Why I’m No Longer Motivated By Money

This week I’m back and want to share with you what I’ve learned around staying motivated while trying to reach your design and career goals. I’m positive that at whatever level you are at, you’ll  find value in this week’s lesson. Let’s get started!

My Experience:

I’ve shared with you in the past my routine for getting things done, but that post didn’t really talk much about motivation. In my opinion, the only way you’ll ever reach your goals as a designer is by staying motivated and connected with your peers.

By nature, I’m not a self-motivated person on a daily basis. I generally like to have my mind focussed much further into the future. Yes, that helps me stay motivated towards the bigger vision and keeps me navigated in the right direction, but I still need to be able to get things done in the near future. So how do I do that?

Early on in my career, I was easily motivated by finding a job that I loved. Just simply being in the industry was motivating. Then I became motivated by having clients, making my own money and winning awards. I remember the feeling I had when I set up my work station to become a freelancer for the very first time. I had an empty external hard drive and I wondered if I was ever going to fill the hard drive with client work. I eventually did and then eventually filled my own server. Soon winning clients and making a living solely on me and Julie’s own creations stopped being a motivator for me.

Here’s what I think happens. As your needs change, or you start reaching these tiny little goals like; filling a hard drive, winning your own projects, making a living you no longer are motivated by them. You’ve done it. You need something more. Yes, some people find it very rewarding and motivating to be in the trenches and often times that simple satisfaction of making someone happy or getting a big pat on the back is all they need. Unfortunately, I’ve found that I’m not that guy. I’m not easily motivated for the long term by tiny little goals. Yes, I do like money and I like getting paid the proper value for what I create. However, paying someone for their work, is just businesses. It alone doesn’t motivate me to reach my goals. I need more than that.

So, through trial and error, I’ve found that what keeps me motivated is surrounding myself with people, connections and things who naturally motivate me. These motivators are not goals, they are actually tangible things and as long as they progress along, I’ll always be able to look up towards them for motivation. These motivators could be other entrepreneurs, authors, designers, agencies or products. So who are my motivators?

To begin with, my wife is my biggest motivator. She’s the reason that I not only get up in the morning, but has helped me make it this far in my career. She makes me feel like I can tackle anything that I put my mind toward, supports me 110 percent and allows me to take some risks. We’re in it together. Through life and business. Whether I succeed or fail it effects her. How could that not be motivating?

Another motivator that keeps me going every week, are you guys. With every post that I write for this blog, or every page I write in The Designer’s Handbook, I know I’m helping hundreds of designers who are eager to improve their careers. It’s a great feeling and I’m honored to have you guys tuning in and giving me the kind feedback!

I’m also motivated by my fellow peers. Because I’m naturally weak at holding myself accountable to my tasks every week, I have appointments with my peers to help ensure that I complete my list of tasks every week. I also use this method for the occasional touch-base on larger projects. Doing this keeps me motivated and encouraged. Here’s how it works.

I have a handful of peers online that I regularly stay engaged with. They all specialize in different areas or are doing similar things. Every week or two, I ask them to follow up with me in regards to the status of any given project. I also volunteer to do the same thing for them. It’s really motivating to get an email from someone from across the word asking me how things are progressing. It’s nice to have that support and it also helps me keep my connections warm.

Because I’m also stimulated by real world connections, every two weeks, I share my two week to-do list with a friend. This friend is also working on a book, writing a blog and doing other great things. We then schedule a morning hike, where we talk through some of our struggles and wins from the last two weeks. These walks have proven to be a great way of bouncing ideas off each other and recharging. He’s become very beneficial in helping me stay on track and work through challenges and insecurities. I greatly appreciate it.

The above to-do list is not just shared with him. I also share it with others who I feel will help me achieve my goals across different areas. The reason being is that by sharing my list and goals with my peers, I not only get validation that these are the goals that I should be focussing on, but these peers now have a better idea on how they can help me reach them. If people know where I’m going, they can help me much easier than if I kept everything a secret.

Perhaps the biggest reason that this has worked for me is because by nature I don’t want to fail at what I’m doing. I’m not afraid to admit failure and learn from it, but I’m not one to let my peers down or ruin my reputation. So by having them hold me accountable for my to-do list and goals, I’m now motivated from within to get my list completed (to at least the best of my abilities) and work hard each and every week.

The design and web industry is a great industry. Yes, it can be competitive, but competition is good. What I think I love most about it is that everyone is always so eager to help and offer some additional value to whatever you may being working on. Maybe this is because technology makes it easy? Or maybe it’s because I’ve learned and accepted the fact that nobody can truly get anything completed alone.

What I’ve Learned about Staying Motivated.  

  • Motivation can’t be external: Money, awards and client lists are very short term external motivators and you’ll eventually find that they no longer carry the weight and momentum that you need to stay motivated. Often times when you just set focus on these external motivators, you’ll have nothing to turn to once you reach them. The only way to stay truly motivated and make it easier to  push through the bad days is by having a strong internal motivator. Find a motivator that is genuine and matters deeply to you. Once you do, the bad days become much easier to get through.
  • Know where you are going: You really can’t get anywhere if you have no clue where you’re going. I’m always looking towards to future. Planning and often times re-evaluating. To stay motivated and on track you need to have a clear plan. Not something fuzzy. Don’t just say that you want to work for a large company, say that you want to work for company ABC or with client ABC. Envision yourself in that spot even if it is 10 years from now. Doing this will allow you to write a clear path and make the connections needed to reach that very specific goal. The clearer the path the easier it is to stay on course and motivated.
  • You can’t do it alone: No matter what you want to think, you can’t reach your goals and stay motivated alone. The old me used to think that I could and even worse may have believed I did, but looking back, I didn’t. I’ve had an enormous amount of help from people of all walks. Nothing is done alone and you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help and surround yourself with the people who you know can help you.
  • Recognize how far you’ve come: I’d be lying if I said that I’m always motivated and never hard on myself. Even with the tools I’m sharing with you today, you’ll still have those moment where you feel like you may never reach your goals and are left feeling very unmotivated to push through. When those moments happen, stop and look back across the year and list out everything you’ve accomplished. You’d be amazed at your progression. Nothing happens over night. It’s in the journey, where the true teachings happen.
  • Refresh yourself sometimes: I think sometimes we feel like if we’re not working hard enough, we are failing. If you find yourself in a tiny slump, take some time to refresh, then figure out how you can begin to work smarter not harder.

My Takeaway:

As some of you may already know, the only way to expect to maintain a blog and newsletter is through finding the motivation each and every week to commit to your audience. This same thing is true with other aspects of your career. Things are never easy and sometimes they can become very tiring. To stay motivated, you have to be aware of yourself at all times and find an internal motivator that can carry you through.

If you’re feeling like you are struggling with your goals, reach out for help. Your peers are a good place to start. They want to see you succeed and they too may be needing the extra jolt. Nothing has ever been created alone and by sharing my goals and struggles with others, I’ve actually been able to reach my goals quicker and build long lasting relationships in the process.

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