New year. New you.
I’m not a fan of the motivational images like the ones above, it feels cheesy to look at. It makes me feel like I’m a child and that I need somebody to keep me motivated all the time. I get annoyed when I watch motivational videos and I keep thinking “Why do I need this. Why am I actively searching for motivation?”. No matter what I do, I find myself straying off the path I have chosen and if it weren’t for a certain number of people in my life who are keeping me focused, I would have quit a long time ago.
It took me a long time to realize that a lot of people feel the same way. A lot of people start with a large amount of motivation and yet no matter how hard they try, they can never seem to carry a project out until the end. Motivation naturally drops, especially as the difficulty of the work you are doing drops. When building a technology startup, it’s easy to be motivated at first because everything needs to be built. You have fun setting up the architecture, learning new things and growing your skills. However, once the technology is stable, it’s time to work on smaller things. This is where my motivation normally crashes.
It seems to be consistent within our psychology to lose motivation when we aren’t doing what we love. The hardest truth for me learning to stay motivated is accepting that I have an obligation to do tedious work. I see difficult work as a reward now. I stay motivated by thinking of the features that we get to build next. I get excited.
The most important resource I’ve had for motivation is a supportive co-founder and an extremely motivated team. Having two founders for a business is sensible because if one loses motivation, they can rely on the other to lift them up. There have been a number of times where I’ve been told that I’m not communicating enough or that I’m not doing enough in a certain area. This criticism has helped me to stay focused and motivated.
I constantly try and create difficult tasks that don’t put the business at risk. I will try to find something that keeps me on my toes, where I have to learn new skills to move forward whilst helping the business grow its products. However, there has to be a balance. Nothing will be built to perfection and there will always be something unexpected coming your way.
I also break tasks down as small as I possibly can. Motivation is difficult when you don’t know exactly where to start, so it’s always worth breaking things down. Once you’ve done this, you should start to feel motivated starting the task because you know what needs to be done and how you’re going to achieve it. It’s not just difficult tasks that can be broken down, seemingly simple ones can too.
If you can’t stay motivated, you’re not alone. It’s a problem everybody faces and it’s hard to understand why. Everybody goes through periods of time where we feel like we don’t know how to do anything. Hopefully, my experience is able to help you.
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