Update: This post was originally posted on 2nd August 2020 but after changing my website this post had to be re-published due to technical issues.
Last week I did a post on how it's been a while since things have been normal, what's changed and how I hope things will be going forward.
Also at the end of last week I unexpectedly had a sale on my etsy shop. It had been about 6 weeks since I last had a sale so when my phone made the 'kerching' I couldn't quite believe it. Oh and for those of you that don't sell on etsy when a sale comes through the mobile app notification sounds like an old fashioned cash register. I tweeted about this on twitter not just about the sale but also about my daughters reactions to it.
I got a lot of congratulations and comments about how sweet my daughter is, which of course she is 😁 But I also had conversations about how sales on Etsy have been going up and down and how this affects you as a small business owner. These conversations and my post last week got me thinking about motivation and how it can ebb and flow, not just for a business owner but for everyone. No matter whether it is in work, studying, fitness or any other aspect of life. We all start out with the greatest of intentions but soon that wains and the doubts start to creep in.
What To Do
So what can we do to keep going when the motivation wains? Or another way to look at it is what can we do to maintain motivation. Here's a few suggestions that I have read and think are very useful as well as a couple of my own.
1. Break Goals Down
Sometimes we set ourselves huge goals which at the time of making we believe we can do. But then after a while the doubts creep in and we question why we ever set ourselves such big goals and whether we will ever manage to complete it. And when those doubts creep in the motivation to complete the goal vanishes.
I for one have done this before and like most people ended up walking away from my goal, blaming life for getting in the way. When the truth is I let my self doubts stop me and I came up with a good excuse. But I don't want to continue this cycle of setting goals and not reaching them, so what can I do?
Well this first suggestion which I have started putting in to practice is to break the big goal into smaller goals. It's great because not only do the smaller goals feel more manageable, but as I complete the smaller goals I feel more motivated to complete the big goal.
2. Remember Your Why
This is such a great tip that I read as once I started remembering my why I started finding my focus and motivation returned. The point of this tip is that it is so easy to get bogged down with day-to-day tasks and life in general that we lose focus. By the time we've completed our day job, cared for the family, sorted out the housework, cooked the dinner we're rightly exhausted.
It's no wonder that by the time we have time to do our fitness routine, study, work on a side hustle or whatever our goal is that we find we haven't got the motivation to do the work on the goal.
But why did you set that goal? Why did you want to start on that journey? Is it because you want to improve your health or career prospects? Or is it because you want to have more work/life balance, enabling you to spend time with your family? Or because you want to travel and still be able to bring money in?
My motivation for starting my own business was and is my daughter. I don't want to be working all the hours under the sun to pay for someone else to look after her and get no time with her, never mind the thought of going to a child minder freaked my daughter out. Also I want to improve our lives, as I have written about before we are not living in the best of places with drug users below us when we moved in. And although during lock down they have been fairly quiet I don't doubt that the problems with them will start again in time. So I want to be able to buy as a nice home in the coming years, though we can't agree on a house or a houseboat.
So that is my why and while I remember my why I am focused and motivated.
Writing a to-do-list is not only a great way to be productive with your day but it also helps with motivation. This is because as you tick items off your list you feel happy and hence motivated.
This is linked into the first tip about breaking your goals down into more manageable goals. Once you have done that you can break these smaller goals into daily to-do-lists, and by doing this you'll not only notice that you are able to progress to the completion of each goal. But if you're like me you'll find that you will be motivated to keep working towards each of your goals and the bigger goal overall.
4. Focus on Progress
I for one find this one difficult to do, I get so focused on how far I still have to go that I forget to notice how far I've come already.
But it's so important to keep noticing how far you've come, because when you stop to reflect on where you are you'll realize you've not got as far to go as you thought. And when you realize how far you've come you'll feel more motivated to continue, well I hope you will as I certainly do. So every now and again I recommend you look at how far you've come, if you were to climb a mountain your goal is to get to the top to admire the view but you'll look back to see how far you climbed. Take this view with life and you'll be proud of yourself, no matter how small you think the progress is it's still progress.
5. Take a Break
It seems to me that these days no one really properly takes a break and it feels like it's getting worse. Or maybe that's just me. But between work, family, housework, taking care of our health, friends the list goes on and on. It's no wonder we feel over whelmed with life and in turn lose our motivation for our goals. Never mind we all seem to be spending more time on our gadgets even for our 'down time'. I know I do this and I feel no more relaxed than I did when I was working.
With this in mind one of the best things I find that you can do is take a break, whether this is a day off from everything or just taking a day or two off from working towards your goal. This break can help you refocus and re-motivate yourself to work on your goal. Of course this can be a double edge sword as a rest can result in you losing all motivation, so this is a tip I would advise doing with care.
6. Improve Your Environment
By this I mean your home or office environment, as your environment impacts on how you feel and ultimately your motivation. If you're surrounded by chaos and feel despondent when you walk into a room all your motivation for even the small things will vanish, let alone for the bigger goals.
A great example of this was during lock down I, like many people, decided to have a clear out. It was a good use of my time but I forgot one small issue, unlike many of my friends who had garden sheds to put their clear out into until the tips reopened I had to keep all my stuff in my flat. And more specifically in my living room as there was no where else to put it, and this really started getting to me as everyday I was faced with this mountain of stuff (I was getting rid of a lot). And when I heard the tips (sorry recycling centers) were re opening I made the decision I wasn't going to go straight away as I knew without a doubt they'd be busy. I was right as this BBC news article can testify https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-52879061 in fact 6 weeks after my local center had reopened it was still busy. And in the end I had to pack the car up and go along for 7.50 am so I was there for it opening 8 am, and I still was in a queue to get in.
However, after I got the pile out of my home I felt instantly better and that in turn helped me feel a bit more focused and motivated. And that in turn meant I actually started listing things on ebay that I wanted to sell as some items were too good to go to the recycling center. I'll admit I'm still listing items because I've had days where I haven't listed anything, and I've still list some items on Gumtree but things are starting to move in the right direction.
I hope this has helped demonstrate how your environment can impact on your motivation, having a calm home or office helps you focus. As you won't have a pile of things needing sorted that keeps distracting you.
This has been my saving grace at times as talking to others who are on the same boat as yourself can really help. I've not really had the opportunity to network in person but I do so online a lot, more so on Twitter than on Facebook but both have been great places to network. When you are in a group of like minded people and you mention you are really struggling you get such support it's so very touching.
Sometimes you'll be given practical tips to help you with whatever you are struggling with and other times you're given moral support in the form of offers to privately message someone, or virtual hugs. It doesn't really matter what it is but the fact that someone took 2 minutes out of their day to reply to your post can be the moral boast you need. And it can help keep you going through the tough times when your motivation is at an all time low.
I'm always grateful for the online support I have received in particular from my Twitter family. So I would highly recommend making connections with like minded people as they will help lift you up when your motivation wains.
Last but not least it's quotes and more specifically inspirational quotes.
I don't know about you but I'm a bit of Pinterest addict and can easily waste hours on the app. Pinning recipes I have every intention of trying but haven't quite got round to, or articles I plan on reading when I have the time but never quite found the time. I'm sure there are at least some of you are the same. But apart from all this it's a great place to find quotes that inspire you and will help you rediscover your motivation.
I thought I'd include three of my favorite motivational quotes as a business owner, but these really could be used by anyone.
I sometimes save my pins on my phone and use them as a wallpaper or lock screen on my phone, so every time I pick my phone I see it. And so every time I see it I feel motivated for my goals.
Just a Suggestion
These tips are just some of suggestions and are by no means a definitive list, but I hope it will help you when you are struggling with your motivation.