How to stay motivated to work on your business (even on a grey Monday)
Need some inspiration to keep going? Here are 15 things you can do to lift you up and keep you focused on your business, even on the days when you feel like giving up.
We all have them (yes, even us). Those days when it all seems pointless. When you wonder why you’re even trying to grow a business. When you torture yourself by scrolling through a competitor’s social media accounts, showing off the success that seems to be eluding you.
The days when anything – even the ironing – seems more attractive than working on your business.
But if you do want to achieve the success you hoped for, you can’t afford to have many days like this. And you certainly can’t allow them to de-motivate you to the point of giving up.
So what do you do? Simple. Over the years, we’ve clocked up a number of techniques that lift us out of a slump, and light a rocket underneath us – even on a grey Monday morning.
Here are 15 things we recommend you doing if you need a shot of motivation.
1) Use Focus Blocks
These are our favourite procrastination beater. If you have a daunting amount of work to do, or need to tackle something hard or uninspiring, use a Focus Block.
Basically, it involves setting yourself a goal for 90 minutes’ time (such as finish writing a blog, or schedule a month’s worth of social media posts), then switching off your phone and email alerts, and setting a timer. Then you just start work.
As we start the Focus Block, we tell ourselves, “In an hour and a half we’ll have cracked this” and just get on with it. You’ll be surprised at how much you can achieve in that hour and a half – and how good you feel afterwards when you’ve finished!
Love the idea of this? You can read more about how to use Focus Blocks here.
2) Reward yourself
Another version of the Focus Block is to promise yourself a reward. So say, again you need to write a blog or schedule a month’s worth of social media posts and you’re really lacking any motivation. Just tell yourself you’ll start working on it now, and finish it by an hour’s time (or however long it will take).
And promise yourself a coffee or cake, or some other reward for then. Keep in mind that vision of you feeling satisfied with your coffee and cake as you get to work.
3) Chunk your goals
One reason why you may feel demotivated or disheartened, is because your goal is just to ambitious. For example, you may have decided you want to write and build your website this week, but you just can’t see how you’ll get all that done.
So rather than get started, you find yourself scrolling through Instagram or looking for things to tidy up.
The trick here is to chunk your goals. Think of it like climbing Everest. If you stood at the bottom and squinted at the peak you could be forgiven for thinking it looked an impossible challenge.
But if, instead, you simply set yourself the goal of getting to base camp, that’s much more achievable. Once you’re at base camp, you simply set your sights on the next camp, and so on.
By chunking your climb, it feels do-able and keeps you motivated. And your business is the same. By chunking your big goals into tasks, you can stay on track and motivated.
So that website? Break it down into big sections (writing, design, technical stuff), and then break each section down further. So writing would be: plan pages, add rough content for each, tidy content, edit draft, proof read, done!
Then all you do is assign a time to do this. So Monday: plan pages and get rough content. Tuesday tidy content and edit draft. Wednesday proof read.
4) Get a burst of exercise
Sometimes you need to physically break state to get you moving. This can be getting outside for a short walk. So if you have an errand to run, or a dog begging for exercise, do it now.
If you don’t fancy going outside, then put on a song you love and dance energetically around the room. It doesn’t mater how ridiculous you look or feel (in fact, the more ridiculous the better… it might even make you laugh)! The point is to physically lift you out of the doldrums and give you a rush of endorphins.
5) Stop comparing
Nothing kills your business buzz faster than seeing someone else achieve the success you were hoping for – especially if they’re around the same stage as you.
But before you curl up in a self-pitying ball of “it should have been me!” we have some advice.
Stop comparing your perceived failure with their seeming success. You have no idea how genuinely successful they are. What they may have done to deserve that success. Or even what lucky breaks or connections they have that you don’t.
Their business is their business – literally.
You also need to remember that business is a long game. It’s the race between the hare and the tortoise. So don’t worry if you’re overtaken by a hare. Who knows? In a couple of year s time, if you work hard, you could plod last them as they’re napping. Or they may have even crashed out of the race by then, leaving you with a clear shot at the finish line.
In short just stop wasting your energy worrying about someone else, and carry on working to your own goals at your own pace.
6) Look for exceptions
Nothing ever works for you. You’re always rubbish at sales. No one wants to buy what you’re offering.
How often do you use global terms like nothing, always or no one? It’s all too easy to taunt ourselves with mantras of failure, without really examining the ‘truths’ they’re based on with any real honesty.
And these mantras act like a sedative to our business motivation. Lulling us into an aimless state of procrastination, in which we just can’t see the point of dong anything. After all, it’s not going to work.
Sound familiar? If so, here’s what you need to do. You need to reset your focus by looking for those exceptions that exist. Get out a pen and paper – right now – and start making a list of every success, however tiny, your business has achieved. You’ll be surprised, once you get going, how many you can come up with.
Then, every time you tell yourself something like “This won’t work” remind yourself of one time something DID work, and try anyway.
7) Get inspired
Many years ago, when we I worked in advertising, if we ever lacked inspiration for a creative brief, we’d get out award books. Not to copy anyone’s work, but to get inspired. Because nothing fires you up more than brilliance.
TED talks do the same for us now. And if we’re ever lacking in inspiration, we’ll find a brilliant TED talk and watch it – and that will always make us want to do better; to change the world in some way.
So what inspires you? It could be a podcast, a TED talk… anything, Find it, and if you’re lacking oomph one day, use it.
Need a dose of inspiration? Read one of our hundreds of interviews with women just like you who have built their own businesses.
8) Design your future
What do you want your life or business to look like in six month’s time? A year? Five years? When we have a clear vision of where we’re going it can lift up out of a slump. It can also help you to unconsciously look for ways your actions can lead you to the desired goal.
If you don’t already have one, we recommend writing a business plan. And if you’re not sure how to do this, or would like guidance, we give you a template and talk you through completing it in our Business Plan Masterclass.
9) Embrace failure
When Thomas Edison was inventing the lightbulb, he apparently tried 10,000 times before he got it right. When asked about all the failures, he allegedly said: “I haven’t failed. I just found 10,000 ways that didn’t’ work.”
We want you to take this same attitude to your business. The truth is that you’re not always going to get something right straight away. And sometimes it make take you 10,000 shots at something before you succeed. But if you don’t try 10,000 times, you won’t create something that could change history.
Often too, in the course of ‘failure’ we find a different way of doing something, or even a different goal completely.
For us, the only real failures are the ones who never try. Who talk about what they’re going to do, but never actually test themselves.
In order to succeed at anything, but especially business, you need to take risks. And if you’re afraid of failure you won’t take risks.
Remember that eEvery step forward towards the goal you want is positive – even if it cam sometimes feel like you’re moving backwards. So if a fear of failing is sapping at your motivation, try embracing the chance of failure instead.
10) Allow space for creativity
Much of business success is simply working hard – nose to the grindstone stuff. But amongst all that hard labour there need to be sparks of brilliance. Moments of inspiration. Bursts of creativity.
And you can’t have these if you don’t leave space for your unconscious creative mind to play. So make time and space in your life for creativity. Pursue activities you love ‘just because’. And if you chance upon a magic formula; if you always come up with new ideas in a particular place or activity (for me it’s in the bath or walking along the beach) then actively make time for them.
They’re not luxuries, they’re essential if you want your business to thrive – and to enjoy it.
11) Reconnect with your passion
It can be easy to fall out of love with your business over time. You start out fuelled by a burning passion, a desire to achieve something, or possibly a just fire to do what you love.
But over the weeks and months, that fire is extinguished by the daily drudgery of building a business from the ground up yourself. Of doing tasks that you don’t love. Of having to put the work in with little reward. And no hope (yet) that this may ever change.
This is when you need to return to, and remind yourself of what you love doing. Why DID you want to do this in the first place? What are your strengths and your passions? And how can you reconnect with them?
Has your business perhaps strayed from your initial idea, and if so can you get it back on track? Can you make a promise with yourself to find time in your working week to prioritise the tasks you love, or are good at, and do more of them?
Is there an opportunity to outsource, automate or even eliminate some of the tasks you don’t enjoy?
While running your own business doesn’t mean spending every day just doing things you love, you do need to remain connected to your passion and strengths – not only to build the business you initially envisioned, but to stay motivated to work on it, even on the greyest Monday morning.
12) Remind yourself of your why
In a similar vein, you may have launched your business with a strong original purpose. And over time, the day-to-day management and logistics of building a business can obscure that purpose.
And when you lose sight of your ‘why’, you can also lose your drive.
So remind yourself of what inspired your business. Did you want to make a difference? Change the world? Solve a problem? Make life better for someone (even if that someone is just you)?
Whatever purpose got you off the sofa and working on your business in the first place can just as powerfully get you back off the sofa now.
13) Stop making excuses
Everyone has grey Monday mornings – so you wouldn’t be human if you didn’t have days when motivation to work is severely lacking.
But what can sometimes separate the people who smash through that lack of motivation and get stuff done, and those who succumb to the temptations of daytime TV is one word: excuses.
It’s very easy to start making excuses about why we can’t do something right now:
- “I don’t have time right now.”
- “I don’t know how to do it.”
- “I’m waiting for the right time.”
- “I need to speak to someone first.”
And we get it (partly because we’ve been guilty of this too)! Making excuses is like parking something tricky – you’re not saying you’ll never do it, you’re saying you can’t or won’t do it now.
But the problem with excuses like these is they hold us back from doing the things that will make a big difference to your business – or the mundane tasks that keep your business running.
So here’s what we’d like you to do next time you catch yourself putting off a task that’s difficult or boring: say the excuse you’re telling yourself inside your head out loud.
Verbalise it then examine it. Do you really need to wait for the right time or someone to get started? What can you do right now to make progress on it? If you do need help or to wait for the right time, then why not email that person now to arrange it, or put a time in your calendar to work on it.
Use other techniques we’ve shared with you here too, to get over any inner resistance to get started on the tasks.
When we’re at work we have managers and deadlines to please and keep, and colleagues we don’t want to let down, preventing us from hiding behind excuses.
If it helps, think of a scary schoolteacher challenging your excuses. What would theysay to you? Or simply focus on how fantastic you’ll feel once you’ve accomplished the difficult or boring task (or even just made in-roads into it). You can do it – we have faith in you!
14) Use lists
We’re vocal fans of lists. We start every day with a to-do list for work and sometimes, if we feel that we haven’t had a very productive day, we write a done list – a list of everything we have done or achieved that day. We’re always surprised at how productive we really were.
So if you’re feeling a bit blah about work, make yourself a list of what you’d like to get done. Sometimes just having something concrete to focus on can lift us out of a motivation slump – especially when we can visualise the benefits of taking those actions.
You don’t have to make your list complicated or fancy – we use a cheap to-do list pad and that works perfectly.
So, right now we challenge you to write a list of what you’d like to achieve by the end of the day. Then get working on it! There’s still time to turn today around.
15) Use visualisation
Last but most certainly not least, is a powerful motivation tool we often use.
If you’re feeling stuck and lacking enthusiasm, take a few minutes to visualise how it will look and sound when you complete a project, or reach a particular goal. How will you feel, what will have changed?
The point is to get a clear, multi-sensory vision of how it feels to get to where you want to be, and use this to motivate you to get working on it.
If you can, get into the habit of doing this often. When you’re commuting, on your way home from the school run, walking the dog, in the bath or shower, doing housework – any time you can allow your mind to wander.
We want you to have such a clear visualisation of not just what you’ll accomplish, but who you’ll be and how you’ll feel once you achieve a particular goal, or a success that smaller tasks will help you towards, that you’ll find it easier to motivate yourself on the greyest, least inspiring mornings.
How we can help fire you up every morning
Love to feel fired up with motivation every day? We invite you to join our monthly membership club for business owners just like you.
TLC Team helps keep you on track in your business with:
- Modules to help you make progress on specific areas of your business – every month
- Monthly live video masterclasses on topics like pricing and confidence
- Private Facebook community
- Monthly goal setting and accountability
- The option of an accountability partner
If you’re starting out in business, or need help keeping an established business on track but aren’t in a position right now to invest in business coaching, TLC Team is for you.
It gives you expert guidance on the areas of your business you need to get right, and keeps you making progress with monthly modules on specific areas of your business, and goal setting and reminder emails.
Think of it as a virtual (and much cheaper!) business coach sharing expertise and motivation to ensure you make progress every month.
Here’s what members say about TLC Team:
I have been so impressed with the modules and monthly masterclasses (webinars). They cover essential business knowledge from brand planning, sales and goal setting to social media (and more!) as well as mindset, confidence and productivity. Hannah has been great responding to queries and been very helpful. Glad I made the leap to join [TLC Team] and very excited about the future of my business. – Karen Boyd
I discovered TLC at a perfect moment in my life! (I was just at the planning stage of starting a new business.) TLC is chalk-full of information for business and life in general. The wealth of information is amazing! I am consulting their resources constantly! When I had an inquiry, Hannah responded right away! – Mary Kalava
I particularly like the monthly membership programme. It’s full of thought-provoking worksheets, challenges and monthly masterclasses to help you get ahead. I highly recommend. – Laura Gibson
TLC is a fantastic resource. Hannah is extremely personable and shares her vast knowledge. The monthly subscription to TLC Team is worth every penny – monthly resources to help you with your business, a monthly masterclass, and a private Facebook group for support. If you are looking to start or ramp up your business, this is the ideal way to do it! – Laura Harmsworth
You can find out more about TLC Team and come and join us inside here.
Photo by niklas_hamann