Enjoy What You Do
Life is too short to be doing something that isn't enjoyable — at least some of the time. In fact, you probably chose consulting because it sounded like pleasant work. You saw the opportunities to make an income, build equity, and have some fun. But maybe the reality of mundane tasks and the frustration of working with a few ill-tempered clients has taken its toll and you're having serious second thoughts. The alligators are showing their teeth. What can you do?
You're not the first consultant to lose the fun. It's easy to misplace it in the tedious tasks that make up the consultant's day: trying to solve difficult problems for others, training apathetic employees, dealing with delinquent accounts. Consultants are just as vulnerable to negative feelings about their jobs as any other work group. In most cases, it's not the work that's an issue, but the attitude toward work. It happens to employees, household managers, students, and just about anybody breathing.
So what's the solution? Many people find that a periodic reality check, reviewing your initial goals, and finding things to enjoy can put the fun back into nearly any duty. Consulting is no exception.
There are two ways to listen to news reports:
“Oh my God, the world is falling apart.”
“Thank God that isn't happening to me.”
The difference? Attitude. Yes, the world does seem to be falling apart and, yes, it probably isn't happening to you. Unfortunately, you won't hear many news reports that start with “Today, 352,000 children were born into the world, bringing joy and hope to parents and friends.” Even so, it happens. That's the reality.
The reality of your consulting business is that it provides a valuable service to clients and community, a place for employees to earn an income and grow as people, and a place for you to profit from your skills and efforts. There are problems, of course. Most of them are solvable. In fact, by even starting a consulting business you've solved hundreds of problems successfully. You'll solve even more every day — if you don't get lost in the overwhelming feelings of not having control of your life. You do. That's the reality.
For some consultants, being able to offer employees affordable health care and a safe work environment are mandates, not options. In any case, offering employees better working and living conditions than the big firms provide is a satisfying measurement of business success.
Take a deep breath. Find enjoyable activities inside and outside your consulting business. Remember that most problems are solved by time more than effort — and certainly not by worry. Have some fun. Chill!
At least once a week, step back from what you are doing and take a look at the wide picture. It will not only help your mental attitude, it can be a productive exercise for any business owner. The details and decisions of each day can sometimes make inadvertent changes to your long-term goals. Do you want them to? Maybe. But don't let those decisions — by you and by others — make big changes without your approval.
Reviewing your business goals can be done in many ways. For example:
Reread your business plan, or at least the executive summary.
Start a sanity journal that begins with your business concept and adds your weekly notes on how reality is stacking up against goals.
Meet periodically with a trusted business advisor to discuss your business's goals and progress.
Enjoying the Day
Every day as a consultant is a new adventure — or an adversary. The facts of the day are often the same, but the attitude is different. Find ways to enjoy your day. Review your days as a consultant and determine what you enjoyed the most. Client contacts? Employee interactions? Prospecting? Travel? Recordkeeping? Then make sure you give yourself these little pleasures each day you're at work. Eventually, you may find that the fun of some jobs will carry over to the not-so-fun jobs you must do.
Sometimes the problem can be chemical. Too much — or too little — coffee in the morning. Maybe it's that Big Mac for lunch or junk food throughout the day. If your system is sensitive to what you eat, find foods that make you feel better rather than worse. If you need your coffee but are obviously getting too much caffeine, switch to decaf or herbal teas after that first cup or two. Delicious donuts can dump carbohydrates and sugars into your system and shut down an otherwise active brain. Busy consultants soon discover that good eating can build good attitudes.