Fill up that tank: 5 ways to get and stay motivated

Motivation. It’s what pushed you to step off the beaten path and forge your own. It’s why you willingly lost sleep when you were working on your first project or building the website for your store. And it’s what keeps you chipping away toward success even when you’re overwhelmed, overworked and overstressed.

But motivation is like fuel: You have to refill that tank, and the beginning of the year is the perfect time to start planning for regular fill-ups. Sure, there’s no cut and dry motivator that works for everyone, but these five ideas are effective and endlessly customizable.

5. Understand what you’re motivated to do

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You can have all the motivation in the world, but without goals and a clear mission that motivation is just a rocket launcher waiting for a rocket.

This new year, think up (and write out) a clear mission statement for yourself as an entrepreneur. Define your long-term goals, the core values you’ll maintain while you reach those goals and exactly who you want to be as a business owner and self-starter. From there, start setting short-term goals intended to help you actualize that mission. And, flesh out a plan to reach those long-term objectives.

4. Remember: You’re only as good as the people around you

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The people you surround yourself with directly and indirectly affect how you think, feel and act. This is especially true for entrepreneurs—friends and family won’t necessarily understand the stress and hardships. Or the rewards and successes.

According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor’s survey of 65 economies worldwide, there are 582 million entrepreneurs in the world. Your network shouldn’t just be filled with beneficial connections. It should be stuffed to the brim with the brightest, most complementary minds of the 582 million other people out there like you. Join in on entrepreneur meetups and social media groups, reach out to local business owners and build relationships with self-starters you respect.

Then, your network won’t just be a pool of prospects and insights. It will become a well-rounded and robust source of inspiration and drive.

3. Fill your day with positive words

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The words you speak and think have an enormous amount of power.

According to studies, thinking, saying and hearing negative words causes the brain to release a mass amount of stress-producing chemicals. The result is impaired logic and reason, diminished communication skills and an overall feeling of anxiety and depression. The kicker? The longer you dwell on those negative words, the more damage you do to key structures in your brain. Specifically, those that regulate emotions and memory.

When you’re down in the trenches and stressed to the hilt, negative thoughts and words seem to attack at full-force. So, replace them with positive affirmations and inspiring quotes. Pick out affirmations to say to yourself when stress and hardships turn your internal voice negative. Fill your visual field with quotes that inspire and uplift. Seek out positive ideas and snippets, whether you subscribe to a daily motivational newsletter, download an app or position a daily motivational quote deck on your desk.

However you decide to replace negativity with positivity, keep this in mind: The brain views positivity as something nice but not important enough to focus on. Conversely, it views negativity as a threat, causing an immediate response that’s difficult to overcome. The only way to drown out internal criticism and self-depreciation is to constantly and repetitively seek out and absorb as many positive words as you can.

Check out these positive affirmations and see if any click for you.

2. Seek out and relish in inspiration

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Nothing drives motivation quite like inspiration. It’s what probably prompted you to start a business in the first place. But inspiration can be even more fickle than motivation.

So go out and find it. Talk to other entrepreneurs, watch TED talks, listen to podcasts and stay updated on up-and-coming entrepreneurs. But don’t forget about the little things around you that cause sparks of encouragement. A walk on a sunny day, catching up with an old friend, watching a favorite movie or setting aside time for your favorite hobby aren’t just great ways to take breaks. They eliminate stress and relax the mind to create the mental foundation you need to find inspiration in everything around you.

1. Don’t forget to reward yourself

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People are motivated by incentives, and you’re no different. Rewards energize and motivate, while the lack of rewards often causes burnout and resentment.

Treat yourself as you would an employee and recognize small victories: Give yourself a tangible treat along with a mental pat on the back. Finish prepping for an upcoming pitch? Take an afternoon off to catch a movie. Finally hit your monthly sales goal? Indulge in your favorite meal. Land a new client? Buy yourself something frivolous.

Whether you’re motivated by experiences or things, decide on a reasonable way to treat yourself for reaching goals before you start working on them. That little incentive will push you even more.

Resources and tools

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Interested in some resources and tools to maintain and amplify your motivation? Check these out:

ThinkUp Positive Affirmations: Reduce stress, overcome fears and improve your overall mindset.

Gratitude: Remember everything you’re grateful for with a daily gratitude journal complete with free coaching.

Headspace: Learn meditation and mindfulness with this extensive app trusted by Delta, Spotify, LinkedIn and more.

GoalsOnTrack: Set and track your goals with a product designed specifically for self-starters.

Strides: Organize and track your goals while keeping a close eye on your motivation levels.

Coach.me: Track your habits to find areas for improvement and get access to personal and leadership coaches.

Irunurun: This performance and accountability platform tracks recurring behavior to keep you focused and driven.

Momentum: This free browser add-on shares inspirational quotes, offers a handy to-do list and minimizes distractions while you work.

TED: Looking for a little inspiration? There’s nothing better than a TED talk.

Interested in tools to up your productivity? Read through the exclusive Biz.me post 4 productivity tools you need to check out.

Every entrepreneur and freelancer should actively work to stay motivated, but keep in mind that motivation wanes even when it’s prioritized. Sometimes, all you need to do to get inspired is force yourself to keep pushing forward. Even when you’d rather not.

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