5 Ways To Keep Your Sanity

It's easy, especially when the future seems uncertain, to become jaded, to let annoyances pile up, to react to the short-term instead of thinking through things strategically with the long-term in mind. It can also be difficult to focus on your work when the seemingly reactionary decisions of your competitors — such as doing work for a deep discount or as trade for "exposure" — affect the conversations your clients have with you.

If you can keep your mind and your energy in a space that is healthy, you'll be able to more clearly see the opportunities that are in front of you right now. Here are some tips on how to do that:

1. A Gratitude Journal

I've talked about these before, and I believe in them so much. Take time each day to jott down three things you are grateful for. You can do this with regular pen and paper, one of the many gratitude apps, or even Instagram. Yes, we all like to have our mini pity parties and no one is grateful 100% of time, but you can't keep that up 24/7. Spending a few minutes each day focusing on what you do have (and it doesn't need to be material) instead of what you don't have will help shape your outlook.

2. Watch What You Say (Or Write)

While you may take note of a few things you're thankful for, it sort of negates the entire process if you then turn around and use Instagram Stories, Facebook, or Twitter to vent about every little annoyance. No need to be a Pollyanna (those are just as annoying), but venting should make up a small percentage of what you share, not the majority.

Go through your social media posts from the past month and see how many are complaints. Set a goal to cut that number in half over the next month. Chances are you’ll start to notice a positive difference in your perspective.

3. Unsubscribe from the Dramacolypse

While you should have people in your life who are willing to be REAL and not fake happy-go-lucky 24/7, you should also be careful not to surround yourself with people who are cynical dream-stoppers. This also includes people you follow on social media. If someone gets under your skin or lives in your head "rent-free," unsubscribe, unfollow, or mute them. Real drama is your friend who is going through chemo or a divorce or taking care of a sick family member. Unnecessary drama is the inane gossip people make up because they are intimidated by someone else’s success.

4. Declutter and Streamline

The scientific law Occam's razor suggests that the simplest solution is usually the best one. Getting simple, however, is not always easy. It requires being willing to let things go. It also requires checking your ego at the door so that you can make things work for you without worrying about what everyone else is doing.

Take some time to evaluate what things or processes you can cut or simplify in your life or workflow. This isn't a license to be selfish, but it is a way to evaluate what you need to do to simplify your life and your business. What areas can you streamline?

5. Breathe

Create margin for your life. The easiest way to do this is to create boundaries around how you work and when you are available to people. There will be some days that require you to work late and reply to emails at 2:00 A.M., but if this is a daily occurrence, it's likely time to slow down.

Slowing down can be difficult because it often means giving up the facade of power. It is also easy to justify our propensity toward a frenetic pace by using the excuse that we love our work. You should love your work. You should also love yourself and your family enough to keep your mental, emotional, and physical health in check.

Slow down. Go to sleep. Get some exercise. Take a "sabbath" day or afternoon to renew your mind and spirit (it doesn't have to be Saturday or Sunday). As the saying goes, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." Once you slow down, you’ll find that you think more clearly, focus better, and get more done when you sit down to work again.

Originally published April 2009

The Splendid Five with a Wedding Boutique Owner in West Virginia

The Splendid Five asks the same five questions of a different wedding or creative professional each Friday.

  Photo by    Keith Cephus

Photo by Keith Cephus

Today, we’re meeting Belle Manjong, an attorney-turned-wedding professional. Belle offers wedding planning and floral design services and also owns a retail bridal boutique in downtown Charleston, West Virginia.

Name: Belle Manjong
Company Name: Boutique by B.Belle Events
Wedding Industry Segment: Bridal Fashion Retail / Wedding Planning + Floral
Years in Industry: 13
Location: Charleston, West Virginia
Website: bbelleevents.com
Instagram: @boutiquebybelle

1. How did you get started in the wedding industry?

I began in the industry as an event planner. As an associate at a large corporate law firm that stressed community service and engagement, I sat on a number of boards of non-profit organizations. I found myself gravitating toward fundraising events, particularly the formal galas. With the assistance of committee members, the first gala chaired was the most successful in the fifty plus years of the organization and very well received. In fact, I has hired for my first wedding event at that gala. After years of moonlighting, I left the legal profession to in order to fully commit myself to event planning which I found far more fulfilling. Seven years ago, we added a floral department and five years ago, added an experiential bridal boutique.  

Promo film for The Boutique by B.Belle Events by Filmanatixclick here to view film if reading via RSS or email subscription

2. How has the industry changed since you started?

The industry has far may more options. As far as innovations, it is constantly changing with new, fresher, more exciting ideas and production. However, the saturation of the market and lack of need of accreditation of any sort means the prevalence of fly-by-night operations is even greater. I feel that with each passing year, there are new layers and ideas brides and grooms can incorporate into their special day: from invitations; wedding gowns, suits and tuxes; to food options; design and decor. There is always a new, interesting twist that can be brought to the table. 

3. What was the biggest lesson you learned early on in your business?

You are only as good as your most recent event. This is not an industry in which one rests on their laurels — the envelope is constantly being pushed and one can always do better. Ideas are plentiful, mastery and execution make all the difference. It’s an industry of love and people: if one does it only because they think its fun and can make lots of money without recognition of the human element, the humanity, one will surely fail or be miserable working in the industry.

   Keyshia Ka’oir’s    bridal party in    Christopher Paunil    gowns from The Boutique by B.Belle Events.

Keyshia Ka’oir’s bridal party in Christopher Paunil gowns from The Boutique by B.Belle Events.

4. What is the biggest lesson you've learned in the past few years?

Only your clients truly matter — do great work, remain humble, and constantly push to do and better for your client — and if they are happy you will always be able to do what you love. People genuinely want to be helpful and they do so with referrals and become your ambassador. Also, being yourself and infusing yourself is everything — avoid copying — take great ideas and make them your own with your own twist.

5. What one piece of advice would you give to another entrepreneur on sticking it out in a competitive industry?

Success is slow and steady. You determine your personal success, and if you base it on the content of your bank account, you may never fully succeed in the conventional way that success is defined. For me, I have learned that what is most important is about being significant. Was I a significant force to my clients, to someone? Did I help someone realize a dream or vision in a way that they will always treasure it?

Also, look over your shoulder, not to compete, but to better yourself. You are your most valuable asset, no one can be you or have your ideas. 

Moving Forward In a Better Way

If you can’t or won't see the world the way it actually is — both good and evil, both fair and unjust, full of both joy and sorrow — then you can’t move forward in a way that makes it better.

If you can’t or won't dream big enough to see the world in a way it could be, then you'll move forward in bitterness, wondering why nothing ever changes.

If you choose to only view the world in a way that confirms your own biases and comfort zones, you’ll reach the end of your life with years full of movement, but that movement will be akin to having run on a hamster wheel for a lifetime. It's movement, sure, but not movement that ultimately made a difference.

Hope isn't a pollyanna and it doesn't ignore reality. Instead it says, "This is how things are right now but we're going to try a better way."

How you choose to see determines how — and where — you move.

Originally published February 2015