I think everybody recognizes the following 2 questions: Is it it all worth it? And why am I doing this? For me as an entrepreneur these questions combined with mixed up feelings are very normal. But the feeling sucks. I am extremely driven to have an impact in other peoples lives. And not in a creepy way but in a inspirational manner. That’s why I get up every day. And that is why it really sucks when results stay hidden. When results play hide and seek for a longer period it gets under my skin. It is a challenge to stay motivated.
So how do I stay motivated? I give this question a fair answer with what I know at this moment. Because what I know today is not something that is cast in stone forever.
Your plan and reality
If you start a business or when you have a business you will experience feelings of doubt. There is no question about it. It is pure logic. You invest time and money, work hard and results come, right? You have a good business plan. And you know your big WHY. (Want to know more about the WHY? Watch the Golden Circle explained by Simon Sinek.) You love what you do and you work hard because you love it. So far the theory.
But nobody teaches you how to deal with the process of building a business out of nothing. Most entrepreneurs succeed after they failed a couple of times. Not the business itself fails but the angles you try to make money fail. How do you cope with failure? Or how do you find the energy to move on? How to stay motivated if plans don’t work out how you expected them to work out?
In my opinion the steepest learning curve in life is to put yourself out there. Go. Fall. Learn. Adjust and Go on again. This is a never ending chain.
An anecdote how to stay motivated after disaster happens
We were in Mexico City. Six weeks we spent in Mexico City couchsurfing with Manuel and his 5 cats. I am talking December 2016. While I write this I think: “Wow what the f@#$%k, so much happened in between!” At that point in our online businesses we were really focused on affiliate marketing. What?
Affiliate Marketing (AM)
AM is making money commission based, for products you don’t own. It is like an external marketing department. So every online product comparator makes money when you click on their link and purchase the product where it is sold. That simple. The same counts for bloggers.
I really like the theory of Simon Sineks – Start with the WHY. It helped me a lot in defining the why for our online businesses and also for me personally. If you are interested in his model you can buy his book via this link. When you buy his book Start with the WHY we make a small commission and that is called affiliate marketing. For you it is not more expensive. You get what you want and we can produce high quality content because of the commissions. A win win isn’t it?
Back to my anecdote
At Manuels kitchen table we worked many hours on our Dutch website – www.StrakkeBenen.nl. It is a leg fashion webshop for women. With a lot of enthusiasm we worked big hours. Most of our sales were depended on 1 big seller in the market and out of the blue they stopped the collaboration. They were changing their strategy and we were no part of the new plan. I was mad. Worried. It felt wrong. Why could they do this to us? We had nice forecasts and I wrote an impressive angry email. Which was replied with “sorry it is decided by our higher management. Better luck next time…”
Devastated I stared at the wall in front of the kitchen table. This took 5 minutes and then I decided how to deal with this kind of situations in the future: Fall. Learn. Adapt and Go on again. Why? Because there is no other way.
But this still doesn’t tell you how to stay motivated.
How to stay motivated? – 5 simple rules that keep me going!
It doesn’t matter what you do in life, you will face and encounter times where you are challenged by yourself and others. No question about it. It will happen. My personality sometimes controls me when things don’t work out the way I want them to be. Well it is debatable whether it is about my personality or that the source is hidden somewhere else. Anyway what I mean is when things not turn out in my favor I can overreact a bit. Call me a drama queen or emotionally disfunctional… It doesn’t really matter because I figured out some effective rules along the way to be more in control of my emotions when things go wrong.
How to stay motivated #1 – Failure is necessary to grow
I am a perfectionist. Highly ambitious. Impulsive. A thinker. Competitive and creative. This interesting cocktail brought me where I am today. When I do make a mistake I try not to point to myself but to others. Well I used to do so. By far the most important thing I Iearned is you need f@#$k-ups to grow. No mistakes means no learning curve. Or less steep. Making a mistake is not personal. It is just a chance to learn and grow. Since I get that message my life is more pleasant. Fail as soon as possible; it saves time, energy and money too.
How to stay motivated #2 – Always keep the bigger picture in mind
It is easy when I face trouble – or experience bumps on the road – to question the bigger why. But that doesn’t do justice to all the great work Marleen and I have put in the bigger why in the beginning. Therefor for me it is super important to be aware of the bigger why at all times. So I am aware of our bigger why in good times which helps me to be aware of the why when it gets a little dark outside.
Read Simon Sinek – Start with the why – and benefit from the insights. Or look into Stephen R. Coveys – 7 habits of highly effective people – Covey describes always to have the end in mind. Which helps you to stay on the right path and stay motivated.
How to stay motivated #3 – Observe your thoughts and don’t rely too much on them
This is something I realized through yoga. Yoga is about being present and feel what is going on in your mind and body. Leave your thoughts your thoughts and don’t reward them too much. And why is that? Your thoughts mostly are an outcome of a feeling. When you feel great for example your thoughts are all about chances and how grateful you are with life. When you don’t feel great your thoughts are all about: “Am I good enough? Is it all worth it? Why should I do this?”
So what is the connection? Your thoughts reflect how you feel and that does something with your self esteem. So I don’t need to listen to my feelings? Well, yes and no. Most of the time your feelings are wrong when you place them in the bigger picture context. But they are right about telling you something what bothers you. You are responsible to figure out your equation.
“It is not the event that challenges me but my own thoughts about those experiences that challenge me.”
How to stay motivated #4 – Value what you do
Learn to value what you do. Not my strongest point, as a perfectionist, but it is an essential skill to learn to stay motivated. Because your own positive valuation helps you when it gets tough. And I mean valuing everything what you accomplish. Did you have a good hike? Well done. Did you have a difficult conversation with a colleague but it turned out okay? Well done. Did you prepare a good meal? Well done. Did you go for a run while it rained? Well done. Did you do nothing because you needed that? Well done.
Learn to give yourself and others positive feedback and you will benefit from it the rest of your life!
How to stay motivated #5 – Know what you need – reflecting is the key.
Sometimes I have to give myself some slack and not push any harder. Because I have the natural tendency to push. And sometimes I just need to push myself to move on…
And now I created a paradox. So what is the difference for me? And how did I get this insight?
My current insight is that when I am really tired I give myself slack and when I just feel mwah I push myself to work. This is something I needed to learn. It is not something I knew from scratch. So I made mistakes. I misjudged my needs. But every time I reflected on my decisions and figured out whether they helped me or not. The answers gave me the energy to move on. My reflections and Marleen’s observations help me to stay motivated.
I hope you like my 5 simple rules to keep myself going. Do you have rules for yourself? We would like it if you share your insights with us as well!
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