Pod From The Heart: 5 Podcasting Tips To Start (And Maintain!) A Successful Show

Pod From The Heart: 5 Podcasting Tips To Start (And Maintain!) A Successful Show

Tips + Tools Work

“You should start a podcast. In a few years everyone’s gonna be doing them. If you want to, now’s the time. But you know, also, don’t do it if you don’t want to.”

Sitting in a café in Silverlake across from my friend Jessica on a crisp April afternoon, I soaked in her words as my eyes wandered in the way they do when I agree with someone but am also a little terrified by what they’re saying.

It was 2015 and I’d just launched the website for my new project, WANT: Women Against Negative Talk, three months earlier. I was simultaneously working as an editor for a wellness site, which I joked was my “grad school” since it was so clear that everything I had learned about navigating the digital space over my four years thus far was directly applicable to what I was creating on my own. There were clear formulas, processes, and platforms to follow and utilize.

Podcasting, however, was brand new territory. I barely knew of anyone who listened to podcasts…let alone HOSTED them. Well, except Jessica. Did I have what it would take to start my own??

It’s over five years later and I’m so glad I took Jessica’s advice when I did. My podcast, WANTcast: The Women Against Negative Talk Podcast, launched in September 2015 and just celebrated its fifth birthday (I’ve got a kindergartener, folks!). Not only am I relieved that I got to podcasting before the medium’s big boom post-Serial…I’m relieved I took the second part of Jessica’s advice to heart just as much as the first part:

“…But you know, also, don’t do it if you don’t want to.”

Expectation vs reality.

My heart both bursts and breaks when I think about people starting podcasts today.
It bursts because I absolutely love how accessible podcasting is. I love that with minimal equipment and overhead, almost anyone can create a show. I love that with the slew of podcasting platforms that exist at various price points, almost anyone can subscribe and listen. I love the wide range of possibilities that exists with podcasting.

It breaks for the same reasons one’s heart breaks when anything they love becomes a bit too mainstream. I’m reminded of the bloggers circa 2010 and the big blog boom that followed soon thereafter (side note, try to say big blog boom 10xs fast). It seemed like every single mega company was adding a blog to their website – and if independent bloggers weren’t willing to turn their blog into a business to keep up, they’d fall back into the shadows.

Big media companies now dominate the pod charts, making it harder and harder for smaller, independently-run podcasts to get the downloads (and even visibility!) they deserve. If you’re a small fish in the big pond of pods and want to monetize your podcast, the mainstreaming of podcasts has made it REALLY hard to do so, especially without the help of an ad network.

But that’s not all: while podcasts *seem* relatively easy for anyone to create, the process of creating a quality episode – let alone entire show – is anything BUT. With only your voice, mind, and sound quality to connect with listeners, something as small as a faint clicking sound in the background (your dog walking on hardwood floor or husband typing on his computer, perhaps?) can get listeners saying No Thanks. The one exception is if you’re a big celebrity…in which case, people find the lack of polish somewhat endearing. Stars! They’re just like us! 

The problem with THAT is that those might be the podcasts people are being inspired by when they say they want to start their own. But the bar listeners have for a new voice is so different than the bar they have for their favorite celeb who feels “so accessible!” to them. You can have the best ideas and the most well-thought-out episode…but if your sound quality isn’t decent, it’s going to be tough to retain listeners…if that’s what you’re after. And that’s not even taking into account episode structure, intros, outros, interview skills and styles, editing or lack thereof, storytelling, coughs, sneezes, ums, likes, laughs, and so many other purely subjective things that the listener may or may not love or loathe.

Even if you’re someone who doesn’t care about making bank off your pod, the expectation vs. reality gap of “starting a podcast” has become so wide that, according to studies, half of all podcasts don’t get past 15 episodes (this one study from 2018 said that 12% don’t even get past the first episode). 

Because I want to.

I’m so glad I followed (and have stuck with) Jessica’s initial advice of “you know, don’t do it if you don’t want t0.” While I’ve worked with sponsors in the past, I stopped doing ads back in early 2019 because I didn’t want my need to make money from podcasting cloud my judgement of whether I actually WANTED to podcast or not. With every single decision, pivot, and new season of the WANTcast, I’ve asked myself: is this something I am doing because I feel like I have to, or because I feel like I want to?

So far, the answer has been: because I want to.

Because of this rule of thumb, I’ve been able to cross the half-decade mark feeling so proud of not only the show, but the listener community we’ve developed. I trust my audience, and they trust me. And they know I don’t take that trust lightly. They know I choose topics, guests, spotlights organizations, and the very rare very occasional sponsor with them in mind.


Over the last half-decade, I’ve invested in this mic, this mic, and this mic (which I use currently). I’ve made sure to never sacrifice the quality of the episode, which means I’ve turned down many guests who are ok but not a stellar fit, and have hired an editor to make sure my sound is as clean as can be given the equipment I’m willing to pay for.

Our topics are deep and nuanced. We’ve covered: Facing your fears, Creative depressions, Personality types (astrology, human design, Myers Briggs, and more), Body image, Trauma, Sex education, Speaking up, Racism, Sexism, Ableism, Ageism, Jealousy, Forgiveness, Visions, Dreams, Goals, Self-doubt, Self-worth, Anxiety, Overwhelm, Mental illness, Ghost worries, Circumstantial happiness, Experiential longing, Fat-phobia, Body neutrality, Addiction, Recovery, Through lines, Grief, Boundaries, Planned Freak-Outs, Self love, Self like, and SO much more.

And if there’s one thing I’ve embraced, it’s that I do things MY way.

I don’t do things by the book, but I attribute the WANTcast’s longevity to sticking to a few specific self-made rules. Take what works for you, leave the rest.

Here are my top podcasting tips for anyone who wants to start a pod from the heart:

Set your own schedule.
Pick a schedule that works for you, and don’t be afraid to alter it when it no longer does. Refuse to sacrifice the quality of experience for the quantity of episodes. When I began the WANTcast, I started on an every-three-weeks schedule, because I was working a full-time job, community to and from that full-time job, and knew I would never have the bandwidth to create and produce episodes on a weekly basis considering the rest of my life. All the podcasts I listened to were on a weekly schedule, but I knew I’d be one of those people who never got past 15 episodes if I followed their lead.

Since then I’ve been on an every-three-weeks schedule, every-other-week schedule, a weekly schedule, and what is now an every week-or-two schedule (because right now, I need that flexibility for my own mental wellbeing). Consistency is key but it will also screw you over if you’re too married to it. Find what works for you, whether it’s what you see others doing or not.

Fuck analytics.
Analytics are overrated, and subjective. DO NOT look at analytics to tell you how “good” or impactful your pod is. Marie Forleo calls these Vanity Metrics: numbers that don’t actually move the needle in your business. Are you giving people a clear CTA in your episode about how to let you know they’re listening and loving your show? Do you prompt them within the episode to share? Are they sharing? What are they sharing? What are they saying?

The only thing I find analytics good for is to see what’s working and what might not be working as well as it could. Know your average download rate. What episodes fall below that rate? Which ones fall above it? Did an episode spike in listeners and then drop back down right after – a sign that maybe someone with a big following shared your episode, and so their followers ONLY listened to that episode? Look at analytics with a critical eye. Once you do, you’ll start to see patterns, and you’ll be able to get information about what kinds of content people are loving the most, so you can make more of it.

Don’t be afraid of the PIVOT.
Begin with clarity of vision, model, and purpose…AND be willing to pivot to serve the greater vision. Start with a clear reason WHY you are starting your pod. What is it that speaks to you? What are your objectives? How will you know whether you’re achieving those objectives or not? Will you have guests? Sponsored ads? What problem are you solving for you listener, or how exactly are you looking to enhance their life?

Start your pod with those at the forefront. Make your plan. Stick with it for at least 10-15 episodes so you get into a rhythm and can accurately gage what is working, what isn’t, and what were just growing pains.

AND THEN…if you EVER feel like you need to make changes, make them with that clarity of vision in mind. Get back to your roots. Your whys. Your mission. Maybe that means you change the format of your episodes, maybe that means you change your schedule. But whatever it is, don’t just keep doing something simply because it’s how you’ve always done it. I promise you that if you’ve developed a close relationship with your community, they’ll most likely be on board and be able to see the bigger picture.

Do it  because it’s a fit for you.
Do it because you love it. Do it because it’s fun. Do it because it’s a fit for you.

Do NOT do it to “keep up.” Do NOT do it because you think you should. Do NOT do it because someone else told you to. If it works for you in one season of your life, great. If it stops being a fit for you and doesn’t work in the very next season of your life, let it go. There will always be a new platform or medium to get into. That doesn’t mean every single one is going to be the best fit for YOU…or ALWAYS be the best fit for you.

There are no rules.
My last rule I’ve followed is…there are no rules 🙃

Well, other than to stay in integrity with yourself and your show by constantly re-assessing if your intentions align with your impact. But other than that. No rules other than the ones you make for yourself.


WANT YOUR SELF:

Have you started a podcast? Have you chosen NOT to start a podcast? Why, or why not? Are you THINKING of starting one? Which of these tips did you find the most useful?

And if you’re a WANTcast listener…what has been your favorite episode so far? Did you have a favorite guest? Or maybe a favorite topic we covered in a solo episode or a favorite story that’s stuck with you? I would LOVE to hear.

Not subscribed to the WANTcast? Subscribe here in iTunes or over on Spotify.

And while you’re at it, subscribe to Jessica’s podcast, One Part Podcast. She is very very wise.

We Belong To Each Other: How To Take Care Of Yourself (And Others) When You Can’t Go Anywhere.

We Belong To Each Other: How To Take Care Of Yourself (And Others) When You Can’t Go Anywhere.

Community Most Popular Posts Tips + Tools Work

In the last five days, I’ve retracted my RSVP for a cousin’s wedding which was later put on hold, cancelled a trip to L.A., postponed a workshop I was co-leading, cancelled my fitness class recording sessions, postponed friend-reunions, skipped out on a networking event, and gotten news that many friends who were debuting their films at SXSW, shows on Broadway, and books into the world would have to press hold on celebrating their art out in the world in real life with other humans.

I’ve also finished two books and started a third, written over 10,000 words for a secret project, attended a funeral via live stream, set up a home studio to record remotely, scheduled aforementioned friend-reunion dinner over Zoom (planty foods and cocktails of choice included), spoken to my therapist, ordered delivery from local restaurants I’ve always wanted to try, cleared my inbox by 50%, bought new books just making their debuts, downloaded multiple independent films on multiple platforms, started to buy tickets to shows I can’t wait to see, and made pumpkin seed butter from scratch.

I’m finding that it’s easier for me transition to this Homeward Bound lifestyle than a lot of my friends. Not because I’m better at managing global crises – but because I’m an introvert. My home is my favorite place in the world. I’ve also been working primarily from home for most of my adult life. Even as a kid, I preferred locking myself in my room and playing silently than going out with my peers. I texted a friend, half-jokingly: THIS IS MY MOMENT!! This is what I’ve been PREPARING FOR my whole LIFE!

However, there’s one thing I’m still struggling with, no matter how many jars of pumpkin seed butter I make or chapters I write: my sponginess.

 

SPONGINESS.

I’m what’s called a Highly Sensitive Person, which means I see things others can’t and feel things others don’t. I can feel fear or freedom just by looking at your Instagram post. It’s been both my downfall and my most prized resumé point.

Jeremy calls my high sensitivity my “sponginess.” I sponge up everyone else’s emotions and everything else’s intensity and hold it within me in my pores and fibers. It’s been a great way to explain to him how I’m feeling when I don’t have words – I can just tell him I’m having a majorly spongey day and he understands my heaviness. He also knows my sponginess is my superpower – so instead of trying to change it, he celebrates it while helping me squeeze out what doesn’t serve me.

When I first moved to NYC, the abundance of FEELING was exhilarating, until it wasn’t. I tried to soak in EVERYTHING and it broke me down. I tried to cut myself off and it numbed me out. I had to find a balance and boundaries, and ways to wring myself out at the end of the day. A warm home. A riveting book. Deep breaths by the river. Lying on the floor and staring at the ceiling.

Eating disorders, I’ve heard, are a kind of OCD – a way to count, clean, and control, control, control. In my early days of recovery, I got into an all-or-nothing habit of either cleaning my entire house top to bottom then back again, or leaving clothes and papers and plates and dust to pile up for days, sometimes weeks on end. I once left a sponge sitting at the bottom of my sink in a shallow pool of water. After a while, I finally went to pick it up and realized it had started to mold and disintegrate.

Boundaries are hard. But my job is not to clean up everyone else’s mess. And my job is not to sit in the dark underneath the sink, dry and numb and unmovable, either. Sponges don’t work down there.

 My job is to absorb enough water that I can soak up the muck and make things shine, but not so much that I submerge myself and it breaks my fibers apart.

 

IN SPONGEY TIMES SUCH AS THESE.

The sponges are feeling it BIG TIME right now. They’re feeling the fears of their neighbors, the triggers of anyone who has ever experienced an eating or body-related disorder (this is a VERY triggering state for ED-prone people to be in), the anger of the over-60 set who are pissed that they want to go outside and are also pissed they’re being referred to as “elderly” maybe for the first time in their lives, the frustration of the kids of the over-60 set who don’t understand why their parents just don’t GET it, the snarkiness of the people who believe it’s all a sham and prefer to make fun of the people who don’t…it’s all so, so very much.

What a weird time to be someone who is not typically an alarmist, but simultaneously wants to be the very best, most mindful community member possible. I know that while I don’t fall into the most vulnerable demographic, any trace of Coronavirus/COVID-19/Beer Germs (get it? Corona? Virus? Beer? Germs? I’ll be here all week folks) that I catch could be passed onto someone else whose body might not be able to handle it nearly as well. Not to mention the overwhelmed healthcare professionals right now who are trying to take care of as many people as possible but have a fraction of the resources needed to do so.

Over the last couple weeks, I’ve been asked many times what I “think of all this,” how people can take care of themselves, and what my general take is on living day-to-day life when it looks and feels anything but normal. Instead of posting a million times to Instagram or spreading my responses out over emails, texts, DMs, and social media updates, I figured it might be useful for you if I just posted everything here, all in one place – for the sponges who need help with sponging, for the people who are struggling finding normalcy and motivation at home, and everyone who’s dealing with a little bit of everything.


9 Ways To Take Care Of Yourself (And Others) During Coronavirus And Beyond

 

LIMIT YOUR NEWS INTAKE

We can’t always control what we see, but we CAN control what we pay attention to. Sometimes it feels like we’re at the mercy of news updates and social media feeds, but now is a great time to practice a Thank you, next! Ariana Grande-style philosophy and dismiss what does not serve us.

I’m not a huge fan of jumping straight to a cold-turkey digital detox, especially while so many of us are feeling isolated. Not only do I think it’s unrealistic for long-term mental health management – it’s probably not the best idea to make yourself feel even MORE cut off from the world and disconnected from your loved ones right now than you already are.

If going cold-turkey works for you, fantastic. But for the rest of us, limit your Beer Germ updates to THREE PIECES OF CONTENT A DAY. Why three? Four feels like slipping too far down the internet rabbit hole, but one or two feels like there’s no chance for redemption if you DO start to go down a dark path. Consuming and paying attention to three pieces of news updates – whether it’s about Coronavirus or any other hot-topic news item that makes you feel nervous – empowers you to mindfully choose what’s worthy of your attention. How do you want to design your day/week/outlook? Maybe you’ve give two doom-and-gloom articles your attention already – actively SEARCH for a more positive and proactive note to end on (this post is a great one!).

 

BRING BACK THE REIGN OF THE HOBBIES

We all say it. All. The. Time.

If I just had more time…

If there were two extra hours in the day…

Okay, so you’ve been granted your wish. If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you don’t currently have a “commute time,” or a busy, distracting office to spend the day in, or non-essential errands like getting a haircut that you “have to get done.”

So what is it? What is that THING you always say you’d do if you had more time? Cleaning your pantry? Writing poetry? Making salsa? Reading a book? Organizing your computer desktop? Draw? Paint? Showing your kid old photos? Learning how to play a new game? This is your time. No excuses anymore. Do your thing. Do that one small thing that’s been lurking in the back of your mind. Whether that’s fixing something broken, learning something new, delving into a meaningful project, or getting back in touch with one of your lost hobbies (REMEMBER HOBBIES?!). I made pumpkin seed butter and am writing like a fiend. What will YOU do with this time given to you in your one wild and precious life?

 

BE A GOOD COMMUNITY MEMBER

And I mean the people who are negatively affected BEYOND not being able to find toilet paper or your favorite shampoo on the shelves. I mean the local businesses whose livelihood depends on in-person interaction, the service industry workers who don’t get paid if they don’t have a shift, the cab drivers who are driving around for hours on end looking for passengers. If you have the means to, order takeout from your local restaurants and tip generously. When you need groceries or home goods, buy locally instead of on Amazon when possible – or call the store! – and then ask if they’ll deliver to your home. When they do, tip generously. Order cabs (there is usually a glass divider between the driver and the passenger), bring antibacterial wipes to wipe down the seats and handles if you choose to, and then – yep – tip generously.

And if there’s a mistake – your cab driver turns down a wrong street, your delivery order is SLIIIIIGHTLY off, tip anyway. Because they’re also a human, just like you, doing the best they can right now. I ordered takeout the other night and my fries were replaced with dumplings. Would I have preferred fries? Yes. Would I be fine with the dumplings? Yes. Now is not the time to snap at each other. As Mother Teresa said, “If we have no peace, it’s because we’ve forgotten that we belong to each other.”

 

GET MOVING AND GET SUNSHINE

Exercise is proven to boost your mood AND your immune system. The beauty of this day and age is that we have so many digital options available, at all price points and experience levels, to help us get high-quality workouts during this high-quarantine time.

Exercise isn’t about the workout. Not REALLY. A class, workout, or session isn’t  just fitness training – but LIFE training as well. The more resilient you can be in the face of a challenge in your workout, the more resilient you’ll be in the face of a challenge out there in the world. The kinder you are to yourself while you’re sweating, the kinder you’ll be to yourself when you’re not. In these confusing and emotionally spongey times, it’s important to lean into that mental aspect of fitness, and lean into it HARD.

That doesn’t mean you need to crush it on a treadmill. Keep your distance from others – but get outside! Soak in sunshine on a brisk (or not-brisk) walk or run. Do some stretching in the grass. Make the most of your surroundings.

I teach for Aaptiv, and it’s been an absolute joy and mega comfort to see how many people are taking our trainers’ classes and getting a mood boost from them. If you’re not a member, go to aaptiv.com/save50 for 50% off a yearly membership – that’s $49.99, which is how much I’ve spent on dinner and cocktails with friends before, and literally 1/4 of many regular gym’s monthly dues. I teach outdoor walking, running, spin, elliptical, and treadmill classes galore, but there’s also strength, yoga, Pilates, meditation, and more.

Can’t afford $49.99? There are so many free workouts available online and being hosted on IG right now (Sadie Kurzban of 305 Fitness has some phenomenal dance classes that have happened so far!). Use this as a chance to discover something new, or lean into a long-forgotten physical source of joy (hello jump ropes!).

 

GET YOUR ART ON

So many concerts, book tours, theatre debuts, and film releases are being cancelled or rescheduled right now. These events usually take months upon months to prepare, after usually years and years of work and sweat and tears and heart given by the musicians, authors, actors, and filmmakers to make their art come to life.

Since you’ll probably be listening to music, reading, and watching movies anyway, why not support those artists who worked so tirelessly – only to have their art be put on hold or cancelled?

My friend Lynn Chen (you might remember her from The Recovery Myth or our L.A. panel a few years back) was slated to make her directorial debut with her film, I Will Make You Mine, at this year’s SXSW. She wrote beautifully about the heartbreak of her premiere being cancelled here. The GOOD news is that many of the films, albums, books, and shows that were cancelled or postponed either already exist out there in the world (books and albums), WILL be available for wide release soon (films), or will have their IRL events rescheduled at a later date. The very best things you can do right now are:

A) Sign up for their mailing lists so that you’re up to date with when you can enjoy their art (Lynn’s movie’s list is here!). Here is a list of SXSW films that were supposed to premiere this month.

B) Buy new book releases, stream new music, watch new movies, purchase theatre tickets in advance if possible. Your dollars and views and streams COUNT. As far as books go, Glennon Doyle has a fantastic thread of new books that were just released going on her Twitter feed.

 

EMBRACE THE ART OF THE VOICE TEXT

I LOVE voice texts. I can send them at any time, no matter HOW much time I have available to me, and I can have a voice-to-voice interaction with my friends. Phone calls can pile up (and sometimes become a game of “Call me back!!”), texts can be void of emotion (unless you’re a gif master), but voice texts are almost like a modern day walkie-talkie.

As someone who can feel very guilty about returning phone calls “too late” AND would rather have a multi-hour-long conversation than a quick 10-minute catch up (I am not a 10-minute catch up kind of gal unless I’m forced to be), voice texts feel like a great, no-pressure way to connect and share thoughts, feelings, and ideas in real time. Try it – I have one going on my favorite group chat right now and it’s bringing us all so much joy. And, feels like a great way to have energetic boundaries if you ARE a muti-hour phone convo person like me. Which brings me to…

 

SET CONVERSATION BOUNDARIES (AND HONOR OTHERS’, TOO)

Something I’ve had to learn and re-learn, and teach and re-teach my loved ones, over my many years of Homeward Bound work, is that just because I’m around doesn’t mean I’m available. If you need to talk about your stresses or fears, please please please don’t hold it inside. But if you need space, assert space. My mom literally just sent me a “Call me” text – and since we’ve had the conversation before about me freaking out and jumping to worst-case-scenario over “Call me” texts, she knows to let me know if it’s urgent or not. This is not urgent. I responded: “I will in a few!” Simple as that. I talked to her a few hours ago and this follow-up can wait, and she knows I still love her and WILL call her back (follow up is important). Whether you’re busy writing, reading, or just soaking in some silence and contemplation time, you are allowed to take the space YOU need to feel the way YOU want to feel.

In the same vein, be mindful of how you connect with others right now. Maybe they need some space, too. While almost everyone is in a heightened emotional state, honor if your loved ones need some space, too. This is a wonderful time to practice clear and kind communication both ways!

 

CREATE NORMALCY IN THE ABNORMALITY

Working from home and not used to it? Some quick tips: Make your bed. Brush your teeth. Put on real clothes. Schedule your days in your calendar. Take lunch breaks. Find your New, For-Now Normal instead of throwing all structure out the door until further notice.

 

DO THE NEXT RIGHT THING

Do The Next Right Thing. It’s a common piece of advice for overwhelm, depression, and anxiety. Look way past the moment you’re in, and get clear on how you want to feel way after this has passed. Look at the moment you’re in and what’s being asked of you (literally or figuratively), and ask yourself how you can simplify your response to it. And then do the next right thing.

Who’s to say YOU are not the Next Right Thing the world needs right now? Who’s to say you writing that one poem, or reading that one book to your kids, or speaking up and staying home, won’t change it all for someone else? That poem might reignite your love for writing that leads you to your first book. That book you read might spark your kid’s imagination and lead them to develop a new passion. Speaking up and staying home might give someone else the courage to do the same, and that someone might be someone who later finds out they were carrying the virus that’s spreading like wildfire. It’s usually not the big grand gestures but the small seemingly ordinary ones that make the biggest impact. As Joan Didion said, “Life changes in the instant. The ordinary instant.” Your ordinary instant might be the change you wish to see in the world. YOU might be the Next Right Thing.


WANT YOURSELF:

In the comments, share what books you’re reading, films you’re watching, recipes you’re cooking, workouts you’re doing, hobbies you’re enjoying, projects you’re completing, or any other way you’re being proactive and not reactive during this time! With so much up in the air (no virusy pun intended) some of us need your inspiration to help turn our days around right now. Let’s create a nice list for anyone who needs it!

Subscribe to The (Good) Word + join the WANT movement:


Let It Go: The Most Productive Formula For Your New Year’s Resolutions.

Let It Go: The Most Productive Formula For Your New Year’s Resolutions.

Body Community Love Most Popular Posts Shift Of Power Tips + Tools Work

Doesn’t it sound sexy to say what you’re “leaving behind” in the new year? To make a list of what you’re going to stop doing in 2020?

I know it does. I’ve done that before: written down the things I’m leaving behind, burned them in a fireplace, the whole dramatic deal.

But it’s not that simple. We‘re all human – living not just our high highs and low lows but a whole full spectrum of experience every day. Change is never as easy as leaving something behind and never looking back. Even amongst the most “enlightened” of us, it’s very likely we’ll inevitably be confronted with or fall back into an old pattern we thought we were done with. Best case scenario, we learn to mindfully navigate the situation and pattern differently each time around. But even so – it’s a two-steps-forward, one-step-back kind of deal. Practice makes progress, not perfect.

What’s more likely is what happens to 80% of us: we take that one step back and shame ourselves into submission. When we live in extremes, we don’t leave room for the in-betweens, the lessons learned in those tougher moments. We tell ourselves we’re “so bad,” we messed up, we’re a failure, we can’t do this, and so on and so forth blah blah blah. The moment we create ultimatums in our minds is the moment we set ourselves up for shame and self-doubt in the long run.

In my own work and life, I talk a lot about LETTING GO instead of LEAVING BEHIND. Feels more like accountability to me. Controlling what you can and only what *you* can. Recognizing that something can (and probably will) pop back into your life but you get to choose whether you pick it up or not.

When I coach people to let go of something – a thought, a feeling, a belief, a situation, a person – I always try to frame it so that they’re letting go of it in order to make space for something else SPECIFIC.

Because the thing is: the second you STOP, QUIT, or LEAVE BEHIND…what’s gonna fill that space? If you don’t know what you’re fighting for, you’re going to end up right back where you began with what you’re fighting against…at the most basic level, if only because it’s familiar.

Try this way more productive formula throughout the year, but especially now as you reflect and project in Resolution Mode:

I am letting go of ((how something affects you or why you do what you do)), so I can ((what that thing holds you back from doing)).

Examples…

    • INSTEAD OF “I will stop putting others before myself.”
    • TRY “I will let go of my need to please others, so I can make room for myself.”
    • INSTEAD OF “I am leaving behind toxic people.”
    • TRY “I am letting go of excusing bad behavior at my own expense, so I can live out MY journey exactly as it’s intended to unfold.”
    • INSTEAD OF “I will quit negative self-talk.”
    • TRY “I am letting go of my limiting beliefs, so that I can feel confident and grounded.”

Notice this formula doesn’t say you will always do or feel or be that thing you say you’ve been held back from doing/feeling/being. Just like there’s no ultimatums for the negatives, there’s no ultimatums for the positives. The point is to make space and define what you want that space to hold. Not to always make room for yourself, or live out your own journey, or feel confident and grounded, or whatever you created space for. But to state clearly: this is what I want, this is what I’m willing to fight for.

Burn your regrets in the fireplace if you want. Make a dramatic statement if it feels good. But make sure you do this, too. Just know that you’re a person in progress – and your life will be one long loop of letting things go and picking things up along the way. You might not get to choose what enters your world, but you sure as hell can choose what you do with it.


WANT Yourself: 
Now you: What are you letting go of, and what are you making space for?

 

Never miss a post. Ever. Sign up + join the WANT movement:


Opportunity Seizing (or, Consistency Is A Trap.)

Opportunity Seizing (or, Consistency Is A Trap.)

Community Most Popular Posts Motivation + Inspiration Work

Are you sick of the end-of-year scare tactics yet? I sure am.

You know the ones. Even if you don’t KNOW you know the ones…you know them.

“Make this last month of the DECADE count!”

“Only a few more weeks left in the YEAR!”

“Don’t waste the last few days of 2019!”

If seeing and hearing these phrases stress you out, congrats. They’re meant to stress you out.

I was talking to a friend yesterday who confided in me that she’s going through it. That “IT” so many of us are going through this time of year, that’s compounded and magnified by the stressy “MAKE THE LAST DAYS OF THE DECADE COUNT” memes. 

She doesn’t feel inspired, she feels ungrounded, her routines are all over the place. She’s feeling guilty and rushed, like she’s lost her magic spark and might not ever get it back again. She hasn’t kept up with a few business things and hasn’t figured out her winter self-care. She feels all over the place and scared she won’t find herself again after this storm settles…IF it settles.

And so I texted her this:

“Consistency” can be great. It can also be a trap. Time is a construct. Time was created to give us measurements and structure – which make us feel a sense of order in an otherwise chaotic world.

But if we rely on structure TOO heavily, we start to lose our sense of independence. If we rely on timing, consistency, schedule, and routines to keep us in control, what happens when LIFE happens – when those things are upended?

A question:

If I told you that the new year/decade actually began YESTERDAY instead of today, would that change how you did things?

If I told you that you actually had 28 months instead of 28 DAYS left in 2019, how would you spend your time?

The choices you make today won’t be remembered in 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 years from now as the choices you made to “make the most of the end of the year.”

The choices you make today – if they’re important and brave enough choices, which can range from sending that tough email to taking a FULL rest day (not hour! day!) to FULLY reset – will be choices you remember as seized opportunities.

Because here’s the thing.

When you ask the universe for patience, strength, bravery, or fearlessness, it doesn’t give you patience, strength, bravery, or fearlessness.

It gives you OPPORTUNITIES to be patient, strong, brave, and fearless.

When you ask the universe for patience, strength, bravery, or fearlessness, it doesn’t give you patience, strength, bravery, or fearlessness. It gives you OPPORTUNITIES to be patient, strong, brave, and fearless. Click To Tweet

When we’re caught up in timelines and structure and routines, we run the risk of missing those opportunities. We start to act out of fear of “losing ourselves,” when in reality it usually takes a break in routine and consistency for us to really find ourselves.

As this year/decade comes to a close, I challenge you to look at each day as its own experience. It’s not simply “the X-to-last day of the year.” It’s its own living, breathing, morphing organism. It lives on its own AND as a mini-chapter in the macro-story around you.

Screw marrying yourself to a timeline or consistency for consistency’s sake. There are opportunities every single day for you to seize to help you be the you you know you’re meant to be. They might live inside your routine or timelines…they might not. 

All that matters is that you stay on the lookout.

 

Powerful Beyond Measure: Living Into Your Life’s Assignment

Powerful Beyond Measure: Living Into Your Life’s Assignment

Community Motivation + Inspiration Shift Of Power WANT Women Work

“Live Your Purpose.” It’s an easily digestible, hyper-tweetable ism you’ve probably heard or seen everywhere from social media to street art. But what does it actually mean to “live your purpose?” And if a purpose is so easily livable…then why aren’t more people doing it?

Emily Ghosh Harris, founder of SoulMedia and host of The Soul Collective Show, shared with WANT what she notices is missing in the purpose-living process…and some questions we can ask ourselves when we feel stuck in our own way.

 

We’re all given an important assignment when we’re born: a core purpose around which our life unfolds. And as we learn lessons along the way, we’re meant to give back and share what we learn with the world. Many of us learn some pretty challenging lessons – and we emerge stronger and more in touch with our soul than before.

Why then, when we have a deep sense of knowing that we’re here for a reason and we’re meant to make an impact, do we have such a difficult time discovering and living our purpose?

~

Is there something holding you back? Look closely. Because the reason you find “living your purpose” so difficult could be that there’s an unfulfilled need or unaddressed wound standing in your way. There’s an existing wound in your history that needs your awareness, compassion and focus so you can transform it, move forward, and fully embrace your life’s assignment.

For me, a big wound that was standing in my way was the need for approval. While I founded my company with a strong vision, purpose and intention to positively impact the world, I noticed that I would keep getting pulled into projects that weren’t in full alignment with our mission.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but the reason I kept getting pulled into these projects (that I knew weren’t a fit) was that I was lacking the courage to unapologetically and authentically express my true desires. I was afraid of judgement and disapproval. This resulted in work that was by many measures “successful”…but felt far from the full actualization of what I knew I was here to be doing. I knew in my soul that in order to live my life’s purpose, I needed to heal a subconscious need to people please and gain approval from others.

Instead of looking at the big picture, I started observing the seemingly small ways I was showing up for myself and others. - @soulmediaglobal Click To Tweet


Healing can be challenging.
Giving yourself the love you never received as a child, or giving yourself permission to follow your calling, can feel nearly impossible.

In order to heal and transform, we must take a closer, honest look at our wounds and ask:

How am I triggered?

How do my insecurities detract from living my true purpose?

How does my  fear limit my full potential?

 

The last question is key. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done in the world – and yet, sometimes it feels like we can’t get out of our own way. But underneath the fear, we have a deep desire to reach our greatest potential, and an inner knowing of our capacity to expand and shine our light. As Marianne Williamson says:


“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frightens us.”

I knew I needed to give myself the love, approval and permission I was desperately seeking, otherwise I would be constantly distracted and in fear of living and speaking my truth. The only way I could truly fulfill my “assignment” was by looking deeper and finding the courage to be my full self. All of me.

And so instead of looking at the big picture, I started observing the seemingly small ways I was showing up for myself and others. I started asking myself:

Were you present for a friend today?

Did you practice self love?

Did you try your best?

Did you exercise faith instead of doubt?

How did you stay focused on what matters most to you?

How were you patient with yourself and those whom you love the most?

What are you most grateful for today?

 

What I discovered is that we’re able to show up with vulnerability and authenticity in life when we learn how to embrace, heal, and fully love ourselves. Once we do, it is truly amazing how deeply we can connect to our purpose and to the world around us.

So if you’re in search of your purpose or trying to discover what your assignment is in this lifetime, look at where you may still have a wound that needs healing. Look at where you’re afraid of being seen. Our purpose is innate to us. It’s at the core of who we are. We just need to give ourselves full permission to show up in the world as ourselves.

 


About Emily Ghosh Harris:

Emily Ghosh Harris is the Founder and CEO of Soul Media, a socially conscious digital media and experiential marketing firm that inspires genuine, authentic connection and engagement. She is the Host of The Soul Collective, a podcast which explores the fears, challenges, joys and triumphs that unite humanity by interviewing individuals who are living authentic and purpose-filled lives. An entrepreneur, author and speaker, Emily Ghosh Harris has used her own personal pain as a catalyst for growth, igniting a curiosity and deep desire to help others navigate past limiting beliefs and common “freedom blockers” to move into greater peace, authenticity and freedom.

WANT to contribute to WANT? Click here.

Marry Your Whys: The 5 Biggest Lessons I’ve Learned in 4 Years Of Building A Business.

Marry Your Whys: The 5 Biggest Lessons I’ve Learned in 4 Years Of Building A Business.

Most Popular Posts Tips + Tools Work

The guilt hit me before bed, as most guilty moments do.

Oh my god. I forgot WANT’s four-year anniversary.

My heart sank as I counted back since WANT’s big day had arrived and departed like nothing. One, two, three, four…ten days. TEN. DAYS.

I felt like a parent who had forgotten to put presents under the Christmas tree and it was way past December 25th. How could I have forgotten? Was I a bad business mom? How could I have been so negligent?

These, of course, were just rhetorical questions to fill space and buy time while I digested the gritty truth:

 

I’d been so caught up in what I WASN’T doing “right” over the last few months of running a business that I had completely ignored what I WAS.

I’d been pushing-pushing-pushing so hard, in hot pursuit, that I’d ignored the rock-solid foundation I’d already built.

 

I was telling my friend Angela the other day how I felt like I was struggling, and that nothing was coming to fruition “like it should.” She reminded me that in the span of a year, I’d gotten married, moved neighborhoods, transferred locations at my full-time job, QUIT my full-time job, began my first new job in fitness in eight years…and that was only in a year.

Moving across the country was harder on me than I’d like to admit, and I think moving uptown brought a lot of those unexplored feelings up to the front again. Changing neighborhoods in L.A. was no big deal for me – I did it almost every year! – because it was all so familiar. I knew the basics of Los Angeles by heart, and the newness of a neighborhood was simply thrilling to me.

Here, it’s different. The thrill is there, but there’s also a feeling of starting over I never experienced in Los Angeles. A feeling of starting fresh. New network, new connections, new places to meet up and places to be inspired. I didn’t realize it, but the lack of familiarity had been messing with my ability to move forward.

So, when I sat down to write a post commemorating the four-year WANTiversarry, something felt…off. Something I was doing before just hasn’t been present in the last few months. Something that was there for the first three years.

It’s curiosity.

I created WANT back in 2007. These were my first business cards.

 

I always talk about how I believe curiosity will save the world. But I also believe it will save your business.

The biggest, boldest lesson I’ve learned in the last four years is to stay curious. When things aren’t going your way, in work and life, what do you do? Do you vent to your friends, over and over? Do you look and see what other people are doing, and try to keep up? Do you go over everything you could be doing BETTER in your mind, let it spiral, and just grind harder? I usually don’t, but for the last few months – maybe even the last whole year – I’ve been doing all those things and more.

Staying curious is the secret to anything worth doing, and worth doing well. Because venting won’t solve anything, keeping up with others won’t be true to your vision, and grinding harder will just burn you out. Curiosity is like a real-life Where’s Waldo book: you devise a strategy around what to look for (red and white stripes – got it! glasses – yes!), get in your zone, and zoom in on that mothereffer.


And that feeling of accomplishment and discovery is what makes you want to turn another page.

 

Almost TWELVE years ago, I came up with the idea for WANT based on what I needed most in my own life. And FOUR years ago, I (re-)launched WANT based on what I knew others needed, too. I saw that there needed, NEEDED, to be a space where we could go for tips and tools – along with motivation and inspiration – to shift our self-talk patterns in a real, lasting way. I knew, KNEW, that the business of affirmations and mantras worked for some people, but didn’t work for enough of them in the long run. And I got curious as to why that was.

What I found, through talking to others and scouring every popular self-help site and book I could find, was that people weren’t talking about the darkness as useful. If they were, they’d mention it then skirt the issue. I saw that there was nowhere that not only allowed people to feel their feelings fully, but encouraged them to think their thinks and feel their feels, and UNEARTH feelings they didn’t even know they had, and THINK thinks that they’d been avoiding for so long – and THEN, only THEN, gave them ways to move forward fearlessly through it all. Not around it all or past it all. THROUGH it.

Curiosity was the foundation of WANT. And I know it needs to be the foundation of me, too. Curiosity has led me to realize that I am a writer, speaker, and community builder before anything. I come alive in front of an audience, and I LOVE bringing people together to make shift in tandem. Working solo and working online are amazing, and allow for a lot of freedom…but maybe it’s too much freedom.

That freedom can make you go down a rabbit hole that never was meant to serve you. You’ve got to pay the bills, so you think about monetization and you think about partnerships. You see what’s being done, and how it’s being done, and you decode the game you believe you’ve got to play. And let me clarify: monetization and partnerships are not wrong. I think it’s so cool that we’re able to be in control of who we work with and where our revenue comes from! But it’s worth looking at the kind of work YOU’RE doing and the kind of business YOU aim to build.

Curiosity has helped me realize that lately, I’m not doing a lot of the things that fill me up. Things I used to do super-frequently because I knew they were the right things to do. Think live events/panels, creating and executing on an editorial calendar, partnering with smaller brand with the biggest souls, and feeling the joy I’ve felt the last few years instead of searching for it.

And why haven’t I been doing these things? Simple. Imposter syndrome. The more you don’t do things – and the longer the amount of time that passes in between – the more you start to doubt your ability to do them.

Sure, I have some good excuses. A wedding. Multiple job changes. Moving. All the other regular life stuff that’s par for the course when you’re a Highly Sensitive Person and internalize everything. It would be ridiculously easy to place blame and offload onto those excuses. But I know the only thing that’d been getting in my way…is ME.

The more you don't do things - and the longer the amount of time that passes in between - the more you start to doubt your ability to do them. Click To Tweet

So going into Year Five (omg), I hereby promise you – and myself – the following.

I, Katie Horwitch….

…Will create workshops and panels for you that help you live fearlessly in your own life – and in turn, help me live fearlessly in mine too. We’re in this together. When I’m fearless – when my fear is less than my faith in myself – it empowers you to be fearless, too. And oh-so-vice-versa.

…Will structure my editorial calendar based on what I KNOW is needed, not what I THINK is popular. Not that I’ve been doing this, but it’s a trap I want to avoid at all costs. When you write about subjective things like emotions – vs objective things, like face masks – the formula is harder to decode. SEO is only going to go so far. You’ve got to trust your gut, big-time, and keep your eyes wide open for the solutions people are craving in their lives.  And trust me, I love a good face mask write-up.

…Will – THAT BEING SAID – get back to writing some more content that has stuff in it like face masks. Round-ups are fun to read and fun to write! And I know it’s a strength of mine that I’m able to do them well, and from the heart. I love turning this kind of product-heavy content upside down onto its head and crafting a piece that speaks to how you want to feel, not how you think you should look. Or what you should do. Or ANY should, really.

…Will still pursue what’s not yet materialized, but will shift my focus to encompass the pursuit of enhancing what already HAS materialized. Always reaching for the next-best thing is no way to live. Once you get the thing, once you achieve the stuff, where do you go from there? Pursuit can be an addiction, and goal achievement can be a hit. It’s not a *bad* hit to go after…but make sure your livelihood isn’t attached to whether you achieve the goal or not.

first speaking gig. it was sxsw, in a conversation moderated by amanda decadenet, who just a year earlier I’d told a friend was my biggest career inspo in the moment. can you spy the imposter syndrome??

 

You wanna start a business? Get ready for the wildest ride of your life. Starting, and then building a business that’s purpose and passion based is tough work, but it’s the rightest work you’ll do. Curiosity must be your foundation. Here’s what else I’ve learned.

1 – START SMALL, AND START OFTEN. Marie Forleo likes to say that clarity comes from engagement, not thought. I’d like to add that clarity also comes from starting with what you have, not scrounging for what you don’t. Want to start a podcast but overwhelmed by all the equipment you “need”? Guess what: you don’t need it. I began the WANTcast with a Blue Yeti microphone and GarageBand. I knew how to use GarageBand, but if you don’t, you can attend a 101 course at ANY Apple store, for free. You can also use websites like Zencastr that make production super intuitive. I started WANT by building a website off of what I knew how to do and what kind of content supported my greater vision. I did Marie’s B-School because I knew I needed some extra support – and opted for the payment plan because I wasn’t about to go broke for my idea. I sent the site to my entire list of family and friends, and then focused on doing the best writing I could, week after week. It was a schedule I could keep up and it was quality over quantity. Work with what’s available to you, and with what WON’T overwhelm you. Again and again and again.


2 – IT’S OKAY TO HAVE A PASSION. IT’S OKAY TO HAVE A BUSINESS. KNOW WHAT SEPARATES THE TWO (AND WHERE THEY INTERSECT).
 Someone once told me that if you don’t care about making money, it’s not a business. I didn’t want to believe it at first, but it’s 100% true. Just because you don’t intend to have any sort of financial transaction, though, doesn’t mean you can’t still create impact from it. What separates my passions from my business: the things that don’t fall into the “business” category are things I identify with that I am ALL IN on…except when it comes to the strategy and the industry. That doesn’t mean I’m going to stop pursuing my passions. It just means I’m not going to use up all my “strategy energy” for things I don’t want to scale. In the same vein, I don’t believe in the terms Day Job and Side Hustle if you really want to make your passion project into your purpose project. Also read: Down With The Side Hustle, Down With The Day Job,


3 – SUCCESS IS MORE THAN A NUMBERS GAME (AKA: NUMBERS ARE DUMB).
 We all crave guarantees, clarity, and definition (a reason why extremes are so alluring). Staring at newsletter subscribers, Google Analytics, and Instagram insights can be a welcome validation or a panic-button push, depending on the stats of the day.

In my past life as an editor, part of my job was to be increasingly aware of site and social analytics: how many people showed up to read what you had to say, what kind of “following” competitors had, how much engagement a post got when it went live…stuff like that. It taught me how to look and what to look for. It also taught me to look beyond the numbers: where people were coming from, where they were going to, how they were interacting with one another.

When I launched WANT, it became uber-tempting to define its “success” numerically, because I knew what that game looked like. In order to do X, you must have Y amount of subscribers. If your post/podcast/email gets Z amount of views, that means that A-B-C.

But I started to realize that WANT’s success didn’t work like that. WANT was resonating on a deep level because of the two-way street that was happening: the WANT community was opening their hearts and engaging with not just me, but each other on a personal and vulnerable level. Because of this, podcast guests felt comfortable shining a light into their darkest corners, weekly “posts” morphed into nuanced essays, and together we turned this platform into a movement on a roll.

Some days there are thousands of readers and listeners. Sometimes there are 30. But I’ve realized that while it might matter to people like sponsors or advertisers, those numbers don’t matter to US. They don’t matter to ME. Success is not about calculations, it’s about connection. Also read: Success You Can’t See.

Flirt with your WHATS, get married to your WHYS. Click To Tweet

4 – FLIRT WITH YOUR WHATS, GET MARRIED TO YOUR WHYS. There will always be a way to be better at something. But the quest for “better” can eat us alive if that “better”-ness is empty. As an HSP, I get overwhelmed easily – everything from piled-up emails to angry crowds. I also need to watch where and to whom/what I give my energy, because I’m like an empath on ‘roids: I’ll give and give and give until my well is dry, and even then I’ll find some way to empathize and give even when I’m not asked to do so. And the combo of the two? It leaves me with lots of things I tell myself I can be better at.

What’s helped me in these last four years has been committing to a purpose rather than just an action. For example: I receive lots of emails from readers and listeners, sometimes just saying hi, and sometimes asking me very specific questions. The hyper-empath in me wants to answer them all. But not just answer them, give the most groundbreaking answer ever! in my response. What ends up happening? The emails pile up, I get overwhelmed, and inherently feel horrible for what I interpret as letting everyone down. I now know that if I answered everyone’s questions personally and specifically, I would never get anything else done. So I use these questions to inform my writing, my podcast episodes, and the guests I ask to be on. WANT thrives off of your questions – so keep asking. What I’ve learned is that you are far from the only one searching for answers.

In Year Two, I flirted with videos. I ended up producing one and never touching video again. Because it wasn’t something that lit me up. And moreover – it didn’t have a strong WHY attached. Everyone told me how great I am on camera, and how good it would be for WANT’s growth. But it didn’t feel right, and because it didn’t feel right, I couldn’t keep it up. Maybe I will in the future – who knows! If there is a specific service I can offer…if there is a specific problem I can help solve…and video turns out to be a useful way to do it (and it begins to bring me joy), great. Yes, I quoted earlier that “clarity comes from engagement, not thought.” But that engagement has to have at least an inkling of a WHY behind it.

 

 

the first version of the site in this iteration of WANT. launched january 26th, 2015.

So, WANT, my darling, thank you so much for your patience while I work out some of my own stuff that’s tied to your growth and brilliance. It’s not you, it’s me. I know that sounds like such a line, but it’s true. I’m here for you.

Thank you for being here for me. I vow to reinvest in the JOY of the work, right here, right now.

To curiosity. To whys. To fearlessness. To being the you you know you’re meant to be.

Let’s crush the year ahead.

 



More of a podcast person? Listen here:



Never miss a post. Ever. Sign up + join the WANT movement: