What to Do When You Aren’t Fulfilled By Your Business

You see posts of online businesses everywhere gushing about how fulfilling their business is, how the work they do doesn’t feel like work, and how they are so lucky to be doing what they’re doing. But you don’t feel the same! What do you do when this happens? Here’s how I deal with it…

Can We Really Expect Fulfilment from Our Businesses?

I don’t believe that we need to be fulfilled by everything we do in our businesses. In fact, I feel as though that’s nearly impossible (let me know if I’m wrong!)

Even if you LOVE a certain activity, doing it for a living means that you need to force yourself to do it even when you’re not feeling it (within reason). You also have the extra admin that goes with that activity: finding customers, dealing with emails, dealing with taxes and so on. I doubt there’s a business owner out there that loves every single aspect of what they do.

Instead, I think we should aim for a sense of overall fulfilment. True, I might not always feel like writing and editing a blog post, but overall I know it’s part of a larger aim of connecting with people and helping spread my passion for living a freer life.

I also believe that your business will never be the sole thing that fulfils me. It’s one part of the whole picture of my life. Even if I enjoy my business, if I spend too long working on it at the expense of my relationships or health, my personal happiness can suffer. So business fulfilment, for me, is also about striking a balance with the other areas of my life.

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The More “Successful” You Are, the More Fulfilment Matters

Have you heard of Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs”? It’s all about how humans have to work on their needs in various stages. Our top priority is always food, shelter etc. Once we’ve got that sorted, we move onto safety and security, then relationships, and only once all of that is sorted do we start focusing more on personal fulfilment.

I have definitely noticed a version of the hierarchy of needs in my own business journey. I started out simply needing to earn some money when I couldn’t get a job. After I was earning enough to live, I pushed to earn more for a little extra (like a house deposit).

Once all that was sorted, and I was earning a decent income every month, I started to feel more and more disconnected from my business. Now that I was easily earning enough to cover my basic needs, and more, I wanted to feel like I was spending my time on something that mattered. I questioned it for a long time, and ultimately it led me to make a number of changes that I’ll go into later in this post.

But What If Your Business is Brand New?

Often feeling unfulfilled is just a symptom of impatience. Starting an online business is exciting, and new ideas can really give you a buzz. If you find yourself jumping from one idea to the next, then you may not be giving your business enough time to get going.

It can even take time to figure out what you really want to do and what lights you up. So, while I do think you should be mindful of the way you feel about your work, don’t beat yourself up if you’re unsure in the early stages. Be willing to go with the flow and see what makes you feel good. Also consider whether what you’re doing now, although not your core purpose, is a stepping stone to where you want to be.

Are You Really Feeling Unfulfilled, or Is There Something Else Beneath the Surface?

Before you make any drastic changes to your business I want you to consider whether you’re truly unfulfilled, or whether there’s something deeper going on.

One thing that really confuses things for me is falling into the comparison trap. I can be perfectly happy with my life, and feeling pretty good about the way I enjoy my day-to-day moments, when I see someone doing better than me on social media. But this is absolutely crazy!

The truth is that someone else doing “better” than you has absolutely no effect whatsoever on your circumstances. Firstly, you’re only seeing the best version of them as portrayed on social media, and things may not be exactly as they seem, and secondly, if you were already happy and fulfilled day to day then someone else’s life doesn’t change that.

You may even have more hidden thoughts beneath the surface, things like “I’m not good enough” or “it shouldn’t be this easy for me”. It might sound crazy, and it can take a while for you to even notice that these thoughts underly your feelings, but it is totally common for people to feel this way. Sometimes it stems from something that happened as a child, or for feeling bad that you’re doing “better” than friends and family. You could even be sabotaging your own success, not letting yourself enjoy it by allowing these thoughts and doubts in.

Are You Serving the Wrong People?

I know from personal experience that a lack of fulfilment doesn’t necessarily need to come from WHAT you’re doing, but WHO you’re doing it for. In the early stages of my business, I thought the best way to success would be to emulate other successful business owners who I admired. I positioned myself in a similar way to them and attracted a similar kind of audience.

While this did lead to a successful business, it wasn’t fulfilling. The people I was serving were lovely, but they weren’t really like me in terms of age, personality, interests etc. and so I felt as though I was missing a deeper connection with them. Could your lack of fulfilment come from the same problem?

Business Tweaks That Can Help

If you’ve thought about everything above and decided that you’re truly not fulfilled by your business then it could be time to make some changes. This may not necessarily mean changing your entire business, though.

1) First, start by outsourcing more and more of your current business. Don’t let excuses like the cost or not knowing how get in the way! I learnt to outsource by just doing it, one very small step at a time (you can start outsourcing for as little as $10 a month if you like). Here’s how:

  • As you go about your normal work, list out every small task that you do. That could include formatting documents, sending emails, checking social media, batch uploading social posts etc.
  • Go through that list and make a smaller list of all the tasks that you (a) don’t enjoy or (b) aren’t very good at.
  • Start by choosing at least one of those tasks and find someone who can do it for you (ask your network for referrals, or use sites like oDesk and virtual assistant groups on Facebook – you can even use micro-tasking websites like Fiverr.com)
  • Gradually outsource more and more of the work that you don’t love and see how it makes you feel.

2) Another thing you can try is to take a break from your business. Even the happiest, most fulfilled business owners need time out sometimes! Working on the internet can be pretty isolating, and it can also lead to an unhealthy dependence on technology. Sometimes you need to get out of that and into the world to reignite your spark.

I know how hard it can be to schedule time off into your business, but it’s doable. If you really need it, then just let things go for a few days – the world won’t come crashing down! Then make a vow to schedule regular time out into your calendar. In my first day back at work in the new year, I had already blocked out two weeks off for next Christmas! And it feels GOOD!

When It’s Really Time for a Change…

If you’ve tried everything, or simply know deep down in your heart, then that’s OK. Sometimes we have to accept that something isn’t working for us and move on. It’s not easy to walk away from something you’ve worked so hard on, but the good news is that you can take everything you’ve learned as a lesson for the future.

So, whether you want to start a new business, take off to travel, or go back to a regular job, that’s absolutely fine if it’s what you truly want to do. Sometimes you need to take a leap, and if it doesn’t pay off then you can always try something new again in future!

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This is a juicy topic so I’d love to hear your thoughts. Did you make some tweaks that helped you fall in love with your business again? Or did you take a big leap and drastically change things? How did it go?

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