‘Tis the season… it’s hard to stay motivated on your entrepreneurial tasks during the holidays, don’t you agree? If you find your motivation slipping away as the egg nog and cookies flow, you’re not alone. As entrepreneurs — especially solopreneurs — we need to keep our motivation high and our written content flowing (if we’re writers, that is!) Regardless of your industry, you need to keep plugging away and keep your clients top of mind so they will still be with you once the rush of the holiday season has passed.
How can you make certain you stay motivated? One way is to make certain that your work duties are ingrained habits. Consider the fact that you brush your teeth every day, eat meals and walk the dog; these are habits and you do them without much forethought. You need to make certain that your work habits become just that — habits — ingrained into your daily routine.
How can you make a habit?
Consider what it is you do in your career every day and write those items down. If it helps, assign a time frame to them. For example: Answer emails at 10 am; call on potential clients at 1 pm, etc. Making a task a habit is easier if you put a time to it. Hint, it also helps when you are specific. Instead of saying, “I will call on potential clients,” you’ve become specific with, “At 1 pm I will reach out to potential clients.” Now you have given that a measurable time frame.
What? You shouldn’t be making HUGE resolutions? I want to lose 50 pounds. I need to bring in 100 new clients. I am going to write an ebook. All great goals, but if you take them as a whole, they are kind of daunting. Why not say, “I want to lose 50 pounds by the end of 2015.” With that goal you can then put small steps in place to achieve that goal — ie, you will commit to losing X number of pounds per month to reach your ultimate weight goal. If you want to bring in 100 new clients, break that goal down to X number of new clients this year, then this month and finally, this week.
Be prepared to be uncomfortable
Writing your goals down on paper — and perhaps seeing what you have not accomplished previously may make you uncomfortable and that’s all right. You’re making a decision today to drive toward those goals and make them a reality. Yay, for you! Remember, too that there might be days when you don’t achieve what you’ve set out to, but that doesn’t mean you need to throw in the towel — pick yourself up, dust yourself off and determine why you didn’t meet your goal. Was it too lofty? Did you need input from an outside source that you didn’t receive in order to make it happen? If you can determine the root cause, you can put a new plan in place.
Plan for those out of your control days
Let’s face it, life does not go according to plan. I certainly didn’t have a contingency plan for my business when I was diagnosed with breast cancer and there was no room in my daily work schedule for all of the oncologist, radiologist and surgeon appointments that followed. I was spinning out of control for a while even though I kept up a brave face to the outside world and with my clients. Behind the scenes though I scrambled to adjust my calendar and make it all work. What I discovered during that time is that I need to build a cushion into my daily schedule. Again, I couldn’t have prepared and didn’t have enough of a cushion to prepare for a week in intensive care following my surgery, but now I build at least an hour a day of a cushion. I just never know when a client may want an impromptu phone call, or need a press release or some other piece of written marketing that we hadn’t originally discussed. Now, with my cushion, I can add that new item to my to-do list and know that it won’t throw everything out of whack.
Know your rhythms
I wouldn’t ever plan to have to write blog posts or other written marketing materials at 5 pm; that is not my high energy, most productive time of the day. Writing at 6 or 7 am — I am all over that. In the mornings — before noon — are the times when I work on my most difficult or mentally intensive tasks because that is when my brain is firing on all cylinders. My after-noon hours are spent on tasks that are semi-mindless and on those that don’t require high levels of creativity. Take some time to listen to your own rhythms and determine your best time of day. A colleague of mine, Tabitha Dumas, started a Night Owls Who Give A Hoot Facebook page for those, like her, who live for the late hours. She understands her rhythms.
Being consistent will not make you dull — it will make you productive! Being consistent doesn’t mean you aren’t open to a curve ball or two, but it does mean you have a plan in place for getting things done!
Give yourself a break
If something isn’t working, stop, determine why and chart a new course. Don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t appear to be coming together as you thought it would. Sometimes life happens or a goal might not have been within your wheelhouse or your grasp, be willing to embrace that and start over if necessary.