Keeping Yourself Motivated
Staying motivated isn’t easy – we often convince ourselves not to be. We often give ourselves excuses, allow other people to put us down, or look at the success of others and think, “That’ll never be me.”
There are two basic types of motivation: intrinsic motivation, and extrinsic motivation.
Intrinsic motivation comes from the feeling of self-achievement inherent in the task or project achieved, i.e. solving a puzzle, completing a school assignment, or finally publishing that website you were working on for a client.
Extrinsic motivation is the reward you get from others – or outside “forces”. This includes money and other financial or tangible rewards, such as a free vacation for achieving your sales targets, a trophy for winning first place at the Olympics, or even the crowd cheering as you overtake car #2 in the last stretch of the race. This explains the “home team advantage” methodology.
Extrinsic motivation (namely money) is often the primary basis for our motivation. Everyone needs money, and wants as much of it as possible. That’s no secret. However, I believe the feeling of self achievement is equally important when it comes to staying motivated.
When you’ve finished the design work for a client, what feels better? Getting paid or seeing your client smile, succeed, and receive brand recognition partly due to your efforts? If you picked getting paid, try thinking about it this way:
A small, startup company seeks your help in setting up their identity (logo, business card, website, etc.). The company is completely unknown but happens to take off. All of a sudden the company is everywhere – the NY Times, TechCrunch, CNN, a trending topic on Twitter, you name it.
Do you still feel the same? Okay, that might have been a bit of an exaggeration, but hopefully my point was made.
But what about the money?
There are many ways that you can use money and your personal financial status to keep yourself motivated. Here are a few ideas:
- Reward yourself: decide on an amount (that doesn’t cut into your bill paying or savings) and reward yourself after a job well done. Of course you don’t want to spend every hard penny you’ve earned on your favourite hobby, but if it’s all work and no play you’ll get burnt out. Reward yourself as a reminder of what you’re working towards.
- Financial status: do you want to put a down payment on your own place in 2 years? Pay off the house in 7? Have children and send them to private school? Remind yourself how much money you need to earn each month in order to support your desired lifestyle. If you’re not quite there yet figure out the steps needed to get there and write them down.
- It takes money to make money: do you have any business plans that require startup capital you don’t currently have? Do you plan to buy and rent properties? Invest? These are other good ways to remind yourself to keep at it.
Networking. It’s easy to meet other people in your industry on the internet these days (especially if you’re a designer). If you don’t already have a blog, consider starting one. Sign up for Twitter and get out there! Meeting other people in your line of work helps you to learn the language and communication styles that are effective in your industry.
If you know a lot of designers, for instance, they can refer clients to you when they’re overbooked, or when a client requires something beyond their expertise.
It’s also a good idea to try to network in person. It’s refreshing to get out of your home or office and meet people face to face. People will often share more in person than they will on their blog or via Twitter. Escaping your workstation every once in a while will give you that added fuel you need to move forward when you return from your mid-day vacation.
When all else fails, I tend to go on a “success story” binge. Take an hour to watch a few TED Talks, read a few articles about people on the Forbes 400 list, or poke around the Small Business Success Stories page on BusinessWeek.
Stay motivated – and if you can’t, try something new.