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Keeping Motivated In Bad (And Good) Times
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by Robert Warren

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Every business owner understands the problem of motivation. In both good and bad times, it can be easy to lose your way; it is sometimes easier to just drift, riding the momentum of yesterday, until you begin slowing to a crawl. Then you need another quick burst of speed to coast on.

Motivation isn't about bounding out of bed in the morning, full of energy, ready to take up arms and fight the world. It's not about drama, or about self-help techniques. And it sure isn't a poster on the wall and a pithy quote from a football coach.

Motivation is simply maintaining control over your direction, and avoiding distraction. If you are finding yourself stuck in the boom-bust motivational cycle, try these ideas for breaking out of it:

Plan, Plan, Plan. If you don't know where you are going, then you have no way of knowing that you have arrived. Where do you want to be in a year? What kind of clients do you want to attract and serve? What profit level do you anticipate for your business? Market penetration? Sit down and write down real plans. Have a good map before you start venturing out into the world.

Stay flexible and prepare for surprise. The map is not the territory; the world is under no obligation to behave according to your expectations. Use your plan as a guide, but always be prepared to take your cue from the changing circumstances presented to you by real life.

Rely on what you know, rather than what you want. Desire has many wonderful qualities, but stability isn't one of them. Focus on what you know and how you know it, rather than what you want and how you want it. Let your confidence guide your passions.

Write to the future. A great way to proactively create a sense of consistency in your business, career and life is to make direct contact with the future. Write yourself a letter today, addressed to be read on a certain day in the future. Describe your concerns, expectations, fears and hopes; seal the letter and put it in a safe place to be opened on the designated day. You'll be surprised at how selective mental editing distorts how we remember the past. Having it down on paper clarifies things a great deal.

Be patient. Remember to breathe every so often and to keep an eye on the big picture. Don't rush, and don't expect Rome to be built in a day; just keep a regular pace to everything you do and you'll get there in one piece.

Practice reality in moderation. Like everything else, a realistic attitude towards life is a great thing to take in reasonable doses, but can be lethal at high levels. Keep your feet on the ground, but jump once in a while; take the occasional moment to throw reality to the wind and dream big. As the saying goes, the secret is to take everything in moderation - including moderation itself.

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