Kara Payton has learned to use crises and pivotal experiences in her life to lead her to new opportunities. She didn’t have an easy start, coming from an unstable home, growing up a troubled teen, and getting involved in an abusive relationship as a young adult. After the end of a seemingly perfect marriage, she had to rebuild her life and find a new path forward.
Find out how she steered into the field of personal development to build a unique coaching practice that brings together everything she has learned from her own journey to healing trauma and finding happiness. She tells us about the challenges of building this new business and how she overcame them with the help of systems, tools, and people. Don’t forget to check out her Read-Watch-Listen List and her Productivity Stack Quick Reference at the end of the article.
Table of Contents
- Scaling and Success
- Wrap Up
- Payton’s Read-Watch-Listen List
- Payton’s Productivity Stack Quick Reference
- More About Kara Payton
Challenge 1: Motherhood and midlife crises: Pivoting from career to business and another business
Payton’s entry into business was completely out of necessity. She was a single mom of a young child managing several restaurants for a living. The job required long hours, so she had to put her son in daycare. When she discovered that the daycare was mistreating and neglecting her child, she knew she had to quit.
“I have to find something that I can do while being a mother. I want my son to be with me, I still need to work, but I’m not sacrificing my motherhood to do so. That narrows you down to a defined point of entrepreneurship.”
By a process of elimination, she stumbled on photography. She was able to build a successful wedding photography business, got married, and had a couple more kids. Outwardly, her life seemed perfect. But about ten years into her marriage, she found herself deeply unhappy and suffering a serious midlife existential crisis.
Solution: It was around this time when she began to struggle with her married life, that she found the world of mental health and wellness. She discovered Tony Robbins, attended one of his live events, and was hooked. She joined his tour group in 2015 as a volunteer in events and team building and continued her immersion into the world of self-development.
Her marriage didn’t work out, but she had found her way into a new field which helped her deal with her internal turmoil and also gave her a sense of purpose. She started teaching meditation and coaching individuals to achieve mental and emotional wellness. Eventually, Payton was offered a full-time role in Tony Robbins’ team. But because this would require her to take long trips away from her children, she declined the opportunity and focused on building her own coaching practice.
Systems: Embracing uncertainty and change in life, using the upheavals in her life as a springboard for new beginnings, using her own life experiences and self-healing journey to provide support to those who are struggling with mental and emotional crises
Challenge 2: Distribution: Conflict between authenticity and automation
When Payton first dove into the personal development and coaching world, it wasn’t as crowded as now, and in-person coaching was the main medium. The industry has matured since, and digital marketing and online coaching have grown.
She tried a similar approach but quickly found that it didn’t feel right for her. “I was very big on the workflows and the ClickFunnels and the email software systems and the automatic drip feeds and everything like that. And then I began to realize that authenticity can only be watered down so much before it starts to kind of sound like everyone else. Even if I had spent time creating the template email or anything that was just going to go out on a mass scale, it just kept rubbing me wrong.”
Solution: Payton decided to focus on ‘serving deeper instead of wider’ and scaled back on building a sales funnel. She decided in this early stage to keep her reach relatively small without an intensive marketing effort, focusing on one-on-one coaching and continuing as a solopreneur. Her holistic approach to coaching made her stand out though, as she emphasized that beyond a mental change, people needed the emotional, physical, and spiritual aspects of their lives aligned and integrated.
Since she was a one-woman show, she tried to simplify her workflows as much as possible. She used phone reminders to help her keep track of emails and follow-ups with clients. She used Mailchimp to send out regular newsletters to her clients and readers.
In September 2020, in the middle of the COVID lockdowns, she started her podcast “The Happiness Habit.” She recalls, “There were so many conversations about anxiety and depression that were going unanswered, unspoken. We were talking about the rise, but nobody was talking about what to do with it. And I just started speaking into the ether, into the world about, ‘Okay, here’s what I’ve learned from neuroscience. Here’s what I’ve learned from spirituality. Here’s what I’ve learned from motivational speakers. And just marrying it all together. And turns out I tapped into a main vein, and people are like, ‘Yes, more, what is this? And I didn’t have to sacrifice my motherhood to do it.” The podcast became a channel for her to reach a wider audience in a way that felt authentic to her.
When she lost a family member who was a military veteran to suicide in 2021, she felt an even stronger calling to help in the mental health space. This led her to focus on those struggling with PTSD, toxic relationships, and emotional addictions.
Systems: Adjusting marketing strategy to align with values
Challenge 3: Struggling with discipline and consistency
Payton highlighted her struggle to be disciplined and consistent in growing her coaching business. She spoke about how there are so many distractions in our day-to-day lives and unexpected major life events. But on top of all that, smartphone technology and the social media landscape are constantly evolving to distract and monopolize our attention, so we lose so much time glued to screens.
“Our phones alone are designed to keep us off track. They are designed to present you with the most click-worthy notification at the most optimum time. There are notifications that aren’t even delivered as they occur because they have a record of when you’re the most active on your phone. And it will present to you the most enticing derail. And so when we know and recognize it, everything is working against us.”
Solution: Payton broke down the concepts of discipline and consistency in a way that has decluttered and streamlined her days. “Discipline is nothing more than remembering what you want. It’s just the constant reminder of what you’re moving toward.”
Combined with the awareness that there is so much out there designed to distract from her goals, Payton started putting Post-it notes on her computer with her mantras about ‘remembering what you want.’ She got more deliberate about planning her days the night before.
Another change she made that helped with her focus and consistency was not to restrict work to weekdays. “One of the biggest mindsets for me that shifted, that was really helpful, was the whole idea of five days business week. That concept was never a thing [pre-industrial period]. You worked every single day. You didn’t white knuckle your way through a business week behind a laptop and a cubicle for five days just so you could have two days where you live the way that you want to.
When it’s Sunday, I still have a mindset that, ‘Do you have emails waiting? Do you have people waiting? Do you still have something important that you could do that will chip away at your goal for the week? And how can you give yourself a leg up?’”
Systems: Constant reminders of her goal and why she needs to be disciplined and consistent, creating her own workweek
Challenge 4: Time management as a solopreneur
With better clarity and focus on her goals, how did Payton go about structuring her days to maximize her productivity and effectiveness?
Solution: She starts with planning the night before, focusing on just two or three needle-moving tasks for her business. Nine in the morning to three in the afternoon is blocked off as ‘kid-free’ time. She sets her iPhone on ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode with three exceptions – her two older sons and the school nurse. She only gave phones to her two sons, aged 17 and 12, whom she knows are mature enough not to call or message her for trivial things during her ‘kid-free’ work hours.
She uses the Pomodoro technique or breaking every hour into 20-minute chunks, with mornings dedicated to writing, recording, or creating content, while afternoons are more for systems and processes and planning work.
Inspired by Tony Robbins’ concept of N.E.T (no extra time), she has learned to maximize time commuting, working out, or doing chores to get other tasks done. She has recorded podcasts sitting in the car and taken courses while doing chores.
It took some experimentation, but Payton also figured out the 25-minute morning routine that worked for her. She used to spend two hours working out, journaling, planning the day, and not getting anything done! Now her routine consists of movement (whether splashing her face with cold water or squeezing her arms and legs to get blood flowing), drinking water, and meditation – these are enough to get her primed for the day. Having planned the night before and not opening emails first thing also helps as they allow her to tackle the day with intention and focus.
Payton is a big proponent of afternoon naps since they get her charged up for afternoon workouts and working the latter half of the day. During winter though, she moves up her workout time to the morning since the lack of sunlight affects her mood.
Her advice in terms of morning routines is, “Find what works. It will shift year by year.”
To streamline her workdays, she added two tools to her tech stack. Loomly helps with her social media planning and cross-posting to all her social media platforms. Dubsado is now her CMS that handles all other client workflows like intake, scheduling, and invoicing. It even interfaces with Zoom and Google Calendar to give clients meeting links.
People: Payton, her kids
Systems: Planning the night before, setting up a system with kids to respect ‘do not disturb’ time, time blocking, pomodoro technique, crafting own morning routine that sets her up for a productive day
Scaling and Success
Challenge 5: Reaching a larger audience and teaching her clients to self-reference in their personal development journey
As her coaching practice has grown, Payton has set her sights on a new direction for the business. She wants to evolve beyond one-on-one coaching so she can reach a mass audience. On top of that, she also wants to empower more people to facilitate change in their lives and give clients independence to direct their own personal development.
“I’ll work with somebody with a container of three months. But after three months, if you are not radically moving in the direction of your own voice, you haven’t been doing your work, and I haven’t been doing my job. So after three months, I really kind of want this self-advocating independence.”
Solution: Payton is launching a self-guided workbook that will contain her life’s work on how to achieve transformation and freedom.
“I want to empower people to be their own coach. So moving that into the podcast, moving that into the workbook, moving that into the stages that I’ll speak on, it’s really about turning that power back around so somebody becomes completely self-sufficient.”
For this project, Payton is outsourcing a lot of the nitty-gritty work. Apart from the content, she has hired talent to work on all other aspects of development – from design to printing, marketing, and sales.
People: Payton, workbook graphics, printing, sales and marketing teams
Systems: Productizing her service, outsourcing the design, printing, sales, and marketing of new product
Payton’s entrepreneurial journey reflects her evolution as an individual and finding a calling that resonates with her own life experiences. Authenticity is an important value for her, and she has not hesitated to grow her business more slowly or to forego certain opportunities if some marketing tactics didn’t feel right for her.
Accepting and anticipating that there will be endless distractions in daily life was pivotal to her building discipline and consistency in her days. She was particularly emphatic about the power of social media and smartphones to derail us and so recommended making schedules and setting up phones in a way that will minimize the opportunity for distraction. Her kids, who are that one non-negotiable priority in all of her personal and business pursuits, are also active participants in her crafting and maintaining her distraction-free hours.
Her distinctive voice in the world of coaching is about to come out in a new format that seeks to help a wider audience understand themselves better and guide themselves to living more authentic, happier lives. We wish her the best in this new phase in her business and know many will benefit from her unique methods and perspective.
Payton’s Read-Watch-Listen List
- Atomic Habits by James Clear
- As the Leader Grows podcast by Ken Joslin
- Grow Stack Drive courses and community
Payton’s Productivity Stack Quick Reference
- Personal coaching sessions
- Health and wellness coaching certification from Tony Robbins Mastery University
Scaling and Success
More About Kara Payton
Kara is an author, motivational speaker, authenticity strategist, and subconscious reprogramming expert. She is a top 10% ranked podcast host with 5 years of experience in events production and volunteer team building for Tony Robbins.
She is a sought-after thought leader specializing in intensive transformation in the behavioral health field. Her expertise has been featured in the Kansas City Star, FOX 4, KCTV 5, Mental Health News Radio Network, Rumble, Voyage, & Authority Magazine. Known as “The Self-Help Anti-Hero,” she helps people overcome anxiety & self-doubt to increase their income, productivity and confidence!
As the Host of The Happiness Habit Podcast and Founder of Authenticated, she helps people create an identity of freedom through authenticity so they can end self-abandonment, heal their nervous system of emotional addictions, and stop keeping the secret of you.
Her workbook, “Authenticated,” a revolutionary self-transformation guide to personal freedom & confidence, is releasing on Amazon this fall.
You can find Kara and connect with her on:
Linked In: www.linkedin.com/in/kara-payton
Insight Timer: https://insig.ht/V9FkVyyFttb