In my previous post, I wrote about the importance of having a sense of joy in your work. Happy companies are more successful and happy people perform better. But 85% of people do not feel engaged in their work. Yikes.
If you’re running a business, your lack of joy is likely to filter through to your team, and that internal unhappiness will spread to your customers or clients. Connecting with the purpose and drive you had in the beginning is crucial.
Lack of joy and purpose is the major reason that 77% of small businesses suffer the effects of burnout. So if you’re not feeling the love for your role or your business, what can you do about it?
Start with why
The most important question to ask yourself is, why did you start doing this in the first place? You began this business for a reason. Sure, it might have been to make money, but you could make money doing all sorts of things. You chose this. Why?
Something made you pick this particular path, so remind yourself of what that was. Were you attracted to an innovative new area or a niche you’d spotted in the market? Did you want to build on your personal skill or expertise? Were you looking for a new challenge? Which element of your business made you think, “This is the one”?
Whatever it was, if you’ve lost your sense of joy then the chances are you’ve lost touch with that element that gave you the spark. If you wanted to be innovative or disruptive, has your business moved too much to the middle of the road for your liking? Maybe it’s time to shake things up again. If you wanted to build on your own skills, have you become too detached from the work itself or aren’t taking enough opportunities to shout about your skill and position yourself as an industry expert?
Identify what it was that gave you the feels at the beginning, and work out how you can bring more of that into your everyday.
Clarify your impact
Whatever it is that you do, your business solves a problem for someone. It fulfils a need and responds to an issue. Reacquainting yourself with the impact you are making in the lives of your clients or customers helps you get in touch with your sense of purpose.
In what way do you make people’s lives better? It doesn’t matter if it’s entirely frivolous – we all need a bit of frivolity in our lives from time to time. Think about how you bring value to the people that buy from you, then think about how you can build on that. Could you make your product, service or business more helpful, more valuable, more impactful? If you’ve lost a sense of purpose, it may be because you’ve lost the feeling that what you do is worthwhile, so look at how you can feel good about what you bring to others.
Find your balance
We hear time and time again about the importance of work/life balance, but business owners and entrepreneurs are the worst for ignoring all the best advice. The fallacy that being successful equates to working round the clock has run rampant in our society and in the media, and we feel that if we take a break everything we fall apart. In fact, the opposite is true. Human beings are not designed to work long hours and can’t sustained prolonged levels of productivity. Taking time out to recharge means we work infinitely better and more effectively than if we flog ourselves until we drop.
Not only that, but if you’re constantly on the business treadmill and trying to exclude all other aspects of your life to prove what a power self-sacrificer you are, you’re stripping all the joy out of your life, meaning that of course there’s none left to put into your business.
Find working patterns and approaches that fit with your life and routine. Track the hours that you are most productive and the hours that you generally have slumps (there are apps for that, but you probably already have a pretty good sense of when your best times are already), and work during the hours that are going to be useful, not the ones that aren’t. Make time for the hobbies, activities and experiences that nourish your whole self, so that you have an energised body and mind to bring to work. Say yes to things that make you feel excited and motivated, and no to things that make you feel miserable and drained. It’s that simple.
Make tough choices
When you look at the elements of your working day, week and month, what are the things you really love? Are there any that you really dread? There will, always, be some tasks you’re not so keen on that just have to be done, but is there a way to minimise the time you spend on the less fun ones and to spend more time doing the things you love? Can you make sure the less fun tasks are spread across the week in amongst the fun ones? Do you need to adjust your role slightly or bring in someone else to help you?
If there are a lot of elements that you’re not keen on, it may be time for some difficult decisions. Do you need to think seriously about the direction you’re taking? Is it time to adapt or adjust your business to follow a path that brings you more joy? There is no point continuing down a road that’s not leading anywhere good just because it’s the one you’ve always been on. What would happen if you took a slight detour? You don’t have to throw your business out the window and start form scratch, sometimes very small changes and tweaks to your approach can make a big difference to your outlook. Or you can set in motion a process of evolution and development that will gradually transform your business over a period of years.
Make a list of everything you love and everything you hate about how you’re currently working. And I mean everything. Then look at that list and spot the patterns. What changes can you make that would reduce the hate column and lengthen the love one?
You spend a third of your life at work (and another third asleep!), so it really is not worth being unhappy. Not only that, but if you’re not happy then you’re hurting your own productivity and your business’ profit margins. So if you’re not feeling a sense of joy in your role, it’s time for a shake up. Don’t settle for anything less than ecstatic.
Want to know more about finding a sense of purpose in your business? Let’s chat about how we can identify the values that underpin what you do and the problems you solve, then we can create a strategic approach for creating a meaningful impact.