Staying motivated is surprisingly difficult as an entrepreneur. While it’s certainly exciting, much your time will be spent grinding away, handling less-than-exciting jobs such as paperwork and accounting. No matter how passionate you are, it takes a toll on you.

Fortunately, staying motivated is a matter of habit. Approach your day right, and your motivation will stay alive. Fail to treat your motivation with the care it deserves, and it’ll fade away before you know it. Here are a few ways you can do that.


1. Set Clear Goals and Benchmarks

One of the fastest ways to wear down someone’s motivation is to rob them of direction and a sense of progress. If they feel as though their efforts aren’t going anywhere, their will erodes. Unfortunately, it’s easy to get caught in that situation. If you don’t set clear goals and benchmarks, you won’t have a good idea whether your work is progressing.

These goals and benchmarks should cover everything big and small. You should track both daily goals and yearly ones. Benchmarks and milestones will tell you how you’re doing in relation to your goals.


2. Meet with People Better Than You

All entrepreneurs have some measure of pride. The bad ones let their pride make decisions for them, rejecting people who are better than they are at one thing or another. That attitude will keep them from star employees and sources of inspiration.

Surround yourself with your betters, people who’re doing better than you, people who’re smarter than you. If you want to be like them, hang out with them. It could be in any context, from networking events to masterminding groups. Find people who inspire you to be better, and your motivation will stay alive and healthy.


3. Wake Up Early

Think of your motivation as rocks and the stress of running a start-up as the ocean. Left alone, the ocean will eventually beat the rocks down. It doesn’t matter what kind of rocks your motivation is made of; it’ll get worn down, unless you do something about it.

Waking up early is a surprisingly effective way of keeping your motivation alive and healthy. It lets you start the day on your terms and gives you more hours to work with. With those extra hours, all the work you have on your plate becomes easier to swallow, and you don’t get worn down as much.


4. Ask “Why”

Much of your time as an entrepreneur will be spent merely making decisions. You’ll decide where to take the start-up. You’ll decide how the company will reward star performers. It’s up to you to figure out how to improve the product.

The problem is the daily grind, which can wear you down and force your brain to go on automatic, resulting in instinctive answers. Most of the time it won’t ruin your business, but all it takes is one bad decision for things to start spiraling out of control. Whenever you make a decision, ask “why.” Defend your decision, and if you can’t, reconsider it.


5. Combine Your To-Do List with a Schedule

To-do lists are useful. They make sure nothing important slips through the cracks. They’re the safety net for your tasks; if something falls off as you’re balancing on the tightrope of entrepreneurship, it won’t be lost. Unfortunately, simply having a to-do list is not enough. You have a list of tasks, but it doesn’t account for the time needed to accomplish each one. It’s easy to put too much on it, so it’s best combined with a schedule.

A schedule allows you to block off hours of your day to focus on each task. At any given moment there are a hundred things vying for your attention. Combining your to-do list with a schedule allows you to prioritize your tasks and keeps your eyes on the prize. And when you have your eye on the prize all the time, your motivation stays on-point.

An entrepreneur without motivation is doomed to failure. Only those who want success enough will make it. Without passion and motivation, the stress and demands of a start-up will eventually drive you to quit. It’s in your best interests to keep the fire inside alive and roaring. You may need to make a few changes, but they’ll be well worth the effort.