Why It Can Be Difficult to Stay Motivated As an Entrepreneur (And What You Can Do About It)
It’s the big dream, the ultimate dream for so many people. The visual goes a little something like this. After X amount of years, it’s time to put in the notice at the good ole’ 9-5 and jump out of bed every morning ready to start the day and work for numero uno. No more early morning alarm clocks, no more deadlines, cubicles, or fire-breathing bosses. Total freedom.
However, there are a couple things that nobody tells you before embarking on your own. In fact, there are some glaringly huge things that nobody is prepared for, nobody has any idea they’re going to run into, and it’s mostly a total surprise. (But maybe that’s just part of the fun…) Here are the real reasons of why it’s hard to stay motivated as an entrepreneur.
There Are No More “Rules”
Exiting a 9-5 is completely new territory. There’s no more commute, no boss, no hierarchy of command, no list of “here’s what you must do to achieve xyz result.” And while it’s easy to snub our noses at a boss or find something to complain about in that situation while you’re in it, there’s also one vital thing it offers that disappears when you leave that world: certainty and direction. Because without that chain of command, those rules, that knowing exactly what is needed to receive that paycheck every week, now we are in charge of supplying that certainty and direction. And for many of us, we’re just not used to that, and it takes a while to learn how to hold onto those reins without wishing someone else would just swoop in with a life preserver and tell us exactly what to do.
There Is No More Negative Motivation
For many people who have that desire to branch off and go out on their own, it’s also a desire to get away from the negative aspects of a current situation they’re in. It’s about getting away from a source of pain. In our day to day lives, so many of us are deeply fueled the most by negative motivation. We do things so that xyz doesn’t happen.
In work terms, this might look like:
Doing a project at work because our boss told us to. If we don’t do it, we might lose our job.
Hurrying through traffic because if we’re late, we’ll get reprimanded.
Spending all day working on a task only because we have to, not because we want to.
Being productive only under extreme pressure.
If we don’t do abc, then xyz may happen. Therefore we must do abc.
This is a style of motivation based on fear and pressure, and it can be very powerful. Motivation in itself is a very primal instinct to keep away from threats. For example being motivated to find food so we don’t starve, motivated to rescue a child if they’re in danger, motivated to run if there’s an attacker, motivated to ask for help when we need it. Motivation is powerful. But just like adrenaline, or willpower, it only has a short term of effect. It’s all getting away from danger.
It’s hard to stay motivated as an entrepreneur because the essence of motivation doesn’t match the reason why we wanted to become one in the first place.
When that negative motivation stops, and there’s no more boss, no more “have-to’s” no more list of what to do, so many of us suddenly just don’t know how to work. It’s so unlike anything we’re used to that we don’t know how to get things done. The script has been flipped, and for most of us, it’s brand new territory.
Now, suddenly it’s not what do you have to do, but what do you want to do? This is the very reason why folks start their own business ventures anyway, but when faced with this simple question, it’s a complete paradigm shift.
It’s about living not by motivation all of the time, but inspiration. And for so many of us, we have never fully lived that way before.
Living By Inspiration
Now this is not a paradigm shift that is solely for entrepreneurs, anybody can adopt this way of living and working! However it took me a while to begin to unravel the patterns and paradigms that I was carrying over from my former work life into my new projects. Finally I was able to see everything I had done in my own business that was done out of negative motivation. I wasn’t even conscious of the fact that I was still working that way! From there I realized I needed to follow the inspiration and completely change the way I approached life and work. Instead of following a script or an internet guru’s advice, I asked myself, what do I want to work on? What do I want to post on Instagram? How do I want to blog? How do I want to run this thing? What is inspiring me right now? What inspiration have I been ignoring? Let’s do that.
Total paradigm shift, man
Instead of Motivation, Look for Inspiration
Instead of looking for motivation as an entrepreneur, look instead at how you’re treating your business, what your business is, and what is inspiring you right now. Follow that trail of inspiration.
A few key rules for inspiration
Let your business change.
Work within your passions and skills.
Start small, then expand.
Follow the energy. Your business has an energy just like everything else. Follow it. Follow your inspired actions. Look at what is peaking your interest right now. That’s what you should be working on. If your business has stagnated that’s a sign that it wants to change - let it.
Work within your zone of genius. We all have a zone of genius. Your skills and passions are unlike anyone else’s. And your passions and skills will weave together in perfect harmony. You will do things in a way that no one else will and in a way that no one else can fully replicate. Own it.
Creativity comes from constraint. Unlock a flood of creative ideas by going small. Get narrow with your focus. Don’t know what to narrow in on? Ask yourself “If all of this was taken care of, done, and I didn’t have to worry about it anymore… what then would I finally be working on?” Follow the “finally,” because that’s it. Do this when picking a niche, when selecting what to sell, or choosing what to share on a blog or social media. Boom. Done.
Allow Yourself Time to Acclimate
Just like getting in a hot tub, it takes a minute to get used to the water. It’s a little messy, it’s not super pretty, and it’s just a process. But it’s hot tub, so it’s amazing! So don’t let the acclimation part keep you from sinking in fully and enjoying the spa. If you’re have a hard time staying on top of things as an entrepreneur, especially with feeling calm, comfortable, and secure in your direction, maybe it’s time to shift gears, find that inspiration, and then all of those decisions will become much more clear.