Welcome back to The Brand Files!
This week is a very special episode because we are celebrating my BIRTHDAY!
I’m turning 31 this week on Nov. 17 and I thought a fun way to celebrate would be to look back on the past 31 years and think about the different lessons and takeaways I’ve had!
I do have to say I think about how I turned 21 TEN years ago, and while 21 feels like a milestone birthday, I think your 20s are just a wild time of growth and uncertainty. I’ve never felt more comfortable with myself or in my own skin than I have in my 30s. So I’d say I’ve enjoyed them a little more than in my 20s!
So let’s get into the lessons I’ve learned!
Lesson 1: Prioritize Your Health
Since college, I would say I’ve struggled with finding healthy habits and routines that felt like they worked well for me! When I started my business, I was hustling so hard and not prioritizing things like exercise, being intentional about food, etc. At the end of the day, we can’t do anything if we aren’t healthy. My routine is pretty simple, I try to workout 6 days a week, I’m just coming off a challenge where I had to workout 7 days a week, and that was a challenge but I enjoyed pushing myself.
That being said, 6 days is my goal. With Saturdays off, I do a combination of Cycling classes at Cyclebar, Strength Pilates classes on the Ladder app at home and I love Yoga. I watched YouAligned and Yoga with Adrienne! I’ve been doing strength and pilates for 6 weeks in combo with cardio and I already see more muscle definition which is so exciting!
Lesson 2: Figure out what matters
Things happen quickly in life for you to realize that what you thought was important yesterday really isn’t. Last year, one of my family members had a dramatic health scare. It was right in the middle of our template launch. One phone call, and my template shop didn’t matter, my business task list didn’t matter, the most important was getting to my family and nothing was stopping me. So when you frame things that way, it really puts in perspective how stressful certain things really are, and is it something worth getting upset over because will matter down the road?
Lesson 3: You Drive the Bus
I read the book The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon and it talks about how to manage our energy and remain positive. It talks about how we are driving the bus in our life and how we decide how we feel and what emotions we give things in our lives. It’s been so helpful to remember that no matter what’s going on, I get to decide how I feel about the situation and how it’s going to affect me.
Lesson 4: You don’t have to do it all on your own
Deciding to bring on team members into our agency has been a challenge and a blessing in the absolute best way! While it’s taught me how to delegate, how to manage other people, how to communicate effectively, it’s also given me a sense of community I didn’t know was missing. My team has also REALLY stepped up for me in times of need when I had health scares with family members and they have shown me so much that they truly care about me and also about our clients. I’ve learned that when you find the right people it’s so important to show them they care, they matter and that I appreciate them so much. If you’re a leader, if you can make a point to invest in your people and show them how much you appreciate them, it goes a long way.
Lesson 5: Extreme Ownership
Jocko Willink’s book Extreme Ownership is on my TBR list for personal development. He’s an ex-Navy Seal who has an entire book on this topic, but the summary is that to have Extreme Ownership is to take responsibility for everything as a leader. I go into everything in my business that is “my fault.” in some way. That something is happening as a result of something I could have done better or improved about the situation. In turn, it takes me out of a victim mentality and puts me in the driver’s seat to problem solve. Whether that’s with my team or a client.
Lesson 6: Time off is a MUST
Last year was the first time I ever took off for an extended period of time for the holidays and it was a GAMECHANGER and I’m doing that again. I’m going to record another episode all about preparing for holiday time off, but in 5 years of business, this is so key and I hope you make it happen for yourself if you are a business owner
Lesson 7: Investing in yourself is key
If you aren’t willing to invest in yourself, why would other people? Investing in skills is something you will always benefit from and can never be taken away from you! I’ve continuously invested in mentorship and skills throughout my business and while some things are more impactful than others, I always see the benefit or ROI in some way or another.
Lesson 8: Don’t Compare
I saw recently on Instagram that another agency that seemed really booked out and way ahead of me actually posted that they’d booked very few projects this year and felt like it had been a slow year for them. I was shocked because they always seemed booked out and busy. For me, it was a lightbulb that just because someone seems ahead of you doesn’t mean they are. Just keep your head down and focus on the work at hand. You may be further ahead than you think.
Lesson 9: Discipline is freedom
When you have discipline, it opens up so many areas of your life. If I put my head down now, I can reap the results later. If I stick to this workout routine now, I can see the benefits later. Every choice you make gives you the freedom later to do the things you want to do. I can be strong, I can eat certain foods guilt free, I can have time to read a fiction book on my couch when I accomplish my tasks. I had a bracelet made that says Discipline that I wear as a reminder that freedom is on the other side of our daily choices when we are disciplined and focused.
Lesson 10: Ask for what you want
No one knows what you need unless you ask. So speak up for yourself. If you want your husband to buy you flowers more, tell him LOL! If you want your team to do this or that, you have to communicate that. No one is a mind reader and it’s not their fault for not meeting your expectations if you don’t set them.
Lesson 11: Celebrate More
I am so bad at celebrating wins because by the time I get to the win, I’ve given it everything I’ve got. It feels like I’m too tired to celebrate sometimes! Like crawling across the finish line right? This year we celebrate our 5th biz anniversary and I realized how little I actually celebrated it when my mom bought me a bottle of champagne and cake and a bamboo plant! This is something I’m currently working on!
Lesson 12: Make the bed everyday
I think making the bed every day is the best way to get a win out of the day. No matter what happens that day, you’ll get into a freshly made bed, which is always better than getting ito a messy bed after a messy day. 10/10 recommendations for momentum in your life.
Lesson 13: Take the meat and leave the bones
Experts tell you to do this or that. Make six figures by following all these steps. The most important thing I’ve learned is to take what makes sense and align with me and leave the rest vs. blindly following someone else’s plan thinking it will work for me exactly the way it did for them.
Lesson 14: Slow and Steady Growth is still growth
We want to be an overnight success, but I’ve learned that slow and steady growth is actually sustainable and is really the norm. People blowing up overnight turns out to have been 10 years in the making. I want to plant seeds today that flourish in the future.
Lesson 15: Find Ways to Channel Stress and Anxiety
I have so much stress by the end of the work day some days that it feels like I can’t wind it down. Finding ways to manage stress and anxiety is key. For me, exercising whether doing yoga and getting present with my breathing or just blocking everything out when I’m at a spin class, reading something fictional and getting lost in a fantasy or romance book, or taking a bath all have helped me cope.
Lesson 16: Create Boundaries for yourself
Few things are emergencies. It’s ok to have office hours, it’s ok to set boundaries. I don’t answer texts before 9 am generally, they are blocked and do not disturb. I don’t answer emails on weekends unless it’s critical. It’s ok to establish boundaries to unplug and find a way to disconnect.
Lesson 17: Practice Gratitude
This has helped me look for the bright spots in each day and feel more peaceful and content.
Lesson 18: Rest is key
I used to work on my business for fun like at night. I would do my work for clients during the day then I would eat dinner or whatever and if my husband was playing video games or whatever, I would work on my business. And that served me really well, but I can’t do that anymore. If I’m working in the evenings, it’s because of a tight deadline or to catch up on something but not for fun LOL! I literally have to unplug to effectively feel re-energized.
Lesson 19: Keep Habits and Routines Simple
I feel like you hear about all of these million dollar business owners saying they wake up at 5 am. They do these special breathing exercises, they meditate, then they cold plunge, then they sauna, then they work out. Literally, thinking of doing that in the morning gives me SO much anxiety. My morning routine is get up, read a nonfiction book, do my gratitude journaling, get dressed, make the bed, eat breakfast, go outside with my dog. Work. If I do these things I can stick with it and actually feel like I’m going into the day feeling really good and prepared. The more complicated things are harder to maintain.
Lesson 20: Plan Less, Execute More
Perfectionism makes us want to plan things to death. I heard someone say go ugly early before I loved it so much! Just get it out there, and then figure it out and clean it up later. The more you plan something, the more you stay in your comfort zone the less you execute and get uncomfortable. This podcast is a result of just deciding to do it and figure it out as you go.
Lesson 21: How things look directly impact how you feel
When you get dressed in an outfit you love, you are feeling good. When we go to the store hoping no one sees us, we feel meh. I make it a goal to always get dressed, always have a certain standard of presentation for myself because it’s important to me that I feel ready if I run into a certain opportunity or situation. The same for our business. It’s important to me to take time to make sure things look a certain way so we can fee confident when we send to a client or prospect. This is why I do my nails. Do my hair. Wear certain clothes. Lipstick. I’m going to be READY for that next opportunity.
Lesson 22: No one’s thinking about you
Alexis in Schitt’s Creek tells David that no one is thinking about him the way he’s thinking about himself. And that’s such an aha moment. Literally no one is thinking about you, because they are busy thinking about themselves. So do what you want, and don’t hold yourself back because you think someone will judge you.
Lesson 23: Take Time to Experience New Things
Experiences are what give us memories and are the things we will remember most vs. material things we buy. Seeing Taylor Swift this year? Core memory. Going to Mexico with our group of friends to celebrate a wedding? 10/10 recommendation. Anytime you can experience something new and different, try and figure out how to swing it. You will be glad you did.
Lesson 24:Everything is figure-outable
Marie Forleo wrote a book about this, and this statement has always resonated with me. Honestly because my toxic trait is I think I can figure out how to do just about anything. Give me a book, give me a minute to google, I can figure out how to do a lot and if I can’t figure it out, I can find someone who can. I think we get very quick to say I don’t know how to do that, but the thing I learned in becoming a valuable team member especially during my time in corporate was to be a yes girl. Say yes, and figure it out later. Or at least say, I can probably figure it out. This will get you so far in life, just being willing to put in the time to learn.
Lesson 25: You are in control about what you take in
I don’t watch a lot of news. I watch what’s necessary or read what’s necessary and keep it moving. I don’t listen to True Crime podcasts. I don’t watch scary movies. If I’m going to absorb something it’s going to fill my cup and not add anything unnecessarily stressful for no reason. I mean…maybe a Fantasy book is stressful at times LOL but in general, I’m very intentional about what I’m consuming and how I let things affect me.
Lesson 26: Make Time for Fun
This seems so lame, but I’m very easily focused on work and growing my business and I have a terrible habit of monetizing my hobbies-hello photography! LOL! So I am trying to make myself have more fun, and do things I enjoy in downtime. This year that’s looked like exercising more and learning about pilates and strength training, going to cycling classes 3 times a week. I also recently bought a paint my numbers ornament set that I’m so excited to paint while I watch Hallmark Movies this Christmas!
Lesson 27: Social Media isn’t the end all be all
I used to think I needed a huge social following to achieve the impact I want in my business. But that’s just not true. Did you know the majority of our new projects came directly from referrals this year? We booked out our services in July for the rest of the year with referrals alone.
Lesson 28: Buying is a process, not an event
I learned in sales training with Guide Culture that buying is a process, not an event, and that is so so true! The thing with sales is just because someone says no right now, doesn’t mean it’s a no forever! I’ve had clients who have said ‘Oh, now isn’t the right time’, and they come back months later ready to move forward. Following up and just ensuring that we always ensure people leave us feeling encouraged and positive overall means they will remember how we made them feel and they could want to work with you down the road.
Lesson 29: Where you are now, is where your past self wanted to be
I think it’s so easy to take the things I have no for granted because I am striving and achieving for that next level. But I also think about how my younger self was hustling on her lunch break trying to build this business so I could be exactly where I am right now. Keeping that perspective makes me find contentment and gratitude in where I am while also striving for that next level in business and life.
Lesson 30: You know more than you think & have more at your fingertips than you realize
We rely on experts and mentors and education and courses, but at the end of the day, sometimes we know what to do and are capable of doing it on our own. Learn to rely less on the input of others and follow the gut instincts we have and trust ourselves in finding the answer.
Lesson 31: Take care of yourself in order to take care of others.
I often sacrificed myself for my business for other people and it’s not the best place to be in. At the end of the day, I can’t do anything for anyone if I’m burnt out, stressed out, or sick because I didn’t take care of myself. So I have to prioritize myself and my needs in order to take care of my family, to take care of my team, to take care of our clients, which is why it’s so important to me to workout, to be mindful of certain foods, to do things that help my mental health. This is a lesson that is always in practice because we tend to put other people before ourselves, but it’s something that I’m working on.
To hear more from my 31 Tips of Life & Business, LISTEN NOW!
Also, next week is Thanksgiving Week and we are preparing for a HUGE Black Friday Sale for our template shop AND the launch of our newest Showit Template, Ainsley Greene! We can’t wait for you to meet her. She’s a light and airy template for family photographers and she is gorgeous!
All our templates will be 50% off starting November 20 so mark your calendars! This is our BIGGEST template sale of the year!
I hope you enjoyed these birthday lessons! Which ones resonated with you? Tell me in my latest instagram post! To hear more from Jade Buford and the J Alexandria Creative team, visit our website & follow us on socials. Thanks so much to those of you who listened or read this post on Jade’s 31 tips for life & business!
Want to hear more of The Brand Files? Click Here for Episode 09!