Solopreneurship and “living the laptop life” are often described as a ticket to a life of freedom and wealth. While this is true for some people, for many others it’s a fast track to stress and overwhelm.
These days, I enjoy running my business and am much more relaxed and happy than I once was. This in-turn has helped me better serve my clients.
One way that I’ve achieved this was by unfollowing marketing coaches who promise “6 figures,” “7 figures,” “100k followers,” or “1 millions followers.”
Before doing this, I was so stressed out that I would often find myself scrolling through social media for hours telling myself “You need to be working” but I couldn’t stop. In the evening, I would get angry with my partner over benign things.
My previous mentors, who claimed to help their clients earn “10k per month,” preached the importance of self care as the be-all and end-all solution to avoiding burnout, but self care wasn’t working for me. Even when I was exercising, taking baths and meditating, I’d still lie in bed awake at night with a racing mind.
I’ve since discovered that all of these self care practices weren’t getting to the root cause of the problem.
The Peril of Desire.
Why do you think so many business coaches talk about how much money you’ll earn or how many followers you’ll gain if you purchase their course or program? The reason they do this is because they know that they’re triggering desires. Wealth and fame are very strong desires for most people.
Desire is at the heart of all effective marketing, but, when left unchecked, it’s also the cause of stress and suffering.
Buddhists believe that the most sublime happiness is a state that is free from desire. When we put our attention on any specific desire it becomes stronger and creates restlessness and anxiety in the mind, so, according to the Buddha, the path to happiness is not to try and satisfy all of our desires, but to let them go through meditation and the development of wisdom.
I’ve learned through experience that desires for money and success don’t go away when I earn more money and experience success, they only become stronger and lead to more stress.
The Path To Happiness As a Solopreneur
What I’m about to share goes counter to what many other “conscious” business coaches suggest.
As a practice, I’ve started spending as little time as possible focusing on my desires for more money and success and have discovered that the Buddha was right, this has made me happier and a better business owner.
I now often enter into a calm but energetic flow state when I’m working. Instead of feeling anxious and wanting to learn the next hack to increase my post reach, I feel joyful about what I’m creating because I’m more connected to an innate sense of compassion and creativity.
This doesn’t mean that I don’t earn income in my business. Making money is a necessary part of running a business. I seek to run my business like a farmer works his fields. A good farmer doesn’t think “Hurry up and grow because I’m hungry.” He just focuses on being the best farmer he can be and eventually he has a bounty of crops.
I’m also not saying that all desires are bad. We’re business owners, not Buddhist monks. What I’m suggesting is that we be conscious about which desires we’re feeding into on a daily basis. How do you feel when you imagine yourself being creative, expressing your authentic wisdom, developing spiritually and serving others? These are the desires that I seek to cultivate on a daily basis.
3 Practices for well-being that go deeper than self care.
- Be mindful about where your thoughts are going throughout the day. Do your best to notice when your attention moves towards craving for money or recognition and then relax your body and remind yourself so that you’re safe and loved in this moment.
- Don’t follow or learn from coaches and educators whose core marketing message is that they help their clients make X amount of money or gain X follower. Seeing these messages everyday on social media will only distract you from your creative flow and feed into craving and stress. Instead, follow and hire mentors who remind you of your more wholesome desires and aspirations. They can be harder to find, but there out there.
- Consider how you’re marketing your own business. Have you been told that you have to market to your audience’s base level desires to get their attention? Do you feel called to serve your clients in a more meaningful way?
These 3 practices take discipline. For myself, the fact that I’m sleeping wonderfully, I’m happier, more productive and am attracting clients that are better aligned with my values has proven to me that these 3 practices are worth the effort.
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