HOW TO GET A JOB AS AN AD AGENCY CREATIVE 004: how to stay motivated between placements

Motivation Is Overrated

How do you stay motivated when you’re unemployed?

When you’re trying to get that first placement? Hoping that if you get the ball rolling, the rest will get easier.

When you’ve had a taste of a creative company, but it didn’t convert into a job?

Agency life is fast-paced. To find yourself ‘out’ (i.e. not on placement and sat in your pants watching Jeremy Kyle) can be tough. It’s such a dramatic, sudden change.

It’s bad for your enthusiasm, your confidence and your morale.

So how do you pick yourself back up in these tough times?

The first secret is in understanding that motivation itself is overrated.

Billions of people around the world are “motivated” to lose weight every year when they make their new years resolutions.

But how many of them do it?

What separates these “motivated” individuals from those who actually succeed in losing weight?

The answer? Environment and systems.

James Clear talks in depth about this on his blog.

An example of a goal is: “I want to lose weight”.

Even if you are very specific and on January 1st you say:

“I want to lose 10lbs by November 1st. This gives me 10 months, which is an average of 1lbs a month. Which is a daily calorie restriction of 115 calories.”

How likely is success when you compare this with a system such as:

“I will create 4 separate online grocery shopping lists. One for each week of the month. Each list contains 21 healthy meals (3 a day for 7 days). Each meal will be made from healthy, natural, organic produce. I will buy the entirety of all 4 lists at the start of the month. They will be delivered to my house on Saturday morning at 9am every single week.

I will hire a personal chef to cook 3-days worth of meals on both Sunday’s and Thursdays. I will hire a personal trainer who will arrive at my house at 7am on Monday, Wednesday and Friday’s. I will pay them in advance at the start of the month via standing order. They will arrive at my house even if I ask them not to. This is something I will agree with them at the start of our relationship.” By this point, you likely get the picture.

Creating a system, designed to lead you to a goal, is much more effective than simply setting the goal itself.

Equally, environment is crucial.

More specifically, putting yourself in an environment where your goal is easy to achieve.

Need to focus but have a short attention span and get bored easily?

Work in a local cafe. Take nothing but money to buy yourself something to drink. No phone. No laptop. No tablet.

Compare the likely success rate of this with the following:

You are working at home within several feet of all of the devices above. But you are “motivated” not to use them.

Which is more likely to work?

Or put a better way, which works with the least effort?

Google New York for example, helped it’s employees eat 3.1 million fewer calories from M&M’s over seven weeks simply but putting them in opaque containers, next to healthy snacks in clear glass jars. Small environmental change. Big behavioural impact.

With the above in mind, here are some pointers.

They will help you to stay on track if you find yourself stuck unemployed between placements.

What To Do To Ensure You Keep Doing

-Keep regular hours. For example; 830am — 630pm. Monday — friday.

Exceptions can be made if you have to travel to visit friends or family at the weekend. Especially if is cheaper to get a train earlier in the day than later. For example: at 1pm on Friday afternoon, rather than 5pm Friday evening.

-Pick a location to work. Google campus is good. So is the British Library. But don’t work at your house or the house of your creative partner. You want to psychologically separate home and work.

Until you get another placement your job is getting a placement. So go somewhere to do that job.

-Don’t always do ads and don’t always work on your book. Perhaps alternate between, for example:

1. An ad campaign

2. Something for a brand that isn’t an ad. It’s an act. A something. Something you could DO that proves your brand is what it says it is. Prove that it lives up to it’s tagline.

How would Nike prove that they’re all about ‘just doing it’?. (Just don’t do Nike. It’s a famous brand with famously fantastic advertising. You will be instantly compared). Look at the ‘promo + activation’ category of awards shows for inspiration.

3. Try to save the world/ do something positive in a clever way (then find a brand or a movement that could do it and it makes perfect sense).

4. Try to make happen an idea that has made you laugh out loud. Something that might get you and your creative partner on the news (but wouldn’t cost any/ too much money and you could actually pull off).

5. Work on a topic you feel strongly about — equal pay for example. What would you do to try and solve this problem in a clever way?

6. Pick something light and fun for dark days when you feel really de-motivated. Could you try and write a stand-up routine? Write jokes? Write funny greetings cards?

7. Try to scratch your own itch. What do you buy/ spend money on that you think the current market for is terrible?

Is there a product that you buy that often makes you think: “if this was my business, I’d make a much better X”.

Maybe you’re a cyclist and you think cycling clothing is really ugly, uncomfortable and impractical?

What would you do differently? How would you do it cleverly? (this is how Rapha started).

8. If you really can’t face another day of ideas. Take a day off. Stop working on your book. Look at the websites of the world’s best agencies. Start programming your brain to know what amazing work looks like and feels like.

You’re only going to get through this period of unemployment by making it fun. So make it fun.

Do whatever you have to do to stay motivated. When working on your book isn’t fun, the work you make isn’t going to be fun. It’s going to be boring. A labour of labour. Not a labour of love.

You don’t need motivation to get started, you need a solid environment and a reliable system…

And once you’re started… motivation will start… And the more you create, the more your motivation will increase.

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