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Some background:

I am a full time software developer, with a number of side projects on the go. These include a blog or two, making hand painted jewellery, a few pretty diverse things.

These projects (as a rule) are going well, but not great. My blog gets some views and comments but not loads. I opened an Etsy shop and made one sale in two weeks.

My problem is that I am a dreamer and when I start I always imagine the project being an amazing, runaway success and when the initial reality differs, I struggle to persist with it. Even when they are not going badly, my motivation drops and they just tick along at a mediocre level of success.

My question:

What tools / strategies should I use to motivate myself that if I persisted with average success it could become great success?

After all, I know that very few people achieve success with anything overnight, but I feel disappointed when my shop makes one sale because I wanted ten, for example. I want to feel over the moon that someone bought something!

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I'll turn this into a proper answer if y'all think it's worthwhile but holy cow, Beeminder is perfect for this. Here's an article I wrote about using Beeminder to gradually make Beeminder itself a great success by making 1000 user-visible improvements to it in 1000 days: – dreeves Jan 28 '14 at 22:37
up vote 3 down vote accepted

There is a Zig Ziglar quotation that applies well to your situation: "Motivation is like showering: required daily." As one step, I'd suggest finding a handful of quotations, images, or other motivations to which you can constantly expose yourself. "The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step" comes to mind, plus perhaps a mock-up of an Etsy sales page showing 1,000 sales?

Zig aside, the concept of regularly reminding yourself of your goals is a key part of behavior change in Dialetical Behavioral Therapy. This can take the form of jotting down a list of your motivations and goals on an index card, and scheduling a time twice a day to re-read the list, keeping them at the forefront and fending off any creeping procrastination.

I'd also suggest committing to do ONE thing each day towards your project. Keep a list of items of varying intensity from which to choose, so on a less-motivated day you can do a small task (maybe a new photograph of an item for your store) and when you're really pumped, some harder tasks. This keeps the momentum going -- as you pointed out, you're probably not going to get to high sales overnight, but if you did one thing each day to try to bring in new business, that adds up!

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Thanks, I will definitely try doing one little thing a day for the project, it will help keep up the momentum and hopefully will help overall :) – Fiona - Jan 27 '14 at 16:16

People think the more time you put in the more you get out. However the truth is, the more thought you put in the more you get out.

Meaning that the fact that you are doing all these things is good, not just in general but also for you and your personality. On the other hand, average results probably mean you are doing it like everybody else and thus obtain average results.

You have to shake it up, think of something new. Radical ideas usually lead to new things. People like change when it brings about better results.

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Thanks for your answer. It's interesting and I know what you mean but I think I know for some of the projects that the success is only average because I'm putting in the minimum effort to keep them ticking over. Maybe if I tried really hard one of them will be a winner? – Fiona - Jan 23 '14 at 16:16

There are two things about it in my mind:

  1. Maybe you have too many projects and they do not allow you to have a great success on one of them. You need to put there an another value, something more to make it special and successful. Maybe focus on one project now, after reaching your target in it (or losing enthusiasms), you will move to another. There is small chance to achieve great success in all of your projects in the same time.

  2. You write, that you see success in the number: how many views and comments are on a blog web side, how many jewellery have you sold, etc. And what about your feeling? Do you like to do these projects? The good feeling about work, that you enjoy it, it could be also considered as a success. Many people gain the success just because they focus on the work they love. And the success (in the number side of view) was a side effect. The main reason they do it was that they feel good, they where enthusiastic about it. Just do what you like to do, do your best about it and you will see. The success may come, because you will become more natural, more creative. Maybe the good feeling could be your best motivation?

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Thanks, I think there is definitely some truth in point 1 for me but point 2 really resonated with me. I am doing those projects because they make me happy, that is why I have chosen to do them. I will try to remember that in the future :) – Fiona - Jan 23 '14 at 16:18

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