How Do You Stay Motivated During Tough Times?

Freelancing always seems to come with its share of motivational highs and lows.

You finish a project and get paid – motivational high!

How Do You Stay Motivated During Tough Times?

Freelancing always seems to come with its share of motivational highs and lows.

Freelancing always seems to come with its share of motivational highs and lows.

You make a mistake and are ready to throw in the towel – motivational low.

Land a new client – high! It’s a motivational roller-coaster that sometimes gets harder when a tough time occurs.

You suddenly have a sick family member who you must take care of. Your furnace breaks.  Your parent passes away. You are diagnosed with an illness.

All of these things have the effect of instantly knocking you on your butt and demanding that you take care of them ASAP.

It’s easy to toss aside your freelance business to take care of life’s business.

But that’s where the beauty of freelancing comes in. You likely took this path to freelance to have a more flexible way to work.

It may seem impossible to sit down and concentrate on your business when a tough time occurs, but with some gentle kindness to yourself and some motivational tips, you’ll be back on track soon.

Here are 5 ways you can lower your stress and get motivated to work on your freelancing business again during a tough time.

1. Get Back on Track

The first thing to remind yourself to do is to breathe. You are going through a tough time but it won’t feel this stressful forever.

Through breathing, you will invoke the relaxation response, which includes several techniques developed by Dr. Herbert Benson in 1970 at Harvard Medical School.

Taking 3-4 deep breaths, fully inflating and deflating your lungs. This will help to stop the stress response in your body.

It will allow you to have a clearer mind when trying to get freelance work done during a crisis.

If you have found that several days, or maybe several weeks, have passed since you’ve been able to concentrate on your freelance business, forgive yourself of the lapse.

According to Dr. Kristin Neff, one of the world’s leading experts on self-compassion, self-compassion will motivate you better than cutting yourself down for not being able to work due to the circumstances you are in.

Plan time, however small, to get back to doing your freelance work.

Block out time in your calendar or planner for work. And let yourself be selfish about it and take that time for your business.

It can be as little as 10 minutes to check your email. Every few days, increase the amount of time that you devote to your work.

Staying connected to your freelance business means that you will continue to have income coming in, even during a tough time.

When tough times hit, it seems as if your brain is wrapped in a fog, unable to remember some of the easiest parts of your freelance job.

Tackle brain fog by writing yourself notes as reminders of where you are in a project and what your next steps should be.

Using OneNote or Evernote are easy ways to digitally keep yourself organized.

2. Practice Daily Affirmations

Having a good sense of self-worth and improving your self-esteem is always a necessity while freelancing, but especially so when you’re facing a tough time.

Our thoughts can create our reality and having a positive outlook during a crisis can only help.

Affirmations are an easy way to tap into our subconscious to bring about positivity. I like to think of affirmations as a personalized motivational poster, like the one with the kitten hanging from a limb saying, “Hang in There!”

Affirmations are bite-sized reminders that you as a freelancer are awesome.

You can repeat them to yourself a few times a day or whenever you feel like you need some motivation.

Some examples of affirmations you can use during a tough time in your freelancing life:

  • This too shall pass
  • Tough times motivate me to learn and grow
  • Today will be a productive day
  • I am grateful for everything I have in my life
  • I’ve survived tough times before. I will come out of this stronger, better, and more focused.

3. Set Small Goals

One way to snap yourself back into the freelancing mindset is to set yourself small, easily attainable goals.

It’s all well and good to have the large, big picture goals like increasing your revenue by 5% this year, but when tough times hit sometimes concentrating on a large goal can seem overwhelming.

Break it down into bite-size chunks and only concentrate on what you can accomplish today. It can be a simple as checking your email daily.

Small goals that you consistently hit are an easy way to build motivation.

By doing this, you are telling yourself with each success “Yes, you can do this.” Make sure to write your small goals down daily and check them off your to-do list.

Another huge piece to finding motivation is to reward yourself for achieving the goals you set.

Sure, it may seem silly to reward yourself for accomplishing your small goal of write 100 words today, but even a little reward, like a favorite treat or a new book, can make your motivational level soar. Try it. Remember you’re worth it and your business will benefit from it too.

4. Remember Your Why

Sometimes, whatever is happening in your life threatens to overwhelm you completely, and you feel as if you’re lost in the fog, completely unmotivated.

When this happens, it’s good to remind yourself of why you started your freelance business. Dig deep to remember this why – Was it to have more freedom and flexibility in your work schedule?

Hated working for a boss so now you are your own boss? Was this a way for you to pay your bills and keep your family fed while dealing with a chronic illness?

Write down your why and place it prominently on your workspace.

While you’re finding a place for that reminder, it also helps to add to it by surrounding yourself with imagery as to why you are freelancing.

Pictures of your kids and/or pets, motivational quotes, pictures of upcoming travel plans, etc. Anything can be your motivation.

This is a simple way to remind yourself constantly of why you are freelancing. Take the time daily to look at these objects and read the quotes, especially during a tough time.

Your motivation will rise higher the more you remember your why.

5. Take Time for Self-Care

Tough times cause stress. That stress can eat away at your motivation, leaving your freelancing business in the lurch. Self-care has been shown to have enormous benefits in lowering your stress levels and increasing your overall well-being. How does self-care motivate?

If you’re taking care of yourself, you have fewer unmet needs and it’s easier to concentrate on your business despite the additional stress from the tough time you’re in.

Here are some examples of self-care items you can add to your routine:

  • Even a short 5-10 minute practice daily has been shown to reduce stress.
  • Yoga to re-establish the mind-body connection. Think of it as a way to concentrate on what your body is feeling through guided movement and process your emotions during a tough time.
  • It’s easy to throw out your exercise routine when times get tough, but getting your heart pumping also gets your endorphins up, which helps improve your mood and motivation.
  • Remember to eat! Try to eat nutritious foods, if possible. But hey, even just eating to keep your energy up is good. Don’t be too hard on yourself.
  • Go for a walk in nature. By taking a break and reconnecting with nature, your stress level will dip.

With your stress levels under control, it’s easier to get back in the groove of working on your business. Your motivation to do so will also rise.

In Summary

Confucius said, “It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” Keep this in mind as you work to regain your motivation and keep your freelance business going during tough times.

Remember to take time to get back on track, practice self-care, say daily affirmations, set small goals, and remember your why.

These strategies will help you increase your motivation during a tough time.

What motivational strategies do you reach for when the times get tough?

Leave them in the comments.

Cat Miller is a freelance writer for hire who offers copywriting, blogging, and editing services. When she isn't writing, you can catch her chasing her toddler through a suburban backyard. She loves to help people learn to write and blogs about it on her site

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