Recently I had the pleasure of sitting in on a sermon where my pastor spoke about the act of losing one’s way in life. The sermon was mostly based around one’s spiritual journey, but he cleverly encompassed the message not only spiritually but also relationally and within the working world. My pastor presented the thought that, “once you lose your why, you lose your way!”
Whether it’s a first date, a wedding day, graduation, a new car, a new house, or even the first day on a new job, we can all recall a moment in time where we were excited about what we were doing or getting ready to do. Our way seemed clear because we had a strong reason why we needed or wanted the things we were after. But over time, new becomes old, shiny becomes dull, and we forget our why.
This symptom or feeling, where found in many places in our lives, is no more apparent than in our working relations, whether as an employee or an owner. We can all remember that first day on the job where it was all new and exciting. There was so much to learn, challenges to face. You woke up every morning looking forward to your day on the job and all of your fellow employees seemed so sweet, kind, and supportive. Fast forward a year, five years, a decade, and all of sudden you dread every morning when your alarm goes off, you think every person you work with useless and petty, and you go about your day in a mind-numbing fog. What changed?
Unfortunately, this phenomenon is not isolated to employees only, but I believe every business owner will attest to at one point or another of hating the company they owned and ran. As a business owner, you look at your new business as a newborn baby. It is fresh-faced, looking to you for every need, and it’s a new and exciting adventure every day. And then one day, your small little business has hit its teenage years and you are faced with employee drama, taxes, rising health care costs, and difficult customers. You find yourself questioning why you ever got into the business to begin with.
When did you lose your why? Anything and everything worth doing in life takes time and effort. And when things are new and fresh that effort seems easy and fun. But after time the effort gets harder and it feels more like work. But this doesn’t always have to be the case. When you find yourself floating adrift and you’ve lost your way, it’s important to take a step back, retrace your steps, and remember why you started it all to begin with. Refine your passion and excitement for the day-to-day in your life and you may find yourself back on the path sooner then you know it. So how does one go about finding their way again?
Become excited again – try to look back at your original vision and goal
If you want to discover your why again, you must discover where or when you lost it. Retracing your steps, and thinking back to major changes or events in the past can help you possibly identify the missing link or identify the point at which your passion became your plague. This step, while difficult, is worthwhile, since it gives you a chance to rediscover why you wanted to take this journey in the first place. And, it might enlighten you to the fact that it may be time to move on. But ultimately, this thought-provoking time period is necessary to shed the bitterness, resentment, and the overall negative attitude that has become your norm.
One way to find help on your journey to rediscovery is by seeking advice and guidance from other’s around you. You should never be ashamed to reach out to others who have traveled the path before you. Lessons learned from both successes and failures can help relight a fire in your passion for your job or business. It may be that seeking advice from others helps you find the why you’ve been missing.
- Build a team – In some cases, in the journey of rediscovering your why, you find your team (or your job) is not where you need it to be. From an owner’s standpoint, it is paramount for the success of your company to have a solid team working with you and underneath you. In an effort to help build that team, scheduling weekly/monthly brainstorming sessions where your employees are allowed the ability to share input about their working environment or responsibilities is an efficient way to determine how healthy your company really is. By giving your team/employees a voice, you help make them feel necessary/important.
- Look for ways to bring the fun back. So once you’ve found your why again, how do you rebuild your team or yourself? There are several things as either an employee or an owner you can do or suggest to help boost the moral and overall atmosphere of the company/office. Simple things like celebrating and/or acknowledging employee’s anniversaries and birthdays can help make your team feel appreciated and special (even if it’s just for one day). Halloween decorating or costume contests can help your team explore and enjoy their creative sides. Holiday parties are always a plus in giving back to your team and letting them know how much you appreciate them and all they do. Yearly picnics are a great way to experience your team in a relaxed environment, while giving their families an opportunity to join in the fun. No matter what you try and/or do, it’s beneficial to seek feedback from your team either before or after to see what things they enjoyed or didn’t enjoy.
- Learn to relax – For your managers and owners, it is important to understand that you will never find a carbon copy of yourself. Seek to find people who have the strengths you need. Become a leader, not just an owner. Learn to delegate and allow others to help carry the load, relieving some of the stress and giving you a chance to enjoy your business again.
- Community – Become involved in the local community. Participating in holiday parades and supporting local charities and sports teams help create a family within the community. It always feels good when you help others and that feeling can easily transfer to your day-to-day working environment as well.
Most importantly, once you rediscover your why and begin the process of getting back onto your way, don’t allow yourself to slip back into hold habits. When things are going well, it is very easy to allow ourselves to get comfortable and stop trying so hard. The recommendations above aren’t just to rediscover your why, but can also be instrumental in your day to day to keep you from losing it again. So just remember: relax, enjoy yourself, lean on your team, seek guidance when needed, and don’t forget to have fun. The rest will take care of itself.
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