BIZ BUDDY: STAYING MOTIVATED
In my last post, I mentioned that I set (and achieved) a fairly big professional goal last year. And though part of me wants to explain why I decided to do that and share a bunch of backstory, it’s also kind of irrelevant so I’m going to jump right into how I did it so that you can steal any bits that might be helpful to you.
Ready? Here we go.
The way I see it, there are 2 main parts to what I did, which, for simplicity’s sake, I’ll call:
strategy & mindset.
Strategy is relatively easy to explain.
It’s the nuts and bolts, the step-by-step plan that I made for how I was going to achieve my goal.
It’s essentially math, and a lot of list-making.
It included things like: make X amount of new products, sell this many of this and this many of this, project numbers, find new stockists, do less craft shows - that kind of thing.
I’ll get into bits of it later on, in another post.
The second part, the real guts of it, what I want to talk about today is what I’m calling mindset, which is essentially everything that made me move forward when I didn’t think I could or when I didn’t know how.
The part that enabled me to follow through with the strategy.
If reaching our goals was as easy as just making a plan and executing said plan, all of our goals would be achieved by now.
Mindset is where I think most people get stuck.
Mindset is where I often got stuck. And still occasionally do. It just takes me less time now to get myself unstuck.
The mindset component, for me, anyway, has 2 main parts.
1. Staying Motivated
2. Facing My Fears (AKA Dealing With My Mental Shit)
If this were a math equation, it would look something like:
strategy + mindset (staying motivated + facing your fears) = achieving the goal
Or, if it was a family tree, startegy and mindset would be siblings.
Staying motivated and facing my fears would be mindset’s kids.
Anyway, you get the gist.
Running my business has done nothing if not place me face to face with my own shortcomings.
It’s relatively easy for me to get bogged down by my own brain.
I get stuck.
Stuff gets to me.
I get scared.
The path isn't always clear.
I think this is actually how our brains are designed.
They’re meant to keep us as safe and as comfortable as possible
We’re not made to be at a 10 on the enthusiasm scale at all times.
It’s not part of the human experience.
And I’d be willing to bet that, contrary to popular belief, it's managing our own minds, and not money or time-management, that is the biggest struggle that entrepreneurs contend with.
We have up and downs.
We have varying degrees of support.
Our brains have varying degrees of busy-ness, wackiness and messiness.
Yet we need a substantial dose of motivation, excitement and faith to propel ourselves and our businesses/projects forward.
To find solutions when they don’t seem obvious.
To keep going when we don’t feel like it.
To keep believing that our goals are achievable when, in fact, we’ve actually never achieved them.
To stay the course, and keep the faith.
So, last year, as I began to work on my goal, I started to realize: “Oh, this motivation thing is going to be an important part of this process. OK, good to know!”
So I began to look for ways to keep myself motivated so that, when motivation wasn’t coming to me naturally or organically, I could get it from outside sources.
And those sources kind of became my favourite part of this whole process.
They require minimal effort on my part.
All they ask of me is that I listen, read, watch or show up.
And yet they deliver, big time.
They turn my apathy into enthusiasm.
They offer a new perspective.
And that was a bit of a revelation for me: the realization that I didn’t need to be (nor is it realistic to expect that I be) a consistent fountain of strength and positivity.
That I could just be whatever version of me was showing up on any particular day and remind myself that that version of me can find what she needs - solutions, new perspectives, enthusiasm - from outside sources.
I realized that I wouldn't just magically have all of the answers but that I could find them if I was willing to look.
So I do that regularly.
I put motivational tools in the bank for rainy days, or in this case, for apathetic or jaded days.
If you’re committing to a goal, to entrepreneurship, I think you also have to commit to finding solutions to your sticky points.
And I’m certain that I wouldn’t have achieved my goal last year had I not consciously made a point of trying to stay motivated and to open my mind up to believing in possibilities that once felt impossible.
Because the more motivated I am, the more productive I am.
And the more productive I am, the closer I get to my goal.
And the closer I get to my goal, the more motivated I am.
The cycle feeds itself. But only if I’m motivated.
I do a lot of different things to try to keep mind on track and feeling optimistic.
Some days and weeks, I don’t need anything.
I’ve got plenty of good feels to go around.
But some days and weeks, I don’t.
So I rely on outside help.
And sometimes my tools and resources work better than others.
But I keep chipping away at them.
You may have your own resources. Or maybe, like me, you’re always on the hunt for more.
Either way, these are some of mine, in case any of them can serve you too.
Ugh. I’m tired of hearing about self-care, and I wish I could skip over it but I can’t so I’ll just be quick about it.
The truth is that, the less I take care of myself, the harder everything feels. Like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, right? When I don’t cover the basics - physically and emotionally - it’s very hard to show up for my business (or for anything) in a way that’s productive, let alone allows me to thrive.
Get enough sleep. Move my body. Have someone to talk to. Be kind to myself.
I’ll spare you all the details of how I try to care of myself but, suffice to say: I’m aiming for a healthy body and healthy mind - as much as possible, as best as I can.
That’s my step one.
2. Resources & Tools
OK, this is a big chunk. So get comfy.
I’m consistently and constantly seeking out resources and tools - on anything from marketing and money to self-help and psychology - that inspire me or simply make being a person in the world a little easier.
They’re essential to keeping me motivated.
Which is not to say that everything I consume in my attempt to stay motivated is helpful.
There are a lot people in the world offering “expert” advice but not all of them are meant for me. Or you. And, frankly, not all of them are even really experts.
I’ve listened to a lot of what turned out to be pretty ridiculous podcast episodes. Or read useless articles.
And I’ve gone down many rabbit holes of oh-this-person-seems-to-have-their-shit-together-let-me-consume-everything-they're-offering only to realize that their actual content was mostly smoke and mirrors. Or great marketing. Or just not my speed.
That said, when it comes to resources and tools, I try to keep an open mind, and give myself a chance to warm up to whoever is offering their opinion. And that means giving a chance to people even when my mind is saying that they’re too cheesy or over-the-top or precious or insert-your-favourite-judgmental-adjective-here.
I never know where nuggets of wisdom - the ones that cause a window to open in my brain - will come from.
Sometimes, it's from the most unlikely people and places.
And I try to keep in mind that even the worst podcasts can serve as examples or reminders of what I don’t want my business to be about.
Here are some of the resources and tools that have offered me the most insight.
The Life Coach School Podcast with Brooke Castillo
I can't begin to tell how I wish that this wasn’t my most frequently listened-to podcast.
It’s not cool, hip or arty by any stretch of the imagination.
In fact, I find myself rolling my eyes at a lot of what Brooke says or at how she says it.
But, man, I can’t deny that this podcast has blown my mind open to a ton of new perspectives, and allowed me to see things in ways that I hadn’t previously considered.
I‘d even go so far as to say that I don’t even think I’d have set (let alone reached) my goal were it not for this podcast.
And though Brooke’s unwavering belief in herself and her business are at times over-the-top, I also find them contagious.
And, quite simply, listening to this podcast often leaves me feeling inspired and incredibly hopeful.
It’s not for everyone. And expect that you may do some eye-rolling, but it’s helped me a lot and, if you’re curious, try starting with the very first episode and seeing how you feel about it.
Episode to start with:
Why You Aren’t Taking Action
Online Marketing Made Easy with Amy Porterfield
I discovered Amy Porterfield through Brooke Castillo’s podcast (see above) and, again, she’s not exactly my style, but frankly, I don’t care where wisdom comes from so long as it comes to me. Amy Porterfield teaches business owners and entrepreneurs how to build email lists, create online courses and use online marketing strategies to sell their products. A lot of what she teaches doesn't even apply to my business but, again, I find her enthusiasm contagious, and I’ve gotten great ideas and been really motivated by a lot of her episodes.
Episode to start with:
Why You Aren’t Taking Action
(yep, same name as above but not the same content - it’s an interview with Brooke Castillo)
You Are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth by Jen Sincero
The name of this book makes me cringe. My face is literally scrunched up as I type this. But I heard the author, Jen Sincero, interviewed on Good Life Project podcast last spring, and what she talked about resonated with me so I bought the audio version of her book. And, as it turns out, despite my aversion to its title, this book is what helped me get comfortable with the idea of making financial and business goals, and bringing abundance into my life.
Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
This is a book about creativity, not business, money or achieving goals. But because I do creative work, the areas in which I sometimes get stuck are creative ones. I actually read this book 2 years ago but I highly recommend it to anyone doing creative work. Liz Gilbert also made 2 seasons of a podcast based on this book, which are equally interesting, and which I also recommend.
Strengths Finder 2.0 by Gallop
I have a coach (more on her shortly) and she recommended this book. It comes with a quiz that you take online. And I know that there are a lot of these kinds of tools out there, and a lot quizzes that you can take that will tell you what your strengths are, and I’ve done many of them, but I found this one particularly useful and accurate. And knowing what my strengths are has helped me move forward in a more focused way. Because of this book, I spend less time focusing on the qualities I don’t have, and figure out more ways to use the ones I do have.
How to Find Your Voice & How to Be Brave by James Victore
Out of everyone I follow, James Victore is probably the coolest.
Again, his work is geared to people doing creative work.
I’ve only ever paid for 2 webinars in my life and both were his.
I discovered him a few years ago in a Like Knows Like video and have been following him ever since.
He’s unknowingly helped me out of more than one creative rut and his webinars are chock full of helpful nuggets for getting unstuck, and propelling your creative self forward.
“Spirit first. Technique later.”
“There is no wrong way.”
“You make yourself worthy."
Again, as with some of the other “experts” I follow, there are aspects of Marie Forleo’s videos that I don’t entirely connect with but there are enough parts that do jive with me that make regularly checking in with her worth my while.
“Double down on what you’re good at.”
My good friend Laurie is a coach. And I lucked out because, when she was doing her coach training and needed to practice her skills, I offered to be one of her guinea pigs. That was 7 years ago now, back when I was a hairdresser and salon-owner in Montreal. Laurie is still my coach (and friend), and her wisdom and insight have been invaluable to me. She’s an AMAZING coach, and I’m constantly blown away by her ability to bring clarity and solutions to the issues that previously felt confusing or messy to me.
I realize that having a coach isn’t financially accessible to everyone but I do think that when you’re an entrepreneur, doing creative work, or trying to achieve a goal, you’re inevitably going to come up against some tough stuff - issues, blocks, shortcomings - and it’s incredibly helpful to have a go-to person to help you work through those challenges. Someone you can get into specifics with. Someone who’ll get into the weeds and the muck and the messy parts of your business (or your mind) with you. And you can't get that from a podcast or a book.
Another advantage of having a coach: shit gets done.
Someone is holding up a mirror to your work.
Someone is noticing when you’re not doing what you said you wanted to do.
And someone’s there to help you figure out why you're not moving forward.
If you can’t afford a coach, or you can’t afford one right now, maybe you can find a friend, another small business owner or someone else who’s trying to achieve a goal, and be biz buddies/goal buddies/accountability buddies, and make a plan to check in with each other regularly.
Or maybe consider finding a coach but only using them when you’re really stuck.
That’s actually how I use my coach now.
I tend to only reach out to Laurie when I’m really stuck, which is a few times a year.
And maybe paying someone for the few times when you’re really stuck is worth the investment.
Frankly, I think it is.
Your small business is a business, after all. And by that I mean that it’s great to be resourceful and do as much as we can on our own but it’s also our responsibility to move the train forward, and investing in certain areas is part of that process.
I’ve got a boatload of more resources, and perhaps I’ll do a second part at some point, but these are my main jams.
If you’ve got a great resource that’s helped you, don’t hold back, pal! Share it in the comments below.
Or if you’ve got a question, ask away!