Motivation. Ambition. Avoiding procrastination. Feeling accomplished. Productivity.
Are these feelings as fleeting for you as they are for me?
As I enter my six month of self-employment, I’ve had to come up with some new ways to keep myself motivated and to continue to work towards my goals. A year ago, if I gave myself a slack day, I would still come home with the same paycheck as the previous week. Now, if I don’t get work done, I don’t make money at all. If that’s not a motivator in itself, I don’t know what is.
However, in the moments when you feel like you’re spinning your wheels or when you’d just rather take a nap, what keeps you going? It’s easy when you land the client or when you send your invoice out, but what about all of those other mundane moments?
The idea of setting goals is not foreign to me. However, the idea of working towards them is. Goals for me were always somewhat attainable – graduate college, get a job, buy a house. These may have taken longer than expected, but they happened. The reason? I was intentional about them. And they probably would have happened faster had I tracked my progress along the way.
Goal tracking is now one of my favorite things to do.
Each month, I write down a list of things I want to accomplish in the next four weeks. I get really specific…and I include every single aspect of my life. Here’s an example of my goals for the month of July:
- Land two new clients
- Be set up to earn $5,000 in August
- Write one blog post each Wednesday
- Grow my email list by 10%
Simple and Inspired
- Grow pageviews by 10% of last month
- Grow Instagram to over 3000 followers
- Get one new partnership with a brand
- Get Finn enrolled in preschool
- Get Reese to take a bottle
- Be patient and rational
- Stick to marathon training
- Drink water
- Stay within budget
- Pay off next debt
- Be an excellent wife
- Read new book
I have these goals written down in my monthly planner. Every morning I revisit them. I check in to see if I’ve made any progress or accomplished any. I then create a list for my day based on my monthly goals. This list is a to-do of sorts that will help get me closer to achieving the goals. Sometimes, the goal has an actionable item, other times, it causes me to pause and think first. Either way, I make sure that by month’s end, I’ve accomplished as much, if not all, of the items on my list.
Being accountable for these goals is solely up to me. And truly, if I don’t feel like it, then I don’t need to do anything. But where’s the fun in that?
In addition to monthly goals, I have my yearly goals, five year goals and even ten year goals. When I first decided to become self-employed, I read a lot of professional development books that encouraged me to do this. I started “dreaming in HD” and writing down my future as specifically as I can think of it! It sounds corny, but it’s actually fun to do. I know each day, my small list of five items gets me closer to each of those bigger goals, and that’s pretty exciting, too.
Set the Scene
When I’m not feeling motivated by my goals alone, I like to set the scene. This usually consists of a big cup of coffee, a snack, some familiar music, and a table and chair with a back on it. A simple change of scenery does my mind good.
I like to diffuse my essenital oils – usually motivation or a citrus blend – and set a timer for 20 minutes. I dive into work for that amount of time, and usually, when the timer is up, I’m so engulfed in what I’m doing I continue to be productive. It’s a little mind trick I play on myself! I do it when I go running, too. I tell myself that if I just get a little bit further, I can stop to run. But by the time I get further, I want to keep going to see how much more I can run!
This may seem counter intuitive, but nothing makes me more productive than a day of rest. Sometimes, I beat myself up so much just to get something accomplished, that I stress out and get absolutely nothing done instead. However, after a day of resting and not thinking about work, one of two things happen: either I feel guilty that I didn’t get work done and work harder to make up for it, or I feel refreshed and focused and ready to take on anything!
What are you tips for staying motivated?