When it comes to “what you need to be a successful entrepreneur/freelancer/remote worker/creative” articles, they all talk about the same things. Motivation and creativity.
You need to be self-motivated. You need to have creativity in spades. If you don’t have these two things don’t even bother going after your dreams. Just go get some mind-numbing job and take your two weeks of vacation every year and try not to get fired.
This is a pile of garbage.
Anyone can self-motivate to do things they like. Give me a job taste testing cookies and you better believe I don’t need any external motivation! But when it comes time to rank those cookies, organize every detail about each one, and publish a blog about it – I’m gonna need to muster up more motivation from somewhere.
Creativity is important, especially if you’re a maker or designer or artist. But it’s not a deal breaker to a dream career if you feel like you’re not that creative. For one, you can outsource almost anything. And, creativity can be learned. This one isn’t a show stopper and it’s not the most important thing you need to succeed. In fact, I know a ton of people who have more creativity than they know what to do with but they’re not ‘successful.’ It’s not because they’re not good, it’s because they’re lacking the two REAL things you need to succeed in business.
Focus and discipline.
Motivation and creativity get all the attention in the productivity game. And they’re mega important! But they don’t mean shit without focus and discipline.
If you only work when you’re motivated, finishing projects is going to take a hell of a long time. And we all know that motivation wears off when it comes to finishing the tedious parts of a project, like setting up the sales automation systems or the payment gateway. Your creativity isn’t going to get you through that either (unless you count coming up with creative ways to reward yourself for finishing boring tasks).
What is more important than creativity and motivation is creating an environment where you’re getting work done without waiting for those perfect moments when lightning strikes and you feel a burst of creativity to start a project.
You need the focus and discipline to work on projects, even when you don’t really feel like it. Even on the parts that are no fun. Even when you get distracted by something shiny and new.
So why is focus the most important?
As creatives, we usually have more than 1 idea for a great project at any given time. We have notebooks full of our most brilliant thoughts! But if we try to work on more than one project at a time, or we keep bouncing from idea to idea, our projects will never see the light of day. Half-finished projects that no one ever sees will get you nowhere.
When everything is your priority, nothing is. Your number 1 priority has to be number 1. Make that 1 project your bitch until it’s done. Focus on it, see it through, and deliver it like a boss. Once it’s done, start work on your next brilliant thing.
The ability to focus on one thing at a time is a huge asset. There are so many distractions and notifications popping up vying for your attention. But when you are able to mute those distractions for a while and stay focused on the task at hand, you will get more done in a shorter time. You’ll give your projects the attention they need to be great. And you’ll be deliver one great project after another.
But why is discipline the most important?
If we only worked when we felt like it, we wouldn’t get much done. Even if you LOVE your job/business, there are always parts of self-employment that totally suck and you never really feel like doing.
Have you ever worked on a big launch and mapped out your whole plan, and you were totally excited and motivated to work on it? But then along the way your motivation started to wane around the time you had to figure out something technical, and so you take a break for a couple of days to recharge. Then while you’re waiting for a burst of motivation to come, you’re way behind your launch schedule and you’ve eaten your weight in popcorn and watched 3 seasons of The Mindy Project.
Relying on motivation to get us through tedious, monotonous, or just plain hard tasks is not the boss thing to do. Bosses rely on their discipline to get shit done.
Discipline is about making a plan to get the work done and then actually doing it! It’s about following through on commitments, even when you really don’t want to. Discipline is what makes you watch that boring tech set up video when you’d rather go for nachos. Being disciplined will help you to get the shitty parts of the job done so that you can get your projects out into the world and build your business.
The best entrepreneurs rely on their discipline, not their motivation, to get the work done that moves their business forward. It’s how people write books and create online courses and record entire seasons worth of podcasts even when they would rather just watch Netflix.
Want to be a boss and get more shit done? Get my bonus worksheets to start applying discipline and focus to your day and reach your goals faster.
Do you wait for creativity or motivation to strike, or do you use focus and discipline to propel your business forward? Tell me about it in the comments!