I’ve achieved all my goals this year, tripled my income, and made more money than I ever thought imaginable in my business … so tell me — why am I not happy?”
That’s how I began a conversation with my counselor back in 2017.
It’s more than a year later now, and my business no longer exists.
You’re probably wondering: what happened? What led me to this decision?
It had nothing to do with money or a failure so bad I couldn’t come back from it. It was a personal choice I’ll tell you about later in this article.
First, I think it’s more important you learn the same lessons I did from growing successful 6-figure business in just 1 year.
Most people only want to pay attention to what they want to believe about entrepreneurship. This won’t help you if you’re trying to build a business that stands the test of time.
Here are 7 lessons I learned from my own business which can help you in your entrepreneurial endeavors:
1. Keep your confidence up.
Entrepreneurs attempt brave pursuits for a living. Confidence — in themselves and what they’re doing — keeps them moving forward.
Losing confidence is a poison in your business. Without confidence, you stress more, tire easily, and lose hope.
You need to make investments in anything that’ll keep your confidence strong.
Right before my business experienced a huge growth spurt, I decided I needed to change my working environment.
At the time, we were living in a two-bedroom apartment in South Nashville. The place wasn’t bad at all. But I lost a piece of my sanity every time the elderly woman living below us banged on her ceiling to quiet us down. She liked her space to be quieter than a convent.
I chose to move us to a much nicer house in a more expensive community. Even though it was out of our budget at the time, I firmly believe this investment contributed to my confidence. Waking up to do work in a place I love felt great. And this confidence allowed me to triple my income in just one month.
So make investments in your confidence. You’ll need it to keep bravery alive.
2. Invest more in people than in things.
“We’re never going to have to worry about money again!”
That’s what I told my wife when my income tripled in one month. So I did what any person would do when they have cash in their pockets …
I spent thousands just buying things for myself and the business. This was fine, but in retrospect, the better investment would’ve been in people to help me do the job better. Which leads me to the next point …
3. Hire and train an executive assistant fast.
As soon as I started making real money, I should’ve brought in an executive assistant to help me with all the tasks that ate up my time.
Eventually, I learned and hired an excellent executive assistant. But I did nothing to train this assistant. He learned everything on his own while I did nothing to empower him to do the job.
So my advice: invest in an executive assistant. Even if you don’t think you need one. Assistants help you grow faster by saving your brain power for more important matters. Hire someone great and train them fast.
4. Pay attention to two things: the truth and the present.
From there, things got hard.
Believe it or not, but people are mean on the Internet. Who knew?
None of these negative comments about me were based on the truth. And they were spoken from people who didn’t take the time to get to know me. But they still hurt.
Soon, the hurt began to distract me and murder my confidence. I spoke to a mentor about this, and he said some comforting words …
“Stop being stupid about this.”
Some people really know how to comfort.
But these words woke me up to the truth of the matter. None of these people were my friends. They didn’t know me. So why pay attention to their false words?
When things begin to trip you up, do this mental exercise:
- Pause the thoughts in your brain.
- Ask yourself: what is true in this situation?
- Pay attention to that truth.
Most of what trips us up is a lie. If you add your opinion or self-defeating talk on top of an already troubling situation, you’ll amplify it. Learn to focus on the truth, and you’ll get over things faster.
And when things just get too heavy to bear, then focus on the present — what you have to do now.
Much of the opinion, self-defeating talk, and lies we add onto situations are learned responses from our past. And most of our frustration is born from overemphasizing our future.
Learn to silence your mind and focus on the present moment. This will help you return to the work faster.
5. Resist the urge to change everything when you panic.
After my incredible growth spurt, business started slowing down. This wasn’t abnormal, but my brain treated it like it was. So I panicked.
The worst thing you could do when you panic is change everything about your business. And that’s exactly what I did.
When my ads weren’t working and leads started to dry up, I thought it was a problem with my offer. I changed my offer, and things just got worse.
If you’re looking for stability, you’re not going to find it by ripping the ground from underneath you. You find it when you plant your feet firm and ride the wave.
Changing foundational things in a period of instability further reinforces the instability. I learned this lesson the hard way.
6. Don’t become your business.
Things eventually got better. I made my new offer work. Money was flowing like honey again. But by then, I was tired.
So I started asking around for a counselor. That’s when I found Steve.
I asked him why I wasn’t happy, why I was overly emotional about things regarding my business, and why I was more tired than ever.
He then started asking me questions about my childhood, my parents, and other things that confused me.
But after meeting twice a week for several weeks, it became clear where my problem was …
I had become my business.
My business had consumed every dimension of my life. The only thing I had going for me was money. Everything else fell under the weight of my ambition.
Here’s what happened: I spent so much time trying to grow a successful business that I began to infuse my identity with the business. So when people spoke ill of my business or when I ran into an issue with money, they all affected me personally.
On top of this, I was using my business to validate that I mattered in the world. I was important because I was a successful entrepreneur.
All of us want to be told “we matter” — and some of us build statues and empires just to prove the point.
But when our significance becomes dependent on an identity we forge, something is wrong. Every contribution we make from this position is just a plea to be loved.
If your business is trying to solve a deep hurt or lack of something in your soul, then I urge you to strongly consider the role it plays in your life. Business is already hard as it is. Don’t make it harder by tying your self-worth into the equation.
And this leads me to the final point, the real reason I closed my business …
7. Make joy a habit.
Counseling was a transformative experience. In just a few months, I explored deep issues I carried over from the past. I discovered how they were tripping me up in the present and how I can move forward with confidence. I felt lighter after my time with Steve.
But the experience made me curious …
People describe me as the most joyful person they ever met. But at the time, I didn’t feel this way. My “joy” was just a mask I wore. I fooled everyone with it.
After counseling, I wondered: what would living with joy actually look like? How could I live with joy?
This is a question I believe everyone should ask. Society today is not primed to make us feel joy. Instead, we’re conditioned to feel anxiety, stress, and overwhelm, while being told we should just “think positively.”
Joy isn’t about feeling happy. Happiness is a fleeting emotion built upon our external environment and circumstances.
Joy is a firm foundation. It wells up from the inside and spills out to the people around us. It isn’t just about happy emotions. It’s about holding onto the hope that everything will be okay in the end. Joy is the internal positivity that stems from hope.
This is the foundation I want to build my life on.
During the entirety of my business, I was chasing happiness. But we’re not guaranteed anything. That happiness left as fast as it came. If I practiced joy, I would’ve weathered the storms much better.
Joy, however, is an elusive topic. No one knows how to talk about it, let alone how to have more of it.
This is why I spent an entire year researching the topic of joy. It led to some drastic changes in my life, including leaving my business.
This is also why the rest of the writing you’ll see from me are about joy.
- The science behind joy.
- Why it’s necessary for life satisfaction.
- What gets in the way of joy.
- How we can take daily steps to increase our joy.
After months of counseling and a year of deep work, I’ve come to the conclusion that society today needs joy more than anything. Society as a whole has succumbed to the anxieties, stress, and overwhelm that empties us of hope. As a result, people lead cynical lives.
By following my writing, you can learn practical ways to increase joy. You won’t find an endless array of self-help listicles. Instead, you’ll find what the latest research and science says about joy, and how we can leverage new discoveries to lead more joyful lives.
Today, I try to make joy a habit.
During my time of counseling, I discovered I built a life I didn’t want. And so, in making my life about joy, I decided to leave my business. It was scary, but I was positive that somewhere in the void, I would find life.
I joined as the copywriter for Michael Hyatt & Company. Today, I’m finally experiencing greater satisfaction, fulfillment, and impact in my work. All the dimensions of my life are receiving the proper care they need to thrive. I have joy.
From now on, you’ll read how the discoveries I’ve made about joy can impact your life for the better.
For now, I hope these 7 lessons gave you a glimpse of what pursuing joy looks like.