Ten days ago, brown Kelly Moore bag slung across my shoulder, I boarded a snug plane in frosty Duluth, utimately bound for Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
About sixty attendees, mostly women & a few gentlemen, descended upon the lush, leafy community of Chapel Hill for a two-day conference called Making Things Happen. I’ll spare you the full details, but you can read more about the conference itself here.
In a nutshell, Making Things Happen (MTH) is about taking your life & your business to the next level. It’s about owning who you are & what matters most to you (also known as your core), and taking action on that core. MTH means different things to each attendee — what’s important is what you take away from the experience. And, more importantly, how you act on it.
MTH began with Lara Casey, founder & editor of Southern Weddings magazine, branding consultant, speaker, mama & wife, and your biggest cheerleader. Lara, along with Emily Ley and Gina Zeidler, have together led (I believe) fifty-some MTH intensives over the past several years.
My initial touch with MTH came through Gina, our wedding photographer. Occasionally, she’d post about this “Making Things Happen” business. Out of pure curiosity, I followed the breadcrumbs to Lara, Emily & the MTH website.
Beyond running passionate creative businesses, these women are so real. They’re honest about the struggle — the “ugly.” They’re also brimming with wisdom, but they didn’t give us magic-bullet answers. The big secret is this: There is no big secret to success & full living. They did, however, impart tools & tricks to bring our ideas to fruition. They were, in a word, inspiring.
1. My business & personal life can not be wholly independent; they must fuel one another. My personal life must serve my business, and vice versa.
2. Big, sexy boundaries are beautiful. When I say boundaries, I mean: Setting my alarm twice daily for email checking, and that’s it. No more checking (“Gasp!” you say). Or, declaring office hours & stickin’ to ’em. Keeping family time sacred & respecting the same for my clients. Finally, enforcing social media-free weekends. Talk about an instant boost in contentment! I went social media-free last weekend, and it was surprisingly effortless once I accepted the challenge.
3. Fear is okay. Repeat: Fear is okay. What’s not okay is letting that fear dictate your actions (or lack thereof). “Feel the fear & do it anyway” (remember these words, Bailey. Preach it!).
4. Embrace the ugly. Give a big ol’ bear hug to that lingering doubt or worry. When hit with a wall of doubt, I stop for ten seconds & envision the worst-case scenario (I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but honestly, this trick works for me). I ask myself, “What if…my business fails/I don’t meet my goals/etc.?” In reality, the absolute worst-case scenario is not so dark & doom-filled. If for some reason my business went belly-up, I would still have my health, my family, and a supportive network of people who believe in me. I would have my heart & my passion. And no one can take that away from me. Life would go on, and I’d bounce right back, perhaps even stronger than before.
5. “Your playing small does not serve the world.” Read that statement again: “Your playing small does not serve the world.” — perhaps one of my favorite quotes scrawled in my messy MTH notebook. Talk about resonating with my heart at this very moment! I want this quote calligraphed, chalk-arted, gold-foiled, and plastered all over my walls. I say the following at the risk of sounding like a corny life coach: Big dreams are not meant to sit on a shelf collecting dust. You’ll inspire others simply by living & loving largely –by pursuing your calling & those giant dreams. Hint: They are achievable. Nothing is impossible.
Upon landing back home in Duluth, I felt just as expected: overwhelmed with intentions. Uncertain of where to begin. Full, but shaky from the past few emotional days. Even still, I’m working through my action steps set forth at the conference. A couple of my larger projects are playing Boogeyman with me, threatening to send me scurrying back under the security blanket. Baby steps, little-by-little. More to come. There is so much more to come.
Some final parting words to myself, to my fellow attendees, to you: Remember, the joy is in the journey. Take time to savor the process. Your life is no magic bullet; the growth is in the journey. Your strength comes from this journey.
Rule out excuses; your life is too precious to play small. Start now. Start today.