since the dawn of time recommends that you absolutely, never ever ever offer any webinars.

Today's Story Triangle webinar was a tech dis-AAAAA-ster. (But that's ok.)

I can't guarantee that 20 minutes of tech hiccups at the start of today's webinar will teach me to heed the ancients and stick to contemplatively "taking stock" during Retrograde. Nope, I'll just mutter about why everything seems so hard and retroactively check the calendar over at MysticMamma like I always have.

No, what I learned was that when you consistently deliver value to the people who need it, they trust you. And they'll stick with you when you frantically enter in the chat box "please bear with us, we're working on it!"

I am deeply grateful to the members of my community who reminded me to breathe and stuck around and told me "Thank you Marisa! Such helpful information to finding my voice in story..."

But I do fantasize about that soapbox

Once upon a time, when you had something to say, the only technology you needed was a loud voice. If you wanted to get all fancy, you borrowed a soap box so the crowd could see and it could become a "multimedia" presentation.

But, since you probably aren't going to be able to make it to Main Street in New Paltz, NY for the next Story Triangle session, I guess I'll stick to the internet.

I checked the calendar, and Mercury Retrograde ends on May 22. Let's do this thing again (perhaps with a more reliable webinar platform). Join me on May 24, will you?

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Use the Story Triangle to Tell Stories that Work

Use the Story Triangle to tell stories that work #365StrongStories by Marisa GoudyIn some forgotten magazine, I once read a lament about how little fiction is written about the world of work. When historians look back upon this time they might think we live in an age of passionate romance, of hideous crimes, of sweeping wars, and occasional zombie plagues and vampire infestations. They won't be able to look to that cultural signifier we call the novel to understand how many bloody hours we devote to emails and preparing reports and fiddling with "easy"  tools like the LeadPages system.

That said, these people from the future might be able to go to server farms to comb through our Gmail accounts to understand our daily preoccupations, but what will they really understand of our everyday lives by looking at all those alerts and notifications we skillfully dismiss and ignore?

I'm hustling through the completion of a major project. Ironically, though it's all about storytelling, I find that I'm having trouble living my own story through the haze of "busy." That's what happens when you hunch over a laptop perfecting copy and worrying over image selection and praying that all the intangible tech pieces will place nicely with one another.

Even though all this minutiae isn't in itself the stuff that legends are made of, the stories that I am empowering others to craft do have infinite potential. They can mean something to the storytellers and the audiences they're made for.

The everyday tasks of running an online business don’t lend themselves to become great stories. In my case, however, I hope that my own stretch of "mundane" work will empower you to tell stories that matter.

Join me for the next free Story Triangle class that is coming up on May 24. Who knows? The storytelling tools you learn to deepen your connection with clients might enable you tell the great story of what it means to run a business in the 21st century! Reserve your seat

The Light In the Tunnel is Not a Train

The light at the end of the tunnel is not a train. #365StrongStories by Marisa Goudy, writing coach for healers, coaches, therapistsMy dad has taught me just about all the unusual expressions I use. “We’re in the weeds” (we’re screwed). “86 it” (toss it). “Some days chickens, some days feathers” (you can’t win them all).  

He came of age in the restaurant industry, so these are probably the cleanest phrases you’ll ever hear in an industrial kitchen.

Today when I called my father to tell him that my storytelling for business webinar was a great success, I was finally able to talk about how bloody hard the journey to “yes!” has been. As an entrepreneur himself, he can relate to the bright dances in the sun that I want to share and the long shadowy walks I don’t want to talk about.

Perhaps he has been watching my struggles from afar and holding on to anecdote he shared with me for some time. It certainly isn’t something you tell someone unless they’re smiling and feeling a tiny bit invincible.

Back in one of the nastiest economic slumps he ever endured, he told me, he read an article with the headline that read something like “For the foreseeable future, the light at the end of the tunnel has been turned off.”

Going through that collectively must have been awful - even if misery loves company. So often, however, I know that we solopreneurs and private practice owners go through the same terror. We can't stand the thought that all this hard work won’t pay off, but we're too battered and tired to be hopeful. We’re terrified we’ll never get to the “I did it!” day.

This, of course, brought us to consider how, as a small business owner, you often wonder if the light you’re seeing is the promise of daylight or some terrible train bearing down on you.

At least for today, I am riding on that train and I see nothing but blue sky.

Thanks, Dad. And thanks to everyone in my community who participated in my Story Triangle webinar. You can still register to receive the recording (available through April 11).

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The only inspirational quote you need as a writer & entrepreneur

“If you have the words, there’s always a chance you’ll find the way.” Seamus Heaney Nobel prize winning poet and Irishman Seamus Heaney's quote is scrawled on a post-it above my computer. It fights for space with love notes from my daughter and memos about my many accounting goofs, but it's the only inspirational line I keep in my line of sight.

"If you have the words, there's always a chance you'll find the way" is the only guidance I need because it speaks to heart of my work as a writer and as an entrepreneur.

These words are going to open my Story Triangle webinar that's set for 1 PM ET tomorrow (Tuesday, April 5).

Even in our multimedia world where video talks and images sell, words are always at the heart of our work. We need the words to build the narratives that change minds and touch hearts.

We tell stories to find a way - a way to connect, to inspire, to build a business and a livelihood, and, ultimately to make this world more beautiful, bearable, and bold.

Please join me tomorrow. I'd be honored to show you a new way to use your words and stories.

Save my seat at the webinar!

The People Need Stories, Not To Do Lists

The people need stories, not to do lists, #365StrongStories by Marisa GoudyThe difference between telling a strong story and writing “just another blog post”

There are million different ways to approach a topic. Say you wanted to write about how to talk with your partner about a struggles a creative entrepreneur.

You could use the good old “people love list posts” approach:

Seven ways you “should” approach the situation including “make a spreadsheet that he can understand!” and “make sure everyone is well-rested and ready to fully engage in the conversation.”

If your readers are worrying about how to get their partner to be more supportive of a business venture, they just might come away with a tip that helps them along.

But then there’s the storytelling approach:

It’s one a.m. when she gets to bed. She’s chilled from sitting at the computer for so long and feels so grateful when he entangles his sleep warmed limbs with hers. Visions of Facebook ads and YouTube clips swim before her eyes as she tries desperately to sleep. The kids will be up soon and there’s so much more work to do to get this new course launched.

He knows the pattern of her breath. He knows it doesn’t mean anything good. “Did you get everything done?” he asks. When she snorts, he asks, “Did you get at least one thing done? Are you upset?

“Yes. And yes.” She starts to cry because finishing up a LeadPage doesn’t feel like much when the to do list stretches across so many notebook pages.

She is not ok. She is tired and she is scared and she is so desperate for all of her work to pay off.

It would have been easy to mumble “it’s all good” and roll over to feed her fears into the lonely darkness. Instead, she chose to be honest. She chose to speak her truth and ask her husband for the kind of help that only he can give - to listen to her in the darkness and make the world feel safe again.

Though they’ll both be exhausted in the morning, there’s one less brick in the wall between them. There’s space for sunshine and support and connection to flow in their marriage, in her business, and in their bank account.

This is why storytelling works

Because it’s a story, the reader connects with you in a real way that builds trust. They get drawn in by the emotion. Even if they’re not looking for “quick and easy tips for having tough conversations with your spouse about your business,” people who understand the challenges of entrepreneurship will be drawn in.

Stories are like giant magnets for the brain -  people want to be invited into the room, into the conflict, and into the resolution. A story like this one shows them they’re not alone and exposes the other side of “grow your six figure online business” sales pitches.

How to make storytelling work for you, your audience, and your business

Is that my story above? Well, I can tell you that I am launching a new course and I’m pretty sleepy today…

That’s not the point of all this, though. My goal is to help you understand that stories are what connect you with your readers and with your potential clients.

We dive deep into why we need stories and list posts in the Connect With Your Readers & Clients: Discover the Story Triangle webinar. The recording will be available through Monday, April 11.

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I’ve got a creative problem for you, Liz Gilbert, but I am almost too afraid to ask for help

I’ve got a creative problem for you, Liz Gilbert, but I am almost too afraid to ask for help, #365StrongStories by Marisa GoudyElizabeth Gilbert, the magical creature behind Big Magic and Eat, Pray, Love is inviting us all to come to her with our creative aches and pains. (See her Facebook post here.) As we prepare for house guests to arrive - scrubbing just enough to make the place look decent before our families destroy the place again - I’ve been writing and rewriting my 100-word submission in my head.

You can read what I'm sending below, but first, an admission: I’m afraid to admit I have a creative problem.

So much of creating and manifesting a livelihood and leading a life seems like a head game. “Your thoughts create your reality” and “Where the mind goes, the energy flows” and all that… If I spend a day thinking up all the ways I’m a pathetic creative lost in the woods who needs a brilliant best selling writer to save me am I giving up whatever creative power I have? Thing is, being afraid to ask for help, of course is by far more isolating and disempowering. This crafting a business and doing the creative work is hard enough. Let’s all hold hands and ask for guidance and healing when it’s offered.

My Magic Lessons Submission

As a “creative entrepreneur,” I try to make the writing I love to do serve the work I have to do as a writing coach.

I launched my #365StrongStories project to give myself a creative outlet and to show potential clients that it’s possible to “create content” (Ie. tell stories) every day. Most of the time, however, I seem to end up in a no man’s land trapped between the stories I want to write and the stories that I hope will help me build a business.

Entrepreneurship is a necessary creative act, but it threatens my true creativity.

Entrepreneuring, Mothering, and Laundry Basket Despair, #365StrongStories 47

Entrepreneuring, Mothering, and Laundry Basket Despair, #365SttrongStories by Marisa GoudyI prefer mountains of laundry to mere hillocks. So, when I enter a marathon sorting and folding session, I know there will be plenty of time for introspection. Today, however, both kids are home thanks to some freezing rain and a minor fever. Turns out I can’t get much deep thinking done when I must constantly exclaim “Please do not knock over mommy’s stacks!”

So I’m left to consider the clothes themselves. Since I could tell you my life story by giving you a tour of my closet, this is actual fertile territory.

There’s this fuchsia Marks and Spencer sweater that’s just beginning to pill. I find this terribly disappointing and give myself over to a little bit of laundry basket despair.

Even in that moment I knew I was actually mourning the fact that I’m folding and refereeing rather than writing and planning. This was supposed to be a brilliantly productive professional day. But wishing I were entrepreneuring instead of mothering isn’t going to get these clothes in drawers or make me any nicer to my kids, so I focus on that sweater (and sounding kind when I beg the girls not to jump on the towels I’d just turned into relatively perfect squares.)

This sweater doesn’t owe me anything. It was some hand me down that I never even put on my first daughter because it always looked too fancy. With my second daughter, I’ve tried to quit hoarding pretty things for the day when our lives were perfect and posh enough to do them justice, so she’s worn it during trips to the grocery store. As I sit in the midst of this domestic mountain range, unable to control the weather or viruses or my own work day, I breathe into the realization that our lives will never be what the glossy catalogs tell me I’m supposed to be striving for.

We’ll have brilliant days while wearing our mismatched pajamas and we’ll suffer through others while wearing our newest and brightest best. Eventually, it will all come out in the wash.

A Modern Entrepreneurial Hero's Journey, #365StrongStories 14

A Modern Entrepreneurial Hero's Journey, #365StrongStories by Marisa GoudyLast fall, I wrote my way to the edges of my own mastery when I realized I couldn’t confidently complete the sentence “a good story is…”

As a lover of both fiction and creative non-fiction, this was disconcerting. For a writing coach, this was terrifying.

For months, I turned inward.

I was writing more than ever, but I wasn’t producing many full sentences. There were lists and notes and lots of arrows slicing across the page.

This was the stuff of discovery, not publication. And yet, something magical was happening.

The hero's quest is realized when she brings home the healing elixir to serve the greater good. And so, it was my mission to understand and then teach what makes a strong story.

First, I had to understand why I cared so much. Only then would I know how to help anyone else understand why stories and storytelling matter.

Stories are how we understand the world.

Stories are how we transmit ideas.

Stories are the building blocks of consciousness.

In compelling stories of growth and transformation, the hero may be may start the story as an innocent, but she is not without skills. (Rey flew the Millennium Falcon, didn’t she?) Instead, the journey is an awakening of latent powers and wisdom.

That’s what this journey into “what makes a strong story?” was for me - a chance to realize that I’d been a storyteller all along.

Ultimately, what I gained, in addition to confidence, was the ability to be a guide. And so, as I did what all modern entrepreneurial heroes do: I created an ebook.

(Do I see the irony that my heroes are Jedis and my great quest involves a subscription to LeadPages. Yes, but that’s a whole other story).

I wrote this guide for you, dear reader, and I would like you to read it. I want you to read it because I know you're a storyteller too (even if you haven't discovered your powers yet) and because I want you to tell your own Strong Stories too. 

Send Me My Free Guide

Does your business need a blog? Depends on what you need from your business

Sovereign Standard, Issue 16MG_Header_w_biline_hires I’m a frugal lass. I squeeze the toothpaste tube for a week longer than any sane person would and I still manage to have fresh breath.

If there’s still some meaning to be eked out of a revelation like “I gotta quit entrepreneurship,” I’m going to find it. I’m obligated to find it. (Yeah, I get that this can be obsessive, exhausting, and self-defeating.)

When you ask your business to ask less of you, how will you show up online?Then I’m going to spend a few hours crafting it into words. And then I am going to share it with my readers - even if the article doesn’t take me one inch closer to attracting copywriting clients or further my creative projects.

Blindness? Egomania? Fear of missing out?

Can we call it dedication? I’ve found a tribe who, like me, is feeling the crush of creative entrepreneurship and the idea just won’t leave me alone.

You’re downshifting from entrepreneurship into freelancing. It’s time to do the work that immediate rather than pioneering a visionary program or building a firm (at least for now).

Living and working like the creative-in-business you want to be may mean adjusting how you do business by offering the basic, 'useful' services.

This is why I am shifting my attention to offering the right people my copywriting and editing services while the 'real' creative work gestates in the dark for a while.

Read the rest of Burned Out? Maybe It’s Time to Split the Creative from the Professional

When it comes down to it, “don’t waste anything!” probably isn’t a good enough reason to keep writing about a concept that may or may not be aligned with personal and professional goals.

So I ask myself (in the way I know best - a piece of writing I intend to publish)  do I even need to keep blogging and sending out the Sovereign Standard if I’m redefining my relationship to my business?

As you ask your business to ask less of you, how will you show up online?

So, what if you are called to make a shift in how you relate to your business?

Tons of your behind the scenes habits and attitudes will change, but the hardest changes you make will relate to how you decide to show up online.

You know you still have to think about your visibility, consistency, and reputation. Even if you're happily shutting down a larger company, with creative dreams like yours, there's going to be a time when you want an audience who knows and loves you.

Over-hyped as it may seem, content marketing is key to building a business in 2015. It's key to building a creative platform as well. We hear about “the importance of creating compelling content, of all lengths, and across all platforms” from countless sources. Everybody’s doing it and if you’re serious about building a business or a platform as an author or thought leader, you have to do it too.

(Wait, is that really true?)

Not surprisingly, I do think writing is important - even essential. But, you don't blog because "they" say you must or because you think it's fun compete against mega stars and companies with mega budgets as everyone vie for the web surfers' finite attention.

You create written content because it supports your personal, professional, and creative growth. Ultimately, you need to establish a writing practice that gives back to you.

Must you write for your business (even if you’re scaling it back)?

You've got so much going on. You just want a break. The point is to devote creative energy to the work that matters, not to the marketing and the ephemeral blog posts...

Can you just quit?

As with most answers to important questions, there is no one single “should” when it comes to deciding how you’ll figure out how to show up after you change the rules to your own professional game.

Instead, there are just more questions. This is what I'm asking myself as I restructure my relationship with my work.

How do you write for a changed business? The practical marketing questions

  • Do I have enough contacts and other resources to pull in the clients I need without doing my own content marketing?
  • What do I blog about now that I am running a more “low key” business that’s built on my scale, not to be scalable?
  • Do the clients who hire a smart, competent freelancer want something different than clients who are investing with a creative entrepreneur?

Pause. Here's an answer to those last two questions:  Remember that clients don’t really care about what you call yourself as long as you get the work done. And readers don’t care either as long as you’re interesting and helpful.

A new opportunity to prioritize writing for business (or not) and to honor your creativity no matter what

Yes, no, maybe? Business writing is time consuming enough without adding the pressure of an existential blogging crisis on top of it all. Let's cut through the deliberation and establish what's most important:

If you still have to earn a livelihood as a self-employed person, you fundamentally need to focus on the income-generating activities that will sustain you today, tomorrow, and in the near future.

And, if you want to be the person you know you're mean to be you also need to honor and creative acts will nourish you today, tomorrow, and in the near future.

To that end, I'm going to ask myself these three questions before I sit down to write another word on any project.

  • Am I writing this for myself and/or to further my creative vision?
  • Am I writing this to win real business?
  • Am I writing this because part of me has been trained to equate “likes” and spikes in my site stats with approval?

Tell me, what other questions do you ask yourself as you decide how to spend your precious writing time. And if you have any answers? Glory, glory, they're more than welcome too!

Nutella on a Spoon (Or, Why Entrepreneurship Can Leave You Starving)

Sovereign Standard, Issue 15 MG_Header_w_biline_hires Every Thursday afternoon, I found myself at my kitchen island, trying not to get peanut butter and Nutella on my laptop. Mindlessly, I’d swallow spoonfuls of creamy fat as I massaged my weekly newsletter and blog post into a form I deem worthy of the creative entrepreneur.

Why Entrepreneurship Can Leave You Starving. Freelancing. Writing.By the time my daughter woke up from her nap in her carseat (I was writing and snacking with half an ear for the thin wail that would come through the propped door to the garage), I would have the post 85% written.

I would also feel 105% awful based on the crap in my stomach. Everything was curdled by the fear that I had wasted another perfectly good naptime on a piece of writing that was derivative or fraudulent. Though I still trust the quality and usefulness of what I produced, something was “off,” but I didn't dare name what it was.

(Yes, I was being hard on myself and yes, I would be incensed if any of my dear readers with their own business writing goals treated themselves so poorly.)

But I pushed on through indigestion and negativity and managed to click send on that email so it reached the Sovereign Standard audience by 11:35 AM ET on Friday.

I did this fourteen times. (Ok, so I published fourteen newsletters… my jeans still fit, so some weeks I must’ve satisfied myself with a cup of tea while I typed.)

I am pretty darn sure I am not going to do it anymore.

Why Entrepreneurship Is the Wrong Shaped Container

It’s spring. Our food, even if it’s imported from way too far away, seems to have a new vibrancy to it.

I want to be eating out of wide salad bowls. It’s time to start drinking from one of those smoothie cups that fall out of the cabinet every damn time I open it. I’m sick of sneaking into the pantry and stretching to reach the jar of goo that I stash behind the tarnished champagne bucket.

Yes, I’m done with palm oil and I am done with contorting myself into the shape of an entrepreneur just because it’s what I declared I would do when I quit my job five years ago.

Here’s the quick history of my entrepreneurship:

When I returned to work after my first daughter’s birth, I knew I had to get out of the windowless office where I spent my 9 - 5. Seven months later, my mom died of a totally unexpected heart attack. I gave my notice and declared I was starting my own business.

Five years on and now a mama to two, I am still straining to find the joy as a mother, a lover, a creative, AND the president Marisa Goudy Inc. (What is that, even?)

“An Entrepreneur Can Sell Anything” (Oh, Crap!)

This discomfort with “I’m an entrepreneur” has been around since the moment I took up the title, but it finally crystallized thanks to a conversation I had with Molly Morrissey, Traditional Astrologer and Vision Consultant.

As she put it, there are some people who are able to sell anything.

They’re not necessary unethical. They’re just able to see a need in the marketplace and craft the exact solution to make those people happy to pay them. (She mentioned something about a guy who sharpens pencils for a living.)

Molly inspired me to reconnect to what I already knew about myself:

I am a writer first. And a salesperson… never. At least not in a way that made me feel nourished and content.

Even as I’ve celebrated and explored creative entrepreneurship on this blog and with my clients, I’ve been haunted by my own late night kitchen breakdowns about never being enough. Most of the time, it has been impossible to be the mother, lover, and creative I wanted to be… not when my belly was full of leaden entrepreneurial dreams.

There’s so much about life that is bloody perfect, and for that I am grateful, but I just can’t keep relying on a sugar high to fuel my professional body of work.

I am no longer an entrepreneur So what they heck am I? So much moreTwo key things I just realized about my entrepreneurial journey:

  • I’m intensely grateful that the silver lining to the worst event in my life was leaving a job I hated
  • I’m intensely crazy to think that I need to stick with a decision that was made in the midst of soul shattering grief

I think entrepreneurs are the awesome engines of our economy and I love ‘em. There so much I get about them. I still want to support them and work with them.

I'm just not so sure I'm supposed to be one.

Entrepreneur Versus Freelancer (Eek, does it have to be so divisive?)

Somebody once told me that it’d take as much effort to build a $50K hours-for-money business as it would to build a $500K+ firm. Armed with that “wisdom” (though really, let’s call it BS), as an overachiever who’d declared her destiny, I was obligated to create something bigger than myself.

After five years, I finally know that I have been feeding myself from the wrong source.  And I am bound to starve eventually.

Not only is entrepreneurship about building something bigger than yourself, it’s about devising ways to make money while you sleep, building something investable and scaleable and sellable, and supporting a staff.

I’m able to pull that definition straight from memory, but a good writer researches (or starts Googling stuff she already knows as an act of procrastination) and I found this seven year old blog post from Seth Godin:

The goal of a freelancer is to have a steady job with no boss, to do great work, to gradually increase demand so that the hourly wage goes up and the quality of gigs goes up too.

The goal of the entrepreneur is to sell out for a lot of money, or to build a long-term profit machine that is steady, stable and not particularly risky to run.

In my heart, all I was ever aiming for was that life of a freelancer… I wanted freedom, steadiness, greatness, and quality. “Selling out for a lot of money” sounds nice... for other people.

The Courage to “Just” Be Free to Work in the Sweet Spot

There are a million people who’ve left the soul crushing job, whether it’s rat race corporate or ho-hum non-profit, to chase that entrepreneurial dream. What’s true for me - and for you? - is that the entrepreneurial container can be just as cruelly and impractically shaped as the salaried shlep.

Another part of that powerful conversation with Molly (she does this stuff for a living by the way, so do check her out) was to sit with my assertion:

“If I stopped doing my business as it is right now, I would be a failure.”

Molly handled my feelings around this with such mastery, it was abundantly clear that I’m not the only who believes something so damaging - and so stupid.

For me, to change course after five years would be a declaration of defeat… and failure. I had planted the pole of entrepreneurship and claimed my little patch of land, dammit. Who cares if it offered a meager harvest and the only greens that sprang up came from the poison envy plant?

She threw herself into the fire of entrepreneurship so many timesI threw myself into the fire of entrepreneurship so many times that I stopped feeling the burns. I convinced myself that I was a phoenix rather than a woman who had been charred to a crisp by a work life I didn’t want.

Rejecting “Entrepreneur” Isn’t Just Semantics

I have been misusing the “e” word, even though, deep down, I knew better.

Shame on me as a writer for being imprecise, but I think there’s a collective fog around the term.

“Mom entrepreneur,” for example. Surely that ubiquitous phrase contributes to the confusion since many in that club are freelancers or multi-level marketers or crafters selling their own wares.

Like so many, I started to throw that word around as if it just meant “earning a living & being your own boss” rather than “building an enterprise that can be scaled and sold.”

Everything felt true as I wrote it - I still stand by pieces like this one and this one. Apparently, as I talked about "entrepreneurship" I was thinking about the adventure of creating one’s own livelihood, not about the reality of venture capital.

But this is what I know to be true, and it goes beyond word choice:

When every day you spend as an entrepreneur is measured against some dream of growing beyond yourself when all you really want to do is be who you are, you’re poisoning yourself.

When you buy into that grand entrepreneurial mission and realize that it takes too much and still doesn’t feed your passions (or your family) but still push on anyway you are setting yourself up for failure.

Blah, Blah, Blah Personal Epiphany… Now What?

I am writing this post to explore this new self-knowledge. I am publishing it because I can’t seem to sit on this revelation because everything suddenly looks so different.

And I’m sharing it because I don't think I’m alone in this.

Right now, I am full of more questions than answers and more possibilities than anything else as I consider trading the “e” word for the “f” word.

No, Really, If Not Entrepreneurship, Then What?

If freelancing soothes the soul and fills the piggy bank (if not the corporate coffers), bring it on. I’m seeking “enough” right now. I’m seeking a way to bring in an income and exert my creativity.

Thing is, it may be time for me to stop trying so hard to tangle up the two. "Creative Entrepreneurship" sounds like such a delicious combination, but in practice, it's a dodgy mash up.

Freelancing. Finding a work-from-home J-O-B. Some other way to use my writing to pay the bills that I can’t even dare imagine yet... I’m staying open.

If I can take the money stress out of each day and if I can stop trying to leverage my creative output into something bigger than myself... that seems like how I need to nourish myself right now.

This Thursday afternoon I went straight for my emergency stash of kombucha. I knew I deserved the life enhancing nectar of that tea, something that resonated with hope and promise of self care - not nasty comfort calories.

Tell me I'm not alone in this.

I  want to know if you’ve been starving parts of yourself thanks to the seductive soul crush of entrepreneurship - and whether it has been pushing you to your own unhealthy coping mechanisms, like Nutella on a spoon.

Is it time for you to feed yourself and the people you love from a just-the-right-sized container? I want to hear your stories… I think many bellies are rumbling with this truth. Is yours?

As Entrepreneurs, As Writers, As Mothers: What's "Enough"?

As entrepreneurs, as writers, as mothers, what's enough?One of my girls had an accident this weekend. Though it was terrifying at the time, it ended up being relatively minor. Now I can claim a parenting merit badge my mom never earned: held my daughter as she got stitched up. It was an accident, yes, but it could have been prevented. I could have had my hands on the kids instead of sitting inch beyond an arm’s length away. I could have said “no, honey a five year old isn’t big enough to carry her one year old sister yet.”

But I didn’t.

And we ended up at the emergent care center, covered in blood - and sidewalk chalk and dirt from what was supposed to be a typical Saturday spent in a yard just awakening to spring.

We’re so proud of our girl for healing so quickly and handling it all so well. And I’m pleased to report that I’ve emerged from shame’s shadows. Truthfully, the horrible guilt dissipated within twenty-four hours. (Likely that’s because much of the swelling did too).

No longer blinded by self-recrimination, I can simply hold my little one tight, overcome with gratitude and rendered speechless by how precious she is to me.

Yes, gravity won in that split second, but I forgive myself.

I’ve decide that I am mother enough for my daughter - even if I’m woefully and beautifully imperfect.

 So that’s the question: how do you know what “enough” is? And how do you peacefully maintain that state of “enoughness” when you find it?

This isn’t just a question for moms with accident-prone kids - it’s a question for everyone trying to balance priorities and keep the whole enterprise from teetering into disaster.

As I understand it, the secret to contentment and enoughness - especially when it comes to motherhood and entrepreneurship and maintaining a writing practice - is in finding balance.

Balance Isn’t About 50/50. It’s About Enoughness.

Balance isn't about 50/50, it's about enoughnessI know balance triggers people (“balance is a myth!” and “balance is BS!”), but I wish we could reclaim it. Balance is essential - but we don’t often realize that until it fails and someone ends up in the ER.

The iconic Scales of Justice have brainwashed us into perceiving balance as a 50/50 or nothing proposition, but why do we trust a blindfolded statue with something so fundamental to our happiness and success?

Balance is not about giving half our effort to work and half to play. It certainly isn’t about giving half our time to business and half family (unless that’s really the right mix for you).

 As I understand it, balance is a much more rewarding, complex equation. It requires heart math I could never do in my head.

Balance is about reaching the end of each day saying "I am enough."

You may have told your partner you had too much work to do to come to bed on time. You may have blown off a writing deadline because you needed to play outside until sunset. OK. Try again tomorrow.

The essence of balance isn’t in recreating the same pie chart every day. Each portion of your life may not always get its precise allotment of resources.

Balance is about knowing what slices of pie you need to serve, and what slices you need to save. You're in balance when you can honor your commitments and ensure everyone (including you!) is getting enough.

When Everything Gets the Perfect Amount of Attention

When Everything Gets the Perfect AmountIf I over-mother I start to drive myself - and my children - crazy. Most likely trying to overcompensate for something that has nothing to do with parenting, I hover and hug until we all get stressed and fatigued by a mama who is trying too hard.

And if I push mothering off to the side, whatever I focus on instead - like client tasks and writing deadlines - it never gets my best work.

When everything gets the perfect amount of attention, everyone feels like they’ve been seen and supported. I go to bed full of gratitude, sure that I’ve been of service and certain that I have access to the help I need.

I won’t presume to give you advice on how to do the heart math about how much time to spend with your babies or your novel or your lover, but I know something about how to decide how much attention to offer to the different kinds of writing you do for your business.

How to Prioritize Your Business Writing Commitments

Foundational Website Content, Email Marketing, the Book Project, Blogging, and Social Media: How Much Attention Does Each Deserve?

How to Prioritize Your Business Writing Commitments: Foundational Content, Email Marketing, the Book Project, Blogging, and Social MediaEveryone's business writing pie is going to be divided differently. You'll determine how to spend your writing time and resources depending on how well you've established your business's story, your individual goals, and the size and responsiveness of your audience.

I've ranked the six writing tasks below by their general importance to your visibility and sales.

Remember, the goal is a sense of balance and “enoughness”! You. Don’t. Need. To. Do. It. All.

To prioritize your writing commitments, just make educated choices based on where you are now and where you want to be six months or a year from now.

  1. The website copy that clearly expresses who you are, what you offer, and who you serve
  2. The opt-in offer (eg. a special report or a “mini course” you deliver over email) that proves your expertise and acts as the first step in the clients' buying journey
  3. The weekly or at least bi-monthly messages to your email list
  4. The book project that gives you an opportunity to explore and expand your theories and stories
  5. The regular blog posts that boost your visibility and prove your credibility to the first-time website visitor who wants to know your work is current and your business is vibrant (stick guest posting and article writing into this category too)
  6. The social media posts that remind your community about the great things you do

Reorder the list based on your own personal pie. Here are a few additional ideas to help you set your writing priorities:

#1: your website copy is a non-negotiable top priority. If people spend a minute reading your site and say “Looks great…. but what do you do?” then you're wasting your time on items 2 through 6.

#2: your opt in offer is often put on the back burner, but if you want to build an email list (something you need if you expect your online efforts to make money), you need this sooner rather than later.

#3: your ongoing email marketing is the essential follow up to your opt-in offer. The people who open your emails are most likely to buy from you, so treat these individuals like the valued community members they are. (Keep in mind you can often combine this with your commitment to blogging!)

#4: a book project may not even make the list (which is totally fine!). But if it does , you can never expect to get it done if it’s less important than blogging and Facebook.

#5: blogging is great - but it’s also completely overrated if you’re focusing on weekly posts or guest posts rather than a homepage that invites people to dive deeper and crystal clear services page that gets them to pull out the credit card.

And #6... We’ve come of age as social media users and finally realize that “likes” aren’t anything more than a number. Use your social media reach as a tool to bring people back to the writing that matters - the web content that reveals your Sovereign Story.

Again: the goal is balance and enoughness. You don't need to do every item on this list and you don't need to apportion your writing resources in the same way every day.  

But, as I promise to neither over-mother nor shortchange my kids on the love and attention they need, please promise me you won't lavish your attention on the writing tasks that don't matter at the expense of the projects that tell the core story of your business.

Not sure what to put first when it comes to writing for your business? Let’s set up a free 15 minute conversation to assess where you are and decide how to best invest your writing energy.