Do you Nicole, take Virtual A Team to be your lawfully wedded partner? To have and to hold from this day forward. For richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, for as long as you both shall live?
Before you start to develop serious concern for my mental state…No, I didn’t send out embossed invitations, buy a long, flowing sequined dress and stand before an officiator reciting vows to my business in front of all those I hold dear.
But I did realize recently how on-point the comparison between a business and a marriage really is.
Loving Business is a Lot Like Marriage
The relationship we have with our business is very similar to the relationship we have with a significant other. The fact is, “married to our job” is a bigger reality for those of us in business for ourselves. Too much to do, lack of appreciation, late nights, ongoing sacrifice, disappointments, difficulties, and challenges can easily cause business owners to experience the same loss of passion that many couples find themselves experiencing at different times in their marriage.
Hope is not lost! We can start loving business again. I have witnessed several marriages rekindle their flame and, in chatting with a good friend recently, I discovered how the same strategies can help reignite the passion for a business owner as well.
THE FENCE IS FALLING DOWN
My friends Shannon and John (names have been changed to protect the innocent), like most couples, began their marriage starry-eyed and full of hope for a bright future together. They treasured the very best in each other and were grateful for all the wonderful things they brought to each other’s lives.
Their wedding was beautiful! Both had saved for a while and took a dream honeymoon. They bought their first house together soon after. Life was great! They both had strong, exciting and fulfilling careers. Shannon and John were the perfect couple with the perfect, white-picket-fence life; the envy of all their friends, including me.
Wasn’t that a lot like it was back in the early days of launching your business?
Let’s Do Lunch
They’ve been married about five years now and recently Shannon asked me to lunch. I was excited to see her. We hadn’t spent much time together in a while; it was hard for her to get away now that they had two children under the age of four.
I could tell that Shannon had a lot on her mind.
“So, how are you and John doing? “I asked.
“Well, honestly, he’s never home! And he sleeps all the time when he's home. He never helps me with the kids or anything else worth mentioning. The faucet has been leaking for over a month! And remember our cute fence out front? Yeah, well, it’s falling down.”
“I feel like it’s all on me.” She said as tears began to build. And out it came.
“Ok, I knew it would be different when we decided I should quit work to stay home but I didn’t expect him to become a different person. Like I don’t even recognize him. He even used my toothbrush the other day. My toothbrush! Really?”
Emphatically she goes on.
“He steals the covers, his socks smell like actual death, and he snores. John never snored when we were dating.”
There was more.
“If that’s not bad enough, I can’t remember the last time we went anywhere that required me to wear a dress. Ha, forget a dress; how about just a necklace and something other than tennis shoes.”
“We barely talk about anything that’s not on a to-do list. I miss the long conversations we used to have about nothing at all. I miss the passion! God, how I miss the passion.” She said longingly looking out the window.
“Honestly, I feel defeated. I just don’t know if I can do this anymore.”
Business or Pleasure?
I listened to Shannon share her struggles with John and I was struck by how similar her story was to a client of mine that I had spoken to recently as well. My client wasn’t disgruntled with her marriage, but she definitely was struggling with loving business.
I realized that both my dear friend and my client were dealing with unexpected realities. There were struggles that were unforeseen when they both set out on their respective paths. And there were feelings they didn’t know how to handle or change.
When Shannon asked me what she thought I should do, I realized that the same advice I was about to give her to improve things with John, was the same advice I could share with my client to reignite her lost business passion.
Reignite the Passion
In the early stages of a relationship, we’re swooning; head-over-heels in admiration for each other. Blinded by love as they say.
“He’s so wonderful!”
“She’s the best thing since beer and football!”
As time goes on, little things can begin to become more and more irritating. Suddenly, it’s not so adorable that he asks you where the mustard is.
Love is put to the test as we experience “doing life” as a couple. Miscommunications and misunderstandings can cause resentment to build. Socks are left on the floor and trash is left on the counter. Things get forgotten and taken for granted. Life throws us curve balls. Couples experience hardships like financial stress, work stress, death of loved ones, or moving away from friends and family.
Loving Business is Hard
Business owners have a wonderful challenge. The more clients we get, the more we have to do paperwork, invoicing, marketing, sales. It’s easy to start feeling overwhelmed and stop loving business.
No matter what stage of life you’re in, challenges we can and can’t control test the fabric of our marriage and can cause us to one day look at our significant other and wonder why we chose them. Or, sadly if we even still want to be married at all.
There are times when we are full of passion in our business and times when we’d actually give serious thought to tossing it all in and applying for a fry cook job.
It’s easy to lose sight of why we picked this person in the first place. Or why we chose to be in business for ourselves.
We can become disenchanted by so many little things in business and marriage if we aren't making a conscious effort not to. It's easy to neglect to do the things that won our mate’s heart or brought us real joy as an entrepreneur when we avoid taking intentional actions.
“Shannon, remember when you and John were first dating, what was it about him that you fell in love with?” I asked.
All of a sudden, her affect changed. She got a gleam in her eye and she smiled as she listed off all the characteristics that sealed the deal for her.
“Ok, now, tell me even the smallest things that John has done recently that remind you of the person you fell in love with.”
She had to think for a minute, but she was able to come up with a few.
I went home and called my client, “I want you to make a list of all the reasons you started your business. Everything that filled your heart and gave you satisfaction. And then make a second list of everything that has gone right in the last quarter.”
Focus on the Right
It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the tough stuff when hard times hit. To reignite passion, we have to take a step back and look for all that is right. We must mindfully counterbalance our struggles with our blessings. Wrongs with rights and why-nots with whys.
We all experience daytime and nighttime in just 24 short hours. It’s easy to see the sun during the day. But we have more of a choice to make at night. We can choose to see only the darkness around us, or we can choose to look up and gaze upon the stars.
- What business stars are shining for you right now?
- What do you love about what you do?
- How does your business make life better for your clients? For your network of peers? For your employees, if applicable?
- Are there things you have learned lately?
- How have you grown professionally?
Take some time to focus on some right things right now. Write it all down. Keep it where you can see it. Make a journal. Put marbles in a jar every time something goes well. Use whatever visual you need that can help you see amid things that bog you down. There are things that can lift you up and fill you with passion to keep moving forward.
Both Shannon and my client were feeling buried by everything on their plates. Shannon had two little children and a house to manage. My client had a new website to finish and a busy conference schedule. Their personal responsibilities were overwhelming to them.
“Shannon, make a list of everything you need to do this week.” I asked my client to do the same. As I reviewed their lists with each of them, it became clear there were many things they thought they needed to do but weren’t actual priorities. Shannon didn’t really need to clean out the kids closet, and my client didn’t really need to color code her filing system. At least not this week!
Being able to prioritize the things that are truly a “must” is often a difficult task when you are feeling overwhelmed. Every task feels critical. You can’t see the forest for the trees as they say.
I have spent a good portion of my career as a time management expert. Teaching my clients how to identify what is urgent versus important for them. Helping them learn how to assess the tangible and non-tangible value of each task and then how to put it all in a manageable order.
Prioritizing your responsibilities allows you to breathe. It frees up the head and heart space you need to see what’s going well and to enjoy your journey.
In our personal lives, and in business there are things we enjoy doing more than others. I speak to many new solopreneurs. In the beginning, they are typically spending their time doing more of the things they love doing.
At the start of a relationship, you’re dating. Going out to dinner, to the movies; the fun stuff. And then real life happens. Children are born and we have to build content calendars. Laundry piles up and so does our bookkeeping.
As responsibilities grow, it’s easy to forget and neglect the fun stuff that once lit the fire inside of us.
“Shannon, you need help. Plain and simple. You and John are not spending quality time together. Time that allows you to have fun again. Quality time will help you both ignite the passion you’ve lost. Get a babysitter and go on dates again. Hire a housekeeper once a month. Whatever you need to do that will free you both up to enjoy each other again. Make that a priority!”
By asking for help and delegating those tasks that you either don’t have time for or simply don’t enjoy doing allows you to spend quality time doing what you love. And when you’re spending more time working from the heart, your passion returns. You remember why you fell in love or why you were driven to be in business for yourself. You see the real value of your partnership.
You Aren’t an Island
Whether it’s our marriage or our business it’s easy to get stuck in our own worlds, our never-ending tasks, our problems, and our disappointments. We take everything on ourselves.
Entrepreneurs, and especially solopreneurs have an even greater challenge. The buck does stop with them. With all that pressure, it's no wonder it is so easy to stop loving business sometimes.
But you are not an island. To stay in a passion place, you simply can’t do everything alone. You don’t fall in love alone and you can’t do everything needed to grow your business without help.
Sometimes help comes in the way of a trusted friend or colleague who will simply listen and encourage. Sometimes you need a different perspective to help you see the blessings and what is going right.
As growth happens, you will need more help. A babysitter or maybe a Virtual Assistant. Delegating the non-urgent tasks frees you up for quality time needed to “date” your business. Have some fun doing those things that you love or that only you can do. Let some of the other stuff go.
Give yourself the time to spend on the things that bring more value to your business, things that help reignite the passion that is desperately needed to move you forward.
Being “married to your job” is our reality as solopreneurs. We will experience struggles we didn’t expect and challenges that can seem insurmountable at the time. It takes the right focus and the right actions to help us fall in love with our business again.
When you are burnt out but really want to start loving business again, it might be time to reignite the passion. It’s not unlike reigniting the flame in your marriage.
- Take the time to focus on what is right.
- Prioritize to avoid excess stress and overwhelm.
- Get back to doing what you love to do.
- Get help, you can’t do it all alone.
When you are ready to reignite the passion in your business, give Virtual A Team a call. We can be the babysitter allowing you some date nights here and there!