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#62 – How to Prevent Your Breeding Program From Taking Over your Life

by | May 5, 2023 | Business Management

Can I confess? I hate dealing with dogs before 9 am. I like to get up a few hours before the kids and just have a little time to myself or just with Bill. I do my best writing in the morning, I like to make my bulletproof coffee, and I like to watch the birds in my bird feeder, I’m still amazed how much bird seed they can consume.

Yet the puppies whining in the morning can really grate on my nerves. The inside-the-house dogs wanting to go out, pinging on the food bowls, it can get pretty annoying pretty quickly, especially as I see that precious time dwindle away and I know the kids will be up soon.

Sometimes it feels like dog breeding is starting to take over you life, like it dictates your morning, like it decides when you can take a vacation, and like the dogs run the house and you’re there to serve. Other times it feels like we need to ensure our success, people are counting on us, so we have to do all the things to get it just right. You feel like you’re only focusing on breeding, you feel like you’re failing, you feel like you can’t get on top of this mountain of stuff you should be doing, the stuff that should be done. In the meantime it feels like your life might be slipping by, how long has it been since I called Jenny on the phone? When is the last time we went on vacation? I still need to go grocery shopping, when was our last date night? It’s so easy to get overwhelmed, especially if you’re at home and you’re sort of responsible for the whole thing, the dog breeding, the household, and making sure to feed the family.

It’s very easy to get into a negative headspace where you feel like you’re constantly working and not getting any traction.

It’s a lot.

So how do you unscramble this mess, get things done, find a balance in your hybrid life of breeding business and mom and wife? It’s not easy, but interestingly, it’s actually more about making a few simple shifts than it is finding the perfect schedule, we are not Fedex here, we’re people who want a fulfilling life full of family and dogs.

I used to feel the impending doom with my breeding program, but I don’t anymore, and it’s not because there’s any less work to do, but because I’ve made a few shifts in how I do things and also in my perspective. Don’t worry, it’s not saturated in woo woo, but don’t get me wrong, I love me some woo woo.

Zoom Out & Set Priorities

First, sometimes the simplest and easiest thing is to zoom out and look at the bigger picture. Often we get so wrapped up in hitting some criteria, like five posts on social media a week, that we forget the bigger purpose for posting on social media is actually to get the word out about our dogs. That’s the real priority, not merely posting five posts. It’s also important to remember that we are trying to get quality leads, not a number of followers, I’d rather you have a small, engaged following, than a giant following that doesn’t have any intent to buy one of your dogs.

Another thing to remember is that we want to focus on our WHY, I know I’ve mentioned this a lot lately, but it’s just such a key to guide us. If we aren’t focusing on WHY we are doing our breeding program then we are navigating the boat without a compass.

A simple technique to give you this guidance is to figure out what the breeding program should produce, not just financially, although that’s important, too, but what should it produce for you, your family, and of course the buyers who will buy the dogs. The dogs and what you create is important, but that importance is really dictated by where they go and the life they’re provided by their buyers. The beauty of dogs is they’ll never judge you for it, we really stand to learn a lot from them.

For me, being home with the kids was so important during the divorce; I didn’t want my kids to go through that alone or to feel like a second thought. The dog breeding provided that opportunity to be home, being available was the priority, although so was paying the mortgage. Lastly, I needed buyers that I wanted to feel safe working with who appreciated the temperaments I was selecting and who would give the dogs great homes, where they were loved and appreciated for all their quirks.

That sets the criteria to run everything through. Now I can run all my breeding decisions through that criteria and it’ll flag for me that something is wrong if it isn’t meeting those needs.

Give Yourself a Set Amount of Time For Your Breeding Business

Have you ever written out your to-do list and it not only filled up all the lines on the page, but then it took up the columns, you wrote a few extra things in the corner, doubled up on a few lines? Then you go start to work on something, naturally it isn’t something that’s on your list, then you come back to the list, realize what you did wasn’t on it, and then add it so you can cross it off?

I feel like so many of my to-do lists were like this, they were this intimidating mountain of things to get done and I would NEVER finish them all. That list looked so pathetic at the end of the day with just a few things checked off. I felt terrible and it was hard to see if I were gaining any traction. More so, it felt like crisis management because usually I was doing the things that needed to get done because someone was yelling at me or it was holding up me getting paid for something. Rarely was I getting the things done I needed to get done to move the needle.

Over the course of ironing out all the wrinkles in my life (it really looked like I left everything in the washing machine and didn’t even try to put them in the dryer), I learned a great technique I want to share with you. It’s about changing how you look at spending time. Don’t worry, it’s super easy, I promise.

It comes with a mindset shift and a technique. Instead of writing a to-do list of all these things I wanted to accomplish in one day—which was never going to happen—I decided that success was not checking the items off the list, instead, it was spending a set amount of time on a task, undistracted. So instead of saying I’m going to write and format my contract you say, “I’m going to spend 30 minutes on my contract today.”

This shifts the definition of success from finishing the contract to success being spending that time on the contract. Once you’ve spent 30 minutes on the contract you’re successful on that task for that day. Oh and don’t forget, you could save all this time by picking up my contract template.

Some of you may feel a bit of resistance to this idea of blocking off time, I know I did at first. It felt like I was lowering the bar, lowering the standard I had for myself. However, I tried it and what I realized is that instead of lowering the bar, I was actually releasing the expectations that were only beating me up, they weren’t helping me. Then, at the end of the day, I felt relief because I could say I accomplished something, which gave me a nice little dopamine hit and gave me more incentive to work on it a little more tomorrow.

As a side benefit, I found I began to notice how unrealistic my lists used to be, how I was packing in 30 hours of work onto a tiny schedule of probably only 16 hours, and I still had to take care of the kids, household, and such in that time, it was unrealistic and no wonder it made me feel like a failure!

Don’t just take my word on it, try it, see if it works for you. Studies show that people who work on tasks for a set amount of time generally accomplish more than those who set out to finish tasks until completion. What I found when I tried it was that I actually had better focus because I didn’t feel like I was supposed to be doing all these other things when I was working on that task.

You know how it goes, you’re sitting there, supposed to be working on your contract and then while you’re writing about your health guarantee your mind is kind enough to say, “Hey, you’re supposed to be thawing a roast for dinner” and “You didn’t pay the electric bill yet, it’s due soon.” The mind gets feisty like that, but knowing that those thirty minutes are just for contracts, helps to settle that rather helpful, but obnoxious mind of ours. As a simple technique, you can keep a small post it note or notebook on the desk with you and jot down all those little things as they pop in your head.

One thing to keep in your mind through it: people generally overestimate what they can accomplish in a day, but underestimate what they can accomplish in a year.

Want to Get the Roadmap to a Successful Breeding Program?

Work With a Coach

Not too long back I had a call with a coach and she helped me focus my business better. I had been resistant to getting help, as my ego sometimes gets in the way. But what I realized was: working with her opened so many doors for me, she showed me so many things that would make improvements in my online business. So many times its the small tweaks that really make a difference: a few changes to your words on your social media, a change in the layout on your website, a subtle shift in facilities, your schedule, or a change in the pathway you take clients along. Nothing she said was earth shattering, but they were precision moves that made all the difference. I noticed changes within a week.

It’s scary to hire a coach, you have to put yourself out there and be vulnerable, and be open about what’s hardest for you. Then you have to listen to what they say and implement it. Sometimes you want what they tell you to be really difficult, because then it would make sense why you didn’t figure it out, but, I’ve found, most of it is just simple changes, which seems disheartening, but honestly it’s amazing. It’s amazing that a small shift can make such a big impact.

If it’s so easy, then why don’t more people do it?

Some because it’s scary to be vulnerable, there is pride in doing it all on your own, but it does take a lot longer (I’m guilty there, but getting smarter). Ego protects you, but sometimes it gets a little arrogant and that arrogance holds you back. There’s a humbleness to asking for help. Sometimes this ego leads us to get stuck in DIY mode, where we are just endlessly searching google looking for answers, but it’s not focused.

Some don’t because they don’t feel it’s okay to invest in themselves, there are so many stories we have about our worth and what we deserve, for the longest time I thought I deserved to have a tough road, that I wasn’t worthy of having a nice, easy life, like somehow that was for other people, not me. It took a lot of inner work to see how I was treating myself as less than others and that in doing so, I was preventing my loved ones from having the best version of me.

I’ve also seen that some don’t get help because they don’t know what they need help on, there’s so much chaos in there that you don’t know that you could summarize your need for help. I’ve been here, too. When things feel really overwhelming, I feel scattered and don’t know what I need, but really, I’m realizing that’s the best time to ask for help, sometimes just getting that outside view from someone else is all you need to regain your focus.

I’ve seen it in the free business strategy sessions I have for breeders, it’s amazing from my end to see this beautiful breeding program emerge out of the discussion, molding the pieces together into something incredible. Sometimes you just need to run your ideas by someone who gets it.

To sign up for a free business strategy session with me, just book a slot on my calendar, free of charge. I can’t wait to speak with you, it’d be really lonely on my end if I never got to talk with you.

Do the Things That Make Every Day Worth Getting Up For

So many times in life we think we will feel good when…fill in the blank…when we sell a litter, when we have so many followers, when we finally take a vacation. We are holding back our happiness, making it contingent on something. I’ll be happy when…but that’s kind of silly. What if that won’t happen for years? Would it be good to live in not-happy for years? I don’t think so.

I used to have so many expectations for myself that I let my happiness hinge on those expectations and whether or not I achieved them. It wasn’t a good move. Over the course of some emotional healing while I was also decluttering my home, oddly cathartic doing some decluttering, I began to realize that there were certain things that made each day worth getting up for.

I heard a technique from Clutter Bug a while back where she said pick your 12 things you like to do each day that are simple pleasures and make each day a joy. They make each day worth getting up for. Some of mine include:

  • my morning hug from each of my kids when they get up in the morning
  • making bulletproof coffee
  • watching the cardinals at my bird feeder
  • watering my little patch of grass barefoot mid morning, it’s a special pleasure of mine to have grass in the desert, but it is very tiny, only about 20’x20’ or 6×6 meters.
  • touching Bill’s foot at night with mine, sometimes touching feet is the only comfortable way to cuddle in the heat of Arizona

What would your twelve simple pleasures be? Things that warm your heart and make you smile? Would you find five minutes to meditate? Write in your journal? Take your favorite dog for a walk? (And yes, it’s okay to have a favorite!) Maybe you’ll give a friend a call for 15 minutes just to say hi. What about snuggling with a puppy? Not because you are doing early neurological stimulation, but because it’s so fun to pinch that little paw between your thumb and finger, run your finger over the bridge of their nose, watch as that giant tongue escapes their mouth in a yawn, and the infamous puppy breath, which is awful, but also reminiscent the beauty of new beginnings.

I find that incorporating these things in my life give me a way to enjoy the present moment, enjoy each day, and that fuels me to have more energy in each task I endeavor on.

To summarize the four things:

  1. Zoom out and set your priorities, ideally based on your WHY.
  2. Work on tasks for a set time, instead of until completion.
  3. Work with a coach, to give you invaluable insight and speed up success
  4. Figure out the things that make each day worth living and find a few moments to indulge in them.

Well there you have it, four techniques to prevent dog breeding from consuming your life in an unhealthy way. Which step are you going to take this week: are you going to dive into your WHY and remember what you are doing this for? Are you going to set aside 30 minutes to work on something in your breeding business? Are you going to list out your 12 things that bring you simple joy each day? Or are you going to schedule a strategy session with me, so I finally get to meet you, hear your story, and see how I can help?

Hey! I’m Julie Swan! I’m here to help you build a breeding business that you love, one that produces amazing dogs, places them in wonderful homes, gives you the life you want, also pays the bills!