Intrinsic motivation is one of the most difficult things to maintain, as you are the only thing that pushes a task forward. Being driven by intrinsic motivation means you do an activity for its inherent satisfaction rather than for some separable consequence. You are moved to act for the fun or challenge entailed rather than because of external motivators, like money, fame, or approval.
Maintaining intrinsic motivation can be particularly difficult for people with “side hustles”. You don’t always rely on the income from a passion you pursue on the side to sustain your life and often time, there is little to nothing at all that depends on how well your hustle performs. So then how do you stay motivated to put in the fuckin work??? I’ve got three tips for staying intrinsically motivated that are sure to help push you forward in all things hustle.
It can be so easy to fall into the hole of “why bother”, “what’s the point”, “is this even worth it”?! And getting out of that hole is hard. Sometimes it feels unimaginable, but I would like to assure you it is not impossible. If you can maintain your intrinsic motivation, then jumping over that hole becomes a lot easier.
"Intrinsic motivation occurs when we act without any obvious external rewards. We simply enjoy an activity or see it as an opportunity to explore, learn, and actualize our potentials."
1. Take a moment to think about how far you have come
This one is important. Often, when you fall into the hole of uncertainty, it is because you feel like all the efforts you have been making are getting you nowhere, fast. Running a business, especially one that is not extrinsically motivated by money, it's difficult to see all the strides forward you have made because you are in it all the time. Meaning, you are the one making every decision, coordinating every move, planning every event. Regularly, you see your passion on a micro-level. It is easy to get wrapped up in the little things and feel you have accomplished nothing.
But in order to understand how far you have come and feed your intrinsic motivation, it is important to take a looooooot of steps back and look at things from a macro-level. Sometimes this means making a list of every single thing you worked on during the day. You may feel you spent an unreasonable amount of time on your phone and daydreaming about where you wish your business was, yet when you write everything down, you realize the list is long.
Still not feeling accomplished? Take another step back. What did you do for your business in the past month? The previous quarter? How about over the course of the year?
If, after looking at all the things you have accomplished, you still don’t feel motivated to keep moving forward, then… well, perhaps your passion doesn’t bring you joy in this form. But check in with tip number two before you decide to throw in the towel.
2. Think about why you started in the first place
Sometimes you get so consumed by the work it takes to run a small business that you forget why you loved doing the thing in the first place. Take the time to remember what it is you love about creating art, photographs, music, candles, jewelry, poems, etc. You used to do this thing just because it was fun. Just because you loved it.
What is it about your passion that made you fall in love with it. If it was the process of creating, then set more time aside to create. If it was the way you felt when you completed a task, then spend extra time with tip number one, really relish the moment of celebrating what you completed.
Basically, make more space in your life to hype up your accomplishments. You may not be doing the things because you want to reward yourself with a bottle of champagne or a nice new pair of shoes but if you don’t take a moment to celebrate yourself for doing the damn thing, then you can get easily lost in the mundane feeling of doing all the work.
Still not feeling motivated? Still considering giving up? I’ve got one more tip for you.
3. What would your best friend say?
You tell them EVERYTHING. From what you'll be wearing on your date with that adorable tattoo artist to the name of your business. And they have been not only your sounding board for all the decisions you’ve had to make, but also your most enthusiastic fan. Your best friend is routing for you to succeed.
This is not about approval. Your best friend supports you no matter what. But you can bet your overwhelmed ass they would help talk you out of that “why bother” hole you’ve been digging. So take a couple minutes and think about what they would say to you if you texted them right now and said, “why am I even putting myself through this?”
Can’t imagine what they would say? Then go ahead and send that text. Don’t imagine, actually have that hype conversation. Let your best friend remind you of how exceptional you are and why you have been toiling away on this project.
Your best friend always has your back. They will remind you why you have to stay intrinsically motivated.
For someone with a side hustle, intrinsic motivation is one of the most difficult things to maintain, as you are the only thing that pushes a task forward. It can be so easy to fall into the hole of “is this even worth it”?! And getting out of that hole is hard. Sometimes it feels unimaginable. But, if you take a moment to think about how far you have come, remember why you started in the first place, and consider how your best friend would respond if you said “why do I even bother”, I am sure that you will find your intrinsic motivation.