How asking yourself the right questions can redefine – and reignite – your life
As adults, most of us spend the majority of our time either at work or thinking about it. So I realize – now more than ever – the importance of living what I refer to as our “Best Business Life” – that is, a life of congruence between what we believe and how we act.
When I started my career as a young accountant, and then a “youngish” recruiter for accountants, I dutifully followed direction—preparing spreadsheets, meeting deadlines, making deals and hitting my bogeys. Looking back, this was all somewhat mindless; there was little sanction for asking myself what I wanted to be doing or what I felt passionate or excited about. Having just graduated college and married a man who was fresh out of law school with a heavy student loan burden, we had taken a mortgage on a new townhouse, and then topped that off with a desire to have children. Our goal was to eventually give them a life of abundance – “The “American Dream”, so to speak.
I worked because it was a means to an end—and the only way I knew how to solve for all that we wanted to achieve. Turns out, I hated accounting and loved recruiting, and my early years as a headhunter paved the way for what eventually became Diamond Consultants. Almost 3 decades, 4 jobs, and 2 children later, I feel as though I am now living my Best Business Life.
While my work has afforded me a nice living and a modicum of success, truth be told, the spark I feel has little to do with money or a means to an end.
It’s all about my ability to be true to my core values and beliefs every day. That is, to put into action what feels soulful to me and to have the opportunity to share what I have come to understand about life with complete objectivity and integrity, free from worry about deadlines, quotas or productivity.
It isn’t that I am not a capitalist or that I am running a charity instead of a business, but rather that when my actions – how I live my life – actually match my true self, I feel fulfilled and whole, and more often than not, the money follows.
I also know what it is like to experience the opposite of congruence. For years I suffered from panic attacks: that sense of dread and certainty that something catastrophic was about to happen. Most of the time, nothing really bad did happen, but the feeling was very real and pretty painful. What I know now is that those panic attacks were my body and mind’s way of telling me that my soul wasn’t being paid enough attention; that I was pushing myself too hard and was spending my time on things that didn’t quite fit anymore. I felt trapped by the things I thought I “should” want to do but, in reality, hated—like accounting.
Freeing myself to ask the question, “What do I really want to do with my life?” allowed me to make choices and take action that felt congruent and “right”. Many of the advisors I meet grapple with whether or not they believe that their firm continues to be the best place to serve their clients and to grow their business into the enterprise they believe it should be. As feel-good wealth management shops morphed into bank-owned behemoths in the last number of years, advisors looking for a greater sense of control, flexibility and freedom to change jerseys as a way to reignite passion, to create congruency and to feel, once again, that they are serving clients as true fiduciaries.
Before jumping ship, many of these folks said things like, “I’m just not having fun anymore,” or “I love my clients, but I’m unable to serve them the way I want to because our compliance department manages to the lowest common denominator and cuts me off at the knees.”
Without knowing it, they were describing incongruence between what their souls were telling them and how they were able to live their business lives.
At the end of most of my 8-10 hour workdays, I feel energized, productive and good about the work I’ve done, knowing that I guided others as I would want to be guided. It’s a feeling that I know everyone wants to have, but are never really sure how to achieve.
So consider asking yourself this: Am I doing what I want, where I want and in a way that feels right?
Within the answers lie the congruence you seek—and the path to your Best Business Life.