Being your own boss — whether if you’re a freelancer, entrepreneur, or small business owner — is the ultimate dream. You get to do what you love, set your own schedule, and create your own lifestyle. At the same time, you’re solely responsible for the progress, goal setting, and performance of yourself and your business. It may feel challenging to stay motivated when you’re the boss.
In other words, unlike a member of your team, you don’t have someone to motivate you. You get to do that all by yourself. It’s all on you to tap into your intrinsic motivation. You’ll want to stay watchful so that motivation is never a problem when you’re consumed with running a business.
Thankfully, if you follow these easy-to-implement steps, you can stay motivated on a daily basis — no matter what life throws your way.
1. Don’t set goals, build systems.
This doesn’t mean completely forgetting about your other goals — specifically why you wanted to be your own boss in the first place. In fact, setting and writing down your personal goals is a tried and true method when solopreneurs needs a dose of motivation.
At the same time, if you really want to get things done you need to start building systems now, instead of just setting goals. For example, a goal would be to build a billion dollar business. But your system would include the sales and marketing processes you use to achieve that goal.
According to James Clear, there are a couple of reasons why systems are more effective than goals.
- Goals reduce your happiness since setting a goal puts a huge burden on your shoulders. Instead, focus on the practice so that you can enjoy the moment.
- With goals it’s more “difficult to build upon your progress for the long-term.” This is because once you reach a goal, that goal is not there to motivate you. With a systems-based mentality you stick to the process, as opposed to reaching numbers or deadlines.
- Goal-setting means you’re trying to predict the future. With systems you build feedback-loops that “allow you to keep track of many different pieces without feeling the pressure to predict what is going to happen with everything.”
Ultimately, James Clear concluded that, “goals are good for planning your progress and systems are good for actually making progress.”
2. Think about the big picture.
Even with a system in place, it’s still incredibly easy to lose sight on the big picture. After all, you’re hustling day-in and day-out doing tasks with nothing to show for it. Why keep doing this everyday when there aren’t any results?
The thing is it’s those small things, like creating awesome content, that’s going to attract more leads. Those leads will hopefully become customers. Once you have enough customers you can paint your big picture.
I know that sounds easier said than done when things don’t appear to be going your way. But, if you tap into the power of visualization it makes it possible. For example, if you need a certain amount of customers to move to your ideal office then cut out a picture of your dream work-space and hand it-up. If you want to get published in a leading industry publication then write it in big letters on your work-space.
These are simple and powerful ways to remind you about the big picture, which in turn will motivate you when you want it.
3. Reward yourself.
While focusing on the big picture is a definite motivator, you also don’t want to forget about celebrating your successes along the way. This doesn’t mean you should reward yourself every time you achieve a goal, it does mean that you reward yourself occasionally for a job well-done.
This could be sharing the news with your friends, family, and social media followers to having dinner a nice restaurant to going on a dream-vacation to treating yourself to a new gadget or new piece wardrobe.
4. Have a morning routine.
If there’s one common theme among successful people it’s that they all have a morning routine. This varies from person-to-person, but they each have a routine that gets their day started with a high-level of energy and enthusiasm. As a result, they have the focus and stamina to conquer the rest of the day.
Here’s seven things that you should definitely add to your morning routine ASAP:
- Stop hitting the snooze button and wake-up at the crack of dawn.
- Drink at least a 24 oz. glass of water.
- Stay tech-free for the first couple of hours.
- Exercise for around 30 minutes.
- Eat a healthy breakfast — this means avoiding processed or added sugars.
- Read for at least 15 minutes.
- Practice mindfulness.
5. Find role models and inspiration.
Role models, such as successful entrepreneurs or historical figures, are an excellent source of motivation because their stories are inspiring. Additionally, you can also learn from their successes and failures. Best of all, they’re all around in the form of books, quotes, TED Talks, documentaries, and magazine articles.
6. Read daily.
Self-improvement, business biographies, personal finance, and spiritual books are usually my go-to source for motivation. These types of books aren’t just inspiring, they’re also informative. I can then apply this new-found knowledge to my business to make it better.
7. Learn something new.
Did you know that every time you learn something new your brain changes? When this happens this makes your life easier. For example, if you learned how to code you could repair your website instead of waiting for someone else. This saves you time, money, and prevents website visitors from going to your competitors since your site was down.
Furthermore, as The New Yorker points out, learning a new skill improves your working memory, verbal intelligence, and language skills. Also, as explained by Cornell University, when you learn a new skill, it becomes easier to do.
“Specifically, training resulted in decreased activity in brain regions involved in effortful control and attention that closely overlap with the frontoparietal control and dorsal attention networks. Increased activity was found after training, however, in the default network that is involved in self-reflective activities, including future planning or even day dreaming. Thus, skill mastery is associated with increased activity in areas not engaged in skill performance, and this shift can be detected in the large-scale networks of the brain.”
Simply put, when you become more proficient at something, it becomes almost automatic. As a result, your brain isn’t using as much energy. This means you’ll have enough energy and focus to tackle more challenging tasks.
8. Focus on the essential few.
As a your own boss, there will be times when you feel overwhelmed and spread-too-thin. It happens to the best of us. To counter this, however, focus on the essential few.
As author Greg Mckeown writes in his book “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less,” this doesn’t mean doing less or getting more done in less time. It’s about distinguishing between the nonessential many and the essential few.
I’ve found that following the Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20 Rule, can help you focus on the essential few. That’s because this rule states that 20 percent of your activite should produce 80 percent of your results. For example, 80 percent of your revenues should be generated by just 20 percent of your customers.
9. Think about your mission and legacy.
It’s not uncommon for entrepreneurs and business leaders to believe that their products or services will make the world a better place. It’s why Steve Jobs used to tell Apple employees that “we are going to make insanely great products.” So, the next time you’re in a rut, think about your mission statement and how that’s going to guide you in changing the world.
You can also think about your legacy. Even if you have children, the fact of the matter is that the business that you’ve built is how you’ll be remembered. Sounds simplistic, but as Brandon Lee once said, “Immortality is to live your life doing good things, and leaving your mark behind.”
10. The five-minute rule.
Sometimes you just need a quick-motivation fix. And the best way to accomplish that is by following the five-minute rule.
This is simply a rule where if there’s something you can complete in under five-minutes, then do it. It could be responding to an email, scheduling a social media post, or making your bed. It really doesn’t what the task is. The point is that you’ve competed something and can now use that momentum to keep going for the rest of the day.
11. Install a proper workstation.
One of the perks of being in charge is that you can work wherever you want. There’s one caveat with that, however. Not all locations are created equal.
While working in your bedroom may sound like a great idea on a cold, dreary morning, it’s not exactly the most productive spot. Instead of focusing on your business, you’re more concerned about staying nice and cozy under your blanket while getting distracted by your phone or TV.
Instead, make sure that you work at a workstation that is productive and inspiring. This could be at a coffee shop, co-working space, or office that is quiet, lets in natural light, and is clean and organized.
12. Impress yourself first.
“This is how people like Peter Jackson or James Cameron or Stephenie Meyer’s inspire themselves,” writes J.D. Meier, the best-selling author of “Getting Results the Agile Way.”
“They make the movies or write the books that impress themselves first. They connect their passion to the work and they don’t depend on other people setting the bar. Their internal bar becomes their drive.”
13. Make time to step away.
This may sound counterproductive, but working 24/7 doesn’t make you more productive. It actually makes you less productive.
As Kayla Sloan explains in a previous Calendar post, time away from your business is beneficial because:
- It helps you replenishes your energy levels so that you can get more down in a shorter amount of time.
- Prevents you from getting burnt out.
- Boosts creativity.
- Increases focus and allows you to approach problems differently.
- Improves your immune system so that you don’t get sick as often.
14. Set challenges with your loved ones.
“The best form of motivation you can get is from your friends and family,” says serial entrepreneur Murray Newlands.
“They can pick you up when you’re feeling low, congratulate you when you achieve your desired milestones, and encourage you when you are in a slump. You can also engage in a bit of motivational peer pressure by challenging each other with various tasks.”
You can also hang out with your fellow business owners or join an organization like the Young Entrepreneur Council, Entrepreneurs’ Organization, or FoundersCard if you need additional support.
15. Participate in employee engagement activities that promote wellness.
According to a 2015 survey by Virgin Pulse, “the No. one factor affecting employee happiness is good health. It’s hard to expect employees to be motivated if they’re in poor physical or emotional health. The same goes for you,” writes Alan Carniol, Founder of Interview Success Formula.
“Organize office activities or competitions that promote health and wellness, and take part in them. For example, you can give out pedometers to everyone in the office (yourself included) and reward the top walkers each week. This will encourage you and your employees to exercise. One of my simple favorites is to encourage team members to take a walk outside on any particularly nice days.”
“Working together toward wellness goals creates a support network everyone can draw on to help relieve stress. Just because you’re the boss doesn’t mean you can’t lean on this foundation when it comes to your health and overall satisfaction with your position,” adds Carniol.