Motivation is a tricky beast; it never seems to be there when you need it! When you’re self employed, or working hard to build a business that can liberate you from your job, you need motivation – and you need it in bucketloads. How do you stay motivated though, when times get tough or apathy sets in, and a night on the sofa watching bad reality shows seems much more appealing?

Here are 12 tips to help you maintain your motivation and achieve your goals:

● Keep reminding yourself of your goal. I read in a book recently about a coach who had athletes write their goals down on a business card, and to keep it within arm’s reach at all times – then any time they wavered they were able to remind themselves of their goals. It might seem like overkill, but placing reminders of your goals all over the place can actually help you to stay motivated when times are tough. You don’t need to write out your goals and stick them on the walls everywhere; a photo or postcard can work just as well. And don’t only put them next to your work space, because when motivation deserts you, your desk will be the last place you’re visiting. Put them on the fridge; on your bedside table; on the bathroom mirror. Anywhere in your house that you spend time… and of course, a business card stuck to the back of your mobile (which surely never leaves your side) is also a great idea.

● Channel Mel Robbins. Mel Robbins came up with this idea of the “5 Second Rule.” Not the one where you can pick food up off the floor though! This one is about not giving yourself a chance to over-analyse or procrastinate or talk yourself out of it. The idea is that as soon as you think “I need to make that call” you just count down to yourself: 5,4,3,2,1. And then you do it. Without hesitation. This is a great way to force yourself out of bed in the mornings if your alarm is not your friend. It’s great if you’re a bit nervous about phone calls. It’s great if you are the champion of all procrastinators – though I will fight you for that particular crown, and I will win.

● Make it easy. If I put “write blog for X client” on my to-do list, it can be a paralysing job that ends up being bumped to the next day, and the next, and the next – until I’m right on deadline and it needs to be done within an hour. On the other hand, if I write “write blog about exercise and weight loss for X client; use notes in Evernote” on my to-do list, I can do that right away. I know what I need to do, and I know what I need to help me. Whatever it is you need to get done, make sure you write it down clearly on your to-do list, so that your mind doesn’t get tripped up on trying to figure out the detail.

● Baby steps. If the item at the top of your to-do list is “redesign website” your poor brain will panic at the sheer enormity of the task, and tell you to go and tidy the paperclips instead. For each task like that, take a piece of paper and list out every sub-task you need to do. In this example that might be organising new head shots, deciding on a colour scheme, finding someone to help you with the banner on your site, writing copy for the individual pages, sorting out the webstore side of it… and so on. Make each one of those an individual item, and put a couple of these on your to-do list for each day. Take baby steps towards the big job, and the big job will be done much more quickly.

● Make your bed. Wait, what? Yes. I really did just tell you to make your bed. If you didn’t make your bed when you got up this morning, stop reading this and go make it right now. Making your bed in the morning – preferably as soon as you climb out of it – gives you a sense of satisfaction that even if you get nothing else done.

● Meditate. Meditation is one of the rare things you can do that has only positive effects. A daily meditation practice – even if it’s only for ten minutes per day – can make a massive difference to your mindset and your motivation, in all areas of your life. There’s a fantastic app called Insight Timer which will time your meditation and track your progress, giving you a little gold star for every ten days in a row you meditate. Never underestimate the positive effect of getting a gold star, especially if you meditate first thing in the morning. It’s another one of those things that can really help you to start your day in the right way.

● Have a robust morning routine. A morning routine is a great way to start your day and make sure you’re motivated to achieve great things. Set your alarm just a few minutes earlier to start with, and add in things like meditation, reading a self development book, exercise or movement of some kind, journaling, affirmations or visualisations. Everyone’s morning routine looks different, but it’s worth seeing what other people do in order to get some inspiration. Even if you just spend five minutes doing a few stretches, it’s a better way to start your day than by immediately checking your Facebook notifications and will help you to maintain a positive, motivated mindset.

● Keep track of what you’ve done. A great way to stay motivated is to keep track of how far you have come – both overall, and on a day to day basis. An app like Timehop, which shows you your social media entries from previous years can be great for reminding you how far you’ve come (if you posted anything relevant to your business on there) but on a day to day basis, writing down the things you’ve done – even the ones that weren’t on your original to-do list – can keep you motivated to get more done. As a freelancer, I find it motivating to keep a separate running total of how much money I’ve earned in a day as well.

● Take time off. We can all suffer from burnout from time to time, and feel really fed up and unmotivated. You can try to push on through, and you may well manage to get some work done – but it’s better for you in the long run if you just give yourself a break. Take some time off – whether that’s an hour, a day or a whole week – and regroup. Relax; do the things you don’t normally have time for. You’ll usually find that by the time you return to work you’re buzzing with motivation and new ideas.

● Set rewards. When Lara Morgan first started out in business, she would set herself the target of making 100 sales calls, before she allowed herself to go out and get a cup of tea. You might think that’s a bit extreme – but she did eventually sell that business for £20 million! Whatever you need to do, promise yourself that once you’ve done a morning of solid work or finished a particularly large job, you can have a reward. Your inner child will respond well to this!

● Get some accountability. Find a friend who is in a similar position to you, and set weekly goals with each other. You can’t pick just anyone for this; it needs to be someone who will genuinely hold you accountable, and who will tell you off if you don’t do what you say you will. A quick weekly meeting to say “this is what I’m going to get done; how about you” can work wonders for both of you in staying motivated through the week. If you don’t have someone you can do this with, an alternative is to tell your partner or even your children: I am going to do this before next week, and if I don’t I will pay you £10/let you choose dinners for the week/clean your bedroom for you. Whatever it takes to ensure you are motivated to do it, and they are motivated to hold you accountable!

● Get enough sleep. Another one that might sound strange in a post about motivation, but a good sleep routine where you regularly get a good night’s sleep can work wonders for your mood overall, and for your motivation. With the best will in the world, we are all hard pushed to stay motivated on a day where we’ve only had 3 hours’ sleep. Prioritise your sleep routine and ensure you get enough good quality sleep every single night; it will pay dividends when it comes to sitting down for work.

Do you need help with blogging or copy for your website? Visit Vicky’s website for more details: www.vickycharles.com

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