Hello! Please introduce yourself. Who are you? What do you do? How does your heart manifest in the world?
My name is Anna and I’m writer, a mother, and a mentor of creative women. I’m a quiet introvert, delightfully obsessed with the few things in life I’m passionate about (my family, my work, good tea, the marvel of a beautiful tree, to go with God.) I know the creative process intimately, after a lifetime of exploring and working with my own and other people’s creative expressions, and I find deep joy in sharing this knowledge. To guide creatives from dreaming to doing, from striving to flowing, from hiding to shining. It is truly my heart’s work.
My work is important because____.
My tribe is a beautifully messy gathering of creative women from all over the world, who share a longing for a deeply creative and wildly authentic life. I share my knowledge, my writing and my own creative quests with them, through my blog, my mentoring sessions, and my online course, The Creative Doer. From their response, I understand that my work is important for them. I hear that they find new and kinder perspectives on life, and that they learn how to navigate their creative process with more ease and joy. This amazes me. It’s the most wonderful gift that the work I love to do can also be useful to others. But on a deeper level, I feel my work is important simply because it’s important to me.
What does soulful business mean to you? What motivates you?
To me, soulful business means to go about your work and your business in a way that lights you up and is aligned with who you are and the unique gifts you have to offer. It means that you allow for no gap between your personal values and the values of your business. It means to practice kindness in the thousand big and small daily decisions, and to always be mindful of the ripple effects of your choices, words and actions. Joy motivates me. Deep joy of the heart. For a long time, my answer to that question would have been “helping others,” or “making the world a better place.” But my perspective on this has changed. When I believe that I do what I do in order to help someone, to make the world a better place or something like that, it feels really stressful, because I’m trying to control something that is not in my power to control: the outcome of my work. Whether my work is useful to others or not is not for me to decide. My job is “just” to stay as open and as aligned with my soul as I possibly can, and let life and creativity get to work through me, without agenda, expectations or even hopes. It’s so powerful to write from that place, mentor from that place, create from that place of non-attachment. And when I do, when I can get out of my own way like that, it seems that the work that comes through is also what brings the most joy and meaning to others. It’s a delightful (and to the rational mind, annoying) paradox: The less we bother about the outcome of our work, the more powerful it becomes. So I do it for love. This is where entrepreneurship becomes a spiritual practice of the advanced kind: When we learn to do our work from a place of pure joy and generosity, and then to let it go.
What is the best piece of business advice you have received?
To build on my strengths, rather than try to make up for my weak spots. There’s such a sweet relief in this. To give myself permission to focus on what I’m really good at, what I truly love, and the areas where I can shine, and to delegate as much as possible of the rest. This doesn’t mean I escape responsibility. Even if I delegate bookkeeping, I still need to understand money. It just means I don’t waste time doing stuff that others do faster and better. Surround yourself with devoted, skilled people that complement your strengths. It’s not always possible in the beginning when you’re starting up a business, but to make it a priority as soon as possible will save both time and money, I can testify to this myself. And more importantly, it will keep you happy. It’s the difference between a business that feels like home, or one that just feels like an endless list of chores. When you focus on what lights you up, you get to grow in every direction, your work flows more freely, and you are nourished and sustained by your work, instead of drained and overwhelmed.
What is the best business advice you would give?
Simplify, simplify, simplify. Do less. Do a few things brilliantly, rather than trying to stuff as much as possible into your business, your offerings and your life, only to end up doing everything half-assed. We live in a world obsessed with more, but you don’t have to oblige. You don’t have to constantly make more, add more, give more, sell more, not even as an entrepreneur. Dare to slow down. Dare to shed instead of adding. Keep your business, your message and your offers simple and people will thank you for it.
How do you stay connected to loved ones when deeply entrenched in work?
I’m learning as I go here, but I know a few things that really make a difference: I keep a spacious schedule, so that there’s room for the unexpected (when you have kids, you can expect the unexpected). Meaning I don’t accept too tight deadlines, I don’t stuff my calendar, I keep my to do-lists short and sweet. This way I can usually move through the workweek without stressing out or having to steal extra time away from my family. I make sure to separate myself from my business. Even if it feels like you are your business, it’s not true. Your business has an existence and a soul of its own, and although you are closely connected to it, you are still separate. I keep this in mind, and I have small rituals for stepping into relationship with my business in the morning, and stepping out of it at the end of the workday. This leaves me free to focus fully on the rest of my life, my kids, making dinner etc. No job phone calls when I’m with the kids, and no checking emails unless I’m actually fully available to respond in that moment. I want to give my undivided attention to everything I do, and I can’t do that if I’m busy trying to be everywhere at once. (Multitasking is the worst idea ever.) That said, it’s not always a smooth ride, no matter how well I plan and prepare. But I’ve come to accept the occasional chaos as part of it. I’m a mother, a wife, a writer, an entrepreneur and making it all flow requires some dancing skills (+ a supportive partner). I’m gloriously imperfect in all of my practices and this is no exception.
What is your biggest challenge as an entrepreneur? How do you work with or around it?
Right now, taking care of my health and taking care of my business at the same time is my biggest challenge. I have an injured back and live with more or less chronic pain. I can’t sit for too long, I need breaks throughout the day, I need soft movement, treatments, and plenty of time to rest and just deal with the strain of managing a full life with the added burden of pain. This means I have less time to do my work than I used to. I’m learning to live with and plan for this, but I still struggle a bit with wanting to do more than I can cope with. All those ideas! I’m becoming very friendly with patience. The upside of it all is that I’m learning to ask for help and delegate. I can no longer sustain the illusion that I can do everything. This is a very good thing. I need to be very clear on what I want to spend my time and energy on nowadays, and my business is becoming leaner and more focused as a result. Paradoxically, stripping everything down has allowed my business to really start growing.
When you feel burned out or uninspired, what lights your fire again? Please share a personal mantra, motto, or ritual for when you feel drained. How do you stay nourished and inspired as a soulful creative?
I allow for rest and replenishment. Really, I don’t think there’s a way around it. If you’re tired, if you feel burned out, you need to rest. There is no quick fix. Stop what you’re doing, even if there is “no time”, and give yourself what you need. And if you can’t stop, you need to take a good, hard look at your priorities. My mantra for the last few years have been No more striving. It came as a reaction to my lifelong tendency to constantly push myself far beyond my limits, but it has slowly grown into a way of life. Now, whenever I feel the tendency to push and strive—when that tension starts to build in my body—I just stop. Even if I’m in the midst of a deadline race and my to-do list is the length of a toilet roll. I do it to see what happens. I do it to see where this different, softer path will lead me, and so far it has led me right where I want to go. When I take care of myself, it seems the universe has got my back. I get the work done that needs to be done, even if I rest. (Or rather, because I rest.) As for inspiration, there are so many sources to pour from. Human conversation, music, the beauty of a perfect sentence, the unbridled creativity of children playing, deep silence. For me, spending time in the woods and by the lake is crucial. To immerse myself in the rhythms and cycles that shapes and governs the natural world. It awakes my capacity for wonder. I become a child again, curious, innocent, wide-eyed, and from that space I can create beauty.
How do you start your work day?
I light a candle and I say a prayer. I just connect with Source and speak from my heart. Sometimes this takes me a while, and sometimes it comes down to this: Help me get out of the way. Let love come through. Then I go about my business.
If you could do something else as a vocation, what would it be?
In another life, I’d be a nun, or a priestess. I’d devote myself to silence and worship, and lead the simplest of lives. In yet another, I’d own a ranch in the mountains, spend a life on horseback, tending to and stewarding my land.
Do you have a first memory from childhood that connects you to what you have created today?
They called me ”The Philosopher” as a child, because from a very early age I was always reading and writing, and I spoke with the wisdom of an old person. It hasn’t changed that much, actually I’m still reading and writing, and people still consider me wise.
Who supports you?
My amazing man, Jens, supports me in every possible way. We’ve been together 12 years now (with a break in the middle), we have two girls together, and we share pretty much everything in life. He supports me emotionally, physically, and financially when need be, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without him backing me so fully. My assistant Sarah, my web guy Nathan, my film maker Amrit, my illustrator Staffan. I simply couldn’t manage without them. My beautiful posse of women friends and sisters is a constant source of delight and support. They mirror my strength and beauty back to me and help keep me on track. My kids make sure I stay grounded and real. My tribe, my readers, my course participants, all the amazing creatives I cross paths with in my work. They are the ones who inspire me, cheer me on, and support my work financially through buying what I offer.
What is your business philosophy?
It’s very simple: To always move towards love. The rest is just details.
What are your favorite entrepreneurial resources? Business mentors? Please share books, websites, and more.
There are so many! Working with my mentor, writer and energy alchemist Hiro Boga, has changed how I go about business forever. She has taught me the necessity of tending to your business on the energetic level as well as the physical. Writer Tosha Silver, for her radical message of surrender as a spiritual path in work and life in general. Her books Outrageous Openness and Change Me Prayers have inspired me greatly. Danielle LaPorte and Carrie-Anne Moss for their fierce commitment to bring the divine feminine into business, life and love. It is so deeply needed in this world. Marie Forleo, for hands on knowledge on how to run an online business that suits you like a glove. I did B-school a few years back and I’ve never regretted it. Bari Tessler, for inspiring me to create a kinder and healthier relationship to money. Because yes, you do need to look at your relationship to money as an entrepreneur.
What was the biggest “lesson” you've learned through your experience in business?
I was in such a rush to get back to work after having my second child. I had so many plans I wanted to make happen, I felt a lot of financial stress, and I had not yet learned how to go slow and allow myself to rest when I needed it. So when my baby was just three months old, and my body was hurting quite badly from a back injury made worse by the strain of delivery, I got busy producing art prints together with a friend. I launched a tiny webshop to start selling the first few, planning to follow up with more soon. Well, it didn’t exactly flop. Over time, they have found their admirers and slowly trickled their way out into the world. But as much as I wanted it to happen RIGHT NOW, the truth of my reality was that I had absolutely zero time or energy to devote to these prints—marketing them, finding retailers, creating new ones. I launched it and then it just faded into a forgotten corner of my business where they have remained ever since—because I still don’t have time for them! They are absolutely beautiful, and some day I will tend to them with plenty of love. But I forced them into being before their time, and all that came out of it was that I lost money, and that my health took a turn for the worse. It taught me about divine timing and the natural rhythms of life and creativity. There’s a time and a place for everything, and either we trust it and move with the flow of it, of we fight it and push our way to where we want to go. I know what I prefer.
Tell us a story or describe a time when something occurred in your business that made your heart leap and you KNEW you were doing the right thing.
A milestone for me was creating my course, The Creative Doer, this last fall. Bringing it from idea to form was the most intense creative process I’ve ever been involved in, probably because it was so close to me. It was my lived experience that I tried to translate into a neat and smooth process for students to follow. A whole life’s worth of wisdom, insights and knowledge poured into six lessons! As I came closer and closer to completion, I started to lose sense of what I was actually creating. This is a normal and expected part of the creative process, but it’s just as scary every time it happens. I could no longer tell whether my writing was any good, whether the structure was right, or anything at all really. All I could do was to keep creating, hoping that my trust in the process and in myself would carry me through. No pushing, no trying to control. I prayed, breathed, rested, and worked my way through it. This was my own exam, I was going through the exact process I guide my students through and for the first time in my life, I trusted it blindly. I knew that it would hold up. I knew it in my bones. I completed it and then I released it. I handed the whole creation over to the students and I fell back, resting and waiting for them to let me know the truth of what it was I had created. When the feedback started to come in, and the words life-changing appeared several times, along with brilliant, divine, an incredible gift, radical, powerful, and thank you thank you thank you, I just cried with gratitude. Not just for the apparent “success” of the launch, but for the confirmation that a chapter in my life had closed, for good. A lifetime of striving and struggling was finally over and something else, something magical, had taken its place. The way I had gone about creating this course—the trust, the flow, the willingness to let go—was the way I wanted to go about life from now on. It was a rite of passage, of the happiest kind. I still feel a sort of tingling in my heart as I think about where I will go from here and what is possible now.
If you could do or make something every day that you give away, what would it be?
It would be pieces of my day and my world. Snippets of writing, maybe a drawing or a photo. My humble attempt to capture those brief moments of wonder, of bewildered awe, that bring us back to truth and beauty. Also kindness. Intentional acts of kindness throughout the day. I can’t think of anything more valuable to share than that.
Please share any messages, wisdom, stories, or insights you have gathered through your entrepreneurial journey.
You don’t need to know the end goal in order to get started. You don’t have to have it all figured out. Just the first few steps. Just your dream and a willingness to learn along the way. It’s enough. Get started. Keep it as simple as possible, and don’t grab your goal too tightly. You might not be going where you thought you were going and if you’re too attached to that goal, you might miss the guidance along the way. Things will change and evolve along the way – you will change and evolve—and so the goal will change. Stay open to it. Most of the time, information will be given on a need to know basis. You will need to make friends with not knowing, and learn how to move forward one small step at a time, with nothing else to guide you but your intuition. Your capacity for trust will determine whether you will find peace of mind on this path or not. (Luckily, you can grow this capacity.) Ultimately, any entrepreneurial pursuit is a co-creative process. Add the creative powers of this universe to your own, and you can make a lot of goodness happen. So much more than you think, I can promise you that.
Anna Lovind is a writer, editor and creativity mentor. She has helped a long line of creatives to get going and keep going on their dream projects, whether it's writing a book or starting a business. She writes about what it takes to live a happy, sustainable creative life, and through her online course, The Creative Doer, she helps brilliant creatives of all disciplines to go from dreaming to doing. Anna lives in an old log cabin on a mountainside, overlooking a lake, where she drinks countless cups of tea, tends her garden and her kids, and writes. Connect with Anna on her website.