Life is about evolution in that your needs and desires change as you experiment, learn and age—and this natural state of growth can often cause difficulties in business. The very company that affords you the ability to raise a family, buy that motorcycle and take those great vacations is now the albatross around your neck holding you back from true happiness.
You’re in an endless Groundhog Day loop, and that’s a tough place to be. It’s caused many an entrepreneur to leave their company emotionally and physically looking for relief in all the wrong places. They begin developing real estate, invest in another business or start coaching others only to crash and burn because while their skills and experience may transfer to another venture, this stage of life isn’t about expertise; it’s about passion and focus.
Besides, after running the business for a decade or two, it’s a major part of who you are and how the world sees you. So the challenge isn’t about finding the new, new thing but instead figuring out how to continue running a business when you no longer want to.
I’ve worked with many successful entrepreneurs as they go through this passage, and each case is as different as the person going through it. There is no universal solution. However, here are a few tips that may help.
Take some time away. Tom Peters once wrote that we all need to take a minimum of 30 days a year away from the job, as the day-to-day pressures slowly whittle away our desire and cause us to simply go through the motions. Take a couple of weeks off in a row and go for a long bike ride, either alone or with a group of your peers, to get a different perspective on an old picture.
Re-define your job. During your time away from the business, create a “T-account,” listing what you love about your job on one side and what you hate about it on the other. Then take all the things you hate to do and give them to someone else.
Let someone else run it. This is taking the “T-account” thing to the ultimate level. If you’ve developed a great team or a successor, start handing over the reins. Just know that it’s a process and one that takes time and planning, usually 3-5 years. Not a quick solution, but at least you’ve now got a new finish line.
Find a new frame of reference. It may seem as if everyone else has it better, but know that 99.9 percent of the population would trade places with you in a heartbeat. Change your perspective by volunteering at your local Center for Entrepreneurship to work with younger (and hungrier) entrepreneurs. Not only will you remember what it took to get where you are today, you’ll also feed off their energy—and that can only be a good thing.
Re-define how and with whom you spend your time. Broaden your current circle by joining a peer group. There’s strength in numbers, and you’ll now have someone to talk to who doesn’t have a dog in the fight while realizing that you’re not alone.
Through it all, know this is a normal passage of life that only becomes a crisis if and when you don’t handle it properly.
Dwain – CEO Rider
As always – These are my thoughts, I could be wrong. So, if you disagree or simply want to add to it, please do so. I look forward to the conversation.