“You’ve got to say, ‘I think that if I keep working at this and want it badly enough I can have it.’ It’s called perseverance.”
– Lee Iacocca
You own a business – I bet that means you start off each new day with a fresh perspective and a heart full of excitement and enthusiasm, right?
When you’re in the throes of running a small business, there will be days when you feel like you’re on top of the mountain, and your motivation is at an all-time high. These are probably also the days when you’re making great sales, getting good press or having positive interactions with your customers. The problem is, those days don’t happen every day; some days are just okay, and some are even terrible. So what do you do to stay motivated on all those days?
First of all, let yourself off the hook. It’s okay to feel a little unmotivated by your business. Heck, it’s okay to feel a LOT unmotivated by your business. The problem happens when you let that lack of motivation become your new normal. So give yourself permission to take a break – grab a cup of tea, read a good book for an hour, or even indulge in a whole day off! Eat bon bons on your couch and watch trashy television. Just don’t stay away from your business, or your motivational sources, for too long.
Here are some tips to help you find the motivation you need to keep going, any day of the week:
1. Make a Rainy Day Jar. Prepare for your bad days in advance: take a jar or a decorative box, and use it to store up the happy times of your business so you can save them for a rainy day. Every time you get a compliment from a customer, or you have a day that beats your sales record, take a minute to write it down on a small piece of paper. Then slip that paper into your jar, and the next time you have a not-so-great interaction with a customer or a downer of a sales day, pull out a piece of paper from your jar to remind you that every day isn’t going to be like this.
2. Adopt a Personal Motto. Come up with a catch-phrase for yourself; one that will remind you that it’s time to get to work. I have adopted the motto “Keep Moving Forward,” which I took from the Walt Disney movie Meet the Robinsons (and it’s actually part of a longer quote by Mr. Disney himself). This motto reminds me that I don’t have time to dwell on the past or wallow in my lack of motivation: there’s only one direction I need to move in my business, and it’s forward. I also have this printable from Daisy Janie hanging by my desk, reminding me to suck it up and put on my big girl pants because this is my business and this is the life I chose for myself. Whatever type of motto works for you, repeat it to yourself often and display it on your walls to serve as an ever-present reminder of your big goal or your attitude toward life.
3. Give Yourself a Visual Cue. Matt Frazier of No Meat Athlete believes that there really isn’t a magical secret for staying motivated; instead, you’ve got to just push yourself in whatever way you can and keep your ultimate goal in mind at all times. He has several tips for motivation, though, and one of them is to use a calendar and put a big red “X” over the days that you completed your tasks. You could also apply this idea to a giant check-list on the wall or even an app on your phone. The satisfaction of checking off one “To Do” can be motivation enough to move on to the next, and seeing all those checks and X marks together will hopefully help you want to add more.
4. Reward Yourself Often. Sometimes, you’ve got to have that carrot on the stick to dangle in front of yourself in order to get through a particularly unappealing task. Maybe you tell yourself that if you get through your quarterly tax reports, you get to have a cup of tea and read a magazine for an hour. Maybe you need more than that – if you get through your monthly receipts then you get to take the day off to go to the movies. Whatever works for you, keep rewarding yourself for good work. You have to be your own boss and your own employee, so make sure the employee part of you knows that she’s doing a good job. She deserves some company perks every now and again.
5. Build Down-Time into your Day. You can’t work 80-hour weeks, stay up all night, never take weekends off, AND maintain a high level of motivation. Maybe you can, but then you’re either super-human or you’re headed for a big crash when you lose that motivation or you lose your mind from all that sleep deprivation. Build a break into your day – you are in charge of your own routine and schedule in your business, after all. Make sure you take the time to eat your meals, and pick healthy ones. At the end of the day, give yourself some scheduled time for rest and relaxation. Taking the time to step away from your business will make it easier to keep coming back to it in the long run.
How about you – what else do you do to stay motivated, when all you want to do is throw in the towel? Leave us a comment below and let us know!