Boss Lady

Lost your ‘Why’? 5 steps to find it again


Do you ever have times when it all seems too hard and kind of pointless? We all go through periods in business where we’re lacking focus and less motivated than usual. Sometimes it’s easily explained by a recent setback, disappointment, or general fatigue. But other times this apathy can persist for much longer than we’d like.

The underlying reason is that you’ve lost your motivation – in other words, you’ve lost your ‘why’ for being in business. Here are some techniques that can help you find your “why” and get motivated about growing your business again.

1) Rule out fatigue

Burnout is so common in business owners and entrepreneurs. Although most of us don’t want to admit that something has got the better of us, the constant demands of running a business do take a toll. When was the last time you really had a full weekend off? Do you need to catch up on some sleep? When did you last do something fun or something just for yourself? You might be surprised at the difference taking a two-days off can have on your attitude to business.

2) Talk to customers

Anytime I’ve felt that the effort of building and running a business is too much, having some conversations with real customers has helped immensely. You can call customers with the purpose of writing a case study, to see if there’s anything else you can do for them, or just for customer feedback. Either way, if you can direct the conversation towards finding out how your business has helped this customer, you’ll start to feel a whole lot better about the value your business delivers. Helping others is a basic way for all humans to be happier, so the more you can recognize the ways your business is making a difference, the happier you’ll feel.

3) Reconnect with your vision

If you’ve lost your motivation, think back to the time when you were first starting your business. Try to remember… what was it that inspired you and got you excited back then? Was it the impact you’d have on your customers? The difference you could make in the community? The ability to support your family? A desire to inspire others? Or maybe it’s less noble but based on a desire to prove to someone you could do it – there’s nothing wrong with this either!

Hopefully you created a written vision statement, but if not, just remember what it was and write it down now. In fact, write down a few versions of your vision statement – each one bigger and more exciting than the last.

4) Imagine a better future

The next step is to visualize your business in its ideal state five years into the future. How big is your business? What kind of team do you have? What do you spend your time doing? And what do you not do anymore? What kind of impact are you having on customers? What are they saying about your business?

Most top athletes make visualization a key part of their training – and entrepreneurs can use these techniques too. After all, if you can’t imagine something, it’s very hard to create it. Make your mental image strong and specific – imagine where you’ll work, some conversations you’ll have, some of your key metrics and more. Return to this image frequently.

5) Determine the next actions to take

Now you know where you’re heading with your business, but you might still feel overwhelmed and lacking in direction. This is where you need to figure out a way to make you feel like your vision can actually become a reality. The best way to do this is through action!

Before diving straight into a task though, take a moment to define some goals for your business. Usually fairly short-term goals are best – some specific outcomes that will move your business closer towards your vision. List these out. For example, your goals for the next 90 days might be things like; get 10 sales orders, reduce accounts receivable to x%, upgrade website, have someone else doing customer service, etc.

Then, for each goal, write out a single action you can take each day for the next week. These should be small, but important steps that will eventually lead to those goals being achieved. Taking the examples above, these might be things like; email 5 prospects, call 2 prospects, follow up 2 outstanding quotes, create a new credit policy, write an ‘overdue invoice’ email template, call 3 outstanding accounts, create a shortlist of web designers, draft content for homepage, create a draft sitemap, draft a position description, document 2 processes, etc.

Once you’ve got these mini-actions documented, schedule them in your calendar for the next week – these become your daily action list. Then pick one action and actually do it now. Trust me, you’ll feel great afterwards!

Motivation = progress towards a meaningful goal

As you can see, each of these actions are very small and shouldn’t be too difficult. But also, if you kept taking action like this on a consistent basis, you would make a lot of progress towards your goals and vision in just a few weeks. The cumulative approach of taking small, but important actions is huge.

The key with this whole process is to connect your daily actions with your bigger vision. When these become disconnected, we tend to lose sight of our vision and forget why we’re in business in the first place. Keeping your ‘why’ front-of-mind and tightly linked with the reality of your day will make you feel much more motivated and energized – even when there are difficult or monotonous things to do in business!

About Fiona Adler

Fiona Adler writes about entrepreneurship at and is the founder of - a productivity tool for individuals and teams. She has previously summited Mount Everest, built several businesses, and has an MBA. Fiona currently lives in France with her family and enjoys pushing the envelope to get the most out of life and loves helping others do the same. Twitter: @FiAdler LinkedIn:

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