How To Avoid The “I’ll Be Happy When…” Trap – #0015

My biggest tip on how to ensure you live a miserable and unfulfilled life as a new or even seasoned entrepreneur? Regularly start sentences with the 4 little words “I’ll be happy when…”

I’ve been at this for 13 years now and I fell firmly into the  “I’ll Be Happy When” trap very early on. Although you feel cold, trapped and unfulfilled, there is no obvious immediate pain and often the results of being confined to its deathly clutches are (from the outsider looking in) pretty good. Despite building a significant business and changing my life totally, I stayed in its vice like grip for at least 5 or 6 years.

Good Intentions

The “I’ll be happy when” trap can start with good intentions such as business objectives being hit.

  • ‘Ill be happy when we make our first sale with X client”
  • “I’ll be happy when we get to 10 people”

It can then quite quickly progress into the more materialistic. “I’ll be happy when I can order the Porsche on my screensaver”

What makes it so easy to fall into this trap? Well I have a theory…

Long Term Vision, Long Term Pain

As Founders and Entrepreneurs we are taught to work from a compelling vision for our business. I believe this is a super effective way to build purpose and with it resilience. Often these visions and the goals we set from them are long term, 3-5 year visions, 6-24 month goals. When you are 6 months from achieving your vision, guess what? We reset an even bigger one. So, the dirty secret is, we often never achieve what we set out to achieve, as its always a growing vision. Bigger, more impact, more people, more revenue. More, more, more.

This game and the success that comes with it, is always in the future, as we delay our gratification and push on through the hard times. The hard times always seem to be in the present, the good times are always seemingly in the future.

So to assign your happiness and fulfilment to a destination that by definition you will never arrive at, is, to me insane. We are working hard here to create amazing businesses that will benefit the community, our team and of course improve our lives too. But a life with reduced happiness isn’t an improvement at all.

Fulfilment, Today

Happiness in this game can be found not in 3 years when you’ve hired your 10th person, or moved into a new location, or bought that house overseas. It can be found today, and tomorrow.

Let’s consider the 3 factors I use to ensure I stay on track:

  • A: Vision 3-5 years – the destination and big direction of the business.
  • B: Milestones – 1-12 months – major goals or steps towards the vision.
  • C: Daily Execution on the tasks – your mini steps towards the milestones.

Too many entrepreneurs are owned by the longer term vision and not just guided by it. To feel more fulfilled and essentially happier, you need to live in C and visit B above allowing A to guide you and not own you (like it used to for me). The I’ll Be Happy When Trap is the result of the founder living almost solely in A. It’s a common mistake, and one I made for many years.

Nudge The Needle Forward

I start the day with a few minutes alone to define what a great day will look like. I set out exactly what I intend to execute on that day. I then work to do exactly that. Once I complete my tasks that meant I would have a “great day” as defined by me earlier that morning, that’s it, I’m done. I feel a sense of achievement and fulfilment. I’m happy today, I’ve moved the needle forward.

Happiness Is The Progress

Happiness is the journey! Happiness is found in the progress! Nudge the needle forward, celebrate the great days, the wins, the predetermined milestones and use the vision as the guide and not a shackle.

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