Reflecting on 2019

 Happy 2020!  A new decade, a new year, a new month and a new day!  A clean slate all around….

It seems weird writing a blog post today since it has been about a month or so since my last one. For my regular readers, I am sorry I did not give you a heads up.  I needed a break after 6+ years of writing, I was empty.  I didn’t think I had anything more to say.  I’m still not sure I do but we will see what 2020 brings….

Last night I saw all of the posts talking about the last decade and it got me to thinking.  At first, I stressed over what I couldn’t remember then I asked for guidance and some memories came back.  So here goes my decade in review….

In 2010, I saw my daughter graduate from college with honors.  I was working full-time at a job I loved and commuting crazy hours to get work.

2011 was a roller coaster year.  I started my direct sales career with Thirty One.  We planned our wedding and after a 9 year engagement walked down the aisle.  Edythe, one of the rocks in my life passed away.  I retired from my job as COO at Bethel Development. We ended the year with a cruise for our honeymoon with family.

2012 is kind of a blur. Hubby had congestive heart failure and spent 13 days in the hospital.  I promoted to Director with Thirty One and walked across the stage to celebrate with my daughter.  I spent lots of time trying to figure out what I really wanted to do.

2013 – 2016 were a definitely blur. There was lots of testing to determine what was going on with me.  I was losing my memory (even more), leg spasms, depressed, and more I can’t remember.  I spend time working part-time jobs at WaWa and Wall Storage. Relapse was a strong part of these years. We planned Belinda’s wedding and celebrated their beautiful day in the mountains of NC.  Shopping, spending money, and drinking was my way of filling a void in my life.  I got the “unofficial diagnosis of MS” – grateful to finally have answers

2017 started rough as my Dad spent much of his time in the hospital and then passed in April.  I started Angels by Hope as an official business.  Still looking for ways to fill the void. My MS diagnosis became official and I started on medications (3 times a week injections).

2018 brought the smack in the face I needed to face the unmanageability of my life.  Credit card debt was high, income from my business was dropping and I was an emotional mess.  I walked back into the rooms of NA in May looking for the joy I once I had.

2019 brought a change in diagnosis to “progressive MS” and with it a cane and a brace for my left ankle.  Recovery has been a blessing as I am slowing rebuilding relationships with family.  I am blessed to still have both my Thirty One business and Angels by Hope going strong.

So, this is just a glimpse at the last 10 years.  I am grateful for Facebook memories and this blog (since March 2013) to help me remember when I can’t.

I have been searching and for a word for 2020.  Last year’s was Courage and it definitely fit the year I had.  Courage in so many areas of my life to step out on faith, out of my comfort zone.  This year’s word didn’t come so easily.  I prayed.  I took those “word tests”.

My word for 2020 is GRATITUDE!  Gratitude is defined as “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.“.  I know when I practice gratitude, everything else in my life will be okay.  Not just gratitude for the good things but also for the challenges.  Through the challenges, I will learn and grow.

Best wishes for a safe healthy and happy New Year.

Thankful Thursday: Mistakes

A mistake is defined as “an action or judgment that is misguided or wrong.” .  We have all made them from the little ones to the ones which wreck our lives or those around us.  Do you think of them as leaning lessons and are grateful for the mistake?  OR do you beat yourself up swearing to never do anything “stupid” like that again?

I will admit, depending on the mistake – I can go between the two.  No matter how you handle the mistake, you are not alone. It’s likely all of us have repeated some of our mistakes at one time or another and reacted differently each time.  The truth is if we never made mistakes, we wouldn’t learn much so it is one of those things we should be thankful for.

The good news is, you can learn from your mistakes. Then, instead of repeating them again, you’ll gain valuable wisdom to help you in the future.

1. Acknowledge Your Errors

Regardless of the size of the mistake or who it has effected,  you have to accept full responsibility for your role in what happened.  You need to ask yourself, “What role did I play in this?”.  The answer can be uncomfortable sometimes (okay, maybe most of the time), but you need to own your part.  Once you have said “I messed up,”  you can start to learn from it.  This is all part of changing and hopefully, not making the same mistake again.

2. Ask Yourself Tough Questions

You don’t want to dwell on your mistakes (this is a tough one for me) BUT reflecting on them can be productive. I don’t know about you but when I dwell on mistakes, I tend to beat myself up a little bit.  So, if you ask yourself these tough questions, it can turn a bashing session into a productive one:

  • What went wrong?
  • What could I do better next time?
  • What did I learn from this?

Write down your responses and you’ll see the situation a little more clearly. Seeing your answers on paper can help you think more logically about an irrational or emotional experience.  Let’s face it, we have all had them at one time.

3. Make A Plan

Beating yourself up for your mistakes won’t help you down the road.  It’s important to spend the bulk of your time thinking about how to do better in the future.  Make a plan to help avoid making a similar mistake. Be as detailed as possible but remain flexible since your plan may need to change  No matter how you track your progress, find a way to hold yourself accountable.  Remember what works for one person might not work with someone else.

4. Make It Harder To Mess Up

How will you be sure not to mess up again?  Does willpower alone prevent you from taking an unhealthy shortcut or from giving into immediate gratification (I want what I want when I want it). Increase your chances of success by making it harder to mess up again. Find creative ways to become more disciplined. If using credit cards is your struggle – cut up the cards or freeze them.  Yup, in a big block of ice.  Whenever you try to thaw the block of ice, you will realize how ridiculous the situation is and stop spending money you don’t have.

5. Create A List Of Reasons Why You Don’t Want To Make The Mistake Again

We all have weak moments and the next thing you know, we have made the same mistake again!  Why not create a list of all the reasons why you should stay on track and be self-disciplined,  you can refer to during tough times. Put the list some place where you can see it – if shopping is a problem, put the list in your wallet next to your debit/credit cards.  If flirting on social media is a thing, post your list on your computer so when you start scrolling or are tempted you see the list.  Is it a guarantee?  NO but it may help you to resist the temptation.  Self-discipline is like a muscle. Each time you delay gratification and make a healthy choice, you grow mentally stronger.

Mistakes aren’t always one big blunder. Sometimes, they are a series of little choices leading to failure.  So pay attention to your mistakes, no matter how big or how small they might seem. Recognize each mistake can be an opportunity to build mental muscle and become better.

Have a blessed day!

Are You an Emotional Spender?

Are you an emotional spender?  Honestly, until about 6 months ago, I spent when I was happy, sad, bored…. it really didn’t matter what I was feeling.  I shopped  I have been working hard to stay on a budget but it is hard!

Did you know “The number-one problem in today’s generation and economy is the lack of financial literacy”?

Why??? The truth is, the problem is a struggle with self-control. You went to the mall to buy a birthday gift for your niece, and walked out with a new pair of shoes for yourself. You’ve tried a budget, but somehow you always seem to find something to spend money on that wasn’t in it. Can you relate? If so, consider these practical strategies to get your emotional spending under control:

1. Sleep on it.

If you think you just have to have it, whatever it is, make it your rule to sleep on your decision. Very few things are so urgent you can’t wait 24 hours to make your purchase.

2. Phone a friend.

Be accountable to someone!  You are more likely to reach your goal if you tell someone you’ve set one. So, tell a friend about your goal to stop digging yourself into more credit card debt. Then when you find yourself about to make another purchase you can’t afford, call them up and let them talk you down.

3. Never go shopping alone.

If you can’t trust yourself to phone a friend, then don’t go shopping alone. Of course, my biggest problem (and maybe yours) is online shopping).  The simple click to get what we want, NOW!  Headed to the mall, have someone with you who will hold you accountable.  Shopping online, STEP AWAY from the computer.  Leave it in your cart for 24-hours!  Refuse to use “retail therapy” to deal with loneliness, boredom, or disappointments. Find a new hobby which keeps you active, helps you to connect with others and builds new relationships. Focus less on accumulating stuff and more on enjoying experiences with people and things which matter most to you.

4. Plan for it.

STOP right now!  Take out a notepad and jot down the most important thing you need, and then the most important thing you want. Do you know how much each will cost? Jot it down. Not sure, find out.  How long would it take you to save for each? Practice delayed gratification (so hard for a recovering addict to do!). It forces you to appreciate the true value of your money, which will help you spend your money more consciously.

5. Keep a picture of your goal in front of you.

I have a vision board I carry in my planner so I am always reminded of what I am working towards.  Post pictures where you will see them on a regular basis so you are reminded of your goal. Whether it is on your refrigerator, in your purse, or on your bathroom mirror, make the vision plain and visible.

6. Take the credit cards out of your wallet.

I LOVE this saying…” if you want to get out of the hole you’re in, stop digging!”  If you’re in debt, it’s time to stop adding to your debt. And if you’re an emotional spender, keep your impulse purchases to a minimum by leaving your credit cards at home. No need to make it easy to charge it.  Better yet, cut up ALL of your cards (maybe keep one for emergencies).

7. Use cash.

I will admit, I am not a cash person.  I use my debit card for most things.  I actually feel like I spend less than when I use cash.  Crazy, right?  There are always those places which don’t take cards too so I can’t spend. Research shows though, forking over cash makes you spend less. As simplistic as it sounds, one of the best ways to curb spending is to determine your budget for various expenses (i.e., lunch, groceries, clothing, etc.), then take out your budgeted amount in cash.  Dave Ramsey’s system from Financial Peace University is AMAZING!   While it can be easy to lose track of how much you spend when you swipe a credit or even a debit card, cash forces you to count and keep track of what you spend in a concrete way.

If saving or spending is a problem, I challenge you to stop spending emotionally and start managing your money wisely.  Which of these tips were most helpful to you?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Increase Your Sales

I know, it is getting close to Christmas and Vacation Veronica is ready to creep in.  You know who I mean…. the inner gremlin who tells you  “it is time for you to take a break” or “everyone is shopping at the malls” or any of the crazy thoughts which keep us from moving forward with our business during the busiest selling season of the year.

For me, I am at Day 2 of an event at AT & T in Bedminster.  My first time taking a big event like this in a long time but I am grateful for momma’s help.  A closed event for employees, and vendors.  Okay, so more about how to increase your sales….

No matter what your business, I know there are many of us in direct sales struggling with the same thoughts.  Some are shutting down their businesses getting ready for their own holiday while others are plugging along.  With so many exciting things happening at Thirty One with Customer Appreciation month coming and the NEW Spring Catalog Premiere, I am too excited to be winding down my business yet.  

For many of us, our direct sales business has been changing from home parties to parties dominated by social media.  From Facebook Live to Zoom parties to 31 minute parties to texting parties…. the home party has gone away for many.  I came across a blog by JulieAnne Jones which made me giggle. She starts off with:

I know, I know, your home party plan merchandise sells itself. I’ve heard that a million times from my direct sales clients and friends and I believe it…to a point.

So why does it make me giggle? Because I have said it a million times to potential hostesses when we are talking about booking a “shopping experience”.  Admit it, you have too. We know the “face to face” parties are where things really happen, right?  When people are having fun and you are providing them with solutions to every day problems, they will shop.  Believe it or not, there are ways to provide the same personalized shopping experience on social media but it is for a different blog post…

None of us want to be the pushy sales person BUT you need to be using some sales techniques or you are going to leave money on the table. Okay, maybe not literally but you will miss out on the opportunities in front of you…..

So here are some tips on how to maximize your sales at the end of your home party or at your social media base party.

1. A Wish List. This is a great way for your guests to keep track of the items they like and helps with checkout. Getting customers to tell you what their favorite products are or what is on their wish list is a great way to help them with the best deals when placing an order, hosting a party or joining your team.  I am going to create a google form for my online parties to not only be able to gather information on the guests but to ask for their “wish list” offering a ticket to be drawn for all who complete the form.  A minimal cost but worth it in the end.

2. Shopping.  Help you guests with shopping whether in person or online.  I have been utilizing the Tag Team version of a Facebook party and my guests loved it.  No need to go to the website.  Be sure you include how to shop in at the end of your presentation or during your social media party.  Make it easy for them.  Be sure to talk about customer specials, shipping times, etc.. This seems like a no-brainer but the truth is sometimes we forget something.

3. Provide a Nordstrom, not a Wal-Mart experience for your guests.  Honestly, this is my favorite thing to do.  Spending one on one time with guests.  I will help them find the best deals so they get the most value for their dollar.  Dedicated time to each customer to answer their questions and help them with choices will increase sales and build relationships which will lead to future bookings and sales.  I have been known to spend 45 minutes on the phone with a customer sending sample shots to them just to ensure they receive exactly what they are looking for in a product.

4. Add-on Products. Solution sets have always been a part of Thirty One’s party experience (as well as many other direct selling businesses) A core product teamed with two other products.  Asking guests if they want the monthly special is easy and usually a welcome reminder according to party guests. Your job is to know your merchandise and catalog so well you can suggest add-on products based on what your customers like (upsell).  A high percentage of people will say yes to relevant suggestions, increasing your bottom line.

So, which one of these tips are YOU going to implement to increase your sales for the rest of the holiday season? Better yet, what is YOUR best tip for increasing sales? Share with us…

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Will This Matter A Year From Now?

Yup, it is Monday morning.  Even worse is the fact for some it is after a LONG 4-day holiday weekend filled with food, family & friends and lots of shopping.  Time to get back to work as we start to juggle the holidays with work.

Black Friday has passed.  Small Business Saturday is done.  Cyber Monday is in full swing.  But the question I have for you this morning is…

Will This Matter A Year From Now?

The countless hours spent rushing around for gifts?  The baking? The decorating?  The non-stop whirlwind of activity?  Some would say yes because despite the craziness, they are enjoying the moments.  For others, you are so busy racing around, you don’t even remember the moments.

Life is constantly changing…. just when you think you got what you were looking for, doubt starts to creep in.  Maybe this year you have more money (or less) for gifts.  Maybe you are working countless hours missing out on time with family and friends.  Maybe you have lost who you are as you spend time pleasing the rest of the world.

If you answer to the question above is a resounding NO!  Then “let it go”…. (here the music for Frozen playing in the background)

Why do we spend time worrying about things we can’t control or fighting for things which don’t deserve our energy?

Did holiday celebrations with family trigger a button inside?  You know the one of self-doubt, fear, or anger.  Did the inner gremlins rear their heads because you allowed someone to push your button? Now you are spending your time on things which are insignificant in the big picture of things…

Maybe it was fussing with a rude store clerk during holiday shopping, or making a point with a trouble-making co-worker, or nitpicking over every mistake your child might make. The reality is some things simply are not worth it.

Fighting every battle leaves you little energy for the ones which really matter. In the process, you can damage relationships and stress yourself out. When you are intentional about which battles to engage in, you are more effective in resolving those challenges. After all, if you let go of the small stuff, it becomes clear the battles you choose are important. As a result, the people in your life or more likely to take notice and listen.

As we head into what is probably the craziest time of the year, I challenge you to let go of at least one battle this week. Enjoy the drop in your stress level.

What battle(s) did you engage in over the long weekend? Will it matter a year from now?  If it won’t matter a year from now, are you willing to drop similar battles when they arise?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!