Have you ever gone through a phase in your life where you can’t quite get yourself out of bed in the morning?
I mean literally. For days, weeks or months on end, your motivation seems to have left the building. I’ve occasionally had these phases in my own life and I’m sure you have at times, too.
These events are especially memorable if you’ve been someone who is motivated and has been hitting it hard to achieve your goals at work or in life.
In my experience, the root cause of a loss of motivation is often a lack of clarity about the future.
Famously, the first astronauts returned from the Moon and fell into a total funk of depression.
Because they’d just gone and achieved a goal they’d spent years and years trying to achieve.
In fairness, what the hell do you do with yourself after you’ve been to the Moon? I don’t know either.
But my point is that you need to have the next goal or objective pulling you forward. Without that next objective, things can fall flat energetically and emotionally.
Having goals and objectives that mean something, and I want to emphasise that bit, they really have to matter, is what gives a person the motivation to push forward.
You’ll also recognise from your own life experiences that when something really matters to you, you can literally walk through brick walls to achieve it.
Why are you doing this?
As you move forward in your business you can sometimes forget why you set up in the first place. It’s easy to get pulled off track, or settle into a pattern of ‘winging it’ and ‘rolling with the punches.’
A lot of business owners tell me they feel a little bit out of control. Events run them. They react to things that happen in their business. They don’t really lead the business. It feels more like they’re riding a bucking bronco, hanging on for dear life.
We’ve all been there.
Working on your vision for the future is the first step in regaining control of your business, and then your life. It’s like grabbing the reins on that bucking bronco. Now, you might be able to exert some control over the direction of travel.
When you don’t have a clear vision, every opportunity can look enticing.
The problem for most entrepreneurial types when they don’t have a clear focus on what they really want is not a lack of ideas; it’s that everything sort of looks interesting. And so you can find yourself bouncing from one opportunity to the next, but then not really ending up in the place where you wanted to.
When you get absolutely clear about what it is you want, it gets much easier to say ‘no’ to the ‘shiny things’ that can distract you.
Don’t let anyone fool you about this introspective work. It’s tough stuff. “What do you want?” seems like such a simple question to answer, until you try answering it.
Some questions to get you thinking
Here are a few questions to get you thinking about your own ‘why’.
The first question is, “Why am I doing this?” and by ‘this’ I mean why are you doing your business.
Now, the first response might be, “Because I’ve got to earn some money.” I get it. We’ve all got to earn some money, but I want you to go deeper than for the money.
“Why am I doing this?”
Is there some sort of burn inside you to make something of yourself?
The author, Paulo Coehlo calls it “the silent enemy”. The teacher that told you at school you’d never amount to anything. An old boss who tried to keep you small when you became better than them. Or maybe a friend who’s always telling you how stupid you are for suffering along in your current business when you could be like them and sell your soul for more money to a larger corporate job.
Sometimes that stuff fires us up.
Maybe you’ve got a different burn. A burn to change the world for the better. Some sort of social purpose.
Adam Carolan at Next Gen Planners tells the story of how his mother received really poor advice that caused a lot of financial and personal heartache. It’s the burn that made him want to change an industry. His motto when he started Next Gen with his partners was “Be good, or be gone.” That’s powerful, personal stuff.
Maybe your wife, husband, boyfriend, girlfriend, or your extended family don’t believe in you and think you’re wasting your time. Is that your motivator? To prove them all wrong.
Do you want to make an impact on the world, or your local community? Do you want to do work that changes people’s lives? You’re in the right job if that’s the case.
Do you want to be respected?
Do you want to find out what you’re made of? To find out what your personal potential is?
Then get it down on paper, now.
Feel it. Let it hurt if it hurts. Let it explode from your brain or your heart if that’s how it comes out. No one’s looking over your shoulder. This is between you and the Universe.
Take a few minutes to jot down your first thoughts, now.
Ok, the next question is, “Why am I sacrificing myself for this project?” And when I say ‘this project’ I’m referring to your business.
Some people get a bit funny about the word sacrificing. Let me explain why I think it’s appropriate, even if you love what you do.
There’s always an element of sacrifice in anything worthwhile. Tom Brady, the multiple Super Bowl winning quarterback for the New England Patriots says, “What are you willing to do and what are you willing to give up to be the best you can be?”
It’s a great question and ties into why you might be willing to sacrifice yourself, or some things in your life, to be great or to achieve goals that mean something to you personally.
You can’t do it all. So what will you do, and what are you prepared to forgo to get it?
If you can get clear on why you’re sacrificing yourself for your big goals it can act as the ‘pull’ when things get tough. And that’s almost inevitable, isn’t it; that we’ll go through tough times? We’re all going to be tested along the way. Knowing ‘why’ we’re prepared to make some sacrifices really helps in those moments.
Is it for your children?
Or is it for the same reasons you answered in the previous question?
Explore this question for a few minutes.
The next question is:
“What’s the higher purpose for you and your business (A purpose bigger than money.)?”
What’s the big, meaningful goal that’s nothing to do with the financial targets you might have for yourself or your business?
Some people are cool with this question and others struggle a bit. It’s not an easy one to answer. But I’m going to ask you to dig in and try to find what that higher purpose is for you.
This is not a religious question as one person once asked me.
Finding a higher purpose can be a game-changer. It can deeply affect your view of what you’re doing with your business and it can definitely affect how your team or prospective new team members feel about working with you.
It might be something that’s pretty obvious for Financial Planners. For example, you might say “I want to change people’s lives for the better when they come into contact with my business.” For me that’s the start of a higher purpose.
Or, you might say, “I want to impact my local community, my region, my country, or the world with what I do.”
George Foreman was the former heavyweight boxing champ, famous for his fight with Muhammad Ali, the Rumble in The Jungle. George returned to boxing at age 38 after a 10 year retirement. He went on to reclaim a version of the World Heavyweight boxing title at age 45.
Because he needed the money. Not for himself. But for the kids he was helping in his Youth Centre in Houston.
Not only did he win the world heavyweight boxing title, but he joined forces with a company to promote a grill which became known as the George Foreman grill and made over $200 million in that partnership – more than he ever earned from Boxing.
He had a higher purpose – to help others.
What’s your higher purpose?
Jot down some ideas right now.
Where to from here?
These are questions that can help you identify the next specific steps to take in your business. They can help you cut through the noise and confusion in your mind.
If you want to explore a whole lot more questions like this, check out this 30-minute webinar I did recently for the Personal Finance Society. It’s called The Power In Your Purpose and it’s free to view. It’s also got a great freebie in it too that you can download.
“We who cut mere stones must always be envisioning cathedrals.”
– The medieval quarry worker’s creed as cited in “Deep Work” by Cal Newport.
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When you don’t have a clear vision, every opportunity can look enticing.
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