#121: Working Alone (Without Feeling Lonely or Losing Focus)

Long before COVID, health coaches were working alone, from home. And (for the most part) don’t even have remote coworkers or teams! For Michelle, this was a huge transition from her previous, socially-bustling career in advertising. If you’re struggling with productivity, loneliness or itching for water cooler talk…this episode is for you.

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Hey there health coaches. How's everybody doing today? It's nice to be back with you all. Thank you for giving me, allowing me a week off last week. That was awesome. Sometimes you just have to do that for yourself. And I indeed took that mental health day and it was fabulous. So, there wasn't a podcast episode last week, and you were wondering why I was taking a nap. All right. I think it's so important though, that we are always walking our talk as health coaches and you will routinely hear me say things like my team takes the weekends off, or, you know, we're going to cancel something because we need to rest or do whatever's easiest for you because... Right? So there's tenants of health coaching. We always have to bring into our business anyway. I'm so happy to be here with you today.

If you are joining me live, please go ahead and say hello in the comment area, I'm here. I'm looking for your comments and questions as we go along. And you know what? I was just outside working on my porch. It's warm today. It's beautiful. But it is definitely turning into that fall time of year. You know, the leaves are changing. My deck is gorgeous and I hope that you're feeling energized and making progress in your business with that whole, like back to school kind of vibe. I am thrilled that my kids are back to school. At least a couple of days a week. I was getting sick and tired of never having any alone time during the days to get my work done, which is really funny because when I started my business actually had a really hard time being alone all day. Do you know what I mean?

That's what I want to talk about because most of us are in this boat. Most of us are working from home online and, and, and you know what, it's not just because of COVID because that's what health coaching is like, unless you're part of a group and you're working in some organization or some office, but for like 99% of us, we're all in this situation. It is this loneliness or like it's the productivity aspect, right? Like, do you get caught up doing your laundry? Do you go, Oh, where did the day go? I didn't get anything done. And that's the part that I think is the most detrimental, because we're all here because we want to make a living doing the work that we love. Yes. Give me like two thumbs up. Yes. And when we're in a vacuum working by ourselves, sometimes we just get lost down rabbit holes.

I know how this goes. It happens to me all the time, little bit less now because I can identify it sooner. But when that happens and we go down a rabbit hole of like, Oh, I'm just going to work on this thing in my house. They're like, Oh, wait a minute. I'm just going to check this other thing. All of a sudden, the whole day goes by, right? And the income generation just isn't there. So if that's you, by the way, I want you to check out my free training on how to earn a full time salary as a health coach, because it's going to put some structure and we're going to talk more about structure and just a few minutes, but it's going to put some structure into what you have going on. So, this training is free and it is available at healthcoachpower.com/earn E A R N. Healthcoachpower.Com/Earn.

And hello to Sibel and Sheila and Katie and everybody else who is joining us live. And Sibel says it's gorgeous and warm here in the mid Hudson Valley, New York, Sibel, we are almost neighbors. Today's topic, by the way, you guys, came from Heather who wrote in our Facebook group, she said as someone that works in healthcare and has always valued the comradery in working with groups of people, I fear feelings of isolation and transitioning to a solo online business. I'd love to know about your personal experience from those who can relate. Yes.

Yeah. So I want to start this by saying that I started our health coach power community Facebook group. I started it for this exact reason. I was so sick and tired of just working by myself in a bubble hearing, only my own thoughts. And so that's, that's why I literally started the Facebook group. So I want to encourage all of you to use the group. I mean, back when I started it, it was about like 15 health coaches. And we were all friends, people who actually knew each other in real life. And even that was great. It was like a little water cooler that we could gather around. And then of course at a certain point, I opened it up to the public. And now here we are approaching like 10,000 members. It's unbelievable. So use us, right. We are a community of people who are doing exactly what you're doing all day long.

For the most part, you know, we're trying to build a mailing list. We're trying to hold events. We're trying to sign clients. We're trying to not go stir crazy in our houses while we're doing it. Any sort of groups communities meant for health coaches. That's a really good place for you to position yourself and use on purpose. Don't just use when you have a question every now and then use it to connect. I have seen coaches in our group make friends, visit each other, get together. I have met with other health coaches that I met through this group in real life, you know, and sometimes you guys take pictures and send them to me. It's awesome. So, you know, really use this group on purpose with my healthy profit, you know, university members, we have live calls, of course, we do this live Q and a here in the group, every Tuesday, anyway, anything that you can attend live.

And in real time, I feel like that even though you can always watch a replay, like it's a little bit different when you know that we're all here in real time, it feels more like an actual human connection. And I think that helps it even grounds me to do these events. Like when I wake up in the morning, if I have nothing on my calendar, aside from like work, that is just like me and the computer all day, my brain just kind of turns to mush. But if I know I have to show up client call meeting with my fast track group, you know, whatever it is I'm going to be live. Like I am right now speaking with you guys it, it energizes me and I have a feeling. It might do the same thing for you. So, show up for our events and think about hosting some of your own because it's in that real time interaction that you will receive as much as you are giving.

I promise you. So when I first started my health coaching business, I had left a career in advertising. So I used to be an art director. I worked in an ad agency and it's everything that you've ever heard ad agencies are like, it's bonkers. You know, there was a million people. Most of us were in our twenties. There was a lot of going out. There was a lot of drinking. There was a lot of in office relationships. I mean, it was just, it was a big social hour. Basically. There was not a Thursday, Friday night that we weren't going out after work, probably also Mondays and Tuesdays and Wednesdays. And it was a whole lot of fun. However, when I left a little bit better for my health, right, it wasn't eating so much of those after work appetizers anymore. So that was good and not drinking as much.

And that was good too. But I miss seeing people, Oh, I remember my ex-husband, my now ex-husband would come home from work and he also worked in advertising and he'd come home and I would just have been in the house all day, working on getting my health coaching business, going. And I would like jump all over him, like, Oh my God, tell me about the outside world. What are people doing today? What's happening? What's the weather like I haven't been outside and he'd be like, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa. You know, so you may be experiencing that with other people in your house where you're like clamoring a little bit for like them to help connect you to the outside world. There are ways that you can do that for yourself. So, one thing that I started doing pretty early on is I make sure that I get out of the house every day and see people.

So prior to quarantine, for me, that often meant going to the gym or going to yoga class, first thing in the morning. And what I realized is just being around people. I don't even have to talk to them, but just being out in public, surrounded by people for like an hour did wonders for my mental health. Can anybody relate to this? Does anybody else just like go out of your way to leave the house so that you can absorb some energy and give off some energy, you know, with real people in the real world. It's a crazy thing, especially when you think about how little we've been able to, everyone's been able to do that with quarantine. So even with quarantine going out for a walk, like I live by a river, so I can go out, walk by the river, I'm going to see other people six feet away, but I'm going to see them.

Sometimes I see someone I know we can wave, we can air hug, you know, but it makes a huge difference versus being held captive in your house all day long. So get out. The other thing that I have found makes a world of difference is making friends with other self people who work from home. Now there's a lot of people working from home right now, but I'm not really talking about the ones who have corporate jobs, because they're still beholden to their work schedule and their boss and their, you know, it's still a different life, but if you can find someone else, a friend and your town or whatever, who makes their own hours like you do, you know, who has a little more flexibility in their job like you do, it's easier to like maybe get together for coffee once a week, or even just during the day, if you're chatting or by phone or by text, like that person might be a little more available than somebody who has to be in meetings all day on zoom or whatever they're doing for their corporate job.

So I have found that when I can meet someone like that and you know, we have, we have a different kind of connection and it's, it's really lovely because at like, you know, 11 o'clock, we'll both be like, Oh, we're just starting work. And it's nice to feel like that sense of comradery with someone else who is making a living adulting in a real way, but they didn't have to be at the office at nine o'clock and neither did I. So that's kind of great. Another thing that really helps I had mentioned this a second ago is creating structure So, can come in the form of your social activities. Like back when I was in advertising, socializing just happened. People would stop by my office all day. I mean, it was just a house party day in and day out. Socializing happened without thinking about it.

Now I have to make plans. So you might, you might think, but like, how can I actually consciously book myself a social activity once a week, twice a week, three times a week, whatever it is to fulfill that need that very real need. That is just not getting fulfilled when you're home staring at your computer all day, or even talking to your clients on the phone. Cause that's different. That's not social. So structuring social time. Also, this is going to help you. Let's move on to talking about productivity. When you're working alone by yourself, it's easy to just spin off into nowhere land. But if you can structure your days, it helps tremendously ask my kids. What does mommy do first thing in the morning, and they'll tell you, she exercises. She goes outside and does her exercise. So, I'm always on my back porch.

I mean, until it snows, I will be outside of my back porch. I'm doing my, whatever, you know, yoga or whatever exercise I'm doing that day. And that is like blocked off time. Literally on my calendar, it is blocked off. Nobody can schedule an appointment with me during that time because that is my exercise time. And then immediately following that time is my showering and eating time. So if you can start to block off your days to make sure that everything you need to get done for yourself is happening. And then you can also block in time for the different projects that you're working on. If I see a day that's just open, I'm like what should I work on? I'm going to go put it in a load of laundry and a lot less actually gets accomplished. But if I have a day like today and I can see exactly what I'm doing hour by hour, even by 30-minute increments, it helps me so much.

I live in block out time to like go for a walk, right. Or block out time to catch up and anything that didn't get done. But the point is that it's not just this empty expanse because that it's like, what did they say? What did that, what is that saying? It's like, it's like, you know, gas will fill any, any container that you put a gas and it expands to fill it. So if you have work to do and you have like eight hours to get it done, the work will take you eight hours. Or if you have a whole week to get it done, it's going to take you all week. But if you can see on your calendar that you have this very defined two hour window to get this task done, you're going to get it done in two hours. It makes me much more productive to have that structure throughout my day.

And then of course, if you're like me again, my kids come home on the bus when they go to school, they're home around three o'clock. So that's going to be blocked off on my calendar to get the kids, give them a snack, say, hello, give a hug. You know, I got to give myself 30, 45 minutes for that every day. So structure your time on a daily basis, also structure your weeks structure your month. Like having more of a structure to your overall business is going to help you tremendously when you're working by yourself again, just to not veer off into a million different directions. So I suggest that you take time with yourself, maybe on a weekly basis, give yourself an hour to like back up and go. Like, what am I even doing? Like, what do I want to achieve? What's the next big project I'm going to be working on?

How can I get started now? Like get a little strategic with your time. I do this every week with my project manager. So if you have someone that you can sit down and have this conversation with, it's so helpful. Also it's a conversation with real person, which is nice. And if you want to go back, I interviewed Stephanie, my project manager and episode number 76. So you can hear a little bit more about how we work together. I love it because now that I have some people on my team, I have standing weekly meetings with them. And that, you know, there's a little bit of social aspect to that too. We gossip about who we're dating. You know, it's, it's fun. It's like having a coworkers, but even if you don't have somebody on your team, you can still sit down with yourself and strategize about the coming weeks so that you feel like you are not just going in circles and a big looping spiral, you know, but you're actually making progress forward towards a goal that really requires, like I said, like stepping back and looking at the big picture, okay, what else do I have here?

Another great way to combat working alone so that you're not lonely. And so you are productive is collaborations. Yes. Any time that you can get together with another practitioner or another business, you'd be amazed what you'll get done when you are being held accountable by that collaboration or by that other person. Right? Because if you say you're going to do it, like you're going to do it because you're doing it with them. So it's a wonderful way to energize your business. The only thing that I want to say about that is you don't and a lot of coaches do this and I have done this. Try not to collaborate with a competing health coach. Not so much because we all have to be in competition with each other, but because there's a conflict of interest, it always gets messy. I'm sure you can imagine situations that it could get messy, right?

It would be like if there was two bakeries in town, why would the two bakeries get together for a project that doesn't make any sense? The bakery should get together with the, with the wine shop and do like a pastry wine pairing thing, you know? So it makes sense for us as health coaches to get together with complimentary practitioners, complimentary businesses put together events, put together offerings together. And that also really helps with this feeling that you're not working alone because then you're not working alone. I would give an example, the things that I do recently I was thinking, when do I collaborate anymore? And one thing that I do a lot of, and this is, you know, it's pretty small scale stuff, but being interviewed on somebody's podcast would be an example. That's time where I'm talking to another human being, right?

Like in the end, everybody's going to hear the podcast episode, but usually we're chit chatting for like 15 minutes before after. And it becomes like a chance to really make a friend, which is lovely. Also when I have guests on my podcast, it's the same thing. So that's a very simple example of a collaboration, but those are things that helped me again, stay connected to other people when I'm otherwise working alone. Amazing. Whew. So if there's any of this stuff that's resonating with you guys, let me know in the comments. I see Katie wrote yes. To all of that. Sheila wrote. Oh yes. So I'm like, we're all in the same boat together. Oh. And Samantha says, I just turned down a collaboration for that reason. Yes. Sometimes we think it's a good idea to collaborate with another health coach. If you're unsure, ask me, I will get, I will give it to you straight because I have seen so many of those go down the tubes and I can kind of call it out immediately.

But, but the intention is good. The intention is really good to, you know, bring together our talents and fuel each other's success. I love all of that, but you just have to be really careful about how you do it. So I have a couple other questions that came in over the past week or so, and I wanted to be sure to include some of them today. If you have a question for me and you're here live, go ahead and put that in the comment area. Now I have my eye on that box, but I have one here from Merly. And she said, I thought this was so funny. She said, well, that was interesting. I a discovery call and the person just wanted to grill me because they want it to be a health coach. Has this happened to you? And Merly the way that you wrote that.

It sounded like you were a little annoyed and then the way that everybody was answering you sounded like they were maybe a little annoyed on your behalf. And I was like, that's great. Do you know how much I have earned by referring people to IIN to become a health coach? Some of you listening to this podcast, maybe a person that I referred to the school, and then I got paid a referral fee. So that's awesome. If you have people coming to you now, of course it would have been nice if they just said, Hey, I'd like to talk to you about becoming a health coach, but regardless you have time, you're on the phone with them. I used to get on the phone personally, with every single person who asked me about becoming a health coach, answered all their questions and I've made so many referrals that way.

I don't do it that way anymore. Cause it's a lot of hours out of the day, but there were, I remember one year in particular where I think I referred like 25 people to the school. So if you graduated from a school that has an affiliate program, if someone shows interest in becoming a health coach, by all means, talk to them and share with them how they can take the next step and sign up. You always want to be a, how do I put this? Working with people, working with what they want. Like you don't want to just be shouting at putting signs up and shouting in people's spaces, like become a health coach, become a health coach. That's obnoxious. But if somebody is coming to you for something that you could earn a referral fee on by all means, take the time it will pay off.

Okay. Here's a question from Esther. Esther says if a former client refers clients who sign on, do you ever give referral bonuses to show appreciation? And if so, what have you done? So I think some people replied that they do kind of share different things that they do for their clients who give referrals. So I just wanted to share that I don't, I never have, I don't think I ever will. Number one pain in the butt. How am I going to keep track of that? So, and so referred me, I've got to have a system for remembering who referred who, and then, you know, what, if they refer someone and then that person ends up not paying the second payment on their payment plan. Like then do I still give her a referral prize or whatever? I just don't do it. I don't do it.

And what's the thing. I don't think I've ever received a gift or a bonus for referring somebody to any sort of health practitioner. I'm sure some do this, but like maybe an acupuncturist or a massage therapist, you know, I've never referred someone and then a kickback for that. So it just doesn't really cross my mind as something that we have to be doing. I don't think that our clients are going to make referrals because they get whatever gift it is not going to them, unless it was like a really big bonus or gift my clients make referrals because they got great results. That's all it takes. So not saying that you shouldn't do it. I'm just saying it might be complicating your life in a way that is unnecessary and you could be putting your energy elsewhere.

All right. What other questions do you have for me? We have about six minutes left. I have one here from Danielle. Danielle says I would love to incorporate more inspirational or informational quotes. Relatable means into my Instagram posts to space out the imagery. Any tips on where you find yours, it might be the biggest time suck of my social media posting. Isn't that funny? Like you become a health coach and suddenly you realize that like you're spending hours upon hours just looking for memes. That doesn't seem right. So I'll tell you what I do, Danielle. I think that just in my off hours, let's say not what I'm trying to, you know, be, be doing this, but just, you know, scrolling through the gram on my phone or even just reading a book and coming across a quote. Anytime I just run into something in life, I take a picture of it, take a picture.

I was walking down the street the other day and there was one of those signs, sidewalk signs, what are those called? Like an, a frame or something. And there was, there was something cool written on the sign. So boom took a picture of it right there on the street. So then when I need something to post to my social media account, I just go into my photos and I have like a library of all this different stuff that I've taken screen grabs or photos of it helps so much. It's just there. It's just ready. Now. Sometimes I run out. Sometimes I don't have anything. Sometimes I purposely am trying to fill up that library. So I think the most useful way that I have for finding little quotes and things like that is to just search hashtags. And when I search a hashtag that's associated with my target market, I'm going to find a whole slew of quotes that are out there. And that's probably the fastest way to get from here to there. But if you find that you're spending more than like 10 minutes looking for something to post a social media, I would absolutely change up your strategy for posting because that's just too much time for health coach to be wasting on finding a meme. Don't do that.

Alrighty. And I have another question here from Jorge. Jorge says, could anyone give me some advice on payment plans for coaching programs? Does it make more sense to have a client pay upfront for a certain amount of sessions or time, or should you charge a client per month? Okay. So how do I want to answer this question? Jorge, you should always, as a business owner in this industry to get all of the money up front money that you do not have in your pocket, the session is not yours, right? That person could walk, that person can forget to pay you. That person's check could get lost in the mail and you will never get it. So it, it behooves you to accept it payment in full upfront. Now coaches will often incentivize to do this like, Oh, you know what it costs per month, but if you pay in full now, you know, maybe there's a couple of hundred dollars knocked off the price.

That's one way to do it. For sure. I do it the opposite. I offer the one set price for the package that I'm selling. And then if they go with a payment plan like that sort of, you know, the other guy, the one that I don't really talk about, I always talk about paying in full because that's what I want them to do. And if you don't give a payment plan option, then anyone who's able to afford it is going to go, okay, sign me up. Now if somebody hesitates and they're like, Oh, I don't know if I could swing that dah, dah, dah, that's a great time to bring up that you can also split the payments. And I would not split payments beyond the number of months that you're going to be working together. So, if you have a six-month program, do not break the payments up into 10 payments because after your services are done, there's no reason for someone to keep paying you.

Good people will. And most of your clients are going to be good people. However, even the best people are a little less motivated to pay for something that's already done. So I would only do payment plans for as long as the number of months that are part of your package. Another thing you can do is charge a little bit more for the payment plan. So instead of saying, this is the price per month, but I'd give you a discount. If you pay in full, you can do it the opposite. You can say, this is the amount for the package, okay, this is too much for you. We can break it up into payments in that case, it's going to be, and give them a per month price. But if you add it all up, it's a little bit more expensive. The reason to do that, it's sort of like a cover your butt thing.

You will have people that default on payment plans. It happens all the time. So by charging a little bit more for the payment plan, it helps mitigate that loss. Does that make sense? What else do I want to say about one thing you should never do? You don't charge per session. It doesn't help you. It doesn't help the client, like think of it as like a mindset thing. Or sometimes we talk about money as an energy exchange, right? So it's not just about like, you know, being a Scrooge over here. And I want all my money. It's not like that. But if somebody gives me a lump sum for their whole package, they are essentially saying with their, their energy, their resources, they're saying I'm all in, like, I am ready to do this when they just get a little teeny, tiny amount, they're saying like, I'm kind of in, I'm sort of going to do this. Right?

And if you're only charging per session, cause I know coaches do that. Sometimes it's even less, the commitment is very small on their end. Again, I don't mean to you as like you're, you know, with, as a business thing, I mean the commitment to themselves, the commitment to actually implementing what you guys talk about. So it really is like a win, win situation. If you can get your clients to invest in themselves and do it in a way that feels significant. We're not trying to like put anybody in the poor house obviously, but it should feel significant enough to them that they are going to follow through. Like I just put down all this money. Of course I'm going to show up for my session because it would like hurt if I didn't, you know, that it helps. It helps everybody be more committed, especially when they pay in full.

All right you guys, I think that's everything for today. Thank you so much for joining me. If you were here live, thank you for listening later. If you're doing this via podcast or YouTube or wherever you're watching and listening. Thank you so much. We'll be back next week. I'll see you then.