Sometimes things don't work out as planned. What if the Universe has other plans for you that are completely different from the career path you've chosen? How do you know which way to go? If you're feeling burned out, stressed out, and confused, keep reading.
About two years ago, I was having trouble building my coaching business. The pandemic had scared the crap out of everyone. Despite being a stress management coach, I saw business drop off. People didn't seem to want to spend the money. The fear of the unknown was rampant.
I sought the advice of a marketing company. I'm sure they've helped many other folks, but their advice ran counter to what my gut told me. My demographic was different. My business philosphy was on the opposite side of the world! But they were the "experts" so I did what they advised. And my coaching practice took a super hard nose-dive straight into the ground.
Now what? Time for a hard reset. I had to figure out what road to take, what the Universe really wanted from me, and what I was missing. Was this a sign?
I had gotten tired of pushing, striving, constantly scrabbling for the next lead, and losing sleep over not having enough income. But my story is the opposite of what many post-pandemic professionals are doing, it seems.
The pandemic has caused many workers to abandon their corporate careers and take a step back to consider what was next for them. Life is short. Many of us have asked, "Is this really what I want to do for the rest of my life?" Folks are pulling in, getting out of the corporate grind, and trying their hand at something else. They want a better quality of life.
In South Korea, there is a trend among the younger generation of workers called, "living flat." They reject the competitiveness of the workplace, the frustrating push of upward mobility, and choose to live at a lower economic level, but enjoy life as it is. It's actually causing a problem in Korea's economy, since there are fewer young workers to fill critical manufacturing and corporate positions. The workforce is aging, and a shortage of workers looms.
I think a lot of folks don't realize how tough it can be to own a small business. You don't go home at the end of the day, at least not in your head. You are constantly thinking, mentally maneuvering, stretching, pushing, trying to grow. Not all of us are cut out for that. Not all of us are good at that.
Another consideration is motivation. Are you looking to "stick it to the man"? (I have a hard time with authority. Big corporations that either micromanage or assign impossible workloads - or both - are something that drive me batsh*t crazy. Starting my own business got me away from that.) What are you really looking for - to enjoy more time with your family? Spend time in your garden? If you are an entrepreneur, chances are you'll have less time to do those things than before.
So what, then? Is it impossible to have your cake and eat it, too? Are we all doomed to a worklife that is hard, annoying,and exhausting? Is that all there is?
The secret getting out from underneath all of this is what I call Positive Pragmatism. This involves looking at the reality of things, yet still finding joy and gratitude for what we already have.
Yes, we have to be practical. We need money to live. If you have a family, there are things that are necessary for survival. Take a hard look at what you're spending money on. The only things that are 100% necessary for human life are clean water, shelter, clothing, and food. Everything else is a bonus. Decide what bonuses are absolutely necessary for you. My needs are going to be different from yours. My bonuses will be different from yours. Pare it down to the minimum.
Next, decide what kind of experience of life you want. If you choose to have all kinds of "toys," you will be spending a lot more time working to pay for them. How much do you really need? How much time do you want to spend working?
Now consider this: The more grateful we are for what we already have, the more we get. That's right. I've seen it time and time again. The harder we try, the more we push, the less successful we are. When we find the good in what already is, we are focusing on the now. We aren't living in the future. The past is gone, the future isn't here yet. The only reality there is can be found in now. Doesn't it make sense to be in the present, and find the best in it that we can?
Instead of constantly looking ahead at the next "thing," the next goal, stop to appreciate what is in the now. Here's where positivity comes in. Be pragmatic, be practical, but find the good that exists in life, right now. Maybe your boss is a hard driver, but he/she will stand up for you when it's time for a raise. Your coworker may be obnoxious, but that person has mad Excel skills and knows every formula you need, by heart. It may take you five minutes to get to your office from the parking lot, but damn, are you getting exercise every day from that walk! And you get to enjoy the sunshine on nice days - bonus!
There is something I call "The New Car Factor" that explains how gratitude and positivity work in your favor. (I'm NOT talking about "toxic positivity," where everything is happy-happy, joy-joy all the time. That's unrealistic. I'm talking about finding the silver lining in every cloud.) Here's how it works.
The last time you bought a car, did you suddenly notice all the other ones just like it on the road? They didn't just suddenly appear. They were there all the time. The difference is that the model is now familiar to you. When you make gratitude and finding the positives in life your focus, you will attract other people into your bubble that feel the same way. They will find your attitude to be familiar.
They bring with them access into new, positive places. Your entire experience of life will change. Doesn't that sound so much better? Who wouldn't want to experience life in that way?
Picking myself up, dusting off, and swallowing my wounded pride, I hit the job boards. It was one of the best business decisions I've ever made. Not only have I shed the fear, stress, and frustration of running a business, I found the best possible company for me.
I'm able to use my skills and experience to build the business and take a load off my coworkers. I try to inject some humor into my workplace and into the lives of my customers. The pay is great, the benefits spectacular, and management is responsive, warm, and caring. Who knew that this could be?
By being pragmatic ("I must find outside income to pay my expenses, which I have pared down to essentials"), yet staying positive ("I have so many skills to offer, I just need to find the right fit"), I was able to find a great company to work for. What I avoided for so long just fell into my lap because I stayed positive and was grateful for what I already had.
Maybe my solution isn't the best one for everyone. Maybe you feel that you have what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur without sacrificing quality of life. Good for you! But please be practical, pragmatic. Be positive and find gratitude for everything, no matter how small. If you do, the greatest gifts the Universe has to offer will appear, and path will be clear.