Many of the entrepreneurs I mentor often ask me what is the key to entrepreneurial success. Without a doubt, passion, the willingness to work hard, a smart business strategy and the right associations are all pivotal to thrive. But even if you have all these things, you can still fail if you simply aren’t motivated to start or persevere when you finally do.
So how do you get the boost you need to begin and follow through to the end?
Motivation Fuels Your Dreams
I believe motivation is like fuel: If you have enough, you will have the drive to vigorously pursue both your short-term and long-term goals. But without it, your progress will likely stall.
Research has shown that motivation levels are highly correlated with career success. However, there is an important distinction every entrepreneur should understand: Not all forms of motivation are created equal. To better understand this, let me explain the difference between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation.
Extrinsic motivation is driven by external rewards like money, fame or positive feedback. If you have ever dreamed of becoming a famous entrepreneur, you have likely fantasized about the wealth and lifestyle that accompanies it. This line of thinking is based on extrinsic motivation.
Intrinsic motivation, on the other hand, is driven by internal rewards: Essentially, things we find personally rewarding. When we do something because we are passionate about it, or because we deeply enjoy the process, we are intrinsically motivated.
Although the prospect of becoming rich and celebrated appeals to many, the truth is that intrinsic motivation is far more powerful. For example, one long-term study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showed that West Point cadets who identified as being intrinsically motivated were 20 percent more likely to graduate than those focused on external goals. External rewards, as attractive as they are in the abstract, simply don’t have the same motivating power as deeply-held passions.
How to Boost Your Motivation
Motivation can be very elusive, so it helps to have a few areas to focus on to keep moving forward.
- Acknowledge Your Progress: It’s important to recognize your own progress. Too often, we have a tendency to belittle or dismiss the progress we have made. This is a big mistake. Research has shown that acknowledging and honoring your own progress is one of the most powerful intrinsic motivators for individuals. Even what I call “little wins” should be acknowledged.
- Rely on Friends: You should build a network of people that support your endeavors. Although intrinsic motivation is critical, having a supportive circle of friends and advisors to offer informed feedback and constructive advice is also very important.
- Pace Yourself: Although starting a new endeavor is exciting, the bloom quickly wears off once long hours of hard work are exerted. Fatigue can easily set in and zap your motivation. To avoid this from happening, pace yourself and take the necessary break and time off to refuel your juices. This is a surefire way to ignite your passion and motivation.
- Focus on the Big Picture: Keeping the right perspective is essential. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will any great business. By focusing on the incremental advances you are making toward your ultimate goal, you will be able to stay in the right frame of mind and remain motivated.
Your Next Move
Motivation is critical to succeeding both personally and professionally. Foster intrinsic and extrinsic motivation to achieve your goals. By taking small actionable steps, acknowledging your progress, relying on the support of friends and keeping your eye on the prize, you will realize your ambitions.
Contact me to learn more about becoming empowered to realize your dreams.