How to Stay Motivated

I had just emailed a client. He was thrilled with my work and wanted to buy more of my services.

Yay! 

Right?

Actually, no. I felt drained and tired.

I launched a guest posting service in 2015 because I was good at it and I wanted to see what it would be like to run a service business.

The service was on pace for a six-figure year with just me working part-time, plus a freelance virtual assistant working about 10 hours per week. So business was good and growing, but something was off.

My motivation was really low for this growing business.

(I’ll explain more about my personal issues at the end— look for the gray box.)

This was a few years ago, shortly after I was laid off from my project management job. The service going well, and I still struggled with motivation. 

When things aren’t going well or when you’re just getting started with a new thing, you might be frustrated. Or, maybe your family and friends don’t really understand your online projects and they actively discourage you.

That’s even harder on your internal motivation.

People ask me on a weekly basis how I stay motivated, so I’ll give you three tips to help you stay motivated:

  1. Your Why
  2. Take a Break
  3. Get Inspired

Remember Your Why

If you’re working on anything worthwhile or interesting, then you’re going to face frustration at some point. If it were easy, then everyone would do it.

Everyone’s why is different depending on the project and, of course, the person.

Figure out your WHY...Remember your why when your motivation wavers.
Figure out your WHY…Remember your why when your motivation wavers.

When you hit those pain points of frustration, you can remember your WHY and push through the hard parts.

If you’re working on getting a side hustle started, like an Amazon Affiliate site, then your why might be related to:

  • Pay off debt.
  • Have extra spending money so you can go on more vacations, eat out more, save more.
  • Grow the side hustle to your full time gig so you can spend more time with your family and generally do things you like.
  • Save more so you can retire early or pay off your mortgage early.

If you get back to your own personal WHY, then usually your motivation will return and you’ll be good to go.

Take Away

Remember your WHY. It can be helpful to write it down in a “free journaling” scenario, where you just write freely knowing that no one will ever read it but you. 

Sometimes it’s very helpful to just get the ideas out of your head by writing them down by hand. It sounds crazy, but try it and you’ll see how well it works.

Take a Break

Sometimes when we get frustrated, we just need to step away from the work for a bit. It’s counter intuitive and might be frowned upon by some people.

Go for a walk!
Go for a walk or hike!

The fact is motivation wavers sometimes, even when you are very much tied to the project or outcome. And if you’re a driven person, someone that wants to work hard or isn’t scared of working crazy long hours, then your default might be to work harder.

Well, I speak from experience because I’m definitely the kind of person that would pour even more effort into something. I’d wake up at 4 AM or stay up late on a weekend to work on my affiliate sites.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but sometimes I should have taken a break. I might have been too close to the work and couldn’t see something obvious. Maybe I was too tired to make the mental leaps and connections needed to solve a problem. Or maybe I was burnt out from waking up at 4 AM for too many days in a row, all fueled by way too much caffeine.

Take Away

If you find yourself in the follow situation:

  • Stuck
  • Uninspired
  • Just plain tired
  • Lightly to extremely frustrated

Then you should consider taking a break for a bit. The more stuck or frustrated you are, the longer of a break you need.

Consider these kind of breaks:

  • Get a snack (if you might be hungry).
  • Call a family member or friend that you haven’t talked to in a while. Don’t talk about the work, though — distract your mind and talk about anything else.
  • Exercise in some way: walking, running, or weight training is a great way to distract the mind.
  • Meditate.
  • Take a nap.

Get Inspired

Everyone’s motivation wavers from time to time — even your role models and idols — athletes, entrepreneurs, historical figures, and so on…

People always struggle, even our heroes. While our heroes may not have the same struggles…I can assure you that Jeff Bezos isn’t toiling over paying off his mortgage early, but he has problems too. But everyone has started something new and they were bad at it at first.

Take Away

Imagine one of your role models or idols when they experienced adversity. Here are some examples to get you started:

  • Michael Jordan was cut from the varsity high school basketball team. He said, “Whenever I was working out and got tired and figured I ought to stop, I’d close my eyes and see that list in the locker room without my name on it…That usually got me going again.”
  • Steve Jobs had several product failures, including the Lisa and Apple 3.
  • Think of your favorite podcaster, YouTuber, or blogger. Go check out their first few episodes, videos, or blog posts. You’ll probably find they have improved a lot since they first started. The caveat is that if you listen to the first podcast by someone that’s been on the radio for years before podcasting, it’ll be pretty good. Or the first YouTube video by an actor or broadcaster, it’s going to be solid. If that’s the case, go find their audition tapes.

Your Turn – Leave a comment…

  • Have you ever struggled with motivation?
  • What tips do you have about motivation?

Aside: Why I killed the Guest Posting Service…

I didn’t like the work, like not at all. Clients treated the service like a commodity and didn’t value the work as much as I did.

The biggest thing was a simple thought experiment.

What will this business look like in 12-18 months if it’s successful? And would I be happy with that outcome?

If the business kept growing and I was successful, it might look like this:

  • 16 Outreach Specialists
  • 4 Team Leads
  • 1 Project Manager
  • 1-2 Business Development Specialists (i.e. Sales)
  • Maybe 16 clients at $4,000 per month or $64,000 as top-line revenue

I’d be creating a new organization, I’d be the director or CEO, and I’d have a job, not completely different from my old corporate gig. If you draw the org chart, it’s exactly like my old consulting days.

So I killed the service and opted for something more passive that didn’t need to have a full-time, ongoing staff: Amazon Affiliate Sites.

Want a Profitable Affiliate Site?

Swipe All My Templates and Systems

Doug Cunnington

I want to show people how to create and monetize niche websites by helping them achieve their goals with project management best practices.

Show 6 Comments
  • Evan August 20, 2018, 9:47 am

    Great and timely post, Doug!

    I struggle with this, too, as someone who enjoys the work and is seeing success.

    One of the hardest things with affiliate marketing is that it’s really more like investing than having a job. You don’t do X amount of work and receive Y amount of money when you’re done. It’s more like, you do X amount of work and you hope it pays you back in small increments every month for the next couple of years. In the big picture, it’s amazing, but it’s usually impossible to see any meaningful impact from, say, spending 3 hours writing a new article. It takes months and months and several new pieces of content before you can really notice any difference at all, which can be very taxing mentally.

    Your advice is spot on. Breaks are much needed. And remembering why you’re doing this… if you can just keep your head down and keep getting your work done, one day you’ll look up and be absolutely stunned with how far you’ve come.

  • Alex August 20, 2018, 10:10 am

    This is a great piece man. The WHY is so important it’s not even funny.

    There really are hundreds of ways to make good money online. But if it’s not alligned with what you truly want for yourself… You’ll burn out.

    As in how to regain some headspace, nature works wonders for me too. Take the motorcycle and go up a mountain, solid therapy for me.

  • Saleem August 20, 2018, 12:11 pm

    Hi Dough Cunnington,

    No doubt, an exclusive inspirational blog for motivating newbies like me. Since I started my Amazon Niche site I used to follow your videos and blogs.

    After this August Broad Core Algorithm Update, I was a little frustrated and uninspired for my work.

    You have reminded so many motivational methods to overcome that. Thanks

  • Dennis August 20, 2018, 2:42 pm

    Great post there Doug .Your post is packed with tips to keep one going in moments of self doubt , frustration , burn-out etc .
    Myself being someone very new to this field.of working on niche sites , I draw a lot of inspiration from your work .I look up to you man .Keep up the good work .Keep cranking them good articles .

  • Ryan August 21, 2018, 11:52 am

    Great Post Doug. I can totally relate to wanting to work extra hours and forcing what I want to get done. However, this usually 90% of the time drives me to further frustration and being unable to solve the issue. I’ve been taking a lot more breaks, going down to the beach, getting a workout in, or even going for a walk outside to clear the head. This is where I’ll even get new insights to either A. Solve the problem or B. Find out a new idea in general that I never would’ve thought of while being in my frustration trying to force a solution. All in all, it’s easier/ healthier/ more free-flowing this way. And it’s fun receiving new insights while we’re out freeing the mind for a bit.

  • Travis Smith August 27, 2018, 4:07 pm

    Great post Doug,
    I’ve recently just started my own site, and was getting in a rhythm writing posts, however I’m at University and have just got bombed with a heap of assignment and essays to write.
    I’ve just tried to keep a calendar with a time schedule for all the things I need to do.
    I also allocated procrastination time at the end of the day. This way if I find myself getting distracted from the task at hand I just tell myself that I can do that later tonight.

    That helps me focus on the task at hand without feeling like all work and no play..

Leave a Comment