Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
The famed self-help coach and entrepreneur Tony Robbins often tells the story about how at the age of 17 he had only $18 left to his name. He was down on his luck and needed to use that money for food. So he went to a local restaurant in town and saw a poor boy there. He ended up giving the money to the boy. Years later he stated that he felt bad for the boy and wanted to help out.
As Robbins was getting started in his career, he got an assistant job working for the renowned motivational speaker Jim Rohn. Through this experience with Rohn, Robbins realized that he enjoyed working in an area where he was actively helping others. Rohn served as an important mentor for Robbins early on in his life. One of the best pieces of advice Robbins says he has received from Rohn was that, “The secret to life is to find a way to do more for others than anyone else is doing.” Beyond building a business, serving others was held up as an important and worthy pursuit. This idea of service also gave Robbins enormous fulfillment and satisfaction.
Eventually, Robbins had the confidence and experience to start his own motivational speaking business with a focus on helping others excel in life. The rest is history! Over 50 million people across the world have utilized his products, and many credit Robbins with having a transformational impact on their lives.
Robbins is quick to emphasize that fulfillment means something different for everyone. He says, “For some people it’s three beautiful children, for some people it is a billion-dollar business, for somebody else it’s writing music — you know, it’s different for everyone… Find out what you are fulfilled by.” Starting this process of self-discovery is what will get you on track to find out what will give you the connection and meaning you’re looking for.
Related: The First Question to Ask Yourself If You Want to Be an Entrepreneur but Don’t Know Where to Start
In my life, I started working in the financial industry at 25 years old. At the time, I was very focused on being practical, and I followed what I thought I was supposed to do rather than what I truly wanted to do. Unfortunately, this did not work well for me and I could not find joy and fulfillment from my job. Do you feel the same way?
If you do, then it is time to take action and one option is to create a business that aligns with what fulfills you.
In my experience, the first step in your business creation process is to construct an idea that answers three key questions below:
What are you good at?
What do you love?
What gives you a sense of fulfillment?
This is the third article in a three-part series where I explore each of these key elements in your new business ideation process. In the first article, I spoke about the importance of finding what you are good at. In the second article, I discussed the three steps to creating a business that aligns with what you love. In this article, I want to talk about the sense of fulfillment, and how to use this as your basis for creating a successful business.
Related: 3 Steps to Creating a Company That Aligns With What You Love
What gives you a sense of fulfillment?
If you want to make a transition into starting your own business but you have no idea how to do it, you’re not alone. I once thought that by making great money, I would be happy. But I was very well paid in banking and still not satisfied. In my 30s, I experienced a radical shift. I started to search for meaning and connection in my life. I was looking for fulfillment in my work.
Fulfillment is typically more important than the dollar sum you earn. At the end of the day, your feeling of fulfillment will nurture and complete you in ways money alone cannot do. When constructing your new company, it is crucial to incorporate the element of fulfillment into the business framework, as this is often an essential part of a new company’s success.
Here are three steps to start figuring out what will bring you the fulfillment you’re looking for.
Step 1 : Start taking your fulfillment seriously
Humans are unique in that we have emotional and psychological needs beyond other creatures. When these needs are met, we experience feelings of wholeness, connection and joy. Serving others is a great example. Many people participate in activities such as volunteering and charity work because it helps fulfill their need to serve, which they are not able to achieve in their everyday job.
For me, I discovered that I felt very differently when I was out hiking than I did in my job. This difference created a shift in me. I knew then the feeling I wanted to move towards. Make the commitment to seek out change and explore your feelings. Follow your feelings as they come up by paying attention to where and in what moments you feel joy and connection.
Step 2: Gather inspiration and list the things you enjoy
Although fulfillment will vary depending on the person, oftentimes it’s about feeling connected to a purpose that is bigger than us. This can means considering how your everyday life contributes to humankind. Knowing that your business is attached to a bigger purpose helps the day to day work feel more meaningful.
How can we start to narrow down on what will give us as individuals that feeling? Start with your life as it is. What do you do that you find joyful? How do you like to serve others? How can you incorporate this into your business idea? Think about the issues that light you up and make a list. Consider what stories you tend to read in the news, what movie or documentary subjects spark something in you, or what experiences you’ve had where you felt you were making a difference to someone. It doesn’t have to be a huge event or a vast topic — it can be as simple as “making people smile” or “calling a friend in need.” By doing this reflective work, you can help direct yourself towards a business idea that not only meets your deepest needs but serves a purpose.
Step 3: Start testing things out
People often say to me they don’t know what they love, or what fulfills them. Others say they have too many things they love and can’t choose just one! This resonates with me as well, as I am a very curious person, and there are so many things I love. It can be tough just to pick one or a few items to focus on. However, you do have to make a choice.
Try to narrow the things you love down to three to start. Remember, as your business evolves and grows, you might find ways to incorporate new ideas and other things you love into it. The critical thing to do at first thought is focus — great entrepreneurs focus. Once you have your three things, it’s time to start experimenting. How can you start testing things out? There are an infinite number of ways — just make sure to take a single step.
I like James Altucher’s 1% rule, which states that it’s better to take a 1% action in the direction of what you hope to explore than to try and achieve a 100% improvement on your situation overnight. If you’re keen to help others and if you like building things, you might volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, for instance. So you could start by getting informed, making a phone call or sending an email to express interest, and then by arranging a date where you can get involved. All of these can be completed a little at a time. But the only way forward is to take a single step. Don’t spend 10 years thinking that one day it will all become clear. Start trying things out. Personally, I love helping other people. I also felt my best when I was out hiking, and I had a deep love of adventure. I could see that there was a way to structure the adventure trips to be a catalyst for people, to give them a glimpse of who they are and what is possible for their lives. Slowly but surely this developed, and now we operate trips all over the planet. It all began with a few simple steps, and grew into the business I am proud to run today.
Find something that you are good at, that you love, and that fulfills you to create a business that aligns with who you really are.
Related: Interested in Starting a New Business? 8 Helpful Tips on How to Begin