I hear it all the time: “When I retire, I’m going to _____.” What goes in that blank—buy a boat, travel the world, spend more time with family, found a charity—is different for every person, but what’s not different is the timing. Everyone seems to think they have to wait until they’re 65 (or older!) to live the life they want to live. For small business owners, the idea of living life feels even more elusive because of worries about how they will pass on, sell or wind down their business.
It’s easy to see why so many small business owners give up on the idea of enjoying life. It seems too hard, too far away, too unattainable. It feels like a dream you will never wake up to.
I get it. I’ve been there, too. There have been times—there still are times—when I’m exhausted and down, when business and life feel like a slog and I’m convinced I can have either the business I’m passion about or the life I want, but not both.
In times like those, it can be tempting to double down on work, put your shoulder to the grindstone and keep plugging along. At least you’ll be bringing in some money that way. At least you’ll be able to keep paying the bills.
I’ve found that what you really need at those times is inspiration. You need to not focus on just paying the bills and keeping the doors open. You need to dream big, to rediscover the aspirations you once had for your life.
End the Old Year By Thinking About the New
The end of the year is a great time to rediscover those aspirations. Whether you knocked the ball out of the park in 2019 or struggled to keep your head above water, a new year is coming—and it is full of possibilities. It’s much easier to do something we want to do than something we have to do, so by taking the time to envision the things you dream of doing, achieving and having in your life, you’ll be able to find the drive and passion to bring them from your dreams into reality.
You may be rusty at dreaming, so here are a few questions to get you going:
- If you had all the time, money and education you needed, and family and life commitments weren’t an issue, what would you be doing for fun? Include in your list hobbies, travel, activities with your family and friends, things you would like to learn.
- If you had all the time, money and education you needed, where and how would you be living? Think about what kind of house you want and where it would be and what other kinds of material possession you might have, like a car, boat or plane.
- What is one thing that you want to do in retirement that you would most like to start doing right now? What is a second thing?
Put Your Dreams Into Pictures
Don’t stop with thinking about it: get these Life Goals into picture form. If one of your dreams is to go on safari, for instance, having a photo of a herd of zebras or a pride of lions hanging above your desk can remind you of what you’re working toward, especially on those rough days.
The collage below is an example from one of our clients. You can see they want to do a lot of traveling, but they also want to spend more time with their grandkids, focus on an existing hobby (playing drums) and learn a new skill (teach scuba diving).
Take some time to put together your own vision board. Find great pictures that speak to you to include on your vision board, then print it out in color on nice paper and post it where you’ll see it every day.
Learning to dream again reinvigorates you so you have new energy to bring to your business, which in turn boosts your success so that you can stop living to work and start working to live—today.