Too many entrepreneurs enjoy major financial success but lack deep and all-important personal happiness. Instead of feeling fulfilled by their achievements, they feel empty in the face of them. But it doesn't have to be that way.
Instead, we can find that all-important balance in our lives that gives us what elite athletes often call "flow"--the state of almost effortless control and peak power.
Mentor and coach Philip McKernan has made it his mission to help entrepreneurs and others achieve that state in and out of the office by gaining the authentic clarity they need to live meaningful lives. He's the author of Rich on Paper, Poor on Life: 3 Paths to More Meaning (and Money).
Live your life--not someone else's
As is the case with many top entrepreneurs, McKernan's success in business and real estate left him dissatisfied. He compensated by continuing to charge ahead as fast as possible. As he recently told me:
"After I would reach the peak of a mountain I had been climbing, I would feel an almost an eerie emptiness. Of course, my immediate response was to assume I'd climbed the wrong mountain. I'd look across the horizon, pick another mountain spend the next few years climbing it. Then I would get to the top, look around and feel the same eerie sense."
Sound familiar? It finally dawned on McKernan that the source of his unhappiness was that he wasn't living life on his terms. "The goals I was pursuing weren't meaningful to me. Nobody wakes up and decides to take on the aspirations of other people, but so often we are driven to validate ourselves in the eyes of others that we end up putting on a mask and chasing goals that matter to others but not to ourselves," he says.
Getting on track
So how can we do better at living our life instead of pursuing one based on the ideals of other people? McKernan offers three suggestions:
1. Be willing to let go. One of the biggest pitfalls of being an entrepreneur is that we don't want to let go of anything. But letting go is not the same as giving up, points out McKernan. Instead, it's about creating space in your life to devote to other interests and passions and to work on the non-business parts of your life.
As a successful entrepreneur, you're in the perfect place to do this, says McKernan, who recently stopped conducting one of his core coaching classes in order to free up space in his busy life. "The best time to work on your life, examine your choices and make sure that your goals are aligned with who you want to be as a person is when things are going really well professionally. That's when you have the freedom to carve out more space," he says. "But it takes courage to slow down in those moments instead of constantly obsessing about business."
2. Don't overcomplicate it. As entrepreneurs, we seem to thrive on having lots of complexity in our lives. It's a badge of honor to point out how many moving parts we can handle.
The thing is, all that complexity isn't very good for our bottom lines or our happiness. When McKernan helps business owners simplify and streamline their operations, they typically end up making more money and working less. "We end up with a greater overall sense of peace and security when we make things simpler instead of more complex," says McKernan. "Our relationships in all areas of our lives deepen."
That said, simplifying isn't as easy as cutting back your workload. You need to first determine why your business and life are so complex--what's driving the complexity--and then decide if and how you should scale back. "If you just start saying no to things or delegating tasks, you'll end up filling up your schedule again 3 months down the line and go back where you started. You need to figure out what's going on emotionally or personally that is causing you to make your life harder than it needs to be," he says.
3. Tap into--and trust--your intuition. We're overloaded with information--both as entrepreneurs and as people, generally. Obviously, there are huge benefits to having so much information at our fingertips. But McKernan believes it also robs us of much of our willingness to make intuitive decisions. "As entrepreneurs with creativity, we've lost much of the trust in ourselves. We are capable of way more than we actually believe."
The key, says McKernan, is not to unplug entirely or stop reading those inspiring business books. Just don't be ruled by them. Give yourself the mental space to trust your own decisions. Information can guide you, but don't let it cause you to live your life by other people's rules or agendas. Says McKernan: "In order to model your life based on the books you read, you have to adopt the goals of the authors--and those goals are often not your own goals."
Give yourself the tools you need to excel in your business and in your personal life. Check out the insights, tactics and actionable strategies from today's top entrepreneurs at AES Nation.
-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.