Confession time: Motivation for entrepreneurs, even for those who are highly driven and productive, may be hard to come by on a daily basis when they need it.
Perhaps you’re one of these folks.
You’re building a kickass business.
You get a lot done.
BUT – and it’s a big “but” – you still fight a daily struggle to focus on the important things you need to get done.
Maybe it’s making some critical calls you’ve been avoiding.
Maybe it’s writing some epic content you know you should’ve started long ago.
Or maybe, it’s simply diving into that overdue project that you know will feel easy and fun once you actually start.
If you’re like the thousands of entrepreneurs we’ve talked to here at Commit Action, you frequently find yourself staring into space – or at some time-wasting website – trying to summon the will to start working on what you should be doing.
(To date, Commit Action has conducted and collected statistics from over 10,000 one-to-one conversations with small business owners in over 20 countries.)
Meanwhile, there are a tiny fraction of entrepreneurs knocking out home run after home run in life and business.
These people are seriously successful. Over and over.
They’re winning in business (and life!) easier, faster, and more often than everyone else.
One of the skills the most elite entrepreneurs have mastered is what psychologists call Self-Regulation.
In practical terms, superhuman entrepreneurs know how to make themselves take action. They’ve developed the ultimate meta-skill: The ability to turn on motivation when it’s needed.
This isn’t just hearsay or personal development fluff.
Behavioral scientists and economists have uncovered some crazy things about the motivation superpowers of the world’s most successful, elite winners.
Having the ability to control your motivation and focus – through self-regulation – is actually proven to predict financial success!
Self-control really is the ultimate trait.
There are countless studies confirming this, but the most significant was a study collaboration from Duke University and London’s Kings College tracking 1000 people over thirty years:
The findings showed that people with high self-control earned significantly more money and enjoyed success in many other areas. The lowest groups in the bell curve were vastly more likely to be convicted criminals by age 32!
Self-regulation and the ability to switch your motivation on – precisely when you want it – is a totally learnable skill.
We’ve found that the entrepreneurs who have mastered this skill use a handful of electrifyingly powerful, motivation “hacks”. These can be activated whenever a boost of motivation and focus is needed.
So, how do you get motivated?
This guide breaks down the two most powerful mental techniques for switching on motivation like electricity.
It also includes five simple tactics to rapidly move OUT of lethargy or brain fuzz and into a naturally fired-up state.
2 Powerful Techniques to Switch on Motivation for Entrepreneurs
1. Ignite your drive and sense of deepest purpose for whatever you’re working on
It’s easy to forget the big picture when you get stuck in the trenches, doing the spadework of life and business.
Digging toward your goals, inch by inch and day by day, is exhausting. The more you get lost in the details, the more overwhelming and tiring everything can feel.
That’s why mega-successful entrepreneurs use this mental hack to step back and reconnect with their big picture. They rely on this tactic to remember what they’re really striving for.
Precious motivation will FLOW when you reconnect with your ultimate purpose this way. Grinding and sweating your way to success is impossible without also focusing on what really inspires you.
So, how do you get motivation back?
The hack below will reconnect you with your deepest purpose.
Here’s the technique:
A. Make a quick list of your current goals
What are you working on right now?
Jot down your current objectives: Start with today’s tasks and to-do’s. Keep writing until you’ve got your 12-month goals (even if they’re a little vague)
The precise order of your list doesn’t matter. Just get everything written down.
B. Ask yourself: Why are these goals and tasks “important”?
Next to each goal, write down a list of all the reasons why this goal is significant to you. Try to make your list as detailed as possible.
Here are some pointers to get you thinking:
What does this task or goal help you build towards?
What is the ultimate long-term intention behind this objective you’ve set yourself?
Why is this task or goal important to you as a person?
Allow your pencil or pen to go wild here. This should be a journaling exercise.
You want to express all the ways – ultimately – that your day’s todos and your year’s plans are significant and important to both who you are as a person… and where you’re going.
As you go through this exercise, notice the feelings stirring inside of you. This is your sense of purpose and drive awakening.
C. Stick your finished list of tasks and journaled notes on a wall near your workspace
Look at it and remind yourself why you set out to do these things. When you feel the purpose in your bones, you’re ready to dive back into the trenches
Whenever you take a break from working on your business, look over the notes from this exercise before diving back in.
By connecting your step-by-step work with your big-picture ultimate purpose, you’ll stay super driven and focused!
Read also: Created a routine but struggling to stick to it? Learn how to stick to a routine in 5 steps.
2. How to unleash your natural inner hunger for progress
This is another pencil-and-paper journaling exercise you can use to turn on motivational mojo exactly when you need it most.
The technique works by activating the part of your brain that can push you to move faster than ever.
Psychologists call it “the lizard brain” and it has the ability to get us moving super fast.
Note: The Lizard Brain is a layman's term for the amygdala, which is an ancient – in an evolutionary sense – part of the brain responsible for governing our fight or flight reflex.
Entrepreneurs talk about the incredible sense of drive and hustle that pushes them to grow their businesses when their backs are to the wall.
When a business owner is facing financial ruin, this natural form of motivation will often push them to do their best work ever! The lizard brain takes over and gets the entrepreneur powerfully focused.
You can tap this type of motivation anytime if you know how.
The following technique will activate your ancient primordial motivation to succeed… even if you’re not actually teetering on the edge of disaster.
Here’s the technique:
1. Identify the biggest, most important thing you’re procrastinating or hesitating on right now Write it down. This thing you’re stuck on will be the focus of this technique.
2. Get really honest and ask yourself: What pain prevents me from doing this?
Think “pain” in either a literal or even abstract sense. This is where you write down all the reasons why you’re procrastinating and why you’re not feeling motivated.
For someone wanting to exercise, it could be as simple as: “It really sucks to go running. I hate getting sweaty and hot. It’s painful to endure all that.”
An entrepreneur who needs to pick up the phone and call sales prospects might write: “Being rejected will hurt. I hate it when I don’t know what to say. It’s uncomfortable and nasty”
Don’t pretend you don’t have these thoughts deep down. It’s time to shine a light on them. The idea here is to give voice to the emotional reasons holding you back from your goals. Don’t worry, we’re going to squash them with the next steps…
3. Get excited and ask yourself: What pleasure can be GAINED by doing this?
In the same sense as above, “pleasure” can be anything that is positive. Anything good you’ll gain out of finally doing the thing you’re procrastinating.
It could be as abstract as: “The satisfaction of overcoming a personal roadblock” or “proving it to myself”
Or, it could be something really specific like: “I know I’ll get new deals in my pipeline if I make these calls”
Whatever the positive outcomes are for you – when you finally crush this objective – get it all written down.
Try to get as many different forms of pleasure jotted down as you can. Writing this stuff down brings it to the attention of your conscious and unconscious mind.
4. The most important question of all: What will it cost you NOT to do this?
This is the question you’re going to use to really push your emotional, motivational hot buttons.
It’s going to feel uncomfortable, and that discomfort is precisely what will inspire you to get your butt to work!
This question focuses on the pain – the emotional cost – of procrastination itself. It calls out the fatal cost of continuing to waste time.
It forces you to be honest about the price of your hesitation. Your lizard brain is more activated by this question than any other.
Most people don’t think of procrastination as actually hurting them, but by answering this question – in detail – you remind every part of your brain of the truth:
You’re in danger if you procrastinate!
You’re in danger of missing out.
You’ll experience the pain of missing out.
It’ll hurt when others pass you by and you get left behind.
It’ll hurt when you realize you’ve failed to accomplish your dreams.
All of this pain is actually a very good thing.
It’s the pain that gets you moving; that jolts you out of a stuck state, and into fiery and energetic action.
Meditate on your answers to all three of these questions and continue adding thoughts you have to the three lists you’ve created.
Soon, it’ll be hard to even glance at your notes without feeling a natural compulsion to get moving!
Discover Your Entrepreneurial Edge: Ready to unlock your full potential as an entrepreneur? Take our quick Entrepreneur Personality Test and discover your unique strengths and how to leverage them for business success!
5 Tactical Hacks to Rocket Yourself out of Lethargy and Brain Fuzz
The two techniques we shared above are the “big guns” of motivation hacking. They'll help you to get motivated to do anything.
They’re best used when you’re really stuck and you need to shake up your psychology in a seriously powerful way.
But sometimes, you’re having a good day, but just find yourself running out of steam.
You’re motivated but unfocused.
Or you’re focused but tired.
That’s when you need to grab one of the following 5 super-fast tactical hacks. They’ll rapidly power you into a focused state and help you boost motivation.
These tactics are the mental equivalent of swigging an espresso when you need it most but without any nasty jitters or side effects!
1. How to get instant motivation with a single click hack?
Imagine if you could activate your brain’s dopamine and serotonin production, flooding your brain with energizing and feel-good chemicals at the click of a button.
Imagine if you could do that in mere seconds.
Without taking any pills or putting anything physical in your body at all.
The secret of this instant motivation technique is music.
And the hack is simple: Make a playlist of super motivating tunes and blast them when you find your focus drifting.
Scientists have been fascinated by the powerful effects music has on the brain. There’s a reason that music is universal in all human cultures. It is so powerful it literally changes our brain chemistry.
When you listen to music, a part of your brain called the nucleus accumbens is activated. This results in one of the most emotionally stimulating/rewarding experiences available to us as human beings!
A temporary drop in your motivation and focus is an emotional state change, where you move from a high-energy state to a less energetic one.
You can effortlessly shift yourself back and become more motivated with one click on your computer or phone, by blasting the tunes that get your blood racing.
This hack really works, but only if you work it.
2. How to leverage your physiology to put motivation juice in your brain?
Want to know another crazy hack that works just as well as music and improves motivation?
It’s simple: Move your body.
Specifically, we recommend:
10 jumping jacks
Wall squat for 30 seconds
The neurological effects of exercise are far too numerous for us to list here, but get this: There’s evidence to suggest that moving your body can enhance your ability to focus on the task you’re working on.
A 2013 study (Gomez-Pinilla F, Hillman C) showed that exercise can improve things like “attentional control” and “inhibitory control” … in other words, your ability to pay attention to what you’re working on and avoid tempting distractions!
If you’ve been telling yourself that “being productive” requires you to sit at your desk for hours on end… you’ve been doing it wrong.
Make this mega-powerful hack something you do several times a day and watch your productivity skyrocket!
3. The motivation hack that works even when you’re in couch-potato mode
Do you ever find yourself just feeling lazy?
If you’re seriously stuck in a lethargic slump of energy, it can feel like there’s nothing you can do.
You’re too unmotivated to try any hacks or tactics, all you want to do is watch TV like a potato. Right?
Don’t worry. We’re WAY ahead of you.
Here’s the hack: Watch some super motivating video content.
There has never been more incredible video material that will light a fire in your heart.
Bookmark some of these links:
The Most Astounding Fact - Neil deGrasse Tyson blows your mind with science
Why we do what we do - Tony Robbins ignites motivation at TED
How to live before you die - Steve Jobs gets deep into the meaning of it all
Next time you find yourself stuck on the couch, start watching these until you get self-motivated and fired up that you can’t help but jump up to do something significant!
4. Three book recommendations that’ll stir your blood with fire
Why struggle to find the drive you need inside of yourself when the world’s sharpest minds have immortalized inspiration itself in their writing?
There are so many books that stir the heart and soul into action. As an entrepreneur or business owner, you should keep these books within the arm's reach of your workspace.
When you feel yourself drop into any kind of productivity blues, open one of these up and read a few passages. Fire and drive will follow and you'll get more motivated.
The War of Art - Steven Pressfield: This is a manifesto written to inspire YOU to commit to producing your most creative work and sharing your gifts with the world. Sharpen your resolve and get inspired to do the hard work that creates the BEST results with Pressfield’s bible for productivity.
Linchpin - Seth Godin: Godin’s masterpiece is all about making yourself indispensable through the work you do – to your customers and to the marketplace – in whatever way you want. Great for reminding yourself of the huge opportunities you have sitting right in front of you. Reach out and seize the day!
Bold - Peter Diamandis: This incredible book challenges you to step up and take advantage of the amazing opportunity and abundance in the world today. If you want to feel grateful for being alive and inspired to build something BIG with your time here, this is the book for you!
Don’t forget, if you’re so unmotivated you can barely read… all of these are available as audiobooks too!
5. The world’s most counter-intuitive tactic for putting yourself in epic productivity mode
Last but not least, our final hack comes from the great writer Raymond Chandler.
All writers know the epic procrastination battle that is “writer's block”. Chandler’s fix works just as well for entrepreneurial “business block”!
His strategy was simple. He told himself: “Write, or do nothing.”
Most people – when procrastinating – will do something or anything other than the thing they’re supposed to be doing.
You can perform some incredible judo on your own mind by allowing yourself to procrastinate, on the one condition that you do nothing at all.
Simply say to yourself: “Either I complete this task, or I just sit here not doing anything at all.”
If you are really, really stuck in procrastination you might burn half an hour sitting in a meditative state. Doing nothing. Eventually, you’ll get bored enough that you’ll want to finish your goal.
This hack really works.
Most people try to fight procrastination by willing themselves to do the uncomfortable thing they’re avoiding. It’s an endless internal struggle.
The “Do Nothing” tactic elegantly sidesteps that struggle. Instead, it focuses on avoiding the activities that allow you to procrastinate.
This is a battle it’s much easier to win. You end up in the preposterous situation of doing nothing at all… where you’re forced to confront the silliness of continuing to procrastinate.
Try the do-nothing hack and see for yourself to find your motivation back.
If you’re stuck in an unmotivated state and fed up with feeling that way, there are two powerful exercises you can complete in minutes that will ignite your sense of drive and help you get motivation.
Add any of our five motivation hacks to these exercises to supercharge your mental state.
Before you know it, you’ll be back in productivity mode - knocking things off your to-do list and pushing your life and business forward with passion.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What motivation is needed to succeed as an entrepreneur?
To win big as an entrepreneur, you’ll of course need the passion to take bold action and the vision to apply it to the right things.
Successful motivation for entrepreneurs isn’t just about finding the drive to act on the good days when you’re naturally fired up. It’s also about surrounding yourself with the right structure and accountability to ensure you’re ultra-productive even on days when willpower is lacking.
The best approach to motivation will set you up to make success inevitable even on days (and weeks) when you’re not the best version of yourself!
2. What are the eight motivators for a successful entrepreneur?
The eight motivators for a successful entrepreneur include::
a compelling vision,
the pursuit of passion,
the desire for innovation,
a growth mindset,
a commitment to learning,
the ambition to leave a legacy,
and the drive for financial success.
3. How can I motivate myself to hustle?
Motivating yourself to hustle is about recognizing that passion comes mainly from winning and when you’re just starting out, it’s structure and accountability that ultimately create the energy and focus to start taking action.
The initial wins you need to start sustaining a streak of enthusiasm for motivation need to start somewhere. By using accountability and the right weekly planning ritual, you can set future-you up for success by setting clear priorities and pre-committing yourself to the course of action you’ve chosen.