Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.
Gaining control of your finances and moving toward financial freedom requires motivation. Motivation is that burning desire in some of us to better our lives and to achieve more than we have achieved thus far. Motivation may flow from a dissatisfaction with who we are or what we have, but that’s not always the case. Some people are motivated to improve their finances by the birth of their first child. Others are motivated to get out of debt when they’ve hit rock bottom.
Some, like me, are motivated to achieve some reasonable level of financial freedom so we don’t repeat the financial mistakes my parents made. I know all too well the sick feeling in the pit of your stomach when your family fears they may lose their home. I don’t want that for me or my family, and that’s in part what drives my motivation. But the key is that we need something to motivate us. And once we’ve found that something, we need to hold onto it like gold.
A few years ago, I joined Jenny Craig to try and lose some weight. At the first meeting, I completed an application form that asked me, on a scale from 1 to 10, how motivated I was to lose weight. I penciled in an 8 because I was highly motivated. The intake person reviewing my application, however, asked me what it would take for me to be even more motivated to lose weight. I thought about it for a moment and replied, “I guess I’d have to be fatter.”
Losing weight and keeping it off are hard for at least two reasons. First, good and bad decisions about what we eat do not have immediate, visible consequences. I can make a “good” decision by avoiding a candy bar in the afternoon, but I won’t lose ten pounds from that one decision. Likewise, eating the candy bar won’t cause me to gain ten pounds, either. I have to string together hundreds of healthy eating choices to see positive results. Second, once I’ve lost a certain amount of weight, my motivation to make healthy choices tends to wane. Like I told the intake person at Jenny Craig, to be more motivated, I need to be fatter. And so it is with money.
Living below our means, paying down debt, and investing require us to make many individually insignificant decisions that don’t have an immediate, major financial consequence. Do we save $100 a month that in 20 years at 10% interest appreciates to $76,000, or do we spend that money for immediate gratification? And how do we stay motivated once we start to see positive results? So often, folks get motivated to pay down debt, but as their debt gets paid off, lose the motivation, and go out and borrow again. I’ve seen this cycle repeat itself over and over again.
So I’ve assembled eight articles that each describe a tip on how to get and stay motivated about money. I hope they will help you find your motivation, cultivate it, and then use it to achieve your financial goals.
- Motivation and Money Tip # 1: Remember the Past
- Motivation and Money Tip # 2: Remember the Future
- Motivation and Money Tip # 3: Think Small
- Motivation and Money Tip # 4: Create Milestones
- Motivation and Money Tip # 5: Track Progress
- Motivation and Money Tip # 6: Slow Down
- Motivation and Money Tip # 7: Be Thankful
- Motivation and Money Tip # 8: Listen