How to trick yourself into being motivated

Coaching and mentoring ourselves is a big part of business. We do it to ourselves all the time. Being motivated to do what you need to do in a given day goes beyond picking something that interests you. Sometimes, that is a luxury you don’t have.

But I reject this idea that a lot of self-employed people have that revolves around servitude. You don’t have to turn up unhappy every single day and give despite your despondence. And you don’t have to have the whales singing in the key of E off the coast and the morning light cracking just so to have the perfect conditions for work either.

Motivation is a muscle that needs work. It gets flabby if you let it lie around, waiting for the pixies to zap it into happy land. And it gets strained and can even tear and break if you believe turning up to crush it under the boots of obligation is a long-term plan.

Like Goldilocks with the porridge, motivation comes when things are just right. Here’s how to find that marvellous middle point through coaching and mentoring

Understand your creative seasons

Knowing the seasons of your creativity is a massively powerful addition to your coaching and mentoring toolbox.

What do I mean when I say this hippie-sparkle trot?

Chart out the times it’s harder than others and respect that. Look at yourself as an organic meat-bag full of water (which is what you are) and recognise that you are influenced by other things.

For example: It’s harder to create in the dead of Winter because as humans, we naturally want to rest and hibernate. It’s also harder to concentrate after having your brain sucked out your ear by multiple meetings, online classes, or life disruptions.

Our sleep levels, health, mental health, expended energy and how much time we’re free from obligation directly influence our ability to create.

That doesn’t mean we have to wait for days alone when the whole house is tidy, and we’ve had optimum sleep to face a keyboard. It’s about knowing your deep and shallow impacts.

How you do that in the simplest terms:

  • Chart your month in relation to health, mental health, sleep quality, and mood etc. Doesn’t have to be a dissertation. It simply needs to be something you can review later and make sense of
  • Add the productive versus unproductive days into the mix
  • Look for patterns. Is it harder to access that coaching and mentoring muscle after certain events? Or during specific parts of the week, month or year?
  • Adjust how much time you reasonably think you can apply to your business when making your seasons work for you.

Everyone that thinks their passion in their spirit guide, I want you to notice where your self-care and sleep are in relation to what you get done. And what you enjoy doing as opposed to what you force yourself to do.

And parents, I know your life is tough. You’re sleep deprived and you have obligations that turn up in a 3-foot-high dictator in Disney pyjamas without warning. But that doesn’t mean you can’t seek out patterns either. Once you notice that that extra 20-minute nap or going for a walk has an impact, you can incorporate these small things in.

Looking after yourself is a big part of a healthy coaching and mentoring routine.

That means remembering to:

  1. Respect causation. Some moments are tougher on us because of our physiology and make-up. Find that out and work it to your advantage
  2. Pre-prepare what you can so that the magic motivation fairy doesn’t have to show up
  3. Rely on contingency plans so that option A isn’t the only route you can take
  4. Understanding where your disruptions and weak spots lie- and planning around them.


E.g. An introvert at a training day needs the next day to recover from having the stuffing vacuumed out of them. That means taking the next day off. Or not booking meetings all the next day to further drain the energy.

E.g. If you can’t concentrate in the heat and your customers are off on school holidays, what’s the point of being open over the Christmas period? Why not have a holiday or do your planning by the pool instead?

Ask if the resistance is valid

Sometimes, we’re stubborn beasts. We lock onto the idea of creating something even though the inner muse has no interest in it. If you’ve ever been in a situation where you’ve looked back and thought, “why I didn’t I listen to myself?”, you’ll know what I mean.

Listening is a huge part of coaching and mentoring. Whether that’s you working with a coach or working on yourself, it doesn’t matter.  You have to take n the information and clues available to you and use it to inform your decision making.

Our ability to over-estimate as humans is legendary. We’re three-parts goofy kid, two-parts super chicken and one-part raging ego maniac. It’s helpful to understand this is how we’ve ended up being able to achieve the science, technology, art, and business world you see before you.

That doesn’t mean we have to be enslaved to our hubris and bull-sized ego though.

Being able to distinguish between those moments where we’re lost confidence or we’re over-confident matters. Especially if you care deeply about the kind of work you create.

Working out if your resistance is valid comes down to listening. And I mean really listening.

Ask coaching and mentoring questions like:

  1. Do I feel connected to the work?
  2. If not, why not? Is that connection unavailable or merely uncultivated?
  3. What am I hoping to achieve by creating this work?
  4. Who is the audience it’s meant for and will they care?
  5. Why did I choose this work over other opportunities?

Then look at the depth of the answers. If you find yourself not really connected to the work because you don’t understand if you care but hope it might have an audience because someone else struck it big doing the same thing, maybe that’s why. Or if you believe in the work and the audience but you’re mourning something else you’d rather do and therefore you’re doing the project lip-service as a result, that’s something you have to figure out before continuing.

We feel things. They are not always accurate, and they shouldn’t be our only guide. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t explore them or give them a proper hearing, either.

Recognise fear is part of the game

If you try to avoid stress and worries, it usually means you aren’t taking a risk. And if you’re not taking a calculated risk, it usually means you aren’t doing breakthrough work.

You can make a good living out of playing the medium toasty game. Yet it won’t usually attract the kind of loyalty from fans companies like Apple or Nike enjoy.

Yes, you can set a baseline of consistently good work that people will gravitate towards. But it won’t gain the emotional investment of those that push the envelope.

Fear and vulnerability go hand in hand. They create the times where crowdfunding legend Amanda Palmer succeeds with making her art via her blog, fan gatherings and performances. It’s what draws us close to our favourite social media activists like Celeste Liddle or appearance advocate Carly Findlay.

Motivation becomes rickety when fear sets in.

We self-sabotage with procrastination. We fish for validation. The doubt is allowed to fester. We may even begin tinkering to smooth things down to the point of no value. Or walk away completely at the 80% completion mark.

Coaching and mentoring ourselves to get comfortable with fear and failure is the antidote. We have to recognise that to produce great work, we can and do fail on occasion. And that failure is not career-ending or life crushing. Not if it’s calculated and thoughtful as good work should be.

Besides, everyone we admire has had failure large and small throughout their career. It’s part of the ride.

May as well work on coping strategies for when fear strikes, such as:

  • Reminding yourself of the purpose of your work. It becomes easier to justify the work if you know why it exists
  • Remaining consistent. Exposure to our fear helps us build up immunity to it. The more you consistently show up, the more you learn how to navigate the emotions presented
  • Keep creating without perfection in mind. No one makes 100% hits 100% of the time. There will always be parts that are built of our creative catalogue that are not for public consumption. Accept that and you’ll feel less of that “all or nothing” pressure that saps courage
  • Encourage continuous production. The more we create, the more we have for public consumption because we don’t have to restart the engine every single time. Treat it like a learning process and the opportunity to find the great works within the production process as opposed to producing only to publish.

Reconnect with the intended audience

A lot of noise and chatter about what we should or shouldn’t create doesn’t come from our customers. It comes from people who don’t care about what you do and will never buy it. Or who are competition or peers- who have a vested interest in sharing their perspective as the correct one.

If you focus on the people that care about you and what you have to say, it becomes easier.

Sometimes though, we lose connection to that.

Some of the ways you can reconnect with it include:

  1. Asking the audience what they care about at the moment
  2. Hearing their pain via social media to inspire your creation
  3. Reflecting on old messages of support such as good feedback or testimonials
  4. Looking at the problems your customers face at the present time and what you can do to articulate them

The buzz and the hiss from your inner voices or the voices of others pales in comparison to reconnecting with your audience. It’s the best damn wave of motivation you can ask for.

Again, it’s a process of coaching and mentoring to remind yourself on a regular basis that the paying customer needs more attention than the often-vocal detractor. And it’s about encouraging you to notice that paying customer before they pony up the dough so they can be wooed accordingly.

If we pay too much attention on the opinionated, we often don’t see that quiet admiration in the back.

Motivation is the baseline, you bring the melody

When we make motivation too much of a focus, we start noticing its absence.

Be like the runner who is too tired to notice they are dressing on autopilot. Know the routine you need to have to be able to get out to run at the crack of dawn and rely on that.

Encourage yourself to make incremental movements towards what you want instead of expecting a parade the minute you make something (ala the way social media has trained us to act).

Find your version of motivation and make it count.

Looking for a hand on defining your motivation on your terms? GET IN TOUCH FOR SOME COACHING AND MENTORING NOW.  

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