“Follow your passion! Your work will feel like play! We promise!” is what we’ve heard from countless motivators, life coaches, best friends, and even parents. Their support of your dreams and passion is so necessary to help you get off the ground. Even when you feel like you did it all yourself, there is still a sense that there were countless people who needed to do just this one little thing to get you where you are.
It feels like a huge let down when your work doesn’t light you up the way you thought it might. I know exactly what that feels like to be successful but unhappy and overloaded with trying to keep up with the success I created.
Just trying to keep up can weighed on me like a ton of bricks that were toting around an enormous student loan for the heck of it. I was getting praised from all sides but every time a new patient contacted me, I’d die a little inside knowing that I didn’t have the time or energy to commit to more work.
Admitting that this happened to you is the hardest part.
It’s like telling everyone you’re getting a divorce from your high school sweetheart even though you two have always been known as ‘the couple.’ It’s breaking up something that other people have learned to believe in and rely on.
It’s inspiring to watch someone build a business and it’s crushing to watch it being torn down, even from afar. How do you admit, even to yourself, that this just isn’t it, even though you thought it would be? Even though it matches other people’s view of success from the outside? You stop for a moment and congratulate yourself on building something successful. Seriously, no matter what it feels like, building a successful business deserves a pat on the back.
Take a moment to soak it up. You recognize the hard work that got you where you are and you say thank you graciously when someone compliments you. You pay attention to harmony. Then, you use the information that you’ve gleaned from building this business to make your next move.
“The last 10% it takes to launch something takes as much energy as the first 90%.” – Rob Kalin
As an entrepreneur, forward movement is in your blood.
Instead of falling into a shame and blame cycle with yourself or anyone else involved in your business, you transform. You follow the breadcrumbs of what could come next and you take action to see what it will feel like.
You learn to follow your emotional reaction to your business building instead of the dollar signs. Your business transforms or is completely closed down and built back up as something different, and then you use your burnout story as inspiration.
You can share the process after it’s transformation, as a new part of your business practice and as a driving force for the good that you are now creating in the world. There is nothing more inspiring to people than a hero’s journey and every hero’s journey has a major challenge followed by a transformation. The thing that no one tells us about passion is that it grows and changes with us.
My focus went from medicine to Chinese medicine to burnout coaching – in my mind, all things on a continuum of the way that I like to talk to and help people. My passion of connecting with people and helping them heal is alive and well, but I don’t want to do it the way I used to nor the way I originally planned to.
Passion adjusts and grows as you learn and change.
I want it to grow with me, to transform alongside me as I mature and age. I realized when I don’t allow this, I burnout, over and over. Your commitment to one particular passion should last only as long as it lasts.
Everyone knows the longer you drag out a relationship, the worse the breakup is. Don’t propose to your business if she’s not the one you want to marry. Be honest with yourself about where you are and where you’d like to be. Make a list of the things that are working the way you like and the things that drain you.
“I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.” – Albert Einstein
It’s always time to take the next step.
Maintain your forward progress, and keep your passion alive. At those first signs of boredom, take some action. Get a coach or coach yourself – but stay on top of your emotional reaction to your work.
Keep the fire lit by tending to it, and be sure there is enough wood already prepped to be thrown in. Have the tools ready: a poker, a shovel, whatever you might need but keep this at the forefront of your mind: once you let it extinguish, you have no choice but to build it up again from scratch.
It’s easier to keep a fire going than it is to build one.
This process can happen no matter how much you originally love your work. It’s easy to put on horse blinders and ignore the signs. The effort to build a business is gargantuan.
Keep that fire going by allowing it to change when it needs to and making sure you’re taking care of your business as much as your people. You weren’t wrong about your passion, you simply can’t know ahead of time how you’ll feel about doing anything in life. Clarity comes from action, as Marie Forleo likes to say.
If you’re at that point where you’ve found yourself to be successful but unhappy, don’t fret. You aren’t alone. I don’t know any entrepreneur who hasn’t been through this. The good news is you can use this as fuel, your passion can be reignited, and you can go on to recreate your business or create something new that is better than you could have even imagined.