Tip For Keeping Motivated When The Slump Hits

Running a small handmade business can be hard work. For me it seems to require constant mental energy. When I'm not making orders, I'm thinking about strategy, marketing, new products, upgrading things. It's a fairly relentless merry-go-round requiring determination, self belief and motivation.

Years ago when I was in my twenties and I had first started my business I would happily go to sleep each night thinking about my business and enjoying having all the fun ideas. Ten years in and while I still love my business, I'm not naturally as motivated every day and I do get the slumpies from time to time. Call me lazy if you like, I'd call it honest and relatable!

Sometimes I just get an unexplained feeling of self-doubt, self-criticism and pessimism and then I can get easily distracted and find myself either staring into space, doom scrolling or procrastinating with the housework.

There's no explanation for it, sometimes I'm just tired and I can’t seem to muster the energy or motivation to carry on with the tasks I've set for the day.

Running a small business on your own is tiring and it's ok to admit that. Instagram makes it seem like a breeze but the reality is that it takes a lot of hard work behind the screens. 

I think these down moments are a weird safety mechanism reminding us we are human, after all. And sometimes, the slumpies are a simple signal from our brain to rest or to change tactic.

When I’m in a rut my thoughts often go like this:

“I should be doing better than this after running my business for this long. I don’t like my designs. I’m not very good at sewing. I can’t think of any new ideas. I've got too many new ideas. I don't know what to do next. I can't be bothered now. My brain hurts. I want to go back to bed and put the duvet on my head.”

There are days where I feel inspired, energetic, and motivated. I love it when inspiration hits me and I’m in full on planning mode, doing, designing and feeling like I love my job and that I'm doing something I'm good at. 

But I know I'll always have days where the motivation will waver but I try not to worry about it, and don't see it as a reason to give in completely. It's just a sign that I'm working hard and striving to do better. 

So what do you do when the slump hits? Well I've come up with a few ideas that might be helpful.

1. Accept and Acknowledge

If you feel rubbish, you feel rubbish. It’s ok. Accept that it will pass and give yourself some time to wallow for a little while...Only for a little while, mind. Sometimes all you need is a moment to feel a bit sorry for yourself and then move on. Most importantly, be kind to yourself!

2. Talk

We all need a best friend in business. Mine is someone I know will always have wise words for me when I feel a bit low. I can talk things through with my husband and family, but a friend who also runs their own business will truly understand your struggle. I had a bad day a few months ago and she put it all into perspective in one sentence. Funnily enough, that bad day quickly turned into a better one. If you use Instagram for your business chances are you'll have some online friends you can chat to. You can even join Facebook groups these days. (Just be careful not to spend too much of your time moaning in Facebook groups, as it's not always productive!)

3. Change The Scenery

If you’re working from your home studio/office all day, then get out. Walk the dog, go to the shops, visit someone, go to the gym or have tea and cake at your local coffee shop. When you physically move out the space where you’re feeling negative, your mindset will shift more quickly. If you don’t have urgent orders then totally down tools for the day and go out or do the gardening or something therapeutic. Being happy is important so give yourself the time you need to realign your thoughts and get some perspective.

4. Write it Out

This is my personal favourite because when I’m stressed I like to write things down. First, make yourself a nice drink, move from your office/desk to your sofa, take your pretty notepad and pen with you. Then, write it out. What exactly is it that’s making you feel so bad? What are you feeling? Do a mind review, and you might be surprised at what comes up. You might be feeling bad about something totally unrelated to your business and you just needed some time to acknowledge it. 

5. Make a Plan

After you've stopped trying to fight the slump, you've had a walk, had a cup of tea, or written down how you feel you might be feeling ready to come up with a plan of action. I always find that forward movement can cure the slumpies. I like to keep swimming if I can. But, there's no point on working for the sake of it. A plan is always a good idea. If you aren't working towards a specific goal then it can be hard to motivate yourself. So, write down your goals, remind yourself of the reasons you have your business, come up with a work plan and you might feel your motivation miraculously return. 

6. Don't go on Instagram

If you're feeling a bit low about your business I would probably avoid doom scrolling because when you're in a negative mindset seeing everyone living their best business life on social media can have an even more detrimental affect on your mental health because you end up reinforcing the narrative that you are lazy and rubbish and everyone else is smashing it. 

The following are tips you could use daily avoid hitting the slump in the first place.

  1. Don't Dwell on The Negative

I'm not one for promoting 'good vibes only' and all that toxic positivity shit. Let's be truthful sometime life is hard and sometimes you're in a bad mood and it's ok. But you can try to cultivate an attitude of gratitude, and search for the good in things. I am terrible for relinquishing my thoughts over to the dark side but a small positive thought can change my mood. Something small even like, I'm so lucky I get to work at home so I can be here with my dog. When you consistently train your brain to do this is increases your happiness hormones. 

  1. Routine

I don’t know if it’s because I’m creative or just a secret rebel but boy do I struggle with routine. I can’t even eat the same lunch two days in a row. I get bored of things ridiculously easily. 

But, I do understand that routine in some aspects can be a good, comforting thing. The days I stick to my routine I am more productive and focused. Small things like being in the office before 9, listening to the Radio in the morning, cleaning the kitchen first thing.

I have certain days of the week allocated to certain things too. It makes life easier when I know where I’m supposed to be and what’s coming next.

  1. Early Bird

I feel a lot more motivated if I’m in the office at 8am because then I know then I can finish at a decent time in the afternoon and that spurs me on. If I start late I then feel I have to work until 6pm and I like to pack up my things when my husband comes home so we can have some quality time together. I like getting a head start on the day and if I start too late in the morning I do tend to feel like I’m chasing my tail for most of the day and that gets me stressed and makes me feel bad about myself. 

  1. Goal Setting

If you don't have a dream, then how're you gonna have a dream come true? You won’t get anywhere if you don’t know what you’re aiming for. Set yourself a simple income goal. I write mine on my calendar at the start of every month. I don’t make it too detailed it’s just a rough monthly division of what I want to make that year.

You should also think about what your why is. What’s a why? It’s your reason for doing what you do and your ultimate goal with your work. Make a board of everything you’d like to achieve (not just materialistic things!) and look at it every day. It will boost your mood and give you a bit of motivation.

  1. Prove Them Wrong

This might seem a bit snarky but a lot of my motivation comes from wanting to prove people wrong. Usually the ones who have belittled my dream, called my handmade items tat and made me feel a bit inferior. Well, sod them! My fire and determination really gets going when I think of this and it gives me the kick-start I need sometimes. Quietly show the doubters that you’re serious about your business. Watch them scoff at your ideas and then ask about starting their own Etsy shop when the orders come rolling in. 

Hopefully you are not feeling too unmotivated, it's ok if you are. I think everyone on the planet is a little fatigued and jaded after a global pandemic. I know I've struggled with motivation even more so since my Dad died. Grief is very draining, but, I go easy on myself, set small goals and somehow I'm still able to achieve something every day. 

Lots of love to you!

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