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Four ways to stay motivated

Whether you’re burned out or just bored, try these strategies to get your mojo back


“Dreams get you started, discipline keeps you going,” said author and motivational speaker Jim Rohn. Small-business owners understand this, but even the most dedicated can lose motivation. Burnout, boredom, fatigue – even a beautiful sunny day – can derail discipline and focus. Glenn Nishimura, principal at Toronto-based Nishimura Consulting, offers the following tips for getting yourself back on track.

If you’re bored

Many entrepreneurs feel stimulated every minute of the day because they’re in pursuit of their dream, says Nishimura. “But if you’re bored, you could be disconnected from your purpose.” To remind yourself what that purpose is, he suggests that you, ironically, disconnect so that you can reconnect. “Spend time away, either outdoors, or with your family or dog,” he explains. “Sometimes the answers lie within us. We tend to overcomplicate things, to look externally for answers [when we just need to] get out of our own way.”

If you’re tired

Nishimura says, in an entrepreneurial environment – where failure can be frequent and being busy is basically the price of admission – exhaustion will catch up with you. “Being tired is detrimental to your health, your business and overall productivity,” he says. His advice: spend time away from your business, ideally in a different environment. A simple location change can be as effective as a break, and of course nothing beats a good, restorative night’s sleep.

If you’re burned out

“Burnout is the absolute extreme,” says Nishimura. “If you’re burned out physically, psychologically, emotionally or spiritually, that is not sustainable, and it’s likely a pattern.”

He says entrepreneurs, in particular, are often working at full throttle every minute of every day. “If they get to the point of physical or emotional exhaustion, they’ll get sick, and drastic measures may be in order. You can’t just take a day or long weekend off. You might have to take a month off, or hire an assistant. Learn to trust and delegate.”

If you’re distracted

Distraction is a normal part of any business day, says Nishimura. “You want to be available at all times. But you need to find a balance, otherwise you’ll never get anything done.” He suggests setting limits on your availability, and blocking time off during which you are not to be disturbed. Don’t just turn your phone off; leave it in another room and switch off your email alerts.

As for that sunny day? Heed the call, says Nishimura. “Give yourself permission to go out for a walk, reconnect with nature, do some mindful meditation. It’s much more stressful trying to resist that temptation than indulging it.” And recognize that motivation ebbs and flows. On “ebb days,” give yourself a break, and on “flow days,” ride that wave to maximize your output and it will all balance out in the end.