How to Practice Self-Motivation

Life as a freelance can be isolated.  This can be an advantage, with fewer distractions and freedom to get on with the work in your own time.  But it can be hard over the long haul and so today, I share some thoughts about three dimensions of self-motivation.

I live alone and I know that makes a big difference.  I find it hard to imagine the detailed practical issues someone faces working from home in a family setting.

Boundaries in those circumstances are likely to be harder to put in place and to maintain.  I can imagine opening my office door and finding three cats, a dog, a toddler and spouse, all waiting for my attention.  It would soon drive me crackers!

But even so, perhaps there are aspects of my experience, other freelancers may find helpful.


I know many people have problems with motivation and so it perhaps doesn’t help for me to claim I don’t share this problem.

One key to this is routine.  I know any time of the day or week what I should be doing.  This is not compulsive behaviour, I can vary it when I need to.  The value of routine is I don’t have to think about what I need to do next.

I divide the day into three parts.  Mornings when I follow-up desk work, afternoons when I walk and meet people informally and evenings are for more desk work and meetings.

I find walking really helpful and so I walk every day.  This is for health reasons but also it is an effective way to tackle complex problems.  Away from my desk, perspective can lead to a breakthrough for some problem or other.

I am enthusiastic about what I am doing.  Most days I can’t wait to set to work on whatever I am preparing.  If bored or uninspired by what you are doing, perhaps you need a change in direction?


This is a tough issue because I depend on others’ validation.  When someone takes me on as a coach, they validate my work.  When they write a testimonial, they validate my work.

However, self-validation is also important.  One reason is I believe my chosen work is unique and as such it is my responsibility.  The hardest thing is explaining my vision.  This is a challenge all businesses face when marketing, finding the language that makes sense to their market.  It also needs to make sense to those who might refer you to prospects.

People are always keen to show you the error of your ways, to point to practitioners who are highly successful because they’re not using your approach.  It may take forever to prove your approach and no-one will do that for you.

Of course you can’t fully articulate it from the outset; it takes time to find the right keynote.  You need to validate your own results.  You need to decide whether you are still confident in your own approach.


So, it is important to be able to hold your position.  Not because you are necessarily right but you know your underlying perspective is not being heard.

I know that my developmental approach to marketing works.  I understand how it differs from other approaches to marketing.  The challenge I have is finding the words that make sense to others and so I need their reaction.  It has taken me a long time to get this far and I hope I have almost completed my journey.

During that journey I have received a lot of advice, some of it impatient.  I have heard all of it and noted it.  Some of it I will use at a later date.  Some I have concluded is not for me.  Use it or not, I am grateful because all of it helps me know what is essential and what I need to change.

How do you motivate, validate and reinforce your work as a freelance?

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About the Author

I've been a community development worker since the early 1980s in Tyneside, Teesside and South Yorkshire. I've also worked nationally for the Methodist Church for eight years supporting community projects through the church's grants programme. These days I am developing an online community development practice combining non-directive consultancy, strategic management, participatory methods and development work online and offline. If you're interested contact me for a free consultation.

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