The hardest thing about being an artistic entrepreneur, or any type of entrepreneur, isn’t learning how to run a business. It isn’t figuring out social media or marketing. It isn’t connecting with your audience.
It’s staying motivated.
That was one of the nasty surprises I found once I started trying to work as a creative entrepreneur. I started off dreaming of what life would be like once I “made it” as an artist (in my case, as a writer), and that was enough to push me forward for the first few months. Blog posts? Social media? Attending publishing seminars and learning about better reach my long-term goals? Easy. I couldn’t wait to do all of it.
But the harder I worked, the more frustrated I felt. I was making progress, but I felt years away from reaching my initial goal. I was putting in the work, but I wasn’t seeing any meaningful gains.
Motivation is something that a lot of entrepreneurs struggle with. It’s normal, but it can also make it a lot harder to get things done. So, what do you have to do to wake up brimming with motivation every morning?
Set Short-term Goals
What I learned was that it doesn’t work to focus on the reward that is years away. Hold onto it, pull it out to dream about once in a while, but that can’t be the only goal that you’re focused on right now. You need to set smaller goals for along the way.
What are your goals for this month? This week? What about for today? Break it down. Traditional business entrepreneurs might set a goal to make $40 a day, starting out. As an artist, your goal might be to meaningfully interact with two new potential contacts by the end of the day, or to share your work three times a week with new audience members. Don’t stop for the day until you meet this goal. Set each short-range goal (day/week/month) to complement the others. If your daily goal is to interact with two new contacts a day, your weekly goal might be to have a second interaction with five of those contacts, and turn that into three or four new business relationships by the end of the month.
Set Mid-range Goals
Your business needs mid-range goals, too. What is your goal for six months or a year from now? What do you have to do to complete each goal? Goals that are 6-12 months out are big enough to be important in the overall growth of your career, but not so big that you feel like your progress is too slow to count. You can see your progress at the end of each week, so it’s easier to keep moving forward.
Be productive earlier in the day; get 30% of your work done within the first three hours of waking up, or as soon as your schedule allows. The point is not to put off the work until later in the day. Jump in and be productive as soon as you can. This early momentum can help you to be more motivated (and more productive) as the day progresses.
Finally, step away from the computer and be active in a way that has nothing to do with your art. If you’re a dancer, go play basketball, go for a walk, pull your bike out of the garage, go swimming, try a new class at the local gym or fitness center, or find some other activity that gets you out of the office for a while. And, whatever you choose, do it regularly. It’s hard to stay motivated when you’re burnt out. You need time every day when you can put everything aside and enjoy life. Even a couple 20-minute breaks throughout the day can have a lasting impact on your motivation.
Motivation isn’t easy, even when you love your career. Accept that there will be days when you aren’t motivated. One or two days aren’t a problem, but if you are regularly struggling to motivate yourself, you might be approaching burnout. Take some time off, but first, set a day to get back to work, and then hold yourself to that. A few days off shouldn’t turn into a few weeks away from trying to grow your career as a creative entrepreneur. Step back for a while, but then get right back to work on achieving your goals.