Motivation Needs Direction

Motivation Needs Direction

When I flew to Asia and started Graphic Design Experts, I was chomping at the bit to get started. I spent just 16 hours in Bangkok before heading north to Chiang Mai, where I would quickly get down to work. Within the first week I was cold calling every night, hustling my ass off to get customers.


It was hard to stay motivated and make those calls every night. I really didn’t feel like doing it, but I did because I thought ‘this is going to make you successful’.


A few days ago I read an old journal entry that said ‘I KNOW this will work. I will make it work.’ It was a little painful to read that entry. Months later, having let the business fall by the wayside, it hurts to remember how hard I fought to create that company.


During that time, I really thought I was going to make it work. I was positive that with a few months of cold calling there was no way I couldn’t get a solid group of clients. I was really sure that Graphic Design Experts was on it’s way to being huge.


… I was also ignoring a lot of the facts.


  1. Cold calling just wasn’t getting results.

  2. I was competing with massive platforms like 99Designs, TopTal, and

  3. I completely rejected the idea of ‘mentors’, expecting to learn from trial and error.


I had a ton of energy, but I was a really naive business owner. I thought that with enough effort and ‘grit’ I wouldn’t be able to fail. I thought that all my efforts would be justly rewarded. I was sure that with all the strain I was putting in, something just had to work out.


All of these beliefs were totally false, but they did give me one thing; motivation. I had the blind motivation to keep going. It’s good to stay motivated, but I was unaware that I was going in the totally wrong direction.


The Second Business


I’m still a newbie when it comes to running businesses, but I’m a little more wary than I was while working on Graphic Design Experts. I’m still motivated as hell, but I realize that it’s a lot more important where I put the force rather than the amount of force I apply.


I knew this from the get-go, but I guess I didn’t really ‘know’ it to the extent that I could apply it when I was doing all those cold calls. Now my motivation is aimed in a different direction.


I’m focusing more on doing the ‘right’ things rather than hitting the most obvious things as much as possible. I’m joining mastermind groups related to my business. I’m getting mentors who can validate or poke holes in my ideas.


It’s a different kind of motivation. I’m not looking for a ‘task’ that I can crush for 8 hours. That path didn’t work for me, it was a little painful, and now I’m purposefully avoiding it. I’m looking for opportunities, getting feedback from mentors, and finding ways to outsource my Amazon research.


I’m trying to work smarter, not harder. This, of course, freaks me out! I know motivation is a muscle, and so it’s odd to be flexing it less by purposefully not jumping into doing the hardest thing possible. (like hitting the cold calls or staying up all night.)


I’m excited to look back on this in a few months. I’ll be able to see if the slightly smarter version of me is able to achieve more with this new strategy. My guess is that the perfect balance is finding the smartest actions to do and then hitting those hard. Instead of hitting cold calls, I’ll do something else that’s higher leverage with the same intensity.


That all makes sense and I probably could have worked a hell of a lot smarter from the start!


I’m sure I’ll write a much more enlightened post about motivation, effort, and ‘working smart’ in the next few months after the results of what I’m doing now are clear. Until then, stay motivated, keep dreaming, and reach out to me on Facebook or Twitter @Nico Jannasch.


The view of our Hong Kong campsite from a nearby hill.

The view of our Hong Kong campsite from a nearby hill.