7 Things I Do When I am Not Motivated
Being an Entrepreneur is hard. It’s hard to think about your business every minute of every single day. It’s hard to live in a constant emotional rollercoaster that drives you from ecstatic excitement to oppressive anxiety and back, multiple times a day. And it is hard to keep going, every single day, even if you have no idea whether it will work out.
To say that Entrepreneurship takes motivation is an understatement. It takes much more than that. Persistence. Unshakable faith. And much much more.
But yes, it also takes motivation. Because motivation is the fire that burns inside of us. It’s what moves us into action. And if I have learned one thing about motivation, it’s this:
There are the things you do to keep the fire burning and there are the things you do to re-ignite the fire if it threatens to die in wind and rain.
I usually love what I do every single day. But there is these days, sometimes weeks where I fall into deep motivation holes and can’t seem to motivate myself to perform at my peak level or even get any work done at all. For these times, I have build a repertoire of practices that help me get my fire re-ignited, my motivational tanks re-filled and move on with full force. Here they are:
1. Getting to the Source of the Demotivation
I find it extremely important to get to the root of my demotivation — especially if it goes on for several days. Reflecting about WHY I feel demotivated has helped me find valuable insights about my work and allowed me to make changes that led to significantly increased productivity, joy at work and even more sales. Furthermore, once I know WHAT it is that caused my fire to burn out, I can better choose the practices that will most effectively re-ignite it.
2. Reconnecting with my WHY
I visualise my goals and dreams every day (see 1) but sometimes it takes more than that to reconnect with my purpose. To do an intense “vision session”, I review my vision for all areas of my life and read it out loud. Then, I write down my reasons why I want to achieve my vision. Sometimes, this leads to me changing my vision slightly — but this is okay because I know that aligning my vision with my purpose and my values is probably the strongest motivator there is. And if there is some kind of misalignment (e.g. if I am actually not that interested in achieving my vision anymore), it was probably the root cause for my demotivation.
3. Going through positive customer reviews and messages
There are days where I feel like my business is useless. Like I am not delivering any value to the world. Or I just feel like it will never take off and all my efforts where for nothing. But then I look at my Google Docs where I collect all the messages I ever got from customers and people that reached out to me and said something nice. Reading how I DID in fact make an impact on these people’s lives fills me with immense gratitude and purpose which is pure balm for my soul and motivation.
4. Taking a guilt-free afternoon off and treating myself
Sometimes all my motivational tanks are depleted because I have just been exhausting myself with work, work, work. No wonder I can’t motivate myself to power through another weekend, add another project to my to-do list and do another late night.
Sometimes, self-care is equal to caring for my business. Actually, it is all the time. Only if my body, mind and soul are recharged, I can create the best work for my business and my clients.
But even though this makes a lot of sense, it is still extremely hard to do. What helps me to be more diligent about this practice is this: 1) Being mindful about the early signs of motivational depletion (e.g. spending 2 hours in front of the screen and just not getting anything done) and 2) having a list of off-day activities ready that I can do all by myself. On my guilt-free afternoons off, I especially love to just go to a coffeeshop and read a novel, take my bicycle around town, take a long bath or go to yoga. I usually return from these mini-vacays with a strong feeling of excitement to take on my next project.
5. Surrendering to the Universe
I am big on setting goals, meticulously tracking my progress and adjusting my strategies if they are not working. Hence, not achieving the desired results can make me feel extremely frustrated. But the reality is: if I can truthfully say that I am doing the best I can, there is no reason to be frustrated. So if I catch myself obsessing too much about the outcome of my work, I know it’s time for surrendering my goals and desires to the universe, trusting that I am on the right path and believing that life’s plan will unfold itself when the time comes. Because the plan of the Universe is always greater than mine!
6. Writing down my Previous Achievements
Sometimes motivational holes are actually self-belief holes. Nothing demotivates me more than the feeling that I am not good enough to achieve my goals. Because if it won’t work out anyway, where is the point in trying? There is many things I do to reframe my limiting beliefs and strengthen my confidence, but for a quick fix I usually just look at past achievements.
I remind myself that I managed to do things that scared the shit out of me and achieved very challenging goals before. Thus, I CAN tackle this one as well! Similar to the nice customer feedback sheet, I actually have a previous achievements sheet. Sometimes we all just need a little greatness reminder — and it might as well come from ourselves ;)
7. Reminding myself of my anti-vision
This one is extremely powerful! I recently had a motivational low and decided to reconnect with my vision. However, even though I DID want to achieve my vision, I still struggled to motivate myself. The reason for this was that I had recently achieved a few milestones in my life and my life was pretty great. Looking at my vision I couldn’t see that achieving it would make my life 10x better. And to be honest, it really wouldn’t. Once you reach a great baseline in living the life you want in the areas of your life that are important to you, achieving a bigger vision in this areas won’t make you 10x happier.
Of course, I still wanted to achieve my vision — I just didn’t know how to motivate myself. That’s when I turned my vision around: I knew that NOT working towards my vision will cause me to go “back” in life, removing things that I want like the nice apartment I live in and the ability to work for myself. Sometimes, thinking about the things you DON’T want can be a great motivator to work harder. In my case: I don’t want to go back to working in a job I don’t like, so I will work hard to make my business work. It is kind of like using fear as a driver.