One of the main challenges that small business people face—particularly solo practitioners or “solo-preneurs” in general--is the problem and the art of motivating oneself.
You are your own boss. If you have employees, then the game may be a little different for you as you have people depending on you. However, if it is just you, there are often no external forces telling you that you must do any particular “thing”. There are certainly exceptions to this—client deliverables, purchases that have been made, the general inertia of your business pulling you along at some point, but really, especially at first, it is an uphill battle for many on their own.
There are so many aspects to this problem of motivation that some never figure it out—or worse, they find solutions that compound the problem in the long-term because the “solutions” are ill-suited approaches. Ill-suited to them as individuals.
To really add fuel to the fire [or baking soda to the lack thereof] we have distractions, overwhelm, time management, prioritization, and the list goes on, and on, and on.
What works for one person in terms of motivation may or may not—and often does not—work for another. So it is with time management, goals, and the like. There is no one-size-fits-all or even a one-size-fits-most solution. Particularly for those who are more sensitive both emotionally and kinesthetically/energetically, many of the “take massive action” or “get present to the consequences if you do not” approaches create more internal dissonance, and if the tasks or milestones the individual is accountable for are not accomplished, this can lead to a build-up of that same internal dissonance, or worse, feelings of guilt or worse still, even shame, and with the principle of compound interest on the “debt” you have with yourself…well, we can see where it may and often does lead: overwhelm rather than accomplishment.
Even if it does not lead there for you, these levels of intense urgent styles of motivational techniques can cause a lack of balance at best, and at worst, hardcore burnout.
What is the solution? Custom design your own motivational strategy using a few basic principles and approaches.
Step 1: Discover Your Style
Find out what works for you at a base level. Since at least Aristotle was writing in the 300s B.C. we have known that humans are generally motivated in two basic ways or “directions” ::: away from pain or toward pleasure. Or both.
Stated in the context of goals and deliverables: away from consequences or toward a vision.
You will notice one creates leverage [and often contraction and internal dissonance] in your body—it pushes you. Compels you. Often uncomfortably. The other pulls you forward. It is expansive. It opens you and draws you toward it.
The danger is to judge one or the other. Urgency/away from/consequence driven motivation could be “bad” because it creates tension and dissonance. Vision is “good” because it is expansive. Or the reverse; vision/toward is “bad” because it does not create massive intense action, necessarily. Urgency/away from is “good” because it creates more instant [in some] results.
An additional component is style is how you like to be supported.
This is also a critical component. While I am not an "accountability coach" per se, and never have been, quite often, clients ask me to support them in getting stuff done. Before I even begin such an aspect of our relationship, and since I can assume almost any style of coaching to serve them at this point, I ask them ::: how do you like to be supported.
No this before asking for external help--or be prepared to explore that inquiry with your friend, guide, coach, or accountability partner.
The truth is, whichever style works for you, as you become more aware, even now, at how you have created results in the past for yourself—when you found yourself simply motivated to accomplish what you wanted to accomplish—is the “good” style for you.
If an “away from” strategy works best for you, then create externally supported consequences to propel you forward. Engage a coach professionally, who coaches in that style. Or have a friend be your accountability partner—and someone willing to enforce uncomfortable consequences for/on you.
If this kind of approach has you feel overwhelmed, or has you feel like running from your entire support system [missing phone calls, not emailing them when you said you would, unaccomplished tasks building up, etc.], then consider the other approach: an approach that has you moving toward a larger vision. Toward a future you are creating. An approach that has you stay constantly present to the deeper meaning in the work you are doing; what your purpose of mission is, so you stay in the game. Plainly put ::: remember why you are committed to doing what you are supposed to do, in the grand scheme of things.
As an example: you’re not simply “having a client session”. You are doing far more than that—you are helping someone have the life they have always dreamed of. And even greater or larger, you are contributing to the evolution of humanity itself—to a global vision of the Greater Good.