How Motherhood Made Me a Risk Taker

photos by naomi johnson

As I type out the title of this post, I’m giggling a bit. I used to think I was a huge risk taker – I mean I moved to new states, gambled on some decisions. What I’ve learned is that was more spontaneity rather than risk taking. It was more, “sure! What the hell, I’m down for anything!”

Taking risks is different – taking risks mean that you do something, knowing full well that you may lose or fail, but you do it anyway.

Something changes in you when you become a mother. I still can’t quite put my finger on it, but I’m just not the same person I was before. I enjoy the same things, but I enjoy them more deeply. I value time spent rather than money spent. I feel less shame about silly things. I feel calmer, more at peace and at the same time worried sick and fraught with anxiety about the unknown.

One thing that I can grasp is how little I care about outside opinions anymore. Mommy guilt is a real thing, but I read a book not long ago that put this into perspective for me, too. The book essentially said that there are women in the world who would give anything to be able to provide a good life for their child. So if you’re a working mom, or just a mom that needs a break from mommy-ing, just know that you are blessed to be able to do so! In addition, I truly believe that no matter the mom and no matter the situation, God made you your baby’s mom because He knew you would be the best mom for your baby. No one else will ever love Finn and Reese like I do, and that’s why I was blessed to have them be mine!

The biggest thing motherhood gave me was the freedom from other’s opinions. This alone let me feel comfortable in my new role as mom, but in my role as wife, my role as friend, sister, daughter… you get the idea. It also allowed me to see more clearly the direction I wanted to take my life. Without the worry of what others thought, I’ve been able to make decisisons based on what I want and what is best for my family.

Motherhood has given me a confidence in myself that I never knew I had. This confidence has allowed me to start a business, meet new people and try new things simply because my focus is on what really matters in life.

Quitting my job was the biggest risk I’ve taken in my entire life. I left a “sure thing”, a great income, healthcare, the respect of my colleagues to go out on my own. The motive behind this? To spend more time with my kids! Even on days when I question my move and wonder if entrepreneurship is really for me, I remember that I’ll never regret spending this time with my kids.

I wonder if other moms feel the same way. Did motherhood change you? Did you become more “yourself” in the role?

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Why We Are Getting Debt Free

debt free

David is probably rolling his eyes at the very title of this blog post! However, becoming debt free is by far the biggest change in our marriage this year, and to not talk about it seems weird.

When I left my job earlier this year, David and I took a long hard look at our situation to ensure that financially we could afford to take a hit for a few months while I build a business. It seemed possible and, therefore, I made the leap. But during our digging we started paying closer attention to where our money was going, and we weren’t happy about it.

When the comfort of a steady paycheck is taken away, it wakes you up a bit. Finances, like anything in life, can become passive. Everything is on autopilot nowadays – direct deposit into your account, paper-free auto-withdrawals to pay bills, you never actually see the money. It can be convenient, but it can also cause bad habits.

Around the same time, I was reading a book by Rachel Hollis. She wrote a bit about getting debt free and quoted this guy named Dave Ramsey. I honestly didn’t give it a second listen at first because being debt free wasn’t even an idea that I thought was possible let alone something we could achieve.

But as you start taking control of one part of your life, a funny thing happens – you start wanting to take control of all parts of your life. I started getting intentional about setting goals. One day, I sat down and wrote out where I saw our lives five and ten years from now. Among other things, I saw us being business owners, investing in real estate to flip, and eventually putting our children through college with money we’ve saved. I had always said that I didn’t want Finn and Reese to have the weight of student loans when they graduated, but I also joked that I’d still be paying off my college by the time they went to school.

It dawned on me that many of my five, ten, twenty year goals required financial freedom. So one day on my walk I turned on Dave Ramsey’s podcast and realized that within two years, David and I could be completely free from debt.

When I brought this idea back to my husband, he thought I was crazy – and he still does. However, when I told him why I wanted to get rid of our debt, he started to see the bigger picture. He listened to a few of the podcasts and started to realize that it was possible as long as we started to pay attention.

I called my mom later that day and asked her to buy us Financial Peace University as an early anniversary gift. Much to David’s chagrin, we sat down that night at watched the lesson on budgeting and then about getting debt free. Afterwards, David got up, grabbed our credit cards and cut them in half. That night we were able to pay off two of our smallest debts with money we had in savings. It was game on.

We’ve been working this plan for about three months now. The first two months we sucked at budgeting! This month, our primary focus is to stay on budget with the idea being that we know where every single dollar is going each month, and anything extra goes to pay off debt. As I mentioned earlier, with today’s calculations, we will be debt free in two years!

I don’t know if I’m comfortable talking about how much debt we have at this point, simply because there’s a lot of shame associated with it. I know when the day comes that we pay it all off, I will gladly share how much debt we no longer have. At this point, we are fairly “normal” – car payments, credit cards and student loans. We will have both cars paid off before the end of the year!

By focusing on our finances, David and I have had to have a lot of tough conversations. We also know there will be a lot of sacrifice in the coming years, but by the time Finn goes to kindergarten our lives will look dramatically different!

I will be sharing more of our #DebtFreeJourney over the coming months. I’ve learned so much about finances, investing, and budgeting. However the biggest thing for us is the why! When we see our future it’s full of fun vacations and great experiences! We are willing to sacrifice now for all of that down the road.

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How To Get Sh*t Done

productivity hacks
photos by naomi johnson

Motivation. Ambition. Avoiding procrastination. Feeling accomplished. Productivity.

Are these feelings as fleeting for you as they are for me?

As I enter my six month of self-employment, I’ve had to come up with some new ways to keep myself motivated and to continue to work towards my goals. A year ago, if I gave myself a slack day, I would still come home with the same paycheck as the previous week. Now, if I don’t get work done, I don’t make money at all. If that’s not a motivator in itself, I don’t know what is.

However, in the moments when you feel like you’re spinning your wheels or when you’d just rather take a nap, what keeps you going? It’s easy when you land the client or when you send your invoice out, but what about all of those other mundane moments?

productivity hacks

Goal Tracking

The idea of setting goals is not foreign to me. However, the idea of working towards them is. Goals for me were always somewhat attainable – graduate college, get a job, buy a house. These may have taken longer than expected, but they happened. The reason? I was intentional about them. And they probably would have happened faster had I tracked my progress along the way.

Goal tracking is now one of my favorite things to do.

Each month, I write down a list of things I want to accomplish in the next four weeks. I get really specific…and I include every single aspect of my life. Here’s an example of my goals for the month of July:

Scout Creative

  • Land two new clients
  • Be set up to earn $5,000 in August
  • Write one blog post each Wednesday
  • Grow my email list by 10%

Simple and Inspired

  • Grow pageviews by 10% of last month
  • Grow Instagram to over 3000 followers
  • Get one new partnership with a brand

Kids

  • Get Finn enrolled in preschool
  • Get Reese to take a bottle
  • Be patient and rational

Me

  • Stick to marathon training
  • Drink water

Marriage

  • Stay within budget
  • Pay off next debt
  • Be an excellent wife
  • Read new book

I have these goals written down in my monthly planner. Every morning I revisit them. I check in to see if I’ve made any progress or accomplished any. I then create a list for my day based on my monthly goals. This list is a to-do of sorts that will help get me closer to achieving the goals. Sometimes, the goal has an actionable item, other times, it causes me to pause and think first. Either way, I make sure that by month’s end, I’ve accomplished as much, if not all, of the items on my list.

productivity hacks

Staying Accountable

Being accountable for these goals is solely up to me. And truly, if I don’t feel like it, then I don’t need to do anything. But where’s the fun in that?

In addition to monthly goals, I have my yearly goals, five year goals and even ten year goals. When I first decided to become self-employed, I read a lot of professional development books that encouraged me to do this. I started “dreaming in HD” and writing down my future as specifically as I can think of it! It sounds corny, but it’s actually fun to do. I know each day, my small list of five items gets me closer to each of those bigger goals, and that’s pretty exciting, too.

productivity hacks

Set the Scene

When I’m not feeling motivated by my goals alone, I like to set the scene. This usually consists of a big cup of coffee, a snack, some familiar music, and a table and chair with a back on it. A simple change of scenery does my mind good.

I like to diffuse my essenital oils – usually motivation or a citrus blend – and set a timer for 20 minutes. I dive into work for that amount of time, and usually, when the timer is up, I’m so engulfed in what I’m doing I continue to be productive. It’s a little mind trick I play on myself! I do it when I go running, too. I tell myself that if I just get a little bit further, I can stop to run. But by the time I get further, I want to keep going to see how much more I can run!

Rest

This may seem counter intuitive, but nothing makes me more productive than a day of rest. Sometimes, I beat myself up so much just to get something accomplished, that I stress out and get absolutely nothing done instead. However, after a day of resting and not thinking about work, one of two things happen: either I feel guilty that I didn’t get work done and work harder to make up for it, or I feel refreshed and focused and ready to take on anything!

What are you tips for staying motivated?

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It’s Okay To Admit It’s Hard

The last thing I want to portray on this blog or in any aspect of my life is that I have a perfect life. I don’t! I get stressed out, I lose sleep over silly things, David and I argue, my kids drive me nuts, and I have more student loan debt than I care to admit. Guess that just makes me …. normal.

We’re in this era where a snapshot can seem to define your life. Social media can cause you to feel like you aren’t keeping up or that someone on the internet has a better life than you. And it’s not surprising that folks are suffering with depression and anxiety at higher rates than ever before. 

Initially, this post was going to be about motherhood. About how as a mom, it’s okay to admit that you’re having a tough season, or that you don’t necessarily enjoy the parenting thing. That’s how I felt in the months following Finn’s birth. It was a shock to my system. My life as I knew it was over. And it was hard.

I learned to love my new role over time. However, I still have moments where I want the freedom and the silence and the sleep. I am taking Reese to business meetings, because that’s just my reality. And as thankful as I am that people are happy to accept that she comes everywhere with me, I also wish she didn’t have to come everywhere with me.

I love my life today, and I wouldn’t want it to be any other way, but sometimes it’s just hard. Some days, I wish for bedtime more often than I care to admit. Some days, I scroll aimlessly through my phone instead of paying attention to my kids. Some days, I lose my patience and get upset with Finn over things he doesn’t understand. Some days, I just want to have time with my husband and forget about everything else. Because it’s hard.

Like I said, this post was supposed to be just about motherhood, but I realized as I started writing it that this notion of admitting that things can be difficult goes way beyond parenthood.

Breakups are hard. Like the worst.

Job hunting can be soul sucking. And the rejection is the worst feeling in the world.

Marriage is hard. Spoiler alert – love doesn’t conquer all. Communication does. And sometimes, you can both suck at communicating.

Paying bills is hard. And stressful. And getting old really fast.

The moral of the story is life is hard. And messy. And heartbreaking. And full of struggle. And if you can’t admit that, I promise things are only going to be harder and much lonelier.

The good thing is that all of these difficult seasons have an end to them. It’s not always going to be hard. And when you get past these seasons, you come out with a fresh perspective, and a little bit stronger. And the best part? Having hard times make you appreciate the good times even more!

So, just in case you are struggling with something and sitting there thinking “gosh, this is hard” just remember that it’s okay to feel that way. Give yourself a little grace. Sooner than you realize, things will be less difficult!

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The Real Reason I Quit My Job

photos by naomi johnson

Gosh. Are you getting sick of me talking about why I quit my job yet? I know, it’s not that big, radical thing. Except that, in my life, it is.

You see, I once defined success as some definite. That one day, I would reach a successful position in a successful company and bring home a successful-person’s salary and blah blah blah.

Been there. Did that.

The story starts in 2014 when I got laid off from the worst job I ever had and ultimately started back at zero. That summer I lived at home with my parents and worked for my dad. I applied to every job I could find on the internet. I started this blog that year, too. My self-esteem took a hit. Looking back now, I realize getting laid off was a blessing in disguise, but then it felt like the biggest gut punch of my life. I had zero confidence in the workplace and never thought for a million years that I would be successful.

But then I got a new job with a great salary and in my desired location. In four and a half years, I built something out of nothing, and thoroughly enjoyed the work.

Because of that job my self-esteem crept back. I started feeling confident again and a little voice that had always been there got louder and louder. “Hey, Erica. Are you gonna start this business or are you gonna wait around and let other people control how success is defined?”

Okay, maybe the voice didn’t say that, but it did start asking more questions!

I always had this entrepreneurial itch. I wanted to build something that was just mine and use my skills to help other businesses thrive. It wasn’t some distant dream either. My dad is an entrepreneur as are several of my aunts and uncles. I knew I could do it, and when the timing was right, I jumped.

You see, I was always supposed to be doing this! I was always meant to own Scout Creative and blog and brainstorm new crazy ideas each day and make them a reality! I just needed a little confidence boost, and when I felt like my wounds had healed, I quit my job.

It’s funny, because my life has come full circle. Back in 2014 when I was laid off, I was in the exact situation I’m in today! No steady paycheck, no employer. The difference is this time I’m in complete control and feel more successful than I did at my previous job! I think the universe was trying to nudge me back then, but I just wasn’t ready yet.

Life is all about perspective!

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