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Anybody else out there spend your entire life dreaming of becoming a mom?  For as far back as I can remember, I looked forward to having babies. I had very vivid dreams of my life as a mom, and longed for the fulfillment of that dream. Even still, I had equally vivid dreams of other things in the midst of parenthood.  While I never wanted a “career” in the conventional sort of way, I knew I wanted to “do something” with my life beyond being a mom.  And if you are reading this and thinking that being a mom is doing something with your life, you are right! My point today isn’t that being a mom isn’t enough, or that it cannot be your identity.  My point is that too many women lose their identity in motherhood, and it doesn’t have to happen.

You see, when I was a child, I loved all the babies. I wanted them all.  I imagined my life as a mom, and I loved everything I saw. I wanted nothing more than to raise children. But I also saw so much more than that. I didn’t see myself as a mom who just stayed at home and cleaned the house all day… and I certainly didn’t see myself folding piles of laundry and ironing my husband’s work shirts all day every day (because that wouldn’t be a dream, it would be a nightmare).

I saw myself continuing to dream even after my dream of becoming a mom was fulfilled.

I saw myself continuing to be my own person rather than living through my children.  And I never dreamed I would lose my identity in motherhood.

And while I had no understanding of the significance of that as a child, I can now see quite clearly. Since becoming a mom, I am so well aware of just how easy it is to forget about yourself. And there’s honestly a great deal of joy in that.  To make sacrifices for your children is pure joy.  The moment you lock eyes with your child there’s a knowing in your soul that you would do absolutely anything for them. And that’s a beautiful thing.

But that beauty is tainted when the sacrifices come at the expense of our own identity.  Because being a mom may be part of our identity, but for each of us, there is so much more to who we are than being a mom.

Yes, that’s right, even if being a mom is the greatest joy you have ever experienced, there is still more to you.

So many of us mamas are also wives. Some of us are small business owners.  Some are creative entrepreneurs. Some are also career women, working 8-5, doing things you genuinely love.  And that does not mean you love your babies any less.

The point is—as women, we are complex beings, and our entire life identity cannot be summed up into one thing.

But the problem is, many of us forget all the unique things that make us who we are.  And we don’t do it with hesitation or bitterness.  Most of us let go of parts of ourselves with great joy.  Because we sincerely believe that making our entire lives revolve around our children is good and right.

And while there is some truth to that when our babies are newborns, that’s not a lifelong reality.

When we lose our identity in motherhood, we actually set ourselves up for a great deal of pain and heartache.  We may also set ourselves up for a great deal of confusion.

Why?  Because our children will eventually grow up and move out.  They may get married and have children. They may move across the country.  And they may grow up to have completely different beliefs than us.  And even if they stay in our town and don’t get married or have kids, they may still have a career that consumes their time and energy.  They will have their own friends and their own social life.

They will become their own person with their own unique identity apart from us.

And while most of us would like to think that we could breeze through that transition like it’s no big deal, that’s not reality.  Have you ever broken up with someone after eighteen years?  (I hope not). When you create a version of yourself that is built solely upon the needs of another person, losing that is not easy.

And while having a child move away and become their own person is not the same as breaking up with someone, it can still be quite painful.  But I believe it will be all the more painful for us as mamas if we have no life or identity beyond parenting our children.

I was recently talking to one of my friends who shared with me about her own experience with her mom.  She said that her mom’s single greatest regret in life is losing her identity in motherhood.  For her, having her kids move away and get married wasn’t just difficult—it was tragic.  She realized that she had spent eighteen years being a mom, but had forgotten her own dreams, passions, desires, and goals.

She was angry or bitter with her kids.  It was her choice.

But it took her years to become her own person again after neglecting to sow into herself.

And that’s all too common.

Mamas, don’t let that be your story.  Don’t lose your identity in motherhood.  Take time to focus on who you are.  Remind yourself of the things you love and then make time for those things.  Set goals for yourself. Give yourself opportunities.  While it brings us great joy to make sacrifices for our children, the truth is, it’s okay for our children to make sacrifices for us sometimes as well.

Being a mom is the greatest gift, but it is not the only gift.

Pursue the things you love alongside loving the ones you raise.

The post Don’t Lose Your Identity In Motherhood appeared first on cleanchefmessymom.

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Something happened a few months ago. I can’t fully explain it, but it pretty much went down like this:  I suddenly started caring way more about what other people think.  I’d love to say I have always been someone who lets things roll off my shoulders, but unfortunately, that would be a lie. I lived most of my life really caring, as in it really mattered to me what others thought about me.  And then somewhere along the way, by the grace of God and God alone, I stopped caring so much. It was a good thing.  I suddenly realized that the opinions of others don’t define me. And with that, I realized that life is too short to worry what other people think.  And while I still allowed others to have a voice in my life, I held tight to that truth- that the opinions of others don’t define me.

But then, without warning, that detrimental people pleasing spirit snuck up from behind.  No warning.  Nothing. Just like that, I was my old people pleasing, people fearing self.  I no longer believed that the opinions of others don’t define me.

It snuck into every single area of my life. How I parent my child, how we handle our finances, how I run my business, what I write about, and every possible area in between was suddenly up for question.  All of the confidence I had in the depths of my  core was suddenly not enough.

Because I wanted to know that everyone else believed in me the same way I believe in me.

And again, I suddenly wasn’t enough for myself. I became distraught over the opinions of others, and even more so over the conflicting opinions of others in my life.  I found myself obsessing over the inadequacies of “me.” How could I possibly find happiness if all those around me weren’t pleased with my every decision?

I couldn’t.

But then I realized something profound. I realized the why behind the what. The reason that I suddenly caved to insecurities was because I had been labeled.  Not once.  Not twice. But multiple times.  I was labeled by others as things that I didn’t identify with.

I found my head and heart at war with one another.

And then a funny thing happened.  I pigeonholed myself.  Not into the boxes that were labeled as me, but into another box.  That box was labeled with determination to prove myself to be the opposite of all the other labels. I devoted my time and energy to proving others wrong because I didn’t want to be the person I was labeled as.

Then one day I was reading a friend’s post on her makeup business. I don’t remember all the ins and outs of it, but what I do remember is that she had gotten a good bit of criticism about what she does. (For the record, she is a highly successful independent consultant for a rapidly growing makeup company). She didn’t go on and on to defend herself.  Instead, she stated a few things and then made the bold statement that changed my life. She said, “Your opinions don’t pay my bills.” 

Although it wasn’t about money or my bills, her statement struck me. A cloud lifted and I realized the forgotten truth.

The opinions of others don’t define me.

And then I realized something else.  I have been a fraud.  For several months I have lived my life attempting to please others by defying the negative definitions that had been placed over my life.  My time and energy was no longer spent being true to myself and my passions, but rather I spent my time attempting to be someone I am not.  I gave way too much power to words that didn’t reflect who I am truly am.  I have been pretending to be someone I am not, all in hopes of dodging every false label that was spoken over me.  And while I am still in the process of recovering from that phase, here is what I have learned so far:

Defining others can be near abusive at times.  When we place a label on a spouse, a family member, or a friend, we have no idea the damage that can do. Why?  Because when defined a certain way we often feel like we are forced to fit the mold of one very narrow definition, or that we are not allowed to be more than that one label.  Or perhaps we feel like that label is truly wrong, and we drive ourselves crazy with the desire to prove that.

When others force us into narrow definitions, we often lose ourselves.

Whether it’s because we don’t feel we can give voice to parts of ourselves outside of that definition, or that we feel we need to alter ourselves to change the definition, we can slowly (or in my case, rapidly) spiral. When we believe we are only as deep as one shallow definition, we begin to limit ourselves.  In some cases it looks like conforming to the definition, and in other cases it looks like neglecting our true selves to try to become a version of ourselves that isn’t true.

But here’s the most brutal truth of all.  Remember how I said, “when others force us into a narrow definition?”

No one can force you to do anything.  So while we feel forced, the reality is that we are in control of our response to these things.  Every time someone labels us, defines us, or places us in a box, we get to choose whether or not we want to stay there.

So here’s my plea to you.  Make a choice to be true to yourself.  Allow others to speak into your life, but don’t let their opinions define you.  And when others do label you, take a step back and allow yourself time to process whether or not their statement is true.

You have a choice, and I have a choice.  We get to be the version of ourself that we desire, that we create, that we refine, and that we enjoy.  Our confidence in our ability to succeed comes not from the opinions from others, but from our own self esteem.

Don’t give power to the statements of others that don’t reflect who you truly are.

The opinions of others don’t define me, and they don’t define you.

The post Dear Everyone, I’m A Fraud appeared first on cleanchefmessymom.

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Y’all, I seriously cannot even begin to explain the excitement I have with the momentum in my business right now.  And who do I have to thank for that?  Y’all!  Seriously, y’all have loved me and supported me and believed in me like no other, and I am forever grateful.  Because I love sharing, and I really believe in community over competition, I want to give back and share with y’all the four tools that took my business to the next level.  Before I share, however, I want to clarify something.  This is not a “how to blog” blog post, and that will never be the direction I take.  I feel like bloggers often feel like that’s the only way to make money, and therefore shift gears and neglect who they really are.  I will never sacrifice who I am or lose focus for the sake of money.  The four tools that took my business to the next level are tools that took me there within my niche. I believe these tools are fundamental and can take any blogger, within any niche, to the next level and bring a great deal of success.

Alright, so here we go.  I hope these tools carry you to the next level, whatever your niche or area of expertise may be!

Instabreakout

It’s no secret that Instagram is booming these days.  I always knew that Instagram was an important piece of the social media puzzle.  What I did not know is that for some bloggers and small business owners, it really can be your ticket to success.  Not only is insanely popular for everyday users, it is a huge platform for marketing, driving traffic to your site, and increasing sales. When I really started focusing on my rebranding strategies earlier this year, a good friend of mine mentioned in passing that I could take my business to the next level if I focused on growing my Instagram platform.  I was so completely out of the loop with social media that I didn’t even know where to start.  Luckily, I was able to take the UH-MAZE-ING Instagram course called ‘Instabreakout’ and y’all… It was one hundred percent the first, best, and craziest step I took to really amp it up with my platform.  I started the course with 600 followers in March, and my Instagram has grown by over 8,000 followers in the last seven months. Now, I am not one to care much about numbers, but what I have learned is that if you want to get sponsored for posts, or land amazing collaborations, those numbers are important!

A ton of people have asked me if Instabreakout “gets you followers by paying for them.”  Y’all, I didn’t even know that was a thing.  The short answer is NO! Absolutely not. The long answer is…. why the heck would anyone EVER do that?  Fake followers don’t convert to real traffic to your website, and they certainly don’t convert to sales!  Instabreakout teaches you all the tools necessary to optimize your Instagram platform for growth, keep it looking fly (what does that even mean), attract other businesses, bring in traffic and drive sales. It also keeps you up to date on all the CONSTANT changes within Instagram so that you don’t get in trouble for breaking a rule on accident (such as using a banned hashtag or breaking the rules of how often you can perform certain tasks).  Seriously, y’all, this was a game changer to me.  Head on over and take a look at Instabreakout! You can also use this code for $25 off: Laura25

Pinterest Ninja

Think Pinterest is a social media platform?  Think again!  Pinterest is absolutely, without doubt, a crazy search engine.  When you shift your focus and see Pinterest as more than a pretty board of random ideas, you will realize that Pinterest is where the LARGE majority of people go to search for ideas, how-to’s, recipes, DIY projects, business tips, and so much more!  If people are going to Pinterest for all of these things, then that’s where I want to be hanging out with my content!

Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as just throwing a bunch of pins up and hoping for the best!  Pinterest has it’s own unique SEO system for ranking, and if you don’t have it figured out, your pins won’t get you very far! Luckily, there are some pretty amazing  Pinterest courses out there to teach you everything you need to know.  My personal favorite and cannot-live-without Pinterest resource is Pinterest Ninja.  What I love most about Pinterest Ninja is that this is probably the single most accessible tool for bloggers at any stage.  So often, Pinterest courses have super high price points.  And most new bloggers simply don’t have that sort of money to toss around.  I love that Megan (the creator of the course) makes it easy for those with less money by keeping the price tag in a reasonable range. I also love that she is entirely unthreatened by others, and is willing to offer her knowledge and expertise to those who ask!  Seriously, do yourself a favor and get the course! It’s the best twenty-something dollars you’ll spend towards getting your business to the next level!

Making Sense Of Affiliate Marketing

Alright y’all, this one was a huge leap of faith for me and I have not been disappointed one bit.  Affiliate marketing is a whole can of worms and can be super tricky and overwhelming for beginners.  But here’s the deal… If you want to make it as a blogger but without selling courses, teaching about how to blog, or selling your soul, affiliate marketing is where it’s at! But how?  What the heck does it even mean?  This course, Making Sense Of Affiliate Marketing, shows you the ropes from top to bottom.  From the programs, to how to use the links, to the legal side of it, it is all covered.

I thought I knew everything about affiliate marketing until I took the leap and invested in this course.  The creator of the course says “if you aren’t utilizing affiliate marketing, you are leaving money on the table.”  That is so true.  Understanding REALLY how to utilize affiliate marketing has been a TOTAL game changer for me.  I have learned more from this course in the last three months than I learned in the entire year prior.

This course is seriously an investment worth making, and I can say with confidence that you can EASILY make this investment back in a week (and that’s being generous).

shareasale.com

Speaking of affiliate marketing, if you are not registered with shareasale.com, you are missing out big time. It’s absolutely my favorite affiliate marketing platform, and pretty much anyone with a reasonable platform can join. The really nice thing about shareasale.com is that you can apply for the program as a whole, and then there are a million programs within that program that you can also apply to.  I would say that Share-A-Sale is a tool that can take any blog, in any niche, and turn it into a money maker.  Do yourself a favor.  Do not pass go.  DO collect $200.  And do it by signing up for shareasale.com ASAP.

Seriously, trust me on this one.

Alright, those are my top 4 tools that took my business to the next level.  I have plenty more that I am more than happy to share, but these have been absolute game changers for me!

If you are looking for some more inspiration on just getting started and turning your dreams into reality, read this article!

The post 4 Tools That Took My Business To The Next Level appeared first on cleanchefmessymom.

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This one is for all of my work-from-home friends, and especially for the ones with babies! While working from home is the ultimate dream for many people, there’s a challenging side that many people neglect to see.  It definitely is my dream come true, but for me, working from home has taken a lot of discipline and a lot of effort.  And again, while this post is geared towards other mamas, the challenges that come with working from home are certainly not exclusive to mamas.

For all of the work-from-home mamas out there, you know that babies can be entirely unpredictable at times. Even the most routined babies can be inconsistent, so it can create a great deal of challenges when working from home.  But if we take a step back, and eliminate children from the picture, the challenges are present before we add the kiddos to the equation.

The nature of working from home is one in which there are numerous distractions as well as a lack of accountability in the midst of those distractions.  Whether it’s the laundry, the dinner you needed to start an hour ago, the buzzing Facebook notifications, or even the ability to work in your jammies and be more relaxed, there are distractions everywhere.

The good news is, with a little bit of effort, a few adjustments, and an honest conversation with yourself, you can definitely overcome the challenges and be more productive when working from home.

So what is the first step?

The first step is always recognizing the problem or the need for help!

So first things first! Let’s talk about that.

The three biggest challenges with working from home:
  1. You don’t have a proper workspace or home “office.”
  2. You don’t have work hours.
  3. You lack discipline.

Okay, stick with me.  I want to help you understand why each of these is a problem, and then I want to give you some practical solutions. Because what good is knowing you have a problem if you don’t know how to fix it?

So first, if you don’t have a proper workspace or “office” you are more likely to be distracted by other things.  Why?  Because having a proper space that is designated for work helps separate your home life from your work life.  You need a space that is fully designated for work and that is only used for work.  When you enter that space, it should be like entering a corporate office.  You most likely wouldn’t enter your corporate office and then get distracted by the chores that need to be done throughout the building.  Your at-home work space should be no different.  So what’s the solution?  Well, obviously you need to carve out a work space.  Now, maybe you are thinking, “I live in a tiny one bedroom apartment and my baby already sleeps in my room. There is no more space!”  That’s fine!  There’s still a way to create your own little home office.  It could be as simple as having a corner of the dining table that is only used for work.  You just need to carve out a space that designated for only that, and commit to honoring that space!

The second biggest challenge is not having work hours.  If you don’t have work hours, then your work is just sporadic, and it’s challenging to stay on top of your tasks.  I know that life can be super unpredictable, especially with children, but it is still important to carve out time that is only used for work.  Now, for this one, maybe you are thinking, “it’s not possible for me to determine work hours when my baby’s sleeps at random times every day.”  You can still work with that!  If your baby is not consistent in what time he or she sleeps, but you know you’ll get at least one or two solid naps out of them, then make a decision ahead of time that nap time is work time.  This requires some shifting and adjusting, as it requires you to find other times- like when your baby is awake- to get housework done.  And in my opinion, that is totally okay.  I made a decision a while back that I wouldn’t do my computer work while my baby is awake.  I simply don’t want her to have a memory of her childhood that involved her mama’s face being glued to a screen all the time.  Instead, I would rather her see me cleaning, cooking, and doing laundry, and even involve her in those chores!  It definitely took some adjusting, but it has absolutely been worth it.  I feel like I get far more done on both sides, and my baby loves crawling around in piles of warm laundry. It’s a win win situation.

Last, but certainly not least, is a lack of discipline.  This is the one that requires you having an honest conversation with yourself.  If you are willing to take a look at your current productivity levels and be honest about the distractions that occur on a regular basis, then you can come up with a game plan to eliminate those distractions.  Be real with yourself about how many times you stop your work to check Facebook or scroll through Instagram.  Or even how many times you stop your work to text your friends. Maybe your distractions are more related to the housework that needs to be done.  Whatever the distraction, I promise there is a solution.  If your distractions are mostly social media and internet browsing, then it might be a good idea to give yourself strict rules about when those things are allowed.  If your distractions are the housework around you, then you really have two great options.  The first is the set your office space up in an area where those things are not visible to you.  The second is to simply get those chores done first thing in the morning before your work hours start.  That is usually my method.  I would rather just get it done and then have a peace of mind knowing that I am not “putting it off.”  Whatever your challenge, simply be honest with yourself and work out a solution!  It requires discipline and commitment, but I promise your productivity levels will drastically increase!

So there you have it!  While these are the most common challenges with working from home, they are not impossible to overcome! All you need is a little time and effort and you can absolutely set yourself up for success when working from home!

If you need some more mompreneur inspiration, check out this article on how to turn your dreams into reality!

The post The 3 Biggest Challenges With Working From Home appeared first on cleanchefmessymom.

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A few months ago I posted a simple thought on Facebook.  It was something like, “being jealous of another person’s success won’t make you successful. It will only make you bitter.”  I was pondering the issue of my own jealousy, but also the jealousy of others.

As I thought about jealousy and what it really is, I realized that there is nothing about being jealous that will make you successful.  There is literally zero benefit in envying another person’s situation.

I also said, “we need to stop envying others and start learning from them.”

Because that’s the thing, we could learn so much from others if we weren’t busy being jealous.

But too often, we occupy our minds and our thought life with jealousy.  We envy another person’s success rather than seeking our own.  We literally waste time casting judgements in our minds and speaking negativity over another person’s success.

We waste all that time envying what another person has and being jealous of their accomplishments when we could be devoting all that time and head space to our own dreams and desires.

Instead, we let jealousy hold us back.

The problem with jealousy isn’t wanting what another person has.  I think it’s okay to see another person’s accomplishments and say, “man, I want that!”

It’s what comes after those thoughts that gets us into trouble.  Whether it’s judging another person because they “have it all,” or deciding in your own mind whether they deserve it or not, the feelings that we can often have are just plain unhealthy.

But what if we just shifted our thoughts?  What if our next thought wasn’t, “she has it all,” or “must be nice to be so successful,” or “I could never be that lucky,” but instead, what if our next thought was, “if she can do it, so can I!”

Or what if we took is so far as to reach out to that person and tell them how amazing their accomplishments are and asked them for some advice on how to get there?

What if we acted on our desires rather than judging others?

Because the thing is, we literally have no idea how hard someone has worked to be successful.  We don’t know the thousands of hours of work they have put into their dream.  We don’t know the sacrifices they have made or hurdles they have jumped.  And it is quite possible that they have learned the tools to help us get there faster- if only we would ask.

And even if we don’t want to ask, because let’s be honest, pride and insecurity are real struggles, we can still make a choice to act on our dreams rather than sitting around and letting our jealousy hold us back.

Nothing about being jealous gets us anywhere.  It only holds us back and occupies valuable time and head space that we could be using to kickstart our goals.

Instead of crossing the line into jealousy and judgement, we need to stop ourselves and redirect. The moment we shift our thoughts to, “if she can do it, so can I,” our next thought should be, “okay, how?”

Don’t let jealousy hold you back.  If she can do it, so can you.

The post How Jealousy Is Holding You Back appeared first on cleanchefmessymom.

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Any other crazy dreamers out there?  If so, can we be friends because I live in daydream land 97.3 percent of the time and I’d love to know if I have any neighbors…

But seriously, if you know anything about the enneagram, I am a BIG FAT SEVEN.

I am always, always looking forward to the next big thing.  I am always dreaming up something big and trying to figure out how I can make it happen. They affectionately call us sevens “the enthusiasts.” That’s because we (sevens) are extremely excited about almost anything that catches our attention.  And it’s true. I am absolutely exhilarated by the rush of ideas.

If that’s you, you know how it feels.  It’s so exciting, yet it can become so overwhelming to have so many dreams with zero direction.  The weight of the desire to see your dreams turn to reality can quickly result in frustration if you don’t know where to start. I know, because I have been there so many times.  I have had a dream and a vision, yet zero clarity and direction.  I have wanted to make things happen but haven’t known how.  I have even started things without strategy and direction only to get stuck.  I have been stuck for long enough at times that I have just given up. Sometimes I get stuck for so long that I just give up.

And then I start dreaming again and the process repeats.

But the good news is you don’t have to stay stuck.  Even better news?  You don’t have to get stuck in the first place.

I say this in all humility, but from experience.  I have finally learned how to take steps to turn my dreams into realities.

I started blogging in 2008 with dreams of being a well known writer.  I blogged faithfully for nearly nine years, but during that nine years I got stuck many times, and “gave up” in my own ways on multiple occasions. Nine years later, I have finally figured it out.  I have turned my blog into my full time business, and I am living my dream.

Before you think, “that’s not my dream, so this isn’t for me,” just hear me out.  The tips I want to share are not limited to writing or blogging. These same tips are what helped my husband launch his Lean Manufacturing company Lean Smarts- and trust me when I say I couldn’t tell you ONE thing about Lean.

If you want to turn your dreams into reality there are just a few steps you need to take! I’ll lay it out for you in a simple way:

  1. Know what your dream really is! This is quite possibly one of the greatest challenges for most people.  If you have a million ideas, it can be difficult to narrow down and know which big idea is really the one.  Which one is the big dream?  If you don’t narrow it down, it is impossible to turn your dream into a reality.  So how do you figure it out?  Write things down.  Imagine your life with each idea as the ultimate dream.  Talk to people.  Process your ideas and hear what other people think about them.  Be honest with yourself about which ideas are probably hype, and acknowledge which ideas keep coming up.  The ones that you can’t seem to forget about or let go of are the ones to really focus on. The one that makes your heart skip a beat when you imagine it as reality, that is the one.
  2. Be confident in your dream! Know that you know that you know that this is your dream and you want to see it happen.  The confidence you have in your dream is the foundation for your success, and that same confidence is often what keeps you from being overwhelmed.  It is also the backbone you need when faced with challenges or even negativity. When you feel like a dream is too big or out of reach it becomes easy to get discouraged.  Being discouraged is not part of this plan! So how do you get that confidence?  Think hard about it… what would you want to see your dream become if you absolutely knew without a doubt that you could succeed?  Once you know what you want it to become, imagine your life with that dream as a reality.  If you can imagine that, and it is the life you want, then it is time to act on that dream.  Your confidence in your dream as a reality is vital to your success.  Believe it can happen, and live in the process with that confidence.
  3. Act on your confidence!  If you never take action on your dreams, they will remain dreams.  Without actions, your dreams cannot turn to reality.  As Harry Styles says, “a dream is only a dream… until you decide to make it real.” You don’t have to do it all at once, but you do have to take simple steps towards your dream even if it seems impossible to conquer.  My best recommendation is to do at least one thing every single day to make your dream a reality. If your dream is to open an online boutique, start by nailing down a name and site domain.  That might be all you do in one day, but that simple action brings you one step closer to your dream.  The next day you could take one small step towards building your website.  When you take these steps, it breaks it all down and makes the big picture feel less overwhelming.  Creating a daily action plan is so beneficial.  It allows you to place your efforts on the one thing in front of you rather than feeling scattered and not knowing which steps are most important. Whatever you do, do at least one thing every day.
  4. Ask for help and input! One of the best decisions I ever made was to share my dream with a business coach and get help!  The moment I realized I didn’t know it all and that learning from another person’s experience was a good thing was the moment my business took off.  My business coach helped me accomplish in two months what I had been trying to figure out for over 6 years on my own.  There is nothing wrong with getting a little help!  I think our dreams can often feel very vulnerable to us and we can have the desire to guard and protect them. It is easy to want to figure it out all for ourselves that we can just present a successful finished product. That makes total sense, but how much more valuable are our dreams when they actually become reality?  Sometimes letting people into our headspace and allowing them the honor of helping us is the best decision we could make!  Those that have already done what we want to do are a wealth of knowledge and the most valuable resource.  They may have tools and strategies that we never would have thought of!  Find someone who has walked the same road and get some input!
  5. Do the hard work!  No matter what you have going on, keep your dream at the forefront of your mind.  You may not have time to focus on your dream exclusively, but take it back to number two-  take one action every single day to bring you a step closer to making the dream a reality.  Unfortunately, most amazing things in life aren’t just handed to us.  Too often we get discouraged when are dream isn’t successful overnight and we give up.  Being successful requires doing hard work, being disciplined, and pushing through even when you feel stuck.  Don’t let the mundane process hold you back, and certainly don’t let it lead you to frustration.  All the little details and seemingly dull items on your checklist are what add up to make that dream your new reality.  If you want it to happen, do your part and keep doing it! It may feel like nothing is happening for quite some time, but there will be a shift where you begin to feel momentum and realize that of your hard work has actually paid off and your dream is far more tangible than you imagined.

And y’all, that’s all it takes.  Obviously every single one of these steps looks different for every single person, but I can promise you that having knowing your dream and having confidence in it is where you need to start!  From there, taking one action a day, getting help, and putting the work into will be your game changing strategy.  Whatever your dream is, and whatever the work is that needs to be done- just do it!

The post The Five Step Plan To Turning Your Dreams Into Reality appeared first on cleanchefmessymom.

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Hey everyone!  Laura here, per usual.  If you’re a regular reader, you might be wondering why I am introducing myself when I am the only writer at cleanchefmessymom! Well, that’s because today I am super lucky to have an amazing guest post on my site… and now you’re wondering who it is. It’s the one and the only love of my life, amazing husband, and father to my baby.  And why am I having him write? Well, over the last few weeks I have had dozens of you reach out to me asking how I turned my blog into a full time business.  I know you really want the nitty-gritty monetization tips, but in order to even work with those tips, you need to know how to set up a blog.  Daniel will discuss this, but one thing people often misunderstand is how blogging as a business works.  If you really want to make money, there’s only so much you can do with “blogging” platforms such as blogspot, wordpress.com, and Wix.  If you really want to build your blog into a business, you need to learn how to build it and host it yourself!  And that’s where my knowledge ends, so without wasting any more time, here is my husband and tech expert.

Hi everyone! Daniel here. I’m Laura’s behind-the-scenes technical guy–and also husband.  If you ask Laura, she’ll say I am her partner in crime! Over the years quite a few people have asked Laura how to start their own website and blog. So I thought I’d give a quick overview of how to get up and running.

Starting a blog is easier today than ever before. And although I know code and have made some significant modifications to cleanchefmessymom, a huge amount can be accomplished without knowing any code at all. So if that’s you and you don’t know what HTML/CSS is, rest assured–you can still build an amazing blog!

In this article I’ve broken down the get-started-blogging process into six easy steps. The process is pretty straight forward, especially if you already know what you want for your site.

1. Choose a Blogging Platform (WordPress)

There are a lot of blogging platforms out there, but the choice is very simple. If you want to create a blog focused on creating killer content, WordPress is the best way to go. (Note: I’m referring to the WordPress software on a self-hosted server, not the free wordpress.com blog you may or may not be familiar with).

WordPress powers over 25% of the entire internet, and up to 60% of all “Content Management Systems” (CMS). There are also well over 10,000 themes available for WordPress to style your blog, and over 44,000 plugins to customize how it works.

The options are nearly endless!

Not only that, but WordPress has been around as far back as 2003 and is extremely reliable.

2. Find a Host (Bluehost)

Now that we’ve decided to use WordPress, it’s time to decide where to host it. It’s true that you can host WordPress for free at wordpress.com but we do not recommend that route. You will not have full functionality or the ability to fully customize your blog. And it will also have an unfriendly domain name of www.yourdomain.wordpress.com.

The way to go is what is called a “self-hosted” blog.

The “host” is the company with dedicated computers that provide your WordPress blog to the internet. Our recommended provider is Bluehost. We’ve used them for years for various websites including cleanchefmessymom.com and my business website leansmarts.com.

Bluehost has even been recommended by WordPress.org (the WordPress Foundation website) since 2005! The installation process is super easy, with a 1-click easy WordPress installation, and hosting prices can be as low as $2.95 a month!

Click here to check out what they have to offer.

Bluehost Pricing Options
3. Pick a Domain Name

Your domain name is the name of your website. For example, Laura’s domain is “cleanchefmessymom.com”.

There are other domain extensions than “.com” like .us, .org, .co, and others. Many of these other extensions are picking up in popularity. However, we are still partial to “.com” websites for our businesses. We prefer not to have a domain name that is unconventional to our readers, and .com continues to be the most widely-recognized extension.

Your domain name has to be one-of-a-kind. This means that if someone else has already registered it, you will have to search for another name.

You can search for available domain names during the Bluehost checkout process. Or you can do your research in advance using a website like https://instantdomainsearch.com/.

Bluehost Domain Search

Here’s a few tips for choosing your domain name:

  1. The shorter the better
  2. Make it easy to type
  3. Avoid numbers and hyphens
  4. Make it memorable
4. Install WordPress

Installing WordPress with Bluehost is very simple… as simple as one click! Once you’ve signed up with Bluehost you will have a login to your Bluehost server. This is like the behind-the-scenes area of your website. There’s a lot of buttons and options inside Bluehost, so to make it simple just follow the steps in this video.

Install WordPress on Bluehost
How to Install WordPress on Bluehost.com - YouTube

If you’ve just followed those steps, congratulations! You’ve successfully installed WordPress.

You can login to your WordPress dashboard by going to www.yourdomain.com/wp-admin/. This is where you will customize your WordPress installation, create awesome content, and much more!

5. Choose a Theme

Your new WordPress installation is very basic, but now is the fun part: making it look awesome! To do this there are thousands of themes to choose from. If you’re on a budget, you can use many of the free themes available through the WordPress search engine.

WordPress Theme Search Engine

If you’re looking for a theme design that is more specific you will likely have to purchase a paid theme. Laura and I are both fans of themes that run on the “Genesis Framework” provided by StudioPress.  I use the Aspire theme for leansmarts if you want to see what that looks like! (**Note that you cannot use many themes without a framework, so you will need both.  We recommend this route).

What’s great about Genesis themes is that they are built from the ground-up to be robust and SEO (search engine optimization) friendly.

If you fall in love with one of the themes created by StudioPress please note that you will need to purchase both the Genesis Framework and the theme you’ve fallen in love with. They work together to create the beautiful results you see at Lean Smarts or Clean Chef Messy Mom.

6. Add Content and Customize Your Theme

Adding content to your blog is very easy. There are “posts” and “pages.” A post is what comes up in your blogroll. For example, Laura’s posts contain recipes and lifestyle articles. A page is typically something like an About or Contact page.

The menu on the left inside your WordPress admin dashboard will take you to your Posts or Pages. Creating new content is very simple. Knowledge of coding is not required. You can add images, format text, include bullet lists, and more. If you do know code, you can, of course, use that as well to make changes that aren’t supported by your theme.  Learning those tricks over time will help you customize your blog to do exactly what you want it to!

Creating A Post In WordPress

Customizing your theme can be done from the “Appearance” menu inside the WordPress dashboard. Depending on the theme that you are using, many design elements of your blog can be customized from the “Customize” submenu. You can change colors, fonts, images, and more all to your liking.

Also, since you did get a self-hosted blog with Bluehost, you will also have the capability to edit the design code if you ever need to–something that cannot be done with a free blog at wordpress.com.

The post How to Start a WordPress Blog with Bluehost appeared first on cleanchefmessymom.

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