Living your life by your own set of rules is a dream for most of the people out there but staying motivated while being self-employed can be the hardest part of your new adventure.
Waking up early in the morning just because you were called in for another of those dull client meetings is something that every one of us hates. The flip side of this is that it forces you into a routine, something that we’re used to since school.
If you are someone who has already taken his first step in the “Self-Employment” path, I’d like to congratulate you for making one of the boldest moves that many of us are scared to do.
You’re now in charge of being productive, keeping yourself engaged and loving what you do. No longer do you have a boss breathing down your neck, asking you to do things you don’t want to do and ultimately lining someone else’s pocket.
This freedom is a fantastic feeling, but not without its challenges. One of the biggest challenges that entrepreneurs face after making such a bold leap is that there’s just no one there for setting deadlines, goals and incentives.
After the initial excitement of making this leap wears off, you can suddenly find yourself in a lull. Struggling to work out what to do next and slowly sinking into the realm of demotivation.
That shouldn’t be the reason why you quit.
You need to get yourself into a new routine, build new habits and take positive steps each day. There is no ‘magic bullet’ or secret source. It also doesn’t matter how many books, blogs, articles your read – the answer is self-motivation. It’s hard, and with everything, it takes effort on your part to succeed.
In this blog post, we will take a look at ten killer tips that will help you throughout your “Self-Employment” journey.
1. Make A Plan
If I have ever coached you, you’ll know that my key phrase is “make a plan”. You need to think about both your longterm goals because this helps form the projects and goals you need to work on each quarter. Then you have an idea of what each week should look like in terms of your actions.
So here’s what you need to be planning:
Long Term Planning
- What are your goals for the year in each area of your business? Try to have at least eight different areas of your business that you want to work on.
- What projects/actions will you need to take to achieve each of those goals?
- Which of those goals are you going to be working on this quarter? Pick just three that are going to move things forward.
Short Term Planning
- Plan which actions you are going to take this week based on your quarterly plan? Pick at least four significant ‘actions’.
- At the end of each day, plan three critical things from your actions list as well as your general todo list that you are going to work on tomorrow.
The important part about planning is not to be too rigid in your approach. Life changes, so will your business so you will need to learn to adapt your plan. This is why reviewing your progress is so important at the end of each quarter. It would be best if you were reflecting on what you’ve achieved so far and what you want to achieve going forward.
2. Get Into A Routine
Getting into a routine will help you stay on track just like it did when you were at school or last working for someone. Routine is one of the critical steps to success as well as allowing you to feel far less stressed.
Having a stable routine will help you avoid distractions and procrastination, which is why I encourage my clients to follow the weekly/daily planning routine religiously.
You have to be honest with yourself when planning out your routine. There is no point saying “I will get up at 5 am every day” when in fact you’ve been getting up at 10 am for the past six months. That type of change will fail as it’s too much too quickly. Good habits (routines) have to be established over time (see my article here on building habits) so don’t rush it and be realistic.
A routine doesn’t mean planning every minute of every day, again that is not realistic because you won’t stick to it — plan to do certain things at certain points during your day rather than specific times. A great tip is to join new habits with already existing ones that you have. For example, you may already be walking your dog each morning but you also really want to practice your affirmations, so why not combine the two? You are far more likely to succeed if you join a new habit with an already established one.
3. Take A Break
It’s not uncommon for the self-employed to get entirely caught up in their work and to neglect their personal ‘fun’ time. Make sure that you take a break from your work and set some personal time, even plan it into your diary.
You can do anything during this time, except for working or thinking about it. Take a walk, play your favourite video game, read your favourite book or go out for a jog.
The choice is yours entirely, but you must make time for yourself and your family to ensure you don’t burn out.
4. Stay Social
If you are working from home, it can be quite lonely at times with no one around you.
Make sure that you schedule a time for you to enjoy the company of others, and I don’t mean clients!
You can even meet up with some other self-employed professionals to discuss their latest projects, plans and the challenges that they face. There is a great app called ‘Shapr’ that works a little like Tinder but for the professional world. It connects you to other like-minded people, and you can arrange calls, coffee, lunches with them.
Having fresh new discussions like these can help you clear your mind and inspire new ideas as well as provide you with an entirely new perspective. It also has the added benefit of increasing your overall network, plus you never know whom you will meet.
5. Set Rewards
You are running your own business or doing your own thing that you love, but there’s no one around to praise or reward you for all the good that you’ve done.
We are all naturally wired to enjoy being rewarded, and that’s the reason you need to reward yourself for maintaining a habit or accomplishing a goal.
Plan out a reward that will keep you working towards something regularly.
Save some of the more substantial rewards such as a trip to your favourite destination, your favourite car or one of the latest smartphones for accomplishing something big.
A great tip is to use micro rewards throughout your day. This could be as simple as rewarding yourself with the latest episode of a show you’ve been dying to watch or that naughty piece of chocolate that’s staring at you on your desk.
6. Learn To Let It Go
There will be times when you’ll see yourself doing the impossible, but there certainly will be times when you are not able to accomplish a small thing that you so desperately want to.
That’s something that can be quite frustrating.
You need to learn that failure’s a part of our lives, and every one of us has to deal with it at a certain point. Don’t worry if you are at your best on some days and aren’t able to concentrate on work on some. You still have the luxury named “Flexibility” that most of the people don’t have.
If you fail at something, take a step back and analyse it. I like to do this with a simple post-it note process:
- On one post-it write down what failed.
- On another write the three key reasons why it failed and stick it below it.
- On a final post-it, write down three key things you can do to avoid that happening again.
- Stick them on your wall or noticeboard.
I have a ‘learning board’ in my office where I put all my failures, and often I take a look at it to remind me of where I have gone wrong and how to avoid it. This forms an essential part of my planning process each quarter to help me reduce future failures and streamline my processes.
7. Stay Positive
Staying positive and keeping motivated when you’re self-employed can often feel like they are polar opposites of each other. Working for yourself is stressful, more so than most people think.
That is why ‘rewarding yourself’ in the earlier tip, is so crucial to your success. Make sure you truly understand what makes you happy.
There’s no single answer to this question as it’s very personal to you and it varies depending on who’s reading this blog post.
For some, quality time with friends might be something that makes them happy. Whereas, for some, it might be buying a favourite gadget that they have long desired.
All of us have our desires. Don’t let them ruin our “Happy Moments.”
Try reciting a mantra or affirmation every day. This may feel a little ‘weird’ to some people but the most successful clients I’ve coached all use this approach and it works.
My favourite way of doing this is by printing off the top 5 reasons why I work for myself and reciting them every morning when I walk into my office:
- To gain financial freedom
- To never have to go back to a corporate environment
- To use my people skills and experience to help others
- To do a job that I love doing every day
- To spend more time at home with Arrow (my dog)
They are super simple, but they remind me why I work so hard each day and start my day off with a definite ‘bang’.
8. Set Reminders and Timers
Sometimes, you might have an outstanding and well-rounded plan for yourself and yet fail.
It can be difficult at times to stick to that plan, especially if you’re using techniques like time blocking. If you work well with deadlines, then try setting up some alarms or timers to help you keep on track and focused.
For example: If you’ve set aside 30 minutes to find a new email marketing platform (checkout ConvertKit if you’re looking for one!) then set yourself a timer and only focus on that. When the alarm goes off – stop.
So now you’re thinking, “but Jamie, what if I didn’t finish it in that time, what should I do?”
There are two reasons why you didn’t complete your task:
You got distracted and didn’t use your time efficiently
The job was more significant than you estimated meaning you needed more time.
In either case, you now need to reschedule some more time. So in conjunction with your daily planning, you’re not going to find another slot in your diary where you can finish this off.
Having to use up more of your precious time on the same task teaches you to either work faster and more concentrated or to estimate your time better. The more you practice this, the better you’ll become.
The key, however, is to ensure that you stick to your timer and not put off other tasks that you had planned to do.
9. Inspirational Activities
Staying motivated when you’re self-employed doesn’t just mean you have to rely on yourself to do the inspirational talks.
Sometimes, all you need is a cup of coffee and an activity that will inspire you to be creative or to re-energise you.
For example, you can watch TED Talk or YouTuber that inspires you. I have several YouTubers that I follow that do incredible work in all manner of different fields. If I need an extra boost in motivation, then try rewarding yourself by watching one of their videos.
I enjoy Sean Cannell and his videos; I often find some inspiration while watching him and his team achieve some great things.
Listening to podcasts or audiobooks is another fantastic way of really levelling up both your knowledge and get inspired by others.
10. Take Action
It’s what you do that will decide whether you managed to accomplish it or not. I like to focus on the consequences of NOT taking action if I am procrastinating over something.
“If I decide task A over B what will happen?”
Only you have the power to take action, that is why I said earlier that you need to plan each day what you are going to set out to achieve. That way you are always moving forward with ‘baby-steps’.
It makes the process of self-motivation that much easier when you do it in bite-size chunks.
Be proud of yourself. Being self-employed is one of the most challenging tasks in life. It’s a dream for the most and many people fail at it because there is no ‘perfect’ method of achieving success.
Remember that this is your opportunity to play by your own rules, doing what you love.
Running your own business is not something that many people are able to do because it requires a tremendous amount of focus and dedication. It is something that everyone can learn if they have the time and patience to do so.
Don’t let things like lack of planning, not having a schedule or distraction ruin your chance of being a success.
So, what are you waiting for?
It’s time for you to get shit done.