2017 Recap: My Year of Letting It Be Easy

by | Dec 21, 2017 | Blog, Do What You Love, Escape the 9-5, Freedom Business, Freedom Lifestyle, Screw The Cubicle TV | 0 comments

It’s time for this year’s ‘roll-up’!

There has been so many changes within myself and my business that I found it quite difficult to put one year’s worth of lessons into one blog post.

So I decided to summarize it into how a guiding theme helped me to experience an incredible (but also difficult) year that included removing old habits that no longer served my new vision, adopting a healthier perspective on success, and getting out of my own way.

Every year, I choose a North Star theme to represent what I want to experience in the year.

Last year, my theme was ‘Expansion’. Take a lookie-look at my last year’s review to see what I learned.

This year (the year 2017, if you are reading this in the future), I chose this theme:

Let It Be Easy.

Now, this sounds a lot easier and a gorgeous statement to say, but hell, for a perfectionist overachiever like me, it was anything but easy.

You see, I grew up thinking that anything worth pursuing and how I can feel successful is to do ALL the things.

Cram in as much research as I can before making a move. Make everything perfect before I ‘ship’.

Though that old habit and tactic has ‘worked’ for me in the past (i.e. getting results, making money, hitting my goals), here’s what also happened:

I had to work SO hard to get to where I wanted to go.

2017 has taught me that sometimes the road to success doesn’t have to feel hard

A lot of it was changing my mindset of making things difficult to feel that I deserved success. Can any of you relate?

I had looked at tactics done so well by my competitors and colleagues in my industry, and it overwhelmed me to ‘have’ to do the things they’re doing.

Get better at funnels. Amp up my social media presence. Write great featured articles. Learn the secrets of email marketing.

I took a pause, and started to think to myself (in the midst of panic and anxiety), “How can I let this be easy?”

What were truly the simplest and easiest way I can generate more revenue without resorting to the next ‘biggest thing’ in marketing?

I decided to make a plan that was doable, easily actionable, and organic. And helped me to fall back in love with my work, earn more, and do less things that felt like ‘should’s’.

Here’s what I did to help me get there.

Learning #1: Move With Imperfect Action & Get ‘Scarecited’

‘Scarecite’ t-shirts made by Daniel Lim for our 90 Day Launch crew

Scarecited – adjective: About to do great things.

Every day we have ideas that can change our lives.

Have you ever thought about doing something that gave you a pang of excitement, but then immediately followed by a jolt of scary fear?

Most of us feel that fear, and mistakenly take it as a reason to not pursue our first instinct of excitement towards that idea.

The truth is, your big ideas that are WORTH pursuing feel exactly that – scary + exciting!

When I facilitated the 90 Day Launch program this year, this was a running theme amongst the participants. Every single one of them felt both scared and excited about their projects.

Including myself.

As I was guiding the 90 day launchers to create their big idea projects, I myself was in the midst of getting brave to completely change my own business model for Screw The Cubicle.

You see, for years, I’ve relied on my time, attention, and one-to-one intimacy to give value and make money in my business.

However, after 4 years, I realized one thing this year: I didn’t want to coach one-to-one anymore, and have WAY more fun bringing a community to learn together.

I didn’t want Screw The Cubicle to be the ‘Lydia show’ every time. I wanted the collective intelligence of a community to support, guide, and share with one another. I wanted more for the people I wanted to help that’s beyond myself as the only answer key.

But this scared the shit out of me. It almost felt…lazy.

In my version of success that has gotten my business to where it is today, it had always been me at the forefront. I couldn’t imagine what it would feel like to actually step back and let others ‘run the show’.

But there was one thing I knew. The more I waited to do something scary, the more I talk myself out of things.

I decided to test my hypothesis of why creating a community based learning program and ditch my ‘tried and tested’ one-on-one coaching packages for a new model in 2018.

Learning to move with IMPERFECT action was key to building something that felt new and uncomfortable. What I really found helpful to have more confidence in trying something new was to put things out there quickly, and to do it without things being ‘perfect.

Done is better than perfect.

I conducted interviews with my community, asked them what I should create that wasn’t available anywhere else, and what frustrated them about doing things alone.

I tested the assumption of better results when a community of people work together in huddles by launching an impromptu 90 Day Mastermind after hearing participants of the 90 Day Launch express how much they need accountability and people support after that program ended.

I utilized all the live group programs I ran this year to experiment with coworking sessions, hotseat huddles, and small group learning dynamics to see if people actually got shit done more successfully.

And it worked.

My customers were more productive, more engaged, and more focused on creating results for their side hustles.

And most importantly, I was having FUN. I had more time to work on the business instead of constantly in it. I felt so much more confident moving into my new flagship offering of a community-based learning program to replace my one-to-one coaching next year.

The Academy of Cubicle Crashers was born.

Does it still scare me to launch a brand new model, doing less, but believing it’ll give more to my customers? Hell yes.

But the idea of this also excites me. To spend my time bringing more like-minded people together, curating community leaders to facilitate with me, and build something bigger than myself – this feels good.

KEY LEARNING:

“How can I let this be easy?”

My Big Learning: Trust my initial instincts, test the hypothesis in bite-sized ways, and focus only on the things that I enjoy doing most.

How you can implement this learning in your life: Ask yourself, “What ideas have scared and excited me at the same time?” How can you test a small version of that idea to experiment with it? What bite-sized ‘imperfect action’ can you put out there today to bring this idea to reality?

Learning #2: Make Conscious Micro-Decisions…Often

This year, I had to make some bold moves. And make those decisions faster than ever before.

This is not easy for an overthinker like me.

When I started 2017, I made an agreement with myself that I would only create things organically this year. What did that mean? I was going to let go of control, listen more to what my community asked for, and create things based on feedback.

As an ultra planner, this goes against everything I knew how to do.

However, I knew I wanted to make 2017 an experimental year. To slowly shift from the trade of my time, to building a community-based model in the near future. I wanted to use 2017 as a guinea pig year for beta testing versions of how I can envision my business becoming in 2018.

This was scary.

This required me to ‘ship’ before I’m ready. This also means I had to eliminate business pornography a.k.a. looking at other people’s businesses, put horse blinders on, and focus my attention on my own damn path.

When everyone out there in the same stage of business as I was in were beating the drum of more Facebook ads, creating fool-proof funnels, and automating the shit out of their business, none of that felt like what I wanted to do.

I took a pause. What if all those ‘formulas’ out there weren’t MY formula?

What do I need to do instead that would allow me to use my own unique strengths to get to the results I truly desired?

I decided to look at all the micro decisions I was making day to day, and be very conscious about why I wanted to do something vs. what I ‘should’ do.

These micro decisions, no matter how small, absolutely changed the way I made choices in my business and life.

Things like…

Stop trying to learn Facebook ads, and instead, focus on my strengths of real conversations with people as my sales process.

Stop worrying about whether my email funnels had a big conversion rate, and instead, commit to teaching free webinars to attract customers.

Stop waiting until I had a fully done program to launch something, instead, ask my community “What’s next?” for them, and open the doors for enrolment with simply a basic outline.

Stop getting angry at the media for blowing things out of proportion when Bali had a volcano scare that totally cancelled my second intake of Your Next Big Thing Retreat, and instead, provide an incentive for people to come on new dates (and replace that anticipated revenue that month with a small mini mastermind program so I’m not in the hole).

Stop procrastinating on moving to Portugal for 2 months just because I’ll have to stay up till 1am to facilitate a program in that timezone, and instead, book that ticket and accept the short term pain for the gain of travelling somewhere I’ve been wanting to be in for a long time.

All these micro decisions made quickly, and often, allowed me to stop overthinking every possible scenario, and get moving.

Every moment I wasted overplanning, procrastinating, and trying to get everything ‘perfect’, I could’ve spent actually doing the thing and finding out whether it would work.

It is in the doing, where clarity is born.

KEY LEARNING:

“How can I let this be easy?”

My Big Learning: I have to give myself deadlines to make decisions on important things in my life. Without it, I extend the struggle of being in ‘limbo’. Every time I make micro decisions often, I release the space to be creative elsewhere.

How you can implement this learning in your life: Ask yourself, “What’s the one thing I have to make a firm decision on even if it may fail?” What do you have to go ‘all in’ towards to break free from analysis paralysis? How can you shift your mindset from being afraid to fail, and using each decision you make as a path to clarity for the things you want to do most?

Learning #3:  Give People the Most Powerful Conversation They’ve Ever Had

Last year, I read an amazing book called The Prosperous Coach by Rich Litvin. I highly recommend this book whether or not you believe you are a coach or are building a coaching practice.

Everyone has an ‘inner coach’.

If you are someone who value helping others do bigger things with their lives in any capacity, do yourself a favour and pick this up. It will change how you see your impact, and get more grounded on your approaches for your business (and not rely on cheap marketing tricks).

A big message I learned that changed my business approach was this:

Give people the most powerful conversation they’ve ever had.

I put this into action by giving double the time during my free discovery calls (sometimes 60 minutes to even 90 minutes), and treated that call as if it was a paid client.

I told this to a guy who was a digital strategist at an event I was speaking at, and he said I was ‘behind the times’ of automation and doing way too much work. He could barely believed I survived all these years without paid ads.

But here’s what happened.

My conversion rate from discovery call to paid client raised to almost 85% from this simple shift in mindset. People were saying, “If the free call was THIS powerful, I can’t wait to start working with you”.

This method, however ‘old school’ or un-automated as it seems, works.

Why? Two reasons.

My style and approach has always been about intimacy. I did best when I was in front of people or spending time with them. I could not show my best self when my entire business relies on technology and tools.

And most importantly, people have always been attracted to my brand because of my commitment to personalization and intimacy. I had to stay true to this approach, and not fall into the trap of being like everyone else.

With every marketing guru out there telling you to create funnels, email marketing strategies, and whatever is the hottest trend in the market, nothing replaces REAL CONVERSATIONS.

While everyone is out there hacking their way into building a list, start with a small list, and give as many leads as you can a 100% of your attention. Do more for them, even when they haven’t paid yet.

Focusing on building real relationships in my business without resorting to tactics and tricks has completely changed my business.

{Check out this awesome Medium article on how service-based businesses need to step up and show up to avoid being crushed}

How did I benefit from simply changing the way I communicated with potential customers to give them powerful conversations as much as possible?

  • I doubled my revenue this year
  • 70% of my customers became repeat buyers (Yay! Less hustle to get new customers!)
  • My referral rate raised by 40%
  • My bottom line was impacted by word of mouth than expensive paid ads

KEY LEARNING:

“How can I let this be easy?”

My Big Learning: I had to pick ONE strategy to back, and do it full heartedly over and over again. I needed to look at how I’ve created great relationships in the past, and use that as my way of marketing. Even if it took more time to ‘convert’ a client, the loyalty of committed customers who value a real relationship impacts my bottom line significantly.

How you can implement this learning in your life: If you’re planning to be a service-based business, an important thing to realize is that you’re serving humans directly. Yes, people want to connect with another real human (you!). How can you use every opportunity you have to speak to someone genuinely about their problems? Not just in the online world, but offline. What can you do more of that gives your potential customers more time, attention, and love?

Which brings me to my next learning…

Learning #4: Don’t Automate or Hack Intimacy

In 2016, I worked my buns off to produce three Do-It-Yourself courses.

I thought, “How great would it be to just make some passive income with an affordable product people can buy anytime?”

Here’s what I realized in 2017: People don’t want to buy more courses. They don’t want more information (hello, they have Google already). They want the mentorship, accountability, and quick answers NOW.

Why the hell was I trying to push self-guided online courses when I know to get to my customers’ best results, it requires a live component and a community?

Focusing on one-to-one and live group programs became my big initiative, and when I put all my attention towards this, more people wanted to buy a spot. I could help impact their results more personally, and we got more done together.

In my marketing, I turned my focus more towards ‘Live Lydia’ and made it my mission to teach and share as much as I can. No trickery tripwires or hacks. Just simply teaching as much as I can through webinars and live streams allowed people to see my expertise and from doing so, increased my sign ups for programs.

I stopped trying to ‘master’ passive income and selling my Do-It-Yourself courses.

Most people who are genuinely committed to doing the work are NOT looking for a DIY format with lots of information to digest. Customers are way more interested in what you can help them DO.

And to help them DO more, you have to give your time and energy to them.

KEY LEARNING:

“How can I let this be easy?”

My Big Learning: Before creating any program or product, I ask myself, “What does my customer REALLY need to succeed?” Reverse engineering from that question allows me to see what’s necessary to create that truly serves my customers, rather than creating something for ‘easy money’. This made it easier to feel less distracted about what’s influencing me ‘out there’, and focus on creating something aligned with the big value my customers are seeking for (and bonus: people pay more!).

How you can implement this learning in your life: In a world where people are talking to Facebook bots and being sold a ‘paint by numbers’ formula to get to their success, do something different. Stand out from the crowd by offering intimacy and a personal touch. Stop hiding behind marketing strategies that don’t really connect you authentically with your customers. What can you do more of that gives your customers intimacy and personal attention?

Learning #5: Stop Doing Things That Make Me Want to Hurl

As a solopreneur for the last 4 years, I have learned the habit of doing everything myself.

When I hired my Virtual Assistant in January of this year, I remembered thinking, “Why am I paying her to do things that I can do myself, and in half the time?”

However, the compounded time I’ve spent working on things in my business that were important, but may not have to be ME doing it, I was sacrificing the opportunity to use my time effectively on activities that I could be doing that could impact the business more successfully.

I had to shift my mindset that if I was doing ALL the things myself, I won’t have time to actually be immersed in the right activities that will actually grow my business and my impact.

No more struggling with uploading my blog on WordPress, or figuring out how to deal with the tech bits of my online business. This totally released me to do more activities that moved the needle in my business – speaking events, webinars, live streams, more time and connection with my customers.

The rule of thumb I had? If a task makes me feel grumpy, un-inspired, and not in my genius zone, outsource it.

If I fill my days with activities that simply take too much energy and leaves me feeling crappy, I won’t be able to actually work ON my business, to be a creative and a visionary.

Letting go of control and trusting someone else to do things I’m not good at released me from the ‘hustle’ work, and have a more meaningful way of working.

To truly enjoy the ‘job’ we create for ourselves in our business, we have to be committed to knowing what we’re good at (and enjoyable), and know when to hand things off to other people.

Today, I enjoy having 2 extra team members in my business – a part time Virtual Assistant, and a full time Online Business Manager.

Now, you might be thinking, “I’m new at my business and can’t afford to hire help”.

If I could do things all over again, I would’ve told myself to start practicing small ways to outsource things to others.

It doesn’t have to be a full time team member or an expensive hire.

Places like Fiverr or Upwork have affordable people who can take something off your plate so you can focus on activities where you can’t be REPLACED.

When you can start the habit of asking for help and not doing all the things yourself, you’ll finally get to enjoy the business you’re building.

KEY LEARNING:

“How can I let this be easy?”

My Big Learning: Taking the time to set up systems and train someone to help me in my business is an act of self love. Self love = valuing my time and letting myself do things that I enjoy most. In order for my business to grow, I had to grow beyond myself.

How you can implement this learning in your life: Take inventory of the activities you usually spend time in your side hustle or full time business. Which of these activities truly links to your strengths, expertise, and impact? And which ones feel like pulling teeth? Take one activity and experiment with outsourcing it to feel how it can release your time and bring more pleasure to your hustle. Find someone for a mini project to test at Onlinejob.ph (affordable Filipino freelancers), Fiverr, or Upwork.

What’s in store for me and Screw The Cubicle in 2018?

2017 has taught me so many things that has influenced my decisions for where I want to take Screw The Cubicle next year.

Taking my learnings from this year’s experience, here’s what I know to be true for me:

  • I want to build a community that includes like-minded people working towards similiar goals, so that people don’t feel lonely in making big changes by themselves
  • I want to utilize the powerful collective intelligence of a community to help and support each other – together, we can do even bigger things (it takes a village, y’all!)
  • I want to create an experience that allows a safe space for people to help them to overcome self doubt and eliminate ‘checking out’ when the going gets tough
  • And most importantly, I want to continue providing intimacy and personal attention to the brave people committing to doing something different with their lives

In early 2018, I am opening the doors to the newest creation I’ve been birthing this year.

It’s our flagship program called the Academy of Cubicle Crashers, a 12-month community hive to create your path to freedom.

Why 12 months?

In my years of helping people successfully transition from employee to entrepreneur, I know the full commitment to create lasting change is so important to get to the results you’re seeking. To go all in, and create the time and space to execute on your ideas instead of talking yourself out of things because of self doubt and lack of support.

In 12 months, you can receive real results of your compounded efforts with focused attention to your dreams, and this community will do exactly that for you.

If you’re called to break free from the rat race, reinvent your life, and do something bigger, head on over here to be the first to know when this exclusive community opens its doors.

As we move forward towards a brand new year, I hope 2018 becomes your year of bold moves, ease, and choosing your ideal version of freedom

To making it a great year,

Lydia

Join the Academy of Cubicle Crashers

Stop waiting for ‘someday’, and start creating the ideal version of your life and career!