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7 Essential Steps to Start Making a Living Doing What You Love (Finally!)

7 Essential Steps to Start Making a Living Doing What You Love (Finally!)
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Does this sound like you?

You go to work each day. And each day you do, you watch the clock. Waiting. And waiting. And waiting for the clock to strike 5 p.m.

That’s when you get to go home and devote your time to what you truly love doing. That thing that brings you joy. That thing everyone tells you you’re so fantastic at. That thing you wish you could do every day instead of working.

If this sounds anything like you, don’t despair. You can make a living doing what you love.

Take the following essential steps to transform your passion into a business that frees you from that soul-sucking job, and enables you to live the life of your dreams.

1. Talk yourself out of it

Let’s face facts. The minute you decide you’ll start a business doing what you love, you’ll face naysayers. People will question your choice. They’ll give you all the reasons why you shouldn’t start down this path. They’ll tell you how risky it is, and point out all the people who tried but couldn’t make it work.

So beat them to the punch. Make a list of all the reasons why you shouldn’t start your business. Then for each of those reasons, write down what you will do to overcome that obstacle.

Let’s say the excuse is you don’t have enough time in your schedule. Your solution could be: “Cut out two hours of television a day to work on my business.”

By putting a plan in place to overcome the common objections that arise, you’ll better position yourself to smother those voices of dissent.

Bonus points: Write down all the reasons why you should move forward with your dream (freeing your soul from your current job should be on that list). Refer back to these compelling reasons whenever you need a push to keep going.

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And speaking of televisions, the next step explains what to do with yours.

2. Throw your TV out the window

Building a business takes time. And doing it right takes more time. And since all of us have access to only twenty-four hours in a day, time is a scarce resource.

Don’t fret though. All is not lost. I’ll bet you can find tons of extra time in your day if you cut out activities that don’t advance you toward making a living doing what you love.

Television is an easy thing to cut out. Yeah, you may not be able to talk about what happened on the latest episodes of Scandal or Game of Thrones, but you will be able to see tangible progress you’re making toward getting your business off the ground. That’s ten times more satisfying.

TV isn’t your time suck? Perhaps social media is. Whatever it is, take inventory of how you spend your existing time, and find two activities you can either cut out altogether, or significantly reduce. Find at least two hours in your day to free up.

Bonus points: Maximize your time by multi-tasking during activities that don’t require a ton of mental energy. Listen to a podcast while you cook, or do some research while you eat. You’ll find plenty of time when you’re hungry to find it.

3. Say adiós to your friends

As you get laser focused on building your dream business, you’ll need some new friends. People who will be invaluable to helping you reach your goals.

That doesn’t mean you have to ditch your existing friends (unless they’re unsupportive of your goals). You’ll just spend less time with them for a while, as you get cozy with the new additions to your friend list.

Write down at least three folks you need to add to your inner circle. Be sure to include the following three people:

  • A mentor, someone who is currently doing what you wish to do. They’ll guide you along the right path, and give you advice on what to do and what not to do.
  • A trainer, someone to push you beyond where you think you can go, hold you accountable, and kick your butt into shape when necessary.
  • And a peer, someone who is working toward similar goals. They’ll be there for support, venting sessions, and to share tips.

Bonus points: Let your current friends know what you’re working on. Explain that they’ll probably see you a bit less for a little while as you work toward your goal.

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Not only will they appreciate the advance warning before you stop showing up at happy hour, but they should also become a source of encouragement for you to move forward.

Besides, not being the social butterfly will help you with the next step.

4. Develop a taste for beans and potatoes

Your new business will need some upfront investment to get started. And once you do launch, arriving at the point where you can fully replace the income from your existing job will take some time.

So save your money. Pinch pennies. Look for areas to cut back, and put extra income aside as seed money for your business. Live below your means.

Create a budget of the necessities you need to pay for on a monthly basis (Starbucks is not a necessity). Then for anything else that doesn’t make the must-have list, cut it out of your budget and save that money.

The extra money will accumulate quickly and fuel your business. It can also help cover your expenses while you’re waiting for the sales to pour in.

Bonus points: Find creative ways to make necessary bills even smaller. You have to eat, right? Search for ways you can still feed yourself well-balanced, healthy meals at a lower price. And since you’ll have to leave your house from time to time, consider carpooling or taking public transportation to get to and from work to reduce transportation costs.

5. Acknowledge your ignorance

To make a living doing what you love, switch your approach from that of a hobbyist, to that of a professional. This will include investing time to study and get insanely good at your craft. You’ll also need to learn as much as you can about the business of your business.

In his best-selling book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell laid out the case for how to operate in excellence:

“Achievement is talent plus preparation. The problem with this view is that the closer psychologists look at the careers of the gifted, the smaller the role innate talent seems to play and the bigger the role preparation seems to play.”

Your journey to business success will run much more smoothly when you prepare.

So in addition to practicing your craft, study your competitors to see who is most successful and why. Pay attention to why others may not have done well in the past. The more you learn, the better equipped you’ll be to create the ideal business plan.

Bonus points: Commit yourself to working on your craft for at least thirty minutes a day for the next month. That dedicated time of learning how to get even better at what you do will set you apart from others in your field.

It will also put you in a better position to tackle the next step.

6. Get your freak on

Did you know that there are more than 70,000 yoga instructors in North America? If your dream business involved teaching yoga, you would need to identify a unique reason why students should choose you, instead of one of the many other instructors.

The same goes for any business. To get your customers to keep coming back, you must give them a compelling reason to choose you instead of someone else.

As part of your preparation process, make a list of at least three things that make you different from other available options to meet your customers’ needs. Next, choose which of those things matters most to the customers you want to serve.

Bonus points: Once you’ve got that one thing that truly makes you different, assess if you could add another skill to your wheelhouse to make your business even more attractive to your customers.

7. Burn your boats

To transition from your current job to running your dream business, at some point you will have to quit that job. Sure, you could do work on nights and weekends to get your business going, but at some point you will need to make the full-time business leap for you to truly start making a living with it. A living where you don’t have to count your pennies before going to dinner with your friends.

I get it. Holding on to your job is safe. It’s nice knowing a paycheck will come on the first and fifteenth of each month. But if you’re not careful, that comfort will keep you stuck in a job you loathe rather than building the life you love.

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So to make sure you don’t get stuck, you’ve got to burn your boats.

Back in the 1500s when Hernan Cortez led his army of men in a conquest of Mexico, he ordered that the boats they arrived in be burned. He did this to prevent anyone from turning back and abandoning the mission.

In essence, he ensured commitment to the battle, by eliminating all opportunity to abort the assignment.

Burn your boats by writing your resignation letter. Set a date for when you will kiss your job goodbye. Maybe that’s six months or a year from now. Just set a date.

To help you feel more comfortable about picking the time, make a list of all the activities and milestones you need to complete before transitioning. Then estimate the time needed to get it all done. Use that as the date for submitting your letter.

Bonus points: After you write the letter, set it to send automatically from your email account on the date you plan to leave. Set it, then forget about it as you get to work on your business. That way, in six months when that lovely email goes out, your boats will be blazing.

Time to stop watching the clock

Your dream of getting paid to do what you love is in reach. You can totally make it your reality, you just need to follow these essential steps.

Then instead of watching the clock all day, you’ll just blissfully stand still for a bit—so you can savor the amazing feelings that come with making a living doing what you love.

Featured photo credit: Man with guitar via gratisography.com

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Published on July 27, 2021

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow
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During the pandemic, video conferencing replaced in-person meetings and has now become the standard option for business meetings. Over the past 17 months, most workers have gotten past the video conferencing learning curve with Zoom or Microsoft Teams (or their platform of choice).

But just as with in-person meetings, attention can wax and wane. Some say we’re just not used to staring at ourselves so much on the screen. Instead of fixating on that, try employing smart video conferencing etiquette, or you may risk indiscretions that will flag you as a slacker.

Put the Pro in Professional

After more than a year of fine-tuning, here are the new rules of video conferencing etiquette.

1. Mute Your Mobile and Other Devices

The first video conference etiquette you need to know is muting your other devices. Just as in the pre-COVID days, someone’s obnoxious ring tone blaring Taylor Swift’s newest single in the middle of a meeting is also an annoyance if it happens during a Zoom meeting and so is the inevitable fumbling to turn off the sound. Even the apologies to the group get tiresome.

Also, when notifications are activated on the computer that you’re using for the meeting, the incoming message takes over the audio and you’ll miss out on snippets of the conversation. Be sure to eliminate this possible faux pas.

2. Dress the Part

While working from home, you may have fallen into the habit of slipping on your comfiest T-shirt each day. Hey, no judgments! But before you log on to your video conference, try to make an effort with your appearance.

Depending on your company culture and the importance of your meeting, consider dressing the part of the professional whom you wish to project. It will help you feel more self-assured, and others will likely take you more seriously.

For women, wear light make-up, put on earrings, and make sure your blouse is crisply pressed. For men, show up freshly shaved. Wearing a crisp collared shirt in a solid color will usually suffice.

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Pro Tip: Stay away from wearing white or black, unless those colors look great on you. Consider wearing light blue or brown instead.

3. Stage Your Workspace

Have you noticed the backdrops of experts interviewed on news shows? Bookshelves and photographs are carefully curated, and no busy-patterned furniture or artwork is in sight.

Take note of what appears behind you when you choose the location of your video conferences. Piles of junk mail on the table or stacks of folded laundry on the couch will convey more about your personal life than you care to share. Make sure you remove clutter from the camera’s eye, and present a tidy, orderly workspace to your colleagues, coworkers, and bosses.

4. Put Some Thought Into Lighting and Perspective

Be aware that in a video conference, your computer camera can actually make you look up to ten pounds heavier depending on where you sit. But you can easily drop those added pounds by moving back from the screen to diminish the wide-angle distortion.

Frame your head on the screen by tilting the screen up or down. Also, it’s best to not place yourself in front of a window or bright light, which makes you appear in shadow. Instead, face the light source, moving it (or yourself) until you have a flattering amount of illumination. You can also purchase some small spotlights that allow you to add light as needed.

Pro Tip: If your lights add too much redness to your skin, consider counter-balancing with a green filter.

Remember That Half of Life Is Showing Up

5. Arrive on Time

In the old days of in-person meetings, it was nearly impossible to slip in late into a meeting unnoticed. In today’s video conferences, logging in late still shows poor form. Instead, strive to arrive five minutes early and get yourself settled.

Once the meeting is underway, the host may be less attentive about late arrivals waiting to be let in. Diverting the host’s attention away from the meeting with a tardy entry request is the ultimate giveaway that you didn’t honor the schedule. If you don’t want a black mark against you, log in on time.

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6. Turn on Your Video

Few people like to see their face on the screen, but buck up and turn on your camera in video conferences. In most cases, it’s better to be a face on a screen than a name in a blank square. Your statements will be more memorable when other meeting attendees can see you.

If you need to turn off the video, either because of a poor connection, some commotion in the room, or a need for a quick break, give a short explanation via the chat feature. Then, go back on video as soon as you’re able.

Pro Tip: Keep your explanation for your departure pithy. “Sorry! Doorbell rang. Back in five” says it all. Be sure to honor what you say in chat and really do return in five minutes.

7. Plan Ahead Before Sharing Your Screen

Don’t be one of those people who makes everyone else wait as you click through folders in search of a document. That’s just poor video conferencing etiquette. If you know you’ll need to share a document or video on your screen, prepare by pulling it out of its folder and onto your desktop. Also, clean up the files and folders on your desktop to reduce clutter and facilitate easy access. Close other programs like chat, calendar notifications, and email. Disable pop-up notifications to ensure there’ll be no unforeseen distractions.

Be sure to remind the host before the meeting that you’ll need them to activate the screen-sharing function. Show courtesy once you’re finished by hitting “stop share” to return to the screen with participants.

Attend to the Pesky Details

8. Make Sure That Meetings Remain Right-Sized

With the easy accessibility of video conferencing, it can be tempting to extend the meeting invitation beyond the core group and include everyone peripherally involved in a project. But just as with in-person meetings, the more people involved, the more unwieldy the meeting becomes.

Use good judgment when asking others to sit through a video conference so that you don’t needlessly take up others’ time and so that participants can be fully engaged.

9. Remember to “Unmute” Before You Speak

Most of us are likely able to count on one hand the number of video conferences when someone didn’t have to be reminded, “You’re on mute!” Forgetting to unmute before speaking has become one of the most common missteps in video conferencing.[1]

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Show everyone your impeccable video-conferencing poise by managing your mute feature with flawless control.

10. Stay on Point to Keep the Meeting Length in Check

As with in-person meetings, an agenda with assigned time limits for discussions remains necessary to keep a meeting focused. Data shows, however, that video conferencing can actually reduce meeting time.[2] Reasons include the elimination of commuting time and the ability to screen share and annotate to keep everyone on task.

Additionally, side conversations are virtually impossible with video conferencing now that you can no longer have back-and-forth exchanges with the person beside you.

Pro Tip: If you’re running the meeting, let attendees know in advance the protocol for the chat feature. Is it okay for them to “chat among themselves” or not? (See point 11, as well.)

Talking Has a Time and a Place

11. Chat Appropriately

Just like side conversations or texting in an in-person meeting, the use of the chat feature during a video conference can be disrespectful unless it’s directed to all participants. Hence, it’s good video conferencing etiquette to mind your use of the chat.

At the start of the meeting, you may want to ask the host if it’s alright for participants to use the chat feature. This allows them to disable it if they choose. Used appropriately, it can be a helpful tool to clarify or amplify an earlier point once the conversation has moved on or to let the group know that you need to sign off early (and why).

12. Use the “Raise Hand” Feature to Avoid Interruptions

The slight lag in many video conferences can result in speaking over another person if you attempt to jump into a conversation. To avoid this awkward interruption, indicate when you have something to add to the discussion with the raise-your-hand feature that signals the host you would like to speak. This effective meeting management device makes video conferencing run more smoothly, especially with a large group, but it must be activated and monitored by the host.

Pro Tip: For meetings of six to ten people, sometimes the old-fashioned raising of your physical hand may be the best option. But it’s up to the meeting host. Ask them what they would prefer, and follow that.

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13. Don’t Record the Session or Take Photos Without Prior Permission

In this case, not sharing is caring. The “sharing culture” made popular through social media has little place in video conferencing. Before recording a meeting or capturing a screenshot of the participants, always ask for consent in advance from the full roster of attendees. Knowing that a video conference will be photographed or recorded could have a bearing on what others are willing to discuss.

Manage Yourself

14. Minimize Distractions

While de-activating audio and video features can keep distractions from affecting the other participants, you will need to manage noise and disruptions on your end to give your full attention to the meeting.

Move out of high-traffic zones in your home, keep your door closed, and ask family members to be considerate.

15. Save Snacking for Later

Save snacking for later—or earlier. Eating while on video conference is a no-no. Munching in front of the group while close to the camera—as you are when video conferencing—subjects the participants to an up-close and (too) personal view of your food consumption process.

However, it’s perfectly fine to sip quietly from a glass of water or cup of coffee or tea. If the meeting threatens to last for more than two hours, you may want to ask the host in advance to schedule a five-minute break at the halfway point.

Final Thoughts

Even though bosses are now beginning to ask workers to spend some of their workdays on-site, up to 80 percent will permit employees to work remotely at least part of the time, which means more video conferencing in your future.[3] Mastering these video conferencing etiquette tips will help you dial in—as well as dial back—your participation and demonstrate your unwavering level of engagement to the team.

Featured photo credit: Chris Montgomery via unsplash.com

Reference

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