How to keep your motivation when times are hard

October 16, 2013

Photo by Oh La Lali

I used to be an artist.

For a few years I worked as an illustrator and colourist and at the same time, worked part time jobs at call centres to supplement my income. Then I had the perfect job for about 2 years – I was working as a colourist, doing projects for comic books and advertising storyboards. It came to an end when I got fed up with being underpaid, overworked and undervalued so I took a 9-5 job in a financial services company.

The work wasn’t particularly interesting for an artistic person such as myself but the pay was decent and they treat their employees very well (annual ski trips, anyone?). It was ok for a couple of years but then it started becoming hard to get up go to work every morning. I decided I needed to change my life and pursue other options. The opportunity came soon after I made that decision and I was offered a job abroad, still within the same company.

While everything was new I was doing fairly well but soon I started feeling dissatisfied once again with my work life. I needed to do something that I enjoyed as well as more creative, in order to be happy. But what could I do? I didn’t want to go back to being a freelance illustrator (I honestly wouldn’t know where to start) nor did I feel I had any other job worthy skills besides call centre agent or admin, which would be more of the same of what I was doing already.

Around the same time I decided to start blogging again, to at least have some creative outlet in my life. Blogging about personal style and travel really kept my sanity and I took it seriously: I started skipping going to the pub with my friends to stay in and practise my writing or edit photos. One day it dawned on me that I could actually do this for a living and that would be perfect, because I loved it. So I started paying more attention to Social Media and Marketing websites and attended a few blogging seminars.

At the same time I started applying for Marketing related jobs but wasn’t having much luck as besides my own blog, I didn’t have any business experience in the area. But I didn’t give up. After all, happiness and fulfilment were at stake – I started having work related anxiety issues and depression and didn’t want to live like that for the rest of my life.

So I carried on blogging, networking and soaking up as much information as I could. After applying for numerous jobs that I didn’t get, I decided to go directly to the right people, to let them know how passionate I am about blogging, social media and how much I wanted to learn. All the preparation I made on my spare time paid off as I was given the opportunity to do an internship within the Marketing department, developing my own blog project (and a pay rise too!). I currently have a job that I enjoy, learn a lot every day and I am on my way to developing a career and a future – and this is only the beginning!

I just told you my story. If you feel you are in the same position I was in, read on as I will tell you a few things I have learned that might help getting you through a slump.

  • Despite what we might think the Universe can actually conspire in your favour. Many times you may get disappointed because you didn’t get something only to realize later that you had something better coming your way after all. Patience is key.
  • That doesn’t mean sitting back and waiting for things to happen. Hard work is necessary at all times.
  • If you really are passionate about something, you have an advantage over people who do a job just because they have to. Experts are people who are passionate about something and try to learn as much as possible about it.
  • Don’t be afraid to talk to people and let them know your worth. Sometimes there is no other way of getting on their radar. Unfortunately, sitting quietly in a corner waiting to get noticed doesn’t usually work, except in Hollywood films.
  • Have a clear objective of what you want to do in your life. Saying ‘I want to do something different’ isn’t enough. Decide what you want and go get it!
  • Self-motivation is extremely important and don’t expect to get it from other people as most will not understand why you are not going out for drinks with them, until they actually see you progressing. In my case, not wanting to be depressed was a huge motivation (plus the prospect of having a real career I enjoyed).
  • Quite often we are actually better than we think we are. Trust your instincts and don’t let self-doubt get in the way.
  • And most importantly: never give up!

What about you, do you have a similar story? If you have any other advice, leave me a comment as I want to know!


This article was also featured in Project Eve – Inspiring Women Reinventing their Careers. Yay!

You Might Also Like


  • Reply Vix October 16, 2013 at 11:11

    I loved this, what an interesting read. I often wondered what you did for a living as your illustrations are incredible. xxx

  • Reply Connie* October 16, 2013 at 16:50

    It has always been perfectly clear to me that you are an artist. You have the most unique and appealing point of view. I’ve been creatively blocked and a bit uninspired lately so obviously I don’t have any advice. Not one single bit. Sigh. Reading this post has been helpful. I need a kick in the butt for sure! I think you are awesome, Sara. Enormous Hug!

  • Reply Tami Von Zalez October 16, 2013 at 17:25

    What a great post! I so needed that. I have been wanting to make a change in my job for over FIVE years, but I don’t want to just jump for anything. Can’t tell you how many “lists” I am on … trying to go from private to public sector.

  • Reply Jocy October 16, 2013 at 19:33

    Wow Sara, what a great inspirational post! A beautiful example of determination and following your heart. I’m very proud of you and especially that you didn’t give up. So sad when others decide to go for safe because they’re too scared to fall flat on their faces

    Sending you lots of happy vibes and bright rainbows ^_^

  • Reply Joyatri October 17, 2013 at 02:52

    Great advice! That’s wonderful that your passion combined with hard work has led you to being able to do work you enjoy. I also had a change in career and followed some of your same tips to get myself where I am today. Too long a story to go into here, though 🙂

  • Reply Hollie October 17, 2013 at 04:08

    I really hope you get to fully get back into a creative job, one that pays well and one you’re stoked about.

  • Reply ariane October 17, 2013 at 14:45

    Allo Sara –

    This is so good, i will mention it on my blog today –
    I think you can apply these rules to almost everything in life

    Before finding my present job, i went to workshops on the same subject
    I may not have the perfect job, but want thing that was crystal clear for is that i didn’t want to work just anywhere and these worshops helped to stay focus on what i wanted –
    My ultimate goal is to work part time and concentrate more on my personal projects – I will get there!

    Ariane xo

  • Reply Jean at Dross into Gold October 17, 2013 at 23:37

    I couldn’t agree with you more. I’ve never thought about it quite so succinctly, but all my experience tells me that you’re right on the money. Focus, effort, patience, passion. Right around the time I turned 40, everything fell apart. I left my then-husband, home, city, job and went to a new state with nothing but my two young children, the car, and three trash bags full of clothes and toys. Fortunately I had a friend who allowed me to stay with her until I found some some stability. I also began the journey of finding and actualizing my professional passion.

    Today, 20 years later, I can say that I am accomplished in my field. I love my work (I do voiceover for radio, television, technical narration etc). It was a long road and I had a number of years where nothing seemed to be happening. I realized I had to network, take classes, and more than anything, not give up. I knew I wasn’t delusional about my ability (I could do this!!) but the mazeway of the business was intense. I just knew I HAD to do it. So yes, this is valuable advice!!

    This is an excellent article and I loved learning more about your journey. Congratulations on being stubborn yet flexible, passionate and patient. The world needs artists, of all kinds. XXOO

  • Reply Manta October 21, 2013 at 08:31

    Hello Sarinha! 🙂

    Had no idea you were going on such path… glad to know you are fulfilling the dream of doing what you like.
    I, for example, have no idea on where to go. I guess it’s more interesting this way. 😉

    Hope all goes well in your ventures.



  • Reply Val Sparkle November 2, 2013 at 18:00

    This is a great post, and I loved reading the comment from Jean, too. I wish I’d had that kind of motivation when I was younger, but I wasn’t passionate about anything. I’m not sure I am now, either! I would love to have the freedom to be self-employed in a creative venture, but if we save enough money now, maybe I can do that after I retire from working for other people.

    Good luck to you in pursuing your goals. You have a very creative style and a good eye, and I’m sure you’ll be successful following your joy!

  • Reply Essjay June 25, 2014 at 18:57

    Thank you so much for writing this! I feel like I can sometimes become too deflated and end up giving in too easily. My anxiety definitely gets the best of me at times and I struggle to be my own supporter for long periods of time.

    Also, I know this is an old post but I kept clicking on your linkwithin posts and I’ve loved everything I’ve landed on so far. Love your blog, keep up the good work lady!


  • Leave a Reply