Arif is an entrepreneur who left his permanent job at a bank during the pandemic. His businesses include currency trading and freelance writing.
“Did I just make a big mistake?”, “Should I have quit my job?” “Is all this worth it?” “Am I good enough?”
Have any of these questions crossed your mind? Did you quit your stable but miserable job to pursue your passion as an entrepreneur? Along the way, have you been puzzled and felt that perhaps you had bitten off more than you could chew?
Throughout your entrepreneurial journey, you will face a ton of failures, and during those times, it can be easy to fall into a well of self-doubt where the aforementioned questions are constantly being asked by your inner voice.
The only thing that is guaranteed all the way to success is failure. It is our responsibility as independent thinkers and entrepreneurs to know how to navigate our emotions when those failures inevitably occur. As an entrepreneur, there are several things that I have done and continue to do to overcome doubts.
5 ways to stay motivated during a business adventure
- Stop seeking approval from others
- Focus on one thing at a time
- Stop rationalizing bad habits
- Achieve determination
- Stick to a routine
1. Stop seeking approval from others
Humans are known to do or say things just to please others, and who can blame us? Humans have been programmed over millions of years of psychological evolution to yearn for interactions with and approval of other humans.
This evolutionary trait dates back to prehistory, when an individual’s survival was directly dependent on their ability to socialize. Our ancestors found security in numbers and therefore had to learn to work together. They also had to act in a way that was socially acceptable to other members of their communities.
This emotional trait has not left us. How many times have you found yourself lying to someone to avoid getting in trouble or paying your best friend a compliment knowing full well that they don’t really deserve it? Perhaps you felt that you had to choose a profession that was not the one you really wanted to pursue because your parents wanted you to.
In many facets of our lives, we seek approval from other people, and as entrepreneurs, this type of mindset can hinder our progress toward our goals. Everything we do must be out of honesty and for the right reasons. If our intentions are pure, they will bear fruit. Otherwise, our actions will be meaningless and can never be sustained.
The stark truth about seeking approval from others is that you will probably never get it. Even if you feel like you’ve accomplished something that made your parents proud, there will likely be more that they want you to accomplish.
“I want you to study hard, get a degree, get a job, get married, have children, and then teach the same to your own children.” You may have spent your entire life accomplishing those things, but it has only increased your resentment towards your parents because at no point in your journey through life did you do something that you really wanted.
As an entrepreneur, you have to give it your all, you have to be 100% committed. If that 100% is done just to impress someone else, then it’s not going to last long. And when the flaws hit the door, you’ll start to find something or someone else to blame.
Stop seeking approval from other people. Do things because you want to and because you want to be impressed.
2. Focus on one thing at a time
The ability to fully concentrate is key when it comes to performing a specific task efficiently. When it comes to achieving a goal, it is important to be as determined as possible. Trying to write a poem while running an 800-meter race is impossible. One should always focus on doing a single job extremely well.
According to a BBC article, humans can focus on one thing for about 90 minutes before needing a 15-minute break. It’s our job as entrepreneurs to make those 90 minutes as productive as possible. That means ditching your phone, ignoring social media, closing the Youtube app, and turning off the television.
During those 90 minutes, you should have all your forces gathered and ready to take on the tasks at hand. 90 minutes is the benchmark, but there are those who manage to stay focused for longer. They would all have different thresholds. Therefore, it is important for anyone who wants to focus on a creative endeavor to find out how much intense concentration they can maintain over time and not exceed that.
This is especially true when it comes to creative work like writing or designing. Successful Canadian music composer Samuel Andreyev said he can only compose music for about three hours a day. “In addition to all the skills necessary for musical composition, you must [also] know how to work, ”says Andreyev.
If you go beyond the level of concentration you can handle, you tend to fall into the realm of diminishing returns, where the more you try to spend, the less quality your creations have. It’s not just about working hard; it’s also about working smart.
So how does this relate to the issue of doubt? Well, small incremental periods of intense concentration lead to the achievement of small incremental goals, and that is the key to success.
As an entrepreneur, you must accept that it will take a long time for you to see any significant results, so in order not to tire you, these small “victories” are the ones that will sustain you mentally and block the voice in your head that says “you can’t do this.” Many small victories over a long period will lead to success.
3. Stop rationalizing bad habits
Don’t get too confused with this one. Being able to rationalize things is always good. But what if it’s not all the time?
I had a friend who was a voracious drinker. Every day, he found himself consuming large amounts of alcohol. When I confronted her about it, she found a way to justify her actions a bit with a seemingly rational explanation.
He told me that it was necessary for him to drink because he needed to enrich his relationship with his friends through the act of drinking. Having a good time was important to her because she was dealing with problems with her boyfriend.
The only way to forget her problems was to drink so she wouldn’t have to think about it at work. Interestingly, she was extremely articulate in explaining all of this. She was completely satisfied with the way she dealt with her personal problems. She didn’t realize that no matter how well she armed herself with rationally coherent arguments, they only made sense to her.
Anyone looking from the outside can see that this is destructive behavior that only delays the inevitable pain with temporary self-gratification. She chose to mask her pain by drinking rather than facing it head-on. Why? Because it is very scary to face a problem directly, to take the bull by the horns, as they say. And why wouldn’t you be scared?
It is helpful to identify specific areas in your life that require repair. This requires sufficient determination and acceptance of responsibilities. But the faster you accept that responsibility, the faster you can deal with your problem before it becomes a monumental problem where you feel like you can no longer solve it, leading to a serious sense of doubt.
The key is to nip a problem in the bud before your subconscious tells you that you can’t solve it.
4. Achieve determination
What does perseverance mean? According to Merriam-Webster, it means having a single driving purpose or resolution. The definition is also supplemented by synonyms like “determined” and “dedicated”.
You can imagine people who are “determined” as athletes whose only goals are to be faster, better, stronger, and to win. But could we average Joes have some kind of determination in our own lives? Determination comes from our ability to select a difficult task and then do whatever it takes to complete that task.
To further boost that sense of determination, imagine how you would feel once that task has been done. Think about the objective benefit of accomplishing that task. Would completing that task reward you with some form of material gain, like money? Would completing the task make you feel motivated inside and push you to take on another challenge the next day? You must chart your path and choose to willingly face what awaits you.
Achieving persistence will help you eliminate distractions from your life. Helps keep your eyes focused on your goals regardless of internal feelings that may arise, even feelings of doubt.
5. Stick to a routine
Life is full of changing aspects. We could lose our job or get promoted, fall in love or be heartbroken, lose a friend or win a new one. . . In the infinite combinations and permutations of life that are seemingly out of our control, one might forget that some things are really under our control.
That, my friends, is our routine. Successful entrepreneurs always have a set of habits and rituals that they perform every day. This helps them take one more step toward achieving their goals.
This is probably the most important tool to have on your business journey. A routine helps reduce the arbitrary nature of life. It helps us control our day and it helps us to purposefully aim for our goals. A routine is a constant in a life full of variables; it’s the only thing that doesn’t have to change.
No matter what happens to us throughout the day, whether we feel motivated or depressed, happy or sad, sticking to our daily routine is key to making sure we are productive.
We may feel happy today but full of sadness tomorrow, but our routine will always be there. Over time, with discipline and transformation, any thoughts that may lead you to doubt yourself will be silenced and you will advance inexorably.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not intended as a substitute for the formal and individualized advice of a qualified professional.