Have Realistic Expectations
A lot has been said about a new study of happiness being tied to low expectations, but that isn’t the lesson of the study at all. Low expectations are a terrible goal. No one wants to be mediocre or run a lousy business. Instead, author and neuroscientist Robb Rutledge writes, “Happiness depends not on how well things are going but whether things are going better or worse than expected.” So what does that mean for the owner of a business?
As an entrepreneur, I have high expectations and an abundance of motivation. Yes, at times that sets me up for disappointment, but I have expectations that not everything works. Sometimes goals aren’t met because of timing, lack of resources, or an imperfect plan. I accept this, but satisfaction comes from redefining my goals and going after them with an athlete’s drive. I’ve never fallen short out due to lack of effort.
Define Your Vision of Success: Happiness or Wealth?
What would success look like to you personally? Before you start your own start-up journey, define success for you personally. It is hard to know when you have reached the finish line if you do not know where it is.
With an established and profitable career, ex-marketing exec Geoffrey James left marketing to pursue a new career. His advice is to understand that money isn’t everything, but it helps. A profitable company is a way to achieve a happy life. James writes, “Being unhappy, of course, can definitely spur people to action. However, the action should be pointed at trying to become happier—not trying to become richer, in the rather naive belief that being rich, in and of itself, will make you happy.” What would be your “happy life”? For James, happiness isn’t tied to his own income, because money comes and goes. Instead, he has a higher goal.
Your Action Step:
Think hard and write down answers to these questions:
- If you could have the perfect employment situation for yourself, what would it look like?
- How many hours would you work and how much money would you earn?
- Are there certain friends you would like to have working with you?
- Is there an impact you would like to make within your industry?
As you answer these questions on paper, this will become another document that I encourage you to refer back to regularly as you build your business. This will encourage you and keep you on course. Over time, your personal definition of success will evolve, but the initial one gets you started with a target.