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Reduce The Stress Of Running A Business

StrategyDriven Managing Your Business Article |Running a Business| Reduce The Stress Of Running A BusinessAnyone who has ever even attempted to run a business in the past will tell you just how stressful it can really be. The act of looking after such an enterprise can really often be enough to cause a great amount of worry and anxiety, and even if you are not anxious, the day to day grind of it can still have some kind of negative effect on you. If you are keen to try and reduce the amount of stress that you experience as a result of running your business, then there are many things that you might like to try. In this article, we are going to try and make this a little easier by focusing on a few things in particular which are likely to help. Follow these, and you should find that you are able to reduce the stress of running a business greatly.

Lighten Your Load

It might well be that you find yourself simply doing too much. Many entrepreneurs fall into this trap, and it can be a subtle one that you don’t even notice to begin with. But if you want to make sure that you can keep your own mind in check while still looking after the business, you will need to find a decent way to lighten your own load while having it taken care of by someone else. That could mean that you simply need to delegate more, in which case it’s time to start identifying the people you really trust beneath you. Or you might want to think about getting into outsourcing some of the things that you would rather not have to worry about yourself. Knowing that someone who knows what they are doing is taking care of your business IT support can be a huge relief, and it is certainly something you will want to think about if you are feeling a little overwhelmed.

Keep The Goal Simple

Perhaps you have found yourself widening the goals to the point where you are trying to do a number of things at once. This is again very natural, but not entirely helpful ultimately if you hope to make things easier on yourself. The truth is that you will find it much less stressful if you simply focus on one goal at a time and keep it simple. That will mean that you don’t feel that you are trying to do too many things at once, and actually it will make running your business much more of a joy too, and also ensure that the business is actually more likely to be a real success. By keeping the goal simple, you can really make sure of these things

Enjoy It

Finally, remember that there is nothing wrong with enjoying running your business. In fact, it would be highly recommended, and you will find that simply making the assertion that you are going to start enjoying it more can be enough to really make a difference. The more you actively enjoy your business, the less stressful it will be on the whole.

5 Ways You Can Spend Your Work Breaks

StrategyDriven Practices for Professionals Article |Productivity|5 Ways You Can Spend Your Work BreaksIn this day and age, there is a major focus on productivity in the workplace. Employers want to be sure that they’re getting their monies worth from each employee and maximizing their potential as a business. However, for the sake of balance, employers are also realizing that employees aren’t robots and need healthy breaks during and after work hours. It is also left to employees to know how to utilize such breaks so that they don’t feel overwhelmed and overworked. Here are five ways that you can spend your work breaks.

Go for a Walk

It’s always good to stop and get some fresh air after hours of focused work. A good way to go about doing this would be to take a walk. Whether it’s a five-minute or twenty-minute walk, it could do your mind a lot of good. Some benefits of going for a walk are that it can help lift your mood and get your creative juices flowing. These are two things that you need to get your best work done. Also, pulling away from the computer can help your eyes and concentration.

Play Games

During your work break, another thing you could get up to is playing a few games. This is actually great for your brain as game playing can likewise improve concentration and enhance your social skills.

In addition to this, it’s an ideal way to distract yourself from work which you need if you want to come back with a fresh mind. You could play the lottery online if you want a short and fun game. Online games also have their benefits as they can be entertaining and social seeing as you can play with other people.

Meditate

If you can find a quiet space during your break, use it for meditation. This is the perfect opportunity to clear your head and relieve any work-related stress you’re feeling. If you’ve never meditated before, it’s easy to learn. Also, you can start with as little as 2-5 minutes and then gradually work your way up. In terms of how to meditate, start by committing to a daily practice.

This should outline what time you’re going to do it every day and for how long. Once you’re ready to start, sit comfortably, keep your back straight and rest your hands in your lap or on your knees. You should then defocus your eyes, breathe deeply, and ensure your body remains relaxed. By the time you’re ready to go back to work, you should be refreshed enough.

Read

If you’ve got a book or novel you haven’t had a chance to read, why not go through a couple of pages during your break time? It’s a way of redirecting your attention and also unwinding.

You will need a quiet place to read in order to avoid distractions unless you have noise canceling headphones. It has been stressed that you should try and read every day. Doing so enables you to tick that off of your personal development list.

Exercise

Some places of work happen to have a gym on their premises. Others offer discounted gym membership for places nearby. Consider going for a quick session during your break to get rid of any negativity and tension that may be triggered by work. It’s also a way of boosting your wellbeing and ensuring your mind and body are in a healthy space.

Creating An Office Space For Happy, Productive Employees

StrategyDriven Managing Your People Article |Office Environment|Creating An Office Space For Happy, Productive EmployeesHaving happy, productive employees is one of the greatest assets your business can have. When your employees feel valued and comfortable in what they do, they can help some amazing results for your company.

Creating a happy and productive workforce involves many actions, with one of them being a workspace that’s fit for purpose. Look at ways you can transform your workplace and help create a positive working environment for your employees.

Be open

Many modern workplaces are embracing open plan office space. There are several advantages of open plan offices that can make them worth having, especially in creative and tech-based companies. Having an open plan office can break down barriers and help teams work closer together, which will help to develop a more positive workplace.

Focus on creativity and collaboration

Putting an emphasis on creative thinking and collaboration can help your teams work better together in order to achieve company goals. A workspace that has breakout areas and space for thinking can be a real asset to employees and helps them take a breather from their desks to recharge. There are several collaboration options for businesses to pursue that should be explored to see if you could enhance your teams’ ways of working.

Keep it clean and green

Having a clean and neat office space can make people feel more positive, while also making it easier to work. Hiring janitorial services will help to keep your office looking great, while also making sure issues and barriers to work are taken care of. Encouraging staff to clean up after themselves is also important, and there should be clear desk policies in place to help maintain an organized workplace.

Adopting green practices is another way you can bring more happiness to your workplace. By encouraging employees to recycle, consume less energy and think twice about their waste, you can help create a greener workplace that brings something positive to your community.

Remember to think about life outside the office

As well as making improvements to the inside of your office, you also need to give some thought to the outside. Helping your employees achieve a better work/life balance will help them to be more productive during the hours they are in the office and will help them feel happier in their jobs too. From flexible working to better home working facilities, you can show employees that you care about their wellbeing and make your company a great place to work.

The right office space will help transform things for your employees, helping to make your company one that people enjoy working in, and make others aspire to work for. You’ll not only benefit from a more upbeat workplace but will experience better retention rates too. Simple changes can help make a significant difference to the attitudes and effectiveness of your staff. Why not put a plan in place as to how you can transform your workplace and help develop happy, productive employees who achieve great things for your business?

The Quest For Career Fulfillment

StrategyDriven Professional Development Article |Career fulfillment | The Quest For Career FulfillmentWhen embarking on a career, there are a number of goals that most of us want to achieve. The most obvious goal is the desire to earn enough to live on comfortably; enough for a stable home environment and, if possible, a few treats along the way. Secondary goals tend to include a pleasant working experience – getting on with colleagues, feeling valued, and so on and so forth – as well as a work-life balance that allows us to work to live, rather than live to work.

However, there is one goal that tends to be, at best, overlooked – which is somewhat surprising, given its importance to our overall well-being. The goal in question? Career fulfilment.

What is career fulfilment?

The concept of career fulfilment is, as one would expect, a desire to feel fulfilled – in some way – by the work we do. On a basic level, fulfillment is simply a way to achieve a sense of satisfaction from your career; a satisfaction that comes not from the wage you earn and the lifestyle you are subsequently able to afford, but from the work itself.

Career fulfillment is most commonly associated with careers that serve a greater good or improve the lives of others; careers like that of Cynthia Telles, which take a passion and turn it into a vocation. However, any career can offer a sense of fulfilment; some careers are more likely to offer fulfilment but any type of career can under the right circumstances be fulfilling in its own way.

How common is career fulfilment?

Unfortunately, not particularly. A huge number of people work for their entire lives without achieving true fulfilment – and for some individuals, that works just fine. Particularly in financial and city-related jobs, many individuals choose to work extremely hard in a role they don’t really care about, with the goal of retiring early. For these people, fulfilment is not a necessary aim; the end – early retirement – justifies the means, and they are willing to tolerate even an unpleasant decade or so, as long as they meet their eventual FIRE goal.

However, for those not focused on FIRE but instead just trying to make a living, fulfilment becomes more important – but it remains incredibly rare. A surprisingly large number of people dislike their job, and only 33% of workers are fully engaged with their role; which, given that engagement is more likely to lead to fulfilment, is concerning.

Why is fulfilment so uncommon?

The reason many people work without career fulfilment varies wildly. Some people just need to earn a living; what they do, or how fulfilled they feel, is fairly unimportant. For others, the work itself does not – and cannot – offer significant fulfilment. What’s more, some people don’t even see fulfillment as particularly important; even those who are not aiming for FIRE may be more than content to simply work comfortably, earning what they need to live on, and look for nothing more.

As a result, career fulfillment is best thought of as a concept that is important for some people. For others, it would be nice to have, but far from crucial – we all have different priorities in life, after all. However, this does beg the question…

What happens if fulfillment is important to you, but your career is not fulfilling?

The above circumstance is the worst case scenario: you may be someone for whom fulfillment is incredibly important, but you do not find that your existing role – or even your entire career – offers this fulfillment. The consequences of working in such a scenario can be extremely challenging, leading to dissatisfaction, unhappiness, stress, and even an exacerbation of underlying health conditions.

How can you tell if you are lacking in career fulfillment?

Common signs of poor career fulfilment include:

  • Disinterest in the work itself; you do not feel excited or enthused by the work you have to do
  • Frequent absenteeism; you will more readily take sick days and will usually try to use all of your available vacation days
  • Malaise or even depression during the working week, which tends to lift in the evenings or on weekends – i.e. times when you are not working

What can you do if you are not achieving career fulfilment, but want to?

First and foremost, it’s worth considering other methods of achieving a sense of fulfilment and satisfaction outside of the workplace, as some people find that this can help them to better manage their overall career concerns. After all, if your hobbies or out-of-work activities offer a sense of fulfilment, then achieving this from your career may become less important. You could, for example, consider volunteering or fundraising for a cause close to your heart in your spare time, and switch to trying to see the work you do as a means to an end.

However, if you find the above is not sufficient – or you simply want to achieve fulfilment in your career rather than your personal time – then switching careers is likely to be the best choice.

StrategyDriven Professional Development Article |Career fulfillment | The Quest For Career FulfillmentWhich careers should you consider switching to?

As we touched on above, while careers that can be considered meaningful are arguably more likely to offer career fulfilment, any career may be suitable. It’s just important to try and focus on a career where you feel that you would be happy with the work itself; where you feel that your contribution would be valuable (not necessarily in terms of money) in some way. To that end, it might be worth considering volunteering initially, so you can try out a few different ideas and see which affords you the most fulfilling experience.

In conclusion

Career fulfilment is not an essential – many people can spend their entire working lives without career fulfilment, but remain happy and content with this fact. However, if career fulfilment is important to you personally, then making a change that allows you to achieve the fulfilment you require could well be the right choice for your future happiness and well-being.

What’s the Deal? 3 Steps for Entrepreneurs & Spouses to Live Happily Ever After

StrategyDriven Entrepreneurship Article | Entrepreneurs | What’s the Deal? 3 Steps for Entrepreneurs & Spouses to Live Happily Ever AfterAs a fan of classic films, I am always searching for films that apply to family businesses. I recently viewed the 1936 film, Dodsworth, that stars Walter Houston in the title role, as well as Ruth Chatterton and Mary Astor. Dodsworth, an entrepreneur, owns an automobile manufacturing company, who sells his company and retires without a plan for his future—not unlike many real-life entrepreneurs.

As soon as Dodsworth retires, his wife, Fran, begins to plan their extensive trip to Europe and throughout the process both Dodsworth and Fran encounter differences in their expectations for the trip. Their differences are similar to what my former colleague, Jeff Rothstein, referred to as “What’s the Deal?” Jeff’s assumption was that all couples have an implicit “deal” that is never spoken about and governs how they interact with each other. Jeff posited that when couples move into their 60s, they begin to discuss and question their expectations for their golden years. From Jeff’s perspective, this is an opportunity to dialogue and recalibrate your expectations and come to a common understanding about your future together.

Nearly all couples have implicit, unmentioned, assumptions about their marital relationship. As couples get older and consider retirement or changing their work relationship, many have not considered a plan for the future. They have no resources, no practice, no roadmap, and when they look ahead, they feel adrift.

I help business families address this change using a process I call Life Career Planning. Using Career Life Planning techniques, they realize a sense of fulfillment and purpose. Both the entrepreneur and spouse turn their dreams into reality. The couple enjoys peace of mind about their future. Most importantly, the process helps them devise a common perspective of their values. They can effectively share their goals and dreams with each other in a manner that honors and engages both. They redirect their wisdom and their knowledge of life to produce a realistic, engaging plan for meaningful work and leisure time. They look ahead by looking back.

Nineteenth century Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard extolled, “Life can only be understood backwards but it must be lived forwards.” To me that means we recognize, embrace, and celebrate our accomplishments so that we can use them to energize the future.

Life Career Planning unfolds in three simple stages that help draw the entrepreneur and spouse from the past to the future: Harvest the Past, Turn the Soil, and Plant New Seeds.

  1. The couple harvests the past by celebrating the blessing of their life. They own and let go of regrets and hurts of the past. I offer pathways that encourage candid exchanges and mutual encouragement. As the couple harvests their past, they can stand in the present, to make conscious choices about what they want for themselves, their family, and their business.
  2. By turning the soul, the couple speculates on all they might like to do. To get there, they may talk about their personal purpose, what’s meaningful in their lives, and the role that spirituality plays in their work and life. They discuss how to be content by aligning their gifts with all areas of their lives.
  3. As the term implies, planting new seeds puts the couples’ new ideas into a plan for the future. They create a new dream together based on their explicit, shared goals and values—the discussions they have had in harvesting and turning the soil. Many aspects are drawn together: work, relationships, money/wealth, community service, leisure time, health, and spirituality. By recognizing and aligning all of these aspects, the couple builds direction into their future and an enthusiasm to engage in it.

In the case of Dodsworth and Fran, their vastly different expectations were highlighted during their European travel. Fran was youth-obsessed and wanted to embrace a spontaneous and impulsive lifestyle. Dodsworth wanted a more secure lifestyle to enjoy experiences and the wonders of the world like viewing the Northern Lights and appreciating the mysteries of the universe.

Had Dodsworth and Fran realized that entrepreneurs are driven by their dreams they could have anticipated their differences and avoided the tragedy that their relationship would soon befall.

To achieve this new dream for work, our challenge is to understand our purpose and identify what gives heart and meaning in relation to [our] work. That may mean we don’t have to leave our companies, but basically change our job descriptions from day-to-day management to much less demanding daily activities. It also requires us to become the architect and designer, with our families, of the new ownership and management system of our companies.

The new dream for the family is the most important part of Life Career Planning. It is an opportunity to directly confront the question of “What’s the Deal?” and renew your relationship with your spouse and children and redefine your role as grandparents. Related to this is the opportunity to perpetuate your legacy for the benefit of your community and your family.

Likewise, the opportunity to create a new dream for leisure time is the chance to plan, as a couple, to do all those things you have never had the time to do together, but also is an opportunity to plan and do things you have wanted to undertake individually. Recently, while talking with an entrepreneur client who I will call John, who had been exploring his own Life Career Planning, he shared that he has been weighing the possibility of taking a one-month sabbatical to experience what it feels like being away from his company. What John discovered while on sabbatical from his business was that his initial fears of not having a sense of self-worth were not realized. The sabbatical gave him the opportunity to feel good about developing plans to follow up on some of the dreams that he always wanted to explore. In addition, quite to John’s surprise, even though the sabbatical was only one month, his executive team quickly adjusted and began to establish a successful leadership plan to effectively run his company.

To create a new dream for service and philanthropy is an opportunity to reflect on your skills of compassion and sense of gratitude. C. Michael Thompson wrote in The Congruent Life, that “service is on the outside like prayer is on the inside.” Creating a family foundation or donor-advised fund are a few of the ways that are available for you to give back. It is also an opportunity to engage the next generation and your grandchildren in the process of service and philanthropy. Several of my clients engage their entire family in service projects. As grandparents, you can be quite influential with your grandchildren and assist them in establishing gratitude for the blessings of their lives.

If order for you to begin the process of Life Career Planning in your own life, you can reflect on and answer the following seven questions.

  1. What are your seven most important beliefs?
  2. What are the 10 major steppingstones of your life?
  3. How have these events shaped your life and influenced you in regard to your life plan?
  4. What are the major strengths you have developed as a result of your life experiences?
  5. What are your spiritual gifts?
  6. What is your purpose in life?
  • What are your talents?
  • What are you most passionate about?
  • What is the most natural environment for your life?
  • Identify the most important elements of the three previous questions and combine them into a sentence that goes as follows: “My purpose in life is…”

7. What is my new dream in relation to:

  • Work (Achievement)
  • Family (Intimacy)
  • Leisure (Play and Creativity)
  • Service (Compassion & Contribution)
  • Philanthropy (Legacy – Values)
  • Health
  • Purpose (Meaning)
  • Personal Mastery (Know Thyself)

With an appropriate amount of planning and discussion with your spouse, you can avoid the pitfalls that Dodsworth and Fran encountered. Take the time to engage in Life Career Planning with your spouse to ensure that your golden years are truly the best years of your lives.


About the Author

Tom Hubler is the author of THE SOUL OF FAMILY BUSINESS: A Practical Guide to Family Business Success and a Loving Family (2018). He is a family business advisor and President of Hubler for Business Families. When Hubler began working with family-owned business in 1980, there were very few in the field and he has therefore played a major role in this area, from helping colleges and universities establish family business institutes to his work with countless families and their business enterprises.