Imagine a 3-question pop-quiz:
- (Daily) What are your responsibilities as a business owner: Hah. Many.
- (Longer-term) What is your responsibility as a business owner: To ensure the success of the business.
- (Lifetime)What is your main focus as someone living in this time, in this era, in your culture, doing the things you do?
These questions may seem kind of unconnected, first asking about the business then becoming sort of metaphysical, but in light of all that we’ve seen happen when the internet (and the new communication technologies that followed) revolutionized the ways we can talk and share with each other.
We’re always connected, and yet feel disconnected at times.
We share a lot of our lives online, but feel like nobody really knows who we are.
And sometimes we feel there is more for us to do ‘out there’, yet we feel aimless, detached and unmotivated ‘in here’ (points to self).
The cost of doing something with intent is becoming lost in it. As paradoxical as it may sound, we often look for Big Things for ourselves: a cause to devote yourself to, something bigger than you. A vocation, a calling, a reason for being. We want to lose ourselves in a grand undertaking–and in doing so find our reason for being here.
We are also afraid of getting lost — which is why we do so much stuff, to prove to ourselves and others that we got things going on. Important things, you know? We’re not aimless drifters. We get stuff done.
We also burn out, or get bogged down.
When the minutiae, the weight and the droning buzz of daily work becomes too much, step back and look at your life, and then look at yourself. Think of it as checking in, or touching base.
- How have you been growing as a person, as a member of the greater human family?
- How much have you grown since this time last year? What new things are you engaging in?
- Who are you helping? What new things are you loving?
- What fears have you faced down? What hidden strengths have you found within yourself?
- What are you doing to help the world hurt a little less, and other people live a little better?
Yes, you started a business on your own because you wanted to make money at something you’re good at and want to do.
- You needed a way to make money to support yourself. You never fit in corporate.
- You wanted more. You wanted anything but what you had before, so you made your own way, and you’re making money off it.
Aside from making a profit, your top business goals might include: make a difference, have fun, challenge yourself, have and own your own time, to be there for your kids while they’re growing up, or fill-in-your-own-reasons-here.
When you feel like you’ve hit a wall in your business — the angry customers seem to get even more demanding, paper-work never quits, you’re always connected,you can’t remember the last time you had a really good day at work and the things you’ve attained just aren’t doing it for you anymore– how do you get back that commitment, that engagement, you had in the the earlier days?
Follow the breadcrumbs. Every life leaves a story you can read in hindsight.
Think about your responses to the following questions:
- Why are you doing the things you choose to do today? What about the things you have on schedule for this week?
- To finish this task, to attend to that activity, yes, but why?
- Keep asking why, peeling back the layers, until you can’t go any further.
- You built this business for a reason.
- You’re doing this for a reason, or for several very important reasons.
- Do you remember what they are now?
Money, independence, creativity, control — You have a host of reasons to do the things you do. When the work itself is pulling you down, go back and remember the core of all those reasons.
Everybody has to work. Brushing aside the idle rich, human beings need meaning and purpose in our lives, and work is a very large part of what contributes that. Without something to build around (a core), to aim for (goals), to spend oneself on (meaning), we feel empty. Aimless. Pointless.
When small-W work gets you down, taking the time to put things in perspective can help you recalibrate and right yourself. Big-W Work is inspirational. It’s long-term. It’s, well, big Work.
It’s also exhausting to look at for far too long because it is big. Smaller work helps you handle Big Work because it’s achievable, breaking down the Big Work in acceptable pieces.
You don’t have to think about 5 or 10 years from now, just handle today. You nail down the things you need to do and trust that all the daily work you’ve been doing has been building up to something, and is getting you closer to the higher goals you set for yourself.
It is very easy to get lost in the small work because it’s so immediate, and most of the time you get used to it. Checking up on stuff, cultivating contacts, solving problems, navigating changing trends and various industry demands — at these things and more can really make your days seem full. But when your journey turns monotonous and tiring on the soul, when it seems like what you’re doing isn’t taking you anywhere, you need to go back to the path you mapped out for yourself.
You chose to take this particular path. With that choice comes the responsibility and accountability of taking care of yourself while you’re on it. Test for your self the things and activities that will help you recharge and come back to work renewed.
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