Assignments pile up. A call gets added to your calendar. (Another) Slack ping. All the while, you stare at the clock, hoping your brain kicks into overdrive soon.
But don’t stress — we’ve all been there.
In fact, 85% of workers lack motivation at work. But, like most skills, you can learn how to get motivated as an entrepreneur. Your business cannot survive on the ebbs and flows of your motivation. By taking time to understand what energizes (and saps) you in business, you can increase your productivity, heighten your creativity, and more.
Table of contents:
Why is motivation important?
Motivation drives you to act on and achieve your goals. Whether it comes from within or outside, your motivation determines your ability to:
- Produce high-quality work
- Finish assignments on time
- Mitigate procrastination
- Push through difficult work
In the workplace, research demonstrates the critical role of motivation in employee happiness and performance:
- Employees improve work performance by 20% when motivated
- Engaged teams drive a 21% increase in profitability
- Companies with motivated workers see 27% higher profits
Motivation falls into two buckets: extrinsic and intrinsic.
Extrinsic motivation includes external factors that influence your motivation. This includes outside rewards, such as the promise of money, material possessions, fame, and so on.
Intrinsic motivation centers on internal factors that affect your motivation. This means motivation comes to you because you enjoy the work and find it fulfilling.
Both extrinsic and intrinsic motivation matter for cranking out tasks and reaching your goals. You can improve both aspects of your motivation by trying out different strategies.
How To Get More Motivated
1. Set SMART goals, not tasks
Research found that 76% of those who write down their goals, include actionable and goal-driven tasks, and report progress to friends achieve their goals — 33% higher than those who didn’t.
SMART goals provide a framework for better goal setting. The popular acronym stands for:
- Specific: Include the nitty-gritty details of your goal
- Measurable: Attach metrics to measure progress
- Attainable: Set goals you and your team can realistically achieve
- Relevant: Ensure your goal aligns with your mission and overall objectives
- Time bound: Set a time frame or deadline
By writing down your goals, you feel more confident and motivated to approach them.
2. Reward yourself appropriately
Giving yourself rewards may sound silly. After all, if you can eat the cake now, why wait? But the way your brain works makes giving yourself rewards a powerful motivator. Consider the way it works:
- You create a reward for yourself
- You finish the task
- You receive the reward
- Your brain associates finishing the task with the reward, creating a positive association
So, if you’re struggling to build motivation, think of different ways to reward yourself. This might mean taking a walk, going to see a movie, hanging out with friends — whatever makes your brain tick.
3. Try loss aversion
When people lose something, they feel it more strongly than when they gain something. Economists refer to this as loss aversion, an economic concept that demonstrates the powerful influence of loss.
Similar to rewarding yourself, you can set an appropriate loss in the event you fail to finish a task such as:
- Donating money to charity
- Reducing time spent on a hobby
- Spending more hours working
4. Use time management apps
Sometimes, manually blocking out your calendar can feel sluggish. Time management apps can reduce the strain of allocating time for certain assignments, making it easier to get started and retain your motivation.
5. Talk to those who inspire you
When you see someone inspiring, you often want to mirror their behaviors. So, if you find yourself drained, try setting up a coffee chat with a professional you look up to. This might include a current or former colleague you admire, another business owner in your industry, a teacher — anyone you take inspiration from can help motivate you.
6. Tell the right person about your goals
In recent studies, psychologists proved telling the right person about your goals ups your motivation. This means finding someone you respect and admire and telling them your objectives. Your mind recognizes the standing of the individual and, in turn, strives to impress them by fulfilling said goals.
7. Find a community of entrepreneurs
Working together can inspire you in your individual goals. Even if you’re a solopreneur, finding a community of like-minded business owners can increase your motivation. Consider joining communities on:
- Reddit, such as r/Entrepreneur, r/SmallBusiness, and r/Startups
- LinkedIn, such as Entrepreneur’s Network, Impact Entrepreneur, and Small Business Innovators
- Facebook, such as Trends, StartupTalky, and Women in Business
8. Do at least a little bit every day
Setting goals can feel overwhelming. To motivate yourself to tackle them, start by committing to do a little bit every day. If you want to network more, start by sending out two emails per day. Then, as you get more comfortable, increase it, and so on.
As you complete these smaller steps, you’ll gradually feel more motivated to tackle bigger ones.
9. Make a to-do list
If you need to complete a few tasks, to-do lists can help you get started. Simple but effective, to-do lists give you a solid foundation to work through assignments. But remember to keep them relatively short — too many tasks can make to-do lists overwhelming.
10. Break down difficult tasks into smaller chunks
Planning big tasks, such as product launches or project management, requires breaking down big-picture items into smaller tasks. Otherwise, the prospect of navigating so many moving parts demotivates you.
Instead, start by writing out high-level goals — say, launch a product extension by the end of the year. Then go down a level — developing the code, building the prototype, and writing marketing copy. Continue breaking down these tasks until you have actionable tasks.
11. Get rid of distractions
It’s no surprise 84% of employees feel distracted at work. Your phone buzzes, a dog barks outside, you hear a colleague talking. Whatever the cause, distractions break your flow and stifle your motivation.
To get rid of distractions, first identify them. Then, think of ways to silence them or take them out of your workspace. Try:
- Turning off your phone
- Wearing noise-canceling headphones
- Closing unnecessary tabs
12. Take breaks
Six in 10 entrepreneurs have suffered from burnout, or feelings of exhaustion caused by overwork. To keep your motivation and productivity high, studies recommend taking breaks. Even if you feel motivated to work for hours without stopping, create time for breaks as burnout often sneaks up on you.
13. Decorate your workspace
An unwelcoming workplace will negatively affect your motivation. So, whether you work at home or in an office, decorate your space by:
- Hanging photos
- Adding colorful decorations
- Growing plants
When creating a custom workspace, you feel more comfortable and therefore motivated.
14. Work with a mentor
97% of professionals with a mentor regard the partnership as valuable. Not only can mentors make you feel more committed to your work, but also they can:
- Help you build out strong goals
- Guide you on how to get through your tasks
- Provide you with resources
“Good coaches and mentors can help fast-track your success in ways you simply cannot do alone,” explains career coach Nicole Kirby. “By sharing their experience, they can get you to your goals faster with more ease and more enjoyment.”
15. Celebrate small victories
Celebrating huge wins feels great. But how often do you get to do that? Instead, try celebrating small victories — those moments when you finish day-to-day tasks and parts of a larger project. Doing this inputs positivity as you progress toward your larger goals, which can increase your motivation and stamina to reach them.
“In my opinion, there are no wins too small,” says Kirby. “When we are busy working on and in our businesses, we can easily lose sight of the strides we are making.”
16. Practice healthier habits
Outside of work, practicing healthier habits can help you feel more motivated. This includes:
- Getting an appropriate amount of sleep every night
- Eating healthier meals, such as ones with vegetables and fruits
- Exercising regularly
When you build healthier habits into your lifestyle, you feel less stressed, less tired, and more motivated.
17. Start your day right
Over nine in 10 individuals with a morning routine feel highly productive. Starting your day right can set you up for a productive workday. You can improve your morning routine by:
- Drinking water when you first wake up
- Making your bed
- Waking up at a consistent time
- Stretching your body
By doing these activities in the morning, you create a positive attitude as you start working through the day.