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What Keeps Us Solopreneurs Motivated? Remembering How Things Used to Be!
Is the excitement of having your own business starting to fade?
When I worked in a big company, I never had much trouble feeling motivated to do my job. There was energy and activity all around me. There was always a deadline to meet. Everyone was busy doing something interesting, and the truth is, so was I. I really liked my job—most of the time. Granted, there was too much of it. And some of my co-workers weren’t exactly team players. And now that I think of it, I did have a boss or two I truly despised, but all in all, I stayed motivated to do well. Besides, NOT doing well would have been mortifying. At staff meetings I didn’t want to be the one who didn’t have an answer or hadn’t met my goals. In a department filled with overachievers there’s nothing like peer pressure to spur a little extra effort.
On the other hand, there were things I didn’t find at all motivating. I didn’t willingly vote for that “team-building” paintball outing the guys wanted so badly. But it was unacceptable not to go along, so I did. And once on the battlefield, I shot and got shot – like everyone else – until it started to really hurt. Then it dawned on me that behind our masks and other protective gear no one could tell who I was; we were anonymous! So I quietly found the ladies room – where, much to my surprise, I discovered a couple of colleagues already hiding out! All of us, refugees from the paintball war raging outside, were happily AWOL for the rest of the afternoon. Still, even with the chick chat, the experience was NOT motivating.
Thank goodness, I’m now running my own solopreneur business and no longer have to “go along to get along.” Like most of my clients, I love being able to do what I want, the way I want, for reasons that motivate ME. But what I’ve discovered is that staying motivated when you’re working alone is quite different from when you’re in a traditional workplace. You’re NOT surrounded by that activity and energy that feeds you. There’s no longer that peer pressure to perform.
Maybe you’re like me. Now that you’ve been at it awhile, it’s an effort to stay motivated. The excitement of having your own business has started to fade. Maybe it’s harder than you thought it would be. Maybe you even miss the casual camaraderie of the office, and the irritation you sometimes felt about having to “fit in” has been displaced by nostalgia for times that are better in the remembering than they actually were. Well, if that’s where you’re finding yourself these days, snap out of it!
If you feel your motivation slipping, turn back the clock and remind yourself what your previous work life was truly like.
1. When you worked for someone else, you had to do whatever the job called for. Even the things you enjoyed had to be done a certain way…someone else’s way. Not any more. Now that you’re the boss, you can do things any way that suits YOU. You set the goals…you decide how to reach them…and you reap the rewards. If you don’t want to do a specific project, you can decline. If a business relationship isn’t going the way you hoped, you can end it. After all, you’re the boss.
2. When you worked for someone else, you were expected to conform to a pre-existing culture. You were categorized based on your job description and pigeon-holed by someone else’s opinion of your talents and abilities. Now, you can be true to yourself, and be as conservative or outrageous as you want. You can decide the dress code. You can stretch your personality, your creativity and your individuality as far as they’ll go, and find clients or customers who value exactly those qualities.
3. When you worked for someone else, you had to do the whole job, even those parts you didn’t like and weren’t good at. You couldn’t trade tasks with your colleague, just because there were parts of his job you would have liked better and vice versa. Now, that’s no longer the case. Now you can decide which tasks you’ll do, and which ones you’ll farm out to someone else. You can spend more time doing the things you love and are good at, and less time on those other things.
4. When you worked for someone else, your boss decided when and where you worked. But now, you can work whenever and wherever you like. Your schedule is totally flexible and allows you to accommodate family and social activities, personal interests and even workouts at the gym. Your office can be anywhere you happen to be: in a coffee shop, in your car, or at the beach. As long as you have a cell phone, a laptop or tablet and Internet access, you can be open for business.
5. When you worked for someone else, you had to keep up appearances. You had to act like your boss was the smartest one in the room. You felt compelled to attend the company picnic or holiday party, even dragging unwilling family members along. Now, you don’t have to put up with any of that. And you don’t have to worry about losing your job simply because the boss decides he doesn’t like you any more or his niece just finished college.
Now tell the truth…when you think back on your former life working for someone else, don’t you feel lucky now? Sure, running your own business has plenty of challenges, but what could possibly be more motivating than reminding yourself of the things you used to hate and the things you now love! I could never go back and work for someone else, could you?
Learn more about the author, Elaine Quinn.
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