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Or...How to Motivate Yourself When All You Want to Do is Play Candy Crush.

Every business owner has been there. We set ambitious goals and then find ourselves struggling to achieve them. Let’s face it. It’s HARD to keep yourself motivated and positive when you feel like you’re coming up against a wall. But, when we find ourselves unable to move forward and closer to our goals, it’s time to take a step back.

It’s all fine and good to give yourself a pep talk, or to tell yourself that all you need is a positive attitude. But in reality, just having a positive attitude isn’t going to help you move the needle. And really…just telling yourself to “get over it” isn’t going to remove the underlying obstacles to your success. 

So, what CAN you do to get yourself moving forward again?

TAKE A COLD HARD LOOK AT THE BIGGER PICTURE

It’s human nature to externalize and place blame for things not going our way. It’s called “external attribution.” Instead of taking responsibility for a situation, we blame everyone and everything else. This is a bad idea for two reasons. One, you may be missing the REAL reason for your lack of success, which means you’ll never remedy the problem. And two, you can’t control many of these external factors, so blaming them is tantamount to saying you have no control over changing anything. And when you feel like you have no control, that’s when things get really dark.

So if you’re feeling “stuck” what can you do? These two things will help…

First, take a step back and really think through what your true obstacles are. It could be things like:

  1. I’m not sure what my next steps should be.
  2. The strategy I’ve adopted is not optimal to achieve my goals.
  3. My actions have been unfocused.
  4. My initial attempts have failed and I’m stuck bemoaning the fact.
  5. I’m finding myself blaming others or just blaming the universe!
  6. I’m just wallowing in self-pity.

If you can first identify exactly what is causing your roadblock, chances are you’ll be able to remove them successfully.  

Second, realize that the roadblock is what is keeping you from taking the ACTION you need to be successful. It’s the ACTION that will get you there.

SO WHAT IS THE ACTION?

The appropriate action is specific to your goal. But, it IS the action or actions you need to take to get you there. So, figuring out what the appropriate action is where you need to spend your energy. Successful people are problem solvers. They can SEE what they want and then determine how to get it. That’s not to say that even successful people may fail at times. But, when they do, successful people determine WHY they failed and figure out what they need to do differently. The important take-away here is to focus on what you WANT, not on what you didn’t get and make a plan to get you there.

Here's a real example of a simple goal and how to focus on the action needed, not the failure:

Let’s pretend business has been slow (not so hard to pretend…we’ve all been there). We’ve heard about “low hanging fruit” and how it’s easier to sell to current and past clients than to bring in new prospects. So, let’s use a customer reactivation campaign as an example.

In a customer reactivation campaign, you sent out emails to your database inviting people to take you up on a new offer. The response was really poor and very discouraging. Your first reaction could have been that the email strategy didn’t work and to abandon the campaign all together. Or, you can decide to just spend your afternoon trolling on Facebook and playing Candy Crush Saga. Can you say “avoidance?”

Instead, you think about what you were trying to achieve and how you might better achieve it. You identify possible shortcomings of the campaign:

  1. The headline might have been misleading or uninteresting
  2. The time of day you sent might not have been optimal
  3. People may have noticed it, but weren’t ready to take action
  4. Your call to action may not have been optimal

Then you developed your “next steps” strategy to address these possible shortcomings.

  1. You rewrote the headline to include some urgency and interest
  2. You resent emails to the list to engage with anyone who might have missed it the first time around
  3. You sent on a different day of the week and different time of day
  4. You sent different messages to people who opened but didn’t respond, and to those who never opened the first email
  5. You decided to keep the call to action, but use a more personalized tone in the messaging.

The point here is to get past the “this doesn’t work” attitude and to take a look at the bigger picture, then take action to address any possible obstacles.

Sometimes we do have to give ourselves a “kick in the pants” to move past inaction or playing the blame game. But, if you’re feeling stuck, and basically feeling sorry for yourself…then that’s a good sign that you’re focusing on the wrong things. Be analytical. You’ll find that once you have a viable strategy for tackling the problem, you’ll feel energized and regain that positive outlook that has gotten you this far.