Imagine you just had a great day. I mean a great day. The kind of day where you don't even have to worry about how to motivate yourself because it just all comes naturally. Everything just happened to go right. Where by the end of the day, you're excited and pumped. You sit down to write out your blog post for the next day and you feel like you could write seven more. Or you sit down to record that video, and you get on such a roll that you want to record four more.
Those are great days. Those are the days that remind you just how wonderful you are. How right this decision to run your own business has proven to be.
Now, go back for a moment and think about a time when you had a bad day. When sales were low. Unhappy customers emailed to yell at you about something. You sit down to write your blog post and stare at the blank document screaming about why you can't seem to remember what words are anymore. The kind of day where you wake up and dread the thought of starting work. Where you don't want to check your back office.
The days that make you question everything about you and your business.
We've all had both days. Talk to anyone who works from home, and that person will tell you all about the ups and downs of the self-employed roller coaster.
Motivation is just one of those things that seems to come and go in waves. There is no science to it. There's no method to guarantee that when you wake up in the morning you'll have a highly motivational and productive day.
Inspiration strikes when it wants to, not necessarily when you tell it to. But there is a way to help use your motivation-heavy days to help kick-start your motivation-light days.
How to Motivate Yourself — Are you Using Your Motivation Properly?
You see, most people use their motivation all wrong. They get into a good mood and tackle that to-do list like a boss. Then, because they're feeling super motivated, they take on more. They head into the next day's to-do list. Or maybe the next week's. If their to-do list included writing three blog entries, they write nine.
And while they're in the heat of the moment, it feels like a great idea. Using all that motivation to get a head start feels great. And how can you go wrong? Because now that means that tomorrow you don't have to do quite as much. Your list is shorter.
Well, here's the problem with that: it only lasts so long before burnout takes over, and motivation leaves you. And then what happens when you wake up one day with zero motivation, but you still have a full to-do list. Then what?
That motivational high you were on a few days ago got wasted. I mean, sure…you got a lot done. But now you're feeling completely unmotivated and all the extra work you put in before is gone. It's not doing you any good now.
But what choice do you have? It's not like you can stretch your motivational high to span several days or weeks. Right?
Wrong. That's exactly what you should be doing. And here's how to do it.
Write out your goals and to-do lists as you normally would. Then, the next time you get super motivated and conquer that to-do list and are ready to take on more, stop. Don't move on to the next to-do list.
Instead, look at your future to-do lists, study your goals, and then work on things that will make achieving those goals easier.
Instead of writing out next week's blog posts, do things that will make writing the blog posts easier. Research, note-taking, brainstorming. All those things that have to be done before the blog posts can be written – take care of them while you're in super-you mode. Instead of emailing and writing each of your clients for followups early, make it easier. Gather the addresses, set up an autoresponder, work on your follow-up workflow. Make it easier.
Instead of creating and scheduling all those graphics to social media, get your templates set up and find a workflow automator to help you handle it later. Make it easier.
You see, it's a lot like Newton's First Law of Inertia. An object in motion stays in motion, and an object at rest stays at rest. Objects, much like people, tend to resist or even oppose any force that would make us change our state of motion. So when we are on a roll, we resist distractions that would slow us down. And when we're feeling unmotivated, we resist the activities that would normally motivate us.
Motivation is a lot like Newton's First Law of Inertia.
So, when you're feeling super-motivated and you go through and do all the work for the next week, you are putting yourself into a place devoid of motion. And on the days when you are feeling unmotivated, having nothing to do will make it harder for you to break out of that unmotivated state. And staring at a mountain of to-do tasks will feel insurmountable, exasperating your unmotivated feeling.
But, if you sit down to business and find yourself lacking in motivation and find that the legwork has been done, it's much easier to get moving. Write a blog post when all your research and notes have been taken care of? Much easier. Creating graphics when the photographs have already been sourced and the licenses acquired? Much easier. You'll find that even with a slower start, you'll be able to work your way into a more motivated day, and still get to revel in the feeling of accomplishment for getting through your to-do list.
And best case scenario, you'll be able to pull yourself into another super motivated day with leftover energy to be used to make your life easier on some other day.
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