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Staying motivated

Updated: Oct 18, 2020

I've had a few people ask me talk about this topic, so here goes. As most of us know by now, being an illustrator isn't all rainbows and giggles. It has it's frustrating parts for sure and it's fair share of things that fall under the Uuugh-category. But as ugh as doing your taxes, learning about email marketing or practicing drawing hands might be, you know you have to get 'em done.

So to help with that, here are a few tricks I use to keep myself motivated or at least get myself from Ugh to Eh, hopefully they might be helpful for you too even if you're not an illustrator:

1. Sprinkle some fun on it Now I know you can't make a boring task fun, but you can surround the task with a bunch of nice little things to make it more enjoyable. For example, if you have to reply to a bunch of emails, you could make yourself an extra nice cup of coffee, add come cookies next to it, put on your favorite playlist and bam! It's a tiny bit better. Because cookies make everything a tiny bit better.

2. Set up a reward for when you're finished If you're the kind of person that needs 0 distractions when they work, then how about setting up a little present for your future self, the one that got the job done? It can be something like a nap, an ice cream, an episode of Drag Race, whatever works. You have to practice a bit of self-restraint to not jump for the reward before you've finished, but trust me, getting that reward AND the feeling that you've really earned it is so much sweeter.

3. Keep it small

If you're finding it hard to get started, then try setting goals that are just so teeny tiny that they're not even worth ignoring. Not looking forward to sitting through that 2 hour tutorial? How about 10 minutes? Can you handle 10 minutes? If that's too much, start with 5. Whenever I get started, I find it much easier to keep going.

In the book "Mini Habits: Smaller Habits, Bigger Results", the author Stephen Guise talks about how he built a daily workout routine by setting his goal at 1 push-up a day and more often than not, it ended up being much more than just that.

4. Pay attention to what gets you feeling motivated Is it a TED talk? A podcast? Going to museums? Just keep your eye out for moments when you feel like "Oh man, I'm so pumped right now!". If you know what triggers these moments for you, then you can use them whenever you need an extra boost.

Ideally you could also keep these in mind and try to make it a habit to do these once in a while, just to keep your motivation tank from emptying out.

5. Give yourself the pep talk that you need I've recently started journaling and it's proving more helpful than I ever expected. I sit down at my desk in the morning and before I do anything else, I start writing. Sometimes I feel like I don't have much to write so I just write a sentence or two. But sometimes I feel like I have stuff to get off my chest, stuff that's making it harder for me to get things done so I put them on paper. It starts off with me complaining or feeling down for not getting more done already but once I'm done with all that then I turn into my own cheerleader and start writing to convince myself that I've got this dammit! Once you're feeling pepped up, the rest is a piece of cake. Sometimes a piece of cake helps too btw.

6. Remind yourself why you have to get stuff done Sometimes when your motivation's run low, it's a sign that you've lost track of the bigger picture, so try to remind yourself why you have to do the ugh thing. For example, you have to reach out to a bunch of podcasts because you want to be a guest on a few because that would bring you more clients and that'd make your side hustle more successful and get you one step closer to turning it from a side hustle to a career. Now it seems much more important to just pipe up and send those damn emails, doesn't it?

7. Motivation is unreliable, so teach yourself discipline At the end of the day, you can do all those things and still feel unmotivated because motivation is just unreliable by nature since it relies so much on feelings. But if you put that aside and learn to be disciplined and do the work even when you're not feeling like it, then that'll take you far. If you've ever had a regular job, you probably already know what it's like to go to work even when you're feeling unmotivated. But you show up anyway. And that's exactly what you should do for your own hustle too

If you have any tricks you use to keep yourself motivated or learn to be disciplined, I'd love to hear them.

P.S. Sometimes you just need a rest, so don't be too hard on yourself.

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