“Is it time to sell my business/quit my job/downsize…?”
Over the past several months, I’ve heard this question over and over from the leaders I advise.
They’re wondering… is it all worth it?
Overachieving professionals (myself included) tend to go through life with the cruise control stuck at 95 miles per hour. We slow down every now and then to pick up awards and accolades but soon jump back into the game, obsessed with the next achievement.
Nothing can derail our charge toward perfection and accomplishment.
That is, until we run headfirst into a life-altering, global pandemic that forces us to question everything.
Reflecting on your path is a healthy (and usually uncomfortable) process.
I’ve had this wake-up call a handful of times in my life. Each time, I’ve searched my soul to figure out what was most important in my life.
I hate to admit this, but at one point, the most important factor was income. The short-term win felt good for a while, but it only led to more stress and worry long-term. I found that no matter how much I achieved, satisfaction from money and status was fleeting.
It’s time to reimagine success.
Over many years of researching and testing this idea of happiness/purpose/meaning, I discovered some secrets. These secrets are tactics you can put into place today that will help you on the path toward enjoying your journey.
Disclaimer: Real life-change doesn’t start with a drastic change. Authentic change grows from a tiny mental shift that you choose to act on today, then tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day, and the … (well, you get the idea). It’s not easy, and it will be uncomfortable at times.
But it’s totally worth it.
Shift your mindset; find happiness.
In your quest to find meaning, before you sell the company or quit your job, consider these ideas:
Perfection is your enemy. It’s unlikely that you will experience “that one moment” where the stars align and you become crystal clear about why you are on this earth. More likely, there will be small sign posts to help you adjust your path. Be patient. Becoming the best version of yourself might take your entire lifetime. But, like every trajectory, an incremental change today makes a drastic impact down the road. Start by asking simple questions: What do I enjoy doing that not everyone else enjoys? What do other people tell me I do well?, etc. — and then listen to the answers.
Life is onlyabout relationships. Everything else is a noisy distraction. Unfortunately, as professionals, we are sometimes so busy growing our careers that we don’t slow down long enough to build these bonds. We tell ourselves that we’ll become a better friend, spouse, parent as soon as we’ve got more time. Trust me, the “as soon as” never comes. Who is one person — just one — you can prioritize today?
You can’t enjoy life if you’re not in good health, both physiologically and psychologically. While healthy is relative to each person, you’ll get significantly more satisfaction in life if you exercise, watch what you eat and manage your stress. A heart attack, anxiety, obesity, etc., are the great equalizers — they don’t care about your job title or 401k.
Everyone has something they love to do. The famed psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is credited with coining the concept of “flow” — a mental state of heightened awareness where a person could maximize productivity and happiness. Your goal in this journey is to find what brings you joy and do more of it. It might be fishing, singing, reading, or — in my case — speaking in front of an audience. Life is too short to ignore what makes you smile.
Humans are wired to make a meaningful difference in the lives of other people. I recently finished The Second Mountainby David Brooks and was reminded that fulfillment comes from making our communities, neighborhoods, towns better. You want to feel better about your journey? Find someone who needs help, then give generously.
Never let a good crisis go to waste.
Amid this pandemic, remember the advice of Winston Churchill to never let a good crisis go to waste. This is your opportunity to reflect on what really matters in your life. Take a few minutes and write down one thing you can do today that will help you become the type of person you want to be.
Remember… it might be uncomfortable.
I promise it’s worth it.