I don’t know whether you’ll be able to relate to any of this, because, well I’m a tad eccentric, but one of the things I realized throughout my career is that one of your top priorities should be managing your self-expectations and energy.
If you’re never content, try this:
1. Keep a daily changelog to track things
2. Remember that your energy levels can quickly run empty if you don’t fill them up again (good sleep, sports, socializing)
3. Understand your genetics, in particular research methyl-donors and amino acids. Make sure you have sufficient Tryptophan, Lysine and Magnesium in your diet.
4. Learn to let go of things.
5. Figure out what activity will yield the highest ROI and is actually worth your time.
6. Regardless of point 5, try to add activities that make you more content even if they dont make as much money (e.g. writing a blog)
7. In order to better analyze yourself (critically) you need to take a step back. Write things down to see how you behave in certain situations, no way around it.
8. Figure out why you’re not ‘content’ – is it intrinsic or extrinsic? Is it yourself or are expectations from others that make you feel agitated?
9. If it’s yourself and none of the other methods work, try meditation or if that’s not for you, try to figure out the exact root cause. Do you particularly dislike any tasks of your job? Can you delegate it? Do you lack focus? Why? Are there physical or psychological reasons? It’s also easy to get lost in distracting thoughts. Find a new workflow that doesn’t give you ample time to bring it up internally. Doing chores or music may help you to get started on a project.
10. If there are extrinsic expectations, try to talk to the person in question and make yourself aware of the fact that you work best at your own pace. Ignore the noises.
Always Expecting To Do Better: Never Content?
I used to constantly expect to do better. I never really was satisfied with myself at the end of a day. Put some health woes on top and you have a lethal mix: High self-expectations and low energy. This doesn’t bode well, does it? I now understand the genetic reasons why I and other entrepreneurs tend to behave like that: We’re chronic under-methylators (look it up if you’re unfamiliar with the term, well worth the research). Undermethylation tends to increase your drive.
Once I realized that most “driven” personalities share this trait, I started managing my expectations a lot better. I finally partly understood why I wasn’t content with myself, but that was just one step of the puzzle.
Energy-management is highly important in today’s economy. I ran into a burnout when I tried to kick-start a second business while still managing my first legacy business. What I failed to realize that everything I needed to be “content” was right in front of me. Of course, I had to take a detour to realize that, but I guess better late than never.
How I’ve Learnt To Be More Content
Understanding the genetics helped a bit, but there was more to do. I had to strip things down to the basics: Dabble in minimalism and throw everything I didn’t really need out of the window. Learning to let go of something was particularly difficult for me. I guess that’s the reason why I’ve never killed off my legacy business in the first place and tried to juggle a 2nd business at the same time. Although I’m glad I didn’t that’s precisely what I should have done. I should have sold the business and moved on. I guess I’m personally just not there yet and I still value having options more than a fresh start. It really takes balls of steel to take that step, especially when you’ve poured so much energy into something.
It was a difficult process to digest all of that and “unlearn” certain things but it really helped me to discover what I value. Having a clear purpose is a huge deal to me and I guess you too. Focus on that and clear your head. If you can’t let go of something just yet, that’s alright, just give it time.
What’s Your Strategy?
How do you manage your expectations and energy? Let’s hear it!