I’ve been slacking on my blog. It’s simply been difficult to find the motivation to do it with everything going on right now—mother-in-law with breast cancer, spouse with a mysterious pain in her inside parts and unable to get healthcare (the healthcare problem was recently solved after a year of struggle), packing my mother-in-law’s house to move out of state, packing up our own house to move into my mother-in-law’s house, helping run my spouse’s interior design business, and having to pour my own cup of coffee…finding the motivation to blog in my spare time instead of veg on the couch is difficult. So I’d taken a break. Thankfully, life is starting to calm a bit.
As I introspected in my gravity-powered water-box of introspection and argumentation (i.e., shower), I thought about self-motivation. It’s a quality that all entrepreneurs share by necessity. They don’t have bosses to offer stress-induced motivation—the fear of getting caught slacking off and being fired incentivizes people to eschew hedonistic or slothful whims and stay focused on the task at hand. It’s part of what keeps us from napping on the job, or sleeping in and staying home to scroll through our facebook and twitter feeds as we binge-watch Dune, the complete Star Wars series, and Game of Thrones. Entrepreneurs don’t inherently have that stress to motivate them. Some eventually have a board of directors and shareholders, or a number of employees that depend upon the entrepreneur’s success, which provides that stress-motivator. However, initially they had to motivate themselves, either to leave their current job and take the leap into entrepreneurship, or to get off the couch and take that leap instead of finding a more secure form of income. Either way you spread it, entrepreneurship is like cold butter on toast.
Sometimes we look at successful entrepreneurs and wonder how they made it. Usually, it starts with a simple idea—wouldn’t it be great to be able to transfer money to a friend without the expensive bank transfer fees, week-long wait times, and do it all from your computer? And that’s how we have PayPal. Well…that and a lot of choosing work over play, which is what it really boils down to—chosing work over play. Someone once told me: for every unique idea you’ve ever had, ten people have already had it; each new invention demonstrates that one person who persevered among the hoard of others with the same idea, to make that idea a reality. They got up early instead of sleeping in, opted to eat ramen to save money for a prototype, worked on business models instead of playing video games. They were the ones that did what it took to turn their idea into a reality.
Writers generally have an uphill struggle when it comes to self-motivation. There aren’t any employees or board of directors to keep happy, no fear of getting fired. Generally speaking, writers don’t have an external stress-motivator, and generating our own motivation can seem like an everyday struggle. But if we want to be successful writers, that’s exactly what we have to do.
One way to look at self-motivation is to perceive it as more of a skill than a quality. At first, those of us who aren’t naturally self-motivated (for any number of reasons, including depression) may need a little help generating our motivation. For me, I like to leave the house if I’m having difficulties focusing on my work. I might go to a coffee shop, or head out to the woods and sit with the trees. Sometimes it just takes a little jaunt away from the city for me to recalibrate. Staying at home, surrounded by life’s small distractions, can be a motivational vampire. Leaving the comforts of our house can sometimes act as the stress-motivator we need. Thus we train ourselves, day in and day out, week after week, months bleeding into months until we no longer need forced motivators.
Working for someone is easy. Working for yourself is hard. Writing for a living challenges what is possible.