How To Stay Motivated (FS010)

We’ve heard from thousands of entrepreneurs — the most common struggle, across the board, is staying motivated.

We’re solo entrepreneurs.

We burn out.

We dry up.

We melt down and have another go through the FaceBook stream… maybe something new has happened.

That’s fine, unless you actually are an entrepreneur. Unless you actually are your own boss, responsible for your own support, for your own income.

Every entrepreneur must learn how to balance their own energy, how to push through when they need to (and slow down when it’s right). That’s what we dig into in this episode of the Fizzle Show.

Corbett has a unique (and time-tested) practice for preempting burnout. If you’ve seen Inception, this is basically his totem — the tool he uses to decipher if he’s operating in the real world or not. He shares this totem alongside plenty of commentary from Chase and Caleb.

If you’ve ever struggled with motivation or distractions (you probably shouldn’t even be here if you haven’t) there’s loads to glean in this conversation.

How do you stay balanced and motivated? How do you keep from burning out? Let’s talk about it in the comments below.

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Corbett’s Full “What Matters” List

(Note: Corbett here. This is the full list, my list, of “what matters.” I keep this as a project in my to-do application. We get into the full details about this in the episode. We’d love to hear below in the comments what your list of “what matters” contains.)

  • Be happy
  • Be active daily
  • Cultivate friendships
  • Don’t work too much
  • Say what you think
  • Don’t ignore your dreams
  • Balance: past / present / future
  • Make new experiences (travel)
  • Take on challenges
  • Earn, save (don’t spend), invest
  • Appreciate and show gratitude
  • Enjoy: food, art, music, meditation, sport


Asana — this is the project/team management app we’re currently using to run FizzleCo and

TeuxDeux / What deux yeux have teux deux teuxday?

The Top of My Todo List — Paul Graham’s commentary on the most common regrets of the dying.

Regrets of the Dying

The Accidental Creative: How to Be Brilliant at a Moment’s Notice

The Alabama Shakes

Mumford & Sons – Home

Vampire Weekend


Lupe Fiasco | Official Website

Chase’s weight lifting and running playlists on Rdio.

War of Art by Stephen Pressfield. Excellent, excellent, excellent. Also excellent is Chase’s imagining of Pressfield expressed in this podcast.

Alter Ego: Portraits of Gamers Next to Their Avatars | Brain Pickings

The Fizzle Show — finding your voice part 1 and part 2

99% Invisible • Episode 80- An Architect’s Code — this is the podcast that mentions what happens to people if they spend too much time in isolation. Productivity Course — if you are a Fizzler and haven’t completed this course, you’re missing out. And if you’re not a Fizzler, this course alone is a great reason to join.

Jesse Petersen’s Story

From the start, it was as if the 3 hosts were in my head describing what my life is like in regards to being a solopreneur who must create and deliver to survive and trying to avoid burnout at the same time. ”

Jesse Petersen wrote a wonderful, personal article about his journey through these issues. We think it’s a valuable story. Read more here »

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  • Mark ferguson

    I think hiring help before you think you need it, is a great way to avoid burnout. You can delegate the tasks you don’t like doing an concentrate on the fun stuff.

    If you wait until you are super busy and have to have help before you hire. How are you going to find the time on top of being super busy to hire someone and train them?

    • Chase Reeves

      Good point, Mark. Do you have any thoughts about the right time in a business’ growth to hire help?

    • Jessie@SEO for newbies

      Never work alone,It’s the KEY,i always outsoource my task on ODESK .
      It’s very important to stay motivate

  • Roger

    Loved the episode. Only one complaint. Can Chase work on not saying “Ya know what I mean” at the end of every sentence.

    Thanks guys.

    • Chase Reeves

      Ha! Thanks, Roger. I’m working on that :)

    • jared

      No worries. I struggle with that also. Listening to my own podcast now that’s all I hear when I say it (I say “You know”). Drives me nuts. Of course I’ve over analyzed it add nauseam; am I seeking validation? After all, I just want to be loved. :-)

      I’ve worked on it a little, but in the end, realize it’s just as important to be myself and not get too caught up in it. It will work itself out.

  • Roger

    A more constructive point I wanted to make, was that I wonder if you are on your deathbed, not a life-flash-before-your-eyes moment, but a drawn-out, hospice situation- that the sense of REGRET is unavoidable.

    • Corbett Barr

      Good question, haven’t heard the research on that one. I guess we’ll all find out one day.

  • Andrew

    You guys are hilarious. The Steven Pressfield bit had me laughing out loud.

    • Chase Reeves

      It’s true! I picture him like that. And if you look hard enough there’s an easter egg on this page to that effect :)

    • Andrew

      the meme? yea, it’s good stuff Chase. Will start listening more often.

  • Roger

    What is the theme song? Like it.

    But, feeling that it should be something Chase wrote(if it isn’t already).

  • Clinton Skakun

    Might be a little general but,
    1. Never give up on your dream
    2. Always learn new things to get there faster
    3. Love working hard
    4. Learn to work fast
    5. Feel the fire

    • Chase Reeves

      Good list, Clinton. The never stop learning thing is good. I think I’d add that one to mine.

  • John Anderson

    What was the audio book that Caleb was listening to? Something like “Xml Creative”? Thanks

    • Chase Reeves

      It’s in the shownotes above: It’s actually the Accidental Creative.

  • Alex Barker

    Remember how I said earlier that you guys bring my motivation to a whole level : punch bears in the face.

    Well, this weekend, bears shall be missing teeth

    • Chase Reeves

      Ha! Get’r done, Alex. (but can i request: if it’s a nice bear maybe just shoo it away… don’t punch the nice ones).

  • Justin

    I use to find it hard to stay motivated only because I did not have a proper structure to work with. Just by committing 2-3 hours each day on one task at a time can produce great results in the long run!

  • Rob

    I like Clintons last point in his comment.

    Feel the fire

    Fantastic motto.

  • Alex

    Interesting tips, thank you. Especially excited about mentioning meditation, great!

  • Saraswathi Pulluru

    Really useful episode. I have left a review of your podcast in our website,, catering to Startups & Entrepreneurship. Take a look here.

  • Erik

    Hi guys,

    Great show. Great value, as always.

    I particularly chimed with the listener, who posed the question of how to deal with unstructured time. I have faced this quite a bit over the last few years – and suffered quite a lot with it – and I’ve come to realise that I do not deal with it very well. I really need company or just the presence of other people, where I work.

    My solution has been to sign up for a coworking space in the town I’m moving to. It’s also an enterprise centre, so I’m hoping to meet other freelancers and entrepreneurs. It has all the amenities that you would expect in a workplace (wifi, kitchen etc). But most importantly, it is my workplace – it is where I will go specifically to work (and I’m paying for that priveledge) – and just having that setup is very helpful.

    I’ve also heard that some people organise working meetups in cafes, so that can be a good option for some people, though you need to find the right place.

    Anyway, just thought I’d share that.

    Thanks again for the awesome show.

    • Chase Reeves

      Great stuff, Erik! All the best on the move.

  • Alex

    Motivation =
    How much you need to get it done (as in “Will I have food in the fridge?”)
    how good you are at it
    how much you believe you’ll succeed

    These are the factors I have observed for my own motivation.

  • Alexandru Trandafir

    Hey guys,

    First: This is the first show I listen to and you guys are crazy, like we say in Spain: “estás como una puta cabra” :D

    Thanks for sharing, I agree that it’s important to keep a healthy life and stay connected to friends and your “human” part because it is very easy to get lost into work and get burned, as you say.

    You are also right on choosing the right business, I mean, choose to make a business that you know you will enjoy.

    What I think people also have problems with, and might not be just my case is this:

    Let’s say you work on a startup with other people but it is not only your business, you just “have” a part of it. So you are suposed to be part of the business but you don’t align with your other partner’s ideas, so you start to stop liking it, and that starts to kill your motivation.

    A example: A developer and someone who can invest makes a team to build a business. Who will have the decision power here? Obviously the one who puts the money in. But what if the developer has a different idea about how to run that business?

    Don’t know if you get the point, basically, motivation will die if you are on a team and get orders to do something that you don’t align with.

    So I think it’s important that if you want a business, make sure you are the one who can control the decisions. And if you are a “boss”, make sure you listen to the people whom you work with and make sure they still love the idea that you are building.

    And the last thing that I would like to add, that many others have said: If you are building something like a web app or something, start with something small, with few features, launch it, and then add more stuff. Don’t spend years developing and never launch because that will kill your motivation.

    • Chase Reeves

      Great thoughts, Alexandru! The team thing can be a real firestorm. I’d say it’s not “make sure you’re the one who has control” but rather “make sure you feel like you can speak your mind” (which happens to be one of the things on Corbett’s list).

      In our partnership there’s been a few times where one of us hasn’t spoken our mind (due to the relationship, moods, project feelings, etc) and it led to a heart to heart, clear the air kind of conversation.

      If we wouldn’t have had that “come to jesus” moment we would still be harboring resentment… and resentment eats away and destroys things like a cavity in your tooth… under the surface.

      Anyways, good stuff, man! Thanks for sharing.

  • Adamzis

    Great podcast guys. I find that when you have a need, you just stay self motivated all day long. But I’ve been in that position before where I lost my motivation but quickly found it back once I created a need for myself.

    Keep it up guys!

    • jared

      You bring up an interesting point. “Need.” Need is huge driver and as they mentioned in this episode, needing food and shelter is a huge motivator!!

      The struggle is distinguishing our WANTS vs NEEDS.

      I’ve discovered that my wants (desires) are ever changing, but my needs have pretty much always been provided for. Although I fear being homeless or unable to pay my bills when trying something new. Like recently walking away from a great paying job because it was a toxic environment.

      I suppose this plays nice into the one item (cultivating friendships) in Corbett’s list, in that my willingness to hustle and great relationships I’ve built over the years allowed me to find and land something amazing! I just had to have a little faith in myself and know that no matter what happened, my needs would be provided for as they always have been.

  • Alex

    Brilliant show thank you gents. Just listening to you guys gives me the motivation I need. Very insightful and yet endlessly entertaining.

    I love the way your three personalities work together. Would love to hear more from Caleb.

    Maybe there is something grand in only coming in every so often and dropping a gem but we want more gems. Well I do anyway.

    Looking forward to the next one and exploring the beginning of the series that I’ve missed.

    Keep it up fellas.

    • Chase Reeves

      I feel the same! He’s our lil’ gem pooper.

  • jared

    Great episode.

    Happiness… hmm, that would be a good topic. Some good experts out there on that subject. ;-)

    Something from my totem: It’s about learning, not winning.

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  • Keli Ray

    lol, ermagerd! Chase, you crack me up.

Up Next:

10 Tactics to a Better Work-Life Balance (Part 2, FS060)

Last week we started a conversation about productivity, doing great work and who sets the rules for what’s “productive enough?” This is the second part of that conversation where we dig into some surprising tactics to help us balance work and life better. Enjoy!

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