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I’m about halfway through the latest Balanced Bites podcast, where Diane Sanfilippo chats with nutrition and fitness celeb J.J. Virgin, author of [amazon_link id=”0373892713″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]The Virgin Diet[/amazon_link] and the recently released [amazon_link id=”1455577790″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]The Virgin Diet Cookbook[/amazon_link]. 

The interview is a little bit about J.J.’s cookbook and lots and lots about building a career and a life that you love. Just like the last time J.J. was on with Liz and Diane, I went into the podcast thinking it was just going to be more of the same “rah! rah!” celebrity fitness hype that I intentionally avoid. And, just like last time, J.J. offered up some really terrific advice.

Here are some excerpts from the conversation that really resonated with me:

The bottom line is, once you know something, and you’ll know what it is, because it’s your unique ability. I have a really amazing coach I’m working with right now, and he says there’s 4 things we have. We have the things that we hate doing and we suck at; never do those things.

… Number 2, there are things that you can get done, but it’s a struggle. You shouldn’t do those either. You know? Give them to someone else who loves to do them. Then you have things that you’re good at, you’re really good at, but you don’t draw energy from. And really, as soon as possible, you shouldn’t do those either. And then you have the thing you do whether you were paid to do it or not.

…But, you know, we all have that unique ability. We don’t realize it’s there, because it’s right under our nose, and it seems so easy for us that we don’t realize that it’s something special. And it is the thing that people will talk about you. They’ll so, oh yeah, she’s really good at “X”. Or they’ll always ask you the question about; that’s your unique ability. That’s your expert talent. That is what you share with the world.

– J.J. Virgin

Now, I’ve heard versions of this before many times, notably in the terrific book [amazon_link id=”1607743620″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]What Color Is Your Parachute?[/amazon_link], a must-read for anyone struggling with “what to do” with your life.

But it was J.J.’s exhortation to cast off the things we do and really struggle with that was the kick in the behind that I needed this weekend.

Ironically, it’s an idea that I have readily embraced in the past. When I ran a small business out of my home, the very first thing that I did – before I had clients or revenue – was secure the services of a bookkeeper. I knew that I would fail miserably and struggle tremendously if I had to do the books myself. She kept me organized, paid all my bills, issued all my invoices, dealt with taxes, and kept all my business records.

And she was GREAT at it.

So there was this thing that made me want to crawl into a hole and never come out, that was a huge barrier to me getting into business for myself and it made this person (who also happened to be a friend) come alive.

There is absolute magic in that, right?

All of this is to say I am not at all averse to the idea of outsourcing the things which I find difficult or undesirable. I believe they are best left to people with the gifts to do them.

But, since I left the workforce to become a stay-at-home mom, I have stopped outsourcing a lot of the jobs I used to farm out. I don’t know whether it’s because I feel like I should do them because I “have the time now” (insert maniacal laughter) or because I am not generating the revenue for the family I used to so I feel I must shoulder them again. It’s probably a combination of the two, coupled with leaner economic times all around. (Thanks so much, 2008.)

But as I was listening to J.J. and applied what she had to say to my own life, two things dawned on me:

  1. These things I hate? I’m still not doing them. I’m just letting them fester on my to-do list. And, when I finally get them, I do them poorly and with a wretched attitude. And then I belittle myself for being so bad at the task.
  2. For most of the tasks I used to outsource, I relied on small businesses, often sole proprietorships, and they were almost always women-owned.

After reflection and a good conversation with my husband, I’ve committed myself to being more willing to outsource these tasks that so burden me.

The trouble is, of course, that this will cost money. And, unlike J.J., my outsourcing will not free me up to generate more revenue because I am, generally speaking, not the revenue-generating machine that she is.

But I have developed some strategies to counteract the added expenses. For example, one of the things my husband and I committed to was finding an accountant to handle our taxes instead of doing it all ourselves. Hopefully this will ultimately be a net financial positive.

What about you guys? Do you let projects that drain you sit on your to-do list for eons when you could be outsourcing them and using your talents elsewhere?

One final note to hammer home my point … I am the least crafty mother on the planet. I don’t do Pinterest, I don’t volunteer to assist the art teacher, and I cringe when my kids ask me for help with a project at home. Crafts bring out the very worst in me.

My son is having a birthday soon, and I relied on the wonderful world of Etsy to find invitations and party gear. 2 Cheeky Chicks did a fantastic job creating what we needed.

As I opened the box and saw the beautiful items, clearly made with care and attention, I just melted. I could never, ever, not in a million, gajillion years do what 2 Cheeky Chicks had done. It’s just not in my DNA and, even if I were sentenced to life in arts and crafts prison and had to reproduce what they did, I am physically incapable of creating something that would look as lovely as this foldover invitation:


So I sent the shop owner a message just saying how perfect everything was and how much I appreciated her work. Her reply:

Thank you for the great feedback!!! I am so happy you love them!! Creating things is my passion & just love to hear when others enjoy them as much as I did creating them!!
Have a great party!

Creating these things is her PASSION. My misery = her passion. She derives pleasure from the fact that we will enjoy them.

I mean, does it get any better than that?

Now, off to outsource … .

(Find this and other great posts from like-minded bloggers at Thank Goodness It’s Monday here!)

2 Responses to “Outsourcing: The Good Kind”

  1. on 24 Feb 2014 at 8:38 amMartha Brice

    I look forward to reading what you have to say, and I always find useful information for my life as well. This is one area where you excel, and I hope this is, as it seems, your passion!

  2. on 24 Feb 2014 at 9:44 amsandkpete

    You might have just put into words what I was trying to explain to someone yesterday. Around here with everyone retired ….people think that they should do it all. One reason is the cost of outsourcing on a limited budget . Then people just think they should be the one to do everything since they have time. People have worked all their lives to retire and by the time the work is done that needs to be done they are to tired or sore to go have the fun they came here to have.
    Well one thing I have learned from taking care of Dad. I cannot do it all. I have learned to reduce my world and hire people to do things if I know they can do a better job then me.
    This is only supposed to be a comment but I could discuss for hours… Lesson I wish I could have convinced my husband of years ago!!
    Also one reason I let you do all the research and then I read your blog….I cannot wade thru all the literature and sort out my thoughts. You help me do that and put things into words that I can understand. Thank you for what you do GREAT!!!

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