It’s a question every teenager gets asked. In fact, you asked it too. And you probably spent many hours labouring away working out the answer.
In fact, I bet you did the equivalent of what those geeky people in lab coats do.
Here’s the thing.
We spend hours, weeks, months and years working this out. And when we are unhappy we are prepared to change careers to seek that elusive happiness that just seems to slip away when we think you have got there.
And we are trained to think about our careers and so we analyse them inside out back to front, up and down.
And I am no different.
Our jobs and careers, once we choose them, seem to define us. Most things we do seem to revolve around them. Often as business owners, our businesses come first.
Blame your parents. Blame your schoolteachers, especially the ones you hated. And while you’re at it, blame the government too. Because they were the ones who taught you that hard work was the most important thing in life.
But the problem is it never works out the way we expect. We are told to work hard, achieve a great career and you will achieve happiness. Many look at others and think everyone else is happy. They see the big houses, and the expensive cars and think if they had them, they would be made for life.
But it rarely works out that way.
I have clients who earn extraordinary amounts by average standards. Yet they are tied to their businesses, working most hours of the day including weekends. They have toys, but they do not seem to have freedom, which is what we all crave for. Many are scared to take a few days off, have not been away in years and are fearful that their business will implode or even explode if they were not there supervising the whole business.
And these are the times (for some it is often and for others less so) that we get disillusioned and feel down because freedom is more important to us emotionally than we realise.
Now I know many of you think it never happens to other business owners. But it does. And it’s normal. Even, I, superhuman extraordinaire, (Ok I agree that is a bit melodramatic but it is good for my ego) find that there are things that are missing from time to time.
And I am the one with a passion for owning cars outright. I have a home that has been debt free since I was 38 and have sufficient financial resources that allow me to work when I want, not because I must. And I have a great team that can run the business if I am not there. Now I am not telling you this to boast or make you feel inferior. But even when we have what we think we want we feel there is something missing. And I was in that place late last year.
Now I rarely say this, but my wife is a clever woman. She sensed that something was not right, and I batted away her concerns with some excuse for things happening at the office. But that really was not the case.
So, she did to me what I do to my clients on daily basis. She simply asked ‘What is it you want?’ And like my clients I give some rambling crap that would barely register on the truth scale.
It seems I have taught her well. Because she asked the same question so many times that I was so desperate to get away that I answered the question. And when I did, I knew exactly what needed to be done.
It meant going away for a while. About 5 weeks in fact. On my return, fully rested I was ready to go at 100km/ hr. I was on mental steroids. On my return, in early January I think my team thought I had lost it. Ros my manager sat me down and told me in her stern and polite way that maybe I need to slow down a bit. And I have done that. But I am still more energetic and active than I was a few months ago.
As business owners, we often have a lot on our plates. It can be illness, pressures at home or responsibilities elsewhere. And we often forget that we need breaks to clear our heads so that we can ask “What is it I want?” even though we often know what that answer is.
So, ask the question “what do I want” and if your answer barely registers on the truth scale ask again. And again. And again, until you get an answer you know is probably about right.
Because I can tell you one thing. There is nothing more powerful that will get you going than knowing what it is you want. Because you will go after it with a passion.