For women who want-it-all: success in your business or career, fulfilling relationships, family, and health. But you don’t want to be burnout in order to get there. Perhaps you are have experienced plenty of success in life, but not sure what you are NOT seeing and unsure how to up your game. This is the podcast interview episode that will give you ideas about creating your own success rituals, setting your expectations and boundaries right. Embrace your own cycle, rhythms, and strategy that works for you.
Erin Acton is a certified life and business coach, digital media pro and former broadcast journalist. She is also the founder of the Act On It Success Institute. Erin helps time-starved entrepreneurs take action and take back control so they can rock their businesses.
- From Want-it-all (career, relationships and family) to burn out, and the path that leads Erin into coaching
- People often under estimate that when you start your business, you may trade in the 9 to 5 for an even longer hours day because it is your own business.
- Instead of thinking about work or business in a linear fashion, as human, we live in cycles, whether or not we are aware. Spring time is when ideas sprout, a new project may come along, while winter feels very different. It is about completion, inward reflection, or rest.
- Understand our own unique cycle and rhythms
- Instead of constant hustle and keep moving the goal forward for more and more, we could approach creating success that works for you
- Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness
- Setting boundaries and aligned with realistic expectations
- Be aware of what is a task versus what is a project when it comes to your To-Do Lists
- Success Ritual and find out what is right for you
If you would like to learn more about Erin Acton, her coaching and program of work, please visit: https://www.erinacton.com/
Sze Wing (00:03):
Hi everyone. I’m really excited to introduce you to my guest this week. We got Erin Acton today and she is all the way from Canada. And I love interviewing people across different time zones in common just to make it really hard. No (kidding!), But I love that, with technology. It’s just so nice to be able to reach people from very different, area and around the globe, but also obviously a different experience. And then the same time you find something in common. So welcome to my show, Erin!
Thank you so much for having me. I totally agree. We’ve got so many more like so many more things in common. I’ve just found everyone I’ve spoken to. So yeah, I’m so happy to be here. Thanks for having me
Sze Wing (00:50):
So a little introduction about Erin. So obviously she’s a very smart, successful, modern, I don’t know how to describe it because I also know you have young daughters. So in a way, it’s really, I think for a lot of us, striving to become someone who have your own career, but also have a family have it or in balance. So that’s why I’m also partly so interested in interview people like yourself, because I think a lot of us want to achieve that. And so hearing all the tips and experience will be wonderful, but anyway, introduction, so Erin is a certified life and business coach, digital media pro, and former broadcast journalist. She’s also the founder of Act On It at Success Institute and Erin helps time starve entrepreneur take action and take back control so they can work the business and I guess have a fantastic life. She is also previous the managing director of the Victoria chapter of eWomen Network in Canada. So that’s actually how I met . Erin. And so I’m really excited to interview her today.
Sze Wing (02:08):
So first of all, I think I want to ask you, I guess we’ve kind of lean into it a little bit because we talk about a lot of us like women who are listening, they are in the twenties, thirties or forties, many of us have a sort of a common goal, which is having a meaningful good career that we enjoy and obviously earn enough money, but at the same time, have a good relationship and have a good family life and so forth. And I think that’s a lot in common for lots of women.
And we want it all.
Sze Wing (02:43):
And I think that’s why a lot of people who turn to coaches or to become coaches because I think coaches have to walk that talk. So tell me a little bit about your origin story or how, what got you interested in coaching in the first place?
Yeah, well, I have very much always been one of those people who wants to do it all. I’m kind of like if there’s something new, I want to do it. And I love doing all of those things. And what ended up happening is that I ended up burning out. So have you really lived in your thirties if you haven’t burned out? No. I’m just kidding. What I was noticing is that, I have a young daughter. I was working in the corporate world, working tons of hours because I really enjoyed the work. I mean, I didn’t enjoy all the work that I was putting into it, but the work itself I loved. But I was just realizing that, this working harder, faster, longer, actually isn’t giving me the results that I want. And so getting to that place where I ended up burning out through, my choices to do that I had that aha moment, oh, is this what I really want for myself? And that combined with some of the work I’d been doing with the people who were reporting to me, loving having those conversations, or you’re asking them questions and they’re finding their own answers instead of me having to be the answer lady as a manager all the time, I was not into that.
So that really attracted me to the coaching world. And I’m like, well, if I am having these struggles, like I do want it all. I want amazing relationship with my husband. I want fantastic relationship with my daughter. I want to have a fulfilling career. I bet there are other people out there who are just like me, who would really love support in this area because I pushed myself until it was too far. And what if I was able to help those people before they got to that point. So that’s what really got me into it. And, and over the years, I’ve just really loved working with business owners who I don’t think I fully appreciated how much work goes into building a business and creating a really successful business. But often you hear the, kind of the joke you trade in your 40 hour work week for an 80 hour work week, or, you only work 18 hours a day instead of the nine to five when you’re in the corporate world as a business owner.
So I love working with those women who have those big visions and dreams for their businesses and for their lives and helping support them to do that.
Sze Wing (05:38):
I think we’ll come back to that a little bit more about the hours issue. But before that, I actually want to dive a little bit deeper in terms of one of the things you said, because I also have been in the corporate world for a long time, and there’s always a striving for more growth. This is growth revenue every year, year on year. You keep reading the financials. It’s always about year on year, more and more, the forecast keeps pushing, the line keep pushing forward. We are all just running behind that line to keep pushing forward. But life it’s not that linear, right? Because I know, especially for women, we go through seasons and I think that’s the best way to live with seasons, we’re in this spring feeling where we want to start a business or actually, plan the new seed, if its a new creative project or maybe a new product in our business, whatever that is, there’s that energy.
Sze Wing (06:31):
But then there’s also winter energy where you just not ( like that). It’s about reflection about maybe learning or researching or just focusing internally. And I think that’s what fascinated me to work, with people, entrepreneurs more in the cycle of balance and harmony mindset, than pushing forward for more and more and more and more. So I think that was something really stood out when you talked about it, because as a woman, I don’t know, like how did you find it when you started before you got burn out, but that’s not the only way.
No, it’s not. And that, I think that’s what I love about coaching, because there’s no really one right way to create that fulfilling life for yourself, because I know a lot of people who hear the word work-life balance and they’re like, that sounds awful for, because they’re like, work-life balance. That sounds like I’m just laying around and being lazy all the time. It’s funny.
Sze Wing (07:36):
We are so hard on ourselves. Even that is not good enough.
Yeah, exactly. Whereas, so there are some people who really love having a lot of pep and being, go, go, go all the time. They love that. And so their version of balance or their cycles, their rhythms are so much different than the other person, you know? And so I love working with people because each of us is unique and we have our own unique approaches. Like there’s no one time management system that works for everyone. It’s like, well, how do you, how do we figure out more about you and what works best for you so that you can really shine with your own cycles, your own seasons, you’re your own way of being in the world. So it feels more fulfilling because I don’t know about you Sze Wing, but I feel like there’s a huge kind of like this driving culture, both in the business world, in the corporate world that we must go, go, go all the time. And like you were saying, you know, continually grow, get those year over year profit, continue to grow your, your results and that year over year. And just keep on going that way. And I feel like there’s, there are just so many different ways that we could approach creating success that doesn’t necessarily require the go, go, go constant hustle, unless you really love that. If you love that, then embrace it. If you don’t, then let’s find another way that works for you.
Sze Wing (09:09):
And there’s so much of it. I feel it is that fear of you’re missing out. If you are not moving forward, then you are falling back, right. That sort of mentality keeps us pursuing. Sometimes we don’t even take a pause and I don’t know about you, but I think for me, when I’m in my thirties, definitely there’s this sense of, maybe, you know, the biologic clock may be clicking for some people. Maybe they have certain level of success. So they want to maybe find someone. They will spend the weekends with them, the relationship piece kicked in. So women have different stages. So that, that linear thinking kind of doesn’t work specially for women. And one of the reason I left my previous career in the movie industry, it’s that there’s no time, there’s no downtime in that environment. I was 18. Most women around me were single or divorced or having dysfunctional relationships. And at some point it kicks in for a woman that we want more than career. You want more than finances. I mean, those are really great things, right? I just find it finsinating to think that way.
Totally. I so agree. Yeah. A100%.
Sze Wing (10:29):
Like with coaches, one of the things, especially when I was started out, I knew pieces that, when people want to lose weight, they’d go to the gym and they get a PT trainer. And it’s very straightforward. If you don’t have time, if you have the resources, you’d go in and get PT. But with everyday life, not equally, not less important, but people have this kind of reluctant sometimes to get coaching, or maybe sometimes they confused with therapy. Like, I don’t know what people thinking. So what did you experience at the beginning when it comes to this entry point? The first step?
Well sometimes I mean, the people who are seeking me out, they know that they want that extra support. They’ve been doing the things on their own for, whatever stretch of time or they realize they get to that point and being like, I know something’s happening. I’m not sure what my blocks are that are keeping me from getting to the next stage. I don’t know what I don’t know about this. And I want to talk to someone who does,I think that’s kind of, it’s helped to be in business for a while because it filters out the people who might be just wondering. But I also think, and this might be something to do with,how we’ve been, perhaps as women raised to do it all ourselves,to especially high achieving women. That’s what I’ve noticed to do it all themselves.
That asking for help is a sign of weakness. I think there’s an unspoken. I think a lot of people carry that, that thought I definitely did a lot of people are, can come to a conversation feeling like, I’m a smart woman. Darn it. I should be able to figure this out. And so that’s what they can try to do. But I’m so thankful to say that a lot of the people who are reaching out to me they’re they are those smart, intelligent women, but they’re like, okay, I know I have, have some things in my blind spot. I can’t see it. I’d love to work with someone. Who’d be able to adjust all of a sudden, you know, here’s a mirror, Hey, look what is over your shoulder. There, were you aware of that? Did you know? And so they’re already reaching out. It’s almost like they’re giving themselves that extra helping hand already from the get-go.
Sze Wing (12:53):
I love your answer because I felt some people, they just, as you said, that they not in that sort of receiving mode where they are open to ask for help or, I think some people who have been thinking or not even knowing they need coaching, really make that pivot because sometimes we need that to jump to make the leap and get over the edge sometimes. So that’s why I think we love it. And I’m sure we can talk all day about all that. So one of the things I want to go back to was, early on, we talked about the hours. So you mentioned like sometimes, you know, when we start a business, first of all, synthesize a little bit like, and then reality kicks in and you realize you’re working longer hours than you ever had in your life. Doing things that you don’t even know how they landed in your lap. I’m sure you, you met a lot of coachee that is in that situation. What are the, maybe the top tips that you have for, sort of new entreprenuers struggling with this time management?
Totally. first of all, I usually find that the people who, when we first start working together, a lot of them are high achievers. They’ll to the call and say, oh my gosh, I feel like I didn’t get anything done this week. And I’m like, well, just give me a bit of a snapshot. You know, like maybe what are one or two wins and they’ll they’ll list these things that are like, where I’m like, that was amazing. That sounds amazing. So I think number one, when it comes to time management, or maybe our expectations around what we should be able to do with the time that we have, we come at it with a bit of a, I want to say skewed perception about a couple of things, what we’re able to accomplish in the time that we have and our ability to accomplish,what it is.
So we overestimate our skills and we underestimate the amount of time that we think it will take us, that I’ve just found to be a pretty consistent issue that most people, because we’re all human and I’ll include myself in this. When I’m first starting a project, I’ll usually underestimate the amount of time. I think it’ll take me. And so first off double it usually double the amount of time you think it’s going to take you and, and measure it, track it. And I did that for a number of years just to, put down my time estimate, how long do I think this is going to take me? And then I measured how long it actually took me after. And by getting clear on what my personal capacity was, what, and sometimes some of the boundaries that I was setting with myself about making sure I was staying focused and getting things done that really helped to support me in becoming more efficient with my time.
Bbut again, so that’s, well, not again, but that’s the first thing, make sure you’re getting really clear with yourself about how much time things will actually take you. That’s the first thing, the other thing is measure your boundaries. What, what are you allowing into your space that maybe you don’t, you don’t necessarily need to? And I think a lot of people feel compelled to check their email constantly to provide whatever level of service they feel that they need to provide. And they’re usually going way above and beyond what their client would even expect. So they’re sitting some setting some really high expectations for themselves that may not actually align with what their customer expectations are. So that’s another really key area. And thirdly, a lot of people have these really long to-do lists that sometimes they don’t get to tick a lot of things off of those to do lists.
And the secret is that a lot of times they’re putting projects on their to-do list instead of tasks. So they’ll be working, working, working all day or all week on a certain project, but, and they’ve accomplished all of these things toward making that project happen. And they feel like they haven’t actually accomplished anything because they can’t cross that one thing off of their list. The mountain. Yes, exactly. And so I highly recommend people break their projects down into actions. So instead of create website, which a lot of new business owners do, you know, that’s one of their goals. Okay, well, that’s, that’s actually a project instead. What are some of the tasks that you will do those actions you will take today to support you in getting to that place down the road, when you will be able to say, all right, I’ve got my website created tick, that’s done. You can have so many more things that you can check off your list along the way. And you’ll feel like you’re building momentum. You’ll feel that sense of accomplishment. And you really build your confidence as you go.
Sze Wing (17:53):
Yeah. And nothing will be more daunting that, they have the day, weeks and weeks, you can’t cross so many things on your to-do list, then you felt like a failure. But those items that tend to be like one huge mountain after another. So those advise and tips definitely super useful. But I want to follow up one of the points you talk about. When we are creative entrepreneurs, especially we can’t help ourselves, but I actually, I think it leads seeking advice. So I would have one book project, and then I have another e-commerce store on the goals, adding products, as we speak of planning the planners for next year, that I am working on, on the side, doing some client servicing coaching. So you know what I’m saying? Like, we couldn’t have creating mountains. So how do we stop ourselives, first of all, maybe priority and being realistic about time? Would you talk about, but then what did you like? We have all these ideas!
And that’s amazing. That’s fantastic. An idea for you. I’ll just offer it as a potential. There’s a fellow called David R. Allen. He’s famous for his getting things done system. So what he recommends is that you create a someday maybe folder perhaps, or someday maybe list. So if you’ve got a great idea, write it down in your someday maybe, but what I recommend and what I work with my clients as well. So that’s one idea for you, the other is to, okay. So what is your vision? What are your goals? Does this new idea align with that vision? Does it align with your goals? If yes. Fantastic. What might you need to take off your plate in order to put this one on? So it’s a lot of negotiating with yourself
Sze Wing (19:47):
They are all your children, they all aligned. They’re all “super make sense”, but then I think is the realistic part. Do you need a coach, usually I need a coach, a friend to tell me, listen, they’re all great. They all make sense. They all congruent, but you can’t do full kids at the same time. So pick one kid,
Yes. Start somewhere and build right. That’s that’s the other thing too. Like, they’re all amazing ideas if you’ve just finished this one. Wouldn’t that be totally amazing. Instead of having say four amazing ideas that aren’t all completed yet, because you feel like you’re stretched in between all of them. So, yeah, totally.
Sze Wing (20:28):
So I think that leads to kind of like the question that I’m dying to ask you, because I know you run this top success ritual to keep you focused and effective every day. And I think that’s what we’re actually talking about. Like kind of ideas, different mountains, but then we pick one, but still we want, you have a system of a routine or ritual to get us moving, to move this mountain every day. So tell us a bit more about your webinars.
Oh, sure. Yeah. Well, I go through some of the framework that a person should have in place because everyone’s rituals. So if you want, if you’re a morning person, your ritual is going to be quite a bit different than the night owl. So what are your success rituals? That’s the work I get in on the one-to-one, but in the webinars, I build out the framework to support people in knowing, okay, what are the top things that are going to make you most successful? Where should you focus your time? How do you make sure that this ritual that you would love to accomplish is so many people come to me saying, I want, I want a morning routine. How do you ensure that that new routine sticks and that you keep with it? So we go over that in the, in the webinar and all of the other things that help support people in getting to that place where you are kicking butt and taking names in your business,
Sze Wing (21:49):
I’ve read somewhere, which I really like,it talks about the difference between the routine and the ritual. And it’s some people have a conotation to ritual, which is burning candles and humming, which is not true. Your ritual could be running a bath, whatever that is very simple. It doesn’t have to be witchy-woo things.
Sze Wing (22:13):
It’s all about intention. That’s a difference. Like the routine seems so like, you know, you just automatic go to automatic pilot while ritual has more intention to each part of it. Next sense, because it had to give you some, some meaning or that helps you in certain ways. So ritual has a certain intention behind it. And I love that definition because I think it’s absolutely true. I don’t want to think about my routines
Totally well. Andsome people love routines too. So, and I, that’s what I love about words because bounce, like, and it kind of goes into what I mentioned before about balance. Some people hate that word and it just doesn’t work for them. So what is it that they’re looking for? So here with, when you resonate so strongly with rituals and, oh, let’s lean into that. What are other rituals? Like? What are those things that really help support you and feeling like you’re being intentional with the day that you’re creating the life that you were living. Whereas with the other people, I’d be like, okay, so what routines do you want to knock out? So you don’t have to think about anything and just get going with your day. You’re already on autopilot, but like on Uber autopilot, who’s just boom, boom, boom.
Sze Wing (23:25):
Yeah, I completely agree. And that’s why I think we both really like coaching and I’m obviously being coached as well as coaching others is that, that uniqueness that we celebrate, because as you said, sometimes some people love the word routine, but feel uncomfortable with ritual. And so we’re all very different individuals. And it’s about, , what works for you and having a coach that is a good fit it’s understanding that listen for it, but also give you the space and permission to be yourself and yet help you choose to just be a better version of yourself, which I find it really personal. It’s a really personal journey.
It’s so personal. And that’s why I think that there are a lot of, there’s a perception out there. At least I hear this from my clients, that one needs to do a business in a certain way to be successful. Like what do I need to do? What is, what is step a, B, C, and D to make sure that I have a successful day to day. And sure there are structures and systems that one could use if you’re into structures and systems, but there’s creativity and flow for those who like that. But like, there is no one right way to go about building a successful business. And I think that when you’re just getting started, it’s, there’s, there’s that perception that well, to start a business, here’s, here’s my box of a successful business kit. If I just do these things, I will be successful.
And usually it’s a lot more learning, growing,,figuring things out along the way, like you were saying earlier, you know, doing things you’ve never done before to get to a place where you want to go or stretching yourself to a place that you’ve never gone before, way past what you’d be comfortable doing, learning things about yourself as you go. It’s that perception. I think that can hold a lot of us back, cause we’re always looking for, well, what’s the right way to do it. And there really isn’t a right way.
Sze Wing (25:27):
And sometime we need someone beside us because sometimes we have this voice and I had quite a critical, or there is comparison and over analyzing, and then you come back, may be other people doing it as a certain way as you see this very successful person have very different backgrounds or different strengths and you have different states, different stage in life. You have a newborn baby. I mean, you want to work more than 10 hours a day is not possible. Right. So, and I think that’s why, you know, what you said really resonated with me is because it’s not like that you can’t just have this successful business kit,
But wouldn’t it be nice though. Like, wouldn’t that be amazing? You want to be an entrepreneur, here you go.
Sze Wing (26:20):
That will do it. You’re know the magic potion, but on the other hand it kind of takes the magic away because isn’t it, the story is so much richer. If you look back it’s that despite all that she did this and this and this and that. That’s how she made it work for her. And I think that it’s about celebrating anuniqueness and a permission. Do it your way, given structures. I mean, if you don’t work at all, like zero hour for every three months, it’s not going to happen.
Yes, absolutely. Yeah. One, one needs to put in a little bit of work. Absolutely.
Sze Wing (26:58):
Okay. So today has been really fun and I know you run this webinar pretty regularly, and it’s online. Can you tell us a little bit more, but also people resonate with this interview, how what’s the best way to contact you or find out more information?
Yes. Well, through my, website’s a great way to do that. They can either, if they’re interested in learning more, they can register for the webinar or they can reach out to me at my email, firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m always open for email inquiries as well. So either of those ways worked for me and I also do a complimentary strategy sessions where I support people in finding out, so where are you now? Where do you want to be? What’s in your way and how can you best get there? And if it’s working together, fantastic, if it’s not, that’s great too. I refer people to other folks or, you know, maybe there’s one little tweak that they can make in order to be on their way.
Sze Wing (27:52):
Yeah. We got to start some where, don’t we?
Absolutely. That’s the key start somewhere, act on it, make it happen. And before you know it, you pile all those together and you’ve created something pretty spectacular.
Sze Wing (28:05):
Thank you so much. I really enjoy our call and I will list all the contact information on the page details as well for the podcast. So thank you.
Thank you very much. Really appreciate the opportunity, Sze wing in here. So loved our chat. Thanks so much for having me. Thank you.