Startups and Motivation: Staying the Course

Startups and Motivation: Staying the Course

Startups and Motivation: Staying the Course

Recently, a friend of mine, Dr. Beth Halbert, mentioned something that stuck with me. She said that she used to create long lists of to-do items every day. Her lists were three pages long, and she could never finish all the action items. Every night, she felt like a failure. Then, she changed something. She created shorter lists, with only 2-3 things that she can finish. Now she feels successful every single day. I’ve been thinking about this simple concept and how it could be applied to staying motivated while working in startups. By the way, if you’re in a startup, you might also be interested in my article on Ten Things Ways the San Francisco Giants Can Improve Your Game.

Have Reasonable Goals

Granted, some people enjoy the feeling of pressure (including the knot they get in their stomach) every day. Some people love “stretch goals,” even if those goals are completely unattainable. But many of us would rather have a reasonable goal so that we can knock it out of the ballpark every single time. A list with only 2-3 items that are achievable can help your morale more than that list with a million action items on it.

Reward Yourselves

Although I’m a great believer in the Law of Attraction, it’s not always easy to stay the course and be positive. But a reward is something that you and your team will look forward to, and look back upon with great pleasure. The reward might be a party for the team, some wine for everyone, or something more business-related such as phone chargers. One of my own favorite rewards was a pair of expensive shoes. Right now I’ve set a target whose reward will be a grafted apple tree with seven varieties of apples.

Pay People Enough

Do I need to say anything about this? If people don’t have a certain minimum salary, they’ll want to go elsewhere (here are some power tips to beef up your LinkedIn profile if you’re looking for a J.O.B., by the way). Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, that amount is certainly higher than in other parts of the country.

Give Autonomy and Get Outta the Way

People need to be self-directed, to feel that their actions matter, and to feel engaged at work. This sense of autonomy can be overlooked in startups (and larger companies too). One of my favorite videos is this one on motivation, by RSA Animate. You’d be surprised at what actually motivates people (watch the video). The assumption that people want to do cool things is one that forward-thinking startups embrace.

What Makes You Feel Motivated?

What makes you want to jump out of bed and go to work? Or if you don’t want to go to work, why not? Please tell me; I’m very interested in hearing from you.

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