When you think about your business and life as a business owner, do you know why you do what you do? Does leading your business provide the life you imagined it would when you started it, or is it running you ragged with little payoff?
Your business should serve your life, not the other way around. But for many business owners we meet, this isn’t the case. The business starts to consume their life, costing them their health, relationships and more. They come to us because they need help—when you’re working in the business day in and out, it’s hard to see how anything could be different. It can be different, and starts by shaping a clear picture of the life you want to have.
Here’s how to clarify what you want for your life outside of work so you can start shaping your business to support it.
Discover your simple wants
For most of us, the biggest real life changes come from moments when we’re being the most authentic and vulnerable. It’s then that we can start digging deeper and coming to simple realizations, like: “I just really want to spend two hours a day using my hands,” or “I always dreamed of being home to have breakfast and dinner with my family.”
To start getting to your most simple desires, be authentic enough to sit with questions such as: What do I want? Who do I want to be? How do I want to live? What gives me energy? And don’t just sit with these questions—hold them with an open hand and let the answers emerge over time, rather than trying to force the truth to come out.
Be vulnerable enough to ask for help and realize that you don’t have all the answers. In our Coaching Program, we have the pleasure of working with clients like Andy. When he came to us, Andy was working over 80 hours a week. He had three children, two of them under the age of five. He was waking up and checking email; coming home and checking email; working late into the night; ignoring his wife and children. In short, he was tired, overwhelmed and had his finger in every pie. He needed guidance.
Through coaching, Andy got crystal clear on what he wanted from life. And guess what? He wasn’t interested in climbing Everest or building a billion-dollar business. His wish list was simple:
- Work fewer hours
- Play football in the park with his children
- Read them a bedtime story
- Go to the gym
- Have weekends away with his wife now and again
- Never work at home
Far too often, people look for a life-changing “why” statement that will solve all their problems and frustrations. Sometimes it even works. But for most, small and simple steps taken consistently lead to far bigger gains over time. Try these three small processes to bring your life wishes to the surface.
Find what fuels you
Make a list of all the things in your life that energize you—the things that light you up. Then make a list of all the things that suck energy out of you.
Now aim to increase the time spent each week on things that give you energy, and reduce the time spent on things that take it away.
If the list isn’t very long, that’s okay—this isn’t a competition. Sit with the question of what drives you. Create a note in your phone, and whenever something happens that gives you true energy, that feels alive for you, take note and add it to the list. Do the same for the things that take energy away from you.
Let your values guide you
What values do you want to live your life by? Not the values you currently live by—you’re creating the life you want, not the one you’ve already got.
Take a moment to dream, to live in the land of possibility. You get to choose.
Maybe you want to have more fun. Be more authentic. Connect with people. Be healthier than you’ve ever been.
Once you have a list of your top values, write down exactly what they mean to you, in detail. For example, if you value “fun” you might write:
I’m the person who brings fun and joy into the lives of people I meet. I laugh every day. I create experiences in life that make me smile. I dance and sing even when it feels silly, because it’s fun. I smile first when I meet someone because it feels good. I’m here for a good time.
Your values are your compass to help you take the right turns in life. Having a set of personal values that move you deeply gives you the freedom to live a life of integrity with yourself. You’ll feel more relaxed, more connected to what’s important to you and more alive. Your business is a reflection of you, and living with intention and through the filter of your values will help you start to become clearer about the kind of behaviors and values you want reflected in your business—making it even more aligned with what drives you and creating uniqueness in your marketplace at the same time.
Visualize the future you want
Visualization can be a powerful tool to realizing a dream. For this, get out a piece of paper and describe in vivid detail how you want the rest of this year to pan out. For example:
Dear (insert your first name),
Wow. What an amazing year! I’m sitting here toasting a glass of red wine, looking back over the last few months—and it feels good. The highlights include (insert specific ways you’ve lived your life, the values you’ve lived by, your health, relationships, adventures, business success—everything—write it longhand and hold nothing back).
(Insert your name)
This letter will help you get clear on what matters to you. It’s okay if it’s a simple letter—it’s between you and you and nobody else. When you read it, let yourself really feel the emotions it creates. If you’re simultaneously excited and scared, congratulations—you’re on the right path! The letter and the life you describe in it should give you energy and make you feel like you’re connecting with something that’s been waiting to emerge for a long time.
Build a foundation to support your goals
When you have done the work to identify your guiding values and the vision for what simple things you want to start building into your life, the next step is to build the structure you need to start delegating and letting go.
For Andy, all of the simple things he wanted seemed out of reach. Why? Because, among other reasons, he brought in the most sales—the key clients would only work with him.
Once Andy worked on empowering his staff and gently weaned his clients off of insisting that he handle all their business personally, guess what Andy started doing?
- Working fewer hours
- Playing football in the park with his children
- Reading them a bedtime story
- Going to the gym
- Having weekends away with his wife now and again
- Never working at home.
And his business started growing because he had empowered his team to deliver amazing work.
Be okay with not having all the answers
When you’re going through these exercises, be okay with “blankness”—it can take time for answers to emerge. By starting to dream about what you want and asking these personal questions with intention, you’ll find that the answers surface.
Simply starting to get clearer on your values, your purpose, your why—your whatever—will enable you to be far more intentional in creating your business.
Few entrepreneurs are able to build a successful business that serves their life without a mentor. If you realize that it's time to get support, reach out to schedule a free one-on-one session with an EMyth Coach.