Better Business from Brett Davidson – money can’t buy happiness

by | Oct 3, 2016

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Why not give your business a boost by reviewing your business objectives in line with how you want to feel? Brett Davidson uncovers what might be a few uncomfortable truths and gives some practical tips on how you can achieve greater success in business – and have more fun too.  

Be careful what you wish for. I know it’s an old cliché, but you don’t want to focus on the money in life if you want to be happy. Does that mean life is a choice between making money and being happy? Absolutely not.

But you do need to be careful what you wish for. I was having dinner with one of my Uncover Your Business Potential groups a few weeks back. Over dinner I shared how, for me, whenever I start to focus on the money, all the fun leaves the building. The same is true whenever I try to cram too much into a day.


One of the advisers at dinner wondered aloud if he would be as successful if he were not focused on the financial targets he sets himself. He also shared that sometimes the targets put him under a lot of pressure; not always for the good. I posed the question:

“What if you changed your business objective from just a money focus to something like ‘have fun’? What happens now?”

Of course his fear was that if he didn’t have a laser focus on the monetary targets he would no longer achieve anything financially in his business, and I understand that concern. However, having dealt with it myself I can assure you that you don’t lose that ability to turn on the focus if the situation requires it. The ability to get out there and generate some new work is the habit of a lifetime for many successful advisers (and consultants).


Is this money focus an issue that affects you in your business? If it is, what happens if you change your goal to ‘have fun’ instead of ‘hit targets’?

Are you afraid to have fun?

Let’s deal with the fear issue straight up. If you did change your objective to ‘have fun’, how much fun would you be having if you were earning far less than you needed to live on? Not much.

So the financial objectives would still form part of your broader ‘have fun’ goal, but there would need to be more to it; more than just financial success.


A change of objective asks different questions of you and therefore generates different answers. Let me try and capture the feelings that these two differing sets of goals might generate.

Here’s how a focus on hitting financial targets might play out in your mind, body and spirit:

  • You are in a state of perpetual stress chasing targets
  • If you hit your targets you feel ok very briefly, but there’s no time to enjoy it because the next target is always looming large
  • To hit your targets you might have had to work unsustainably hard (leading to health consequences or burnout)
  • If you miss the target you feel anywhere from “a little disappointed” to “really bad”
  • If you are off target (which realistically may happen a fair amount of the time) you worry what this might mean for your family (in the short and long term)
  • You have learned to live on what you earn, so doing less isn’t really an option anymore

If you were to change your objective to ‘have fun’ you have to define what having fun means to you. I’ve written down a few things that I think would be fun for an adviser/owner:

  • Running the business feels effortless
  • I have lots of time and space to do my work (with no crazy deadlines)
  • My team work diligently, but without pressure to deliver on our promises to clients (because we are organised)
  • I only do the work that only I can do (and love)
  • I have a team in place to do everything else
  • I earn £xxx level of income/turnover/profit
  • I want to change lives every day, not just earn money. That means I only work with people that are up for the life-changing experience (which I realise is not everyone).

Sound ridiculous? I hope not, because it’s all doable.

What I love about the second list, which comes from asking yourself “how do I have fun?”, is that now you are also focused on the major issues of running a successful business. For example, the first bullet point “Running the business feels effortless” gets you thinking about planning ahead, being organised, and having a team around you to do the work. This leads nicely into some of the subsequent bullet points.

The last bullet point gets you focused on not working with troublesome clients. There are plenty of nice people around who want and value your expertise. Working only with these types of clients means that in the future all of your clients are lovely, which makes coming to work each day a joy.


How fun is your work day?

Take a minute to rethink your own version of what ‘have fun’ means. Set a timer for 3 minutes and just brain dump whatever ‘have fun’ means to you in your work life.

Can you see that once you change the objective from mere financial goals to how you want to feel (having fun), that the type of business you operate needs to change


All of a sudden, issues that were totally acceptable (although quite unenjoyable), are suddenly unacceptable. Now they are on your radar to be dealt with. Issues like:

  • transactional clients
  • rude clients who pay you a high level of fees
  • rude clients who pay you a low level of fees
  • staff that are average, but not great
  • an uninspiring office environment
  • working long hours
  • working nights and weekends
  • clients that don’t want and don’t get what you really do
  • technology that doesn’t work properly
  • not enough resources supporting you
  • poor processes

By changing the focus of what you want out of your business (focusing on how you want to feel), you completely change your own thinking. It’s like asking your clients better questions; you get better answers and they come up with better life objectives.

If this article has struck a chord at all, then take some time to consider how you want to feel in your business and your life. It might just help you set some better objectives and get you focused on the real issues that can take your business forward.

I’ll finish with this quote I love from Seneca, the Roman philosopher and adviser to Emperor Nero:

“People do not care how nobly they live, but only for how long. Although it is within the reach of every person to live nobly, but within no one’s power to live long.”

Something to think about, that’s for sure.


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