Unfortunately, no matter how badly we want to make progress daily, being a successful solopreneur takes work.
Good intentions and planning can only take you so far. Inevitably, something will come up that will completely destroy your schedule for the day and drain you of your energy and motivation.
To grow a successful business, you have to show up every day and organize your time so that you have the best possible advantage to make progress.
Unfortunately, things aren’t always up to you.
You have a day job and life responsibilities. There are things that will come up in your day that derail you from your goals.
Tasks, like writing content, doing videos, and meeting with clients all, require focused time. And, this time is almost always scheduled on the weekends, in the early morning or late at night.
So, what happens when the alarm goes off and you are too tired to get up and work on your business?
How do you become a successful solopreneur when your other responsibilities have drained all of your energy, focus, and emotional strength?
Habits vs. Routines
The things on your to-do list can pretty much be broken down into two groups which determine how you will approach doing them.
The first group is habits and the other is routines. At first blush, you might think that these two things are pretty much the same. But, the difference lies in the behavior that each of these groups illicit.
Routines happen on a regular frequency and become something that exists in your day without much thought or intention. For instance, going to your day job every day.
These are times in your day that are just there and all you have to do is participate – there isn’t much thought, other than putting things in place so that you are able to attend. (i.e., making sure the car has gas to get you to work.)
It doesn’t take a lot of energy to achieve the routine tasks. You know, except for managing how unsatisfied you are with your day job etc.
Nothing is impossible, the word itself says “I’m possible”! —Audrey Hepburn
Habits are a completely different animal. These are events that require a conditioned response over time and can be influenced by all kinds of external distractions.
Studies have shown that it can take up to 254 days for a person to form a new habit. This is not good news for folks trying to grow a business outside of their day job.
Consistently showing up to work on your business every day is a habit, not a routine.
Don’t misunderstand me here.
The action of working is not the habit. That is hard work. That takes concentration and effort.
The habit is making the time to do the work.
Being a successful solopreneur means making the time to work even when you are too tired, too worn out, and just plain don’t want to.
This is something that you need to set an intention to do. You have to schedule it into your day or evening, and then pull out the task list and laptop, sit down and do it.
That is the habit.
Making the choice to work instead of watch TV – or, the more likely scenario – going to sleep.
Habits are slow to form, are easily distracted from, and are the most difficult obstacle in your path to being a successful solopreneur.
The goal shouldn’t be to form the habit but, to consistently practice the habit. Because it can take so long for a habit to form, the goal is not actionable and therefore, should not be set.
There are too many things that can interrupt the forming of the habit and many of them are out of your control. But, a goal of “consistently practicing my habit 5 days this week” is a very attainable goal.
Unfortunately, habits are also highly susceptible to influence. For instance, peer pressure can be a major influencer for adolescents to form habits – both good and bad depending on their peers.
Joining a weight loss program where you weigh-in and attend meetings is a huge influencer for creating good eating and exercise habits.
Just like external events can distract you from continuously practicing your habit, external triggers can motivate and re-focus you. This is good news for folks growing a business outside of their day job.
Positive, Negative, or Inspiration?
This next part is where you have to know a little bit about yourself to proceed.
For some people, an external trigger that threatens some kind of a loss is the most motivating. This would be something like, “Here is a $100 bill. If you don’t sit down and work tonight, I will set it on fire.” The idea here is that you will lose something that you hold in high value if you don’t practice your habit.
This trigger can be very effective for some people, especially those that are highly competitive and are hurt or disappointed if they lose something.
For other people, a gain trigger is more effective. This is something like, “Here is a $100 bill, if you consistently practice your habit of working every night for the next 30 days, you can spend it on a pedicure”.
The idea is a simple reward system, you are given something that you regard as highly valuable for working hard.
And, finally, for the third group of people (there may be other groups that respond best to other triggers, but these are the most common), the trigger is inspiration.
These people respond well to seeing photos or keepsakes that remind them why they set the goal in the first place. Dream boards or goal boards are highly-effective for this group.
Seeing photos of their children in Paris, or of a bigger house that they want, or of a group of people they have helped are all motivating images that will remind them of that feeling that had when they first set their goal.
So, the trick here is to identify which group you fall into. Are you more motivated by loss, gain, or inspiration?
How the transformation to make progress daily happens.
Once you know which group you are in, sit down and think about something that you hold in high value. Whether it is a picture of a piece of jewelry you want or, a day spa you would like to go to.
Check Groupon for deals on things that you might never treat yourself to as rewards for practicing your habit. Pull out your favorite pair of jeans or yoga pants as something that you will lose.
Take 10-minutes to make a dream board and hang it up on the wall near where you usually work. One of my clients bought herself a bracelet with a quote that was especially inspiring to her engraved into it.
When she needed a boost, she had the bracelet right there with her.
You have to be thoughtful and honest with yourself in this process though. The item that you pick to win, lose, or inspire MUST be something that you are emotionally attached to.
If it’s something that you really like but, wouldn’t feel like a loss – that’s not your item.
If it’s something that you have always wanted to try and you think it would be so amazing and fun and would feel like an awesome reward – yup!
Remember no one can make you feel inferior without your consent. —Eleanor Roosevelt
After you have spent some thought and identified the item that you’re going to use for this exercise. Find a place that you see on a regular basis.
Even if you have to hang a small shelf specifically for this exercise. This is something that should be taken seriously, so do what you need to do to give it 110%.
Place your item in this area so that you see it several times per day but, most importantly, when you are going to the place where you work on your business.
Get out a sheet of paper and write down your commitment. “I commit to practicing my habit of working on my business for 2 hours every night, 5 days per week, for this entire quarter” or, something like that.
Make sure that the goal is specific and attainable. Don’t make a commitment to working for 6 hours every night 7 days a week – you’ll never achieve that!
Sign your commitment and date it. Then, write down on your calendar the end date that you set for your goal. And, when the day arrives … treat yo’self!
Believe you can and you’re halfway there. —Theodore Roosevelt
Go as big or as small as you want with this. You can put your item in a glass mason jar and break the glass on the last day. Another idea would be to it in a gift box and unwrap it. The point is, celebrate your accomplishment!
Growing a successful solopreneur business while working full-time is not something that comes naturally to most people. There will be times when you are completely unmotivated. And, that’s ok. That is to be expected with all that is asked of you on a daily basis.
But, with a little bit of forethought and a plan for what to do when you are unmotivated, you can push past the barrier, the exhaustion, the frustration, and re-focus to achieve your goals!
Which group are you in; win, lose, or inspire? What do you usually do when you don’t feel motivated to work? If you implement this practice, how do you think it will change your response? Let me know if you do implement this practice and what you learn!