Motivation is an abundant resource in the beginning of any entrepreneurial journey. Excitement, nerves and drive blend together to create a caffeine-like cocktail fueling even the longest days.
Over time, however, with setbacks and added demands, the light may begin to flicker. Being an entrepreneur, I know all too well about the risks of being a star that burns too bright. There are few warning signs your motivation might run out until you need to take a few days due to physical or mental fatigue.
Whether it is due to burning the wick at both ends or the need to maintain your drive, there are methods of recapturing the will to endure.
Acknowledge Motivation Dips – Better to Lose a Battle than a War
Like any problem, the solution lies in wait behind the acknowledgement that something is a problem. New entrepreneurs get worried the first time they experience decrease in drive. You worry that maybe you don’t have what it takes or maybe you’re not as driven to succeed as you thought you were. That’s all BS. This is a challenge like any other.
Sometimes it might be difficult to recognize but if you feel despondent, lost or find yourself procrastinating way more than usual, you might be suffering a motivation decline. It is natural. Any fire burning bright needs a lot of fuel and start-ups require you to be ‘on’ more often than not.
Don’t shy away from it. You’ll find you run into a raft of challenges through your career. All of them are best addressed early.
Taking a Healthy Mindful Approach
The fast-paced life of an entrepreneur rarely makes space for mindfulness. You might scoff or think it’s not for you but hear me out. If we are accepting motivation as a source of fuel, by definition the fuel has to come from somewhere.
For me, mindfulness is a well-rounded, balanced approach to your health and the fuel you need. Food, sleep, exercise and hydration account for the physical needs but your mental side also has needs. It is all a balancing act.
Assess your current habits and how they play into your health. For example, a healthy diet is more than just for your body. It contributes to your mental energy, cognition and is one of your keystone habits meaning it positively or negatively impacts other routines.
Consider meditation. Although it has a long cultivated image of silent monastery dwelling monks, it is a common theme among many eminent entrepreneurs. Meditation allows you to create headspace and sift through your thoughts. Obviously, it’s not going to respond to emails but it will quieten all the noise of business and let you process ideas.
Resetting Goals – Rebuild Your Momentum
Having the drive to succeed is related hugely to momentum. It is easy to keep going but starting out can be frustrating.
James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, talks about incremental goals compounding into significant success. To build a habit or recapture your mojo, the universal advice is to start small and build. Make it so you can’t fail.
Taking this concept into your business; what are the small tasks you can succeed at quickly? What are the low hanging fruit? Can you line up a variety of small projects that you can finish without much hassle?
It may seem counterintuitive to the bigger pieces on your plate but giving yourself wins along the way is vital. The sense of achievement instills confidence and momentum to approach the next task and allows you to build. Motivation may have peaks and troughs so it is important to know different tricks to dig yourself out.
Engage Your Network – You’re Not Alone
At times, business ownership might feel like an isolated and solitary journey. You have sacrificed much and may have even lost contact with others along the way but seclusion rarely solves anything.
Networking as an entrepreneur opens many different doors but few are more important than shared motivation solutions. You are not the first and will not be the last to be struggling for impetus. Your peers have likely all been there before.
In business as in life, you will occasionally have to lean on others. Far from a sign of weakness, it is an important business decision. If it were any other asset underperforming, you would find a way to optimize because that makes business sense.
Conversations between entrepreneurs or mentors are inspiring. You learn new ways of conducting business, new investment capital sources or flesh out ideas. Networking does wonders for motivation and creates opportunities to get excited for.
Make Room to Detach and Enjoy Yourself
I am in the fortunate position to have struck a great balance between my work and home life. I thoroughly enjoy both sides but that balance is key.
Early stage start-ups sacrifice quite a bit. Friend circles contract, family visits reduce and you might find that you have less time for new or fun experiences. Being married to the job doesn’t always yield the results you are looking for.
Taking time to reconnect with family or take a vacation isn’t damaging your business. It is decompressing, recharging your batteries and injecting vitality back into your life. Perhaps you engage an old hobby, find a way to give back to your community or simply spend more time with your children. Each activity helps you switch off enough to be reinvigorated.
In the beginning, it is difficult to find the opportunity but, over time, it becomes more important with the eventual goal of having a balance that gives you the fulfillment of spending time with loved ones and the self-actualization of achieving business success.
Revisit Your Purpose
Running a business drags your attention in many different directions. You get pulled into the minutiae or carried away with customers’ orders. Before you know it 6 months have passed by and you’re exhausted. You don’t necessarily need to be feeling a dip in motivation to want to maintain progress and drive. Sometimes you just need something to cling to that keeps you going.
Most often that is your “Why”. Why did you get into the business in the first place? What was important enough that you started a business? We often get so busy that we lose sight of our initial motivations and why it was so important.
Look beyond the surface-level that mask actual reasons. You didn’t get into business to make a $1 million but maybe you set out to never feel the financial insecurity your family did when you were young? Or perhaps you started because you believe the world needs what you have to offer and that you are making lives better?
Whatever your motivation has been, it was powerful enough to bring you down this road and so is worth remembering.
Becoming a successful entrepreneur is much more than stumbling on an excellent idea and watching it blossom into a sustainable money-maker. It demands everything from you – money, time, focus, strength and determination. You put in long hours and hard graft before you reap any rewards. It is no wonder motivation can dip from time to time.
Remember that you are human and have human needs. You will have times where you feel totally spent and times when you are simply plugging away out of routine… a far cry from flow state. Needing a motivational lift every so often is not a sign you’re not committed or cut out for this; it is a sign you need to make an adjustment. Acknowledge it.
Once you accept you need some running repairs, you can improve. While at times it might be obscured by the busy periods, don’t lose sight of the reason you began this journey.