Motivation is ever-elusive, and there never seems to be enough to go around. We all want to get motivated and ride the wave forever, but it might be easier to catch lightning in a bottle!
Still, there are some proven techniques we can all employ to get amped up, inspired, and motivated to take on the toughest challenges of business and life. Here are some tips from top entrepreneurs to get – and stay – motivated when we need it most.
The more pressure we put on ourselves to get motivated, the less motivated we feel. Strange how that works! Instead, give yourself a pat on the back for how far you’ve come and review your accomplishments. This will help you stay on track.
“It’s important to recognize the small victories,” said Bill Yates, Executive Vice President at Velociteach. “The small victories are critical to success and ultimately lead to the big wins, so make sure you take time to recognize and celebrate the small victories on your journey as they will only motivate you that much more.”
Besides, when you practice gratitude for your own achievements, it’s only natural that you’d seek out greater rewards and gain more momentum.
Day In, Day Out
Not every day will bless you with a reason to be motivated. Sometimes, bad news can even be demotivating. That’s why you need to get satisfaction from work itself, and focus strictly on what you can control.
“I get motivated by just doing the work,” said Daniel Snow, CEO and Founder of The Snow Agency. “When you put the work day in and day out, it increases your chances of success and also brings you luck. I remind myself of this every day because I know the success that I have achieved is not sheer luck, it’s through the hard work that I have done every day that makes all of the difference. You will not get anywhere if you decide that one day, you want to work, while the rest of the other days you don’t put in any work.”
If it’s not in your sphere of control, don’t worry about it. Show up, do the work, and everything else will work itself out.
A burst of motivation may propel us through the first half of our to-do list, only to come to a screeching halt. It happens to the best of us, and a strong routine can help fix it.
“Establish a daily routine in order to maximize time and efficiency,” said Andrew Bernstein, Co-Founder and CEO of Kinder Beauty. “By developing specific patterns that include how to begin and end your work day, nutrition and exercise, and relaxation and reflection, you will settle into a productive routine that will help you become more motivated.”
Motivation and momentum go hand in hand, as you’ll discover, so find your flow and stay in the groove.
The body and mind are more closely related than we think, so try to avoid the sedentary workday as much as possible. Get up, move around, get some sun – whatever you need to refresh and get back to work with a burst of motivation.
“Exercise is a great way to become more motivated,” said Ashley Laffin, Senior Director of Brand Management at Mother Dirt. “Working out not only helps you get your body moving but can lift your spirits and help you feel stronger. This can, in turn, help you feel inspired to tackle new tasks and excited to take on challenges.”
When you pair physical activity with focused work, motivation will be plentiful.
On the flip side of motivation is discipline, and you can’t have one without the other. It’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg situation – which comes first?
“Motivation comes from discipline, so if you want to become more motivated you have to establish discipline,” said Aidan Cole, Co-Founder of HIDE. “For example, let’s say you want to wake up every morning at 5:00AM and get to the gym by 5:45AM. This will not continuously happen based solely on motivation, you have to be disciplined enough to get up even when you do not feel like it. Some days will be hard, but with established discipline you will get to a point where you can do things even when you do not want to.”
Unlike motivation, discipline can be trained and strengthened, so treat it as a skill or a muscle like any other.
Give Yourself Goals
We are all driven by goals – that’s just how we evolved. Without goals we become stagnant and unmotivated. Setting goals does the opposite, sparking motivation and getting us in the zone.
“The thing that I learned early on is you really need to set goals in your life, both short-term and long-term, just like you do in business,” said Denise Morrison, CEO of Campbell Soup Company. “Having that long-term goal will enable you to have a plan on how to achieve it. We apply these skills in business, yet when it comes to ourselves, we rarely apply them.”
A goal doesn’t have to be massive to be motivating. Start with something small and get the momentum working in your favor.
The Power of Sleep
Ever tried getting work done on just a few hours’ sleep? Not a good time. Not only do you feel dazed and irritated, but your work suffers, too. Make sleep a priority!
“Getting a good night’s sleep will help give your brain a morning boost and is great for your mood, ability to focus, and overall health,” said Maegan Griffin, Founder, CEO and Nurse Practitioner at Skin Pharm. “Everyone’s body has different requirements, but the general consensus is that seven to eight hours of sleep each night is ideal. The right amount of sleep allows you to hit the ground running each day and help keep you motivated in reaching your goals. “
We all respond to slightly different conditions for sleep, so try a range of different techniques and see what works best for you.
Check Those Boxes
The act of crossing something off a to-do list or checking a box is just so satisfying. We seem to be wired to seek these types of simple rewards, and this can be used to your advantage for staying motivated.
“Having a set schedule and goals to complete each day can help on those days when you’re low energy or need an extra boost,” said Meghan Maupin, Co-Founder and CEO at Atolla. “Checking off the boxes can provide a sense of accomplishment and encourage you to keep going. I also like to have my schedule laid out for the week so I know what to expect and how to prepare and plan if things get busy or stressful. Productive, short meetings are key, so you don’t have to have as many!”
When you block out your days and weeks into these manageable chunks and sets of tasks, it’s so much easier to get motivated and stay focused.
Start Your Engines
What do you do each morning to get into the zone? Coffee and cold shower? Cardio and audiobook? Horoscopes and crosswords?
As long as it’s motivating and inspiring, it’s good to go.
“Starting each day with a routine will help keep you motivated,” said Jeff Henretig, President of Apothecanna. “Having a good daily morning routine allows your mind and body to be alert and stay focused and prepared. This way your day begins with the right mindset and feelings of calm, which will automatically make your entire day more positive and vibrant.”
The perfect morning routine is different for everyone, but remember – keep it simple.
Driven By Vision
Getting stuck in the weeds of spreadsheets, emails, and coding interfaces can be a drag. Remember what you’re working towards and don’t forget the reason you started in the first place.
“Walt Disney told his crew to ‘build the castle first’ when constructing Disney World, knowing that vision would continue to serve as motivation throughout the project,” said Gail Blanke, President and CEO of Lifedesigns. “Oftentimes when people fail to achieve what they want in life, it’s because their vision isn’t strong enough.”
Perspective is a powerful thing in business and life in general. Take a bird’s eye view and a deep breath, then motivation will return.
Keep Things Fresh
The daily grind can get stale and detract from motivation, so look for new ways to enjoy and explore different aspects of your business or career.
“Always put yourself in a position to learn something new,” said Dennis Hegstad, Co-Founder of LiveRecover. “Don’t be afraid of new challenges or of just putting yourself out there. If you’re motivated enough to start a business from zero, you can motivate yourself to do just about anything. Also, if you’re unhappy, don’t be afraid to pivot. I have gone from building maybe 9 million followers on Twitter after a couple of years on different accounts to building up a website that was like a viral blog to building LiveRecover with my co-founder.”
Don’t underestimate the power of novelty in staying motivated. Try new things whenever you can, even if they’re out of your comfort zone.
Plenty has been written about the benefits of mindfulness and meditation, but can it actually help you get more motivated? The science says yes, so why not find out for yourself?
“Practicing mindfulness can help you feel more motivated,” said Mary Berry, Founder and CEO of Cosmos Vita. “For example, when you’re not feeling motivated, you can take a moment to sit still and allow yourself to discover your own thoughts and feelings that might get in the way of your getting things done. Once you can actually examine your thought process and how it controls your actions, you can separate yourself from them and figure out how to incorporate more motivational and optimistic thoughts rather than negative and critical ones.”
A quick, 3-minute meditation session is all you need to refresh and hopefully get that motivation back during a lazy day.
When motivation is nowhere to be found, we sometimes need to tap into the reserves. Think about the ultimate vision you have planned for yourself, let that push you forward through the toughest tasks.
“Keep your eye on the prize,” said Jordan Nathan, Founder and CEO of Caraway. “There is always a reason why you decide to start on a particular path and it’s important to remind yourself of that from time to time. So always keep the big picture in mind and let it serve as a reminder of how far you’ve come and where you’re going and allow that to be your motivator.”
If you don’t have a vision of success for yourself yet, now is the time to define it in clear terms.
The road to success isn’t linear by any means, nor should it be. Goals change, and priorities shift around. Motivation is the same way, so embrace what you want in the moment and don’t let others get in your way.
“To become more motivated, don’t be afraid to set a new goal,” said Ben Cook, Jr., Vice President & General Counsel, Cook Capital Group and Printed Kicks. “Maybe there’s something you’ve been wanting to do since childhood or a new adventure you’d like to pursue. Take a deep breath and just allow yourself to go for it. No one wants to live with regrets. Life is too short.”
As you learn to tap into your desires and align your actions with your goals, generating instant motivation becomes second nature.
Roadmap to Success
Feeling stuck? There’s nothing wrong with mapping things out in very clear terms.
Create your plan, stick to the steps, and the whole experience becomes so much more manageable and enjoyable.
Plus, motivation will come naturally when you know what needs to be done.
“Goals without plans are simply ideas,” said Patrick Crane, CEO of Love Sew. “Map out your goals and think of all that you would like to accomplish and that will be the motivational kick to keep you going on your path to success.”
You can’t expect to get very far on a journey if you don’t have a map to guide you.
Similarly, you won’t stay motivated in business or personal goals if you don’t have a game plan and a step-by-step strategy.
Use these tips to your advantage and stay motivated no matter what your goals may be.
Founder Dinis Guarda
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