About the Episode
If we want to embrace a slow business and be more present in each moment, then we have to be really intentional and practical with the way that we plan in our businesses.
But what does this look like? How can we plan less in order to accomplish more? That’s what we’re going to be diving into on the second installment of our planning series right here on Entrepreneurial Outlaws.
But I want you to know that your goals are still valid, your audience still needs you, and your intuition is your best tool for guidance as you grow as an entrepreneur.
Topics discussed in episode #74
- Being cognizant of how you actually plan and why we should aim to plan for less
- The most important lesson that Melanie has learned by letting her intuition guide her
- How to ensure you are putting yourself, your emotions, and your hobbies first
- The practical ways you can begin to feel comfortable with having free time in your schedule
- Why you should implement a have, need, want list instead of a to-do list
- How strong boundaries will allow others to match your energy
Connect with Melanie here:
Melanie Knights (00:01):
Hey Outlaws. Welcome to a brand new episode after my excitement that we were in spring and the warmer weather I wore sandals last weekend and woke up this morning to snow. So here we are. But this is quite a nice segue into what we're gonna be taught about this month, which is seasons, not just seasons from the year point of view or in terms of weather and things like that. We're actually gonna be talking about seasons of business. And this is an episode I've wanted to record for a while. So this month we're gonna have two solo episodes. We're gonna explore over two episodes. And the reason I want to talk about this is because we've talked a lot about cycles and the Luna cycle, but there are so many different cycles around us. And one of the things that's really important to me as I go through this season and chapter of my own business, and I teach this and I, I use this to really optimize and honor my own energy.
Melanie Knights (01:06):
It's really important that we talk about all the seasons that we are surrounded by all the cycles that we are surrounded by, because not all of us experience energy in the same way we are individuals. We don't all have the same cycles. I menstruate, but if you are someone who does not menstruate, then that is a cycle that you may not experience in the same way or won't experience in the same way. And whilst you can track your energy, it may be a little bit more difficult to track your energy in relation to your bodily cycle, because you may not have the same posts. So because of that, I want to always give options. And I want to talk about the different types of cycles that are around us. And we've touched on this in previous episodes where we've talked about planning by the moon, and we talked about the new moon and the four moon and things like that.
Melanie Knights (01:58):
The two episodes this month, though, we are gonna be focusing on seasons of business. This is something that's really important to me because when I started my business, I was so, so, so immersed in other people's businesses. Now, what I mean by that is I really looked up to my coaches. I looked up to the people who had come before me. I really looked up to how they were running their business and the kind of lifestyles they were leading, but I was a little bit younger and probably very naive and I didn't occur to me and I didn't stop to really look at a whether that was something I really wanted. And B I didn't stop to look at how my life, what I didn't stop to look at my life and what my life needed from me in that moment. I was so focused on creating what they had, but in my world, and not only was that something I actually didn't really want or need it also meant I got really stuck because our lives were really different.
Melanie Knights (03:07):
We had very different lifestyles, very different relationships with people in our lives. We lived in different countries. We had different responsibilities, and I really didn't stop to think about that. I was so caught up in the glossy shiny side of what having a business could mean. I got very caught up in the testimonials, the social proof, the promises of this like luxury lifestyle that I never stopped to think whether I really wanted it. And to be fair, I probably didn't know at the time what I really wanted or needed because I hadn't done that work. But I also just got very, very caught up in what other people wanted and what their lives looked like and was trying to replicate that in my own world. But because it wasn't true to me, it wasn't true to my gee. It wasn't true to my season of business or my reality.
Melanie Knights (04:03):
I just felt really stuck and got really, really down on myself all the time, because why couldn't I have what was being promised? Why did I seemingly why was I seemingly the person who was failing at this? And that's one of the reasons and why this is so important to me now to really bring this work to the light, to really share it with you through the podcast, through my journals and planners and the content that I create, because I really want business owners, whether you are listening to this, or, you know, in the future, I want business owners to recognize that what they need is okay, and that if it's not the glossy shiny version of online business, which let's be honest, most of us are not living that life. That is still absolutely. Okay. I want us to get back to the reasons why we started our online businesses, the reasons why we started the qualifications, the work that we do, the reasons why we're passionate about these things.
Melanie Knights (04:59):
I want us to get back to that because that's the thing for so many of us that it really brought us passion. It lit us soul on fire. It told us, Hey, you can do this. And over time, some of those narratives and conversations have been kind of, they've got muddy, they've been washed away. And so much of the pressure of online business has kind of stood in front of us instead. And with trying to constantly do more or be more, or do it in a way that really doesn't fit our personality. And unfortunately, when it's the only narrative you see online, which luckily we are not seeing this as the only narrative online now, but it's still there. But when it's the only narrative you see, and it, you become entrenched in this, like circle this, I call the business coaching bubble. When you become trapped in that place, you only see people doing the same thing because it's that culture of coaches, coaching coaches to coach coaches, to coach coaches.
Melanie Knights (05:55):
So everyone's talking about the same methods and you start to believe it's the only way to do things. It takes a lot to step outside of that bubble. For me, I don't think I would've stepped out of it. If I hadn't had the experiences I'd had and also ran out of money, I couldn't keep investing or spending business on business coaching because the time I would've told you it was an investment, but now I look back and I think that it was a very much a kind of cult. It was a way of keeping me trapped in this belief that I constantly needed them. And then I started to realize that I didn't. So we're gonna talk about a lot. We're gonna probably cover a lot over these two episodes. My hope is that you will get a lot from this and be able to really dig into the season you aren't in right now, but also be able to, you know, forward a plan and look ahead because whether your bus, whether your business is in a slow or busy season, you can't work a hundred percent on either end of the scale. And so that's why it's so important for us to tap into our intuition and recognize the season we're in and embrace that season. Understanding that the season you're in will be temporary. We ebb, we flow, we experience business in different ways. It's not linear and it's not permanent. That's what we're gonna be talking about this month. So I hope you're gonna,
Melanie Knights (07:18):
That's what we're gonna be talk com.
Speaker 2 (07:20):
Oh my God.
Melanie Knights (07:26):
That is what we are gonna be talking about on the show this month. So get cozy, grab a journal, Anna, let's get into episode number 72.
Melanie Knights (07:46):
Okay. So let me start by saying that we are all different. I know that we know this, but I think it's really important as you're listening to this show to recognize that I may talk about certain experiences that I've had, but those are my experiences. Okay. So just kind of remember that as we go through, but I am going to try and cover, you know, other experiences and things that I know other people need that I have not experienced myself. So what do I mean by that? Well, some people really need structure, right? Some of us need structure to thrive for us to focus and feel successful in our businesses. We need to know what we're gonna be doing in that following week. We to have a color coded calendar or write things down. Again, some of us want to use our Google calendar. Some people are gonna want to use a paper planner.
Melanie Knights (08:37):
I use both others like myself. I need flexibility. I need that dis that I need that opportunity to ask myself, what should I work on today? There's nothing wrong with either of these needs. So if you are somebody who craves structure and you know that you thrive and are able to focus when you have a very clear plan, there's nothing wrong with that. And there's also nothing wrong with wanting to have more flexibility and being able to kind of be more present in the moment and ask yourself, okay, what am I gonna work on today? There's also nothing wrong with taking from both sides. That's the, what I do. I am someone who does thrive knowing what's coming up. I like to have some kind of plan, but if I get inspired or I suddenly decide that I wanna do something and create something in my business, I want to have that flexibility.
Melanie Knights (09:31):
And I talked about this before. And one of the reason, one of the ways that I am able, able to do that is because I do have freelance work that I do. So this isn't something I promote in my business. This is not something that I actively am looking to grow. I'm not looking to grow clients or anything like that. The freelance work I do. It definitely helps me to have that flexibility because I can work from home. I work online. It's very flexible in terms of hours, you know, as long as the work is done, that's kind of how it, you know, as long as it's done it doesn't matter which hours I work. So it really offers me the flexibility to also run my business and to be able to create and, you know, ebb and flow with the energy I have.
Melanie Knights (10:16):
I'm very, very fortunate that I've got a business that's set up in that way. And that's one of the ways I've done that. So for me, it's about having that steady income from freelancing. Something that I don't have to actively promote in my business, something that I do enjoy that definitely hones my skills and allows me to connect with other people. But it also allows me that flex ability. Now the important thing is being able to recognize our own needs. We've talked about this so much. I'm not gonna stop. Can't stop. Won't stop talking about your needs. Your needs are important. You need to recognize that and recognize what you need and then honor those needs and then know how you can meet them as an individual. And I'm talking specifically around our business. So what do you need from your business? How can you honor that?
Melanie Knights (11:06):
And then what can you do to meet those? Because we are going to have lots of different needs. There's going to be the need for boundaries. There's going to be the need for maybes space to create or space, to rest space, to slow down. As I said, we can't work at 100% busy or 100% slow. We are not meant to work in that way. And it's okay to ebb and flow. If you are able to do that, and that's something that you will, where you are, where you thrive. So for example, if you have a really busy month, you know, maybe you are launching something new, you can still really enjoy being busy. It doesn't have to be this burnout. Burnout is not the righteous path for entrepreneurs and you don't have to burn out because what you can do is build some awareness around, Hey, you know what?
Melanie Knights (11:57):
This is a really busy month for me. I'm gonna make sure I take the next month off. I'm not gonna do this. I'm not gonna post on social media, or I'm gonna prep the content ahead of time, whatever it is that you need to do, to be able to match your energy, to be able to honor energy. Because if you take regular breaks, I like to call it the creative rest cycle. So if we are actively adding in these cycles into our businesses, then it means that we are able to have these higher bursts of energy. And that we are not constantly kind of in this low energy space, which is something I used to experience myself. I, I would just maintain this like low energy. I could never really kickstart. I never felt like I could go above like 30 miles an hour. I was just constantly in the slow lane, but it wasn't enjoyable.
Melanie Knights (12:45):
Now being in the slow lane is enjoyable for me because when I'm slowing down, I'm usually being very creative. I'm usually journaling and planning and creating. I'm still creating content, but it's a whole different thing. So recognizing what you need, honoring those energies, and then knowing how you can meet your needs really, really important. And look, it's not to say this is easy, cuz I have friends who own businesses and I see them achieving so much. I see them always is working on something new or launching something. They continue to produce value every single step of the way they're producing valuable email content or social media posts. They appear to be doing so much. And I love to see what they're doing. I love to see how they're doing it. And I love to support them. And sometimes I still of that little voice saying to me, why can't you do that?
Melanie Knights (13:37):
Why aren't you working that hard? Right. It still happens. And I used to shame myself. I used to let my inner critic take over. She would completely take over my narrative. Now I allow myself to get curious. So instead of allowing that voice to take over or, and just trying to shut it down, I will let it speak. But then I will challenge it with the evidence that I have from my own life, the confidence that I've built around my own business model and the ways that I choose to work because to some people I could be, you know, leaving money on the table or I might not be recognizing how much more I you in my time, but I'm actually really content with the way I'm running my business right now during this season of my life. And that is why it's so important because behind each of our beautiful businesses are real whole human beings who need their me needs met.
Melanie Knights (14:34):
So I wanna ask you, which season are you in right now? Which season of business are you in right now? And the reason I want to have this conversation with you is because from my own experience, I used to shame myself so much. As I said, I used to get really, really down on myself. I used to think that I was never doing enough over the last couple of years, as I've started to really lean into building a slow business. I've noticed how successful I can feel on my own terms, which is, you know, part of being an entrepreneur Outlaws far as I'm concerned, but it's also allowed me to recognize that I was probably always supposed to be in the slower lane. I was always supposed to be a human being who ebbs and flows and matches her energy. But because I was told that I needed to do more, I needed to work hard.
Melanie Knights (15:27):
And that was the example shown to me. That was what I decided to do because I didn't know what I was doing as I headed into my late teens and early twenties. I didn't know how to match my energy energy. No one's teaching us this, right. I think it was Ali that mentioned this back in our episode. No one is teaching us in school, how to honor our needs or to honor our energy. That is not something that's taught. So here I am now at 35 trying to relearn and unlearn how to match my needs, how to honor the season I'm in. And one of the things that I like to think about is for me personally, you know, my son is eight years old and he is in school and the last couple of years have been, you know, let's just be honest in terms of, you know, homeschooling and him not getting that kind of social interaction that he needs him not being at school, it has caused, you know, no end of issue with he hates school when he doesn't wanna be there.
Melanie Knights (16:28):
He does love school once he's there he is great. But we still go through that narrative on a regular basis. And it's really hard to get him back into that routine at times. And obviously we have, the way school system works here is we have these regular breaks in terms. So a week off here, two week period there, six weeks off during the summer. And I always used to find thats so hard when he started school a few years ago, I found this so hard to really figure out how to fit my business around this because I was constantly coming up against these breaks in school. He was at home, we didn't have childcare which was entirely what I wanted. I didn't wanna have childcare. I wanted to be able to spend time with him, but I was always so busy that then it always felt like I was having to neglect something and then the guilt would come and the shame would come over the last couple of years, taking some silver linings from this experience.
Melanie Knights (17:27):
What it's taught me is that he's okay. Right. He's okay. If I do a little bit of work, if I've got something to work on it's okay. Because if I had a job that was required me to leave the house and go out from nine till five, then I wouldn't be present. So I still get to have the best of both Wells and actually part of this, it's more about me than it is about him. I'm shaming myself because I'm feeling like I'm not fulfilling some kind of role that I've actually decided I'm supposed to fill. Nobody's telling me that I have to fill that role. So we actually now have these kind of periods of time during these breaks where I will spend more time with him. We'll watch a film. We kind of try to map out our days. He really likes structure.
Melanie Knights (18:07):
So, you know, he is someone who very much thrives in that and oh my God, he holds me to it. If I tell him something's happening at 3:00 PM, it has to happen at 3:00 PM. Otherwise I'm in trouble. So we have to really focus on how we can allow this season of my business to match what he needs as well, because obviously he's still reliable, relying on me. And the thing that comes up time and time again for me is recognizing that his season is gonna change as well as he starts to get older. As he goes to high school in a few years, his needs are gonna be different. He's not going to need me as much on a day to day basis. He's also not gonna want me around, around maybe as much. And he's going to be more independent and I'm allowed to, I'm able to start to show him what that looks like.
Melanie Knights (18:56):
This also means that as he gets older, I'm probably gonna have more time. I'm probably not gonna be picking him up and taking him to school. I'm probably not gonna be having to get him meals. I really hope I'm not. So as he get at sold and becomes more independent, my season is gonna change in my life, which means my business season will change. And this is something that I think a lot about when I'm journaling and when I'm planning out my business, because I'm in this for the long term, right? I, I am doing this online business and running my own business. However, it's gonna evolve over the next 12 months, five years, 10 years, 20 years. I don't know, but this is what I wanna be doing. And I don't know what it's gonna look like in those, in that distant future. I have an idea, but I also know that in five years time, it's gonna look really different to what it does right now.
Melanie Knights (19:46):
My time is gonna look different. My needs are gonna look different. And so whilst I am consciously aware of that, I'm very aware of the fact that the future will look different to what it does right now. I come back to the present moment and focus on the season I'm in right now because that's the only season I can really plan for. I can only plan for what I know. And what I know right now is that I work within school hours. I know that my time limited, I know that in the afternoons, when he gets home from school, I probably have an hour and a half to two hours where I can do some more work or I can, you know, I practice guitar or whatever it is that I'm doing. And I have those pockets of time, which I incidentally did not have a couple of years ago.
Melanie Knights (20:28):
Right? A couple of years ago that wasn't something I had again, I can see how over the last few years, as again, he's got older, my season of business has changed and that is personal to me. So again, this is one of those things where I'm saying, this is my own experience. This may not be your experience, but take some time to be curious about the things that are impacting your business right now. If there are pockets of time or areas of your business, where you're feeling really frustrated, maybe you feel like things aren't going your way or things, aren't going, how you had planned. Have a look at that, but be curious about it. Why isn't it going to plan? Is there is something that you have complete control of. Is this something that you don't have control of? Maybe you need to change how you are working or maybe you can, you have other options that you haven't even thought about yet.
Melanie Knights (21:18):
This happens a lot to me where I'll feel really stuck with something in my business. I get really frustrated. And then all of a sudden I'll realize that I could ask for help. That's not necessarily easy for me as an Aquarius, but I will suddenly realize that I could ask someone for help or perhaps the universe has been kind of sprinkling these little, these little nuggets of information to me reminding me that this is here and I haven't been looking at it or I've been ignoring it because I'm so focused on what I'm struggling with, that I'm not being curious about what the solution could be. So just remember to really ask yourself and be curious about what that looks like for you. Now, you might want to look at your seasons cyclically, right? So from seasons of our year, spring, summer, autumn, winter, you can also look at the season of your own life.
Melanie Knights (22:08):
I just explained, and that's something obviously we've dug into today. You might wanna approach your launches, your project, your client work seasonally, right. And what I'm talking about seasonally, I'm really talking about slow busy seasons, right? The seasons that you experience the ebb and flow of your energy and how to approach your work. Perhaps you wanna look at it on a micro scale and actually look at your seasons month by month. This again is also gonna come back to what your, your values are and why you started this business. So I know somebody who absolutely their value is freedom, right? One of the top values is freedom and they absolutely love being able to take trips with their family and go out into nature. That's like one of the things that they value really highly. So it makes sense that they're gonna match their energy and their seasons of their business around that kind of goal.
Melanie Knights (23:05):
That desire, that thing, that they love, the reason why they started their business and the ask place. So this is something I talk about in planning by the moon, especially in the workshop that are linked to over in the show notes. But I talk about this when we plan our goals, looking at our personal goals and our hobbies first, and that doesn't necessarily mean I'm not talking necessarily about habits. Like I'm gonna work out this many times a week, or I'm gonna drink this mini glass of water. That's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about personal goals, like, you know, being able to take a vacation every every month, take a weekend off and do something every month or, you know, take not working every Friday or taking every Friday off in the summer. Again, these are very realistic things that we can adopt in our businesses, but we may have to make some changes and to allow ourselves to recognize these things that we, we really want to live.
Melanie Knights (24:00):
We really wanna experience. We wanna create those memories, especially now that things are starting to hopefully get better. And as we head towards the summer, there's gonna be a lot of you who want to work less or take time off, or, you know, do half days or finish early every Friday, whatever it might be. And with that in mind, what that means is that we can start to look at the season of our business. I don't just mean, okay, am I gonna have, is it gonna be busier or slower in terms of clients or is there gonna be less traffic online? We always see this, or at least my experience. I always see this during the summer months, social media gets really quiet. Why? Because we're out doing things we're outside. We're not always on our phones. I know that I kind of on purpose accidentally took last summer, completely off Instagram.
Melanie Knights (24:47):
I didn't intend to, but it was like three weeks. And I was like let's just keep going for six. So we do typically spend less time, you know, in our inboxes or on social media in the summer, again, recognizing this in our own businesses, recognizing what this looks like for ourselves helps us to actually plan. It helps us to out what kind of season we're gonna experience. So we don't have to just look at this kind of big, long term season. One of the things I talked about earlier is me always having that. I always have that awareness of things will change in the future. But right now in the present moment, I know what's coming up in my personal life. I know what kind of things I'm looking forward to. I know when there's gonna be vacations planned or things that we're gonna do or breaks from school, all those things, because that allows me to plan out my energy within my business and also make sure that I give myself really realistic deadlines that aren't gonna suddenly overwhelm me.
Melanie Knights (25:42):
I'm not gonna feel like I've run out of time. That can still happen. I'm still very aware of the fact that I might get really tired next week and be the week behind on my projects. But I'm also okay with that because I know that when I have these higher energy pockets, I'm able to achieve more. I'm able to really focus and get into the groove of what I'm doing right now. As we record this, I'm working on the, behind the scenes of, of my website. It feels at the moment like it's not really making progress, but I know these like small pieces of work that I'm doing behind the scenes. Once I have all of that ready, it's gonna be that much easier to update the website, ready for our launch in may. And even though it can feel like I'm doing a lot of writing and I'm really, really having to get into that kind of messaging and branding, state of mind, which is not easy for me to do in my own business.
Melanie Knights (26:36):
I know that in the long term, it's going to help me down the road. It's gonna help me to know that when I head into busier seasons of my business, I have all that done. I'm not having to update things all the time because I've really done that work now. And that's the season that I'm in. And that's the season that I actually planned back in December. So back in December, I was like, you know what? I need to update my website. And that was literally all I had decided I hadn't decided, Hey, we're going to evolve of my business. And we're going to start looking at say, focusing and selling e-commerce products, you know, focusing on the books, focusing on stationary that matches those books. And that wasn't necessarily the plan back in December. All I knew was that my website desperately needed to be updated.
Melanie Knights (27:21):
And I mapped out back the what is gonna overwhelm me? Where am I gonna get stuck? What do I need to focus on? How can I make sure that this comes together in a manageable timeline? So I said to myself, the whole of spring, that's my goal so that we can then relaunch if well, wasn't originally a relaunch, but now is. And I'm so glad that had the foresight back then to actually sit down and look at that. And that's what I'm talking about in terms of recognizing our own energies and knowing where we may get stuck, knowing where we might wanna outsource knowing the things that can sometimes hold us back. And for me, I know that writing lengthy pieces of copy is gonna be incredibly overwhelming. So I've mapped out. I planned out exactly from project through to different tasks. And then I ask for help.
Melanie Knights (28:10):
I am fortunate enough to have people on my team who can help me with that. And we, I reached out, I got my questions answered. I did my research so that when I actually started to map it all out, started to write those lengthy pieces of copy it. Didn is overwhelming because I knew that all the other pieces were in place. I knew what to expect. So this is just one example of how we can actually honor those seasons of our business and really start to work in this way that undo and allows us to unlearn a lot of this ha our soul culture, this toxic productivity that we have been well, there's been like slammed into our screens and across our feeds for years. And I wanna encourage you to take away from today's episode to explore the season. You are in spend some time with your journal, ask yourself, what season am I in?
Melanie Knights (29:06):
What impacts, how much energy I have, what impacts my business, what impacts my, my content creation, what impacts my creative energy, ask yourself some really simple questions in your journal today, make them as broad or as specific as you want and allow yourself to just be really curious about the things that impact your energy and how much you are able to achieve in any given season. This is gonna help you to start to map that out. And in our next episode, in a couple of weeks, we're going to dig into that. We're gonna look at the really practical side of taking these answers from your journaling, and actually look at how you can start to map out your business. Because when we talk about a slow business and we talk about being in the present moment, you can start to get a bit stuck with, well, how do I plan this out?
Melanie Knights (29:57):
If I'm only living from day to day or week a week, or even months to months, how do I know what's coming up? So I'm gonna share with you some ways in which I've done that over in my business. I'm gonna talk about how you can start to map out kind of the bigger bigger breaks or bigger, bigger times when you're not gonna be working or how to look at that from the point of view of making sure you're never having to play catch you up, or also how you're never having to cram a load of work in before you take time off. Because I feel like that always means that we feel, we feel like our time off or our downtime ends up just feeling a little bit overwhelming because we know that we've either gonna have a ton of emails, some return, or we've spent the last week exhausting ourselves just before we take that break.
Melanie Knights (30:44):
So we're gonna talk about that as I said in the next episode later this month, but thank you so much for being here today. I really hope that you've got a lot from this episode. I really enjoyed mapping out what we were gonna be talking about this month. I think it's a really, really important conversation to have, because as I said, we are all whole us human beings who need our needs met. And one of the ways we can do that is by really allowing ourselves to honor these seasons. So in next week's episode, we have another guest. Yay. We are gonna be sitting down with Ellie McBride and we're gonna be talking all things, being an expat let in Northern Ireland, but also talking about her business, her love of systems, how to really optimize those systems for you. Some really great kind of frameworks that she has in place and ways in which she helps people to really honor those systems and help them work for you.
Melanie Knights (31:41):
So that is gonna be a really fun conversation that is coming up next week. And then as I said, the end of the month, we're gonna have the second episode from this one where we're gonna be actually putting some of these journal prompts into place. If you're looking for any journal prompts from today's episode, you can head over to the show notes, Melanie knight.com/podcast. Everything will be there. And you'll also find them over on our Instagram page, age as well, which is on Instagram. It's UN entrepreneurial underscore Outlaws come over and say, hi, make sure you follow. And apparently there's this new thing. Add me to your friends list. This makes sure that you will guarantee to see my content from the podcast higher on your feed. This also means if you subscribe the show, you won't miss an episode, they will be downloaded automatically to your favorite podcast player. So thank you so much again for being here. Thank you for taking the time to listen. I will see you next week for a sitdown chat with Ellie. And we will catch up on this seasonal content again in a couple of weeks until next time Outlaws.