So you’ve set your 2020 goals, poured your coffee, blocked off a few hours to work on your business but now, all of a sudden, you can’t bring yourself to start. Instead, you check your email for the 100th time or make double sure you replied to that Instagram comment.
One of the biggest challenges entrepreneurs face is the fact that they are on their own to find the motivation to move the business forward. Especially in the early stages, it can be hard to figure out where to start, create a plan and then actually carry out that plan.
Since starting my business in 2016 I have spent a lot of time trying out different strategies to help me stay focused and motivated. Here are the top 5 things that have worked for me.
Replace limiting beliefs
I am going to start with the hardest one because it is the most important… Gary Keller, in his book The One Thing, asks “What’s the one thing you can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”. I guarantee limiting beliefs fit into that category.
What are limiting beliefs?
Limiting beliefs are internalized ideas or thought patterns that guide how we make decisions. Often times you have lived with this thought pattern for so long that it feels like a fact rather than a belief. An example of a limiting belief could be money is the root of all evil or I am not creative.
How can I identify limiting beliefs?
The easiest way to identify where you might have a limiting belief is to take a look at your current situation. Break your life down into segments such as finances, health, relationships, fun, growth, and service. Then measure how you feel you are doing in each of these areas. Some areas are easier to measure than others but try to pay attention to the underlying emotion you feel about each segment.
Let’s use finances as an example because they are easier to measure. If you are not happy where you are financially, and you are not doing anything to change it, you can bet you have a limiting belief surrounding money. Make a list of ideas you have about money and why you do not have enough of it. Here are some examples to get you started.
- It’s hard to make a living as an educator.
- I choose to be happy over wealthy.
- In order to be rich, you have to cheat the system.
- Money causes more problems than it does solutions.
It might be beneficial at this point to put some context around your limiting beliefs. Where did these thoughts and ideas come from? Can you picture your parents saying some of these very things that you now take to be true?
How can I eliminate limiting beliefs?
Usually, you have been carrying these beliefs around for a long time, possibly your whole life. You have made a lot of decisions based on these beliefs and your life has changed because of them. The natural tendency of your ego is going to be to defend these beliefs. Without trying very hard I am sure you can identify 10+ examples of why each one is true. So how can you get rid of something you believe so completely? Try starting with these questions.
- Can I identify one time where this belief was not true?
- Do I know for certain this is true?
- Does everyone believe this is true?
- Where did I learn this?
- What if it was not true?
- What if the opposite were true?
How do I replace my limiting beliefs?
This is where the real fun starts. The most powerful exercise I have found to replace limiting beliefs was actually presented at Tony Robbins’ ‘Unleashing the Power Within’ seminar. He calls the exercise The Dickens Pattern (named after Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol). It is a simple 30-minute exercise but it has the huge goal of changing your core beliefs. Here is how it works.
The Dickens Pattern:
Block off 30 minutes of time and find somewhere you can sit with your eyes closed without distraction. Close your eyes, focus on breathing and try to settle your mind as much as you can. The whole process is broken down into 5 minutes steps.
Think about your first limiting belief and where you might have first learned it. Go back in time and visualize your parents, or teacher or wherever this belief first came into your life. What were you doing, how did it feel? Go through other times in your life where this belief came up. Picture them as if you are there, feel them, explore the outcome. Really focus in on how it feels to belive this thought or idea with your whole being.
Start thinking about your present situation. What are the issues you are facing today? What goals do you have that you have not yet met? How is this belief shaping your current situation? Look at how this belief is currently shaping your reality, what you are focusing on and how you feel.
Look into the future. How is this belief shaping your goals, what you plan to do and your dreams for life? What does your future look like if this belief never changes? Really take time to feel what it would be like to be you with another 5 or 10 years of this belief. How has this belief impacted your family, business and mental health? This step will probably hurt.
Oh, sweet relief. By this point, you should truly be feeling the weight of your limiting belief. Now visualize a little time machine and go back to your past, present, and future. Only this time replace your limiting belief with your new empowering belief. If you were focusing on money you can replace rich people are greedy with the new belief money allows me to help more people or if you were focused on the fact that you are too old to start something new you can replace that with I am the perfect person to do this because of all of my experience.
Focus on how this new belief feels in every situation. How would the outcome change, how would your life change? Do this for the past, present and future. What does your life feel like now that you have this new belief? By the end of the 30 minutes, your desired new life will most certainly be motivating enough for you to make some changes and ditch your projected life with the limiting belief.
Measure your progress
Making progress on a day by day or hour by hour basis is one of the best ways to keep motivated. Having big long term goals is absolutely critical but if you only focus on the outcome without breaking it down into steps (and then breaking it down again) you are not going to give yourself the opportunity to put a little check in a box or highlight a to-do that is done.
Recently I took my entire yearly goal, broke it down into months, then weeks and then individual tasks. Now every day. all day long, I get to check off items and I am way more motivated to get them done. Do whatever tracking works best for you (I use a Google Sheet) but make your tasks as small as possible, the more checking off you do the better! Pro tip: share your tracking with someone else, even if they never look at it your motivation to check that box will go up 10x if you think someone else will notice it.
You could have the best business ideas, goals, execution strategy and team in place but if you do not have any energy you are not going to be able to get it done. If you feel like you don’t have time to get enough sleep, eat healthily or do some form of self-care it is time to revisit step one and get rid of that belief. It is going to do you absolutely no good to be motivated and reach your goals if you are not healthy enough to enjoy the process and the results.
Also, make sure you are looking after your physical AND mental health. If you are sitting down to write a blog post but you are feeling guilty that you haven’t spent time with your kids then you are not going to be motivated for very long. Subconsciously you will be looking for proof that you should not be writing a blog post (no one ever reads them) because what you really want is to spend time with your kids. Instead of letting your emotions and thoughts get hijacked make a plan for success and stick to it. If you know you need to spend an hour with your kids to feel mentally healthy, make sure to get that hour in before starting work.
Get support from a mastermind
Find (or start) a group of people that you can share your accomplishments and setbacks with. This group should have one primary goal, the success, and happiness of all of its members. You really want each member’s success to feel like your own so you can share in that energy. I will do a post in the future about how I created and maintain my amazing mastermind group.
If you don’t want something so formal at least be sure to have someone in your life you can share your goals and accomplishments with. Someone that can say “hey how did XYZ work out?”. I have found that it is way easier to get things done when I know that if I don’t I will have to tell someone “I know I told you I was going to do that but I didn’t”. Accountability works!
Gratitude is one of the strongest emotions you can tap into. Be grateful for every item you check off your to-do list, knowing that it has moved you closer to your goals. Be grateful for your goals, take time every day to visualize them as if they have already happened and feel what it is like to be grateful for accomplishing them. Be grateful for everything you are putting out into the world. If you sell products, read some of your good reviews and feel what it is like from your customer’s perspective to find exactly what they needed. Think about the impact your life has had on your family and friends and be grateful from their perspective for your life.
Through deliberate practice using the steps listed above, you can rewire your base thought pattern to be one of gratitude. Once you do that problems become opportunities, boring to-do lists become a chance to help others, and work becomes service.
So there you have it, my top 5 hacks to increase motivation.
- Replace limiting beliefs
- Track progress
- Stay healthy
- Get support
- Live with gratitude
What are your top strategies for staying motivated?