My to do list has been talking to me lately. It keeps getting longer, but I’m having trouble getting up from my lounge chair by the pool. For some reason, the deeper we get into summer, the harder it is for me to stay motivated. Is that only me or a universal problem?
I’m starting to think it’s the heat. Or maybe the fact that everyone else seems to be on vacation. No matter what my excuse is this week, growing my business and working towards my goals is just not something that I feel like doing right now.
And I know I need to. Because your business doesn’t get lazy. Only you.
But it’s a trap. According to the University of Scranton, 92% of people fail to stay motivated enough to accomplish their goals. Lack of motivation clearly wins every time.
So, how can you combat that and become one of the 8% that stay motivated enough to accomplish something?
This motivation thing is hard stuff. Not everyone is motivated naturally. But working to stay motivated is an important factor to turning ideas into actions. To getting to the finish line – at least eventually.
Without motivation, you can’t achieve anything. And all of those summertime distractions don’t help. It’s not easy to stick with a goal until you accomplish it.
And even harder than just trying to stay motivated is finding the discipline to show up every day. It’s this discipline that will get you to your goals and grow your business into what you dream it to be.
Sadly, I’m not sure summer and motivation are two things that go together for me.
Why Motivation Matters
Not to be overly serious here, but motivation is the glue that holds your dreams together. It’s an important life skill. And without it, our dreams wouldn’t exist.
The only way to move forward on our goals is to keep walking. Without motivation, we fail to take those first steps. (It could also be the summer heat and lack of water.)
But we need to stay motivated to produce our products, build our businesses and create amazing communities. And when you stay motivated, your attitude is just happier. It has a positive effect on your confidence, relationships and business.
So, there’s got to be a way to stay motivated every day despite the time of year.
Here are some ideas that I’m trying to improve my motivation this week. The growth of my business and my contributions to our world depend on it.
Find your Inspiration
Everyone has a muse. Even if you haven’t met him yet. A muse is a person who inspires you to be great and accomplish your goals.
When motivation is hard to find, checking in on the progress of your muse can be helpful.
Some might think that this comparison could be depressing. And they are right, if you choose the wrong muse.
When finding a muse, choose someone who is a few steps ahead of you. Not leaps and bounds. You want someone to inspire you to be your best. Not make you feel like a failure.
Check in on your muse’s progress for inspiration to keep working on your own business. See what projects they’re working on, where they’re traveling and what new things they’ve discovered about the world. Reflect on their progress and use it as proof that what you’re trying to do is possible.
If following a specific person feels too much like trolling, you could also find inspiration in someone else’s work. This can be especially helpful if you’re trying to stay motivated to work on a creative project. Check out your favorite artists and designers and see what they’re creating.
I always find a quick stroll down our town’s gallery row a great way to stay motivated when I’m working on a creative project. I love seeing the new work of local artists and different places they pull their inspiration from. Sometimes I’ll even go to those locations and see what I discover to move my own projects forward.
Keep Goals Front and Center
Remember those goals that you wrote in the beginning of the year (and have hopefully been updating quarterly). One idea to stay motivated is to keep them front in center.
Write them on poster sized paper. Add them to your office chalkboard. Frame an art print for your desk with your goals on it.
No matter how you display them, keep them in front of you. Read them every day and remind yourself about what you’re working towards.
Write a Specific To Do List
When I started keeping to do lists a few years ago, I tended to write general to dos. For example, I might write “Update Pinterest” or “Add new products”. But what do these to do items actually mean?
If you keep a to do list, make sure your tasks are specific. Know what you plan to work on each day and how those tasks push you closer to your goal. By knowing exactly what you hope to accomplish each day, you’re more likely to actually do it.
And don’t forget my favorite part of a to do list. Crossing the item off. Enjoy the celebration of getting a task completed and put a big slash through it. Hooray!
Use a Planner
Alright, so this one I’m guilty of not doing very well. My planner and I didn’t exactly become friends this year. Actually, I kind of avoided that pretty little book with the gold writing as much as possible.
I think it’s because I wrote so many glorious things that I hoped to do in it. And then, as often happens, I got derailed with family commitments and other work projects. So, every time I glanced at all of the things that didn’t get done, it was hard to stay motivated.
But I do think that if you are an organized person who uses the correct planner for you, then this could be a great thing to stay motivated.
At the beginning of the week, write down everything that you hope to get done and on which days. Then, cross off items as you complete them. I usually try to schedule a special activity at the very end of the week or leave Friday blank. This way I can treat myself to something awesome if I get everything else completed during my week. I don’t know much better motivation.
Do you ever feel like one of the reasons it’s hard to stay motivated is because you’ve committed to too many things? I know we are constantly pulled on to attend events, volunteer and participate in community activities.
Although I am all for being a part of these things, at some point you have to say no. Make yourself a priority list. Know exactly what your current life goals are and the activities that fit into them (and your schedule).
For me, when we moved to a new town, I wanted to get to know my neighbors more. So, I signed up to work on our neighborhood events committee and made it a priority to attend different neighborhood gatherings. We also participated in our local school through volunteering. These things are important to my kids’ education.
Otherwise, I started saying no to everything else. If I didn’t, we’d get overscheduled really fast and I wouldn’t be motivated to work on the things that I already signed up for.
See the Big Picture
I find that when my motivation is lacking it’s because I stopped looking at the big picture. During these times, it helps to step back and look at the business that I’m trying to build from afar.
Once I can see what I hope my business will look like in the end, I can work on another smaller piece that will get me there.
If you are finding it hard to stay motivated to work on your business (or another life goal), then take a step back. Look at the big picture and see what you hope it looks like in the end.
And if you aren’t sure what that big picture looks like, then draw it. Create a visual blueprint of your business. Get a complete understanding about what your business will look like, how it will work, the products you will sell and where your customers will come from.
Post this blue print in your office where you can see it. Staying motivated to work on your business is a lot easier when you know what the end will look like.
Find a Challenge
Sometimes life seems dull. Especially if you are working on the same tasks every day. Mix things up a bit with a challenge.
When a task is significantly below your abilities, you will think it’s boring. This is called the Goldilocks rule. It happens a lot when we master tasks at work or when growing our businesses. Once they become too easy, we are less motivated in completing them.
This is when a challenge can become just what your brain needs. Choose any kind of challenge that will take you out of your comfort zone. Sign up for a triathlon, try a new sport, join a writing group to complete your book or participate in a challenge that gets your shop ready for the holidays.
Most importantly find something that will help you grow as a person. This will help you stay motivated to complete life’s other tasks and give you something to look forward to.
Showing gratitude to others is one of my favorite ways to stay motivated. Simple acts of kindness are an important way to grow your relationships and build community around you.
Take the time to show gratitude to others. Those you know and people who are complete strangers. Write a handwritten letter to a friend. Give a compliment. Support another small business. And don’t forget to smile.
Every November, my family completes a random acts of kindness week. We discuss different ways that we can show kindness to those we love and our surrounding community. Then we get to work and complete 7 random acts of kindness – one for each day of the week.
The random acts of kindness week has become one of our favorite family traditions. The motivation that I get from putting a smile on the faces of others is amazing.
Make a Big Decision
Do you have a lot of decisions to make every week? As a small business owner and a mom, there is no lack of decision making around here.
My personality was recently analyzed by my sister-in-law. She determined that I was a project doer. I guess this means that I like to feel like all options have been analyzed before I make a decision.
This can range from a simple walk around the block (and watching the weather radar to make sure it isn’t going to rain) to purchasing new equipment for my business.
But sometimes making a decision, a really big decision, feels really good. It helps me stay motivated because I know that I have the power to make a big decision when I need to.
If you have any big decisions on the horizon, consider making them. Of course, be smart about it and analyze all of the options to your heart’s content. But, eventually, pull the trigger. You will feel a lot more motivated once you have a direction that you’re moving towards.
Play with your Kids (or Pets)
When I am feeling really unmotivated, it usually means that I need a change of pace from the task that I’m working on. Although I like doing something for myself sometimes, my favorite activity is taking the time to play with my kids. We go outside to play catch. Head on a quick walk. Or color together.
If your kids aren’t around, take your favorite four legged friend out for a walk. Or take a stroll so you can check in with a neighbor.
And, don’t worry. These breaks are not a waste of time. They are exactly what your brain needs to stay motivated to complete the project when you return.
Remember your Why
When I am in the weeds on a project and I hit a stumbling block, it can be hard to remember why I started it in the first place. Just like you need to step back and look at the bigger picture, it’s also important to remember your why.
Keep in mind why you have your business in the first place.
Why are you working so many hard hours? What are you trying to build? How does your service or products help others?
Knowing why you are doing something will help you stay motivated to work on it no matter how difficult the task.
Understand What you are Motivated By
Part of learning how to stay motivated is knowing the things that make you motivated in the first place. By understanding how to motivate yourself to get something done, you’ve already solved part of the productivity puzzle.
Think about the things that get you wanting to move. Maybe it’s a treat, an activity or other special surprise.
For me, I am really motivated by vacation. A weekend away is enough to convince me to stay focused. In order to use this as a motivator, I schedule one long weekend trip at the end of every quarter.
The catch. I only get to go if I’ve accomplished my quarterly goals. If not, I cancel or postpone the weekend.
Now note, I’ve never had to do that. I just need to remind myself that the weekend is coming up and I become motivated very quickly to get my work completed.
Once you figure out what you’re motivated by, dangle it in front of yourself like a carrot. You’ll be amazed how quickly you will focus on a task again.
Until recently, I never knew how important motivation was to my success. But without motivation, we’d be bumps on a log sleeping on our parents’ couch.
Motivation is key to accomplishing our goals and growing our businesses. It helps us (and our businesses) be the best we can be.
Without learning how to stay motivated, we can get stuck and stay in one place for way too long. This affects our business growth and leads to feeling less confident.
If you find that you’re just not moving forward and you’re ready to, it might be time to try some strategies to stay motivated. Draw a new blue print for your business. Sign up for a challenge to accomplish a new goal. Most importantly, keep taking steps forward. It’s these steps that will have the most positive impact on our world.