It’s a funny thing, working for yourself. In a situation that could feel like all of your (i.e. my) childhood dreams rolled into one, you are left to your own devices to spend your days doing whatever the fig you like.
There’s no boss breathing down your neck, no performance reviews, no raised eyebrows if you miss your bus and arrive to your desk late. I could quite literally spend my days hanging out in Wetherspoons and nobody would pull me up on it: apart from maybe the staff in Wetherspoons, when they wonder why the strange lady in the corner comes in every do to do nothing but gaze out of the window. Or pehaps my children, who might ponder why mummy never has any money to visit the supermarket any more.
So for me, being able to self-motivate is one of the most crucial things when it comes to self-employment. With feeding the kids being kind of essential to my long-term plan, I need to knuckle down and get to work day-in, day-out, even if that means silencing my hypothetical Wetherspoons addiction. Which can be difficult because I find on some days, like when the wind is blowing in the wrong direction or kitchen needs cleaning, that I just cant get on with work.
Never was this difficulty to motivate more evident than when I had a book to write in six weeks. Alongside my day job, I had around 2,000 words to write daily to ensure I met my target of 70-80,000, and to be quite frank I wasn’t sure how I’d do it if I encountered any periods of low motivation, as we all do from time-to-time. And this struggle to motivate seemed to feed in directly from my fear of failure, something I’ve been addressing with the help of health coach Becky from AXA PPP healthcare. I’d spent my entire life wanting to write a book, and I felt almost crippled with fright that I wouldn’t be able to deliver on my dream.
Luckily, I had Becky there to chat to in this period. Becky had been brilliant in the previous months at getting me off my bum and in to the gym, and we spoke in depth about how I could translate this new ‘up and at-em’ fitness attitude into words on the page.
I made it – the book is available to pre-order on amazon as proof ;) – and I was only four days over my six week deadline (which, from the limited things I know about publishing, is pretty blimmin’ good). And I put so much of my timely scribing habits down to the skills I’ve been taught by Becky at AXA PPP healthcare.
One of the most effective tricks Becky spoke to me about was something called Identity Based Habits. All about creating behaviours that reflect our identity and believing in ourselves, this tool works by proving we can do something – as Becky reiterated to me, we are our own worst enemies!
We have to believe new things about ourselves to change a behaviour for good, so Becky asked me to have a go at not thinking solely about the outcome of the goals I had set or wanted to, but the processes I would need to go through to achieve them. She suggested the following steps to follow:
Step 1 – decide what type of person you want to be – for example – write a list of ‘I am’s. Follow that list with another, of things you would like to be.
Eg – I am a Mum, I am a writer and then a list of who you would like to be? Eg. I would like to be a learner, I would like to be an active individual.
Step 2 – prove it to yourself with small wins – don’t forget to keep track of these to look back on.
Eg. – you set yourself a word count and achieved it for your book, you went to the gym three times last week.
Becky told me that it is all about building the habits now and watching the results coming later. As a competitive person I tend to feel good when I see my achievements and numbers in black and white, so to show myself I’ve worked hard I apply this by writing down my small wins, whether they are number based (2 hours or exercise) or text based (I felt great after the last HIIT class).
Physically laying out my own achievements has been so useful for my state of mind and motivation, because it reiterates to me the things I’ve done and the places I want to go. It got me over my 80,000 word finishing line, and is a tool I’ll be employing into the future to manifest more of my dreams.
Huge thanks to AXA PPP healthcare for working with me to help me own my fears.