Does this sound familiar to you?: “I have no motivation” “I wish I could find the motivation to do something like that” “I'm just not motivated enough”. If you have ever said these things to yourself or others, you're not alone. When I ask my readers what they are struggling with, motivation is something that comes up time and time again. Instead of giving you the tools that keep me motivated, I crowd sourced a solution for you by asking some super successful online entrepreneurs:

What's the top tool you use to maintain motivation, and how have you implemented it in your life?

And the answers were pretty awesome. I'll let you read them for yourself…

Pat Flynn – Owner of Smart Passive Income, Podcaster, and Back to the Future Lover


A journal. I've recently made writing in a journal a part of my morning routine, and that more than anything has helped me stay focused and maintain completely motivation each day. Journaling was always weird to me because I never knew what to write, and I felt like a kid just writing in a diary about trivial things that were happening that day. The specific journal I write in, however, which is called The Five-Minute Journal, has the same set of prompts every day and blank spaces to fill out. They include spaces to write what I am grateful for, what would make today awesome, affirmations, and then a space to write at night before bed about great things that happened during the day, and what I could have done better. Doing this exercise each day has completely changed how I approach my day, and the drive I have to accomplish what I need to do.

Steve Kamb – Rebel Leader of Nerd Fitness, Epic Quester


I recently read an entry on Quora that completely changed my philosophy on this subject. Essentially, screw motivation – instead, cultivate discipline. If I only exercised when I was motivated to, I would never exercise. If I only wrote when I was inspired to write, I would never publish anything! So, the best tool I have used to maintain motivation is to stop chasing it, instead setting up my life and work space so that I have no choice but to exercise and write and produce every single day. I use “self-control” on my Mac to block distractions so that I can write, and I have a set gym time, whether I'm motivated or not, that I refuse to miss.

Andreea Ayers – Owner of Launch Grow Joy


I think it's normal to feel unmotivated from time to time. What helps me during those times when I feel like I'm not really sure if what I'm doing is making an impact or when I have doubts is to look at all of the testimonials and notes that I've received from my clients and entrepreneurs who have signed up for my courses. There's no better motivator than reading about how my work has affected their business and their lives. It inspires me to move forward and it really helps to put into perspective why I'm doing what I am doing.

Dana Shultz – Food Blogger at Minimalist Baker


I was raised by two of the hardest working people I know, so by nature and by their example, I am a busy body who loves to work really hard. I push myself to get a lot of work done for Minimalist Baker every week, but my secret weapon is John. He and I split a lot of the tasks for the blog, allowing me to focus almost entirely on the creative end while he manages the technical side, branding and all of our products. We also hired someone to help manage portions of our our social media, which frees me up even more to focus on content and special projects.

Lastly, I love what I do so it hardly feels like work most of the time. I actually struggle more with setting boundaries on when to stop working.

John Corcoran – Creator of Smart Business Revolution and the Smart Business Revolution Podcast


Planning. I try hard to plan out my quarters, months, weeks and days. When I do that, I am far more productive than when I don't. And I find I  accomplish a lot more of the stuff I want to accomplish – the meaningful stuff that moves my business forward. Usually it's the first thing I do every day, starting with Monday morning. I write out a list of tasks I want to accomplish and then I put them in an order of priority. Then I create a daily task list with the most important tasks listed first. Another small thing I do is I write down something I am grateful for every morning, first thing when I get to the office. It could be something small, like fresh fruit or a particular song. But I find it gets me into the right mindset of having gratitude.

Sean Ogle – Owner of Location 180, Location Rebel, and Breaking Eighty 

The number one tool I've used to remain motivated might sound kind of strange, but I like to do fun stuff in the middle of the week. For instance, I'll go golfing on a Tuesday morning. Having that freedom and flexibility in my business is something I never take for granted, and doing that on a regular basis reminds me of how lucky I am – and forces me to work harder in the process.

J. Money – Blogger at Budgets are Sexy, Owner of Rockstar Finance, “Not a Rapper”


The one thing I've realized after 4 years of being self-employed is to work on things as they excite me and when I'm most efficient throughout the day. Similar to life in general, you'll always produce better stuff when you're in the mood and really passionate about whatever you're working on at the moment. For example, I have a lot more fun in the mornings when my creative juices (and coffee) are flowing, so I try to tackle all blog writing and interviews then when I'm at the peak of my game. Scheduling this stuff later in the day/evening would produce less-than-quality results, as well as take two to three times longer. So by aligning your day to take advantage of when you work best will always pay dividends over time. And when you work for yourself, you get to set your own rules 🙂

Jennifer Gresham – Author of Everyday Bright

Gresham web

I don't really have a motivation problem. In fact, my problem is that I love my work so much, it's hard to STOP and make sure I get the rest/recovery I need to keep creating at my best. Honestly, my opinion is that if someone has regular struggles with motivation, they have one of two problems: 1) they're relying too much on extrinsic motivation to get things done (money, prestige, etc) which is only good in the short haul or, 2) they've taken on a challenge that's too hard and need to scale back.

Sumitha Bhandarkar – Owner of A Fine Parent


My number one tool to maintain motivation isn't really a tool at all — it's actually the people around me. I have a small group of family and friends in real life, and another online, who support and nudge me to keep going. Whether I'm excited about something going really well or down in the dumps and ready to give up, I know can count on them to be there for me. And then there is the community coming up through the blog… every time I receive a comment or email where someone shares that the site has made a difference in their life is like an instant recharge. My site is about parenting, an experience that can be both extremely rewarding and terribly frustrating at the same time. Knowing that I played a role, however small, in tipping the scale to make someone's experience a tad bit more rewarding makes me want to keep at it.

Jeff Bullas – Author of JeffBullas.com, Strategist, and Speaker


There is no number one tool or silver bullet to staying motivated. It is a combination of heart, mind and body. First you need to be on “purpose” in your life. This is where your skills and passions intersect. This is the heart part. Then you need to feed the mind. This means a daily dose of inspirational reading either blogs or great books is essential. I try to read at least an hour a day. Motivation and inspiration does not occur in a vacuum. The body piece. To make sure that the body has energy means maintaining an exercise habit. For me that is road cycling. Then you have to strap yourself in and do the work. Staying motivated is not a singularity.

Benny Lewis – Author of Fluent in 3 Months, TEDx Speaker and NatGeo's 2013 Traveler of the Year


Goals. Solid, specific, time-limited goals. My entire brand “Fluent in 3 Months” is based around the concept that I aim to reach the B2 level in a language on the European Common Framework (a very precise understanding of “fluent”) in exactly one season. I apply this to everything else I do in life. I may want to “get in shape”, but it's better to aim to run a 5k, then aim to run a 10k (both of which I've achieved) and run a half marathon and run a full marathon (next on the agenda, for one month from now and in November respectively). I want my website and business “to grow”, but I have milestones in terms of an exact number of email subscribers for instance and work hard to do what I need to do to reach that target by my deadline. I think vague goals are one of the reasons people lose motivation. “Learn Spanish” was a goal that left me void of motivation because it seems like a bottomless pit. You will never reach perfection. Ditch perfectionism and aim for milestones that you can do in enough time that you can keep your motivation up.

Danny Iny – Founder of Firepole Marketing, Freddy Krueger of Blogging, Author


I think ‘motivation' is actually pretty over-rated. I'm pretty driven, but not always very motivated. Drive makes me commit to things, though, and then a lot of it comes down to whether you're a person who keeps their commitments, or not. Or rather, what sort of person you *choose* to be. Make public commitments, and keep them. It really can be that simple.

Kimanzi Constable – Author of Are You Living or Existing? 9 Steps to Change Your Life


I am naturally motivated because I spent so many years living a miserable life. I do, however, get easily distracted and lose motivation. To get back, I usually turn on some Taylor Swift music. No, I’m not joking. I’m a huge fan of the way Taylor writes music, listening to it inspires me to do what I should be doing. I might also pick up an inspiring book, usually something from Malcolm Gladwell, and read. I get inspired my inspiring things. This is my “Red Bull” of motivation.

Shawn Stevenson – Owner of The Model Health Show (Top Health Podcast)


Everyone has the capacity to be internally motivated. I feel that we all have a different amount of drive in different areas of our lives, and at different points in our lives. Mastery is learning how to tap into that motivation at will. I feel it's about uncovering what your biggest pain and your biggest desire is. It may be someone's biggest pain/fear that their kids won't have the opportunity to go to a good school, or to even put food on their plate for that matter. That's what can drive them to get out and hustle each day. Their biggest desire/pleasure may be to own their own home free and clear, to donate $1 million to charity, or something totally different. You have to dig in and find what means the most to YOU. For me, I'm driven to be more than I am right now. My biggest desire is to grow. My biggest pain and fear is that I won't make a positive difference with my life while I'm here. I'm motivated to give everything that I can while I still have life in my body. That doesn't mean that I don't relax, that doesn't mean that I don't take time off to reflect and enjoy my life. It DOES mean that when it's time to work, I'm going to bring it like a champion… I'm going to bring my best each time out of the gate. Motivation is simply a matter of tapping in to what matters most. Get up and change your physiology like you're about to take the field for your team, then go out and make it happen!

Charlie Hoehn – Author, Marketer, and Speaker


One thing that helps me stay motivated is reading my written mission statement out loud, every morning and night. It's a quantifiable goal I want to accomplish over the next six months, and lays out what all I'm going to do in order to achieve it. So I reinforce my motivation verbally, right as I wake up and right before I go to bed, so it gets ingrained in my subconscious. I also make a lot of to-do lists. I write down all the things I want to get done on notecards, every day. Then I check things off as I finish them. Pretty simple, but it really helps.

Tyler Tervooren – Independent Entrepreneur, Founder of Riskology.co, Risk Taker


The #1 thing I do to stay motivated is to regularly check-in with myself to make sure I'm working on things I'm naturally motivated to do. It's pretty draining to try to “rah rah” yourself into doing things you don't care about, so I try to make sure I spend as little time as possible convincing myself to be motivated. And momentum is a powerful force for motivation so, once I have it and feel like I'm working towards something great, I do everything I can to focus and keep it.

Steve Chou – Owner of My Wife Quit Her Job, and Successful eCommerce Entrepreneur


I actually don't use any tools for motivational purposes.
But the way I remain motivated is by keeping in contact with and meeting new entrepreneurs on a constant basis.
Hearing about other peoples' successes and failures really pumps me up.

I actually don't use any tools for motivational purposes. But the way I remain motivated is by keeping in contact with and meeting new entrepreneurs on a constant basis. Hearing about other peoples' successes and failures really pumps me up.

Now you have an arsenal of motivation tips. They aren't tips from just anybody. These are the secret motivation weapons of superstar online entrepreneurs. I hope you try some of them out and see what works for you. And if you wanted to know what my favorite motivation tool is? It's not relying on motivation.  Like Steve and Danny, I don't believe that anybody can be successful on just motivation. After all, it's nearly impossible to maintain all the time. Instead, build habits, systems, and rituals. Many of the tools listed by the entrepreneurs in this post are habits, systems, and rituals – and perhaps that's why they've been so successful. If you have a secret motivation tip, leave it in the comments section or let me know what it is on Twitter.

12 thoughts on “17+ Ways These Online-Business Pros Maintain Unshakable Motivation

  1. Sumitha says:

    Wow, what an awesome collection of tips! I loved reading what everyone does to keep at it. I couldn’t agree with you more – it’s relying on systems and the habits, instead of sheer will power and motivation, that will ultimately see you through a dip.
    And thanks for including me – so happy to be a part of the wonderful lineup 🙂

    • Sarah says:

      Thank you Tracy – it’s sticky to rely on motivation all of the time but motivation can give you an extra push 🙂

  2. Terence says:

    What a great list, Sarah. For me, I find if I take a break for a while, do something completely unrelated, then my motivation returns enough for me to carry on. (Habits and schedules help too 🙂 ).

  3. Jon Bowes says:

    “One thing that helps me stay motivated is reading my written mission statement out loud, every morning and night.”
    I used to do something like this, except it was in the morning and it was a whole plan I had written for myself. I found it exceptionally useful, lots of great reminders in there about WHY I was doing what I was doing. The biggest thing that I would remind myself of each day was that it was not about me.
    When I am focused on myself, and what I want, then I get dismayed so easily and fall into a victim mindset. When I’m focused out, on helping others, then that mindset disappears.
    Great round-up!

  4. Kathy says:

    Another “wow” reply, although after readying your post and all of the comments, you’d think I could come up with a more original first reaction. Love “the journal,” “discipline,” and checking in w/yourself regularly to make sure you’re on track w/whatever goals you’ve set.
    “Momentum” (Tervooren) can be a slippery slope if you’re not seeing any measure-able results – I’m sure that’s not what Tyler Tervooren meant so I’ll just expand this thought from my personal experience. Part of that momentum formula (for me) is that I sustain the focus of whatever I’m working on measured against “return:” return of my time and/or return on investment and/or profit. One way to keep this in perspective is to not be taken off course by momentum – “Is this working?” is one of the questions I ask to keep myself honest … which might be the question that connects all of your featured online entrepreneurs to each other.

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