The “M” Word
I was in the middle of writing a completely different post, but the only thing that will make this blog unique, is if I’m 100% honest in moments of struggle. Especially with the “M” word. The past two days I have been feeling rough. I’ve been discouraged in my business wondering if any of my ideas are worthwhile. Things that seemed so clear to me just a week ago, are all-of-the-sudden convoluted. “Am I totally wasting my time with this?” keeps running through my head.
“What is the ‘M’ word?” you may be wondering.
I guess I should say a lack of motivation is really the problem. I’m pretty manic-depressive when it comes to feeling that spark of inspiration that seems to magically come and go. That’s actually not true if I look at it from an analytical point of view. Motivation isn’t all random or as magical as it might seem.
I’ll be the first to say, I grew up fairly privileged. Great parents and family who gave me a relatively spoiled childhood. I had a musical talent that allowed me to have success with just a few bursts of hard-work. My current full-time employment also flows pretty easily with the gifts God has given me.
Let’s put it plainly. I can be a wuss at times.
Why isn’t success coming faster? Is it ever going to happen for me? Do I have the grit it takes to persevere through the inevitable obstacles?
Pity party for one, please!
The Good News
Thankfully I’m not all tears into my pillow. I have found a few things through these past years that have helped me systematize motivation. I list them here as a reminder for myself and hopefully to add a few tools to your arsenal.
Before I jump into solutions, let’s quickly identify some of the biggest enemies of motivation.
- Lack of physical wellness– This should be it’s own series of blogposts, but… Whether it’s poor diet, lack of fitness, or a hangover, not having the right energy and body/brain chemistry is a huge factor in lacking motivation for me.
- Discouragement– Have you even been working on something… maybe building a website (or a swingset in the backyard) and something goes terribly wrong? You just want to throw your computer (or a hammer) through a window! A few nights ago I was writing an email for an auto-response series for one of my online businesses. I took about an hour to do my best and really craft an awesome email to get my customers to seriously consider a purchase. All along I thought the email was being auto-saved. It wasn’t… and then my browser crashed. I literally was so discouraged that my mind was saying “maybe you just aren’t cut out for this!” My fight or flight response was in 747 mode.
- SBS (or “Scattered Brain Syndrome”)– This is probably my biggest enemy when it comes to motivation. As a naturally creative person I’m always looking for the next idea. So-much-so that the new distraction nearly always takes me away from my current project, even if it’s showing signs of success.
Hold on… let me go watch youtube for a bit….
*2 hours later*
Ok, I’m back.
Here are a few of the tools I use to stay motivated and working at a high level.
- Making commitments during moments of inspiration- As I stated early in this post, I can be a bit manic-depressive when it comes to motivation. One minute I feel bullet-proof, like I’m going to conquer the world and be a millionaire in a month. The next day I feel dazed and confused, wondering if I’m wasting my time. I start to feel overwhelmed with jealousy for those who are more successful than me in their business.One of the things I’ve started to do is recognize those mountaintop inspiration moments when things seem so clear, and I write down my actionable steps. Even in the worst moments of discouragement, I can do a simple task that gets me closer to my goals. Honestly, that’s what this blog post is. As I mentioned at the beginning, I have been feeling discouraged the past couple of days. Instead of beating my head against the wall, I sat down to write this hoping it would spark some motivation for bigger tasks I’m planning. Not to mention, I will walk away from this feeling a sense of accomplishment from completing a thoughtful and honest blog post.When you are feeling inspired, write down actionable tasks you can take when your motivation goes south.
- Making lists to simplify my tasks- This is similar to #1 but not exactly. In this instance making lists is more about getting focused. Right now I’m putting together an e-course for one of my niches. The amount of content I want to fit in there is intimidating and my motivation gets zapped when I feel overwhelmed.For me, breaking the bigger task down into bite-sized pieces is crucial for getting the project completed.Make lists and check them off! The OCD side of me feels SO good right now!
- Running (Exercising) first thing in the morning- A Few years ago my brother convinced me to run a 10k with him. I had heckled runners for years and swore I would never do it, but I needed a new challenge. After running that race, I agreed to do a half marathon that was taking place a few months later. We would do our longest training runs early each Friday morning. The endorphin rush we had after those runs would stick with me all day long. Far better than any cup of coffee or energy drink. The feeling of positivity was unlike anything I had previously experienced. When I’m not running consistently, I can feel my motivation suffer big time.
- Last minute thinking- Is anyone else like this? If I have a hard deadline, I can get about 8 hours of work done in like 15 minutes. Writer Tim Urban has a TED Talk about being a “Master Procrastinator” (DON’T get distracted!! I’ll link at the bottom of this post!). It defines how panic and fear of failure allows us to accomplish an incredible amount in a short time span. In other words, get HYPER-Motivated.Running my own business means I don’t really have to answer to anyone so there are no real deadlines. Creating false deadlines isn’t usually enough to convince my brain to kick into panic mode… I’m still working on this one. But deadlines are a HUGE motivator. I NEED to harness this!
- Remembering my “why”- I know you may have heard this phrase from a guru… who probably stole it from the Simon Sinek TED talk. This one is pretty simple and comes back to the question I ask nearly every day. What is “Success” for me? WHY do I want health and money?Answer: Having loving relationships with my family and living incredible adventures with them.
That is the core of my “why.” This doesn’t always overcome my discouragement, but it does center my thought process and bring in that sense of hope and purpose , which is super powerful.
Things I Haven’t Tried Yet… But Want To
- Journaling/Day-Planning- I’ve seen many entrepreneurs talk about this and I want to give it a shot. From what I’ve seen, it helps you to focus your goals and tasks for the day and then at the end of the day you write down what you accomplished and get a head-start on tomorrows goals.
- Getting up early every day- I’ve never been a morning person. I’ve always been a night owl but I’ve had the feeling lately that my days are just getting started too late. The kids wake us up and then hang out in our bed for a while. My full time job doesn’t require a regimented start time so I can be lazy about getting out of bed and it doesn’t really get me in any trouble. I’d like to change that. I want to start getting up early and running. Possibly even write a little bit or get my day-planner filled in before the kids get up.As per the purpose of this entire blog, I don’t want to sacrifice that precious time with my kids so I’ll need to wake up early enough to get things done and leave some time for loving on them before school starts.
One of the main themes I see for motivation is accountability. Whether it’s to myself and a commitment I’ve made, or even more so to someone else, accountability is crucial. That’s why having colleagues, mentors/coaches, and others around you is so important. Having people there that care about your success but are willing to speak hard truths is a key source of confidence and motivation.
I need a lot more of that in my life!
What are your issues and solutions for motivation? Comment below your request to join our closed Facebook group to take part in the discussion at https://www.facebook.com/groups/338151696641642/