Five Things I Learned This Year That Changed My Life and Business [PODCAST]

This podcast is all about truth. I want to be truthful with you, and be honest about who I am, because I believe in transparency in life and business. I feel that it’s time to be honest about where I’ve been, what I’ve been doing, and what’s coming in the future.

So, it’s been a few months since I released my last podcast. Some people have noticed, and I’m sure others have not, but I wanted to talk about where I’ve been and what I’ve been up to, in hopes that you’ll forgive me for my absence.

It pains me to say that I recently separated from my love, for reasons that were beyond my control. Some people know, and many others do not.

I’m not one to shy away from a challenge, but for anyone who has separated or divorced their bride or groom, you’ll understand that sometimes you just have to know when it’s time to throw in the towel. Being a child of divorce, and having a little one of my own, I definitely didn’t take this decision lightly. Many months trying to understand the why’s lead me to my final decision.

But after all was said and done, I realized that I was a whole other person, that I no longer recognized. Have you ever been in a relationship, and when you look at the other person, all you can see is you? Maybe it’s just me, because I put my entire soul into my relationship. And maybe that’s the reason I love social media so much. It’s about investing in people, just like a marriage. And I hope that this recent experience will help me to become even better at what I do.

Over the past year, I learned many things about myself that I want to share with you today. Perhaps you can relate.

I can honestly say that this past year was life changing, both personally and professionally on so many levels. I met so many fantastic people and travelled to amazing places. I continue to live and learn each and every day.

As I’m heading into the New Year, I thought I’d share five things I learned this year that changed my life and business. I think it’s important to identify these changes and learn and grow because of them. So let’s jump right in.

  1. Knowing My Worth

    I grew up in a middle class family, where it’s expected that you get a secure job that can pay the bills, and not much more than that. But I’ve always been the outlaw in the family, to be honest. I’ve never conformed to those ideals, much to my mother’s horror. So, when I decided to start my own business, I was shunned. My family couldn’t identify with me and because of it, shared no interest in what I do. So I thought I must be doing something wrong. I continuously doubted myself, and as a result, under-valued my worth and knowledge. I asked myself, if they don’t understand what I’m trying to accomplish, is it worth my while?

    It wasn’t until I met the amazing Jason Alan Miller from Peaceful Media that I started to identify my true worth. When we began working together, he asked me “Who does Afton want to be?”. No one had asked me that before (in my adult life, at least). I really didn’t have an answer, because I hadn’t really thought of it. I mean, I was paying the bills. Wasn’t that enough?

    The amazing thing was that Jason identified my passion for my craft and wanted to fuel the fire to help me to dream bigger. He helped me to see my worth and that it could lead to much more than what I had settled for. That’s what I hope everyone can do, especially you, my listener. And the beautiful thing is digital media can help so many people to accomplish just that. But passion, my friend, is the most valuable thing on the planet. If you have passion, you can have anything you’ve ever wanted and dreamed of.

  2. Understanding Value Before Cost

    Continuing on from the middle-class mindset, I learned this year the difference between value and cost. I attended many online and offline seminars this year, where many of the speakers preached the value of their latest and greatest product, event, or service. But my first reaction to their propositions were, “But what does it cost?”.

    And then I realized, oh my goodness, I’m my worst nightmare. There is incredible frustration in the digital marketing industry because often times, people don’t understand the value in a click or a like or many of the other digital assets that can be used to promote their brand online. People often ask me, “What do likes actually get me?”. And here’s the thing – at least this is my view at least – you won’t see the dollar for dollar ROI in your social, but you will see incredible growth because of it. Just because you paid Facebook $0.50 per like doesn’t mean you’ll make that $0.50 back that day. But, think of your following like a shiny award sitting on your shelf. If you pawned it, you could probably get a pretty penny, but if you hold on to it and shout from the rooftops about your award, people will take notice. Your following and community are brand collateral. They’re what affiliates and partners and even the media are looking for. So, although you paid $0.50 per like, the value is so much greater. And I now know that before I ask cost, I’m going to ask about the value.

  1. Sleep = Focus = Productivity

    I was recently in San Diego, offering my expertise to a fantastic group of entrepreneurs at a Peaceful Media and Brendon Burchard event. It was a lot of fun, but a lot of work. At the end of the event, I felt like my mind was going a mile a minute. I couldn’t focus on my work and my productivity went down the drain.

    I realized that I was lacking an immense amount of sleep. Now let me just say, I’m a sleepy person by nature, and I’ve been told that the younger you are, the more you sleep, so I must still be in my teens (in my head, at least). So, when I lose sleep, I lose my focus, and I’m no longer productive. While we may believe that burning the midnight oil to get that project finished or to read the latest book is imperative to our careers, I beg to differ. There’s a great TED talk by Arianna Huffington where she says, “The way to a more productive, more inspired, more joyful life is getting enough sleep. We are literally going to sleep our way to the top.” And I think that’s just fabulous.

  1. It’s Not What You Know, It’s How You Can Find the Right Solution to Any Problem (Or Find Someone Who Can)

    I receive a lot of questions each and every day about social media and digital marketing. I get asked about the latest changes to the networks, what are the best tools to use, what content strategies are best, and even which button to press for what. Sometimes I can answer them, and sometimes I can’t. Unfortunately, there’s only so many hours in the day to learn the vast amount of information in digital marketing (remember my sleep point?), so sometimes I just can’t keep up. But what I believe sets me apart is my ability to find the solution. When people ask me what I do, that’s just what I say – I’m a social media solutionist. If I don’t know the answer, I will find out, quickly, or find someone who can.

    As a business owner, you may want to wear all the hats in order to maintain control. I know this, because I’ve been this way. And that’s ok up until a certain point, but once you start to become successful and busy, which you will, those tasks that were once time fillers will become time wasters, and you’ll miss out on doing what you do best. Find the right people to help you to find the right solutions, whether that be an admin assistant, community manager, graphic designer, web developer, or even just someone who can grab you some lunch. You’ll be happier and more productive because of it.

  1. Surround Yourself with Passionate, True People

    I’ve made the very bold decision for New Year to only surround myself with passionate, true people. Have you ever felt like you’re surrounded by naysayers? Or people who have no drive or real purpose in life?

    Now, I’ve learned something very interesting about myself – when I’m put in a very difficult position, I become much more driven to do good and to be a better person. I become hyper motivated and produce my best work, especially when I’m surrounded by great thinkers and doers. It’s not about being like-minded, but having the same mind to love and succeed in life and business. The same can be said about your activities online. When I look at influencers to build relationships, they aren’t necessarily in the same industry or have the same interests as I do. On the contrary, the best partners are often the ones of a completely different interest, which allows you to broaden your mind and even your audience. I’m always amazed by the new things I learned about, well, life and all it has to offer. And the most important lesson I’ve learned from the amazing people around me is to always be passionate and true to myself.

  1. Wake Up Every Day with Purpose

    It’s hard to be motivated every day. Life sometimes gets in the way, or maybe you fall sick for a week or two and you lose your course, or you just don’t feel like doing anything at all. I find for me, personally, it’s usually down to a lack of planning. When I wake up and I’m not excited about my day ahead, it’s usually because there’s nothing ahead because I haven’t planned anything.

    Now, everyone is different, but what I like to do is write my list of things I’d like to accomplish on a weekly basis, and check in daily before I get to bed. Some people work well with journaling, sometimes in the early morning, but I like to make lists at night. I love the feeling of checking things off my list and seeing the progress I’m making. Oh yeah, that feels good, right? And to be honest, there are a whole bunch of apps out there that will allow you to track goals and tasks, but there’s nothing more satisfying than scratching off a list of items with a pen.

    By waking up every day knowing what I’m looking to accomplish, I am fulfilling my daily purpose and I’m on the road to my greater purpose, both in life and business.

So, those are the five things I learned this year that changed my life and business. Now it’s your turn. I challenge you to write down your five things that you learned this year and beside each, note why it changed your life or business. Be specific, and take the actions you’ll need to take to see an even better year this year.

  • Amen! I’ve been burning the candle at both ends, and today resolved to get more sleep in 2015. Productivity goes hand in hand with sleep. During the past month, I have come to understand that the 50 cents or even $1 I might pay to get a “like” on Facebook means so much — that person is following me and is interested in what I have to say. The payoff will come if I am consistent and provide good content, but it might take 6 months or a year to pay off. That $1 might one day be a sale of $20 (which doesn’t sound like much), but what bank or broker could you give $1 to and get $19 back? None that I know of.

    • Great insight, Neetzy! Here’s to more sleep and higher income in 2015!

  • Elizabeth Hall

    Afton I love your podcast. Your story sounds so much like mines. I’m sorry you are going through a rough patch, I’ve been there and it gets better. I also understand not having support from your family because they don’t get it. I still don’t really have that and I don’t really have friends that understand what I’m doing. So when you were talking it was like I was talking. I get it! It is cool that you were brave enough to add a touch of your life and share it with your listener. Everything you said is spot on. Great episode.

    • Hi Elizabeth,

      Thank you so much for your kind words and support. You have no idea how much I appreciate them. 🙂

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