As a longtime mentor to new entrepreneurs and business owners, I have noticed that many no longer associate more fulfillment and satisfaction with more money, power, and success.
In all cases, I'm convinced that whether you see personal fulfillment as more business success or making the world a better place, there are some common strategies to get there that I recommend.
Here are some key ones from the most satisfied business leaders that I know:
1. Develop your own plan to get where you want to go.
Don't count on someone else's plan and priorities to work for you. But if you have no plan, you probably won't get there, or you certainly won't be able to gauge your progress along the way. For most people, a truly fulfilled life means active pursuit and high engagement in pursuing your own goals.
2. Don't wait for a crisis to decide what is important.
Not only is this approach painful, but it's hard to think straight when you are down. Before you start your business, think hard about your vision for fulfillment, and write it down. Recognize that you can never control the precise sequence and timeline, and list some key costs and risks.
3. Assess your position and progress on a regular basis.
We all learn from our actions and our mistakes, and the changes that are happening in the world every day. Pivots are a normal part of every business, and they have to be a part of your journey to fulfillment. Unless you take inventory of where you are, you won't be able to adjust your path.
4. Assemble a complementary support team to help you.
People in business can't succeed or even survive as the lone ranger. Nor can they succeed surrounded by "yes" people or "helpers" rather than help. We all have weaknesses, so you need healthy relationships with people who have complementary skills and insights.
5. Proactively attack fulfillment blockers, one by one.
Too many people see the barriers to their fulfillment but wait and hope that all will magically go away, rather than facing each directly. In this respect, you cannot procrastinate, look the other way, or hope that things will change given more time. Decide and act to remove each barrier to fulfillment.
6. Push yourself to get beyond your comfort zone.
Staying inside your comfort zone will ultimately become boring, and never give you a real sense of accomplishment and fulfillment. Every business will offer you many opportunities in this regard, including honing your communication skills, new business models, and exciting customers.
For example, Jeff Bezos credits much of his success and job satisfaction at Amazon to his strategy of often committing to new projects proposed by trusted internal teams, even though his comfort level disagrees. He enjoys the learning from these calculated risks.
7. Mentor others to share what you have learned.
One of the keys to my own fulfillment has been coaching, mentoring, and giveback of what I have learned along the way. This can include time, money, and skills transfer. Helping others has clarified my own thinking, and solidified my own view of what is really important in my life and business.
8. Celebrate each step of progress along the way.
Self-fulfillment is a journey, not a destination. It's important to recognize and reward yourself even for small steps along the way. This can be done by taking some time off for that special trip, or spending a day treating yourself to some fun when you achieve a key milestone, such as first profitability.
Talking to me as a mentor, the best evidence you can provide on the road to self-fulfillment is espousing that you are doing what you love, and you love what you do. All too rarely, I hear entrepreneurs saying they can't believe they are being paid for the "work" they do.
You, too, can prove that fulfillment can lead to success, but success doesn't necessarily lead to fulfillment.