How to Stay Motivated When You Seem to be Failing.

For MLM’ers, or people in network marketing companies, receiving the supposedly motivational emails and call previews about how much success people are having can be more of a turn off than a turn on.

I know – they turned me off. They made me feel inadequate, frustrated and angry.

So how did I deal with that?

The first, and unquestionably the most important, step goes back to your own mindset.

If you’re really in this for the long haul, if failure is not an option for you, then adopting this as a mindset will give you the soundest base possible for dealing with this.

This is an absolute requirement. Without a mindset like this you will, sooner or later, pull out.

So, with that as my foundation, the next step, for me, was to start picking out the facts.

You have to be brutally honest with yourself here because this can very easily be confused with looking for excuses. For your own sake be brutally honest.

Here are some examples that I’ve been through where the facts explained some of the success that was being trumpeted and where the hype was exposed for exactly that.

Once you get to grips with this in your own business you’ll find it much easier to deal with those ‘motivational’ emails and calls.

If you can do that, and stick with it, you will hugely improve your chances of success.

I joined a new business about a year ago. All the hype at the time was how this person made $52K in their first month and how that person earned $10K a week.

Six weeks into the business I had made $0.

Still the emails kept coming, previewing calls where these mega earners, who had earned more in a month than they had in a year before joining this business, would be spilling their secrets etc, etc.

By this time I was feeling totally inadequate and ready to quit. I felt that I’d been misled, conned, scammed – I was angry.

Then, as I began talking to people in the business I came to understand why this person had made $52K in their first month or $10K in a week.

They had done it all before.

They had been in previous MLM or network marketing businesses, had a list of thousands of people who were interested in that type of business and had simply brought them across.

This could not have been more different from my situation – but it was never talked about.

I was new to this type of business. I had no pre-existing down-line I could bring across. No wonder these people were pulling in the big bucks while I was making nothing!

These were not excuses. They were (and are) the facts. And as soon as I understood them I began to understand what I had to do.

I also realised that these ‘success models’ had started where I was.

And that, in one case, it had taken them the best part of 20 years to develop a Rolodex that was big enough to pull in commissions of that order in the first month or so of a new business.

I also, quite by accident, discovered that these ‘motivational’ emails should not be taken at face value.

I received one such email that talked about how ‘independent, 3rd party sources’ had reviewed the business and found it to be the best business around.

When I checked out the ‘independent source’ I found it to be an affiliate – the polar opposite of an ‘independent’ source.

Far from being disheartened, grasping these realities turned me away from quitting.

They motivated me far more than all the hype. I began to look at my own business practices and to measure myself against my own yardstick.

I started setting short-term goals, and as long as I could see I was improving month-by-month, I was OK with things.

And improving didn’t just mean making more money each month. Although I’m making money now, and I’m qualified in the business, I’ve not earned more money each month. Some months it’s less. Last month it was $0 again.

Improving means I know more this month than I did last month.

I’m better at something now than I was last month.

I can do things now that I couldn’t do last month.

My knowledge of this business and what it takes to be successful is better now than it was last month.

I set myself targets to learn new things. To test new marketing techniques. To adopt new strategies.

These are not huge steps. They’re small steps. But as long as I’m making progress that I can measure, and as long as I keep on making that progress, I know I’ll get there in the end.

For me, failure is not an option. That mindset helps me to be dispassionate, objective and honest when I review my progress.

You have to be honest with yourself. If you’re not being honest with yourself then you will, eventually, pull out. And all your investment of money and time will have been wasted. Better, in that case, to pull out now and cut your losses.

Update 13 September, 2020:

This post was originally written in 2008, when I was doing Network Marketing.

I shifted my business model some time ago to affiliate marketing, but the message of this post is still completely valid and applies to whatever business model you’re using.


Martin Malden

Martin Malden
Owner – WealthyDragon

Website owner: Martin has been working online since 2006 and focuses on two areas: 1) affiliate marketing and 2) designing and building websites based on WordPress. He has his own WordPress agency, and serves clients in Hong Kong, Australia and the UK.

What do you think?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Brennan Kingsland Jan 16, 2008 @ 21:54

    This is excellent advice for life, not just MLM or Affiliate Marketing. Setting goals, honest self-evaluation, and determination are necessary to any success.

  • WealthyDragon Jan 16, 2008 @ 23:19

    Thanks Brennan,

    I agree – and goals also need to be achievable in relation to where you are today – otherwise you just end up being de-motivated! That’s why those ra ra emails and calls are de-motivating to people who are struggling.

  • Rowell Bulan Jan 17, 2008 @ 3:28

    Very straightforward article. An advice that would have saved me long ago from jumping into one program to another …but rather, as you put it, be brutally honest with myself and assess the situation with my own yardstick….

  • WealthyDragon Jan 17, 2008 @ 12:54

    Thanks Rowell!

    It’s very easy to get into the habit of program jumping – been there, done that, got the t-shirt!

    What’s helped me to get away from that is that I haven’t given up the day job – so the financial pressure is not too great.

    I put pressure on myself through my short term goals as well as my long term goal – which most definitely IS to be full time online.

    If you don’t have the learning period properly funded, though, the financial pressure can become overwhelming.

  • Simonne Jan 17, 2008 @ 16:35

    I wanted to try MLM some years ago. The logic behind the business seemed OK to me, so I started making my list, in order to prepare for my first group presentation. Then I went to a meeting of people in the MLM network, and that turned me off for good. First, there was this guy who was the “sponsor” of the person who brought me in, and who wanted to attend my presentation. Wow! I don’t invite new people in my house so easily. The second big issue was the whole atmosphere of that meeting, with “diamond” people going on stage, smiling, happy, shiny… they looked like hypnotized, and I ended up by being afraid. Today, at more than 10 years after, I can understand they were trying to create motivation, pretty much like the emails you were talking about. However, I’m still uncomfortable with this kind of attitude, but luckily “all roads lead to Rome”, so I found other activities that bring me money and peace of mind.

  • WealthyDragon Jan 17, 2008 @ 17:56

    Hi Simonne,

    I can well understand your feeling..!

    I’m delighted you’re doing well in your endeavours – doubtless better than you would have done in MLM, because you’re comfortable with what you’re doing.

    Being uncomfortable with what you’re doing comes across no matter how hard you try to hide it – even online.

  • Troy Dooly Jan 19, 2008 @ 3:40

    Great post! Over the last few years some in the network marketing profession have forgotten what our true service is all about.

    The money comes after helping others reach THEIR personal objectives, not by telling them how much money they just made.

    If we get back to the basics, we’ll start focusing on helping our teams and then we will see the money come through the doors.

    Down with the HYPE, up with the HELP!!!

    Again, great post!

    Never Give Up,


  • WealthyDragon Jan 20, 2008 @ 18:58

    Thanks Troy..!

    Love your expression ‘down with the hype, up with the help’.

    I do think of this as a training business, as much as a marketing and selling business.

    On the other hand there are people who will join your downline who just never get going whatever you do – makes me wonder why they invested to join in the first place!

    Thanks again,


  • Des Walsh Jan 22, 2008 @ 12:40

    This post should be offered as a gift to everyone new in anyone’s downline – that would of course require courageous leadership by the upline. I really do believe it is not the fundamental business model that is problematic but a lack of basic ethics. Were none of these people taught by their parents to tell the truth? Not “tell half truths”. Having been spun by some highly accomplished spinners of the type you refer to, I could have used these reflections and this advice some years ago.

  • WealthyDragon Jan 22, 2008 @ 14:24

    Des, hi,

    Many thanks! I do get unbelievably frustrated at the ridiculous claims that are made in promoting these businesses.

    I’m not sure why people believe them – maybe it’s because the Internet seems (to some) to be new and powerful so they think it must be quite reasonable to achieve results like that.

    Thanks again,


  • Mark@NewSuccessOnline Jan 24, 2008 @ 11:45

    Great post. Very honest.

    I like this – “And all your investment of money and time will have been wasted. Better, in that case, to pull out now and cut your losses.”

    I have to admit that is something I struggle with. Sometimes what keeps me going IS all the time and energy and money I’ve put into something and that always isn’t a great motivator.

  • WealthyDragon Jan 24, 2008 @ 19:54

    Mark, hi,

    I agree – it can be difficult to walk away from something that you’ve put a lot of effort into. The point I was trying to make is that you need to be honest with yourself about your real mindset.

    If it’s not a ‘Failure is not an option’ mindset then 95% of people will eventually walk away from it. So better to recognise that and do it now rather than later after more wasted time and money!



  • The Confidence Coach Feb 16, 2008 @ 8:32

    I like the point about honesty that you highlighted. I think when we are really honest with ourselves, and with others will we have the confidence to take the correct actions that are going to cause us to grow in the way that we desire, instead of going round in circles.

  • WealthyDragon Feb 17, 2008 @ 18:53

    Hi Tom,

    Thanks! Being honest with oneself is often quite difficult, because many people don’t like to admit their own shortcomings.

    But there’s no question that this is an essential element in achieving success in your endeavours.