Feeling lost… Agitated… frustrated…kinda sad. Those feelings have become regular companions recently.
Sometimes you roll your eyes so hard into the back of your head, you wonder if they’ll ever face the right way again.
You’ve invested so much time into building this business. You’ve given birth to this ‘child’ and now?
Well…you’re sick to death of the very creation that was supposed to bring you joy, freedom, and a sense of satisfaction.
“What the hell is going on?” you ask yourself.
If all of that is sounding familiar, I implore you to invest some time in yourself and your wellbeing and have a good and thorough read of the content to follow. This little guide has been pulled together to help you identify the problem, and custom build a solution that will get you back on track and fired up to continue realising your dreams without compromising a bounce in your step.
As we grow together, this guide will grow too; it will almost be like a journal that charts our continued progress. SO GET YOUR COMPUTER HIGHLIGHTERS OUT! Oh…and a good cup of tea wouldn’t go amiss either.
Let us begin…
The Trap of Entrepreneurship
What’s the Trap of Entrepreneurship?
“The Entrepreneur’s Trap is when the time, money, and effort that you are putting into your business is not worth the return you are getting.” Tina Forsyth
We live in a world where there are so many different ways to start a business. Some businesses like KFC for example or Microsoft or Facebook even, have built their brand, their products and their business power over a significant amount of time. They are now multi-billion dollar enterprises recognised across the world.
In contrast, you have companies like Kylie Cosmetics, a company that is one of the fastest growing ecommerce businesses in the beauty space… of all time. It wasn’t a even a thing a couple of years ago and now Kylie Jenner is one of the youngest (almost!) billionaires we have ever seen.
So many schools of thought surround how much of a time commitment you should put towards building your fledgling business. Some people build a business alongside a full time job. They’ll work all day, and then be working at night to build another source of income. Others have literally started a business with the last few dollars and nothing but their will to succeed, investing everything they have as they throw themselves into their very own ‘last chance saloon’.
You’ll watch Tom Bilyeu’s Impact Theory and watch talks and interviews of people who refused to fail, had no backup plans and no time for anything other than building their business. In other words, it’s perfectly common place to ‘be obsessed’ with achieving your goals.
But what happens when you feel like the revenue stream is good, but everything else is just…meh. Your tasks to keep the business afloat seem boring, you don’t see the point, you’re kind of sick of being responsible for everything and you can’t remember the last time you just enjoyed…being.
Online business authority Tina Forsyth, in her book, The Entrepreneur’s Trap, writes,
“Running the business isn’t the fun and sexy side of entrepreneurship, but it is essential to your success and sanity.”
Nevertheless, there are couple of things that make the above statement a hard pill to swallow…
One is loneliness. The other is the very abstract goal of keeping oneself motivated in the midst of the mundane. Let’s look at loneliness first.
The road to building a successful business is a lonely one at times. There are more than a few reasons for this. In short, you’re busting your butt every hour that God sends. In the early stages you’ll have mates that are doing less, earning more AND maintaining a social life. Also few people understand the burden of responsibility that comes with the fact that the buck, always stops with you. Purchase your “Everything is My Fault” t shirt here.
The problem with loneliness is that long term, it’s not great. Human beings are naturally predisposed to need each other. Entrepreneurship and all of the pursuits that go with it, can often result in prolonged periods of isolation, which creates space for you to feel…well…lonely.
Most people don’t volunteer to silo themselves off, but let’s be real. There’s an unspoken stage in the life of business building, where you feel like you have to keep things super close to your chest. You’ve got this amazing idea and you’re developing it; it’s like a sapling tree. It’s vulnerable and not yet ready to be revealed to the world. So you work on it in secret until it’s in a place where you feel ready to showcase this wonderful thing you’ve been working on.
In order to give your fledgling business the attention and care that it needs, you may have distanced yourself from the people around you. It’s been you and your business for a long while now…
But all this is even more difficult when you’ve gone on this amazing journey, reached a level of prosperity that’s admirable, only to feel… well… pretty empty. On top of that, you may feel even further from having clarity around the purpose of your life. In a final flurry of misery, you feel bad about even discussing this unwavering dissatisfaction with anybody.
Who would understand right?
With nowhere to go, you feel like you’re trapped. Now don’t get me wrong, you’re in a pretty comfortable trap.
But a trap is still a trap and that ‘trap’ is an unhappy and generally lonely place to be.
“Why am I doing this to myself?” you shout to the ceiling of your office.
Funny you should ask…
The Meandering Motivation
If the loneliness doesn’t make you want to scream, a distinct lack of motivation will certainly be there to continue the rain on your parade.
Different motivations for success come into play as you go through the journey of life. Dan Pink covers this is in his Ted Talk but essentially motivation can be split into two categories…
Extrinsic and Intrinsic motivation.
Extrinsic motivation is when you do something for a reward or to avoid punishment or negative consequences.
For example, if you’ve come from an environment where money has been really tight, and you’ve gone through the pain of not having enough cash to do basic things, then yeah of course, money will make you happier in comparison to that former state. Being dirt poor is a pretty rough way to live in any circumstance.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs displays this perfectly:
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs model helps us to explain why money isn’t everything
Our physiological needs take priority, so if you’re living in what you believe to be a state of poverty, that is motivation enough for you to take action.
So you set up a business and you work your ass off to get that thing off the ground, to satisfy an immediate need created by lack. Hunger in both the mental and physical sense is almost guaranteed to put a fire in your belly, especially if there is even a whisper of entrepreneurial flair in your soul.
The Money Problem…
But research shows, that once your monetary income reaches a certain level, (which incidentally is far less than people think; it’s supposed to be $60-75k for emotional wellbeing and $95k for life evaluation; basically it’s where you’re satisfied with your prospects, how you relate to the success of your peers and your ability to meet your goals etc.) the value that money adds to your happiness declines very quickly. In fact, the more you earn, the more of a stressor it actually becomes. The reason for this, is that once your needs and wants are cared for, and money worries no longer plague your every waking thought, the surplus cash can become a burden.
More money means more management, and more strategy is required to hold onto it.
In short, working for financial freedom alone, loses its sparkle very quickly. As a result, your happiness dulls right along with it.
Intrinsic Motivation…the start of lasting Fulfilment
Enter intrinsic motivation.
Intrinsic motivation is when you do stuff because you love it. I’m going to take it one step further and say that you love the process of what you’re doing. So the value of the mission stops being centred in money and material things and shifts to being about the pursuit of true autonomy, a deep sense of purpose and mastering a challenge that is beyond the capacity you currently have.
Remember Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs; you’ve lifted yourself out of poverty as you perceive it and now your needs are in a much more complex place because those previous motivators are now obsolete.
If you look at the straight talking Gary Vaynerchuk for example, when you watch some of his content, you’ll hear him talk often about how much he loves ‘the game’ of entrepreneurship. As a child, when most of us were trying to convince our parents to buy us lemonade, he was out there at 7 years old, selling it. The money is the by-product of how much he loves entrepreneurship. In his mind, he could be broke and he’d still do it.
You’ll be pleased to know that your present state of ‘Un-happyness’ is part and parcel of a transition; your immediate financial needs/goals have been met which has freed your mind of a significant amount of stress. You now have room to see beyond the immediacy of physical need. This progression of things will highlight a desire to make room for true purpose in your life.
In the meantime, you’re likely to be quite the agitated entrepreneur while you figure that out.
So how do you get out of the mental rut that you’re in and how do you stop feeling lost in life and business? How do you re-discover your purpose or redefine the parameters of the real mission? How do you go about relighting that fire in your soul, and regaining that zeal that has you shouting “YES! I was born to do this!”
Let’s look shall we?
9 Keys to Unlock Change in yourself AND your business
1. Admit and accept you’re not happy
Admitting and accepting that you aren’t happy is going to be key in this moment. I’ve separated it out because you can admit that you have a problem, but fight it tooth and nail. What does that look like? Well picture a person that’s addicted to worry. Could even be you. You admit and recognise that you worry. But you disconnect yourself from realising the impact that it has on you. You avoid looking at the fact that the habitual worry bleeds into every area of your life. It’s robbing you of your time, your energy, your ability to be grateful and your ability to enjoy the process of entrepreneurship. You’ve admitted you worry. But you’ve not accepted how much hassle it’s causing you which means you’re blind to the true cost of keeping that habit around.
Admission is one thing. But acceptance takes you to a new level of self awareness. It’s like the precursor to choosing a different course of action.
This in itself is going to be the most liberating experience for any unsatisfied entrepreneur. Reason being, you have to push aside a fear of being vulnerable and admit to yourself and maybe someone you trust, that you kind of expected to feel different about your success. You can accept that feeling this way has put a bit of a grey cloud over things and made you feel kinda disconnected.
As a note here, admitting you aren’t happy when you’re a successful entrepreneur doesn’t mean you’re ungrateful. Gratitude and happiness are not necessarily linked together; you can be thankful for your current status and simultaneously feel unfulfilled by your current achievements.
The paradox that is the human existence makes fools of us all.
The thing to remember is that there are so many people who go through the same process. Self reflection is always at the start of making a positive step in the direction that is right for you; it forces us to count the cost of continuing on a path that takes more than it gives.
2. Check your ‘Golden Circle’…your key to staying motivated
Motivation is driven by purpose, your ‘why’. If the purpose isn’t strong enough to begin with, then it’s likely that at some point, you will run out of steam.
Simon Sinek is one of the leading voices on this subject. Ordinarily it gets applied to brands and how in order for a brand to become iconic, consumers need to primarily identify with the company’s ‘why’ rather than their ‘what’. All of this is beautifully illustrated by his “Golden Circle” concept.
The Golden Circle Concept is explained beautifully here:
So how might the ‘Golden Circle’ apply to you in your dissatisfied state?
Let’s start with a definition…What is the why?
Well the ‘why’ according to good ole’ Simon, is :
“The WHY is the purpose, cause or belief that drives every one of us.”
If you’re not feeling driven as an entrepreneur or even as a human being, a lot of the time, it’s all in the ‘why’ – somewhere in all the noise, it’s been lost, or changed, or confused.
So what that means, is that your purpose or your ‘why’ needs to be constantly checked, defined and refined to make sure that it is able to sustain you, when you feel like crap and you want to throw the towel in. 9 times out of 10, if your purpose isn’t rooted in something other than cash monies, it’ll be hard to maintain.
It could look something like this;
“I want to be able to positively impact the lives of the people I love and care about. I want to be able to protect them, to provide for them if they need it, to be able to inspire the younger ones in my life into believing that they can realise their full potential.”
There’s an example of ‘why’.
How? You start a business. What? Ecommerce store.
Your ‘why’ is something that you have to have respect for. It’s something you can get behind, it’s the embodiment of believing in yourself. It’s what takes you further once the money to be comfortable is made. It’s your anchor.
So understand your ‘why’. If it’s solid, the motivation will follow.
3. Audit your belief system
Unless we’ve taken the time to actively think about our internal belief system, there is every chance that there could be different beliefs holding you back or giving you an incorrect perspective of your current situation. Alternatively there could be internal thought patterns that are missing which could result again in a perspective that will stop you from seeing the bigger picture. So…at this stage, an audit is recommended.
Ask yourself some questions, do a bit of soul searching. What really makes you happy? What made you want to start a business in the first place? Have you enjoyed the process of building a business? Have you been shocked at the level of sacrifice required to get a successful business up and running? Are you still willing to pay that cost?
Ask yourself the hard questions. Do you need a new focus? What beliefs do you need in order to achieve the lasting success you want?
Recommended reading:- Awaken The Giant Within – Tony Robbins
4. Identify all the things that you are grateful for
Successful entrepreneurs quote the power of having an ‘attitude of gratitude’ as a way of managing their state of being. Be grateful for the small things, be grateful for the big things. Be grateful for your gifts and your talents. Be grateful for the things you have achieved so far and the journey that you’ve been on.
In that space, you are far more likely to be able to assess how you would like to move forward out of this space where you’re feeling uninspired and lacking in direction in both your personal life and your business life.
The power of morning routine and self care
One way to build this habit into yourself is to develop or reshape your morning routine. Often when you’ve spent countless hours building your business, you wake up and your first thought is to work. It’s the last thing you think about when you go to bed. That cycle runs on repeat over and over.
You’ll have heard so many conflicting messages about having a one-track mind, being totally focused and even being obsessed with realising your dream of being a business owner. But on the other hand, you have the idea around self care.
The truth of the matter is that balance is everything. In order for you to operate at an optimum level, consider the different things that make you a human being. Most people would agree that you have your mind, your heart and then your physical being. They are all interconnected and yet, they require different care strategies.
Lots of successful entrepreneurs swear by having a morning routine that sets them up for success. They address each part of themselves with the kind of stimulus that keeps them focused throughout the day and in control of their time.
5. Identify what really matters – Materialism or Legacy
At some point, you may grow to realise that possessing things will only take you so far. That’s not true of everyone – some people are driven by having things and that’s fine. Totally up to you. But there are those, who start a business or have become hugely successful in terms of wealth accumulation and become more and more dissatisfied as they realise that things are meaningless. You may have lost your fire because you don’t know whether what you do is actually having an impact on the lives of those who are close to you, those who your business serves or those you don’t know who are actually in need.
You look at the peers you went to school with, some of them are married or have had children or both. You’ve decided to take a different path and yet you wonder if you made the right decision. As you see the pictures of your friend’s children, laughing, and getting up to mischief, you struggle because they have something you don’t seem to have.
They have a positive legacy. They’re having a profound impact on the life of someone else. Someone will remember their input and be richer for it.
Now having kids and a family is one type of legacy. One of many types in fact. Legacies vary in nature, intensity, depth and breadth. Sometimes all that’s required, is to take a look at your life and a look at your business and ask yourself, “What legacy am I building?”
Good Legacy vs Bad Legacy
Not all legacies are good; that much is obvious. If your life and your business is producing a legacy of anxiety, insecurity, loneliness and fear for example, is that what you envisaged when you started on this journey? Or were you thinking that your journey would produce a legacy of positivity, freedom, good character and opportunities to help others?
You are in control of the impact your life will have on this world. If what you’re doing right now doesn’t fit with what you really want, and it is not producing the legacy you want, don’t be afraid to change direction.
6. Make a decision (beat procrastination)
Change is wrapped up in the making of small decisions. It is always pretty tempting to think that change happens primarily because of an external circumstance, or a huge event but that is not the case. The reality is that every choice you make from here on out will either get you closer to your goal of being truly happy, or take you further away from it.
“Once I made a decision, I never thought about it again.” ― Michael Jordan
1425–75; late Middle English decisioun < Middle French < Latin dēcīsiōn- (stem of dēcīsiō ) literally, a cutting off, equivalent to dēcīs(us ) (past participle of dēcīdere; see decide) + -iōn- -ion
The word decision, literally means to cut off, meaning you are fine for once and all that other options are not available.
In real life, what that looks like is this…
You’ve seen that you’re not happy with how things are shaping up. So you decide to focus all of your attention on changing the course you are currently on. There’s no ifs, buts or maybes to take away from your resolve. You’re going to do what it takes to be happy, no matter what and there is no other alternative worth considering.
That unwavering focus, is what will carry you through moments of short term pain that will always try to delay you from taking action.
So you’ve got to make a decision to make. Once it is made, you know better than anyone as an entrepreneur, that you have to commit to the decision wholeheartedly; you need to do what makes you happy and content. It’ll be hard to change things. But you have to believe that it will be worth it.
The Kaizen Philosopy and why it’s important for you and your Business
“Excellence is not a destination; it is a continuous journey that never ends.”
– Brian Tracy
The term ‘Kaizen’ is a japanese philosophy that refers to the practice of constantly refining and improving the practices that drive your business. Sometimes a lot of our dissatisfaction is caught up in the way we are working.
Perhaps you’ve been putting off investing in that expenses system that would save you a ton of time. Maybe you’ve been putting off getting an assistant because you’re afraid to let somebody else do smaller tasks, even though it would dramatically free up loads of time…and headspace.
Now’s the time folks.
By doing the initially hard thing of delegating, you give yourself the opportunity to focus on and excel at doing the things you’re really good at, the things that will drive your business onwards and upwards.
“We cannot become what we want to be by remaining what we are.”
– Max DePree
7. Add strategic relationships that will inspire you
Adding strategic relationships is like adding an extra, super effective weapon to your arsenal in your favourite video game. You can upgrade your experience just by adding new opportunities to be with people who inspire you.
Relationships are one of the most powerful tools humanity has. Our connections to the people around us influence our perspective on life, our drive, our creativity or…lack thereof. The fastest way to give you a boost is to get fresh eyes, fresh hearts and plenty of positivity around you in the form of other people.
Even if you are an introvert, or you just dislike people, this includes you too.
“If I have seen further it is by standing on ye shoulders of Giants.” Isaac Newton
Whenever you want to change the pace of your life personally and/or professionally, one of the most effective ways to instigate that change is to look at your network. Do you have enough people around you who are living the life you want to live, speaking the way you want to speak and doing the kind of things you want to do?
Across every religious persuasion and every philosophy present in this world, there is a universal truth…
Who you mix with…is who you become.
If changing how you interact with your business is your top priority then perhaps an assessment of your professional relationships is way overdue.
When you want to change something and you need advice, always consider asking upwards. You may have had mentors or still have a mentor who you’ve used as a sounding board for making your business dreams a reality.
Maybe now is the time to get back in touch if it’s been a while. If you’ve never had a mentor, see if there’s anybody who you respect, who’s been where you are and can help you move past it. Stand on the shoulders of giants.
A note for you to hack your brain when it makes you hesitant about opening up and asking for advice. Life runs in cycles. Now you’re in a season of needing a little help. Commit to make the best of it so that one day, you can be the giant for somebody else.
Community – Friends
We get by with a little help from our…
Yes that’s right you guessed it. Sometimes we need a little boost from a peer group to help us see the brighter side of life. Now, as an entrepreneur, friends can be a little tricky mostly because, by way of your lifestyle choice, you may have a friendship circle that love you, but they might not be able to relate to some of the struggles you may be facing.
So consider branching out. Now don’t get me wrong. You don’t need to ditch your old friends in favour of new ones. You’ve got a bigger heart than you know. Stretch it out to accommodate more people, that have different experiences. Have an attitude to share yourself with others. More often than not, your breakthrough is not find in isolation, but in collaboration. So don’t miss out. Get some friends.
You can join Facebook groups, you can go to conferences, you could go to meetups, you could host a meetup; the possibilities are endless. Whatever you do and however you do it, find your likeminded peoples and get them close. You’ll be surprised how quickly they ignite new ideas in you and fresh inspiration.
8. Change up your environment
James Clear believes that “Environment is the invisible hand that shapes human behaviour.”
Offices come in many forms and even your home office can feel like a bit of a prison. You left the office and decided to set up a business knowing that it would give you the flexibility to work on your own terms. Then you set up a home office and it feels like you never get out of there! So perhaps it’s time to breathe the free air again my friend. A change of scenery or a mix up of your normal routine could end up sparking a new wave of creativity, or giving you a fresh zeal for moving your business forward.
James gives us three strategies that we can implement pretty quickly in a lot of cases. Here’s the summary:-
- Automate good decisions – If you struggle with making good decisions about things like eating well, or not going on social media so much, then automate it. Get an app to block you from your social media so you aren’t constantly seeing your friends lives to make you unhappy. Get food boxes that have all the ingredients need prepared for quick, easy healthy meals. If you’re abroad, and you can afford it, find your favourite healthy eating places and go there regularly.
- Get in the flow and bring what you need to you – for example, if you’re suffering from loneliness because you feel like there isn’t enough time in the day to go out of your way to meet people, bring the people to you. You could try loads of different coliving retreats, you could try setting up an event and inviting people…there’s plenty of ways to have it so the party comes to you and you don’t need to move from your usual spots.
- Subtract Negative Influences – Eliminate unnecessary things from your to-do list that are giving you anxiety. If they’re necessary and they can be outsourced, for less stress and a clearer mind, for the love of God outsource it.
Immediate Actions then…
- Automate what you can
- Bring the happiness to you
- Reduce Anxiety
9. Introduce Powerful Mental Models
Mental models can be described as values that you can add to your life. They act as a lens which you can view your personal situation through and they are powerful because they can change your whole perspective just by changing your mental model. Here are some of our favourite examples:
- Take Responsibility for Your Life – you’ve gotten this far because you decided to build something for yourself. So remember that fire once again. You changed your life before, and you can alter it again. You just need to want to.
- Focus on the Process and NOT on the Outcome – Set the destination but focus on the journey. It makes life so much more enjoyable.
- Remember you are a Human Being NOT a Human Doing – life is about balance. There’s a time to work and a time to play. A time to take action and a time to reflect. There is value in balance. When you’ve achieved a goal, however small it is, take time to reflect on it. 15% of your time should be for rest. If you’ve got any Christian friends, ask them about the principle of resting and they’ll tell you “If God can rest, so can you!”
I feel more positive already!
Achieving personal and professional happiness begins with a journey of self reflection, honesty and a willingness to find your purpose. We realise more and more that there is no one-size-fits-all strategy – your journey is as unique as you are. But what will your legacy be? What will be the motivator that drives you as move forward from this place of dissatisfaction?
You deserve to be happy, and you deserve to be fulfilled but more importantly, this world needs what you have to offer.
What a shame it would be for you to miss out on making the contribution you were born to deliver.