Emily Cretella is a mama, content creator creative entrepreneur who turned her side-hustle into her full-time business on her daughter’s first birthday. Mother Hustle is an online publication community from creative mompreneurs featuring unpolished advice, inspiration-fueling stories, and more.
“Someone else’s story might make me want to be a go-getter on the spot, but I’ll only actually go and get ‘it’ if it’s connected to my personal ‘why’.”
We all love a good motivational speech.
You know, those aha moments à la Oprah or Ted Talks and such, when a very successful individual gets up on stage, shares a near-death experience or a hitting-bottom season of life, which triggered a big kick in their pants and forced them to change their ways and become who they are at the time of the speech.
Those are great. They often cause us to cry a little — or even a lot — and sometimes to make drastic decisions on the spot to change our own lives.
Now, is that enough in the long run?
Are those motivational videos we see shared on Facebook enough to keep us going when things are high, but particularly when things are low?
I am going to go ahead and answer: No.
The decisions we make after listening to a motivational speaker are in the same category as the resolutions we make on January 1st. We keep some, we drop some, and we forget about others.
And the ones we keep aren’t because we made them for the New Year. They have to do with a deeper need or desire or motivation that we discovered as we went.
The definition of ‘motivation’ is “the reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way.” Or “the general desire or willingness of someone to do something.” I personally like to sum it all up as motivation is a “motive for action.”
I really don’t think we need more motivational stuff.
We have a great load of it all over the internet. But I do think we need more searching and defining of our own why(s). Our own motive to take action. Our reasons to set goals, to go after them, and to keep pressing on.
A motivational speech will get you started at best, but a clear personal motivation will keep you going.
We all know by now that entrepreneurship is tough and goes up and down constantly. Without a clear ‘why,’ you just won’t be able to keep up. Not because you’re not cut out for it or gifted enough, but because you lack motivation — a daily, long-lasting motive for action.
For me, my ‘why’ has always been to walk into my purpose as a woman, as a mom, as the creation of God.
And all those can be divided into smaller motives to action. If I want to be as generous as I want, helping people at any point in time when I see the need, I need to make money and create a generosity bank account. That’s a huge motivator.
If I want my kids to learn that a woman can have a family and pursue what she loves and what she knows she’s called to do in the world at the same time, I need to model that reality myself and keep building my little empire.
It’s great motivation to use your life as an example when you just don’t feel like it.
Someone else’s story might make me want to be a go-getter on the spot, but I’ll only actually go and get ‘it’ if it’s connected to my personal ‘why’.
My own motive for action.
Of course, this branding girl can’t talk about finding and defining your ‘why’ without mentioning brand development. Building your brand is all about that personal motivation. It’s for you to know it and express it, and for them to understand it and get behind it.
That’s why we say people don’t buy what you do: they buy WHY you do it.
The ‘why’ question is perhaps the most important one when starting any project. Motivation isn’t only a way for you to start and get going; it’s also an appeal for people to join in the journey along with you.
Clearly defining my ‘why’ helped my husband support my business decisions and even now get on the team for certain projects.
Clearly defining my ‘why’ and explaining it to my kids often has brought so much grace and support from them.
Defining ‘why’ my keeps me going when I truly don’t feel like it – and those days are more common than you might think.
And finally defining my ‘why’ has allowed me to book ideal clients and keep them as clients but also as cheerleaders.
True motivation is a motive for action for you and for others, all of you investing time, money, energy into your business, into your dreams.
Find your motivation, your own personal ‘motive for action,’ and not only you but others too will keep on believing in your ‘why’ for the long run.
MotherHustle Panelist Katell Schmitz is the creative director + brand designer at Reverie Lane Designs and The Creative Session, where she works with passionate dreamers on a mission to create beautiful, memorable and impactful brands. She’s a French expat who’s living her American dream but also gets homesick from time to time. She’s a happy wife and mama of two and presently lives with her multicultural family in Boston. Find her on Facebook and Instagram.
“So much of my blog is centered on my daughters—not even just my blog content, but my drive to be successful.” Here’s Caitlin Houston’s #MyMotherHustle Story.
When and how did you begin your business? Give us the backstory!
I started blogging in 2008 as a way to record my wedding planning process—never with the intention of making my blog a job. After my wedding was over, I realized I loved the community I had found by blogging, as well as the creative outlet. I’ve always loved to write and my blog is a place where I can go to relieve some stress, ask for advice, or share something I’m passionate about.
In the last couple of years, I discovered Confessions of a Northern Belle was starting to become a source of income for my family. I put my heart and soul into my posts—whether it’s an influencer collaboration or just thoughts about being a SAHM/full-time blogger—my blog posts are real, honest, and relatable.
Tell us a little about your family.
I have two beautiful spunky little girls—Annabelle is 4 years old and Ailey is 1.5 years old. They keep my husband and I on our toes with their strong-willed personalities, inquisition, curiosity, and energy. We also have a kitty named Mcmuffin, who spends his days hiding from Ailey or bird watching.
What were the biggest challenges you’ve faced or lessons you’ve learned since starting your business?
One of my biggest challenges since starting Confessions of a Northern Belle has been to stay focused on my goals when I see the success of other bloggers who started writing after me. However, as they say, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” I’ve been working to recognize my own successes—big or small—and using that to drive me forward. I’ve learned everyone is on their own walks of life and the only way I can become better at what I do is by looking at myself and not others.
How does motherhood affect or influence your business? Your creativity?
So much of my blog is centered on my daughters—not even just my blog content, but my drive to be successful. I want my girls to look at their mommy and be proud for all of her hard work and determination, as well as my creativity.
What advice would you give to a brand-new creative entrepreneur?
Don’t give up! There are going to be bumps in the road and days you want to quit, but stick to your plan and have confidence in yourself. If you manifest success, you will achieve it.
What advice would you give to a brand-new mom?
Never be afraid to ask for help. Becoming a mother has earned you a ticket into one of the coolest clubs ever…and all moms have been through something. Whether it’s a sleepless night or a week-long tantrum, we’ve been there. Find your mom tribe and don’t let go.
Caitlin Houston is a New England native who has spent the better part of the last 12 years living in the good ole South. She’s returned to her home state of Connecticut with two little girls and her Tennessee-born husband. Caitlin is an elementary school teacher turned SAHM who spends her days managing a blog while chasing around her daughters, Annabelle and Ailey. Follow her on Twitter at CatalynBear, Instagram at CatalynBear, Pinterest at Catalyn and Facebook at Confessions of a Northern Belle.
“As a mum who has taken over three years to launch a global app, I want to share the top 10 tools that got me to where I am today.”
There are so many mothers with passion and purpose that I know, and there is enough light for them all.
The growth of mobile, the Internet of Things and social allows mothers to build businesses between naps, after work and on the go.
So many mums I know are focused on executing their business plans, and many are hustling. Why so many have to hustle is another debate—but in my experience, access to funds, capital and investment means that mothers always find a way.
That way often requires a side hustle.
As a mum who has taken over three years to launch a global app with the mission to save mums two hours a day every day, I have found ways to make that side-hustle life easier. I wish I would have known about these tools from day one, but hindsight can be passed on.
Here are the top 5 tools and resources that got me to where I am today:
#1: Online community and networks.
I was a full-time working mum, doing a doctorate and raising two children. So when I developed my business plan, getting to a physical location to network was, for me, anti-mompreneur.
I found strong communities online where I could network globally, and the strongest was the Female Entrepreneur Association. Not only was I surrounded by strong females that inspired me and took me higher, but the community also shared valuable tools for launch, advertising, brand, membership and much more at an optimal cost.
If you are working full-time and hustling, trying to do this alone will be impossible if you really want to grow.
I spoke with two CEOs of companies who designed apps who gave me advice on outsourcing. I first had freelancers in Europe and then transitioned to India for the final design and build. It was the best decision I ever made. I had an outsourced solution that was feasible to continue running the design, build and run of the app while I continued to earn money that stabilized my family and funded the app.
I hear so much about only having a plan A. This was my stance in my first business in my 20s and early 30s, but then I was single and had no children. As a mum, I still needed to give my family what they needed and launch a business on the side. I now also have a Virtual Assistant, and have expanded India to include a service desk.
#3: A DIY website.
I had gone through several solutions for website hosting and management, and I know this is a topic of much debate. In my first business, I even had a web company develop a site, which was extremely costly, and then I was dependent on them.
I then went from WordPress to Rainmaker, and eventually SquareSpace. As a busy mum, I find that SquareSpace is the easiest to manage, and I do not have to rely on expensive support. I started blogging and growing my tribe even before launch. At launch, my Twitter was at 10k, Instagram was at 3.5k and Linkedin was at 1.7k.
#4: The book Brand You.
Brand You (affiliate link) has been one of the biggest sources of my learnings. It taught me how to develop a powerful personal brand, define my purpose and make the most of my networks.
I started hosting summits and doing public speaking to engage with my tribe. Motherhood Unplugged 2.0 was the first summit, but two more are to follow in 2018. I love engaging with mums—the people that matter to me are the ones I am helping to make a difference.
#5: The right tools.
Hootsuite: I plan as much of my media as possible on a Sunday, using Hootsuite. I can, of course, be spontaneous—but as a mum, planning is key.
Trendspottr Pro. I optimize my research time by finding content that interests my community of mums via Trendspottr. I do not have time to waste, so using artificial intelligence in the tools I use, as well as in my app, is a philosophy for me and mums.
Crowdfire. I optimize my Twitter growth with Crowdfire to find my tribe and to manage following people that are engaged.
Followers. I optimize my Instagram growth with Followers, and engage with my community directly on Instagram.
My Facebook Group. I engage with my Facebook group members, who were there from the start of my product design, testing and the development of the community.
WhatIfIhadaPA (drinking my own champagne!). I use my own app as my to-do list, calendar and optimization tool.
There are so many tools out there, but these are the ones that have gotten me to the point of launch and, now, growth.
Even now, I still hustle.
I am 100% working mum, tech founder and wife who lives life authentically, bringing her mission to reality. And I hope I can help other mums do the same.
Chantelle Larsen has embraced multiple roles: mum, wife, tech founder, vlogger, speaker, yogi, full-time Digital Lead, and inspirer of the next generation of Girls in Tech. She has figured out the power of mindset, tools and technology, which can radically change and optimize the lives of people that have the most important job in the world: mums.
In the corporate world, she works on solutions that save millions. In her doctorate, she identified statistical correlations between childhood factors: parenting, sense-making and adulthood success — the ultimate success being happiness. The key barrier for parents was time! Chantelle’s mission became to save 1 million mums’ time. Follow Chantelle and WhatifIhadaPA on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter (personal and business).
This isn’t my first snow-deo: here are my best tips for being a work-at-home mom and dealing with incessant snow-day school cancellations.
I’m a lifelong New England girl, so I shouldn’t be complaining.
But I am. WTF, snow.
In the past week, my kids have had three snow days. Three. And, it’s March. And, mama’s got shit to do.
Because that’s the trade-off of running your own business, right? There’s no calling out. There’s no putting-it-off. Your business keeps going — unless it doesn’t. So you need to keep up with your workload, and your clients, and your team, and your daily to-do’s, if you want to keep this whole thing in “balance.”
Well mamas, lucky for you: this isn’t my first snow-deo.
I’ve now been in business for myself for 6+ years and, during that time, I’ve had two kids that have had tons of snow days and rain days (yep, rain days) and wind days (YES, wind days) and school delays of one kind or another. So I’ve kind of got this whole snow-day/work-day thing figured out.
Here are my best tips for being a work-at-home mom and dealing with incessant snow-day school cancellations:
#1: Get up early.
I know, I know: you night-owl mamas are cursing me right now. But if you know snow is in the forecast and you sleep in until your kids get up, you will regret it later. Let me repeat that: YOU WILL REGRET IT LATER.
Get up early and organize the details of your workday before the kids get up. Respond to emails, reschedule meetings, finish up that due-today project.
Try to tie up immediate ends before your children start pulling at your pajamas and asking when they can go outside. This will seriously help to lessen the overwhelm of a looming “wasted” day.
#2: Schedule everything.
School-age kids are used to structure and schedules. (Have you ever seen how down-to-the-minute these school days are scheduled?!) I know that my kids do so much better when timeframes are involved. An entire open, free day may seem exciting at first … but given completely free reign over their time (and the house) usually leads to quick chaos.
Now, I’m not saying you need to take the fun, free-play out of the day. Just naming time periods, and putting a “start” and “stop” time to timeframes, helps kids understand that no, it’s not snack time, or lunch time, or TV time, or dinner time yet.
Some common activities that make it on to our snow-day agenda include:
Chores (see #2)
On the first of our (many) snow days, I created our “SNOW FUN!” agenda myself, breaking the day down hour-by-hour and setting general activities for each time block. After my kids got the hang of it, they began “helping me” by creating their own. It was nice to sit down in the morning and plan our day together — and it got them to be more apt to abide by the schedule since they created it.
An example of one of our recent snow day schedules (@motherhustle)
#3: Put them to work for you.
Of course, snow days are supposed to be fun. I look back lovingly on my own days spent building snow forts, drinking hot chocolate and watching every ’80s cartoon imaginable. But snow days are also LONG. You can still fit in all of those idyllic snow-day activities and put your kids to work for you.
Here are some around-the-house chores your kids can help with so that you feel productive at the end of the day:
Cleaning their rooms
Sorting through old toys and books to donate
Trying on seasonal clothes to see what needs to be replaced
Dinner prep (chopping, washing veggies, etc.)
Vacuuming or dusting
Feel free to set up a reward (bribe?) system to incentivize them. Fold laundry? Extra outdoor time! Wash dishes? Extra screen time! This snow day should be a win-win for both of you.
#4: Alternate together time with separate time.
It’s super easy for mom guilt to settle in on snow days. You have a lot to do, so you try to keep your kids occupied so that you can work. But then you feel bad about not spending enough time with them. The ridiculous cycle is endless.
To combat this, I make sure I have set times during the day when I’m involved in their activities, and set times when they’re on their own. I’ll sit down and do a craft with them, or bake some cookies, or read them stories. Then they’ll have time to play together, or watch TV or play on a tablet. That’s when I’ll grab my laptop and get to work.
Making sure you pay attention to both sides of the motherhustle on snow days is the best way to feel good at the end of a (looooong) day together.
#5: Give yourself some friggin’ grace.
TV time is fine. Tablet time is fine. Fighting-over-a-stupid-little-toy time is fine. Let your kids do their own thing. Don’t feel bad about taking those breaks, even if you DON’T have to get work done right away.
The best way to survive a snow day with your kids is to maintain your own sanity. And if that means drinking all the coffee, or letting them watch Moana 10 times in a row, or having a big glass of wine at dinner, you do it mama.
Thankfully, snow days are not EVERY day. Take it for what it is, do what you can, and then take Elsa’s advice and let it go.
Do you have any other snow-day survival tips for work-at-home moms? Share them in the comments below or over on Facebook and Instagram!
Emily Cretella is the founder of MotherHustle.com, as well as the copywriting and content marketing firm CursiveContent.com, where she helps clients create + share stories their audiences love.
She adores being mom to her two little ladies and drinking obscene amounts of coffee from mugs with pithy sayings. Find her on Instagram, and learn more about ways you can collaborate with MotherHustle.
“My why got me through. Now that I’m emerging on the other side of the inner and outer turmoil, energy is slowly growing. The desire to build a life on my terms has returned.”
‘He who has a why can endure any how’ — Frederick Nietzsche
Like the branches caught in the howling winds outside our window, motivation gets roughly tossed around. When they calm, it returns with remembering my why.
Where does it come from? How do you define it?
I have never had a lack of motivation – until last year. My failing marriage turned the world upside down to make me question everything: entrepreneurship, friendship, career, parenting, love.
Do I need to leave the entrepreneurship life I love passionately for a predictable income and subsidized health benefits?
Is this friendship one-sided or mutually beneficial?
Am I using the right language with C and V to help them process the changes in our family?
Am I wrong to believe that love in marriage can return after it’s lost?
Life on pause. Motivation, gone.
I let go. I allowed myself the space to process and, with your help, struggle and grieve.
Pain is temporary. I’m looking back with gratitude that many facets of my life are cleansed. My why got me through. And, now that I’m emerging on the other side of the inner and outer turmoil, energy is slowly growing. The desire to build a life on my terms has returned.
Through this transition, why never waivered.
I still live to create an intimate connection with my clients, with their brands and between their businesses and their customers.
I still find immense joy in helping to tell your story authentically, to showcase your gifts and talents and move your business forward.
I will always work toward living as an example for my muses to show them how to define success on their terms, only.
I’m determined to teach them that happiness and fulfillment originate from within.
So if you, mama, are like I was, and feeling like your life is on pause, here are some questions to help you find YOUR why:
What makes you feel alive?
What are the things you are naturally good at?
What problems do you solve that you bring the most fulfillment?
How do you define success?
By knowing your why, and keeping it centered during life transitions, you can make sure that the next time the winds are howling, your motivation remains steady and sure.
MotherHustle panelist Illiah Manger is the creative mind and chief designer behind C&V, where she collaborates with daring business owners with heart. She is known for creating clarity and focus while allowing her clients to co-pilot the design process. Illiah wholeheartedly believes in brands that are intimate and designed to tell a story. She is also the co-founder of Elevate & Cultivate, an online community for design professionals to strengthen their skills, get feedback on their work and make friendships stronger than Gotham Ultra.
Outside of C&V and Elevate & Cultivate, Illiah is a paper lover, mom of two daughters, earl grey tea drinker, cookie hunter and typography lover. Find her on Facebook,Instagram and Pinterest.
“What motivates me to continue creating? It’s the art, the idea, the beauty, and the fun of feeling my body move around a canvas.”
“I can’t stop pointing to the beauty” ~ Rumi
That’s how I feel with my phone. My photo stream is clogged with snippets of sky, corners of buildings, flashes of reflected sun.
Most of these end up in the trash folder, but it doesn’t stop me from zooming in and snapping away.
When I walk down the street, I wish I could nudge my fellow pedestrians and point to whatever it is I’m seeing. My husband gets fed up with this constant pointing and secretly (although not anymore now, right?) calls me Pointer. But that’s okay because I enjoy sharing life’s beautiful details, and I couldn’t stop even if I wanted to.
What motivates me to continue creating?
It’s the art, the idea, the beauty, and the fun of feeling my body move around a canvas. It’s a mental and physical exercise to see if I can translate an image in my head to the surface in real life.
In the constant day-to-day routine of baby things—feeding, changing, playing, teaching, repeating (side note: do you ever notice yourself saying things two times to a baby?)—I often think, “Okay, that’s it. I’m going to take a break from painting, I don’t have the energy.”
But somewhere in the midst of busy hands washing dishes or washing baby, a color or image pops up, and it will not leave me alone.
Often what I see in my mind are the abstracted forms of what I’ve witnessed outside. Mountains, flowers, sunshine—they simply become colors and shapes and feelings. Then the motivation to paint again floods back, has to get out.
When I paint, I think about what draws me in when I look at a photograph or painting or memento. What resonates is a jogged feeling or memory, a rooting to a prior time or place or emotion.
In this way, art serves as a grounding for my peace and harmony—an anchor.
Art reminds me that I have the ability to come back to my truest self whenever I want to access her. Art is a form of self-care, in that I put things on my wall, on my nightstand, on my screensaver that remind me to be grateful, to take a deep breath, to stay aware of my ever-supportive family and my roots. So in one painting or photograph, I can be filled with happiness.
I paint for myself. Because the inspiration needs to get out so that my mind doesn’t incessantly spin it around and around.
But I also paint for others. Because I know how anchored to my inner self I feel when I look at that painting of the rolling hills of my childhood done by a local artist. Because I remember the fun day in Virginia with my aunt and uncle picking out a big, red, abstract painting as a college graduation present. Because I feel happy and proud to have a painting by a high school friend in my foyer. Maybe I can provide a tranquil, grounded feeling to someone who has my art on her wall. Maybe I can make her feel joyful, innocent, and connected to her deep-down self.
I’m motivated to point to the beauty, to turn out my inside thoughts, to create tangible anchors to memories and emotions.
Hannah Lowe Corman is a painter and yoga teacher in NYC inspired by nature, movement and meditation. Her son is seven months old, and she is working on figuring out this whole new mom/entrepreneur lifestyle, which is overwhelming. Follow her on Instagram and on Facebook. Make sure to contact her at email@example.com if you are interested in being considered for one of her 2018 painting commissions.
“I tried to focus less on worrying about being a failed business owner and more on finding a rhythm and routine at home that made me happy and made me feel productive and useful.”
Those first few months after I became a mom, I think I was just going through a lot of the motions.
I was hustling hard with the She Percolates podcast, and I was working on some of my own personal business goals. We even launched an ebook!
I had planned to go back to work part-time for the company that I worked for remotely. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized it wasn’t going to be the best choice for me and my family in the season we were in. My husband was working 12-15 hour days, and because of his job, he wasn’t home a few nights a week. That didn’t really give me the time I needed to give 100 percent to the job.
As I continued to work on the podcast and other dreams and ideas I had my daughter went from a sleeping newborn to more of an actual baby and human! I found myself with less and less “free” time and also wanting to do more things with her.
I thought I was losing motivation for the podcast and being a part-time working gal.
(Even though I didn’t go back to my part-time job, the podcast was WORK! We were taking on sponsors, and I was working on the show and various aspects of promotion anywhere from 10-20 hours a week.)
All of these goals and dreams I had seemed to feel less important and less of a reality.
I had no desire to open my laptop and work.
I had no desire to post on social media.
I had no desire to offer up advice and be the honest and vulnerable person I was on the internet.
I thought all my motivation was gone.
I was hard on myself.
I was disappointed in myself.
I thought that I had failed.
I thought that I wasn’t able to hack it as a new mama and business owner.
After we walked away from the podcast I knew I needed a break to re-evaluate what it was that I wanted.
I felt like such a failure.
I felt like I had no motivation to succeed at anything. I had zero desire to burn the midnight oil to be a business owner.
I tried to focus less on worrying about being a failed business owner and more on finding a rhythm and routine at home that made me happy and made me feel productive and useful.
The more I focused on being a mom and taking care of home and all the duties that come with that, I had a huge realization: I hadn’t lost my motivation.
I was very motivated to find systems that worked for our family.
I was very motivated to find a sleep schedule that worked for me and my daughter since my husband was gone for weeks at a time. (Mama needed alone time come 7 pm!)
I was very motivated to lead our kitchen renovation while my husband was gone.
I was very motivated to cultivate relationships with mamas who were in the same season of life as me and in the same city.
I was very motivated to set up rhythms and routines at home that made our lives run more smoothly and made all of us happier.
I slowly realized I was too focused on what I thought I needed to do. I was worried what others would think of me. I was so focused on needing business motivation I didn’t realize I had shifted my energy to something else and my motivation was still there.
After a sleepless night of solo parenting, getting up with a 1-year-old to get our butts to the Y so mama can workout and get home in time for naptime is motivation.
Meal planning, doing laundry, making dinner, and grocery shopping is motivation.
Doctor’s appointments, ballet class, preschool registration, and family calendar organization is motivation.
As I began to forgive myself for the idea that I had thought I failed as a business owner, I began to find the motivation again to open up my laptop and begin working again.
I think what fueled this motivation was a two part-er: 1. I often felt like I could be contributing to our family’s future if I went back to work part-time, and 2. I wanted my daughter to see that it is okay to have an identity and passion for things outside of being a wife or mom.
That second realization hit me when I could see that my daughter was paying attention to everything.
As a toddler, she is paying attention to things like how to brush her hair, where the trash bags are, when it’s time to take our dog Khloe on a walk, etc. But I know sooner rather than later, she is going to be paying attention to the bigger things in life.
It was easy for me to think that because my business motivation was gone, it meant all my motivation was gone. The reality is motherhood requires you to be motivated every.single.day.
In the last 6 months, I have found my business motivation creeping back into my heart and soul. I have a renewed desire to show my daughter that we can accomplish the crazy big goals and dreams we have.
I can feel my heart having that desire again to be creative and work.
I can feel the desire again to have something that is just me. I’m ready for not only being Mom Jen and Wife Jen, but also Work Jen. I have a strong desire to bring in money that will help my family do more fun everyday things, and also to help save for bigger dreams and goals we have.
It can be very easy to see our motivation to work dwindle and think all of a sudden we’ve become a lazy, unmotivated person. But motherhood never allows you to be lazy or unmotivated.
When you catch yourself feeling this way, pay attention to what you are no longer motivated to do and ask yourself why. You might be shifting into a new season and your desires might be changing.
MotherHustle panelist Jen Hatzung is a business strategist + podcaster (podcast currently on hiatus) who lives in Norfolk, VA with her naval officer husband, toddler and dachshund. She can be found drinking copious amounts of coffee or wine (depending on the time of day) while making lists and strategizing when she can fit in her next run. She currently co-leads her local MOPS group, has her own direct sales business selling lipstick, and does the preschool/naptime hustle helping small business owners with their online engagement. If there is any time left in the day she has her nose in a book or watching HGTV. Find her on Instagram.
“I wanted to show my daughter that motivation and perseverance create strong, capable women who name their desires and get it done.”
Those words have always lit a fire under me. I’m a little stubborn and a lot competitive, especially when someone doubts me.
I heard these two words one day when I told someone (who I thought should be supportive of me) that I wanted to run a marathon. When I heard, “You can’t,” I steeled my resolve and said, “Watch me.” And maybe a few other choice words.
I think everyone is born with motivation, but it looks different for every person. What motivates me is not the same thing that motivates you, because my goals and desires are different.
For me, motivation looks like a finish line — both literally and figuratively.
It feels like pride that no one can take away. It smells like the perspiration it took me to get there. It looks like head-down determination. And it tastes like blood, sweat and tears. (And maybe a pint of beer, too.)
But motivation doesn’t have to be about some big physical accomplishment, though it almost certainly has something to do with reaching a goal of some sort.
I quit my day job in May 2013 with the goal of growing my writing business into a full-time income. I had little savings and a lot of debt, but I knew I couldn’t go back into the classroom and teach again the following school year with my sanity intact.
My motivation was all about growing a business that could sustain me and my daughter, without depending on another income in my house.
It’s been hard. Really hard. But almost five years later now, I’m going strong and growing steadily.
Why? Partly because that same person didn’t think I could make it. But mostly because I wanted to show my daughter that motivation and perseverance create strong, capable women who name their desires and get it done. They don’t fall back on excuses or circumstances; they excel because of their challenges, not in spite of them.
When I said I was going to run a marathon, I wanted (needed) to feel a sense of accomplishment in my life. I was at a stage in my life when not much made sense and I was simply going through the motions every day.
I needed to do something big, something that I’d never done before and something that would provide a central focus when other parts of my life were just messy.
Honestly, I needed to get my life back on track and take care of myself so I could move past the messy and unhealthy.
And after that “You can’t,” I needed to prove that yes, I can. And I will. In fact, I probably needed to prove it to myself more than anyone else. It was just those two words that lit the fire under me so I could get it done.
In the end, not only did I run that marathon, but I ran three of them. As well as two ultramarathons, with one more on the calendar.
I’ve since retired from marathons because I know I can do it; I just don’t want to. And frankly, training for an ultra is more fun than training for a marathon despite it being a longer distance.
And if you ever want to see a strong, driven woman succeed? Just tell her she can’t. Because she will.
MotherHustle panelist Abby Herman is a content strategist and content coach for small business owners, helping to get her clients’ written message out to their audience, in their own voice and on their own terms. She specializes in working with female-owned, service-based businesses to generate ideas and strategies that help to move their businesses forward with content that attracts the perfect clients. Abby firmly believes in the power of educating and empowering business owners so they can grow their businesses without breaking the bank. Community over competition is truly her jam!
When she’s not crafting words or coaching her clients through their own writing roadblocks, you can find her exploring the mountains near her home in Phoenix or finding new ways to get her teenaged daughter to take a break from the school books and technology. You can follow her on Instagram, YouTube and Facebook.
“Even if it wasn’t a major financial contribution, I just needed to DO something.”
Ten years ago, I was an elementary school teacher. In fact, I had been voted my school’s teacher of the year and would soon be accepted to the Mickelson Exxon-Mobil Teacher’s Academy. I loved teaching. I like to think I was an “out of the box” teacher who tried to make learning fun and engaging for her students. In addition to teaching, I tutored after school.
This was way before I became a mom. In fact, this was way before being a mom even entered my realm of possibilities, because I was married to someone else—someone I had decided I didn’t want to have a child with. (But that’s a whole other story.) When someone asked me if I had kids, I often replied, “Yes. I have 23 kids, my students.” And that was enough for me.
A few years later, I was worn out, anxious, and unhappy from being stuck in a troubled marriage. At one point, I was working two or three jobs at a time and writing, self-publishing, and marketing my romance novels. I was doing it all for me, to keep me busy and to keep my mind off my lousy marital situation. But I wasn’t exactly…happy.
My motivation was basically keeping myself occupied.
I decided things had to change. I got divorced. I moved. I got a new teaching job.
I got married again. We had a son. And I have been so, so, happy ever since.
But after the birth of our son, all the motivation I’d had previously—to be a good teacher, to come up with creative lesson plans, to simultaneously entertain and educate my students—went out the window. Our son was born in the summer, so I got an extended maternity leave; I was scheduled to return to the classroom in October. But as October neared, I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving my son with someone else so I could go spend the day at work with other people’s kids. (Disclaimer: No judgement here. You do you, mama!) Why pay someone else to spend the day with my son when it was what I wanted to do more than anything? At my husband’s urging, I requested and was granted an additional year of leave.
While I love being a stay-at-home mom, teaching was all I had ever known for the past several years. It felt strange to not want to go back to the job I had previously thrown myself into. I eventually felt like I had to do something with myself.
Even if it wasn’t a major financial contribution, I just needed to DO something.
So I did what I often did and turned to my writing. Since I was deep in the trenches of new motherhood, I wrote about that. I started sending my writing out to the blogs and websites I was constantly reading and devouring. My first published (paid) piece was about the awkwardness of postpartum sex. I figured if I could write about that, I could write about anything.
I started sending writing out all over the place. I started looking for jobs where I could write from home. I landed a few here and there and actually started to make a little bit of money. I was enjoying writing so much, I decided to start working on a novel I had started before our son was born. I finished it and self-published. I kept writing and sending work out wherever I could.
My motivation was finally doing something that I loved. And, bonus: I could stay home with our son!
After a while, though, the worry started to creep in. What was I going to do when the kid went to preschool? And what about kindergarten? I couldn’t just stay home by myself all day. I’d have to get a job eventually, but…what was I going to do? I’d had a taste of the writer’s life. I’d finally gotten to the point where I felt comfortable calling myself A WRITER. I couldn’t go back to the classroom. I didn’t want to teach again. But how was I going to get any sort of writing job with no formal writing training or education? I don’t even know what kind of writing job I would want. How would my resumé look with all my years of teaching experience and then some random freelancing jobs writing about pregnancy, parenting, and babies? What would I need to do so I could stick with this writing thing full-time?
I decided it was time to head back to school for my master’s degree in creative writing and literature. I’m enjoying being a student again and not the teacher. I’m loving my classes and somehow, even amid all my schoolwork and chasing a two-and-a-half-year-old around, I managed to write another novel. (That makes number 5!) Crazy, right? How is that even possible?!
It’s possible because my motivation is doing what I love and loving what I do.
Years ago, when I wrote my first novel, I thought of it as a hobby…my dream job. I never thought writing would take me anywhere. Now that I’ve had a little taste…I want more.
Jessica Goodwin lives near Washington, DC with her husband, son, and their two cats. She’s written four novels and her work has appeared on Scary Mommy, Baby Gaga, Chocolate & Chaos, Tribe Magazine, Mamalode, and in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Sleep when the baby sleeps? Nope, she’s writing. Follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
“I am motivated to expand my work beyond my wildest dreams, but I also want to continue to be present for these years of blanket forts and finger painting.”
My motivation was born on a June day, under a double rainbow.
She was two weeks late, and we handed her an eviction notice. Six weeks later, she handed me her own kind of notice. I looked at her and got a wordless but clear message, “Don’t walk a path that you know you don’t want to travel.” I turned in my resignation notice.
My motivation grew the day we really looked at the possibilities.
My husband and I decided I had a year to turn the wobbly legs of my freelance career solid. I learned to walk alongside my daughter; because of her.
My motivation expanded once I discovered how much I loved working for myself and how much I really did have to offer.
I was reminded of the fiercest parts of me– the independence, the desire to go my own way, the love and drive I have for the art of writing, the craving for the craft of thinking strategically. Where before I saw self-employment as a stop-gap that would allow me to enjoy my children’s first years, I now saw much more– a lifestyle, a career that truly fit, and limitless possibility.
My motivation deepened after my son was born.
He was so cuddly, and would sleep on my chest while I wrote. I was fueled by both the warmth of his tiny body and the knowing that I was done having kids, that from this point on I would be moving forward into a different part of motherhood, one that wasn’t necessarily “easier”, but that would require less drain on my body and mind. I was moving ahead into the years where they would go to school, where my career would have more space to burst into bloom.
I was motivated by the idea that I could begin to lay that foundation now. I had started to surround myself with more amazing mamapreneurs, and the whole idea of a community of women blazing a different trail lit me up. I was motivated by the idea that we were doing this together, and not just for us but for our daughters and sons and what would be possible for their careers and families, someday.
It might seem like my motivation keeps changing. But the way I see it, my motivation has always been the same.
I am motivated by a vision of the life that I want. I see something better, something completely in alignment with who I am, and that’s where I find the strength to take the leaps to get where I want to go.
I have tried many things along the way, and have realized that my success or failure is not as dependent on how hard I work, but more on how much what I’m working for is aligned with who I truly am and what I really want.
I am motivated to expand my work beyond my wildest dreams, but I also want to continue to be present for these years of blanket forts and finger painting.
I used to think those two desires conflicted, even that my longing for the old-fashioned simplicity of days spent mothering detracted from my professional motivations. Over time I’ve learned to let them live in delicate balance, side-by-side, back-and-forth, one fueling the other.
I’ve amended my notions about what role motivation plays in my life and career, and how it all fits together. Have you ever done a balance pose in yoga, wobbling as you hold it? When it’s challenging, you can feel the tiny bones in your feet compensating for the minute shifts your body is making in your effort to stay upright, and you feel like it’s a wonder you don’t come crashing down.
In those moments, my yoga instructor always reminds us to “find your drishti.”
A drishti is a focal point that helps you find your balance as you push your boundaries. When you focus on something that’s steady, you stabilize your balance. That big vision I have — even though it’s often vague and unnameable — is steady, and it serves as my drishti off of the yoga mat. It stabilizes me, and it’s my motivation. As long as I’m walking toward it, it doesn’t matter as much if I’m taking teeny little baby steps or giant, legs-stretched leaps.
I think that drishti-esque, big-picture motivation is essential: in motherhood, in business, and in life. It gives us fuel and purpose and keeps us on the path that’s right for us.
In contrast, I think daily motivation is overrated.
Sometimes, the yearning for motivation holds us back. We wait to be motivated to start a project, or go to the gym, or get up earlier, or try something new. Waiting for that kind of motivation, the kind that needs to spark each day and reignite in little moments, can be like waiting for a bus that isn’t coming. We would get to our destination faster if we just started walking.
Sometimes I can’t find my in-the-moment motivation. The drishti motivation never fails.
It reminds me of who I am, and who I want to be. It reminds me that the tender, budding phase has to come before full bloom. It steadies me as I stretch myself into who I only imagined I could be.
MotherHustle panelist Stacy Firth is a writer and content strategist who helps moms who are small business owners and solopreneurs create online content that keeps it real. She also leads workshops that help mamas lead a lit-up life, and is mama to two. You can find her on her website or on Instagram at @stacyrfirth.