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5 Ways to Stay Motivated in a Challenging Market

The market may be down, but you don’t have to be!

Intellectually we all know that the market — and individual businesses — go through highs and lows, yet when slower periods hit, it’s hard to maintain perspective. But business success is about persistence, not unbroken streaks of perfect conditions, and with the right attitude, you can create opportunities in even the toughest conditions.

The key to staying on track whenever the market is challenging, business is down, or your confidence is low is to refresh your commitment to yourself, and that comes down to motivation … that little voice in your head that says, “Yes you can!” when the world seems to be saying “Give up.” But what do you do when that little voice seems to be getting quieter and quieter?

Try these surefire ways to keep your enthusiasm going, no matter what’s going on around you. You’ll find that motivation isn’t a feeling you have to wait for … it’s a mindset that you can cultivate and strengthen with positive action.

First, don’t let yourself think in terms of “down time.” Frame slower periods as “catch-up time” or even “get-ahead time.” Instead of waiting for market conditions to change, focus on activities that will help create that next wave of business, like improving your lead generation strategies or boosting your referral rate. These activities may take some time to pay off, but they are proven to draw business in the long run.

Think also about any projects that may have fallen by the wayside over the last few years. What leftover “to-do” tasks can you cross off your list? What investments can you make in your business while you have bandwidth? This could include things like:

Or maybe your office itself needs some attention. A fresh coat of paint on the walls or some new furniture could brighten your mood as well as your environment, and it will help you feel ready for the next wave of business that comes.

Remember: The larger market is beyond your control, but you have control over your commitment, discipline, and “eyes on the prize” vision.

Speaking of vision, when was the last time you checked your eyesight? In other words, are the goals you set a few years ago still pointing you where you want to be? Remind yourself why you chose this business and what you wanted to achieve, and examine whether your current day-to-day and week-to-week benchmarks are you getting you far enough.

The best goals are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Are you quantifying the number of leads you want to find each week (specific, measurable), and is that number something you can manage (achievable)? Are each of your goals geared toward moving your business forward (relevant), or are they things that take up time and energy without adding to ROI? And are you thinking in terms of “someday” instead of “by the end of the quarter” or “within five years” (time-bound)?

If you’re struggling with whether your goals make sense, or wondering if you’re doing a good enough job sticking to your plan, reach out to a colleague. They may see things from a different point of view or have experience you don’t have. Plus, if you’re both committed to refocusing on your goals, there’s nothing better than an accountability buddy!

When the pandemic sent the market into an unexpected frenzy, you may have been warned to set boundaries for yourself and limit your work hours to avoid burnout. This was solid advice, but it works in the reverse too: Don’t let slower business distract you from your goals.

Now more than ever, be intentional with your time. On days when you don’t have any clients scheduled or pressing business driving you, focus on other tasks that will yield benefits later. Keep to a routine of getting up at your usual work time, dressing for business, and setting priorities for each day. Revisit your SMART goals each week, and evaluate whether your daily activities are aligned to achieving them. Your long-term success is built in daily increments, so make the most of each one.

It’s easy to overlook one of the simplest things you can do to keep yourself physically and mentally well, but you know this is true: If you’re short on sleep, skipped breakfast, and had to go back home for the laptop you forgot, you’re going to have a tough time even pushing through the day, much less enjoying it. Find a healthy morning routine that works for you, and follow it scrupulously.

When big wins come our way, like making a huge sale or landing a promotion, it’s natural to feel like celebrating. But what about all the little victories, like taming the paperwork pile on your desk, hitting your weekly mark for cultivating leads, meeting with a new potential client, or achieving high engagement on a social media post?

Don’t save all your rewards for major milestones. Instead, break larger goals into smaller action items, and set specific rewards for crossing off all those steps. Treat yourself to a latte for getting through all your Monday morning emails. Go for a walk and get some fresh air after making a block of phone calls. Take yourself out to lunch to celebrate consistency in tending your social media or completing your continuing education credits. Don’t wait for someone else to recognize your accomplishments … recognize (and reward!) yourself.


Let's brainstorm ways we can keep ourselves motivated in this market. Reach out to me so we can chat!


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