I’ve got a problem.
I am constantly inspired.
I’m inspired from a great number of sources. Truth be told, my sources for inspiration are so diverse, and my pool of inspirations is so large, I could blog about nothing BUT inspiration and never run out of topics.
Nature, my kids, movies, paintings, books, magazines, conversations, dreams, depression, punk music, phone calls, pop culture, yadda yadda yadda…
While that inspiration is great (and crucial,) that inspiration can be fruitless, because I have a problem with motivation. Well – that, and there’s just not enough hours in the day to fully flesh out my ideas and inspiration.
Motivation is crucial in any field, but especially in the Freelance World (capitalized for effect.)
Without motivation, you get nothing done. All the best designs in the world, all the best thoughts and ideas are worthless without the desire to get them “on paper.” Without motivation, you can starve, go homeless, upset clients, make a bad name for yourself, etc…
So what do you do to get motivated?
Good question – and one that’s largely impossible to answer. Motivation, like inspiration, is so individual that it is hard to paint solutions with a large brush.
What do I do to get motivated? Well – a number of things. And maybe this will help you get motivated:
- I look for fun in every project: If the project is boring (or perceived as boring,) I have a hard time getting motivated for it. If I can find something fun in the project, I have more of a tendency to hop on it and knock it out – because it’s fun. So – build in some fun to every project. It might be hard, but really – design and creativity is fun, no matter how dry the project is.
- I look for the financial gain in every project: I hate to admit it, and this is certainly a very un-artsy sentiment, but money is a great motivator. Money allows me to spend time with my family, drink expensive coffee and keep myself in guitar picks and India ink. Money can be a big motivator, as can lack of money. You’re doing this as a business – and businesses need to make money, so never be ashamed of using money as a motivator.
- I look to every project as a way to build a relationship: I’ve met a lot of great people in my freelance career. I’ve heard great stories and seen some really interesting things while working. I enjoy hearing stories and seeing how my art and design affect people and their lives. Design is powerful, and seeing it touch people can be a great motivator for me.
- I look to the process as a motivator: There is a ritual to design. There’s something about the feel of the paper, the sound of the keyboard, the accumulation of Post-it notes and doodles and stuff on my desk that excites me. Sometimes, just getting the process going can be a huge motivator. And the comfort and excitement during that process is enticing enough sometimes to motivate me to get rolling.
- I look to the end product as a motivator: I’ve made some really cool stuff before. I like sitting back after a project is done (sometimes long after it’s done) and seeing the finished piece and saying “Cool!” It’s rewarding. That reward can be a big motivator.
While motivation is not nearly as sexy as inspiration, it’s probably a little more important.
I’ve told my son (14!) that intelligence and talent are meaningless without followthrough. I’m guilty of the same problems of my teenager. I’m not a worker bee-kinda guy. I like thinking and noodling and idea-ing things up, but the actual work is not my favorite part.
Getting motivated is so important, and so often ignored in favor of inspiration. They’re intertwined, to be sure, but they’re also separate entities that need to be nurtured apart from each other.
Now – you’ve read this, I’ve written it, and now I’m inspired to be motivated. Hopefully, that inspiration will be transformed into motivation to be motivated. If you can be motivated to be motivated, motivation will be an inspiration to be inspired and you’ll wind up inspired and motivated and probably a little tired, because an inspired, motivated freelancer spends way too little time sleeping and too much time being motivated by inspiration, and inspired by that motivation.
(yes, I need to lay off that expensive coffee…)