I’m a masochist.
Why? Because I love my work. Working as a marketing consultant, an online marketer and online in general and loving it makes you a masochist. Why? Because whatever you do in the present decides whether your current project will be a success, but whether it really will be a success can only be determined in the distant future. Sometimes your decisions in the present can make or break a company and the waiting time can kill you. Weeks are short, months are normal, years are probable.
Yes, many things can be tested and often you can evaluate your decisions before implementing – but that is a symptom, not a cure. Marketing is hard because it is an inexact science, and one person’s opportunity is the other person’s downfall.
You got to be a masochist to put yourself in this position over and over again (and marketing consultants do).
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And then there are the clients – they want your best, they deserve your best, and you give your best. But they expect (and deserve) results – and they want them soon. But marketing often does not work this way. You cannot build a brand in a tweet; you cannot change brand recognition in a day… And while clients expect the results they deserve, often you will not be able to give them to them. But when you fail – and even the best marketers sometimes fail – you need to take responsibility.
You have to be a masochist to love work like this. Decisions to make now, success or failure in the distant future – and no matter what it will be, your throat is going to be squeezed anyway.
(Ok – this might be exaggerated – I love my work, I love my clients and partners – and although I do sometimes feel like this, I would never say that marketing is a bad career… But you know, it can be rough.)
The key to loving work like this is motivation – and I had to figure this out all by myself. Without being motivated, the work you do becomes crap. Your clients will notice that you don’t deliver as well any more – and you will lose them. You will end up in a spiral downwards. Without motivation no one ever achieved anything – figuring out how to motivate oneself is one key element to success. But everyone needs to figure out his own ways – and here are my personal recipes for motivation.
How the *&%$ do I manage to stay motivated?
The Little Things…
I know this sounds clichèd, but is there anything more clichèd than writing an article about motivation?
Yes, motivation for me always starts with the little things. A paw on the shoulder by one of our dogs. A youtube video. A photo or just a memory. All these are things I draw motivation from.
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But the little things will not simply start to motivate me – first I need to let them happen and then I need to let them motivate me. Letting them happen sometimes is hard enough. Because if I just start working in the morning and stop working before going to bed they won’t happen! I need to lift my head from my screen and look around. In the thirty seconds I do that, a little thing will happen 90 percent of the time – if I let it. It might just be that I see my dog sleeping next to me on the couch and moving her legs because she probably is dreaming of summer, sun and warmer days (this happened a couple of minutes ago).
But drawing motivation from these little things is even harder – and many people I’ve seen have missed that this comes with a trap. If I’m not careful, these little things drag me down even more, because “I would just love to not have to work so much and cuddle my dog more.” Or spend more time on Youtube.
But the truth is – you probably would waste more time on Youtube if you didn’t have to work but it wouldn’t feel so special. The moment you just enjoyed was special because you didn’t experience it all day. Isn’t that a motivating thought? It is for me.
A Small Success Can Feed You For A Lot Of Failures
Enjoy your little successes – don’t just try to find the big ones. That doesn’t mean you should lose your vision – your vision needs to be in place. But the road to a big success is always paved with lots of small and sometimes big failures – and often very few and very small successes. Especially when your vision is grand and your ideas are bold.
The failures are there to learn from, the little successes are there for motivation. You need to embrace them, treasure them and let them be your shining light in dark times. You have to celebrate your small achievements to stay motivated.
I learned this when my company had to write a report to an investor and part of the strategy had seemingly failed completely. Our first approach was simply to write: “Failure, sorry didn’t work out.” But when we went into detail, we noticed that this wasn’t the truth – we had achieved small successes along the way that did not lead to the grand success we had hoped for, but added up to a much more positive picture than we had imagined.
We just missed it when it happened. We were frustrated. We were close to calling it a failure when we should have seen the motivation that we could have drawn from the success we had.
I will not make this mistake again.
Get Productive In The Most Unlikely Places Doing The Most Unlikely Activities
This may sound strange at first, but I find that I get my best ideas coming to me all out of a sudden when my mind relaxes. Even if it is just for a minute or so.
Example: I take the bus to work in the morning. I could take the car, but I take the bus. Why? Because it gives me time to read. For 25 minutes my mind takes some time off.
Or so it seems. I sit down on the bus, get my ebook reader out of my bag and start reading. Sometimes this lasts for the whole ride, but a lot of times I will have an idea just when reading. It will take me unprepared and I will have to work on this – yet the idea is there.
The mind is a strange thing, when you are stuck in pressure, doing your daily work, my mind actually works well – but it will not generate my most creative ideas. But five minutes of relaxation, something out of the ordinary, and BOOM.
Having these kinds of ideas motivates me for a full day each time.
Granted, some of these ideas are crap. I actually got the idea for writing this article when I got my time to relax. I will leave it up to you to decide whether that was a good idea.
Get Materialistic: If It Motivates You It Is Legitimate
Is there something you really want but can’t have right now? A fancy car? A house? An IPad?
Examine what you are doing. Can or will it lead to you being able to get it? If the answer is yes, this can be a really powerful source of motivation. Do NOT feel ashamed because you feel you are not focused on real happiness, the inner self or the other bullshit a lot of people promote – everybody has his small and materialistic dreams. Embrace them.
If you don’t reach all of them – that’s fine, but no one should have the right to blame you for trying. Pursuing small materialistic dreams is completely legal and morally fine.
If what you are doing will definitely not lead to your material vision coming true, it may be that it is not so important to you. But if it is it will become hard to keep going.
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Find Repeatable Sources For Motivation
I love the Lord of the Rings movies. I’ve watched the whole trilogy countless times. I can close my eyes and watch it in my mind.
It motivates me. So watching it again and again (when I have the time) is never a waste of time.
I have several of these sources of motivation that I can draw on and that I will draw on when I need them. Not all of them are 11-hour movie trilogies. Some are songs that I listen to, Youtube videos that I watch over and over again. These are important to me – motivation makes or breaks my work. So, while others may call them a waste of time – these are my daily performance generators.
I need them all.
Talking of Youtube videos – here is one of my sources for motivation that I watch over and over again. This video is a GoPro ad – not saying that it works for you, but it works for me every single time. It has over 30 million views – I am probably responsible for 1 million myself. It doesn’t motivate because of the pretty images, it motivates me because it shows people who love what they do. Do yourself a favor and watch it in HD.
These are some of my sources for motivation – maybe they apply to you, maybe they don’t. No one can tell you what motivates you – this can only be determined for each person themselves.
But I am interested – what does work for you? What do you do when you are afraid of entering a downward spiral? What are your sources for your daily motivation? Looking forward to the comments!