Of the many hats you wear as an entrepreneur, motivator-in-chief may be the one you don the most.
Whether you’re in the trenches with your team as they prepare for a product rollout, or you’re dealing with a potential office disaster, you’re doling out major doses of motivation and inspiration constantly.
But what happens when your own motivation gauge is running near empty? With no one above you to motivate you when your spirits flag, it’s important to have a reserve of inspiration you can call on when you need it most. Here are some of the best ways I’ve found to keep your self-motivation running on all cylinders.
1. Practice humility.
Surprisingly, humility can go a long way toward keeping you motivated. Oprah Winfrey may be one of the world’s most powerful and accomplished women, but she takes the hype surrounding her with a grain of salt. “There’s this part of me that’s afraid of what will happen if I believe it all,” she has said.
Even Oprah has bad press days — so she’s learned that by staying humble she can keep her internal motivation going, no matter what happens.
You too can follow in Winfrey’s footsteps and keep that entrepreneurial flame flickering by keeping your head low and not relying on the validation of others.
2. Remember your strengths.
The inimitable Mary Kay Ash once said, “Within yourself lies everything you ever dreamed of being.”
Being an entrepreneur isn’t for the faint of heart, and it’s likely that you jumped in because you had the talent, drive, and enthusiasm to make things happen.
If you’re feeling down on yourself, take some time to examine those fantastic traits that got you where you are. Sometimes, I’ll even write mine down when I feel my motivation falter–and you should consider something similar to highlight those awesome talents you possess.
3. Know what you stand for.
Why did you become an entrepreneur? If you started your business hoping to make a difference in the world, give yourself a high five, and then reflect on that vision to keep your inner-motivation going.
Eileen Fisher found insane success through her line of eco-friendly, organic women’s lounge wear. She said, “When you feel true passion for something, you instinctively find ways to nurture it.” That commitment to staying green is a motivating factor that’s kept her in business for over three decades.
If your business isn’t making a difference in the world (yet), there’s no need to fret. You can start with tiny steps, like trying to go green, and let it snowball from there, while also watching your motivation skyrocket.
4. Celebrate the little wins.
Like most entrepreneurs, you probably have major — even audacious — long-term goals that you’re tackling. But as you probably know, these huge aspirations won’t get accomplished overnight.
That’s why you should find the time to make a symbolic fist pump every day. As Tech.Co co-founder Frank Gruber put it, “This is a journey–a hard one–and the only way to make it sustainable and bearable is if you actually acknowledge your small successes along the way.”
By celebrating those tiny wins, you’ll find a much-needed daily dose of motivation.
5. Get healthy.
A 2015 survey by Virgin Pulse found that the number one factor affecting employee motivation is health. Those results aren’t surprising: it’s hard–actually downright impossible–to expect employees to be motivated if they’re in poor physical or emotional shape.
The same goes for you. As an entrepreneur, it’s too easy to let your wellbeing get swept under the rug when there are a million and a half other things to do every day.
That’s why you need to take those daily steps to stay healthy and sane very seriously–or all that effort will be for nothing. You can start small–such as walking to work, as I do–and work your way up. The motivation you’ll get from being in tip-top shape, not to mention the physical benefits, is well worth it.
6. Consider how far you’ve come.
When Swiggies water bottles creator Julie Austin started out, she was flat broke and didn’t have a clue how to get a product to market. Success, she has said, “took years of working two jobs to save the money and a very big learning curve of constantly making mistakes.” Nowadays, she’s light years away from where she started, but she still reflects on her humble beginning as a source of self-motivation.
Entrepreneurs who are self-motivated use these initial struggles as a fuel. Personally, the fact that I started with $200 in New York City serves as a motivator to get me through even the toughest of days.
If you’re near the beginning of your journey, or decades into entrepreneurship, thinking about where you are today versus where you were when you started is an excellent way to unleash your inner cheerleader.
7. Think you’re unstoppable.
In the early 20th century, the typical American woman didn’t wear makeup, but that didn’t stop Elizabeth Arden. By sticking with her dream of bringing makeup from the stage into daily life, she built a worldwide empire. While others thought she was crazy, she relied on this unstoppable mentality to rake in the dollars.
When you view yourself as unstoppable and everything as possible, you can stay motivated through both the ups and downs as an entrepreneur.
You’ll be amazed at the doors that open up when you start believing that you can accomplish anything.
8. Reward yourself.
Yes–I’ll admit it’s a no-brainer that rewards will keep you motivated. In fact, studies show that rewards are responsible for three-quarters of the reasons we do things.
But let me ask you this: When’s the last time you rewarded yourself for a job well done? Too often, entrepreneurs will hand out rewards to others–whether they’re in the form of raises, company trips, etc.–but forget to give themselves a pat on the back.
While your company will ultimately see those efforts pay off in the long-run, it’s important to give yourself some short-term treats to provide your day-to-day motivation. So don’t forget to buy that bottle of wine or a nice dinner out.
By Elle Kaplan
CEO, Lexion Capital Management