Finding Motivation

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about motivation. What motivates me? What gives me inspiration? What keeps me getting up everyday and doing this life thing?

Initially this topic doesn’t feel related to personal finance but in fact you need to find motivation to manage your financial life as well. I didn’t just wake up one day and know how to deal with money, it took work. There are things we can all do to renew our motivation regularly that don’t include coffee or energy drinks. In this post I’ll talk a little bit about motivation in my own life and what I do to stay inspired.

Not that I’m ready to get philosophical about it but I don’t think people examine their motives often. I think we tend to go about our lives and as things happen we adapt to them. We make choices along the way that eventually define who we are. I don’t know about you but I just want to wake up each morning ready to get things done and ready to tackle challenges. Unfortunately a lot of the time I just want to curl up in bed and be warm, let the world spin outside my room.

“People often say motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing- that’s why we recommend it daily.”

Motivation is the main force that helps us do things we don’t feel like doing. Without a little spark of motivation the laundry would never get done and that math homework would sit unfactored. Like anything else you have to renew your motivations. I have to remind myself often WHY: why I go to school when I could be at home sleeping, why I work full time when I have the money to work part time, why I do positive things for my health instead of eating pizza everyday and skipping the gym. If I ask why often enough, occasionally I run into a line of reasoning that isn’t serving me anymore and I change. This change can apply to anything from a stressful job, to a bad living situation, to an unhappy relationship. We often don’t want to change until that most powerful motivator—pain—comes along.

Hopefully you don’t have to wait until pain takes hold to find motivation. One of the practices I do regularly is to do things that I don’t feel like doing. That sounds simple but it’s not easy. Every day when I get home from work I want to sleep; I earned it, I woke up at 4am. Instead of melting into the covers I go to the gym. At the time it feels like it’s against everything that feels right but the value is in the action. When I go against my lack of motivation I get an opportunity to create motivation. I use my ability to create motivation in all areas of my life including writing. If I only wrote when I felt like it there would be no Gundomoney blog posts to read. Creating motivation isn’t a magic cure-all for your life but with practice it tricks you into getting things taken care of no matter what.

Another aspect of finding motivation is the concept of willpower. Sometimes I feel like I can push myself, other times I just feel weak and tired. Research by Psychology Professor Roy Baumeister suggests that will-power is a limited resource. We can’t just make will-power, we actually have a finite amount of it each day and we may use all of it up before the day is over. Think about your own life. Have you ever had a really stressful job? When you got home from work did you feel depleted? I know I have. In light of this, my second piece of advice is to conserve your will-power.

People forget to rest especially in our all work and no play society. You have to recharge and you have to find things that give you passion. Whatever you may be passionate about is a worthwhile activity whether it be playing a sport or doing crafts or tending to your garden. A hallmark of happy and fulfilled people is they do more of the things that inspire them. When you do those things you feel passion for you recharge your will-power.

You may feel like you can push yourself all day and then come home and just will yourself to clean the house or make dinner. On the contrary the reality seems to be that we are all human and we need rest. I advise everyone to not engage in things that use a lot of will-power. Don’t choose to work that high stress job that makes you a little more money. Don’t hold onto resentments and old anger, do your best not to control every little part of your life. These things drain our will-power unnecessarily and we need that will-power for things that will serve us. If all your will-power was used each day on things that enrich your life just imagine what could happen. Too often we get caught up in the frivolities in life. What’s really important is our happiness, our security (both financial and physical), and our continued pursuit of what gives our life passion.

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