Who doesn’t remember the first phase of starting a business? – Euphoria, tingling in the belly, productivity highs – we feel like the new female unicorns of the business world and switch our mindset permanently into success mode.
And then comes the business midlife crisis and we pick up our smartphone for what feels like the hundredth time a day to look at other women’s success stories, suppressing the question of how we could run out of breath so quickly.
At this point, I would like to dispel a myth: motivation is not the necessary factor to be productive. It is success and joy in the process. If both are present, motivation follows naturally.
Most advisors would now come around the corner with hollow phrases like:
- Find your passion.
- Do what you love.
- Set a goal.
What a bullshit!
These things don’t turn a poor immigrant child with poor scholastic prospects into a graduate of an elite university, they don’t help you achieve business success, and they certainly don’t turn you into an entrepreneur who knows how to stay in the game.
The counter-questions that arise here are obvious:
- If it were so easy to find one’s passion, wouldn’t everyone have done it already?
- Isn’t the love towards my job a bit one-sided, because after all, my job doesn’t love me back?
- Aren’t lofty goals something for privileged white cis women who can afford to quit their jobs and travel the world?
Not all questions can be clarified within the scope of this article. However, with regard to lack of motivation, the following can be said:
The only way to get through a motivational slump is not crude wisdom from third-rate guidebooks. Some love to gamble, watch telenovelas all day or read schmaltzy romance novels, but does that get them ahead in business? – I’m sure you know the answer.
So how do you get through a phase of demotivation and find your way back into flow?
1. focus on the process
Instead of becoming a procrastination champion by pursuing your private hobbies to distract yourself from your real work, dare to change your perspective. Try to find joy in the things you do every day in business, because ultimately it’s not about reaching a goal, it’s about continuing the journey and focusing on the process that will ultimately lead to success. At this point, I like to throw in the famous bamboo example: This first grows five years below the ground, before it subsequently achieves (for all to see) an enormous growth rate within a few weeks.
2. find back to your natural play instinct
“Gamification” is not a buzzword from the unrealistic gaming world of some nerds – it is life- or business-changing. Put yourself in the shoes of an elementary school child. Children do not learn the ABCs by heart, they sing them or associate them with animal pictures to memorize them. You are not desperately trying to remember the solar system, but remember the famous saying “My Father explains me every Sunday our new Planet.” (For those who are now on the fence: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto). Similar is the saying: “Never without Soap washes.” (North, East, South, West). Remember what really drove you as a child and young adult to want to learn something with joy and find your way back to that path. Fun is the key to being more productive because when we enjoy something, we continue to do it, even when we encounter challenges.
3. use your senses
Dark clouds, bad-tempered customers, deadlines, maybe even a sick child and the partner would also like his portion of attention. Sometimes we can’t even drink that much coffee to find the drive we need to complete our tasks. This is where our instinct often helps. Activate your senses. Turn on your favorite music, order yourself something delicious (and healthy!) to eat, which is not perceived as compensation, but as pleasure and properly celebrated. Light a scented candle or take a walk outside.
4. forget the eternal perfection bubble
I’m trying to virtually blow the glitter off the social media bubble we’re all in, because it’s far from perfect behind the scenes. Sometimes we should step away from productivity hacks, schedules, and well-intentioned advice and simply take the easier path. The kids won’t die from a ready-to-eat pizza, the world won’t end if at the end of the day not every customer has been satisfied, and the partner won’t get another rejection but an invitation to a romantic date together. Here I come back to point 2 of my counter-questions: your work doesn’t love you back, but your partner (or even friends/family) can/do give you the necessary time off that your head so desperately needs.
5. become part of a mastermind
Sounds silly, but it’s a gamechanger. What used to be the famous “we-cry-with-a-glass-of-wine-at-our-best-friend’s-house” is now the “I-find-myself-with-like-minded-people-and-work-on-my-challenges-targeted” mode. No one is condemned to always solve their own problems. Unless you have a professional coach by your side as a sparring partner, look to become part of a female power pack. They see stumbling blocks, reflect in a business-oriented way and sometimes give you the necessary kick in the butt. Nothing motivates us more than observing other women also working hard on their goals, yet dedicating their valuable time to your success because they are alpha women and know the benefit of a community.
6. pay attention to your setting
COVID-19 has made it somewhat difficult for everyone to get into the necessary work mode. Especially when you are supposed to be creative from the kitchen table at home, our brain tends to associate the place with culinary delights. No matter what location you work from, look to make sure your setting meets your needs. Some need an environment that allows you to experience many sensations, such as a café or coworking space. Others need distance and peace and quiet and set up their own home office. Third parties find their workplace close to nature. Always create your own circumstances: No café nearby? Then put your desk near the window and observe what you see. You need distance, but the children see it differently? Try to set time slots where you might be able to arrange for assistance with supervision. You are a nature person, but live in the middle of the city? Then bring nature into your home, because it has been proven that plants in the workplace noticeably increase our well-being.
7. replace “I can’t do it” with “I won’t do it”.
Maybe you thought with my previous suggestions that they are not feasible for you. You may even feel your inner resistance to any idea that might get you out of your lovingly dug motivational hole coming up. Only one thing helps here: Get out of the victim role and the comfort zone! The phrases: “I don’t have time”, “I don’t have money”, “I can’t do it” always shift the responsibility from oneself to external circumstances. Get your sovereignty back, because you’re just sabotaging yourself here. Of course you have time, because we all have 24 hours a day. You are just setting your priorities differently here and that is YOUR sovereign decision, recognize it as such. “I can’t do it” is the worst sentence here and should be replaced urgently. You can’t drink because you’re pregnant – okay. But you can’t learn a language, do a challenging project on your own, be productive? – Nope, you can, but you choose not to, and that’s not the fault of any external force, because you know the famous saying:
Give me the serenity to accept things I cannot change, the courage to change things I can, and the wisdom to distinguish one from the other.Reinhold Niebuhr
The only way to get out of this “I-can’t-do-this” spiral is to learn which things REALLY can’t be changed by you and what you can sovereignly determine.
8. forget all the advice
As Cicero said so well, “I know that I know nothing.” Who am I to give you smart advice? In case of doubt, we don’t know each other at all, so it would be presumptuous to put truisms in writing and thereby give them a general validity. At best, consider this article an invitation to get started today. Even if it doesn’t work out right away, don’t be too hard on yourself. After all, a good friend wouldn’t be a “failure” for us either, just because she tried out life as a couch potato for one (or a few) days, would she?
About the author
Kinga Bartczak berät, coacht und schreibt zu Female Empowerment, neuer Arbeitskultur, Organisationsentwicklung systemischen Coaching, und Personal Branding.
Zudem ist sie Geschäftsführerin der UnternehmerRebellen GmbH und Herausgeberin des FemalExperts Magazins.