Every small business owner remembers the honeymoon period – that time when work feels exciting and every challenge is exhilarating. Unfortunately, the stresses of the COVID-19 pandemic has many entrepreneurs looking longingly at the exit sign. Nothing squelches the fire of that honeymoon phase like worrying about your family, your health, your financial security, your bills, and your productivity – while juggling business pressures. Burnout and job dissatisfaction is common, as well as that awful feeling of dread when you wake up every morning. If your business has lost its spark, here are some ways to reignite the flame and fall in love with work again.
1. Shift your perspective
Being a small business owner is not all sunshine and roses. And after the honeymoon is over, you need to invest more energy into your mindset. Sometimes, rekindling the passion for your work is less about doing what you love and more about loving what you do, even when it’s hard.
Why did you want to start a business in the first place? What were your motivations, your aspirations? Shift your perspective to focus on why you do what you do, and why you wanted to do it in the first place. Has the job changed, or has your perspective? Think about what you spend your time doing every day and work out if it’s getting you closer to your goals. If not, identify what you need to change to improve your job satisfaction and keep burnout at bay.
2. Take a break
If you went into overdrive to help your company survive the pandemic, you’re probably close to burnout. Falling in love with your work again can be as simple as stepping back from it for a while. Think of it as a sabbatical to recharge your batteries. Andrew Wilkinson shared a great thread on Twitter about the incredible benefits of a digital detox for mental health and improved happiness.
If you can’t commit to a sabbatical, take time off to do anything but work. Spend time with family or friends and reconnect with the non-business parts of your life. This can help put things in perspective and rebalance your priorities.
3. Learn something new
A lot of the initial adrenaline rush of running your own company is that you’re constantly learning, experimenting, and breaking ground in uncharted territory. It’s exciting! A beginner’s mindset is exploratory – you’re open to fresh ideas and willing to abandon preconceptions. So keep pushing yourself to learn new things.
Learning is a creative state that can take you out of the drudgery of routine and achieve a greater sense of fulfilment with every new achievement. If you’re worried that the spark for your once-loved work has been extinguished, learning new things is a surefire way to fall in love with work again. It gives you a chance to find new things to get excited about.
4. Focus on what you enjoy
Your interest in work is naturally going to wane if you find your days filled with tasks that drain you. To re-engage in your work, you need to focus on the tasks and challenges that energise you, where you’re employing your skillset to the best of your ability. You don’t want to feel trapped by a list of day-to-day responsibilities that someone else could be doing.
Think about the tasks and challenges that excited you at the beginning, and think about what’s missing now. Can you take on more of those kinds of tasks and let go of others? Take stock of what your days are filled with and whether you actually like what you’re spending your time on. If not, it’s time to make some changes.
5. Connect with others
Research shows that those who are close to their colleagues are happier at work. Investing in workplace friendships and strong interpersonal relationships is bound to make you enjoy your work more. It’s natural to hit rough patches at work, and when you do, work friendships can help to pull you out of a funk and remind you why you love your job.
Spend time connecting with others as well; maybe join a professional networking group or organisation to meet like-minded entrepreneurs who are likely to motivate and inspire you with the challenges they’ve overcome. Energy and enthusiasm are contagious, so surround yourself with other entrepreneurs and professionals who are on fire for their work – the spark might reignite your own passion and productivity.
6. Make a change
A change is as good as a holiday, or so they say. But in all seriousness, refresh your surroundings! Move your office around, repaint if you can, bring in new plants, change the art on the walls – whatever is within your power to change, mix things up. The same environment, day after day, is going to drain your energy.
It’s refreshing to enter a space that’s completely different – suddenly, the world is alive with possibilities. See if you can do the same thing with business processes. Have they become stale? What could you change to improve productivity and efficiency? Do you hit a certain roadblock every day? Look for opportunities to change your surroundings, eliminate pain points, and fall in love with work again, just with a few simple changes.
7. Delegate tasks to free up time
Running a business, you’re always going to end up with tasks that you don’t like to do. When you find yourself in a place where you can’t remember the last time you were happy at work, it’s time to reassess what’s on your plate. If you can’t picture what it is you want to be doing, make a list of the things you definitely don’t want to do. Delegate those tasks to free up your time for the work that lights your fire.
Email is a necessary tool to do your job, but it’s not the job itself – delegate your inbox management to a virtual assistant and keep your eye on the prize: the work that moves your company forward. As an entrepreneur, your main responsibility is to work towards the big picture; let someone else handle the day-to-day distractions. An assistant can highlight those messages that really do need your personal attention and expertise.
Fall in love with work again
There are a lot of business admin tasks that may be dragging you down and draining your love for your work – don’t let it cloud your judgement. Sometimes, a little help is all it takes to rediscover that honeymoon phase of running your own business.