Finding motivation and purpose for getting things done

Recently I received a wonderful email from a Verse reader named Alim. And it couldn't have come at a better time. I was working on a lot of different projects and was feeling overwhelmed. Instead of doing the work I was procrastinating. I’m sure this has happened to you before – one moment you’re super driven and the next moment you just can’t be bothered. The motivation fizzles out. It’s easier to play pokemon go, go watch netflix and just do something else BUT WORK, we’ve all been there. But that's when our character is really tested – from those that make things happen to those who think about doing them. That tenacity and purpose is what will seperate you from others. When I look back I’m always happy that I didn’t quit, I took on challenges and overcame them. But when you’re in the moment it’s hard to see the reward.

So amongst the work I had in front me, I realised I had to write my Verse article on top of it as well. When you procrastinate a lot, time starts to shrink. You think to yourself ‘damn I can’t be bothered or I don’t have enough time’. But in reality you do. Because I’m a walking dichotomy I’m either in super lazy mode or super pumped mode – when I'm in lazy mode I need to trick myself into getting things done. This is how I find motivation.  

1. The first step I would say towards finding motivation is to set a deadline for yourself and tell the world. Tell people about your work so you are accountable. Verse is a weekly journal entry, my freelance projects have deadlines that I set with the client and the Process Masterclass has a official release date. These are all things that have fixed deadlines and people are expecting them to be done by then. Using this it’s a great sink or swim situation. I’m the type who will try to make things as PERFECT as possible and will spend forever on something if I don’t have a fixed deadline. Eventually I learnt that done is better than perfect. So by having fixed deadlines I make sure it’s done and the best that it can be and to keep working on it and PERFECTING after it’s finished. With deadlines I am much more productive and accountable. If you are starting a personal project, tell somebody about it. 

2. Just make a start it’s the easiest thing to do. Sometimes when you’re holding off on a task I find the easiest thing to do is just to make a start. Sit down and make it happen. Blast some tunes on and try to make something happen. That way at least you have a bit of momentum and if you are lucky things may just gel and you ride the wave to getting awesome work done. Otherwise if you need to stop then stop. And make sure you just make a start again and pick up where you left off. If you keep making a start on the same thing you’ll eventually see progress. 

3. Think about the why? 

Next is to find your purpose and reason for doing something. This is where Alim’s email comes in.

Hi Nguyen!

My name is Alim, a young designer from Europe, Germany.
I have started with visual design (mainly UI & UX) 2 years ago and learned a lot things since then.
Earlier in my days where I created only prints and had 2 part time jobs I was really broke and was unhappy with my life. My life was miserable, my life was literally falling apart. At that moment, it seemed that all was lost and I couldn't change anything..

Then all of sudden while I was looking for some new adventure and challenges in my life I have found you and your blog someway. I've started to read your blog and found joy to follow you here & on dribbble. I was in love with your designs and concepts. Not much later I've started to try create my own user interface, in the learning phase I was imitating you as much as possible so I could improve my skills and learn new techniques.

Now I'm a freelance designer myself, still not a beast like you but I'm trying my best to get better. I have landed last month my first €6000+ Job and it felt amazing!

The reason why I am writing you this email is, that I have found through you new energy and joy in my life. I want to thank you for being a such great inspiration, without you I would be still lost.
Maybe this is means nothing to you but for me it means a lot.

Here's my dribbble just in case you're curious what kind of works your biggest fan has: 

Keep the great work up mate and thank you for everything again!


It hit me in the face. This was the reason I started Verse. This was the purpose, to make a positive impact and to share some things I’ve learnt and hopefully it can help a designer out there. I remember all the emails and comments I’ve received. I was lucky when I started that serendipity led me to great mentors, great agencies and great clients. But not everyone has that luxury or luck. After receiving this email I became real motivated because I remembered the WHY? again. Which is so important. I talked about designing experiences that connect emotionally. If I want to reach people like Alim, I need to show up and write. I need to design. I need to do the work. And in the end it’s real rewarding knowing that you put in the effort even when it got hard. Even when it seemed like there was ‘no time’. That journey is the reward for me. It’s a real test of character. And seeing the impact it serves as fuel and motivation to keep going. In that moment I got off my ass and started writing, then I ploughed through the work I needed to do. And man it felt great. If it’s hard then it’s usually worth doing. 

When you do something you love, you can still hit a hurdle. In that moment you need to answer the why? Why are you doing this? What is your purpose? And will this move you into the direction you want to be in. When you do this you can prioritise and see if you should procrastinate or start working and start to make things happen.

Showing up everyday is not easy. But if you have purpose it makes it a little easier. Purpose doesn’t have to be grandiose. It could just be I’m working so I can eventually support myself with a career I enjoy. 

This is the purpose. I keep writing and designing because I want to make impact for the better. A year ago I wrote a manifesto on this blog and it still holds true today. Find your purpose and start kicking ass. And thanks for your email Alim!