Purpose or Finance?

If I asked you to be really honest with yourself right now could you?

Is your day to day activity focused around purpose or finance?

Maybe this sounds like a weird question. 

Maybe you answered it quickly in your mind, but are you sure? Are you truly being 100% honest with yourself?

If I’m being honest with you I can say throughout my professional life there’s been many times when I looked really deep I gymowner, business coaching, fitness business coachwas pretty conflicted about this.

Which I see now isn’t at all that uncommon for anyone who comes from a background of struggle.

If you grew up without money then when money flows in it’s very easy to become temporarily consumed by finance, to do what brings in more money faster.

But what started this cascade may or may not have been your true purpose, it may have been necessity.

In the last week and a half I’ve had no short of 7 former clients, friends and colleagues message me saying they’ve been feeling as though they have lost their passion, they’ve become disinterested in their work or their business.

Nearly all of them had one thing in common, they’d given up their fitness businesses through the course of the pandemic.
A couple to shift online, others to have jumped to something entirely different, and one that still has their fitness studio.

One of my favourite authors, Daniel Pink, writes in his book Drive (which you should read before you hire anyone) states, “money is a factor until it isn’t.”

Simply stated we all need a certain amount of money to satisfy our stress survival instinct.

This amount is different for everyone, it can range from the basic amount to attain a sustainable basic lifestyle or it can range to the high value deluxe lifestyle you always thought you wanted.

Either way once this amount is satisfied a subconscious psychological shift occurs.

For employees (and some of us alike) a sense of complacency kicks in, we stop striving, there’s no longer that fight or flight instinct to do so, and as such quality of product, service, work ethic, etc declines.

The second thing that happens is you may either “lose your passion” AKA you weren’t in touch with your true purpose in the first place or you charge ahead to continued and sustained growth (that is until the next “money is a factor until it isn’t” threshold is reached.)

Steve Jobs said, “I always knew when there were too many days in a row that I didn’t enjoy what I was doing that change was necessary.”

Stress, Frustration and Success all have something in common, they all can make it apparent that we may be disconnected from our purpose.

I really seen this in recent years in our industry when a certain promotional offer became all the rage, (I won’t name names, but I am sure you can figure it out, because I actually have total respect for the person that created it), it was genius, it created huge lead and cash surges…but it frustrated consumers and worse it disconnected many business owners from their true purpose.

Many wouldn’t see it because the money kept flowing.

That’s because there’s a lag.

The purpose and struggle that started the process got the rock rolling, and it was fun, but then it became more about the money than the results, the product slipped or failed to deliver. (Compounded by the very effective yet not entirely transparent marketing language.)

Still the money flowed in fast…until it stopped.

And when it did many found themselves in freefall, with no safety net. 

For every action there is any equal but opposite reaction, easy come easy go.

More recently the pandemic exacerbated this environment…especially for our industry.

Drastic operational constraints, poor financial preparedness = exponential failure.

But we adapt…and survive. Or some did.

But it’s left many broken.

If you left your studio behind you might be finding yourself unhappy.

If you still have your studio you might be finding yourself uncertain.

I can say without fail that some of my highest earning years I was very disconnected from my purpose, wealthier and unhappier.

This last year and a bit has been hard on everyone, radical shifts have happened really fast which created many radical decisions. Sometimes both emotional and irrational.

So many small businesses were destroyed, our industry was hit so hard, and the worst I think is so many heroes, people like yourself whose true purpose is to enrich others have been pushed away, or are jaded and uncertain about what will happen next.

Becoming a father had this effect on me, I am now more self-aware than ever about my own sense of purpose and when my actions have strayed from my purpose.

Maybe this is my way of offering fatherly advice to you, that if you’ve found yourself unhappy, uncertain or unsure of how you feel about your current career situation it’s time to sit down and really get in touch with and identify your purpose.

If your sense of purpose is far from or misaligned with your current day to day career activity then you need to make some decisions about how to shift that (often easier said than done.)

But if there’s one thing that’s for certain…

If the finance is not aligned with your purpose it’s not worth continuing to pursue.

Sure for the short term you may need to out of necessity but I can tell you without fail any time you become too disconnected from your purpose the finance will have a ceiling (and usually a significant decline thereafter.)

And when you are aligned with your true purpose the finance will flow freely (and matter less ironically) and continue to grow until you reach the next threshold where you must again decide, am I aligned with my true purpose?

If you’ve read this far and you left your studio and feeling very underwhelmed in your current career choice, maybe it’s time to revisit that. It’s clear that the barrier to entry of starting a new business is now currently lower than any time I’ve ever seen in my lifetime. Over this coming “peak season” (September to May) I see massive demand incoming…that is as long as the headlines aren’t overwhelmed by more fear mongering.

If you’ve jumped online and are or aren’t having some success you may find yourself questioning. The relationships aren’t the same, for many it doesn’t satisfy what your brick and mortar community did.

Or you may be realizing that being a ripple amongst the waves of the likes of Peleton, Mirror, Apple Fitness, Noom and every other corporate fitness brand is a scary place to be, it requires a different skill set entirely.

Or maybe you still have your studio, you’ve held on, but you’re exhausted from navigating an unprecedented climate and finding it hard to know where to apply your focus and if you’re still on the right path. To you I would say you made it this far, it’s time to reflect back to business year 1, why did you do what you did then and do you still feel that way deep down underneath all the unprecedented and unfair stress?

Or maybe none of this applies to you…that in the midst of so much change you’ve just found yourself in a place where you are not certain what your purpose is. (Weirdly this is where I found myself before my first son was born, that drastic and unexpected change to life really made me begin to question everything and ask the big question of what do I really want?)

Age is wonderful thing in the wisdom it provides, and I’m still convinced the fitness industry is the best industry in the world, if it weren’t for my young sons and my deep desire to flexible and present for them I would be re-opening a studio this fall.

I see massive demand for small scale private (very small group or one-on-one) training. I miss the small close knit community bubble we created.

But alas my purpose has grown from that which our studios instilled, I’m as determined as ever to enrich lives but only in ways that allows me to first be present for my boys always.

I do this now in 2 ways:

  1. By creating, sourcing and distributing chemical free products for families, the very reason my boys exist.
  2. Using the wisdom of my experience to help business owners use data and systems to create strategic decision making, and create rock solid sustainability no matter the world circumstances.

Just writing that brings a smile to my face, but this is about you, so what is your purpose?

Thanks for sharing this time, I hope it leaves you thinking, if so mission accomplished.

Until next time.

Leave a Reply