As an entrepreneur, chances are good that you left a job of some sort to start your own business. Most business owners I know left the corporate world after becoming disillusioned and dissatisfied with their work-life balance, their pay, and their opportunities for advancement. Yes, there are some who grew up in a family business or started working for themselves as a teen and never looked back, but those are not as common as people who simply said “enough” to the proverbial rat race and decided that they could do better.
But I have a big, pretty intense question for you to ask yourself: are you doing better?
I know, that’s kind of a lot right out of the starting gate.
But seriously…are you doing better than in your corporate career? Are you achieving all of the things that you set out to do?
When you left your job, whether you walked away because you couldn’t stand another work day that could have been the script for a sequel to Groundhog Day, or because you were downsized, you had huge dreams. Big, over-the-top visions of the things you would do on your own. You were excited by these goals. You would not be limited by having to convince someone else that you were ready for a promotion. You would choose your own schedule, determine your work-life balance. You would finally earn what you were worth. You would achieve everything that was so hard to achieve in the corporate world.
Have you done those things?
Now, before this starts to sound like a corporate job bashing, there’s nothing wrong with working for someone else. I mean, that’s the goal of every college graduate, right? Earn your degree and get a good job. Do something you like, earn enough money to make a decent living, buy a house, have a family, take some nice vacations, put the kids through school without saddling them with too much debt, and put money away for retirement. Some version of this has been the American Dream for decades because it’s a nice, comfortable lifestyle. It is enough for a great many people.
But it was not enough for you. That’s why you quit. That’s why you took this huge leap of faith to become your own boss, to conquer your business, to achieve without limits.
So why are you still working toward a “nice” lifestyle? Why are you still working for the minimum? Why are you working toward relief and not reward?
First, let me tell you to that you’re not the only one. A lot of business owners are guilty of this, otherwise I wouldn’t be sitting down to write this article. My goal is to help you break out of this mindset so you can identify exactly what you want out of your business, out of your life, and help you achieve your greatest dreams and desires.
The cost of achieving your dreams is unknown.
There are a variety of reasons that business owners allow themselves to settle for the minimum of what they can accomplish. First, we never calculated the price of achieving the life of our dreams. We all know the amount of the minimum because the bills show up every month, and we know how much they are, right?
We see that the electric bill is $69. We know that the mortgage bill is $2,500. We know that we need $150 to go to the grocery store. So we make plans to cover the bills. And we do that because we have no idea how much the bigger dream costs, either because we’ve never even determined what the dream is in the first place, or we’ve never figured out how much that dream costs.
What is the dollar amount for taking the summer off each year? What is the mortgage for that house on 40 acres with the stable and horses? How much will it cost to retire at 50? How much do you need to earn to hire the staff you need to spend significantly more time with your children?
It is easier to work for the minimum.
The second issue that pops up when it comes to not focusing on what you want is that human beings are great at settling. We reduce the goal either because it seems hard to achieve or because we never really set it to begin with.
So, a question to ask yourself is “When do you settle? When do you reduce your goal?”
Let me give you an example. This is actually a great example because it really shows how much this mindset of working for the minimum just permeates our whole lives.
When I work with my clients, we do 30-day challenges a lot. These challenges are to help them determine what they can do every day for 30 days to either improve who they are in their personal life or improve their business.
One of my clients had a goal of doing a 15-minute plank, so it was a personal and physical fitness goal. Her challenge was to do a plank every day and increase the time until she could do a 15-minute plan. Now, I’ll be really honest with you. The rest of us thought she was nuts. This was no small thing that she was going for. If you’ve ever held a plank for more than one minute, you know that 15 minutes is crazy. Her goal seemed crazy. But she has the background and the ability to do this, so it was not completely out of the realm of possibilities for her.
So, she started posting in our coaching group on Facebook each day about how long she held her plank that day. Four or five days into the challenge, she was still kind of low on the minutes. It was still more than the rest of us in the group could do, but from a mathematical standpoint, looking at how much time she had left and how much progress she had to make, it looked like there was no way for her to accomplish her goal. It was definitely going to be too hard to do, if not impossible. So she asked in the group if it was ok to lower her goal. To which I lovingly replied, “No.”
So here is the big tip on how to break through to your goal. Don’t give up. Seriously, it’s that straight forward. When you ask yourself permission to give up, tell yourself, “No.”
Instead of giving up, ask yourself why you want to give up. Why do you want to settle for less than your original goal?
Are you giving up because it’s starting to look like it won’t work? Are you giving up because it’s starting to look like it might be hard? Are you giving up because it’s starting to look like the path to your achievement is different than the path you though it would be?
When you do not know how much the dream costs, and it seems like it’s a little (or a lot) harder to get there than you originally planned, and you cannot quite see how it will all work, you just stop. You are overwhelmed. You feel like maybe you set your sights too high and are discouraged. And if it can be that challenging to keep going when you know what the goal is, imagine how easy it is to settle for less if you do not have a goal in mind at all?
So how do you break through that?
The goal must be so exciting and rewarding that you can’t help but achieve it.
The first thing to do is to create a goal that you are so freaking exciting about accomplishing that you are willing to do something scary or something hard because you know how much it means to you. In order to be passionate and unstoppable in your pursuit of the dream, you must know exactly what the dream is!
I’ll give you a crazy example.
I volunteer every week at a wildlife rescue as part of tapping into the energy of one of my lifetime goals. That goal is to donate $1 million to wildlife rescue. It is one of my really big, huge, larger than life things.
As part of accomplishing that goal, I volunteer, and there are certain animals that I am perfectly fine working with and certain animals that I’m not. I’ve had to learn how to work with some of the animals that scared me. Now there is a whole training program there and people who teach me the tactics of how to do the different things that I need to learn how to do. And the way that I’m able to continually learn how to work with the animals that scare me is because my commitment to the reward of achieving my goal. We are not talking relief level goals here – we are talking big freakin exciting rewards!
My commitment and excitement about the reward is stronger than the fear. If it wasn’t, I might not be taking Canadian geese in and out of crates, and putting them into tubs so that they could splash around. I might not be dealing with possums and racoons, both of whom have teeth that can bite you. But the reward is greater than my fear of a huge, angry goose, or mammals with teeth.
The reward has got to be bigger, or why would you even bother trying?
A three-part solution to achieving your goals.
It’s really a three-part solution. You have to know the goal, you have to avoid the traps of giving up and settling for less, and you have to know what the dream costs so you can create your plan. The plan that pays for the dream instead of the plan that just pays the electric bill.
Too many times we think we’re not allowed to ask for more. We shouldn’t want more. We shouldn’t want more money or more anything.
I’ll give you permission right here if you need it. You’re allowed to make more, to want more. I will not be able to donate a million dollars to wildlife rescue if I don’t make the million dollars to give away. Right? Am I not being of more service by going for more in my efforts? To make sure I don’t settle in my efforts? To make sure I don’t stop when it gets hard and go for more so that I can be of more?
Find a mentor who sees your potential even when you do not.
One of the things that works well to fix this is to have a mentor. I have mentors at the wildlife rescue who teach me how to work with the more dangerous animals. I have mentors in my business who not only hold me accountable, but who hold space for me as it were, who believe in me before I can believe in myself, and who teach me how to do something. Because they are further along the path than I am towards what I want, they are able to see my potential before I see my potential. All I need to have is the faith that it can happen and to keep going for it!
All my client needed was for me to tell her that I knew she could do it. Basically, she believed in my belief in her before she believed in herself. I will tell you that she made 15 minutes by the end of the month. I think she was a little early, too. It was amazing.
I have a friend who is also a small business owner and a huge Disney fan. Her husband lost over 150 pounds and became a marathon runner. They decided to attend Marathon Weekend at Disney World and she signed up for the 5K and the 10K with the understanding that they would walk those shorter races together and her husband would save his running energy for the half marathon and full marathon that same weekend as he was doing a 4-race challenge called The Dopey Challenge.
The 10K has a minimum pace requirement of a 16-minute mile. My friend walks for exercise but has zero interest in being a runner, so she was worried about the 16-minute mile requirement. She is rather tall with a long stride, and she did a lot of training for months before the race, but she was still nervous. If you do not go the required pace, you are at risk of being removed from the race route and put on a bus to the finish line. The pace is set by a trio of women unofficially known as the Disney Balloon Ladies, and if they pass you, it’s off to the busses.
As she and her husband waited in the corrals where the particpants gather, he told her that they would need to go faster than they had walked at the 5K the day before. The day before they had averaged a 20 minute mile, which was ok because it was not timed like the 10K. As they began the race, he grabbed her hand and set out immediately at the faster pace, and she lost her cool. She usually starts off slower and then gets up to her faster speed over the first quarter of a mile and it felt like her lungs were exploding in the damp, cold Florida morning. She started crying, told him to go on and leave her, that she didn’t care if she got swept, that she couldn’t keep up with him because he was 6’5”. He just kept holding her hand and walking. She continued to ugly cry, not realizing that she kept walking faster and faster while venting all of her frustrations.
As the pace became a little easier, she calmed down but still felt like she couldn’t do the faster pace for 6 more miles. However, fifteen minutes later her husband looked at his running watch, and said, “Um, you know we are walking a 13-minute mile and you are not even remotely out of breath? You can do way more than you think you can do, it’s all in your head, your body is fine!” They ended up finishing the 10K with the Balloon Ladies far behind them, and her race bling hangs on her mirror to this day. She knows she would have given up if it had not been for her husband stepping into a coaching role and helping her break through her mental limitations.
No matter what your goal is, don’t just settle for the minimum. Go for something bigger.Whether you are planking, doing a 10K, or building a successful business, know how much you need to achieve it and don’t give up on it. And when you achieve it, set another goal, and even bigger one. Don’t settle for less and make sure you have someone who can help you get there. Someone who knows the path.