There are braces to straighten teeth, chiropractors to put your spine back in place, and legal pads to keep our handwriting in line, but when it comes to owning a business, you are the one in charge of keeping your head on straight. Most days, if you let it, your path can look more like a scribbled crayon maze on the back of your kids’ placemats at Applebee’s. How in the world can we keep our wits about us and magically grow our businesses? 

It comes down to three major concepts. These concepts aren’t going to earn you an MBA on paper, but now that you’re eyeball-deep in this crazy world of business, you will feel more mastery than ever before if you give yourself permission to follow these guiding principles.

After helping three businesses and two little kids grow, I know there’s never enough bandwidth if I’m not focused on the most important things. Even with a seven-figure business and team of more than a dozen people, my most important strategies don’t start in a spreadsheet. They start in the heart.

1) Alignment

When something feels “off,” trust it. When you feel out of whack, you won’t be the superstar business person you want to be. When you’re not staying in that place that helps you feel at your best, everything suffers. You will know if you are or are not in alignment when go to bed, wake up, or even open your laptop. How do you feel? Give yourself four seconds to check in with your mind. What thoughts are circling? If you feel dread, you’re out of alignment. If the client calls and you don’t even want to pick it up, you guessed it, out of alignment. Sometimes it’s a daily adjustment, but it will serve you well. Once you know how to check your own alignment, you’ll want to see if you can practice it with others you interact with for your business.

After five years of hiring, firing, and saying goodbye to clients and commitments that were not a good fit, I can tell you, you’ll save yourself a ton of stress and frustration if you pay attention to what your gut is telling you way before you say yes to any business move. As Maya Angelou said, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.” When we’ve ignored red flags in the hiring process, or client prospecting process, we’ve regretted it (or shall I say learned from it) 100 % of the time. However, that learning curve was often painful and caused a lot of unnecessary stress. 

I am now unafraid to tell my team when my gut feelings are pointing to a “no,” and I’m encouraging them to always listen to their guts and check their alignment.

2) Fill your pitcher

My favorite piece of advice came from my dear friend and doctor. She just so happens to be a certified life coach too. She told me, “You can’t pour out of an empty pitcher.” 

It changed my life. So often, in the world of Pinterest and Instagram, we strive. We strive to have clean little kids in perfect outfits, out in the best nature scene possible, while we’re simultaneously planning a gala to raise money for some wonderful cause, then going home to try and cook a locally sourced organic meal for our in-laws. It’s nearly a crime how much pressure we can put on ourselves. 

The day I heard that phrase is the day I started looking at life differently. How brilliant! Of course, I can’t be my best when I’m absolutely TAPPED OUT! 

Thankfully, the boss mom culture that’s growing is taking our well-being into account now. More and more women are being real about their struggles and thanks to role models like Rachel Hollis, we don’t have to hide the fact that we don’t all have it together. 

So, what keeps your pitcher full? Is it a nap? Is it being outside? Is it putting your phone on airplane mode all weekend? Is it reading a great book in the tub? Is it just a stroll down the Target aisles by yourself? Figure out what helps you recharge, and put more of that on the calendar. Because what gets scheduled, gets done.

For me, the path to a fuller pitcher started with getting help with cleaning. I was continually draining myself every Sunday night cleaning up after two toddlers. I would stay up way too late, get way too crabby at my entire family, and end up elbow-deep in a bag of whatever carb I could find. Let’s just say that doesn’t set you up for a successful week. I had clean toilets and yet some overflowing resentment building. It has been so worth it to walk into a clean house. I can actually think now at home, and I’m way more inspired. What can you do to fill your pitcher? 

3) Learning

Finally, the last key to success and sanity is to keep learning.  I have transformed my life through books, podcasts, conferences, masterminds, and classes. I can’t imagine having the drive for my dreams if I wasn’t feeding my brain with helpful information.

Does what you consume match where you want to go in life? I used to make a living in TV news, but do not watch it anymore. It drains me and makes me feel sad. I find that all the courses, coaches, and books I choose fuel my fire for a juicy good life, and that’s why I created the membership for other women like me to have access to that wonderful information any time they want.  

I recommend when something resonates, do it. Buy the membership, take the class, get in that mastermind. You will love it and thank yourself later. Being in business can be lonely at times. Sometimes the only place you’ll find inspiration is from your favorite podcast. When you want to give up, you’ll need to go back to that highlighted sentence that speaks to you in a great book. When you need new strategies, that business course or coach may be the ticket to a breakthrough. 

Sarah Stokes is the founder of The Juicy Good Life, an online success training company and co-owner of STOKES|HERZOG, a strategic marketing and consulting agency in Eau Claire, WI. She is a trusted consultant for global and regional companies, helping them with their public relations and recruiting strategies.

Sarah worked in television news for years before starting STOKES|HERZOG Marketing + Consulting with her husband. Sarah left TV news in 2013 to launch ownership of a women’s magazine called Queen of the Castle. Sarah grew the magazine to 7 times its size and sold the magazine in 2016 to focus more on the growing agency needs at STOKES|HERZOG. The agency now serves Fortune 500 companies and employs a team of more than 12 amazing people. She started her newest company, “The Juicy Good Life” in 2018 to help other second-stage business owners hit their goals and discover ways to succeed in life and in their careers.

She was named the Woman of Achievement in 2017 by the Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce, Business Woman of the Year in 2016 for the Western Dairyland Women’s Business Center, and Extraordinary Business Woman of the Year in 2014 by Polka Dot Powerhouse, a national connection company for women. STOKES|HERZOG was named the Best Branding and Design Company in 2019. 

Sarah loves to connect people to solutions. She pours her heart into time with their young son and daughter and has a huge heart for philanthropy, serving on several boards, and spearheading fundraisers.