From daily rewards to major splurges, here are 14 indulgences to keep busy entrepreneurs feeling like it's all worth it.
Many of us write New Year's resolutions about what we vow not to do or how we want to improve either professionally or personally. That's a worthwhile exercise, to be sure. But to truly stay motivated, don't be so focused that you forget the little things: You need a little indulgence along the way to help keep yourself going.
I talked with some fellow entrepreneurs and uncovered 14 ways--big and small--you can plan to spoil yourself to stay motivated as you move through the upcoming year:
1. Buy your favorite drink.
It would be far cheaper if I brewed coffee at home each morning, but I look forward to stopping by a Starbucks as I begin my day. It provides a break in my commute and I enjoy the cup of coffee throughout my morning. I also sneak out on occasion and pick up a brew in the afternoon to give me that last boost I need to make it through a late afternoon meeting or networking event.
2. Sleep in an extra hour.
We all know and studies confirm that we just don't get enough sleep. Kim Kaupe from ZinePak builds time into her calendar to get some extra shut-eye. Sleep makes your mind sharper, allowing you to focus more clearly on potential solutions to business problems at hand.
When you are working towards a big goal, put small incentives in place along the way. A new sweater or a pair of shoes becomes tangible evidence of the results of your work. Blake Miller of Think Big Partners finds himself at sites like JackThreads often in pursuit of a little reward for a job well done. My personal weakness is the goodies in my monthly trunk from TrunkClub.
4. Plan a trip.
When Darrah Brustein isn't planning her next Under 40 Networking event, she is thinking about the next place she is going to get away from it all. In fact, many of my fellow entrepreneurs cited travel as one of the best ways to reward themselves throughout the year.
5. Extend a trip.
Many times I travel to exotic locations or great cities only to see the inside of a hotel conference facility. Brendan McCarthy with clicktoshop takes advantage of business trips and extends his time a couple of days to take in the sights and sounds. It doesn't have to be expensive--by staying over a Saturday night, the airfare is often cheap enough to cover the extra hotel and food expense.
6. Get active.
If you enjoy running, walking, hiking or biking, sign up for a local race or event in your community. It gives you a goal to work towards that is not part of your day to day business routine.
Dan Popovic is the founder of a company called cMECompete that combines health and fitness events with a gamification element that makes being active doubly rewarding. Join a community and earn points by participating in a local race or event, and you could even earn some great prizes.
7. Take time to give back.
Alex Pirouz of Linkfluencer took time out of his schedule at the end of 2013 to walk 10,000 steps to raise money for clubkidpreneur.com. The break in routine was refreshing and gave him time to plan for the upcoming year.
Quinetha Frasier of Social Mission Architects schedules mini-staycations. She takes a Sunday afternoon to unplug, shutting down all of her gadgets and catching up on reading or listening to music. These mini-breaks recharge her for the upcoming week and she can apply the knowledge she learns from her reading to her business and the non-profits she consults.
9. Upgrade your digital life.
Let's face it, we all want the latest and greatest phone or gadget when it hits the market. This is Patrick Conley of Automation Heroes favorite way to spoil himself. Want a way to justify it? The newest gadgets are the fastest, so think of these purchases as an investment in being more efficient with your time.
10. Get great tickets.
I don't attend concerts or games that often, but when I do I always buy the best tickets I can get. It's all about the experience of the band or the game and if you are going to go, it might as well be on the front row.
11. Take time off at odd times.
Susan Strayer LaMotte of exaqueo takes time off when others are working. Few things feel more indulgent than hanging out with a loved one or a friend in the middle of the day when everyone else is hard at work at the office.
12. Pick up a new hobby.
I started taking piano lessons a little over two years ago and continue to see my teacher once every week. The 30-minute block of time allows me to learn something I have always wanted to and the accountability of seeing my teacher forces me to take time to practice throughout the week.
13. Get a massage.
Kuty Shalev of Clevertech's go-to self reward is a 90 minute massage. It's a great way to transport your mind.
14. Hire a virtual assistant.
While I don't know how I could live without my staff, others see this as a luxury. The people who work for you give you back time to do more important things. Firing yourself can be one of the greatest ways to spoil yourself this year. You'll be able to focus on the bigger and more challenging aspect of building your business, not working in it.
ERIC V. HOLTZCLAW is a serial entrepreneur who has founded multiple startup companies, including one of the first profitable Internet enterprises. His last company appeared on the Inc. 5000 list three years in a row. Eric advises clients on the “whys” of business – why customers buy, why teams work and the all-important “entrepreneurial why”. He is the author of Laddering and his weekly radio show, The 'Better You' Project, shines a spotlight on entrepreneurs' individual business journeys and successes. Learn more about Eric at www.ladderingworks.com or e-mail email@example.com. @eholtzclaw