Most of us spend a lot of time avoiding and escaping the feeling of discontent – it’s like we want to do whatever possible to not feel it fully. Which makes sense, right? Who wants to feel bad? But what if you decided on purpose to look at discontent as a signal that you are ready for a change? What if you discovered that the way you are looking at circumstances is why you feel discontent? What if your “model” for how you view the world is the reason you’re not getting the results you want?
If you look at it this way, discontent is a good thing – it’s a signal. Instead of pretending the discontent isn’t there, take the time to look at the thoughts you’re thinking and the way they’re shaping your experience. Instead of avoiding the uncomfortable feeling of discontentment by working harder or distracting yourself with food, alcohol, shopping or TV, choose to take a few moments to look at what you are experiencing and understand how you are shaping reality with your thoughts.
Discontent is Part of a Polarity Pair
Discontent is part of a polarity pair, like on/off or hot/cold – what’s on the other side of discontent is what you do want. Maybe you have a feeling of restlessness and dissatisfaction because as your business grew over the years, you broadened your target market, and now you feel disconnected or even uninspired by your customer base. That’s what you don’t want. What you do want is to feel the sense of purpose that comes from understanding your audience and providing solutions that you know make a difference and add value.
Maybe you feel the more immediate and dramatic discontent that happens when an employee quits, or a client cancels a contract. You don’t want either of those things. What you do want is fully engaged employees and clients who are raving fans. Once you know what you don’t want, identifying what you do want is easy. Then shift your focus to setting your business up in a way that will create what you want.
When you feel discontent, it doesn’t mean you immediately close the doors on your business, file for divorce, sell your home, and disappear. What it does mean is that it is time to manage your mind. To look at your thoughts, feelings, and actions and decide on purpose if you want the results that come from those models.
Wherever you go, you take yourself with you, so if you don’t clean up the way your mind models the world and makes meaning of circumstances, you are likely to put yourself in another situation where you end up equally discontented. For example, if you decide to sell your business and start another one – unless you practice creating new ways of thinking – you may find yourself repeating the same patterns that caused you to be discontent in the first place. Habitual patterns such as overworking to prove your value, trying to control everything, and criticizing your staff will yield the same results every time.
Be open to the idea that the way your business is structured may no longer be in alignment with what you now value. You want to be discontent when you are not in alignment with your values! Values can change, and you may now value time for yourself and balance in your life more than striving to dominate your business market by overworking. Your business can still be the leader in your field without losing your life in the process, but only if you intentionally set it up that way.
Use Discontent to Help Your Business
Your feelings work as a sort of emotional barometer – they tell you what you’re thinking. When you’re feeling discontented, your thoughts are always about what you don’t want. Once you’re aware of this, you can do something about it. Here’s a simple three-step process to using discontent to help your business:
- Identify the thoughts that are creating the feeling of discontent. They’ll usually be in the form of pushing away from what you don’t want. Write them down. Your thoughts are how your mind creates reality and “talks” to you. There is power in seeing this on paper. You might have thoughts like, “I don’t want to work so much,” and “I can’t count on my employees.”
- Before deciding what to change, change how you feel in the present so that you can start to feel good now instead of waiting for some future event. To do this, first write down all the things you appreciate about the current situation, like “I’m glad I have my own business and don’t work for someone else.” Then write down all the things you will appreciate once you have what you do want, such as “I’m excited about having more time for myself in the future.”
- Now decide from this place of feeling good what you are ready to change and what action you can take. Identify “moving toward” thoughts that inspire you to take action to get what you do want, like: “I’m going to restructure the business to narrow our focus to customers in one niche so we can develop deeper expertise.”
Most of the time, we don’t change until the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of changing. But you don’t have to wait until a feeling of discontentment snowballs into stronger negative emotions like frustration or anger before you take the time to look at the thoughts causing these feelings.
As a business owner, you’re ultimately responsible for the results in your business. You alone decide what you think, and that is what leads to the feelings and actions that create results. Even if you have a team working for you who are responsible for specific outcomes of their own, it’s how you manage your mind that serves as a model for them. Notice when you feel discontent and use that as an opportunity to examine your thoughts and intentionally identify what you do want.