As a business mentor I work with people from different industries and at different positions, including at some very high end jobs. Some of them have every success one can wish for but still feel something is missing or something is wrong and they feel stuck. This may be a mystery to the outside world as we tend to define happiness with achievement and material possessions. We think that once we have the car, house, job, partner, etc. we will be happy. Then many can’t understand how someone who has all those things, and more, could be unhappy.
The thing is, happiness has nothing to do with what you have. It has everything to do with what you do, how you spend your days. And when you are doing the wrong things, you are at all the wrong places, oftentimes surrounded by the wrong people. You may have a lot but still feel empty, unhappy and normally stuck as you don’t recognise or keep ignoring that piece that’s missing. You feel disconnected.
I’m not saying that having material things doesn’t make you feel happy. But what you’ll find is that the happiness is short lived. Why not have both the material things and the internal sense of fulfillment and happiness as well?
If you find yourself in a position of feeling that you’re missing something, consider one of the following:
Not Being Passionate
When you wake up in the morning, do you feel eager to get to the office or do you feel depressed about it? If the latter is the case, well you’ve got a problem. Not feeling passion about what they do for a living is a very common issue today. I’ve worked with business owners who may have gotten into business just because it is what they had experience in and knowledge of. Others had an idea of for a new business venture. It may have been exciting at first, being the boss, and having financial independence and freedom feels good for a change. But when the novelty wears off, you are left with a job which may not be that sexy in reality and, in most cases, is very much down to a routine, just like most jobs out there. So you are torn between the need to make a living and the fact that you don’t like what you do.
Why is this problem? Clearly because you are unhappy. But also if you are not passionate about what you do, everything you do will be an effort. You won’t give 100%. And guess what? Regardless of how much you try, your company will never become No 1 in your industry if your heart and soul aren’t into what you do.
You’re Too Busy
Do you ever get that feeling that you are working hard and you are doing a lot but it is not fulfilling? Many people are busy running their business, having a social life, raising a family, etc. They know they are doing a lot (since they are always busy) and can’t understand how could there be something missing. The thing is, most of us never find time just for ourselves. Time dedicated to express our psyche. It may be through writing, design of some kind, painting, horseback riding, surfing or anything that makes you feel alive. This is important because this is the time you connect to yourself; it is a sort of meditation if you will.
Why is this a problem? Busyness has become some sort of a virtue today. Being busy makes us feel important and valuable. However being constantly busy also disconnects you from what is really important because you don’t have time for it. Other things seem more important. But if you feel disconnected, it doesn’t matter what you do or how much you do, it won’t be completely fulfilling.
If there’s one thing that all of us share, it is that we all need to make sense of our lives, to find meaning. We feel the need to make an impact, to know that our existence made a difference, that we left a mark. While some of us are aware of this basic human urge and make it a priority, others are too busy to see it or they choose to ignore it. The thing is, you can be blind to it for a while or you can ignore it for years but it won’t go away. At some point, everything else, every achievement, every success you’ve had starts to feel superficial because it is only really important to you.
Why is this a problem? You may know you’ve achieved a lot but it won’t feel significant and you won’t enjoy it at some point. It won’t feel as if it matters because it won’t have touched anybody else’s life. Consequently, regardless of success and achievement, you will feel unsatisfied and not completely happy.
Do you ever feel like you want to be doing more but you don’t have the courage to do it? You want to grow your business? Start a new business? Work in a completely different field?
You want to do something that requires bold action on your part and pushes you outside of your comfort zone. We all have our fears and insecurities and all of them stem from our own perception of who we are and what we can do. Have you ever heard people say “I can’t do that, I’m just not that kind of person?” – that’s what I’m talking about. Of course you can do that and of course you can be that person but at some point you believed that you can’t. Events in our life are sometimes so painful that they traumatise us and distort our perception of who we are. We start believing that we are our stories and thus they define us.
Why is this a problem? You want, as we all do, go for more, achieve more, follow our dreams. But there’s a voice inside you that tells you, you can’t be or do that. Every time you hear that voice, it beats you down as it takes away your confidence, it makes you feel less. You feel you are not being all you can be and not achieving all you can achieve. How could you be satisfied and complete when you fears and insecurities keep you hostage?
We tend to do things just to feed our ego or out of fear not to disappoint. We want to make our parents proud, our kids proud, we want to impress friends and those around us. This may be a huge motivation for achievement.
But sometimes it also makes us forget that the longest and the most important relationship we have, is the one with ourselves. So we cannot and should not ignore our deepest, most authentic needs. We all have a potential and some mission and only we, within our hearts, know what that is and what is right for us.
So it’s time to stop measuring success by the definition of others and start measuring it by how aligned we are with our authentic, real self. Only then can we be fulfilled. Only then can we be truly happy.