Long term projects are hard.
For instance, at my current job, I’ve been on the same project for almost a year now. I’ve had smaller projects in that time, but for the most part, I’ve been working on our agency’s website redesign for a year. I’ve redeveloped a single page template twelve times. TWELVE. Staying motivated this long has been difficult. But I have a great team surrounding me that helps tremendously.
But what about non-work projects? Personal projects. Projects that don’t have a fantastic team surrounding them or any immediate gain? How do I stay motivated to create a business while also working a full-time job and investing 100% at both?
Cheating To Stay Motivated
The short answer is, you can’t. You can’t give 100% of yourself to everything all the time. Doing so will lead you to burn out and very poor relationships with family, friends, coworkers and more. So what do we do? Cheat one or more of our commitments?
While this initially sounds like terrible advice that you don’t want your employer seeing you read, let me explain further. We all have a limited amount of time, energy and focus to give. It’s a limiting factor of the human experience. We live in a 24 hour day and need sleep at night (some of us more than others).
If you give your employer all your time, energy, and life, you’ll live a very lonely existence as your relationships with family and friends will suffer and possibly die. But if you give your family and friends 100% of your life, you’ll go hungry. So where do you strike a balance?
This is a question that doesn’t have a flat answer for everyone. Some people have great relationships with family and friends but only need to spend 5% of their energy on them. Some need more at 25% and their relationships are just as great. Obviously, these numbers are purely made up and not an accurate depiction of time, but you get the idea.
But how does all this relate to side projects and building a business? That’s another portion that you have to take away from something else. How can you do that without suffering consequences at home or work? The answer is quite simple, actually. Only work on things on the side that you are highly passionate about. Don’t pick projects just to make money.
It’s the same principle as people who have hobbies. Find something you love to do and devote time to it. Yes, it can still be difficult and it can still be draining at times. But if you love something and are passionate about it, it helps restore you. I’m passionate about empowering others voices. The mission of WordPress to democratize publishing rings especially clear to me.
So creating products and services surrounding this mission is empowering to me and to others. So when I devote a little time and energy to my side projects, my family and employer both benefit from it. It relaxes me. It motivates me. It energizes me. Those things get reflected in the rest of my life. I don’t devote major amount of time to it, but the little that I do gives back to other areas of my life just like work and family do.
That’s how I stay motivated. I’ve found a side project that I love and I don’t add it on top of my current responsibilities. I use a small portion of time from those other areas with the benefit of returning even greater productivity to them by the increase in creativity, motivation and energy.
***I am not suggesting you rob your employer by working on side projects during business hours. Work hard during those hours and instead of checking email at night or thinking about what needs to be done tomorrow, spend time on your business. I bring my work home with me in many ways other than in a briefcase. Stopping this and focusing on family or side projects helps me to stay motivated in all areas. Common Sense, folks. 🙂