Ever wondered how to transform your caregiving experience into a journey of peace, joy and empowerment? The answer lies in auditing - a process I recently undertook for my podcast, the Caregiver Cup, with the help of my coach, Krystal Proffitt. Krystal's invaluable insights gave me a clear picture of my podcast's strengths and weaknesses. Our discussion spanned new tools, website evaluation, SEO, and the pros and cons of outsourcing - all elements that contribute towards taking a podcast to the next level.
But the idea of auditing doesn't just apply to podcasts. As caregivers, we too can leverage this process to move from a state of overwhelm to a stage of empowerment. Only a fraction of caregivers step into this phase, but the benefits are immense - tackling feelings of stress and loneliness, and above all, improving caregiving. In the episode, we explore three potential ways to perform an audit, assessing not just the caregiving aspect but also other life areas.
Steve Hartert from JotForm helps us understand the central categories to focus on in a life audit, making it easier for caregivers to break down different aspects of life - from health to finances, and translate these insights into action steps. As we conclude, we discuss the joy that can be discovered in auditing, highlighting the importance of examining our current situation and making conscious efforts to enhance it. So, join us as we navigate through the process of auditing, filling our cups, and living our best caregiver lives.
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Well, welcome back to another episode of the Caregiver Cup podcast. It's Kathy here again on this Tuesday. I can't believe this podcast is actually approaching three years, coming up in October. Oh my gosh, where does the time go. I still remember the first time that I sat behind my little microphone that I bought, wondering how many people would really listen to me, because I thought my voice was terrible, I didn't know what I was doing and, the most important piece, I was crossing my fingers that my sound was okay and hoping I could download this thing the right way, because technology and Kathy didn't get along. But I eventually figured it out. Well, as I am approaching this third anniversary, I thought it was time for me to look at my podcast, and so I went to the very first person that helped me get my podcast started and she had a course to start your podcast in 30 days. It actually took me about six weeks and I hired Crystal Prophet as my podcast host and I wanted someone to take a look at what I currently offered and am offering right now, and have someone give me suggestions on ways I could improve the listener experience and reach more listeners. It's time for me to go ahead and take that look. So shout out to Crystal Prophet, who I actually hired as my care as my podcast coach I'm so used to saying caregiving coach as my podcast coach. She is so, so great and when I actually bought her course back in 2020, I actually stayed connected to her because as part of the course experience it's kind of like a DIY course experience you actually can attend her monthly coaching calls and be part of her community and she's always been in my right pocket when I had questions or issues and so on. And so I hired her and I actually hired her and what she did is she sent me a questionnaire to fill out because what she was going to do was she was going to audit my course, look at everything, and we were going to come back together and I bought two coaching sessions with her and so I had to fill out this questionnaire, which was really difficult because I had to go back and really rehash everything. She asked me what were my most successful pieces of podcasting, my successful episodes, successful tools that I use, what came easy to me? And then she went the opposite way and said what were my struggles and my challenges? And then why? Why did I have those struggles and challenges, and which ones do I still have? And then she asked me the big question of what do I want? Where do I want to grow in this podcasting space as a business owner, and where do I see my podcast in one year, in two years, and so on. Then, once I answered those and I had to give her like my website and my podcast link and all of that she went behind the scenes and she did her audit and she does such a darn good job. She listened to podcast episodes. She looked at my website, clicked on all of my links and some of them hyperlinks that I have on there. Did it work? And then she looked at my SEO, which is my search engine optimization. So when you go out to Google and search, for example, the caregiver called podcast, does it come up? Or does caregiver stretch? Does caregiver stress? Where do I come up when somebody clicks on caregiver stress and so on? And then she found out where I was in this ranking of the podcast world and what was really cool is she came back to me and she told me that this podcast and my podcast is in the top 10% of like 3 million plus podcasting who have kind of a similar space than I did, which is really cool. And then she met with me. She sent me all the documents in advance and then she met with me and to get an audit and having somebody look into your space reminds me of somebody coming into your home and opening up your cupboards and closets and medicine cabinets and looking at everything. That's what she did. Audits aren't really that fun. Thank goodness we have a good relationship and she has the greatest intention for you. You will get the good in the audits from Crystal and she gave me all of the things that were going well and all of the things that she saw, and it really helped me reinforce why I'm doing podcasting. And then she also gave me all of the things that were bad or mistakes or weren't successful. Like I talked about the links before and so on. Some of my website technology and experience is so low that if somebody brought up a link or a website on their phone they wouldn't be able to see it. It wasn't mobile friendly, and so she brought up all of those things. But it's hard to hear what things you are doing wrong and it is. You have to kind of swallow your pride and just listen, but it is so necessary. It opened my eyes to my errors. I need to fix the opportunities and possibilities I have to improve and expand. A&m's Crystal had me think about the end result and after she went through all of the documents that she had and she asked me what could be the best experience for my listeners, and she talked about that and really got me to think about and get myself out of my head Because my head was like starting to ruminate all these negative thoughts. She opened my eyes to taking a bit of time to learn new things when I become efficient and then how this will save my time. So she introduced me to some tools that are definitely going to be learning curves for me. They're definitely going to be learning curves, but I could save time in the long run once I get up and ready, because I think back to when I recorded my first probably 50 podcast. It would take me an hour to just record the podcast. Just I would stop and I'd start and I wouldn't think I could go through if I had an hour, and now I just let my voice go. But it would take me four days, four hours to an entire day, to write out the notes and I'd write them word by word, and now I don't do that anymore. So she also shared the pros and cons of hiring help to go ahead and do it. I'm still a one girl show for this podcast. I know there's so many renowned podcasts out there that have an editing crew, that have a marketing crew and all of that I do it solo because I don't have the funds yet to go ahead and do that, and she gave me information just to explore these options. She said don't go ahead and close yourself off to it because you don't have the money right now. Just look at the podcast and say, huh, this is potentially where I could go someday. She asked me why I was doing some things, some things the way I was doing them, and if it's really a priority to do it. For example, I would go ahead and do I find clipets and put those out on my Instagram and my Facebook account. I would go ahead and share my information and LinkedIn and all of these things. She'd ask me those things and why I was doing it, and then she'd ask me is it really a priority? And some things I was doing because I thought it was necessary, but it isn't really like writing out my notes and putting word for word in my notes. When the host podcast host that I'm using, because everybody uses a podcast host site and this podcast host site it's hard to say actually then you pluck your podcast in there and then it takes it and puts it on all of the platforms, like Apple Podcasts, spotify and so on. It puts them on all of those podcasts. She asked me is it necessary to rewrite your notes because the podcast host has a feature. When I started my podcast in 2020, I go back to that and that was one of the things that grounded me. All I wanted to do in 2020 is share my message and touch as many caregivers as I could. I was all about helping those caregivers like myself, like yourself, that is, really struggling to go ahead and keep their head above water to make sure that they know that they can't control all of the challenges and their loved ones' disease or their injury, but they can control how they take care of themselves and ways to reduce their stress and overwhelm. And I still believe this to this day, and I had to learn at that time, through that purpose, that I could learn the technology and the equipment and the platform. Each week I had to come up with something to talk about and in Crystal's course that I took. She made us create a list of 20 to start with, which was really nice because I would go back to that list. I would go back to that separate little spiral bound notebook and I would just keep adding topics to it. Now I am at a valley in my life right now and not climbing the peak and that's how I describe caregiving is. Sometimes when you're at the highest peak of caregiving and you just want to just survive, you don't have time to think about doing any type of audits. But to me now I'm at a valley and I am so grateful I'm at that valley because I've had so many peaks in my life that I have the time and the energy now to look at my podcast and to go ahead and put in the work. Knock on wood. I don't have wood near me, but I'm knocking on wood and I'm going to go ahead and really make some improvements in 2024 or enhancements in 2024. That's why I reached out to Crystal Profit. I feel the same for you when it comes to caregiving. I want you to go ahead and think about can you do an audit for yourself right now, can you take a step back and look? First of all, you have to ask yourself what season are you in right now? Are you in a peak or are you in a valley? Because if you're in a peak, I don't want you to go ahead and take that time unless it's affecting your health and your safety. But there are three seasons that a caregiver goes through and I want to just quickly talk about it. Season one is not the time to go ahead and do an audit for yourself and audit anything, because season one is the phase where you have just had this life change happen to you. New caregivers are jumping in. Or for me, for example, when I was caregiving for my mom and all of a sudden she got the diagnosis of lung cancer, that was not the time for me to do an audit at that time because it was all in to help mom. This phase is really about survival mode and understanding everything and really focusing in on your loved one and trying to go ahead and figure out which things are priority right now, which things do I have to put on hold. It's self-preservation time, meaning that you need to go ahead and just do the minimal things and just keep yourself healthy, keep yourself focused and really work on that. And you're feeling hopelessness, you're feeling like things are hard right now and so this is not a time to go ahead and do an audit. Now, in phase two of this caregiving season or season two, things are going down the mountain and you're getting into a normalcy, or you're in coping and you're adapting phase of caregiving. It's kind of like when my mom went into her lung cancer. She's now through her radiation and now she's just fatigued and tired and I understand what I have to do for her care and so at that point I could start doing that audit. Or like Dennis, right now he's in remission in after his years and years of being in cancer, so he's in the remission stage and so really it's a new normal. It's your kind of an autopilot, but at the same time you you don't know. You don't know what the future holds, who you might be at this place where you're discouraged or there's nothing, really no big dreams. I call it language and I got this term from Mel Robbins. It's you're not thriving or excited. You might even have a lack of vitality and energy and you're not really bad, but you're not really excited and so it may be time for you to do an audit. And when people do an audit and make changes to their life and their caregiver life right now, they move into what's called season three, which I call this the empowerment stage. Or you're trying to figure out your best caregiver life and you're trying to continuously improve that. Only 15% of people will go ahead and move into this face you're, you no longer want to stay stuck. You want to go ahead and make some improvements and changes so that you can go ahead and find moments of joy and really live better than moping around or just coping and adapting. I call this to I gotta go now phase. I gotta do something about this. I can't live this way. It's impacting, you know, my health, my loved one, my relationships and so on. This may be a time when you're feeling unsettled to do that audit. Kind of similar to me. I felt that urge to saying, yeah, I'm getting really too comfortable with them. I caregiver cup podcast. I want some sort of bang or change to it and I need to go ahead and have an audit done. So if you are in a season where you're experiencing that bit of normalcy and can take a breath. Where you're at right now, you may be going ahead and getting ready, you to go ahead and say, yes, kathy, I'm going to keep listening to this podcast because maybe this audit of myself care, this audit of my caregiver season, is just what I need. So, first and foremost, you want to ask yourself why would you do that? Or you might even be thinking, why would I do that? Well, you ask yourself some questions and I'll just give you a few. If you're feeling stressed and burnt out and nothing is changing, and that stress is impacting your health, it's impacting the way your energy, your mood it may be time for an audit. You know you're lonely or isolated, or you're looking on Facebook and seeing everybody else is enjoying life and I'm just stuck. It's time for an audit. If you sense there are ways to improve your time, energy and care for your loved one, then you definitely know yourself that it's time for an audit. Think about some basic things. Think about anything in life. There are moments when we stop and assess things. Think about the kids are going to go back to school shortly. Well, they just don't go through a year of school. They have testing, they have quarterly reviews where they get the report cards. Or College students have semesters and they do semester exams to assess, and great, they do that all along and so that's part of an audit process. If you work for an employer, your employer should have yearly reviews with you, or yearly assessments. Or stores do inventory and audits of things a higher consultants to look at the traffic in the store. What's selling most is is the way that things are done okay, or should there be changes? Because if you pay attention to a store, the locations of things are constantly trade changing and it drives me crazy. But they do that so that they can go ahead and impact and increase their sales, their exposure, that sort of thing. If you think of an object like a car that you drive, you can't just drive and drive and drive. You need to have oil changes and tune ups, and now they plug them into computers to see what's wrong, so on. I mean, I could go on and on with our physicals and all that kind of stuff. We need this as caregivers to be our best self. We need to assess our situation to ensure our loved ones have the best possible care. We need to assess their situation as well. Today I'm going to talk about you, though. So let's break down how you can do that, and I'm going to share the three directions you can take to do an audit for yourself and to an audit for your caregiving, and just taking that look, looking underneath and seeing what can be change. The first one is what I similar to what I did by hiring my podcast coach. You can hire a caregiving coach, like I do, someone who can ask you the right questions, narrow in the opportunities to make changes or shift how to approach things and come up with a game plan, because crystal with crystal, when she went ahead and did the auditing, she collected all my questions. Then she went and looked behind the scenes at everything. She came back to me oh my gosh, I was so overwhelmed with an eighty seven page document. It was dynamo. It was, yes, eighty seven pages. It had tons of rooms for improvement, and she helped me then, once she gave it to me, decide on A customizable plan to work on, and she knows I'm independent and will be working on this solo. So, after her coaching, I have now a mapped out plan for the next Twelve months, the whole year ahead of me. I'm gonna be well into twenty twenty four before I get everything done. She helped me prioritize based on. She asked me questions. She asked me you know what I wanted first. We could lay it all out and talk about that. I also do this with clients and I promise it won't be an eighty seven page document, but you can hire me as a coach. I will help you audit your situation and create a customizable plan. Some of the biggest wins I see my clients have is finding efficiencies and automation, looking at services and making changes to get some time and their energy back. One of my biggest client or, I'm sorry, one of my clients she's a big client, but one of my clients started taking piano lessons. She so wanted to get back into her music and she wanted to get back and so she went ahead and figured out how to take piano lessons. She went back and she's singing in the choir. You know how she figured it out. She went back to her teenage granddaughter and talk to her teenage granddaughter about sitting with her husband while she went ahead and did those two hours a week that she loves to do. So the granddaughter now sits with grandpa and her granddaughter now place cards and puzzles during that time and they have formed this special bond together. Her husband says, oh, when is so and so going to come over, and she gets out of the house and they're. Both of their attitudes have now changed. Grandpa now has someone else to socialize with. My client now can get out with her choir friends again and she can go ahead and tap into a passion and a stress relief that she has. So if you're looking to go ahead and you think maybe hiring Kathy might be a possibility, I do the first 30 minutes for free. We can talk about you, we can talk about what we could do, we can talk about the package that you want. All you have to do is email me at Kathy, at Kathy L van dot com, and Kathy's are with a, c, c, a, t, h, y, at Kathy L van dot com, and that's my email address. Okay, so hiring a coach is the first first way. Another option, number two, is taking my course coming up in September and my digital course is a digital course and a group coaching program together. It's called the impoverished caregiver school. It is a six week transformation course, course that takes a deep dive into every aspect of caregiving through videos each day, personal journey each day and then, once a week, we will get together in a live lesson and a live coaching session where we can go ahead and talk through things. For example, we spend a week on time and energy and come up with ways you can simplify and make things easier. I mean there's everything from looking at, you know, grocery shopping and pharmacy deliveries, to communication and looking at your day and how you can go ahead and find some energy each and every time in your day, and so we definitely get into that. After, after six weeks, you should have a personalized toolkit of improvements and you're making, or you can make, your list or your strategy plan going forward. And one thing that I didn't include as well is there's a community of other caregivers that will also be able to connect with and learn from as well, and so this is going to be huge when it comes to that. So, you know, hiring a coach is a little bit more money going ahead and the digital course is a little less, and the Empowerful Caregiver School will be coming out on September 18. I changed it, I took out and had to move it back one week, but get on the wait list right now by going to KathyLVancom forward slash Empowerful. I will also be doing a free webinar the first two weeks in September, so you can even get bits and pieces of that before we actually move into the Empowerful Caregiver School. So hiring a coach one, taking the Empowerful Caregiver School is two. Or the third option is you can do it yourself and let me give you just a little bit of advice and maybe some direction that you can start. But you have to go all in and be fully committed and open to looking at yourself and making commitments to yourself. And don't get me wrong, you can do it because I've done it myself. I've done it myself on some pieces. I've had to lean into coaches and friends on other pieces and I've had to take courses if I felt stuck. So, but you can. What I would suggest if you want to try yourself is you have to sit with yourself and ask yourself all of the questions, all of the questions. So my suggestion would be grab a cup of coffee and I'm going to drink mine just right now or your favorite beverage. Find some time, block yourself an hour and sit with yourself and ask yourself what am I struggling with? What are my challenges? What are my stressors? List them all out and take some time. What are my challenges? Really, go ahead and journal. Get yourself one of those three-ring binders loosely paper why can't? Oh, the spiral bound notebook, why could I think about it? Spiral bound notebook and just go to town. Don't forget to ask yourself the opposite what brings you moments of happy? What brings you moments of joy? What do you like to do when you have? When is the last time you laughed and enjoyed yourself? When have you been excited to get out of bed? I want you to ask yourself that too, because you can then see where you want to go Then. Then you want to go ahead and try to categorize things, like if you're struggling with all of the advocacy tasks, like the insurance company, the scheduling, that kind of stuff that might be a category of its own. You can do a couple things. You could go ahead and take a new piece of paper and write out the categories and write, transfer those things to a new piece of paper. Or you could get different colored highlighters and highlight all of the advocacy tasks. You could highlight all of the caregiving one-on-one time that you have with your loved one, like if helping them with a shower and dressed and all that kind of stuff is hard for you Maybe you pulled your back and now it's even harder and it's affecting you Then you want to highlight that category, you want to categorize these and compile a list. Then, once you have the categories, then you have to really hone in on one or two as a priority. Focus in on what you want to work on first. You could do your top three list right now. You can't go ahead and start them all. You have to focus in on which ones are the heavy hitters. For example, I use that one with your back. If your back is struggling and you pulled your back and you're having a hard time, for me, if I was your coach, I would say that's a priority right now. We need to find you some relief. Here's another example If you're angry and resentful and what you're going to have to do now is you're going to have to dig deeper into what is causing that anger and resentment and ask yourself well, I'm going to answer. If I was coaching you and I'll be the coach and the client I would say what's causing the anger and resentment? You would respond well, my loved ones mood. They just are moody all the time and snappy all the time. They're asking me to get this and asking me to get that, when they can get up and they should get up and they're not following the doctor's orders to move and do things. I know they're in pain, but they have to get up and move. And I would ask you, is your anger truly because of your loved one or is it your fatigue or your frustration? I'd ask you things like did you get enough sleep or are you getting enough sleep? I would ask you, do you need to ask your doctor and healthcare professionals for advice and tips? Or can you ask another family member to help out and get away one day a week? Because I would say to you, if, maybe, if you got away one day a week and you brought in, like a son or your family member or somebody, maybe your loved one would get up, maybe they're just using you. It reminds me of getting renovations done in your home and I'm a big DIY person. I love DIY network and watching houses and all that kind of stuff. You, when you're let's say we're DIYing the main floor of your house, your kitchen and your living room, and they want to take down the wall and they want to put in, they want to restructure your kitchen and your living room. Can you see that I want this really bad, and you know what type of transformation that you want. It doesn't happen overnight. When they do the renovations, they have to do one at a time. They have to look at can I take down that wall? Is there a weight? Is it a weight bearing wall? What do we have to do to ensure that the structure of the home stays in place? We have to look at, you know, the flooring and the sub tiles and all that kind of stuff. So it takes one piece at a time and there are going to be setbacks and challenges where it's not going to work. So, going back to the anger and resentment list, you would put on that list your loved one's mood, new medication, disease is progressing. I feel isolated, I'm missing my friends, I have lack of sleep. There might be family issues with that. So what I'm saying is, when you pick one, you're going to have to go ahead and go deeper. Or maybe you're having work issues and it's just making you feel on edge because of the fact that there's something going on at work that's impacting your mood, whatever it would be. Then, when you look at all of these and all of these issues you can start breaking down. Okay, is the new medication causing my loved one to be this way, or is there something else going on that my loved one is this way? I'm missing my friends in isolation. What can I do to go ahead and what are my opportunities? How can I get more sleep, whatever it would be? And so then, putting them in order and listing out options to work on and picking one and starting at it, that's what you have to do. That's what I'm going to do when it comes to doing my 87-page audit, and I have identified my top list of three right now that I'm going to be working on in October, november and December. I'm still processing it all. I still have one more meeting with Crystal yet to go ahead and talk about more of this. I'm still auditing, but then I can put those things into action. I want to read that there's something that is called doing a life audit or a self audit of your life, and people do this all the time. They hire a life coach and they say I want a life audit. And there was a really cool article from JotForm, from Steve Hartlet or Hartet, h-a-r-t-e-r-t. Hart-rt. I never pronounce names. Sorry about that. He identified the main categories that they look at in a life audit and you can think of these categories and will add caregiving to it. But he said health is a place that you want to audit. Family, and not only the family helping with your loved one, but the family that you have had to put on the back shelf for lack of a term, your family at home, your skills or the skills that you're gaining in caregiving, but also the skills that you can't use right now. Finances may be one adventure, or lack of socialization or isolation, community, friendship, career is another one, and then I think you can add caregiving and your tasks that you do to that. So when you're auditing, you look at all of those pieces. So I want you to think about auditing, especially if you're struggling in your coping and adaptive phase. If you're in that phase where you're like, oh, I feel stuck, I feel like there's nothing to go ahead and keep me motivated, I want you to think about that. Taking that time will help you see possibilities. It'll get you to a place where you can live your best caregiver life, and the reality is you may be in this caregiver life for a while. It's not the short term thing. I always say it's not a sprint, it's a marathon, and so do you want to stay miserable for a long time or do you want to live your best life as it was given in this caregiver life? Imagine for a second that your caregiver life audit revealed that you're at your happiest when engaging in activities, in quality time with your loved one and friends, and you made time for that. You were engaging and doing that right now. If I was auditing you, maybe you were so busy doing the laundry and the dishes and the house cleaning and the advocacy calls and work and whatever, and all you wanted to do was have quality time and fill your cup. That way it provides you with energy. Well, if that's what you want, we have to work at that. Life can be simple if we look for moments of joy, and that's what the auditing can do for us. Well, I hope this sparks some things for you when it comes to taking a serious look at where you're at, when you're in that valley, when the dust has settled and now you're at that reality phase. Is there things that you can do to improve? Is it time for you to take your semester exam before you move into semester two like a school child does or a college student does at its time. I hope you enjoyed this episode of the caregiver cup podcast and, as always, it's all about you and looking at where you can go ahead and control what you control and be the best that you can be by filling your cup, and today was all about auditing. We'll talk to you again next week. Bye for now.