Are you an aesthetician or skin wellness professional who is feeling stuck and overwhelmed by the abundance of treatment and program options out there? Don’t worry; you are not alone! We’ve all been in that position before, trying to decide which products, machines, programs, or modalities to focus on; what services our clients need most, and how to differentiate ourselves from other professionals. That feeling of fear and uncertainty can often lead us to “Shiny Object Syndrome” — when we jump from one shiny new product or modality to another without any clear direction or strategy for success. But don’t despair! With just a few small steps and careful planning, you can unlock the door to your ideal practice niche — no matter how specific or unique it might be!

On this episode of The Skin Wellness Pro Show, Rachael and Tara discuss how to find your focus and avoid Shiny Object Syndrome in your aesthetics, coaching, or skin wellness practice.

Watch Episode 1.04, How to Find Your Focus and Avoid Distraction below:

Listen to the audio here:

Read the edited transcript here:

Rachael Pontillo:

Today I want to talk about something that I think many of our skin wellness pros struggle with. And that is, how do you find your focus and stay focused in your business? And on the flip side of the same coin, how do you avoid distraction? We’re not just talking about distraction in that everybody has a personal and professional life. I’m talking more specifically about how to avoid distraction and find your focus in your practice. Because I don’t know about you, but anytime I go to a conference or a trade show, there’s always something new and exciting that looks so great and promises such great results. So, do you buy it? Do you try it? Or do you just kind of stick to what’s working? How do you figure all that out and how do you find what should be your focus?

Tara Swagger:

I think people need to find their focus, and then at the same time know that their focus can change, right? Because I think there are two parts. There’s the part where people don’t find their focus and they’re all over the place, spread out in different directions. They’re not really honing their skill, and then they’re struggling to make the kind of money that they want to make or grow their business. And then are times when you might find your focus, and then you stay so rigid that you eliminate opportunity, right? It’s like finding your focus, but then being willing to shift your focus. And so it’s the big package. And I think certainly, as aestheticians, health coaches, or wellness professionals, we have our personal direction in how our businesses run, but this is something that anybody deals with.

I’ve noticed over the last few years, even more particularly that I’ve noticed that a lot of aestheticians coming out of school are choosing a “path.” Sometimes you find that they focus on waxing, which is great. That’s not something I like to focus on, so I don’t have that as part of my business. But sometimes, they don’t feel as connected to doing the hands-on skin treatments. As I’ve grown older and my practice has evolved, I’ve moved more into coaching.

I think when you are new, especially, there are so many groups on Facebook where people are recommending buying this and that product, sending the message that if you don’t do this, then you’re not going to make enough money. Or they say things like, “you need to add this so you can make $500 a person.” When trying to find your niche, it’s hard to decide what you should buy and what product you should use. Sometimes I see these girls in some of these groups where they’ve used a certain product line, but then someone’s trying to tell them that their product line is better, and then they have this, this fomo. Right? I’m fear of missing out on being the best because I don’t have that. But, you know, I think we both know that you can get dragged around in the commercialization of what you should or shouldn’t be doing in the business. Right? I think that it is also really tempting. I mean, talk about the FOMO!

Rachael Pontillo:

There are a lot of aesthetician coaches and influencers out there who are talking about how much money some of these machines and types of facials and modalities deliver. And then I see people invest in these machines that are $20,000 or $30,000 machines and put that service on their menu, but then it’s either not what it’s cracked up to be, or they don’t enjoy delivering that service as much as they thought they would, or it isn’t selling as well as they thought it would. Even though it was a big thing that works for many people, it might not have been the right fit for that person’s particular clientele.

It’s really easy to think that just because something is new and popular that everybody will like it, but that might not be the right fit. So I think it’s really important when you’re making decisions on what modalities to bring in, that you listen to what your clients are saying, what they’re asking for, and what their feedback is. For instance, if there’s anything that they feel that they aren’t not getting from you, what would that be? And then, is that something that you feel comfortable providing? Like, I’m with you on the waxing–all the power to the waxers out there–but personally, I’ve literally turned down jobs before because it would’ve required waxing, and that’s just not my jam. Even though I know it makes money! Brazilian waxing makes money. Male Brazilian waxing, especially, makes a lot of money, but no thank you! I have no interest.

Tara Swagger:

That’s a prime example.  I’ve been in the business for a long time now. I definitely did body waxing earlier on. I did just about everything that you would learn and apply as an esthetician. But, as you start to determine, what services you really want on your menu, you do want to do just that. You want to look at what services you’re offering on a list and say, “okay, let me rank these from one, being my favorite thing to do, and then what’s on the least of my favorite things to do.”

Another important thing I think to do is to take a look at your numbers as well; at what is producing you the most. A lot of times there’s a reason why what’s producing you the most is producing you the most. Either A, you really like to do it, so you’re probably selling a lot of it because you’re really into it, or B, the passion is coming through. Usually, the thing that you hate to do is not the one that’s giving you the most money! That does happen sometimes, though.

You need to know your numbers, and then also take a sharp look at your menu. I always do my business planning every year. I think that that’s something that a lot of people in our industry–even health coaches–are not doing. But you really want to look at what that looks like every year and determine what you want to do. What’s this year going to look like? Am I finally going to shift and remove this item from my menu? You can probably strategically do that if you can find someone you can partner with in the area who does a lot of waxing. You don’t want to do the waxing anymore. Maybe they don’t like to do facials. And so they get to send you those clients.

Taking a look at what you’re offering and honing in on what you really, really like is a huge way to find your focus. Because when you love what you’re executing, then you’re creating the frequency to continue to attract the people that want that. That’s really where you’re going to make the most money. That’s also where you’re going to find how to focus on what you’re either buying for equipment or what you’re using for products. And instead of just someone saying, “you have to do this service, everybody wants it, and it’s $150 every time you do this.” Those things are distracting.

So to find your focus, you have to figure out what you want to do. Because if you look at your business and, yes, you’re doing a lot of what you don’t want to do, then you need to find a way to establish a shift. If you’re making your business plan every year, you might look at that and say, “Okay, I’m no longer going to take new waxing clients this year. I want to keep my schedule available so that I can get some new clients for skincare.” And then you can create your marketing plan around that. If you can find what you really like to do, and then hone in on that, it establishes all the other pieces around how you’re going to get the results you want. I think more people need to take that deeper look, and most people aren’t doing that.

Rachael Pontillo:

I think you’re right. I think that, unfortunately, so many aesthetics and coaching programs here in the United States are shorter programs, that don’t have enough time to teach business and marketing skills in their curriculum because the state boards don’t cover that. The certification exams don’t cover that. People graduate from these programs, and they might have had some suggestions about how to, I don’t know, send an email newsletter or have a Facebook group that you invite people into, and post a bunch of content to, and hopefully, they’ll love you enough to buy from you, and stuff like that. But overall, I think that the whole business development, business planning, and marketing side of things is something that many people still need to learn.

So maybe the practitioner has created their own wonderful custom facial protocol. They carry a skincare line that they love, or maybe they have their own skincare line that they love, and they open for business, hang up their sign, and they’re ready to go. They have a website; they have their online scheduler. And because they’re not getting enough clients, because the marketing, planning, and sales skills aren’t developed enough yet, they assume that the products or service is not selling. It’s not necessarily that; it’s possible that maybe it’s not positioned correctly, being marketed effectively, or the selling skills might not be there because I know a lot of people just are afraid of selling. They feel that they’re not good at it, or they’re intimidated by it, or they feel that their clients will feel a certain way being sold to and that they won’t come back.

But the fact of the matter is, that any new service, especially, takes time to get established. And it has to be positioned correctly so that whoever your ideal customer is for that service, is attracted to it. The service is put right in front of where that customer is. If it’s an in-person practice, maybe you have local referral partners that let you put some signage or brochures out, or maybe you do some events together locally that you can cross-promote with another practitioner. Or if you’re online, figure out where that customer hangs out online, so you can put your information, and your services right in front of them so that they can’t help but see you. And then your product or service can have a real chance. But I think that people get frustrated quickly. They blame the service, or they might blame themselves and say, “I’m just not good at it. It’s not working, so I’m going to have to try something else.”

So they hop around and try the next best thing or new thing because they think it’s going to sell better this time, and then it doesn’t. And we end up having a jack of all trades and master of none, which can be a problem because then you don’t get great at any one particular thing. And while you might be a good generalist, it might not give you a deep enough skillset to truly make an impactful change in that client’s life, and get them the results they’re looking for. So my advice would also be, if you feel like you want to bring on a new modality, or you have to learn a new thing, that’s fine. We’re all for learning. We’re all for trying new things. But make sure you’ve also honed your marketing skills and your business development and sales skills so that you know that what you’re doing now has been given a real shot at working and attracting those clients. And if it’s not, then maybe that’s an area to get support on first before buying that new machine or something like that.

Tara Swagger:

Yeah, I think that unfortunately, there are so many products too in our industry. I notice this a lot in groups on Facebook. I used to mentor in some of these groups, and, someone would ask, for instance, what’s a good line for acne? And, of course, you get all these different people making 20 different suggestions.

What you need to do is choose a line that you want to work with, and then get really good with that line, and understand the ingredients. That requires that you’re not just learning about the line itself, but you’re breaking down ingredient knowledge, and you understand how they will work synergistically on your clients. I’m a big fan of product testing. I never, ever, ever utilize products with my clients or sell products that I have not tested on my own self or in my practice enough, to have confidence about what the results are going to be. And I think many people don’t do this either because they’re chasing what some random person on Facebook is recommending. They’ve been chasing all kinds of things. Today, this product sounds really good to them because they used it and had some results with their one client or their own selves with acne; and now all of a sudden it’s a great product. But then a year later, they find that maybe they didn’t understand the product enough to get it to work with all their clients. And I think that all of that “advice” becomes super distracting.

Another example is girls that do lashes in this business too–they’re the same way. This lash glue is the best lash glue, that lash glue is the best lash glue, etc. Well, I hate to break it to everybody, but a lot of these glues have pretty much the same ingredients. And most of the time, it’s about your skillset and application, and it’s not necessarily the product itself. Almost all those products are going to work well once you become at using them.

The other thing I find with a lot of people in the industry is that they train once, and then they’re like, “oh, now I, I’m, I’m good at this service because I, I’m certified!” You would be surprised by how incredibly good you can get by training in the same modality over and over again, which I know for some people seems ridiculous. But, you know, I used to do lash extensions years ago, and I trained with five different companies. And that’s not because I wanted to be like, “look at me! I trained with five companies!” It was because I knew that in each training, while I already knew how to do that service, I knew I was going to get something more profound each time because I came into it differently, and different information when I left. I see a lot of people thinking that they get all the training they’ll need in a one-day class, and then that’s it. And then they start product chasing. But it’s really the practitioner that needs to hone their skills.

If you are struggling to get your products to work, then you need more education on how to do the service, so that you can get good at what you have already. When you do that, then it’s a very different story. Once you go out into the world, you’re not chasing products, but because people are putting a lot more weight on whether the product is performing than themselves, they get very distracted. I think that way too about a lot of the machines for skincare. I use some machines in my practice, but not a lot. I certainly feel that my clients are coming to me for my education, and what I am providing in my service–not just for what machines I use or products I carry.

For example, a lot of people do great with HydraFacial®. I’ve never felt like it was a modality that fit for me. When clients call asking for that, I tend to think that maybe they’re not looking for what I do, which is a customized service. So if that’s the case, if that’s what you provide, then don’t decide you have to bring in a machine–just keep providing your customized service and let someone else who really likes HydraFacial and wants to use that modality, do that down the road and be successful in their own right. You will be successful with what you like to do by becoming really good at it–by getting the right education so that you can provide what you like and not get distracted by a $30,000 machine.

Rachael Pontillo:

You know, I really like that you brought that up– that, if people are calling, just looking for a particular machine, or if they’re calling just looking for a particular skincare line and you’re looking to market that you are a practitioner of that machine or you carry that skincare line, that’s all fine and good. But I feel–and this might not be a popular opinion–but I feel almost like it devalues you as a person, as a practitioner, and it puts you more in the category of just being a technician of that machine and of that skincare product. I understand that skincare product lines have their branded protocols, and that’s how they like their practitioners to do their facials. Okay, fine. Same thing with machines–there’s a certain way to use machines. I understand that there are some customizations that you can offer with those machines. But as a professional, I would not want to be less important to the client than the machine I use or the product line I use.

Before I became an aesthetician, I spent years in retail cosmetics. And in retail cosmetics, customers come looking for the product; they look for the brand, or they look for the free gift. They’re not coming to you because you give great advice or that you do a particularly great job with makeup. If it’s a cosmetic line that’s more known for makeup artistry, and people are going to get their makeup done before a wedding or something, that’s a little bit different. But if we’re talking just retail skincare in a department store, they’re not coming to you because of your skincare knowledge. They’re coming because you sell the product they want, and that’s all they want from you. I don’t want it to sound crass, but I almost feel like the same thing happens when, as a licensed professional or a certified professional, we hide behind these brand name modalities and machines and products, and we only bank on that to sell the service. We need to be valuing ourselves as practitioners.

Tara Swagger:

I think that’s exactly the whole thing with product chasing, right?  If you feel you’re not successful because you don’t have the right product, then you’re probably missing something. There’s actually deeper education to have. And I think personally, the beauty industry does not have a lot of great education. I mean, we have a great program with The Certified Nutritional Aesthetics Practitioner® Training Program. And to be honest with you, I’ve taken just about all the programs there are, you know, so I can say that most programs in the beauty industry, are one-day classes. There’s not a lot of in-depth programming, or they’re very product specific.

People need to dive deeper into their education. That might mean that you take a class in a product or service that you already know how to do. I’ve done that so many times, and I cannot stress enough how that has so made me better in my business. When I go I learn a lot of the same stuff, I always learn that level just a little bit more each time. So many people think, “Well, I already took that class. I already know how to lash lift. I already know how to be a coach. I already know nutrition. I already know holistic health.” The truth is that these are growing, changing industries all the time. And so, you might take another health coaching course, and might learn about nutrition differently.

This is what makes you better. And these are the parts that make you find your focus and attract more of the right clients. I tell people there’s no such thing as a magic product. There are thousands upon thousands of professional companies that all have great products. People don’t realize how vast this industry is, and how much is out there. So it’s never going to be about the machine. It’s never going to be about the product. It will always be about your skills, your education, and continued learning so you can be better at what you do.

It’s never going to be the product. It’s never going to be the machine. My service menu is 100% custom treatments, every single time. The protocols for the treatments that I offer are all written by me. I do not just blindly do services based on the facials or treatments that are put forth by the company. Sure, It’s a great place to start. I think it gives you a basis to understand how that product line works. But how successful you’ll ultimately become is not going to come from the company or machine. It’s also not going to come from these girls in these Facebook groups. I really wish that people would put less value into what information they’re getting there, because a lot of those people are fresh out of school too.

I always feel really bad because a lot of these people are just not getting good advice about how to be better at their job or how to handle situations.

Rachael Pontillo:

Absolutely. And you know, what works for someone else is not necessarily going to work for your practice, for your clients. And like you said, a lot of the people who post in these groups are newer practitioners who might only have experience with one product line. So that’s the line that they’re going to say is good.

Tara Swagger:

I think that’s what happens with machines too. You go to a trade show and you’re like, oh my God, they told me that I’m gonna make $80 off every treatment! Right. That might be true depending on where you are or what kind of aesthetician you want to be. And maybe if you’re in a place where that’s what a lot of people are looking for, it’s attractive. It can be a modality that can maybe bridge the gap between what you’re offering, what you really wanna offer, and what people wanna come in for. I think there’s space for all those things.

When you want to find your focus, this is where that business plan comes in, once a year. It can be loose–you’re not submitting it to a bank necessarily. You’re just doing it for yourself. What are your goals for the year? What did you make last year? What do you want it to look like this year? What is the thing that you don’t want to do anymore because you don’t like doing it? What is the thing that you want to do that you really love? Put that on the list.

How can you support growing that one thing? How do you take the clients that want to come for waxing, and get them to become facial clients if that’s what you’d prefer to do? If you do wellness coaching, how do you move your clients from beauty services and, and get them to start to listen and integrate some of your wellness practices?

You do it by starting with that business plan, and writing down your goals. Then highlight those things you want to focus on. And once you start shining the light energetically on, it’s incredible how your business will just shift around that, by pure frequency.

And really seek advice from people that you want to advise you. Don’t waste time in Facebook groups because you think you’re going to get good advice, because you probably won’t find yourself a business coach there, or tap into professionals whose opinions are qualified. I find that very distracting. So choose wisely who you’re being advised by.

Take advice from successful people. Everybody has a different view of what that should look like. If you think success is that your whole day is filled with one type of service that you love to do, then take advice from somebody who seems to have done that. If your idea of being successful is making a lot of money and you want that big ROI on your services, then take advice from people who are getting that. Don’t rely on advice from the manufacturers.

The other thing too, is not everybody is good at business, especially in the beauty industry. I find that most people in the beauty industry have no idea what their numbers are. They really are not great at saying, “Oh, I know what the margin is on this service.”

I see people in Facebook groups asking, “How much should I charge for X, Y, and z?” So many variables affect that. I think to myself, “How can you get advice from somebody on what to charge if they don’t know what your rent is?” They don’t know what your, your costs are. They don’t know what your taxes are. They have no idea your product cost, depending on what you buy. You cannot take advice about pricing your service from people who know nothing about your business or your clientele.

One of the other things I’ve noticed is people complaining about certain nail salons doing cheap brow waxing. They felt like their business was being stolen because our state didn’t have licensing. And I said, “Nobody’s stealing your business. It doesn’t matter if they price their brow wax at $7, because then, they’re getting clients that want to pay $7.” You need to figure out what your price is based on your value, and stay in your space so that you can be successful. You should never be worried about what the lady down the road is doing. Let the lady down the road do what she wants. You have no idea if she’s making money or not. She could be charging $7 for a brow wax and barely be paying her rent.

That’s not the model you want to follow. The model you want to follow is the one that fits in your business with your clients, your passion, your direction, and your finances–and that is it. All that distraction is making people feel like they can’t make money in the industry. It makes them feel like they’re not good enough because they can’t afford to charge $7.

So I hope people are listening to this, and are inspired to get some more education and learn some marketing. We have lots of great stuff with the Nutritional Aesthetics Alliance that you can do to get some marketing training, expand your business, and get more focused. So definitely get a little more organized with that because that’ll be your biggest asset in the long run.

Rachael Pontillo:

I want to speak to the coaching and wellness side of this too because I know that we have people watching and listening to the podcast and who take our programs who are not hands-on practitioners, and what the distraction looks like. This is something that I’ve definitely experienced, since coaching has been primarily what I’ve done in my practice before I got into education. And I remember as a fairly new coach; I was pretty green with marketing; I was learning as I went; I was taking many online courses, hiring business and marketing coaches, and learning everything I could.

What was most distracting to me as a coach was the constant question of what program should I offer. Should I do like a three-day Facebook group challenge? Should I do a 21-day detox? Should I do a 90-day reset? Should I do a “new year, new you” promo? Should I do how to eat healthy around the holidays?

So many of the coaching programs give you pre-packaged programs to get you started. I remember, with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition–I don’t know if they still do this because it was a long time ago–but they basically gave us these pre-packaged classes that we could teach. One was called “Sugar Blues” on how to cut your relationship with sugar. I think there was one called “Eat for Energy” or something like that too. And that’s a great way to get started. But I remember being so excited to pitch Sugar Blues to my local library. I was going to go teach that, and I got there, and wouldn’t you know it, I saw a flyer on their bulletin board for an upcoming Sugar Blues class taught by another health coach. And I was like, oh man! Well, should I pitch the Eat for Energy one then?

Even before I got into coaching, my reasons for getting into coaching were that my skin cleared when I cleaned up my diet. So, it was always about skin for me. Whether it was becoming an aesthetician and working hands-on for the short time that I did, learning to make skincare products and then teaching people to make skincare products, or becoming a health coach and learning more about the holistic nutrition side of things, all of it had to do with how to clear my skin? Once I saw how that worked for me, and I started teaching that to other people in my practice, which was required through my practicum at the time, and then I saw them getting results, I realized it all had to come back to the skin because that’s what my story was.

It didn’t help me to focus on all these other topics that I didn’t resonate with, but they seemed like low-hanging fruit that were easy to teach. I think many people feel like, oh, everybody wants a “get ready for summer” type of cleanse, fall detox, or something like that. And that’s when we start to see the market getting saturated with the same stuff over and over again. And it’s not necessarily speaking to what your expertise is, your why–your story for why you got into this business in the first place–and what you can offer based on that. It doesn’t speak to that unless you know you’re putting your own spin on it. So obviously, I could teach a class about sugar and how it affects the skin, and I can talk about glycation, and I can talk about candida and how all of that affects the skin.

But the pre-packaged Sugar Blues class was not that. It was more about overall health, and maybe a little bit about weight loss. Even though weight loss was part of my journey, it was not at all what I wanted to focus on because weight loss is a whole different world than skincare is when it comes to client psychology and what is holding them back from getting results, and all of that. So on the coaching side, figuring out what your focus should be, I always tell you to think about why you wanted to get into this in the first place. Because nine out of 10 times, it’s for a personal reason. Either somebody in your family had some health crisis that got better when they took a more holistic approach. Or maybe it didn’t, and you thought, well, maybe if they would’ve been more preventative, this wouldn’t have happened. For me, it was acne, and then it was weight gain after pregnancy. But even then, it was still about acne. It’s different for everyone.

With the wellness and coaching side of things, people sometimes have more personal reasons for getting into it than for the beauty side of things. Because beauty is kind of seen as more fun and more surface sometimes. People don’t always get into it for a specific reason. I’ve talked to so many aestheticians, and have asked them about their story. Why did they get into this, thinking that they had acne or some kind of skin issue. And a lot of them didn’t– they just like products, or they just thought it would be a great way to help women look and feel their best. So I encourage you to really go back to what that original catalyst was that made you walk this path for yourself and your own life. And that will lead you to how you want to help your clients.

Tara Swagger:

Well, and I think what you just said too, like in the wellness world, is that there are many different ways to apply the knowledge of wellness with your clients, right? You can also be distracted by every single whimsical diet that comes along, orideology.

Rachael Pontillo:

Don’t even get me started.

Tara Swagger:

Right! So that particular part too applies just the same because when my clients and I are talking about the structure of their lifestyle, what I do, and what I apply in my life is very different from what a lot of people do. People come from a lot of different backgrounds, either cultural or maybe vegetarian, veganism, all the way up to carnivore. So there’s all this spectrum. So again, it goes back to being educated, right? Because at the end of the day, it’s about finding what you feel you can hone in on, and gaining a broad spectrum of knowledge. You know, you can take ten nutritional classes, and maybe they’ll be a little bit different in some respect, but you keep taking them because you’re going to keep getting more nuggets of information that you can then relay to your clients.

If you’re in wellness and lifestyle coaching, there’s no way you’ve gained all the knowledge to impart that to someone so they can go off and have the most perfect life. But the more that you stay educated and you keep honing your skills of understanding the biology, and how it applies to wellness, and understanding how to work with people, the better you’re going to get at delivering and sharing that information.

In the wellness world, people are like very honed in on one style or one thing, or one diet plan, or maybe they’re using the ones from their programs. They haven’t honed their skills and their understanding enough, and then maybe they’re struggling to keep those people on their books because they need to expand, you know? So keep expanding your education and deciding what you feel resonates with you so you can keep imparting that in both realms.

Rachael Pontillo:

Yeah. I wanted to round out this discussion with the question of when do you know it’s the right time to bring on a new skill or learn a new modality or change a skincare line?  I would love to hear what you think because you do a few different things in your practice. I know you’ve got the coaching, you’ve got the hands-on, you’ve got the store. I have my business consulting, I have the online courses, and I have my skin wellness practice where I still work with clients who have skin issues. But for me, it’s just evolved over time. It’s been shaped by what my clients have either needed more of or needed less of.

I’ve consistently taken online courses, been consistently involved in masterminds, working with business coaches, or marketing agencies since 2010. I have like-minded colleagues who are not exactly doing what I do so that we can bounce ideas off of each other, collaborate, and brainstorm.

I’ve found that anytime I’ve made a change or a pivot, it’s been one of two things. It hasn’t been because something wasn’t selling all that well. Because if something’s not selling, then I figure out a different way to sell it. That’s, that’s how I’ve always approached it. And I feel like most entrepreneurs do it too. It’s usually not the product or the service that’s the problem. It’s usually the positioning or the selling, or the marketing. There’s always a different way to sell something. But if I’ve dropped or discontinued something, or created something new, it’s because maybe the market has changed, and that offering is actually now obsolete, which does happen.

More people are teaching things online now. And even though I might be teaching things a different way than Susie Q in Canada is teaching, there comes a time when you have to decide if you are still really invested in this. Is this still how you want to be spending your time? How much longer do you want to be teaching this same thing? There have been courses that I have discontinued or retired, because I kind of just lost passion for it since I’d been doing it for so long, and now there are other competitors, and I have to make the decision. Is it worth retooling it again to keep it relevant, or is it time to let it go and try something new? So I think when you start to feel disconnected from something because you’ve lost the passion for it, it’s time to make a change–not necessarily because it’s not selling. If you still believe in something and feel like it still has life and people still need it, then you just have to find a different way to sell it. Yeah.

But if you go to deliver that service, teach that course, or sell that product, you’re thinking, “Ugh, God, I wish I didn’t have this on my calendar today. No, I don’t want to do it. No.” If that’s a repeated thing, then that’s a clear sign that it’s just not in alignment anymore. And then whatever energy you’re putting out to try to sell it will not bring back what you want because that negative energy comes through.

Tara Swagger:

Yeah. Well, I think you really summed it up. And the more you become educated, the more direction you’ll have about what you should be doing. Because the more you learn, the more you get excited about how that might affect the people you’re working with and how that can make them better.

I don’t struggle a day in my job to enjoy what I do, because everything I do is some fraction of my personal growth, education, and development. If I’m working with a client–probably tackling lifestyle and wellness–we’re also tackling some of their skin issues. Most of the time it always comes back to lifestyle and wellness anyway. But what I’m imparting to them is what I have personally experienced in my life, and what I continue to get educated on.

If you are in the beauty industry and you’re obsessed with waxes, and so every time you go to the trade show you’re trying and testing all these waxes, and you’re able to do this great service in a short amount of time, and you’re making top dollar, and you love it, it’s never going to be about should you keep doing it or not doing it. Because you’re delivering it, it’s making you money and it’s what you want to do.

I find that we’ve created a culture in a world where we no longer listen to our intuition, and we are distracted by all of the commercialism on what you should sell, or what you should buy; what you should do in your treatment room, or what machine to buy, or what diet to sell. And so we’re looking around and trying to pluck out the things from the environment, but you need to pluck them from yourself. You have to say, “What in my life do I really love?” If you had acne and that’s really what drives you, then that’s a great thing because then you know that you’re helping people with acne because it’s what you needed help with.

Same thing if you’re in lifestyle and wellness–sometimes it comes down to weight, but a lot of times for people it’s just simply about not being sick.

Focus on what you love and what means something to you, and then the rest comes from there. And it sounds so whimsical, but the truth is that if you don’t do that, you will find yourself either not doing well or probably unhappy in your job. And you’ll find that your clients aren’t resonating with you. My clients know that I’m driven by passion and I’m giving them, a very educated perspective.

Rachael Pontillo:

Another reason that I’ve had to pivot in my life- and I’m sure you’ve had to do this too- is because my kids’ schedules changed. I used to teach evening classes and webinars all the time, but starting around when my one daughter was maybe 12, and my other daughter was ten, they started getting super busy in the afternoons with activities and homework and all that. The idea of then teaching an evening class after mommying for that time period–I, I was like, are you kidding me?

Tara Swagger:

And that’s the greatest thing about being an entrepreneur is that we can change that. You can have a structure for what you really want to do, and then you can change it. I have kids too, and so my business has changed over the years. It’s never going to stay the same. It’s always in flux.

Rachael Pontillo:

We are organic changing beings. Our interests are going to change; our passions are going to change. Our beliefs might change as we age and experience more of life. I mean, my goodness, if I were to talk to a younger version of myself and have some of the conversations that I have as, you know, 45-year-old version of myself, I think the younger version of myself would think I was like some, you know, lame old person. And then, you know, if I were to go back in time and be a fly on the wall and listen to my 20-something-year-old self having conversations with my friends, I’d be like, oh my god. Grow up!

We change and that’s normal. I also think that a lot of entrepreneurs are multi-passionate individuals. We have a lot of interests. One tip that I have found really helpful that I hope I can impart onto those of you who are listening is that if you’re one of these people who always has great ideas–like once you get an idea, you’re like, “oh my God, I gotta do this thing right now”–and then you do the thing and have another great idea before you really had a chance to see that one thing through. It’s okay to like write it down and just put it on the back burner. And then, when you are doing your business planning, look and see which of those ideas might fit into that next plan.

If yearly planning seems too overwhelming for you, you can do quarterly planning. Quarterly, and then break it down into weekly planning. Nothing says that you can’t try different things and you can’t come up with new offers and new products or or services if you truly are passionate about it. But not everything has to happen right now. We’re in this for the long haul, and there’s time for that. And I think many of us worry that we have to do everything right now.

Tara Swagger:

Yeah. And I think people underestimate the long-term value of education. That return on investment’s going to be way higher. It’s different because you can’t measure it the same. So, it’s harder for people to envision how that’s going to impart itself. But really, the best investment that you can make is classes, webinars, training, research, and books. Because you’ll find that when your machine dies, and you have to buy a new one, can you say that that made you a better aesthetician? Can you say that it made you better at health coaching? Or does the way that you’ve learned how to help coach people make you better? That long-term investment is the best one. Don’t be distracted by tools, lab tests, specific things like that. Stay focused on how you can be smarter, stronger, and better.

Rachael Pontillo:

That’s going to make you more resilient. And I know nobody wants to think of the pandemic, but we saw from our perspective as educators that the people who had the most education and the most skills were those who could keep working when they couldn’t work hands-on anymore. Those who could easily jump on the computer and figure out what they could do to make money right now with the knowledge and skills they already had, or who chose to learn new skills that were appropriate for that virtual setting kept making money. Once you get the education, it doesn’t go away. It doesn’t have a shelf life.

We would love to know your thoughts on finding your focus and avoiding distraction in your practice.

What have you experienced? What questions do you have? Please tell us in the comments below!

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