So you’ve swerved onto the rumble strips along the road to your entrepreneurial dreams.
Welcome to the club.
The club includes just about every other member of the human race who has ever started something brave and new. In every entrepreneurial success story, there is a time, if not multiple times, when setbacks occurred, chances were taken and motivation was lost.
Think about Steve Jobs getting fired from his own company. Or Mark Zuckerberg dropping out of Harvard and moving to Silicon Valley on a whim. At least you’re in good company. At moments like these, it is important to take the right steps to get yourself back on track.
Here are seven suggestions to keep yourself motivated:
1. Be mindful and restore yourself physically.
We tend to neglect our bodies when our minds are overwhelmed by stress. But keeping and maintaining a regular health routine is critical for entrepreneurs, especially when faced with challenges. Take a yoga class. Sit in a quiet room and meditate. Go for a jog near a body of water. The point is to do something to get your endorphins flowing, to clear your mind a bit and to re-energize yourself. As the saying goes, “Sometimes you have to slow down to speed up.” Take a moment for your health and it will pay dividends in the long run.
2. Read fiction.
Step out of your world for an hour and read a good fiction book. As our society moves toward more bite-sized, digital content, the benefits of fiction for entrepreneurs are increasingly being recognized. After reading fiction, individuals tend to empathize better, demonstrate superior focus and learn to approach obstacles in new ways. Reading, similar to exercise, helps to replenish us in a seemingly counterintuitive manner. It helps us to step away for a moment, then approach our challenges more effectively. And you never know, the right reference to a client’s favorite character or novel just might close the deal one day.
3. Hear from leaders who have been through it.
There’s nothing quite like an inspirational I-did-it-and-you-can-too story. The entrepreneurial world is full of stories of tragedy and triumph that inspired great new businesses. Latch onto those stories and learn from them. Try out a few tips that successful entrepreneurs who have overcome adversity have tried when they were struggling. This could mean checking out the biography of one of these leaders or just browsing YouTube for their inspirational speeches and interviews. Learn from others’ experiences as much as you can in this moment to better your chance of success in the future.
4. Level up your approach with strategic reading.
If you read any two books during this time, check out What Got You Here Won’t Get You There and Lincoln on Leadership. The first is a great read on retooling one’s thinking as an entrepreneur and manager who must constantly evolve in a leadership role. The author, Marshall Goldsmith, writes on personal development as the key to better management. Again, focusing internally on changing behavior patterns is crucial to finding the means to overcome trying times and ultimately improve as an entrepreneur. The book on Abraham Lincoln emphasizes the powerful lessons of leadership to be gleaned from one of the most remarkable leaders in modern history. Talk about a leader who went through tough times!
5. Talk to your mentors.
People love giving advice, so take full advantage. Think of your network of mentors as a personal board of directors who you can consistently reach out to in search of support and guidance. Some of them might even be able to offer material support in the form of investment, referrals and key introductions to influencers. Your mentors are an opportunity to expand your reach and broaden your thinking.
6. Write it out.
Whether it’s a blog or a personal journal, some of the most thoughtful leaders and entrepreneurs in the field keep a record of their experiences on the road to success. Many of them turn these snippets into best-selling novels when they make it big—Bill Gates and Richard Branson, to name a few. At the very least, use writing as a way to process what you are going through, to strategize, and maybe even to build a following of peers who share ideas and support each other. Although it can be hard to find time for writing, schedule it into your workday (at least 15 minutes) because, in the end, it will add value.
7. Keep calm and do what you do.
Take this moment to recalibrate your goals and stick to them. The path to entrepreneurial success is never a straight one. It is a winding road full of thorns, thickets and all types of obstacles. That is part of the fun! But in the frenetic pace of an entrepreneur’s life, sometimes you will need to pause and reassess how you are approaching those micro-challenges.
Remember that you are where you are for a lot of good reasons. The success you seek ultimately lies within you. You’re just doing the work right now to let that even better version of yourself shine through. You’ve got this. Enjoy the ride.