How To Stay Focused and Motivated (or how I do at least!)
Let me preface this with: I do NOT always have my “stuff” together. I am NOT a lifestyle coach, a business coach, or a coach of any kind - just a person, just like you, who has a list of crap to get done every week, distractions to navigate, and lots of people that rely on me. I’ve been told a lot, by a lot of different people, that they admire how “productive” I am - and this is not a humble brag, but more a reminder that perception is reality and even though YOU may not think you had such a great day, people SEE that you are out there crushing it!
It’s my heart to see people achieve a stress free but productive life that so many of us want, because so many of us wrap our value and identity up in what we can achieve and the quality of our free time. Here you will find an honest, clear, and maybe unconventional approach that works for me to set goals (kinda) and to love yourself and what you do regardless of what everyone else is doing.
Do You Set Bad Goals?
I’ve thought a lot about goals all of my life. I’m sure you can relate to this too: in school we hear that we have to set goals, we have to set them in our workplace for sure, we have health goals, project goals, on and on and on. But no one ever teaches us HOW to set goals, and achievable ones at that. The type A, perfectionist personality that’s both my blessing and curse wrestled with the idea of goals for a long time. My education background taught me that goals should be measurable and specific. Cool. But sometimes, the variables are out of your control (like making X amount of money, booking X amount of clients, etc.), and so the process is then out of your control too.
So how can we create measurable goals that we can achieve if the outcome isn’t directly related to our work? Unpopular opinion: I don’t set goals. Because I don’t measure them like I should, and I’m not motivated by broad, long term goals as much as I am short term ones. Don’t get me wrong, long term goals are great and necessary for setting you on the right path toward achieving something, but if you don’t know how to break down the steps to get there, it can be super overwhelming to the point where you want to give up (i.e., the first 6 years of my business!)
A few tactics I like to use are: making a to-do list for the week and NOT a longer period of time like a year or quarter (more on that in the Boundaries section), staying motivated by simply being MY best and not THE best (more on this in the next Section), and giving yourself GRACE upon grace upon grace for being a normal, busy, screw-up sometimes.
What Motivates You?
When I got married and had to live with another type of achiever, I quickly learned about the different types of motivation. I am not a super competitive person, but my husband sure is. We both get super discouraged by comparing ourself to others (hello, Instagram!), but while he is driven to be better than them, I just want to crawl under a table and eat Takis and feel like crap about myself. If you feel like joining me under here, let me tell you a hard lesson I had to learn: it’s OKAY to just do YOUR best. It’s okay to do just ONE thing on your to-do list. It’s okay to just do one thing to propel your business forward in a day, even if that’s just answering your emails or posting on insta. As long as I am taking a step in the right direction, no matter how small, it’s ok. I am internally motivated to be better than I was yesterday, last week, last year. But that doesn’t mean adding more and more things on top of the number of things I did yesterday. A lot of time it’s setting a standard for yourself and just maintaining that, allowing yourself time to dream of your growth potential projects when your to-do is to-done!
Growth Potential Projects are things that answer the “now what? question. Things like innovative ideas, creative projects, networking leads, or just something NEW to try out (and maybe fail at) to push your standard a little higher, in your own time, when you are ready. For me that means my “off-season” (now!) when I don’t have a ton of weddings and the to-do lists are a little shorter! Would you believe me if I said you probably already have a list of growth potential projects? It’s called your Pinterest boards! I’m here to push you to actually DO those pins and not just collect them. When your daily list is done, fill your time with THAT instead of just vegging out. But if you need to relax and veg some times, that’s okay too! Click here for a list of growth potential projects that could benefit a small business owner!
What Kind of Learner Are You?
I am FOR SURE a visual learner. I tell my teams at church that if they want me to remember something, they have to text me because if I only hear it, it’s gone the next day. If you find yourself forgetting things unless you write it down, if you can’t understand how something works unless you see it, if you like actual books over audio books, if you make lists, if you remember faces but not names, you are likely a visual learner. By knowing the type you are (click here for a good quiz to see!), you can set yourself up for success. Having a written out list that I can see and reference helps me stay focused throughout the day, but if you’re an auditory learner, try making voice memos as ideas pop into your head that you can go back and reference when you find you’ve completed at task.
Do You Have Boundaries?
So by now you know that I love lists. And it was WAY too easy to let them take over my life. It took a patient husband and years of just maturing to accept that I don’t HAVE to cross everything off of my list each day. For the past several months, I switched from a daily to-do list to a WEEKLY one and let me tell you, it’s so life giving. It’s so much easier accepting that tasks aren’t crossed off when I have all week to do them. And yes, there are things that have to be transferred to next week’s list sometimes too. I try to be very strict with myself and not do any work after dinner or on the weekends - no emails, no calls, no editing unless i’m way behind. Do tasks and responsibilities pop up over the weekend? For sure. But I store that away in my mind or a quick note on my phone until Monday morning when I dump everything out on an actual paper to-do list for the week that STAYS at my desk. It helps me keep home for relaxing and makes it the sanctuary it’s supposed to be. It also helps with being intentional about spending time with friends and family.
Surround Yourself with Your Support System
One of the greatest things I’ve ever done for myself or my business is reaching out to other people in my industry to just BE FRIENDS. It instantly puts things into the CORRECT perspective when you can be friends with these PEOPLE and not be jealous of their BUSINESS. Some of my very best friends are my direct competition, and I honestly want to celebrate their successes with them because I care about THEM. There is plenty of business in this world to go around, and as long as you compete with YOU to be better than you were in the past, you are winning.
A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure to meet up and play around with one of my dear photographer friends Kate of Opal and Jaye Photography. She has been such a treasure in coaching me in social media strategies and just being a constant encourager and inspiration. We both are obsessed with color, and use that to draw us together and help stand out in a market saturated in light and airy photos. During our afternoon together, were totally losing our minds over NYC’s new museum, The Color Factory. Check out some of the fun highlights of our adventure, shot and edited by Kate!