How To Be Happy While Running A Business

Dayne Shuda
Running GBW makes me happy.

When I talk to friends and people I know they often think that entrepreneur life must be wonderful.

And I’m here to tell you that…

…it is.

Well, it’s not all sleeping in every day and wearing your PJs in the afternoon while snacking on yesterday’s leftovers from the fridge.

There can be a lot of stress. There can be a lot of things that make you lie awake at night.

There are often money stresses especially when you’re starting out. You’re wondering if all the bills will get paid. You’re wondering if you’ll have to let somebody go. Then you think about their family and then you might as well get up because you’re not going to bed.

And the same goes for work that’s due. There are times when you can get out of the house at any hour during the day. The flexibility is nice, but there are plenty of times when you have to work extra to get something done.

As you can see, a lot of being an entrepreneur is like a regular job. There are pros and cons. Just as with regular jobs, some get going in their own business and get frustrated and upset.

It’s weird, but I’ve met entrepreneurs that seem to be down about their working conditions. It seems like every entrepreneur would be living the dream, but it’s not the case.

A high profile example would be Rand Fishkin of Moz. After several years as the CEO of the company, Rand stepped aside and gave the CEO role to one of his co-workers and friends. You’ll see the word “overwhelmed” in Rand’s post. It also seems like being overworked, over-worried and not having time for loved ones and family were big keys.

And that’s not uncommon.

If you’re running a business and you’re not happy and excited when you wake up then it’s time to make a change.

And that’s the biggest realization – you can make a change.

You’re the boss. Nobody is going to do it for you. That’s actually true for just about anyone in any job.

Here are some things you can change.

1. Assess The Company Vision And Your Vision

I feel like this is what Rand did with himself and Moz. He looked at the vision for Moz, which was to become a big, publicly traded company. That’s a pretty cool vision. And the folks at Moz seem to have a plan to get there. Sure, the plan will change over time like all things, but if you don’t have a plan you’ll never reach your vision.

Upon seeing the plan, Rand seemed to realize that what he wanted for himself and what would be required of him as CEO did not align.

And that’s completely fine.

Your happiness is tied to what you do 40+ hours per week (your job). If you can’t be happy doing what you’re doing then you owe it to yourself and to those around you to look for an alternative.

Rand found a way to be involved with Moz in a way that makes him happy for his personal vision while allowing Moz to become the company that he and others in the company want.

You can do the same for your business. Maybe you thought you wanted to small business to become a 20-person or 100-person enterprise. But now that it’s happening you feel unhappy because the requirements don’t fit your personal vision, which might be to work less, raise a family and go on vacations.

It’s hard to change your personal vision. You can change the company’s vision or you can find someone to fulfill the company’s vision for you.

If you’re growing a company, it’s totally fine to cut it back. Some freelancers try to grow a business and realize they were happier being a freelancer.

There’s no shame in being happy.

2. Schedule Time For Self, Family And Friends

Entrepreneurs have this weird unwritten rule that it’s not okay to make time for yourself, family and friends. It’s really odd.

You might hear an entrepreneur talk about taking the weekend to visit friends. Other entrepreneurs look at them like, “Who do you think you are to spend time away from the business?”

But mostly it seems that the person that wants to take off feels personally guilty. Nobody pressures them to work more than themselves. When they’re away they feel like they should be doing something, anything work-related.

That’s not healthy.

I don’t have a trick for getting over this other than to force yourself to get over it.

Your business is better off when you have time to cool off.

When you’ve been doing something for a long time sometimes you need a break. You come back refreshed and ready to work again. You might need a day or two to get back in the swing, but you’ll be better than you were at the time you took a break.

3. Switch To A Better Diet

Entrepreneurs are notoriously bad with their diets. They eat whatever is convenient.

Take pride and pleasure in making your own meals. Use delicious meats and vegetables. Forget about preserved foods. Forget the entire middle section of the grocery store. Anything that can sit on the shelf for weeks and months is almost always bad for your body.

My favorite resources for better diet are:

I’ve followed them for years and my health is better than ever.

4. Sleep Or Die

I used to try to pull all nighters during the early days of GBW.

Things usually didn’t go well. I might get one thing done on time, but it hurt in the long run.

It seemed that for every extra hour I stayed awake at night that I would have to make up 2 hours at some point.

I made a rule that when I’m done with work for the day I don’t check my email. That might seem crazy for you, but it really helps. When you’re not thinking about work it’s much easier to fall asleep at night.

It might take a few days to get over it, but you won’t miss the email. Everything can wait until morning.

5. Make Exercise Part Of A Hobby

The reason I included diet, sleep and now exercise and that they seem to be part of what make people happy. When you’re healthy you’re usually feeling good and that is part of what makes you happy.

Exercising at the gym isn’t fun for everybody. In fact, it’s not fun for a lot of people. That’s why many people fill the gym in January and February, but from March to December the places are ghost towns except for the people that go to the gym as a hobby.

I like exercise, but I like it combined with my hobbies.

I’m a fan of the Green Bay Packers. And I love that each off season, Jordy Nelson, a wide receiver on the team, goes back home to his farm in Kansas and he works with his family and friends on the farm.

Jordy doesn’t come back to training camp out of shape. In fact, he’s probably just as in shape as the guys that work in the gym all off season.

That’s because doing farm work is real work. It’s challenging and you’re working all kinds of muscles.

I don’t work on the farm very often, but I do enjoy golf, which involves a lot of walking and the swing of the club. It also involves soaking up Vitamin D out in the sun.

I also like hunting in the fall, which requires walking on uneven ground up and down hills.

And I like going for walks with my wife.

That’s exercise combined with your hobbies and it’s often easier than going to the gym.

Final Thoughts

I won’t speak for everyone, but for me, being happy is a choice. I hope that you have the same ability to control your own happiness.

No, being the owner of a business is not always roses. There will be down times just as there will be high times. But keep yourself on the level as best you can. Think long-term. Keep things in perspective and always find a way to make what you do something you love while also making the living you want for yourself.

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