Something Was Missing in Aleksis’s WorkLife, But He Wasn’t Sure Exactly What
Aleksis had no energy or enthusiasm for the side hustle/business he had started alongside his day job. But he couldn’t figure out why. After all, business was booming, and that’s what he had wanted and needed, so why was he feeling like this?
But let’s back up a little to learn how Aleksis had arrived at this place.
Aleksis had grown up in a farming community in Latvia. Throughout his childhood and into his early twenties, he had loved helping his parents out with growing the crops and also maintaining the machinery — he had always been good with his hands.
Then on his twenty-fifth birthday, when celebrating on a night out in Latvia’s capital city of Riga, Aleksis met Emma, a British nurse who was visiting for one week. She had just arrived in Riga, and Aleksis offered to show her around the city and take her to other places of interest that were off the beaten track for tourists. By the end of the week, the two had fallen in love. That was the beginning of their one-year long-distance love affair. Their whirlwind romance led to an engagement after six months. Six months later, they tied the knot in London and began their new life together in the city.
Aleksis got a job at a small neighbourhood garage, which was no surprise to anyone because, well, remember, he had always been good with his hands.
One year later, they welcomed their first children into their lives — twin boys — Ivo and Jack. Life was good. Emma loved her work as a nurse, helping serve the needs of immigrants. Aleksis loved being a mechanic — he enjoyed the job, and he also enjoyed meeting and serving his community and their cars. They loved their time as a family with their children. And outside of that, they loved working together on the allotment Emma had gotten a few years earlier. As with Aleksis, Emma had also grown up on a farm, and she too loved growing crops. So, life was good.
One year later, Emma fell pregnant again, and they soon discovered they would be welcoming two more babies into their family. They needed to sit down when they heard this news. They were happy and excited, but they were also concerned about the financial implications of needing to provide for a family of four children. They were already paying a lot of money for childcare for the boys, so they knew what the additional cost for another two babies would be — it would be almost the entirety of both their paychecks.
They knew they needed to do something, so they put their heads together and thought about what that something could be. Aleksis remembered a conversation with Wilson, who worked in real estate, who had an allotment next to theirs. Wilson had mentioned how they offered a service to sellers and buyers, where an inspector carried out a few basic tests on the properties for sale, identifying work that needed to be carried out to satisfy the buyer’s peace of mind and to help to sell the property more quickly for the seller. He said the challenging thing for all parties was to get dependable handy people to do the work raised in the inspection objections.
This got Aleksis thinking that perhaps he could start a side hustle/business as a handyman. But he wasn’t confident that his skills were good enough. He had grown up in a farming community where almost everyone was at least as handy as he was. So he was concerned that his skills weren’t anything special and that really anyone could do what he could do.
While all of this was going on in his head, he bumped into his neighbour Reg, a retired man, who was renting the flat next door. Reg told him he was waiting for his landlord, Rodney, to sort out a few jobs around his home, but that every time he contracted a handy person to do the job, they let him down. From a dripping tap in his ensuite bathroom that kept him awake at night to a boiler that was continuously cutting out, resulting in no hot water, he was really at the end of his tether with it.
Aleksis offered to help out, letting Reg know that this was the type of work he was considering taking on and that it would be good experience for him to try his hand at it. Reg said he’d put him in touch with Rodney.
Rodney, too, was at the end of his tether with the handypeople who kept letting him and his tenants down. He told Aleksis he was happy for him to do the work, but he needed to have insurance. On checking out the cost, Aleksis discovered it was less than £100 p.a. Which was good for one year’s cover but was a lot for one job. So he suggested to Rodney that he would take on the job and the insurance and that if Rodney was pleased with the work he did on Reg’s flat, he would put more work his way whenever he could. Rodney agreed.
Aleksis did a great job, and both Rodney and Reg gave him a great review on a site where handy people could register their services. Doing good work that was valued and appreciated gave Aleksis the confidence he needed to give his side hustle/business idea a go.
Rodney was landlord/owner of quite a few properties, and good to his word, he started putting more work Aleksis’s way. Reg shared with his fellow tenants and everybody else he knew how great Aleksis’s work was. Soon Aleksis was getting work from his neighbours and their landlords and Reg’s circle of friends.
Knowing that Aleksis hoped the work he did for Reg would lead to more work, Emma had taken a video of him carrying out the jobs. Aleksis edited the video, adding a VoiceOver, explaining who he was and what he could do. He uploaded it to YouTube as a private link and then shared that link with 100 real estate companies via email — including Wilson’s.
Following on from that, Aleksis couldn’t believe the speed with how his side hustle/business took off. His phone would not stop ringing as real estate agents started calling him with projects to take on, together with an ever-growing number of neighbours, landlords, and Reg’s friends.
It went on like this for several months, and Aleksis was feeling overwhelmed. Because he didn’t want to turn away work, but at the same time, he was struggling to meet all the demands. With his day job and side hustle/business hours, he worked from 5 am to 11 pm 7 days a week. He rarely got to see his wife and children — his boys, Ivo and Jack, and his girls, Zuza and Lily, who had recently arrived.
And so we arrive back to the place where I began to tell you Alexis’s story. Back to a place where something was missing in Aleksis’s WorkLife, but he wasn’t sure exactly what. Back to a place where all he knew was that he wanted to get his mojo back. Back to a place where he was trying to figure out why he was feeling the way he was — why he had lost his energy and enthusiasm for the side hustle/business that was booming when after all, that was what he had wanted and needed.
Then Aleksis bumped into Reg again. Reg asked him how things were. Aleksis said that everything was good, the family were well, and his side/hustle business was booming. Aleksis knew that wasn’t the full truth, so did Reg — a wise old boy who knew the first answer rarely gets to the truth — Aleksis knew that too.
Then Reg asked how his allotment was — Aleksis had loved sharing his produce with Reg. He knew how much Reg loved and appreciated homegrown fruit and vegetables. But he hadn’t been able to share anything of late because he had stopped growing stuff in his allotment.
Aleksis told Reg because he was so busy with work, he hadn’t made it to the allotment recently and that Emma hadn’t either because she was busy with the children. Reg smiled and didn’t say anything further. The wiseness of his years allowed him to observe his question had gotten Aleksis thinking.
And he was right. Aleksis loved his allotment because he loved growing things. But he also loved it because it was his happy place. A place where he could switch off from the outside world. A place where he could think.
Aleksis knew that’s what he needed right now. His happy place to switch off from the outside world and think.
And so he took himself off to his allotment. Having not been tended for so long, it needed a good tidy up, and soon after setting to work, he was in the headspace he needed to be in. The headspace that allowed him to observe his own WorkLife, almost as an impartial onlooker who could see the wood for the trees
Aleksis recognised that whether knowingly or unknowingly, Reg’s question about how the allotment was, was the question needed to help figure things out. (Knowing Reg, as the wise old boy he was, he suspected it was knowingly). Because Reg’s question had gotten him back to his allotment and back to thinking, and it also reminded him of the importance of asking good questions. Questions he had been avoiding asking himself because he wasn’t sure if he wanted to hear the answers.
But it was time to face up to his reality.
So, he asked himself:
Why am I doing what I’m doing?
He knew why he had started his side hustle/business. He and Emma needed to bring in more money to pay for childcare. But that seemed such a long way off now.
So, he asked himself:
How are things different now than when I first began what I’m doing now — when I launched my side hustle/business?
He knew that the client base he had so quickly established was showing no signs of slowing down because his good work led to repeat business and referrals. That meant the financial security he hadn’t been sure he could count on when he started out was stable. That was why he had kept his day job at the garage — a dependable source of income was a difficult thing to walk away from.
Although giving up his job as a mechanic would mean giving up the additional financial security it gave him, Aleksis knew it made sense to focus on his handyman side hustle, which he now observed had long since become a fully-fledged business.
Aleksis talked it through with Emma, who was pleased he had finally come to this realisation. It was something for a long time she had hoped would happen. But she knew Aleksis had to have this observation for himself before he would be open to deciding to leave the garage and focus on his handyman business. She had seen that it had long since grown from a side hustle to a business, but she had also seen that Aleksis still saw it as a side hustle, and no matter what she had said, it didn’t help him to see that. So, that had to come from his own observation.
A further observation they both had (albeit at different times) was that the handyman side hustle/business wasn’t only about needing extra money — yes, that was the initial driver, but it was much more than that. It was about what that extra money allowed them to do. How it changed Aleksis’s WorkLife, and how it transformed his life and their family life.
This helped Aleksis understand what was missing in his WorkLife — it was him, himself — he was nowhere to be seen — his side hustle/business had taken over. It was running him, as opposed to him running it. It was depriving him of everything that had been good about his WorkLife — his time with Emma and the children, his time at the allotment. And it was depriving Emma, the children and the allotment of their time with him.
The observation that had led Aleksis to leave the garage, focus on the business gave him back to everything that was good about his WorkLife, and this, in turn, gave him back his mojo — he was once again energised and enthused about everything.
And a further observation Aleksis shares through these:
Words of Wisdom
“Don’t underestimate your skills. My story is a good example of how sometimes we can think, “well, this is a thing that I know how to do, but it’s really not that special because it’s not that hard to do, so other people can easily do it too.” I learnt just how wrong I was in this thinking, and you can learn from this too. Learn to value your skills and find a way to package those skills in a way that’s valuable to others.”
Getting Your Mojo Back Through Observation Assignment
There may be times in your WorkLife when you lose your mojo and are struggling to figure out why. If and when that happens, take yourself to your happy place. A place where you can switch off from the outside world. A place where you can think. Take the time you need to get into the headspace that allows you to observe your own WorkLife — almost as an impartial onlooker who can see the wood for the trees.
Then ask yourself:
Why am I doing what I’m doing?
Reflect on that for a time. Continue to be an observer of your own WorkLife.
Then ask yourself:
How are things different now than when I first began what I’m doing now?
Take the time you need to continue to reflect on this by continuing to observe your WorkLife as an impartial onlooker.
The answer you need to allow you to know what actions you need to take to get your mojo back may come to you immediately, or it may take a little time. You just need to trust in the observation process. Because it is, in fact, a superpower.
As a WorkLife Learning Practitioner and Writer, I create learning programmes and resources to help people manage, develop and transition their WorkLives in good, challenging and bad times.
The focus of my work begins by helping people identify a WorkLife path that’s true to their core values, purpose, and motivation. This is followed through by creating meaningful short and long-term WorkLife plans while enabling self-coaching, self-directing, and self-leadership to drive these plans.
I bring you stories created from questions and answers drawn from WorkLife lessons. What I’m trying to do is to highlight different solutions, to provide you with a pathway so that even if a particular story doesn’t apply to you, you understand there is a path to follow.
Whatever you want to do, there is a clear path to it, and once you understand those steps, it becomes much more intuitive, and hopefully, it motivates you to get started. Because that’s what you need most, the motivation to get started. The motivation to follow your vision.
I created The School Of WorkLife book series to help people continuously fine-tune their learning, development and growth in the areas most important to them. Click on the series to see all the books available and previews of what’s inside each book.
How To Fine-Tune The Superpower Of Observation is book 9 in the series. Click on the title to see a preview of what’s inside the book.