Can you imagine Elon Musk ever waking up on a Monday morning only to press the snooze button repeatedly because he just didn’t feel like going into the office? Or, Richard Branson or Mark Zuckerberg?
It would be quite a surprise if you saw one of them laying on the sofa in a bathrobe trying to gather the strength to turn off the second season of “Stranger Things” on Netflix and head to the office. Yet, many owners of small businesses have those moments. When that lack of self-motivation hits, some shake it off while others struggle to re-energize and press on.
That’s when it’s time to think about how you might work on a plan for topping up that self-motivation fuel when the tank starts to get dangerously close to empty. Here are ten steps to recharge your self-motivation levels:
1. Put more meat on those goals.
Perhaps your goals are lacking the muscle you need to truly energize yourself. If you haven’t set more meaningful goals that give you something to be excited and have stuck to the tried and true generic goals to increase revenue or add more customers, there’s nothing there to sink your teeth into.
Let’s go back to Elon Musk. He sets short-term goals that maintain his mental muscle of motivation, but he really flexes it with his longer term goals that fire him up. For example, he has the long-term goals of colonizing Mars, creating a hyperloop, and speeding Los Angeles traffic through underground tunnels. Until then, he focuses on converting Puerto Rico’s power grid to renewable energy, adding solar tiles to houses across America, and adding to his fleet of electric cars to increase adoption. He’s also working on those returnable rocketships through SpaceX.
He keeps defining and feeding himself more creative goals to work toward. Keep your mind busy as a business owner and reach for those fantastic long-term goals while you use the short-term ones to fix the barriers to those longer range accomplishments.
2. Hang out with your customers.
Get out of your habitat because there is nothing motivational about sitting in an office whether it is a co-working space, your home, or an office building. There is nothing there that gives you a sense of purpose or rationale for what you are doing.
However, when you go to your customers and hang out with them, suddenly what you are doing becomes more visual, realistic, and just plain interesting. There is a dynamic quality to spending time with customers as well as hearing and experiencing what they go through.
You may have seen the show, “Undercover Boss,” where a business owner experiences their business by working within it. Numerous CEOs have noted that it was insightful and gave them a completely different picture of their business, including customers and employees.
Of course, you don’t have to hide. Go work and engage with your audience in person. You will feel reinvigorated and even come away from it with new ideas and overall renewed purpose for what you are doing. Plus, your customers will be pleased to see you care that much to hang out with them, which impacts their experience.
3. Set a personal mission.
Every business should have a mission or vision statement. This is simply something that describes the broader goals, culture, and underlying core values of the business. While you may already have that, it is not going to necessarily motivate you to keep going. Although it is something that shows why you are in business, it does not really cover your own purpose.
Creating a personal mission statement is motivational because it states why you are doing the business and what you want to achieve from it in relation to your own professional and personal development. Paste it onto your calendar app so that it pops up each day and use it in your social media status updates to remind you and others about your philosophy, which goes well beyond just your business.
4.Take time for yourself.
Running your own business can completely consume you. Once you are in it and handling daily operations, putting out those “fires,” and wearing all those hats, you lose track of time. Days melt into weeks and then months before you realize you have taken a day off. With all that work and no play, Jack or Jill become a dull boy or girl. No one can keep going at full steam all the time.
While we may not be able to have our own personal Necker Island like Richard Branson to escape to, there are ways to actively stop the work-work cycle and live a little. Schedule time off each day to decompress and do something you like. This could be a hobby or time with your family. Don’t compromise those special moments because you will find yourself becoming more resentful of your business and motivation will suffer.
There are some business owners who have even gone on sabbatical, letting a trusted team member run their business for a few weeks, a month, or even longer. All say they return with greater enthusiasm and the motivation to take their company to the next level.
5. Savor the successes you've achieved.
So much is always said about continuing to look forward. However, to stay motivated, it’s a great strategy to look back on where you have come from on this journey to build your empire. Reflect on those little and big wins that occurred along the way.
It’s like looking back on your school yearbook or photo albums to see how much your life has changed. The same can be done for your business. You’ll remember the challenges and how you felt at those moments. Those reflections often lead the mind to wonder about what your life (or business) will look back after a few more years when you do this same revisit of the past.
This is the time to take those press mentions and compile them on your website and social media pages. Actively reliving these past successes will tell you what you have achieved while the act of sharing those with others and their reactions will fire up the self-motivation.
Related: How to Leave a Legacy
6. Mentor other business owners or founders
Nothing can motivate you as much as helping others. Not only does it more effectively frame your reality when you see others experiencing similar challenges or business decisions, but it also inspires you to go back and change things after working on other startups. Plus, it just feels good to help others and know that you have made a difference for them, perhaps even serving as the stimulant for them to boost their own motivation.
Sign-up for mentoring sites or businesses that look for experts like yourself who are willing to volunteer their time to help other founders and owners. There may also be those within your own network that are asking questions in online forums where you can lend your knowledge and expertise.
7. Set a routine, then change it up.
A routine helps with discipline and keeps you on course with productivity and balance. For example, leverage John Meyer’s 8 for the Day routine.However, over time, it can have the opposite effect and bore you to death, causing you to become de-motivated.
Use the routine as your foundation but then consider changing up that routine every other week or month. It depends on your personality as everyone has a different place where they hit a wall of monotony. That means you will need to create different routines that you can rotate in or out to keep your time as interesting and stimulating as possible while staying on target with what you want to accomplish.
8. Immerse yourself in inspirational activities.
There is a lot to be said for content out there in terms of its ability to inspire to keep working toward greatness. From TED talks and podcasts to blogs from your fellow entrepreneurs, regularly take a moment to check in with what others are thinking about and sharing based on their own experiences. The emotional connection you make with this content can spur you onwards and upwards.
Search for YouTube channels, blogs, podcasts, and articles on motivation and then subscribe to them so they arrive in your inbox. Go see speakers who cover a wide range of topics that impact your business and participate in events, networking socials, and conferences for further inspiration.
9. Make a positive contribution to your community.
You may not realize how much your small business is already positively impacting the community. There were 28.8 million small businesses in 2016 that accounted for 99.7 percent of US businesses! As David M. Kirby wrote in the Huffington Post, “small businesses are vital to the future of the United States.” Your business is boosting the local economy.
From there, it’s time to move from think to act. Give back to your community through donations and volunteer work. Bring in passionate interns from local universities to work for a semester. Getting involved with your community can mean further interactions with customers. Even if they are not your target audience, it puts your life and work in perspective when you go help others in need.
10. Don’t go it alone.
The life of a business owner is lonely at times, especially when you are a one-man band, work from home, or use a virtual team. Don’t spend all your time alone because it is difficult to stay motivated.
Instead, build a support network that will help and encourage you whenever you need advice, inspiration, or the ability to vent. This could be a mentor, your spouse, best friend, or fellow small business owner.
Also, working alone tends to prevent you from doing some of the other things on the list because you have no remaining time to do things after covering all the roles and responsibilities in your business. If you have the resources, hire freelancers to cover many of those tasks so you can use the other tips here plus spend more time on the higher level aspects of your business that most likely hold all the excitement.
Losing your “mojo” is normal and happens to every business at some point. Don’t focus on it or let it stress you out. Take action through this list of tips and you’ll find that your self-motivation returns and even grows.