Community #3: Motivation

On projects fail presumably due to a lack of motivationespecially startup projects.Our guest author Cornelia Strauß does not work in the startup service, but is responsible for knowledge transfer and events in the field of technology transfer. As a physicist with a heart for language, she has fought against loss of motivation many times in her life, with varying degrees of success. In our latest community article she tells you about her own experiences.

About motivation or the fight against the "actually"

I'm just gonna go ahead and say it: "Actually" is a really nasty word. I would bet a lot that you have already been a victim of the "actually". "I actually would really like to write, but ..." or "I actually have an idea, but ..." - these are phrases you've probably used before, or at least heard, right?

Partnered with the "actually" is the waiting for motivation. You actually want to develop an idea or build a prototype, but you're not motivated right now and just can't get your act together.

At this point I have to tell you a devastating secret: Motivation doesn't come naturally. It has to be gently lured in, and once it's there, it has to be fed and cared for, a bit like an invisible, diva-like pet. So, again, motivation won't come on its own, you'll have to start without it somehow, unfortunately.

But: there are good ways and means how to go about it. So here are some tips and tricks on how to go about attracting and nurturing your motivation.

1. The worst (really the worst!) is not the beginning, but the moment just before.

I promise. It doesn't get any worse than that. That yawning emptiness of a blank sheet of paper, an office document or whatever the format is that you want to fill with life and content is the most draining thing about the whole development process. Take a deep breath and then:

2. Bake little cookies!

Yes, I'm serious about this. Demands on yourself are important and often good, but they can also be really dangerous. If you set out to create an entire concept in one go that's perfect from A to Z, it's 100 percent certain to lead to one thing: failure. I'm not talking about the first idea always being crap, but the first execution often is. That's why it's so important to set small, doable intermediate goals. As cliché as it sounds: Even the longest journey begins with the first step.

3. Routine helps to keep you motivated.

Motivation is a great thing, once it's there, time flies by and suddenly, without realizing it, you've really accomplished a lot. But then you stop, because of course you have to go to the toilet, eat something, sleep or do other things. Then, if you're not careful, the motivation slips away again. The good news is, it doesn't matter. Because motivation comes back when you have its somewhat boring big sister for a permanent guest: routine (or discipline). Sound kind of bland and exhausting? Remember point #2 - bake little cookies. If you make it a point to tackle a small intermediate goal at a set time, you can quite often see yourself suddenly getting a lot more done.

The good thing about the routine: The days on which it just doesn't work are not lost, because you have reached your small interim goal anyway (recommended reading on this topic: The Reddit post "no more zero days").

4. Don't forget: You think your thoughts!

"Well, who else?" you're probably thinking now. That's a trite statement, isn't it? No, not always. Because our thoughts sometimes seem to have quite a bit of power over us. If, by whatever measure, your motivation becomes comfortable with being present, you will of course benefit. The victims of "actually", on the other hand, become victims of their thoughts.

Therefore, it is useful to remind yourself now and then that your thoughts are not an autonomous system. If you think to yourself that you actually want to found a company, but you can't do it anyway and you just can't manage it, your brain will do everything to confirm these thoughts - keyword self-fulfilling prophecy.

In that case, there's no point in frantically thinking you're going to be the next Elon Musk (remember, little cookies!). But maybe you can think something like, "I met my interim goal today and didn't have a zero day.". Already the negativity spiral is at least slowed down.

I know from personal experience that this is exhausting. Therefore:

5. Fuel up.

Plan your work and your purpose, but most importantly, plan - and take! - Breaks. Surround yourself, as best you can pandemic-wise, with people who are good for you. Get feedback, talk about your ideas and have them reflected back to you. And very important: Don't fall prey to a self-optimization mania that will only leave you burnt out.


The team of the Gründungsservice' is there for you and is also very happy about your reports! What experiences have you already had with "actually"? Have you become its victim? Or have you perhaps overcome it yourself? In any case you are welcome to contact the Gründungsservice (preferably with a plate of (small) cookies) and exchange your experiences.


Published on 14.09.2021
Author: Cornelia Strauß