“What’s the thing in your business that gives you the most joy?” I asked.
“There hasn’t been any joy around here for a long time” he said. “I’m just putting in the work so in 5 years’ time I can retire and then I’ll enjoy myself.”
He looked deflated at the prospect of 5 more years without joy but he felt powerless to change the business that gave him a reasonable income; it was familiar work even though it was no longer engaging and exciting him. He’d backed himself into his own corner, because he hadn’t stopped to think about what he was doing.
“Oh no, that’s not how it’s supposed to be,” I thought, his resignation washing over me like a wave of grief for what he was giving up in order to make a living.
This conversation actually happened word for word with a prospective client, and I hear it too often in various formats from business owners who’ve lost their way. Work has become something they grind out daily in the hope of a brighter future, but no actual plan.
It definitely does not have to be like that.
In fact, it’s easier than you think IF you alter your perspective a degree or two and give up a few things you’re doing now in order to get the joy back.
Before you start resisting, know this: people have all sorts of reasons and excuses for why they can’t do things. They even blame other people! What’s rare is a person who is willing to work out how they CAN do things and take responsibility for it.
If you are one of the rare people here’s what you’d do:
Make a list or a mind map or a chart of all the things you do best in the business. Not just the things you CAN do but the things you do better than almost anybody.
Now, get real with it. For each item ask these filtering questions
- “If I never did this again in my life, how would I feel?”
- “If I did this for the next 5 to 10 years, how would I feel?”
- “What would happen if I decided to delegate this or teach it someone else to do?”
- “Will the world end or will somebody die if I don’t do this?”
- “Is there something I’m not doing that I passionately want to do?”
Separate your lists into 3 categories:
Your “stop doing” list can be delegated…
…OR you could change the nature of your business so that those things are NO LONGER NECESSARY.
Your “start doing” and “continue doing” lists should contain your joy and your genius. If not, filter it again. Rinse and repeat until you feel the wellspring of joy inside you.