Motivation. Kind of a funny word, isn’t it? And so personal, really. What motivates one person, is sure to be a ‘huh, what?’ for another. But what a very important word. Well, concept really. Without motivation, we’d never get anything done. Motivation fits nicely in psychologist Abraham Maslow’s theory of how we, as humans, operate within the universe. And although it’s arguably one of the most important (if not THE most important) aspect of our lives, it can also be one of the most elusive and most difficult things to keep hold of.
I need to thank my good friend and fellow voice actor Wayne Henderson for the ‘inspiration’ for this post. I was struggling with the motivation topic, but Wayne asked a question in our voice over marketing think tank page recently about how we deal with lulls. Well, that prompted me to write! Cuz, you know…I’m just a wealth of knowledge.
It happens. We all, no matter how successful we are, suffer from lulls. Lulls in business, where nothing seems to be coming our way. Lulls in our energy. Lulls in our motivation. It’s very difficult when we’re faced with these lulls, and they can really wreak havoc with…well everything. So very destructive too, if you don’t recognize when it’s happening, or, when you freak out about it (yep, been there, done that, bought the tee-shirt). Even though lulls and lack of motivation affect everyone, it can be especially tough on the self-employed, because, well, because if we self-employed peeps start to suffer from that sometimes crippling disease Motivation-Avada-Kedavra, we ain’t makin’ no moola.
I’m going to give you some advice from my world – the voice acting world. This is how I combat lack of motivation and lulls in work. It may or may not work for you (whatever your ‘world’ is), but hopefully the concepts I share will at least get you thinking about the process, and you’ll develop your own system. So, here we go…
First off, I like to grab a piece of paper and kind of create a ‘mind map’ of things. For example, when I started developing my business plan for 2015, I wrote down what it was I wanted to achieve in the year. Like…a 30,000 foot view look at it. The big picture. Mine was to make XX% more money in the voice over world than last year. Then, I took that, and broke it down into component parts. What did I need to do to make the big item happen? Book more VO jobs. Then, took that even lower: how do you book more VO jobs? By auditioning for more, etc. Sounds simple, but you’d be amazed how this sort of thing just slips right by your mind. Then, after working out all the little pieces, make it official by creating a document, be it a Word or Pages document, or whatever. But make it something you can look at. Trust me, this works.
Now, how does this help lulls and lack of motivation? Glad you asked!
Lulls are simply down time when you really look at them. Created because you have no work to fill them. By doing the ‘mind map’, and creating a plan of action, you’ll have things to do all the time in order to complete your ultimate goal. If my goal is to be a more successful voice actor, well, I need to work more, audition more and get my name and brand out there more. That means more auditioning and….a LOT of marketing. So, even if you’re not actually working, that doesn’t mean you stop working. Get your name out there by posting on social media, hosting podcasts, or, even writing a blog 🙂 MARKETING. ‘Yeah, that’s easy for you to say Al. What do I do if I’m not motivated?’ Great question!
Lack of motivation doesn’t always mean having no ‘reason’ to do something. For me, getting a little ‘down’, or even feeling way overwhelmed because you have a LOT to do, can lead to what I call ‘motivation leak’. That’s when you WANT to do something, but just can’t seem to FOCUS. (Sound familiar?). Happens more often than I’d care to admit.
It’s very difficult to bust through that wall, and to be honest, you’ll need to discover your own method, but for me, I look at it like training. The more you do something, the easier it becomes. For example, when I was younger, I loved to exercise. I was an athlete, and really enjoyed it. Now that I’m….well, NOT so young anymore, I don’t so much. But I understand deep down that it’s good for me. So, I push through it and, even though I don’t WANT to do it, I’ll walk on our treadmill or take the dog for a long walk at the park. And you know what? By the time we get back home, I’m glad I did it. Same thing with my work. I admit that there are times when I’m between jobs, haven’t had a successful audition in weeks, and I just start to feel sorry for myself and think ‘oh what’s the use? why bother?’, or ‘ah…I’ll just do this (or that) tomorrow’. But guess what? If you put it off until tomorrow, it becomes easier to do it again. And again. And again. Remember? The more you do something, the easier it becomes? So, that’s when I’ll open up my official mind map and take a look at it – and get motivated.
I think one of the biggest obstacles to success is that feeling of being overwhelmed. Either with too much to do, or overwhelmed with no work to do. This is what leads to lack of motivation. And, often to the dreaded lull. If you don’t reach out and grab what you want, someone else will…and keep it for themselves. So, I guess what I’m saying is that the key to overcoming ANYTHING in life is inside of you. It’s not always easy to find, and not always easy to shake the lulls or lack of motivation blues, but if you really decide on what you want to do, and push through that temptation to just sit down in a puddle of self-pity pooh, then you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish.
– Stay Groovy