Why I quit my six figure job to find work I love

I’ve written a book called “How to Find Work you Love”.  Read on to find out why and get a discounted copy…

Have you ever done something that makes everyone you know shake their heads in disbelief?

For me the first one that springs to mind was when I put the kettle on the stove and lit the gas.

I only remembered it was an electic kettle made of plastic when it set on fire.  Shake shake.

This is closely followed by my decision to quit my job as a senior manager at Deloitte to start my coaching business.

“What on earth are you thinking about, leaving behind all that security?”

“You’re mad, completely bonkers”

“I know you don’t like it, but really?”

One friend simply burst into tears.

If you’re thinking about leaving behind your safe job that makes you miserable you’ll be worried about the same reaction.

To join the waiting list for the How to Find Work You Love e-book (and get a discount) – please click here.

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Notes From a Car Crash

Imagine yourself driving down a beautiful country road in the late summer sunshine – suddenly your car enters an uncontrollable skid and heads straight into the ditch.  There’s nothing you can do to stop it.career change, lifestyle design, start your own business

The car hits the bank with a crunch and lurches into a roll.  As you are flung upside down you have a moment of clarity “I’m not ready to die”.  You cling onto consciousness as the car rolls back over and comes to a halt.

The car is ruined and smoke is pouring from the engine – quick get out.

You test your fingers, toes, legs, arms; it’s a miracle everything seems to be working.  Your head is groggy and your neck is in agony, but most importantly you’re alive.

How do you feel?

It really, really, really could happen

This was my experience just under 2 weeks ago on holiday in France.  My wife and I were driving to the supermarket and on a patch of temporary road surface.

We were driving carefully, and the skid just happened – a freak accident.

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Why now is a great time to start your business – Part 2

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If you’ve ever dreamed about working for yourself or starting your own business, this two part series is for you.  Part one looked at how the traditional view of what makes a successful business is changing beyond recognition.  It also outlined the old Five Commandments of Business.

If you have a business idea floating around the back of your mind, Part 2 is about how to plan to make that into a sustainable business. Continue Reading »

Why now is a great time to start your own business – Part 1

start-up, work for yourself, start your own business, start-up coaching, business coaching, entrepreneur coaching

If you’ve ever dreamed about working for yourself or starting your own business, this two part series is for you.  The traditional view of what makes a successful business is changing beyond recognition.

We’ll look at what has changed and why that means there has never been a better time to turn your idea into a start-up business.

The Starting Point

When I was first starting Less Ordinary Living, I visited the British Library to do some research.

Somewhere in the leather-bound aisles of the business section, covered in cobwebs, I find a giant tome – the Big Book of Business.

Flicking to the first page, I found what I was looking for – the Five Commandments of Business:

1. Thou shalt make as much money as possible

2. Thou shalt devote every waking hour to your business

3. Thou shalt grow your business as quickly as possible

4. Thou must raise finance to be a real business

5. Thou must employ as many others as possible in your business

I dropped the book on the floor and ran screaming from those hallowed halls.

For many people who dream of running their own business, these old paradigms can act as a huge barrier to turning the idea into a reality.

They make business sound monolithic, risky, profit focussed and frankly no fun at all.

A brave new world

The exciting news is that in the 21st Century, the old business commandments have been torn to pieces.

Rapid population growth, the information age, changes in gender roles, new social challenges, environmental awareness, the digital communications revolution and the internet have redefined the world.

If you’re tempted to work for yourself or start up an enterprise, the implications are huge:

1. Not just for profit – Finding meaning in your organisation

The purpose of a business is traditionally defined as generating as much profit and wealth as possible for its owners.  A business was defined by it’s level of profit and income.

The owner looked to squeeze the maximum return from their investment, the workers strove to make it happen and feared for their jobs the whole time.

Recently entities such as social enterprises and green businesses have started to challenge this.  They have a more complex purpose – to improve society or reduce the impact of an environmental issue – as well as to generate a profit.

Even traditional businesses are starting to recognize the importance of looking beyond profit as they are increasingly scrutinized by the public over their behaviour as a corporate citizen.  I’ve yet to find the company who publicly use the slogan “we’re all about the money” (although I can think of quite a few who act this way).

Increasing numbers of businesses enshrine deeper principles into their mission (for example, the Body Shop, Clif Bar, Patagonia and the Co-operative Bank).

Interestingly I find these businesses are very attractive as places to work for the talented people I interact with – they seem to provide a better motivation for getting out of bed on a Monday morning.

To really succeed as a business in the 21st Century, I’d argue you need to have a deeper purpose beyond the profit motive.  Having a sense of purpose is motivating for you, and shines a beacon for employees and broader stakeholders explaining what you stand for.

So, if you have a great idea for a business or social enterprise think about what is your vision and purpose and how you’ll measure your impact.

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2. Flexibility is the new hard work

Somewhere deep in our heritage there is a powerful message linking hard work and success.  It is almost assumed that a successful business owner will be totally consumed in their work all the time – or they’ll fail.

The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary” – Donald Kendall

I’m not going to deny that hard work is needed to be successful as a business owner – however I believe that making business the sole focus of life is not the recipe for happiness or long-term success.

It is possible to create a business that allows you to make a living from your passion and lead a balanced life.

Increasing numbers of entrepreneurs and small business people are building “lifestyle businesses”, creating “portfolio careers” or balancing temporary or contract work with extended periods of travel, volunteering and enjoyment.

Businesses can support the lifestyle of its owner, rather than becoming the sole purpose of their existence.  Businesses can provide the flexibility to enjoy your whole life if properly planned.

Some more traditional entrepreneurs can get very sniffy about lifestyle businesses, claiming they are not real businesses.

I’d argue that if you can build a business that makes enough money to fund the life you want and only work 30 hours a week (or indeed a four hour work week), more power to your elbow.

So if you’re building your dream business, think more broadly.  What kind of flexibility and lifestyle would you like to be living as a successful entrepreneur?

By getting clear on the balance of life and quality of life you’d like to create you can get past the trap of working 100 hours a week on your business for ever.

Over to you

If you enjoyed this article and you’d like to read more about how to turn your idea into a start-up or work for yourself, please click here to join our mailing list to get regular articles delivered to your inbox.

Are you excited about starting your own business?  What do you see as the purpose for an enterprise?  Can a business provide a high quality of life and success?

Please leave a comment to share your thoughts with our readers.

Photo credit: Aussiegall (Flickr Creative Commons), Ingorrr (Flickr Creative Commons)

How to be your best

What’s the difference between being THE best and being YOUR best?

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Be your best

Read on to find out the  answer – it could make a huge difference to your quality of life and happiness.

Being the Best

Being the best is about beating everyone in sight, reigning supreme, consistently held out as the champion, number one, numero uno.

It’s about winning and losing.  It’s about coming out on top every time.  Taking the gong, the award, the plaudits.  Making the teary thank-you speech (don’t forget your mum and your agent).

It is a noble aspiration to aim for being the best in your field.  It provides motivation, others to compare against, ways to measure how you are doing.

We can revieve acclaim for our endeavours and feed our need to be recognized along the way.  With dedication, hard work, a clear plan and a little luck we might even make it to the pinnacle.

Yet if this is the sole focus of everything we do, it can be destructive and exhausting too.  Time passes, things change, life moves on.

Great champions lose their magic touch and fall from the top.  In sport, think of Tiger Woods’ travails, Lance Armstrong cycling Le Tour with no chance of winning, Roger Federer the world number 3.

In cinema, do you remember F. Murray Abraham, Geralidine Page or Lousie Fletcher? They are all Oscar winners, the best in their field.  They couldn’t stay at the top forever.

Being the best is a temporary status.  It can take a lifetime to achieve and can be snatched away in seconds.

Being the best also requires you to play by someone else’s rules.  Who really defines the best accountant, entrepreneur, geologist, academic, dancer, painter or lawyer.  The best is chosen by popular acclaim, by an arbirary set of rules, some awards, a poll of polls, the whim of a boss or manager.

Striving to be the best is exhausting, disempowering and worst of all the rules can change at any time!

Be your Best

What happens when you try to be your best?

This subtle switch in thinking can untold happiness, peace and achievement.

When you strive to be your best, you set your own rules.  The pressure of constant comparison and striving for success goes away.

You’re in a one horse race and you decide what determines the winner.   Only you can be your best you.

Being your best means being able to look yourself in the mirror every day and say that you’re doing the best you can.  That is all we can ask from ourself after all.  It means learning to enjoy the successes and the failures and to learn from both.  To be better next time.

It means that you can have an off day, give yourself a break and push on.

It also means that you can be flexible in how you approach life.  The end game is all about being happy, living with yourself and finding peace.

You can still set big, hairy audacious goals for your life and career.  However as long as you do your best and can look yourself in the eye, these are open to change at any time.

Learning how to be your best can transform life from an endless struggle to please others and get to the top into a self-directed journey lived without regret.

How to be your best every day

At the beginning of the day, look yourself in the mirror and say your daily intention out loud- “I will be the best that I can be today”.

Each morning, select the most important thing you’d like to get done today and write down that intention in a journal – “I will write an outstanding blog post today”

If you find yourself drifting and procrastinating during the day, close your eyes and repeat 10 times “I am the best that I can be”. Now refocus and put 100% into doing whatever feels most important (that could be work, taking a proper break or whatever feels right)

At the end of each day, look yourself in the mirror and be honest about your day.  If you did your best, congratualte yourself and rebouble your efforts.  If you faced challenges, forgive yourself and work out how to be even better tomorrow.

Over to you

If you’d like a little inspiration to be your best, get free updates from Less Ordinary Living by clicking here.

Please leave a comment and share with others:

  • Do you strive to do your best or be your best?
  • What techniques do you use to make the most of each day?
  • Have you ever been the best and how did it feel?

Photo Credit: Kevin Dooley (Flickr Creative Commons) – one of the best out there