Category: Business Advice

TheLivelyShowWithErinGatesToday’s show is a huge honor for me!

I’ve been a big fan of Erin Gates of Elements Of Style for many years and I have loved reading her blog and learning from her as a designer and following her life and career.

In this episode we talk about her exceptional career path and book deal.

But our main topic is perfectionism (starting at 18:30) – how Erin has learned to make the most out of it and appreciate it for what it is, rather than fighting to change herself.

This episode is perfect for bloggers, designers, aspiring authors, and anyone who struggles with perfectionism. 


Today’s Lively Show episode is near and dear to my heart: investing in yourself.

For many years I thought learning was best done through experience alone, rather than books, classes, and conferences.

But my views are now completely reversed. I am now a huge advocate for learning from relevant sources as much as possible.

Amber Housley embodies this spirit of learning and investing in yourself more than anyone else I know online. So I asked her to be on today’s episode to share her learning tips and tactics with us.

She is constantly expanding her skills and as a result has done a remarkable job building a profitable lifestyle business while juggling a full-time job and raising two young children.

In today’s episode, Amber shares how she invests in herself wisely, particularly now that she has the two littles to care for, and how she gets the most of her educational experiences.


Good morning and happy Thursday Lively Show Day to you!

In today’s episode, I am talking with the candid founder of Design*Sponge, Grace Bonney.

If you’re not already familiar with Grace, she has a (hugely) popular design blog and is the author of Design*Sponge at Home.


Last week’s Ask Me Anything was a lot of fun! It was so great to help so many of you in such a personal way. I plan on doing another one of these AMA’s in a few months, so stay tuned!

In the meantime, I’d like to address one of the popular phrases that stuck out to me in answering the questions you shared.

“I feel lost.” 


Today I have a fun new episode of The Lively Show for you chalk full of actionable advice for starting your own business as an artist and adopting or rescuing a pet.

My guest today is Kim Vargo of Yellow Brick Home and The Pet Shop (her pet portrait business). She’s sharing about her unexpected journey to becoming a successful artist (over 700 custom paintings sold!) and pet rescue advocate.


Listen and subscribe via iTunes.


Today’s Lively Show episode packs in a lot of great takeaways on several topics including streamlining your career (or business), transitioning from a day job, and facing cancer as an entrepreneur.

To talk about these topics, I asked the spunky and energetic Michelle Ward, the When I Grow Up Coach. She’s a life coach, “boob cancer” survivor, and friend that I am honored to have on the show.

Though the topic of cancer is discussed, the tactics and steps that Michelle took could apply to anyone going through a difficult health challenge or even perhaps a small business maternity leave.

This episode is perfect for those who want to learn more about how to handle difficult health challenges while self-employed, or who are feeling overwhelmed by the wide range of their careers.




  • How Michelle’s broadway dream brought her to a corporate job and eventually to life coaching.
  • How Michelle baby stepped her way out of a corporate job and into her coaching practice full-time.
  • How “boob cancer” (as Michelle calls it) affected her life and coaching practice.
  • The policies and boundaries Michelle created to accommodate her treatment (these actions can apply to any entrepreneur with a serious illness, life change, or maternity leave).
  • How Michelle maintained the same income year over year – with cancer treatments and less coaching.
  • Why streamlining your career or business at times can be a powerfully positive choice. (35:30)
  • What Michelle would tell someone just starting out on this journey.




The International Coach Academy

An Effective Escape (workbook)

2012 By The Numbers (post)

Grown Up Gigs

Career Camp

The Declaration of You!

Lindsey Pollock

20 Jobs in 7 Years (post)






Want more? Check out past Lively Show episodes here.


PS – The Lively Show landed on the iTunes New & Noteworthy page this Monday! Thank you so much for your reviews on iTunes and for subscribing – you are the reason this show is spreading!


Happy Tuesday to you!

Today I decided to change things up by answering a question you had in a video!

Today’s question comes from Gina on Facebook and she asked:

How can I properly + cleverly balance: online career + one year old baby boy + home? Keeping all together is hard.

Watch the video above where I answer her question with three tips that I’ve picked up from working with business owners and Life with Intention clients who struggle with these same issues.

Also, if you like this video and would like me to do more videos and/or answer more questions you might have about living life with intention, please let me know!

If there is a good amount of interest I’ll continue to do these little videos more regularly.


PS – Are you a mompreneur? Please leave your helpful tips for her and other mompreneurs (or soon-to-be mompreneurs) in the comments below!

PPS – Sorry for the creepy finger in the video snapshot! YouTube grabbed that frame and won’t update it to a new image for some reason…


Listen and subscribe via iTunes.


Happy Thursday to you!

Today’s episode of The Lively Show features a beloved blogger and friend that you most likely already know (and follow!), Nicole Balch of Making It Lovely.

In this episode, I talk with Nicole about how she became the sole breadwinner for her family as a blogger. We go into detail about the ins and outs of how she makes money through blogging and why she diversifies her income streams.

She also discusses what it’s like being the breadwinner while being a mom and shares about her stunning new home in Oak Park.

So if you want to make money as a blogger, or hear how Nicole juggles being a mom and the “bacon maker,” this show is for you!




  • Why Nicole’s stationery shop, Pink Loves Brown, launched her blogging career.
  • The reason Nicole later closed her shop to take Making It Lovely full-time.
  • How her husband’s job loss turned her blog into a breadwinning business.
  • How to diversify your blogging income streams effectively.
  • The “fall back” career Nicole has to maintain her financial stability in an ever-changing blog world.
  • Details about her new Victorian home in Oak Park.
  • The readership transitions that can occur on blogs over time.
  • Nicole’s predictions for the future of blogging.
  • What Nicole would tell someone just starting out on this journey.




The Sequins & Stripes Lively Show episode about pitching sponsors

Nicole’s income breakdown

Better Homes & Gardens column

Cesarstone column

Glidden column

Grace Bonney / Design Sponge article about the changes in blogging

Nicole’s post about becoming the breadwinner






Want more? Check out past Lively Show episodes here.


PS – Like the show? Please leave a review on iTunes (this helps more people find the podcast on iTunes that may not already know about it).

Thank you so much!



art via

{Sorry for the delay! The site was down yesterday due to server issues and then after I posted this yesterday evening it disappeared… spooky!}


Today I’d like to discuss a simple concept that can restore balance in our lives and simultaneously reserve our self-discipline.


Intention-based rituals.


According to The Power of Full Engagement, up to 95% of our lives are based on habits.


This is pretty crazy. Almost too high to believe.

This means that most of our strengths and not-so-great aspects of our lives are likely rooted in habits that we have cultivated – consciously or not – throughout our lives.

The urge to eat the ice cream out of the carton when no one is looking and our ability to jump out of bed in the morning are both likely tied to habits we have crafted over time.

Knowing that habits have such a HUGE influence in our lives means that we can choose to shape positive rituals that reflect our deepest values and intentions for each area of our life. 


How to Create Intention-Based Rituals


I’ve got a simple exercise that can help you help tie your intentions for each area of life to new rituals.

This simple exercise can help us re-balance our lives, particularly if we are currently spending all of our time (out of “habit”) in some areas of our lives, but ignore others.

By simply taking the time to implement new rituals in the weaker areas of our life, we can refocus in areas that we normally gloss over during our daily routine.

Or, we can expand and deepen a life area that’s thriving.

By creating intention-based rituals, we can build positive momentum which eventually requires less self-control to continue.

— Which means we can save our rather limited daily discipline reserve for other aspects of our lives that may be more challenging.

Step One: Review Your Intentions

First, you will need to recall your intentions for each area of your life.

If you don’t already have them, it can be helpful to re-read this post and think deeply about your values in each area.

Step Two: Form Rituals that Embody Your Values

Next, you’ll want to pick an intention from each area of your life (possessions, personal habits, relationships, and career) and identify how you can craft a ritual to help you embody that intention in your daily life.

These rituals can be daily, weekly, monthly, seasonally, or annually. It all depends on your intention and how you’d like to bring it to life in your life.

Here are four examples from each intention area in my own life:



Wardrobe Intention: To have a carefully edited and stylish wardrobe.

Ritual: To do a handful of Throw Out 100 Things Challenges per year. (Another weekly ritual you could try is the End of the Week Exfoliation.)


Personal Growth Intention: To expand the circle of influence in my life, and increase the distance between action and response.

Ritual: I do a daily “Private Victory” where I read a spiritual book, a non-fiction book, and exercise (the exercise happens about every other day). This practice helps me to explore and develop my mental, physical, and spiritual aspects which brings more peace and clarity.


Marriage Intention: To accept, support, have patience, and be present with Mr. Lively.

Ritual: We read aloud together in the evenings a few weeknights per week. This helps us increase our presence with one another and often spurs supportive conversations.


Secret Project #1 Intention: To deeply explore and explain how we can live balanced, integrated lives in an inspiring and affordable way.

Ritual: I have recently begun working in three 90 minute chunks (with 30 minute breaks in-between) twice a week on this project. 


In your own life, you may already have awesome rituals in place, and you may be struggling in other areas.

Do your best to consider the major intentions in each area of your life, and see if you can find ways to add rituals if you don’t have any currently. 

Or, if you already have a ritual in place, but it’s feeling a bit boring, consider changing things up a bit to continue to reflect your values in a new action or method.


My Own Struggle / New Ritual


One habit I’m personally struggling with is not checking social media updates in the morning before work.

Because I have my iPad in bed with me while I read during my Private Victory, I find itextremely tempting to hop onto Instagram, Twitter, and Disqus to see what’s happened overnight.

This early morning social media itch slows me down and distracts me from my morning routine with Franklin and Mr. Lively.

Plus, it tends to bleed into a habit of checking social media excessively throughout the rest of the day as well, such a distraction! 

could delete the social media apps from my iPad altogether. Or at least sign out of the sites every time I use them to make it a bit trickier to click into quickly.

However, I’d prefer to try crafting a new ritual instead.

I’d rather fill the time with something meaningful and positive than try to simply avoid checking the sites based on self-control alone. 

My New Ritual

Starting tomorrow, I’m going to try doing a 5-10 minute Quigong video (I’m going to pick a free video on YouTube) as a part of the spiritual part of my Private Victory.

By getting out of bed and doing the moves right away after reading, I’m hoping that it will be easier and more natural to just go about the rest of my day without hopping online first.

We shall see how it goes!


Now, How About You?


What new intention-based ritual are you going to implement? 

Let me know by responding directly to this email (I’ll write you back!), or in the comment section on the blog when the site is back up!



PS – I made a Life with Intention “Quick Start Guide”! 

Based on overwhelmingly positive Facebook feedback, I’ve made a free guide with my top 5 posts, books, videos, blogs, and habits for living intentionally (hint: 20 of these resources cost nothing!).


How does anybody really figure out what they’re “meant” to do?

And once you do that, do you find a way to make it into a career?

What’s the difference between a career/purpose and making a living?

Are they always the same thing, and how do you figure out if those things overlap or not?

I received these thoughtful questions from a reader a few weeks ago when I asked for content suggestions.

They also happen to mirror a lot of conversations during the first Life with Intention Online class last week. So today I’d like to clarify and share an often overlooked aspect of purpose.


The Overlooked Secret to Finding Your Purpose


After studying and writing about purpose for many years, I believe there is a simple equation for purpose.

 It’s clear. It’s concise.

And (most importantly) it is universally true. 

In order to survive and thrive as a species over thousands of years, we had to look out for one another moment-to-moment.

So nature hardwired us to seek ways to benefit the group’s survival by producing surges of the “feel good” chemicals serotonin and oxytocin when we help and serve others. 

However, this simple truth about present moment service as our true purpose is often overlooked in today’s world.

Instead of focusing on how we can serve others today – perhaps even in this dreadful job – we spend time dreaming about a specific career or role in our lives that might produce a sense of unending “purpose” that will forever fulfill us and perhaps even bring us a healthy paycheck along the way.

And this is where we can get tripped up.

Being a doctor, a stationery designer, or a mother can never be our sole “purpose” in the truest sense because roles are impermanent. 

Each one of those things can be taken away (lose the job, get into financial trouble with the business, and God forbid, something happens to your children) and then we are left with… a purpose-less life? 

Or, what about the many years before we started that business, had that first child, or got that degree? Were we purpose-less then? What happens to purpose when we retire, or get injured and are unable to perform our duties?

What about children who died young? Did they “lack purpose” because they did not have a career or offspring?

Of course not.

That’s why purpose is about using each day as an opportunity to improve the lives of those around us.

Even if we don’t like our jobs.

Even if we don’t have a job.

Even if we don’t feel particularly passionate about anything.

We still have the same purpose we will have for the rest of our lives right NOW.


The Good News


However, there is some good news: roles and purpose can work together!

Once we can completely connect to the idea that purpose is about present moment service, we get to move onto how we would like to serve going forward.

So, how would you like to help others in this moment? This year?

That’s it.

Just answer that question. How would you like to express your love and serve other people?

In a job you don’t like? Consider looking for a new one or approaching the current one in a different way.

Want to start a business on the side? Find a way to get three people to pay you for your services or products over the next four weeks.

When you no longer attach permanence to your role, you have a plethora of possibilities!

Don’t let the many options you may have scare you, though. Keep things simple. Ask your gut what you should do first and go do that thing.

Then, as you move forward in one direction, you might find that you feel pulled towards another path later.

As long as we serve others in whatever situation we are in, we are fulfilling our purpose and not a moment is wasted.

The only way we can “waste” our lives is by withholding service to those around us in the present moment while we wait for something “better.”




To summarize, we often overlook it, but our purpose is to serve others in the present moment wherever we happen to be.

And when it comes to roles in our lives, we can choose how we want to serve in this stage in our lives without attaching permanence to that decision.

We can let things percolate, progress, and pivot with a purposeful playfulness.

So take a deep breath and enjoy some feel good chemicals!

Go help someone today and you are on your way.


May something wonderful happen to you today,

PS – Want to explore purpose and intentions deeper? Join me in an upcoming Life with Intention Online class!


a new direction
January 28th, 2014     |    Business AdviceLife

NewContentDirectionGood afternoon! I’m back from Alt Summit and jumping right into the fold.

While I was in Salt Lake, I thought a lot about the impact I want to make this year. Particularly when it comes to this blog, client work, and my career as a whole.

My vision is to spend the majority of my online time directly helping people live lives with intention.

I want to spend more time helping you to improve your life, rather than just writing about my own.

After careful introspection and conversations with several readers at Alt (thank you, ladies!), I am excited to announce the following changes to help bring this vision to life on the blog:

  • Twice weekly posting schedule.
  • Intention in your inbox.
  • Daily mini updates (hint: Instagram!).
  • A note about business content.

Here’s a bit more detail about each change,


Twice weekly posting schedule


Going forward, I’m switching to a twice weekly posting schedule.

On Tuesdays, I’ll share a helpful and actionable post about living life with intention.

On Thursdays, new podcast episodes will air (starting next week!).

Limiting my posting to one written post and one podcast is awesome because it helps you consume less content.

Lately, it seems like people are busier than ever before. This slower posting schedule will help me to go deeper into topics (aka: be more helpful) without overwhelming your reading list.


Intention In Your Inbox


Now that I’m sharing less weekly content, I’m also adding an option to follow by email. This way you the blog can come to you.

Sign up is located on the blog sidebar >


Daily Mini Updates


Even though I’ll be updating the blog less, I’m going to be sharing daily on Facebook and Instagram!

This is a pretty big development as many of you know – because I’ve always stayed away from using Instagram publicly. That’s all changed now thanks to Helena, my Alt roomie. She patiently answered a million questions and taught me how to use the social aspects of the app (I may or may not have the nickname #InstaGrandma now).

Please connect with me – @JessCLively! I’ll be sharing all the funny, fashion, flowers, and Franklin pics here from now on.


A Note About Business Content


With these changes, upcoming posts will touch on career and small business in the context of intention, vision, goals, fulfillment, and meaning.

Purpose will trump packaging design.

Significance will outshine social media strategy.

I want help you optimize your approach to life so that all aspects of your life – including your business – can thrive.


So there you have it!

Higher quality / less frequent posts, daily Insta updates, intention inbox... the best is yet to come! : )


PS – There are just a few Life with Intention Online spots left! RSVP now >



{{Please note: this post is not talking about getting things done perfectly. There are many people who have a tendency to hold onto something too long and never press publish because they are worried it isn’t good enough… will never be good enough… etc. This is not a post on that subject. This is a post about how sacrificing quality for timelines is not optimal.}}


As someone who is always trying to launch a new project immediately, this week has taught me the wisdom of getting it right, rather than just simply getting it done.

Writing back each mentorship applicant unexpectedly took me three days longer than I planned, thereby delaying two other big project launches.

Because of this unplanned schedule change, I’m only 9 days in to a new year and I’m already behind. 

My first reaction was to just hustle my buns off and get the first project launched quickly yesterday. That way I could be on target for the second project next week and resync with my original schedule.

After talking it over with Mr. Lively, however, it became clear that rushing this first project for the sake of my schedule was unwise.

Prioritizing “getting it done” over “getting it right” would short-change my wellbeing and the projects themselves.

I would have resented the crazy pace and cut beneficial elements in order to launch within the crunched timeframe.

So though it was against my activator nature, I stopped, paused, and pushed the deadlines back.

Yes, my ego’s still a little bruised by the fact that I’m already pushing deadlines less than 10 days into the new year.

But I’m also more pumped about the fact that this extra time is going to allow me to do these project launches right.

Like Mr. Covey says, Fast can be slow. And slow can be fast.”

With this in mind, I want to encourage anyone else who might already be feeling a little behind, like me:

Though you might not be as far along as you had hoped, there are still 356 more days left in the year to get it right.


May something wonderful happen to you today,



Thinking about doing an Intention Session with me?

The word that keeps coming up when I think about my work with Jess is clarity.

I have a new level of clarity to what I hope to bring to my life by starting a new business. Most importantly, we clarified that my purpose or intention for my life is not necessarily to find the holy grail of “work I love” but to have work that is in proportion to the other areas of my life.

Making this realization with Jess’ help was what I needed to take the pressure off of myself.

Now I have options for how to achieve my intention. This flexibility in “doing” ultimately sets me up to move into the arena of just “being”. I’m grateful to have had this opportunity to work with Jess and will take the lessons she taught me on my new path.

Dacy Gillespie, Mindful Closet



Reader Spotlight
I run Black Bear Ink, a small consultancy that I’m hoping will turn business communications upside down and re-level the playing field for the little guy with big dreams. My aim is to empower small businesses and organizations to own their story and then tell it loud and clear–but to do it within their resources.

Christy Campbell, Black Bear Ink













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