As business owners, we have to be self-motivated. But what happens when we lose it?
Being bored or getting too comfortable, burned out, or scared of the next level can hold you back from finding that motivation. There are no rules for motivation and everyone is motivated by different things.
I think a key to staying motivated is knowing WHAT you are motivated by.
The Pain/Pleasure Principle by Sigmund Freud says that we are motivated by either pain or pleasure. Pain as a motivator is also viewed as the extreme need for change. These are devastating, unbearable, rock-bottom kinds of situations. For example, battling health issues, making a lifestyle change, having to take profound action in your business in order to pay for rent, etc.
Pleasure, on the other hand, is the extreme limitless desire for change. What is actually possible in the world and using that for motivation. For example, the motivator of retiring with a partner, buying a house for a parent, traveling the world.
Before I did Quill & Co, I was working at a design agency and had decided that I was going to quit. Every day after that though became so unbearable. I was so unfulfilled and miserable that the only option was to make that desire to quit a reality. And the one thing that kept coming up for me, is that I was heavily motivated by pain.
I remember when I first truly discovered what motivated me. I was listening to a Facebook Live by Emma Natter and how she was motivated by pain. For her, the thought of Trump winning the election was so unbearable that she vowed to herself that if she didn’t reach her goals, she was going to mail a check to the Trump campaign.
This stuck out to me because she was so aware of her motivation AND was creative in making a way that fit her motivation.
While I don’t know, if you’re like me, and are motivated by pain, you need to always create painful situations in order to find your motivation. That doesn’t feel sustainable. I’ve been trying to tap more into that dreamy state. Focusing on what COULD be and on what IS possible.
Admittedly, my life is pretty great. I think past me would be in shock that this is my life now. I work for myself. The work that I get to do every day lights me up. I have two amazing team members that support me. I just bought my dream house. I have an amazing partner.
I’m currently in a stage where it’s so hard for me to find motivation when my current situation is really freaking nice and when I am mostly motivated by pain.
I’ve been reflecting a lot on what that dreamy future state looks like for me and for Quill & Co and how I can bring that into my motivation.
So what does my dream future state look like you ask? Here are some things I mapped out for myself as motivators.
I’m finding motivation can be a cycle. Maybe when first starting a business, it’s motivated in changing your current situation. I think for me it will always be changing.
So if you’re wanting to tap more into finding your motivation I have an exercise to share with you.
To get to the next level, or your next desired level of joy/delight, you have to go out of your comfort zone. Which, in turn, can put you in a place of short-term pain.
I want to share with you this exercise I’ve been using to rediscover my motivation and what I use when making big decisions or scary ones.
The Dickens Process: an NLP technique that’s made popular by Tony Robins
This process gets its name from Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol,” in which Scrooge is visited by ghosts showing him his past, present, and future.
First, you must identify the goal. What do you want? What do you actually want? I think a lot of times we can stuck on what we DON’T want but aren’t really clear and what we truly want.
Think about WHY you want to achieve that goal.
“If the WHY is big enough, You will always find a HOW”. If your motivation is so strong, your success in getting that is inevitable.
Now, compare what your current situation is to what your future situation would be (the goal outcome).
Notice your feelings! Do you notice the pain of staying in your current situation? And the joy of what your future situation would be? If you’re feeling stagnant you might be motivated by pain.
When something is so unbearable or the thought of staying in the current situation just isn’t an option anymore.
What I want you to know now, is that if you feel like you’ve lost your motivation are you’re trying to rediscover it, or you’re in a period of change, that you’re not alone.
I think it’s a cycle that we’re always going through. We go through push cycles where we feel motivated and have higher energy and then we have cycles of lower energy. And there is really nothing wrong with either. There is a time and place for both. I hope that this exercise is something that you can come back to and revisit whenever you need to make a big decision or go through a time of change. I hope that it’s something that you can do and find some clarity through the process.