Keeping Yourself Motivated

Sometimes life can be tough, there’s no doubt about it. Right now I know more than a few people who’ve been laid-off from work and are finding it harder than they thought to get back on track. A few other people I know think they are having trouble getting started in the first place.

If this sounds like you, the important thing to remember is not to give up. We all have hopes and dreams both realistic and non-realistic, I mean, c’mon, who doesn’t want to own their own tropical island complete with a mountain layer nestled inside a volcano?

The point is that you can’t let apparent setbacks get in the way of what you want to achieve. Take for example the animation industry, unemployment seems to be a pretty big factor in a lot of animators lives at the moment. Animation being what it is, this is part and parcel of the job. However, it is not a hindrance to success.

That is what is so great about animation, it’s a career where you can be your own boss. I’m an engineer, do you think I can do some design work on the side when I get home, or make my own, independent road? Not a chance. I suppose this has its advantages, but it discourages passion for the job. I would love to be able to work on something all day every day if given half the chance and if you’re an animator, then you’ve already been given it!

In the past, there were plenty of barriers to creating independent work, namely money, but today, the cost of doing almost anything has dropped to the point that nearly everyone should be able to take advantage of them. The Internet has made numerous tools available that can help advertise yourself and your skills. It can also provide countless sources of inspiration.

The biggest favour you can do when motivating yourself is to manage your time effectively. If you’re into writing, set aside even half an hour a day to do some writing. That’s all I budget for this blog. Between school, work, dinner, the dog and some personal entertainment, that’s just about all I can spare on a weekday. The good thing is, it’s all I need!

The want to do something is another big motivator in that if you have no interest in doing something, you’ll likely never do it. For example, some people were dying to see Avatar, and plenty did. It’s been in the cinema and is now out on DVD and I’ve still not got around to watching it. I could do it right now if I wanted to, but I’m not motivated enough to do it. The same goes for personal projects. For a long time this blog sort of languished with infrequent and random topics until one day, I decided that it was something I could focus my energies on. Suddenly, I was motivated to write every day, and so far, so good. 🙂

The key point of motivation is how you measure your success. If you became a millionaire, that could be considered fairly successful, but what if you were an animator who shunned the opportunity of working on some modern classics? Is that a failure? Bill Plympton doesn’t seem to think so and he has carved out his own, unique market for himself that puts shoes on his feet and roof over his head.

My point is that only you can determine whether your efforts are successful or not. For me, writing a short script or drawing three panels of a storyboard would be a mighty big success, seeing as I’m pretty poor at doing either. My advice is to measure your performance not in the form of big milestones, such as, say, finishing an entire short film, but rather to break it down into smaller pieces, like say the script, or going even further and figuring out what colour clothes the character’s wear. Make a list, and every day, cross off what you’ve achieved. You’d be surprised how quickly things disappear.

The best motivation you can receive is from others. Plenty of people will gladly give you a thumbs up and a few will even give you helpful pointers or critique. Of course you can’t receive any of this if people can’t see what it is you’re doing, so share it with them!

Still in doubt? Then head over to, where cartoonist Mark Mariano made an entire comic out of comments left on the site. He drew the comic, but all the story ideas came from readers. Your work could be something similar, if on a slightly different note.

The most important lesson is: never let negative comments or situations get in the way. Stay positive, think of the end goal and what it is you want to achieve. If you keep that in mind, and work towards it, you’ll be successful, just like Stephen M. Levinson.