Building a successful business is a challenge—even when you are doing everything the right way. And if you’re not positively motivated, if you aren’t chasing after something that you’re really excited about, the grind is going to wear you down sooner rather than later.
Let me give you an example. I met a business owner recently who has motivational challenges. It’s been a tough road for them—the business was purchased shortly before the Great Recession, and they saw their two best clients fold within their first year. Since then, they’ve worked very hard, gone through a big downturn and weathered the storm. Things are stable now; the business makes enough to cover costs, pay a reasonable amount and set aside some extra for savings … but they’re not making enough to really get ahead. The kicker is they have a loan from when they purchased the business, and it’s two to three times the current value of the company.
That means they can’t sell the business (short of some kind of bankruptcy proceedings), and they haven’t yet been able to grow their way toward paying off the loan in less than 20 years.
Their motivation to this point has been to just keep their heads above water. That’s been going on for years, so you can imagine they don’t have a lot of excitement when it comes to trying new things or continuing to climb up the mountain. In short, it’s a grind, but they don’t see a good way out.
There are a lot of business owners who can probably sympathize with this situation. Things are in a rut, but they can’t afford to stop, and they don’t really know what else to do (or they don’t have the motivation to do anything about it).
At best, the motivation is to find a way to get out of their situation.
What Are You Chasing?
I’m a firm believer that finding something you want to pursue is critical for long-term success. Running towards something you’re excited about is sustainable. You can build on it. You can share that dream with others.
Conversely, running away from something isn’t going to fuel you for the long run. If I’m running away from something, I’m likely to stop running when things are quiet. But if I’m running towards a big goal, a better life, I’ll keep running until I get there.
But what do you do if you’ve lost that forward-looking motivation or if you never had it at all?
How to Find Motivation
Here are some suggestions to help you find some positive motivation:
1. Narrow Your Focus
Often, you feel overwhelmed and unmotivated because you’re trying to do too much. Pick one clear outcome that would make a huge impact for you and single-mindedly go after that outcome.
2. Look for Inspirations
Is there someone out there who’s done what you want to do? Or something like it? It’s hard to buy into a goal if you don’t really think it’s possible, so find an example that inspires you (and can teach you).
3. Visualize Success
I’m not really talking about dream boards … although, if that works for you, go for it. But it is important that you’ve got a clear picture of what your future state looks like and feels like. The clearer you can get, the more that outcome can generate energy and excitement.
4. Put a Date on It and Make It Measurable
The difference between a dream and a goal is a deadline. If it’s a big goal, it’s likely several years out, but you need a way to clearly measure progress and something to push towards.
5. Make It a Daily Thing
Put something above your desk or on your wall so you will be reminded every day why you’re putting in the effort. There are days when it won’t resonate with you, but stick with it and keep it top of mind. Your big goal is there to help you steer.
6. Don’t Go It Alone
Find some kind of support group that will believe in you and believe in your goal. That could be a peer group, a coach or an accountability partner. You need to be able to bounce ideas around and have someone challenge you to stay focused if you’re going to win in the long run.