SHUNTA GRANT: “If you meet a child and you ask them to tell you five things they want every five minutes, they are ready, right? They know what they want. They know how to express their desire. And what happens is throughout childhood, adults crush that. ‘You can't have this right now.’ ‘No, not this.’ ‘No, no, no, no.’ Right? And we understand we can't give them everything that they want. But what I've learned to do is say, ‘So you want that.’ Validate the desire. ‘Okay, that would be great to have.’ And I think part of that is that has been, because it's been crushed in us, it really does feel like, ‘That's something I don't have permission to do. That’s selfish to write what I want or think of what I want.’ And I want us to start unlearning that because we have the freedom to want and desire, and I believe the best things that have happened in this world came from someone being free to say, ‘I want this.’”
INTRO: I’m Amy Porterfield, ex-corporate girl turned CEO of a multi-seven-figure business. But it wasn't all that long ago that I lacked the confidence, the budget, and the time to focus on growing my small-but-mighty business. Fast forward past many failed attempts and lessons learned, and you'll see the business I have today, one that changes lives and gives me more freedom than I ever thought possible, one that used to only exist as a daydream. I created the Online Marketing Made Easy podcast to give you simple, actionable, step-by-step strategies to help you do the same. If you're an ambitious entrepreneur, or one in the making, who's looking to create a business that makes an impact and a life you love, you're in the right place, friend. Let's get started.
AMY PORTERFIELD: Work @ Life, hosted by Sanja Licina and Maddie Grant, is a new podcast to my weekly roundup, and I can't recommend it enough. Hosts Sanja and Maddie explore the gray areas between work and life as they share data on relevant workplace engagement and culture topics: topics like new ideas on how to impact diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging today, and vulnerability in the workplace. I love those topics so much, so be sure to download Work @ Life wherever you get your podcasts.
Welcome to another interview episode of the Online Marketing Made Easy podcast.
I’m so freakin’ excited for today's episode because my guest is brilliant, compassionate, successful, and in so many ways I feel like she's just like you and me. She's a mom, an entrepreneur, a woman, and she's on a mission to create a schedule, a routine, that lets her live her life more intentionally versus just surviving and going through the motions and just, like, trying to get it all done. Maybe you can relate.
This episode is coming at such a perfect time because I'm recording it right after my five-week sabbatical. And one thing that I noticed on my sabbatical is that my identity is so tied to the work I do. And to answer the question, “Who are you without your business?” that's a hard, hard question for me to answer and one that I am now determined to figure out. But so much of what Shunta shares in this episode, I'm like, “Ooh, maybe this episode was just for me.” And then I thought, “No, no, no. I know it's for you as well. I know you're going to find as much value as I found in it.”
So, also, I was thinking when Cade was younger—my son. He's now almost twenty—but when he was younger, I was trying to get my business up and running off the ground. So he was four, five years old when I first started to explore all of this. And so trying to manage finances and keep my marriage stable and be a brand-new step mom, it was so overwhelming because I know I'm in a privileged place now, where it's just Hobie and I, and Cade is on his own now. I mean, not really. He's still our baby boy, but you know what I mean. He's at college. He's doing his thing. And so I know that so many of you are having a different season of your life right now, and we're going to talk about that as well.
So my guest, she brings a real, authentic perspective to wearing all the hats and how we don't have to hustle through it all and how we don't have to be more productive to be more successful. And I think this idea of checking off an action list every day is driving some of us bananas, and I want to address that, for sure.
So raise your hand if you want some more white space. If you're driving, maybe don't raise your hand, but metaphorically. Maybe if you want to have more white space or more quiet and fulfilling time in your family, if you want more time to think and strategize in your business versus always doing, this is the episode for you.
So I'll let Shunta tell you a little bit more about her. But she's an ex-attorney, she's a speaker, she's created this amazing brand called The Best Today, and she's the host of the Best Today Podcast. So in this interview, we dive into her philosophy behind how she teaches others to set habits and routines and how it's different from what others in this space are saying. So she does have a different perspective. And we talk about how to be a parent and an entrepreneur. And she even offers some guidance for those single parents or parents with children with disabilities, because their schedules look a lot different than some of ours. So we talk about her three-step process for setting yourself up for the day that you want, and also this idea of productivity versus intentionality. We're going to talk about the two and the one that she really leans in toward.
So I think you're going to love this conversation. It's aligned with so much of what we talk about and what we do on this podcast. So buckle up because you are in for a very good ride. All right. Let's get to it.
Well, hey, there, Shunta. Thanks so much for being here.
SHUNTA: Thank you so much for having me, Amy.
AMY: Oh, my gosh. This is going to be a great conversation. And here's the thing: I want to start right at the top. I love your philosophy behind what you do and why you created your brand, Best Today, and I think so many of my audience members will resonate with it. So would you mind sharing a little bit about that?
SHUNTA: Yeah. So I realize that—well, I guess I'll start back first and say I started my career as an attorney. I was a litigator in private practice and pretty much my entire life, like, mapped my life based on what I would do. You know, I knew I wanted to go to law school. I knew I wanted to be on Law Review. I knew I wanted to be at the top of the class. So it's just all these things I wanted to do and perform, and I was just spending my life checking them off.
But then I got to a place where I realized, just from observing in the law, practice of law, and then when I left, that we really live in this world that wants to keep us doing and going and moving. And a lot of planning products, I think, fed into that system, and it didn't work for everyone. And so I wanted to create tools, resources, and a company that tells you when you're planning, I want you to plan your humanity first, because most people, when they're planning, the first thing they're going to think about, what do I need to do? And so I created Best Today to provide digital and physical products and resources that, then, on the principle that we should center your humanity.
So we help our customer to optimize their time; centering their humanity; and prioritizing their mental, emotional, and physical well-being every day. It's something I want you to think about every day, not right before a breakdown or on vacation or on the weekends. But how can we incorporate that in our every day? And so everything that we do is built on four principles: pro-action, intentionality, self-awareness, and self-love, because I think you need all four of those to really, like, live an intentional life on purpose and to even grow a business intentionally with intention.
And what we've seen is that people have been able to connect with themselves in ways they hadn't been before because they were so focused on performance and doing and moving. And they've been able to move their lives or their businesses forward with peace and clarity while taking care of themselves. And that's really how I believe if we want to plan our days to be sustainable and effective, it has to center us first, and then what is important will come next. The doing will come, but we have to prioritize the being. And that's where I really wanted to create a company that put that message into the world.
AMY: Ah, it’s a beautiful message and so incredibly important.
So tell me this: what was going on in your life that made you stop and, like, really dive into creating habits and finding a way to be more intentional? And I really want to circle back to that idea about being more productive, because you have a unique take on it, so I want to touch on that as well.
SHUNTA: Yeah. So I remember the day like it was yesterday. It was one of those things you just remember.
I was dropping my daughter off to school, and another business owner who I know, she was dropping her son off, and so we were talking in the parking lot, and she asked how things were going with work. And before my brain could formulate an answer, my mouth had already said, “I'm just so busy. I'm just so busy.” And so we finished our conversation, and I sat in the car, and it's like I watched myself come out of myself and have a conversation and said, “It's always busy, busy before you even think about what really is going on, how you feel.” And it was just, my knee-jerk reaction to everything was the word busy, and I wanted that not to be true anymore. I didn't want that to be the word that described this beautiful life that I have, but it was the word that always came out before I even could think about it.
And I remember sitting there that day and I said, “I need to figure out how I got here and how I don't continue on this path,” because at that point, I was already a full-time entrepreneur. I had left the practice of law. And I thought, “You know, if you're doing what you love, it's okay to always be on and always be working.” And I realized that wasn't the case.
So it was that day that I really decided I don't want to be busy. I don't want to be doing all the time. And that led to what I do teach, which is that intentionality over productivity. So I think when people hear me say that, they think, “Well, you have to get things done,” and I agree, you do. However, I think when we lead with productivity, we have to remember the root of that word is produce, you know. And then you start to think of your value as what you produce. We're not an apple tree. An apple tree is judged by what it produces, because if it doesn't produce apples, it's not doing what it was created to do. A machine is measured on productivity. I need this machine to output this thing in this time, because that's what it was created to do. But we were not created to just always be producing. We're human beings.
And so if you think about intentionality, which I look at as being really clear on who you are and what you want, you will produce things, but you'll produce the thing that actually matters as opposed to productivity comes from a standpoint of what can I do today? What are the things to do? I don't know. I have this long list of to-dos, so I'll just pick some of these things. And it just immediately almost feels frantic—
SHUNTA: —and I wanted to slow us down in a world that has this steady, fast pace and invite you to slow down, because you're going to get where you want to go, but you're going to get to the actual place you want, as opposed to, like, I just landed up here because I was just doing some things. Intention allows you to slow down and make sure that the destination is the place you actually want to be in your business, in your life, and that’s why I’m a huge proponent of intentionality over making productivity the goal or the focus.
AMY: Okay. So when you talk about intentionality, you said it's all about who you are and what you want. Did I hear you right?
AMY: Who you are and what you want. And some people will not be able to answer that right now. “I don't know who I am right now,” or “I don't know exactly what I want. I want to make a lot of money. I want to impact lives. But that's maybe the extent of it right now.” How do you get really clear about that?
SHUNTA: The first is you have to give yourself space. One of the reasons so many people—I have had conversations with sixty-five-year-old customers who said, “I don't know,” and it's because we haven't been given the opportunity and permission to pause and think about that. And you can think about that with your business. Like, what do I actually want this business to do in this world? Right? So it's getting clear not only on who you are, what you want, but the same thing can be true of your business.
So the first thing is giving yourself space to pause and just think about that question. And that's going to make someone feel uncomfortable immediately because they’re going to be, “Well, I should be working on ads. I should be writing copy. I should be recording episodes of my podcast.” All these doings, right? But to make whatever it is you do be the most impactful and the most rich and to have some substance, and the way you do that is to get clear on, “Okay, what is the impact that I want this to have?” as opposed to just, “Oh, I read this thing. I downloaded this thing. I’m going to do this thing.” What is the impact I want to have?
So the first thing is give yourself space. Give yourself two hours at the start of your next work day and just think on that question and write everything that comes. It doesn't have to make sense. It doesn't have to be complete sentences. But who am I, and what is it that I want for my life, for my business? And allow yourself the freedom to dream and to write, and don't be the person who puts the restrictions on yourself.
And I think what a lot of people do is they uncover and realize a lot of what they're doing right now doesn't align with what they actually want because they haven't given themselves the space to think about that. They haven't given themselves the space to think about, what's the impact I really want this business to have? They're just so busy trying to copy a blueprint of someone else's as opposed to putting their own unique fingerprint. And that's the only thing that's going to get that unique impact is when you put your unique fingerprint on it.
So the first thing is to give yourself space. It's going to feel weird to sit and feel like you're thinking. That’s something that I give myself space in my real life and business. I have to have thinking days. I have to have time and space to think and answer big questions. And so that's the first thing I'm going to challenge you to do is to give yourself two hours at the beginning of your next work day and ask yourself, who am I, what do I want, and what do I want the impact to be in my business? and just allow yourself to write what comes to mind. And that’s the starting point.
AMY: I love this because I am such a huge proponent of journaling. It's not something that comes natural. Sometimes I have to force it—
AMY: —but journal prompts are really helpful to me. So this journal prompt right here would be very helpful to me and I know a lot of my listeners. Actually getting it out of your head and on paper is magical, it's powerful, it's important. And it reminds me of an exercise I did. Mel Robbins did this thing at the beginning of the year, where she got some of her girlfriends together, and we were all in a text-message group. And one of the things she encouraged us to do daily, I think it was for, like, sixty days or something like that, was every day write down five things that you want, five things that you want. I did not know that would be so difficult.
SHUNTA: Yes, yes.
AMY: I really had to think about it. I think, “Of course I know what I want.” But then when every day you're writing five things—and sometimes they're the same thing, sometimes they're new—it was more of a challenge than I thought, but it was very valuable.
SHUNTA: Here's something I recently learned as a mother and trying to be the best mother I can is we lose that in childhood, because if you meet a child and you ask them to tell you five things they want every five minutes, they are ready, right?
SHUNTA: They know what they want. They know how to express their desire. And what happens is throughout childhood, adults crush that. “You can't have this right now.” “No, not this.” “No, no, no, no.” Right? And we understand we can't give them everything that they want. But what I've learned to do is say, “So you want that.” Validate the desire. “Okay, that would be great to have.” And I think part of that is that has been, because it's been crushed in us, it really does feel like, “That's something I don't have permission to do. That’s selfish to write what I want or think of what I want.” And I want us to start unlearning that because we have the freedom to want and desire, and I believe the best things that have happened in this world came from someone being free to say, “I want this. I want to find a way for us to stop riding a horse and get in a car. I want to find a cure to this thing. I want to find a solution to this problem.” All of these great things that we get to benefit. You know, being able to talk to you and see your face because someone said, “I want to see my family, who's far away.” And they took that desire and turned it into something for all of our good.
So I want to give someone permission who's thinking about this feels or sounds selfish to understand that that's a desire we were born with. But throughout the process of childhood, it usually gets crushed. And by the time we're older, we don't want to ask for what we want. And that makes people unafraid to ask for raises in their jobs or unafraid to go for the things they want.
And so, yeah, I love that exercise. It’s fantastic.
AMY: I think it's so important. And you just made me think of something. A lot of the entrepreneurs that I work with, one of the overarching themes we discuss a lot is this idea that, “I am not worthy,” or “I'm not enough to actually deserve that.” It’s this worthiness and deserving. And I guess all those listening, what if you did a journal prompt that said, “If I was worthy of everything that came my way, what would I want? Like, if I was worthy of this, if I was enough, what would I be asking for? What would I be going for?” because you're right. As a child, I think we're taught, “No, you can't have that,” so as adults, we cut it off so quickly.
AMY: But what if we didn't cut it off and you just, like, were dreaming every day for ten minutes, what do you want? What do you want?
I ask myself a lot when I'm in a dark place or frustrated or struggling, “Okay, Amy. What do you want? What do you want?” And I push myself to come up with things, even when it's hard.
So if anyone is listening and you walk away with one thing from this episode, it's to keep asking yourself, “What do you want?” and reminding yourself you are so deserving of all of it. I think it’s such a gift.
Okay, so, I want to take you in a different direction because you mentioned being a mom. And I've been hearing a lot of conversations come from my audience about being an entrepreneur and a parent, and they're struggling to keep it all together. So they're wanting to hear more stories about entrepreneurs who also share their time and energy with raising a family.
And my son now is almost nineteen. He's in college. It's just Hobie and I at home. So I like to have guests here that are in it.
And you've got children at home, and you're dealing with it. So how do these entrepreneurs find a balance, and is that even possible? They don't have this space in their schedule to hustle. They, quite frankly, don’t want to hustle. But they want to have the success that others are having. So they want to build a successful business, and they want to support their family, and they want to have time to be present with their loved ones. Is this asking too much? Many people are like, “Yes, it is, Amy. Yes, it is.” So what kind of strategies can they implement to bring this to fruition?
SHUNTA: Yeah. I think the first thing is, and you said it in your question, is to throw the concept of balance out the window. It's okay to throw that out. I think instead what I love about words, I'm really intentional about the words that I use. Like, that's why I had that whole moment of, “I don't want to be using this word busy over my life.” But when I think about balance, I think of someone who's on a tightrope, trying to make it from one end to the other. That doesn't feel comfortable to me. I don't want to feel that way every day, where it has to be 50/50. But I think what people are really saying is they are seeking the ability to be fully who they are in their full lives, because you're more than, you know, a mom. I'm a mom. I'm a business owner. I'm a runner. I'm a friend. I'm all these other things. And I want a life that gives me space to be those things and to understand that I'm not just a monolith. I'm not just one thing and one role. And I think when people are talking about balance, that's what they're seeking. They want to be their full selves.
And so the first thing is I think just even using that language feels better than balance. I breathe a little differently. So the first thing is just really ask yourself, “What is it that I'm actually seeking?” I think we pick up these words from other people and the world and Instagram, gifs, and we think, “Okay, that's what I want. I want balance.” But my first challenge is, like, what is it that you really want? Is it that you really want more time with your friends? Is it that you feel like you really want more time to start, you know, grow your business? Say what that is. And again, it's going back to what you want. And then say that. So instead of saying, “I want balance,” say, “I want…” and insert what you actually want. I think that's going to be very powerful.
And, really, what I believe it is, is you want to be fully who you are. And so the first step—I have a nine- and almost-four-year-old, so I have little littles—is to honor the season that you are in. That is always going to be my advice to everyone at any age. You have to honor the season that you're in, and you have to stop looking at everyone else's, because if you can't honor—the season that you’re in, it’s like the container. It's not a restriction, but it's just what your life is in right now. And as parents, particularly when you're parenting younger children, multiple children, that is just another demand on your time, and that's just a moment, and it’s just a season. And that's the thing about seasons: they change. They change quickly, you know, when you're really in it. So honoring the season that you're in and understanding this is what my capacity is right now.
So I am not going to look at an entrepreneur who is single, in her twenties, and is able to do all these things, and think, “Oh, I'm so behind.”
SHUNTA: We are in different seasons. We may have different desires. And so that's why I always say start there and understand. I know a lot of people say that comparison is the thief of joy, but I think it's bigger. I really believe that comparison is the thief of self—
SHUNTA: —because when you compare, you have to step over looking at who you are, your uniquenesses, your desires, your talents to give your energy and time to look at someone else. That takes a lot. And it's stealing from who you are. And so if you are a parent listening, understand that there are so many wonderful things you can do right now in the life of your children, for yourself, and for your business. But it's not going to be one hundred, one hundred, one hundred. And it's going to shapeshift.
You know, this week I'm preparing to head out of town. I will be gone from Tuesday to Sunday. I will be away from my children. I will be working. And so work is going to get a bigger percentage this week, and that's going to allow me to be fully who I am as a business owner, as a speaker, as a leader. And then I'm going to come home, and I'm probably going to spend, you know, a good chunk getting them ready for starting camp. And it's just, like, but the time that I have with them will be very present and intentional. And when you honor all the different parts of you, you can be fully present in each one. And so I don't look at it as, I only had two hours with my children, but I had seven days out of town. When I was out of town, I was fully into what I was doing, and I was present for those people. And when I had those two hours with my children, I was fully present with them. And to them, it felt like as long as I was gone.
And I think that’s the key is honoring your season and what actually matters. And everything can’t matter. When I decided that I was going to go full time, I stopped volunteering for—I was on the leader of a board of directors for a nonprofit here. That wasn't the most important in this season right now. And someone on the outside looking in could say, “Well, that was really a big honor, and that was really important.” And it was. But it's not the most important.
You have to be okay with pruning. That's number two. You've got to prune so that the things that matter can grow. That's, like, in real planting, you have to clip off all these little things that are taking energy from you. It can seem like, “Oh, I only do that two hours a week,” or “I only volunteer over there,” or “I only do that thing a few,” but those are little things. When you clip them off, it allows so much more oxygen and life to pour in maybe the three things that are the most important or the two things that are most important, and understand it's temporary. You can come back to those things. But chances are who we are is going to evolve and change in this season, that when we come to the next one, we might have a completely different desire.
So first, honor the season that you're in. Number two, stop comparing. And number three, I really want you to take the time to prune those things that aren't feeding what's most important.
AMY: Ooh, that pruning one, I teach pruning in content creation and course creation, but is even more important in your life in general. And the message right there is when you prune, which is never easy because a lot of FOMO comes up—
AMY: —like, you’re missing things—but when you prune, you said the things that are most important will actually grow. And I think some people right now, they're like, “I'm doing so much, and nothing seems to be moving the needle,” likely because you're doing too much, so nothing really gets your full attention. So I love that.
If you're listening to this when this episode goes live, I just returned from my first-ever sabbatical. My favorite part about taking some time away was catching up with friends and family. Making room in my schedule to connect with those I love most has allowed me to come back to my business with fresh ideas and new energy and excitement. I truly feel that when we take the time to connect, it helps us to understand the people in our lives, and that's relevant to our businesses, too.
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But as you were talking, I was starting to think of the single parents or the parents with children with disabilities. I hear it a lot in my audience, where their child has a disability, and they're like, “Amy, my life is not the same as yours or even somebody with an able-bodied child.” And so their approach is going to look different. So do you have any advice for them?
SHUNTA: Yes. And the first one is the same: honor the season that you're in. That’s why it’s so important. It’s your season. This one looks a little unique. And also, cut out the comparison, because it's really easy to compare. And that might, you know, start bitterness, and we don't want to build anything from a place of bitterness. But really honoring where you are and looking at, “What are the things that are to my advantage in this season?”
And the biggest one that I teach my customers, especially parents, is routine. You're going to need to build some healthy routines that work for your life and not, you know, a routine that you saw, “Oh, I saw this person does this for their morning routine on Instagram.” Routines are as unique and individualized as your fingerprints and mine. That's what I love so much about routine. There is no one size fits all. You have to figure out the routine that works specifically for you to either create boundaries to protect what you want to do or to create boundaries around the things that you have to do so there's space for what you want to do.
And for my single parents and parents with disabilities, because we have those in our audience and our customers, I also want to invite them to always drop any shame or guilt around asking for help. Please drop any guilt or shame around asking for help. Surround yourself with the people who want to help you, because they're there. But when you're thinking about your time, we have to be real and honest about things that put limitations on them. But that doesn't mean you can't do the things that matter, but you can't do fifteen things that matter. Maybe in this season I am focusing on this one aspect of my business. Yes, it would be so great if I could focus on these three things. But right now I have the capacity, because we're also going to make sure in that space we're putting in time to take care of you, caregivers need to be fully replenished so that they can then go and do the things for the people they love. And so it's really important to be okay with small steps. I love small steps. I am always team tortoise. I talk about the tortoise and the hare probably every single day in my business—
SHUNTA: —because we have to remember, the tortoise wasn't exhausted. He wasn't tired. He didn't get cocky. He didn't get distracted from the goal. He took one consistent step. I will be on team small, consistent steps forever. Like, you can—it's undefeated, small, consistent steps, specific and intentional steps, right? Like, you actually are. There's a plan and you take these consistently over time, they build up. They are powerful. There was changing the world. And so I think it's really important to not belittle small, consistent steps, because it's going to add up to something big, and allow yourself to be proud of those small, consistent steps.
AMY: Yes. I am so on the same page with you, 100 percent. And you talked about a routine. So what are your tips for creating and sticking to a routine? At the time of this recording, I'm getting ready for quarter three, and one of my personal goals for quarter three is to be more intentional and more consistent with my morning routine and my shut-down routine. So this is something that I would love some advice here, too. So I love how you talk about creating a routine that connects with who you are and what you want, which I love that we keep coming back to that. And also, just to add a little to this, there are some people, like me, but others even maybe more so, who struggle with setting a routine, but they still love everything you're talking about. So what are some tips we can give people?
SHUNTA: Well, the first thing I want everyone to know is this little secret, and it's that everyone has routines. They're not all healthy routines.
AMY: Oh, gotcha. Okay.
SHUNTA: Let me tell you, I define routines as a flow of predetermined actions that allow you to be proactive and intentional with your time. Right? So it's a flow of actions. Like, we already determined what it is, and they allow us to be intentional with our time. Right?
So there might be a person who every time they get stressed or they have a stressful day, they have the same routine: they sit on the couch, and they let the TV put them to sleep. They wake up. They're upset, they're frustrated because the next morning, they're going to wake up groggy and tired. That's a routine because it's built into your body, your brain, and your nervous system. It knows when we're stressed, we do this thing.
What we want to do is to create healthy routines so that when we feel these triggers, these things that start something, we have already said, “Here's the predetermined actions. This is what I'm going to do when this happens.” Morning routine is an easy one a lot of people know. You wake up. What are those things you've already determined that you're going to do?
So one huge principle that we teach at Best Today, and it's a non-negotiable, is plan every day the day or night before.
SHUNTA: I never wake up and say, “Well, what? What am I going to do? Oh, I think I have a call with Amy later today. I’m not sure what time. I should probably look into that,” right? No! I wake up, and I'm looking at it right here, with my roadmap. I know exactly what's happening today. Yes, I understand things are going to happen that I have no idea, but I'm going to be better prepared for it because I have a roadmap, right? You want to plan every day the day or night before.
And one of the things I always say, you're going to write out what you're going to do for yourself in the morning. And I already hear the naysayers saying, “Oh, but I have this, and I have that.” It can be fifteen minutes. It can be five minutes. It doesn't have to be, “I'm going to run a marathon in the morning. I'm going to do an hour of meditation.” It could be if that's what you want. But what is it that you're going to do in the morning for yourself that fuels you?
And knowing—and that's, again, in order to answer that, you have to start answering that question again, like, what do I need? That's one of my other favorite questions is, like, what do I need in this moment? A great kind of pausing question. But do the thing that you need.
I also say you're going to plan what you're going to do the next day for your mental, emotional, and physical health. Just thinking about those things, making you think about it every day is going to have your brain start looking for places where you need it throughout the day.
But back to routine. So, everyone has them. But now you want to build healthy routines. And so I love routines because they do three things in particular: they solve problems. So think about it. You have mail that always piles up. “Oh, my mail keeps piling up.” You can create a routine around that. Every day, when we check the mail, and it can look differently, but every day, when we check the mail, I'm going to stand at the mailbox, flush through them, have a trashcan at the door, pop them in the trash, and the things that are bills go in the bill folder. And then we'll have routine. On Fridays, we go through the bill folder. You can build a routine to help solve your problems.
Number two, they also help you to build unity and harmony in your home. Think about a dance routine. Everyone knows what the steps are. They may not all be the same. But everyone in my house knows that when my office door’s closed in the morning, Mommy’s still in the middle of her morning routine, and we're not allowed to come in there, because I need that time. If I don't get that in the morning, if I don't get my quiet time, you don't want to talk to me the rest of the day. I literally need that, right? And it builds peace and unity in my home, because even the three-year-old understands it, and the forty-year-old understands. Like, everyone in the house in between understands that. And it's going to allow everyone to get what they need, right?
And number three, it helps you to create boundaries to protect what matters. That's what I love about routine.
And so if any of those things sound like something that matters to you, then that's going to be the motivation, I would hope, to create routine, and understand you can create a routine around anything. First hour of work. Okay, my first hour of work, this is my routine. I always do this to get really focused and make sure I start my day. Last hour of work, right before I transition to going into the home, here's my last-hour-of-work routine. After-dinner routine, after-breakfast routine, last-fifteen-minutes-of-the-day routine, closing-down-technology-for-the-evening routine.
You can build a routine around anything that matters, but you have to make sure it's actionable, you've predetermined what you're going to do, and then you have to take ownership of it. You can't just say, “Oh, I'm not a morning person, but I'm going to create a morning routine.” You got to take ownership and stop saying what you're not. Let's talk about what you are. I'm someone who's going to keep commitments to myself, and I've committed that in the mornings, I'm going to get up at this time. And that's one of the things we plan in the Best Today Guide. You write what time you're going to get up. We're not doing the snooze game, because that actually hurts your body. When you wake up from a snooze and go back, you're putting your body back into this cycle. And so when you wake back up, you're going to be more tired, right? So it's really being a person who keeps their commitments and then sticking with them, and then picking one at a time.
I'm not a fan of trying to pick up fifteen routines at a time. Get one. Do it consistently for thirty days before you pick up another. But those are my tips for getting started with routine.
But a lot of it, as with most things, start with the mind and what you're telling yourself. If you tell yourself, “I'm not a routines person. Routines don't work for me,” then they're not going to. But they will.
AMY: They will, they will. And oh, my gosh, you and I are so alike in the sense of just do one at a time, nail it down, and then let's add another. So I think that is so incredibly important.
All right. Before I go into some rapid-fire questions I have for you, I have one more juicy question, and that is, I want to circle back to this idea of being more productive. I think that sometimes when people hear that, they kind of roll their eyes because they aren't necessarily looking to be more productive. They're like, “I'm doing all the things,” but they want to be more intentional, which you talked about earlier. And so I want to really hit home on this idea of intentionality, because I think that there are some necessary adjustments or sacrifices that might need to be made in order to be more intentional. One, would you agree with that? And if so, what does that look like?
SHUNTA: Yes, I do agree that there are going to be sacrifices that need to be made. And here's the thing: I always say it's effort, but I want every person listening to understand you're worth the effort. Here's something I've learned with working with thousands of women—primarily women are in my audience—a lot of people believe they're not worthy of the effort, and that's why they don't put it in. And that blew my mind when I literally had customers tell me that I think this is what it is. And I think this is also why a number of our customers are recommended to us by their therapists. But a lot of people don't believe they're worthy of the effort it takes to live an intentional life. But I want to let you know you are, and you were born worthy. This is another reason why I want to shy away from productivity, that also makes us feel like we get our worth by what we've done and the title that we have. And that's why I always say, who are you free of your titles and your roles? because you're someone without any of those things as well.
And so the first thing I need you to understand is that you're worthy of the effort it takes to live a life of intention. But intention is going to require you to breathe a little differently. And it's a great way to breathe. It's not asking you to match the hurried pace of this world. We can't change the hurried pace of the world if we continue to join it. I want to be a leading voice in saying you actually can slow down, and maybe if you do, someone will see you and slow down with you. And maybe if you do, you'll have space to actually think about the things you do as opposed to just acting and reacting and acting and reacting and feeling like you're constantly on performance in your life. The beautiful thing is, at the end of an intentional life, you've built something that you actually wanted to do. It was a life that lived on purpose as opposed to, like, “I kind of just did what fell into my lap here and there and kind of that was my life. And I really don't know how I ended up here, probably not where I would have wanted. I probably didn't want my business to end up here, but it's kind of what just happened.” I don't want that to be anyone’s story for your life or your business.
So the first thing is you have to be willing to allow yourself to slow down and understand it is going to feel very uncomfortable, because while you're slowing down, the world is inviting you. It’s this, like, fast-paced drum, and you're trying to do ballet at a disco, and it's just not matching up. But I want you to understand the beauty of slowing down and starting to ask these grounding questions that we just started with. Like, what is it that I actually want, knowing that I am worthy of all the things? I was born with all the points. That's what I tell everyone. You were born with all the points. There's nothing else you can do or perform or be. You can get, you know, the world-peace medal. But guess what? That didn't get you any more points than you had the day before. So that's the first thing is really understand that being intentional, at first, is going to feel very uncomfortable because you're doing something that's very countercultural. But you're doing something that is going to reap so many rewards because rather than just going out there and just doing, you're getting very clear, you're being very thoughtful, and you're intentionally setting out steps that you're going to take.
And what I love, my favorite thing about is the best part of it is the journey. It’s who you're going to become in the process. I think that's called—
SHUNTA: —the finish line. I was just telling this to a customer. The finish line is great. When you cross that finish line, it's like, “Woo, I did that thing.” But the best part was who you became in the run, because the person who started and the person who finished are not the same. And I want that for every human to really understand how much potential, how much great is inside of you, whether it's if you think about your life or for your business. But the only way to really tap into the richness of that is to slow down and choose to be intentional about what you do and be okay with at the end of the day, you're like, “You know, I spent the whole day thinking and writing. I have nothing else to show for it,” and being okay with that, because productivity is going to make you feel like “I should have seventeen things listed. I should do all these things.” But intentionality is going to say, “No, as a result of this day, we're going to avoid seventeen pitfalls that we were going to fall into just moving haphazardly.”
SHUNTA: So I want to invite you to slow down and embrace the discomfort. It's going to feel uncomfortable, I'm going to tell you. But over time, you're going to find that because you're centering what matters and centering yourself and the ideas that you're—you’re going to get more ideas this way as well. So slow down and be willing to be okay with not having a laundry list at the end of every day or every week, because that didn't prove that your time was most well spent. Intentionality will always, in my opinion, trump productivity.
AMY: Such a great concept. It’s very new to me. So I'm so glad we got to talk about this today. It has enriched my life, absolutely. I know this whole interview is not necessarily—people are watching a video, but you've seen me take lots of notes, which I don't always do that in interviews, but I'm like, “Oh, my gosh, I need to remember that.” So I appreciate it. I feel like this has been a gift for me as well.
So, if you're cool with it, can we go into some rapid-fire questions?
SHUNTA: Yes, I'd love to.
AMY: All right. So the first one is—we've got five of them—who is someone that's inspiring you at the moment, and why?
SHUNTA: Oh, so many people. I'm going to say Bozoma Saint John. I love—she is fully who she is 100 percent of the time, and it gives other women the permission to do the same, and she's completely unapologetic about it. You see her as a mother, as a CMO. And she takes the time to also just, she responds to her comments. Like, little things like that. I just, I love watching her shine, and I honestly feel like it's giving me permission to do the exact same and show up fully as who I am and not who I think I should be, because as I mentioned, I came from corporate, so I know what that's like. So definitely Boz.
AMY: Tell everyone if they don't know who she is.
SHUNTA: Yes, she's the CMO of Netflix. So if you don't know her, you definitely want to follow her.
SHUNTA: She is a marketing—and you know, like, if you're listening to this podcast, you love marketing. She is a marketing genius, and she shares a lot of information, her journey, and just kind of, yeah, her journey on Instagram, social. I love her.
AMY: It's so cool. Like, you would never believe she was in a corporate job, ever. And that's what I love about her. She’s—
AMY: —I feel like she lives as an entrepreneur but is in the corporate environment—
AMY: —and that's incredible to me. I love watching that.
SHUNTA: Yes, same.
AMY: Really cool.
Okay. So can you share a quick sneak peek into your morning routine as an entrepreneur and parent? What does yours look like?
SHUNTA: Yes. So I wake up before anyone else because I need quiet. I literally need quiet to start my day. And so for me, that looks like prayer. That looks like starting my day in my Best Today Guide, which has prompts like, what does my best look like today? What matters today and what does not? And then connecting with my vision for the future. I think it's so important that I can connect what I'm doing today to something that matters in the bigger picture for me. And so I start my day with that.
And then I will journal. I am an avid journal. And even in the days when I don't have anything, I'll do one that has prompts, or some days I'll just write, “This is how I'm feeling today,” or “This is what I'm hoping for today.” I just think getting it out is so important, and it helps me discover things. My hand will say things that my head and heart hadn't told me yet, and that's what I think is also really powerful about journaling.
AMY: I love that. Yes.
So, what is the best advice you've ever received?
AMY: I know, it's a big question.
SHUNTA: Oh, that it is hard.
AMY: We should warn people of some of these.
AMY: Some great advice. It doesn't have to be the best of the best.
SHUNTA: I think some of the best advice that I have received is—I'm actually looking at this quote on my wall, and I'm going to go with that—it says, “I have already settled it for myself. So flattery and criticism go down the same drain, and I am quite free.” That—
AMY: Whoa. Wait. Just read it one more time. That is powerful.
SHUNTA: “I have already settled it for myself. So flattery and criticism go down the same drain, and I am quite free.” It’s Georgia O’Keeffe.
SHUNTA: I heard that quote in 2020, and I needed it because it was a time where my business got a lot of attention, and it brought a lot of things, and it was a lot at once. And I had to have the resolve to be so clear about who I am, again, what I want, and what my mission is in my life and in my work, that whether you came and told me that I was the best in the world or the worst, it went down the same drain, and that didn't put me up or push me down. And it's just to have that resolve that my energy, my reaction, my being, my value isn't subject to the winds that come with outsiders’ opinions. And that is probably—and I have it on my wall to this day because as a business owner, you're going to get people who have thoughts about how you do things, say things, whatever it is you do, and I need you to have that resolve to let it all go down the same drain and be free.
AMY: Ah. Another gift to me. Thank you. I needed to hear that one.
Okay, we're almost done. What is a productivity tool or resource that you can't live without?
SHUNTA: The Best Today Guide, for sure. I'm biased. I created it.
AMY: Yes. It’s good.
SHUNTA: So our Best Today Guide, it goes beyond the limitations of a traditional planner. And it's for those people who've tried traditional planners, and it didn't work. So inside the Best Today Guide, you won't find bullets, to-do lists, or 6:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m., time slots. But what you’re going to find are prompts and questions that ask you to get clear on who you are, what matters most in this season, what needs to be pruned—the things we've talked about—and then our three-step process for previewing and planning your weeks and days.
Step one is to preview your week every week, and we teach you how to do that in there. Getting clear on what's the most important thing this week, seeing your week before it starts—again, really important in being proactive. Planning every day the day or night before, and starting with that morning routine. What you're going to do for your mental, emotional, physical health. And then, instead of a to-do list, I really want people to think about results and outcomes, because I can do just about anything today. But what are the results and outcomes that I need today? And when you think about that, it really gets you to do the things that matter and get the conclusion that you want. And then our morning practice, again, starts with that, what does my best look like today? You know, what are those unhealthy habits that I need to kind of leave out of today? Connecting to your vision, what matters today. Those three steps really do help you, again, draw back to you. It’s planning that centers your humanity.
And as a mother and as a person who really, as I said at the top of this, I lived my life wanting to get achievements. I wanted to be at the top of my class. I wanted to get on Law Review. I wanted to clerk for a couple of judges.
SHUNTA: Check, check, check. And I did all those things, right? Exactly. I know you would get that. And that starts to have you view yourself as you're always in this competitive, proving-yourself mode. And that's why I use my own products to remind me, center my humanity, because none of that defines who I am, because if I were to get sick tomorrow and couldn't do a thing, I'm not less valuable, less lovable, less worthy than I was the day before. And so that's my tip, the Best Today Guide, because it helps me to center that humanity every single day.
AMY: Ah, fantastic. And the last question is, what are you most looking forward to this year?
SHUNTA: I am looking forward to just growing my company, growing the business. I feel like I am at a place where I have that resolve. I'm really clear on what I want, and I'm fighting for opportunities to share and do this work. It has been very, very challenging, but I'm excited that I refused to give up on myself and this mission. And I'm really excited for the person I've become in having to fight the battles that I have to get here. It’s why I say the journey—it sucks sometimes in the middle of it, but it really has helped to build that resolve that helps me to be the advocate for this company and for the mission. And so I'm most excited just to see where it's going to go this year.
AMY: Absolutely. Amen to that.
So, Shunta, I cannot thank you enough. This has been fantastic. I know people are going to want to get that journal, and they're going to want to learn more about what you do. Where do they go to find out more?
SHUNTA: The best place, first and foremost, is our website, which is besttodayguide.com. Our podcast every week, we have a weekly podcast, Best Today Podcast. It’s streamed everywhere. And then our digital community is the Best Today Community.
Well, thank you so very much. This has been such a treat for me, and I know many of my listeners, really glad to have you here.
SHUNTA: So honored to be here. Thank you. Keep doing the great work you're doing, Amy.
AMY: Thanks, friend. Take care.
AMY: So, at the time I'm recording this, as I mentioned, I just got back from a sabbatical. And Shunta and I spoke about being more intentional versus productive. I will say that I struggled with not being productive on the sabbatical, and I talked about this in a Shorty episode right when I came back from the sabbatical. The thing is, I think it's just so easy to put your identity in the work you do. And I love that we had this conversation around how that's not going to always serve us.
So, I also think that there's a time for hustling, and there's a time to slow down. And if you stay in the hustle too long, it just becomes your way of life, so that's why I think these conversations are so incredibly important. And if you were to ask me, like, “Amy, what's your biggest takeaway from this episode?” I wrote a lot of notes. Like, genuinely, I have them all in front of me right now. But I think the one that really got to me was the Georgia O'Keeffe quote that she talked about, where if you've already settled it, both the good and the bad go down the drain the same way. That's going to be, like, the new quote I tattoo on my body. Okay, maybe not really, but you know what I mean. It was good, and I want to remember that one.
So that’s my biggest takeaway. What was yours? I want to know. You can always DM me on Instagram. I'm just @amyporterfield on Instagram. If you're not following me yet, that's where I do my most posting and where I see most of my DMs. So I'd love to hear from you.
So, I hope that you strive to be more intentional and present as often as possible in your life and you take the time to create space in your schedule to lean into the things that you love and that absolutely light you up. Thank you so much for joining me here. I'll see you next week, same time, same place. Bye for now.