6 Ways to Keep Yourself (and Your Employees) Motivated All Year



This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Microsoft Office for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.

Don’t we just love fresh starts? We all make a ton of resolutions at the start of the year both for our personal and professional lives. We want to eat healthier, work smarter, and just plain be nicer and better people. And it’s all hunky dory in the first few days of the year. But as January fades into February, our New Year’s Resolutions lose some their luster. You do want to keep them, you really do, but and people tend to find them less and less appealing as the weeks fly by, and the motivation to stick to them fades away and we fall into our old patterns.

The struggle is, quite literally, indeed very real.

Same goes for the plans and resolutions you make for your business. Aren’t they bee’s knees when you first present them to your team? Doesn’t everyone get excited and gung-ho? But the honeymoon phase eventually ends, and doubts begin to creep in.

You yourself might begin to second-guess yourself, even if you know your plans are solid. In a small business, wherein the organizational structure is more contained and flat than that of big corporations, you would be quite visible, and your employees would look to you as their leader and take their cue from you, and even feed off your energy. They would be able to feel when your heart’s not in it.

Here are some ideas on how to make those resolutions stick.

1. Eyes on the Prize

It’s always about the end game. If you really want to stick to your plans, your goals, your resolutions, know WHY you’re doing them. Why are you implementing those new SOP’s in the workflow? Why the more aggressive marketing strategy? Why develop this new product? Why fix the buggy app?

It may seem cliche, but you need to take another look at your company’s mission and vision. Because you, and everyone in your employ, need to have an understanding of what the long-term goal is. If it seems nebulous, distill it and crystallize it. Make it exciting. Make in inspiring. The vision is the goal, and the mission is the rally call you make every day so you’ll get there.

2. Set Milestones

You may have set big goals for the year — that’s awesome. But you might have forgotten the elements that contribute to those big goals. Leaps and bounds are composed of inches and yards, you know. So set mini-targets at set moments throughout the year, so you won’t get overwhelmed by any too-huge target figures, thereby keeping yourself from meltdowns and burnouts.


3. Keep Learning

Nothing keeps you excited like immersing yourself in something that you love. Some call it geeking out, some call it pursuing your passion, and others call it commitment. No matter how much you know about something, there’s always something new to learn about it and new perspectives from which to understand it. Update yourself constantly about the industry you’re in.

4. Find a Mentor

You probably serve as a mentor to your employees, and that’s as it should be. But who’s mentoring you? You can be awesomely self-motivated, but there will be times that you’ll need that breath of inspiration or that kick in the pants. Find someone who has been where you are now, someone you respect.

Mentorship doesn’t even have to be one-on-one or face-to-face. You can read books, watch or listen to interviews and speeches of Bill Gates, Richard Branson, or whoever floats your boat. Mentorship doesn’t even have to be just one person. For example, Microsoft has just launched Office Small Business Academy series which  allows you to benefit from the wisdom and knowledge of many different industry experts who offer motivation as well as practical advice on how to run your business smoothly and profitably, so take the help the help where you can get it. You can register here to view the series.

5. Build Your Team

This means more than just hiring people. Bricks don’t make a wall, you need mortar to bind them into one solid fortress — you need that bond between members of your team. No, they don’t all have to be BFF’s, but you need them to have a certain rapport with you and the other team members.

Establish and encourage good relationships with and among your team. This not only boosts morale and improves performance, but these same relationships could be huge motivators as well, as people tend to work harder at not letting other people down than at not letting themselves down.

6. Set-up your Environment for Success

There is great power in what you choose to surround yourself with. In the same way that you would tend to get sick if you constantly expose yourself to pollution, junk food, and disease, you are more likely to grow healthier and stronger when you enjoy clean air and sunshine, and work better in a bright, well-equipped workspace. So look into the layout of your office and work areas, curate the art in the walls and even the music that you listen to, as all these elements contribute to brain function and overall wellbeing. Smoothen your systems and processes so your team can worry less about spreadsheets and documents and focus more on other things that help build your business. Go ahead and pay premium for software like Microsoft Office, and reap the benefits in increased productivity and efficiency.


The new year has lit a fire within us. Here’s hoping that these ideas can allow us to constantly fuel that flame and sustain that motivation throughout the year. Have an awesome 2016!

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Matthew Toren

Matthew Toren is a serial entrepreneur, mentor, investor and co-founder of YoungEntrepreneur.com. He is co-author, with his brother Adam, of Kidpreneurs.org, BizWarriors.com and Small Business, BIG Vision: Lessons on How to Dominate Your Market from Self-Made Entrepreneurs Who Did it Right (Wiley).