Hello! Happy Halloween! Today I have a post written by a blog friend. Sara has been wanting to write an article on motivation for some time, but she didn’t think it would fit well on her debt-focused website. I swooped up the opportunity and her motivating post is below.
I’m sure most of you have some sort of goal right now, and you probably need a little motivation boost. This post can help you out with that.
I love the Zig Ziglar quote “People say that motivation doesn’t last. Well neither does bathing, that’s why we recommend it daily.”
Most people reading this will have some clearly defined money ambitions – clear all your debts, save for a house deposit, retire at 50, afford to be at home with the kids for a few years… The first few weeks or months after setting your goal can be exciting as you make plans and get them under way.
But after that things seem to go so slowly and those temptations to stray can seem to talk much louder in your head than the sensible voices in your head saying you can’t afford that…
So I’ve been thinking about all the different ways to get that motivation to resist temptation and keep on track.
This is why we all read personal finance blogs and frugal forums, isn’t it? It’s great when there is a money-saving tip that works for you or a new recipe that only uses things that are already in your store cupboard or an idea about getting some extra cash.
But even when there isn’t anything you can directly use, it’s good to know that you have some company along the way. It can feel lonely sometimes, having ambitious money goals that you don’t want to discuss with work colleagues or family. Reading blogs lets you connect across the country with other people facing the same sorts of issues and share their triumphs and disasters
It’s even quite nice when other people are wrestling with problems that you don’t have, not in a nasty, schadenfreude, sort of way, but because it puts your own issues into perspective – “at least my boiler is working and the in-laws haven’t moved in for a three month stay!” And finding out how people get through their setbacks can give you the determination to get through your own.
Eyes on the prize
Perhaps you like to mentally escape from your short-term ambitions and exploring possible futures:
- Follow someone’s adventures as they cycle across China, buy a small-holding or build their own house;
- Fantasise about how good it will feel in a few years to have to make difficult choices about investments;
- Contemplate whether paying off the mortgage faster or putting more into your pension will seem more important when you are debt free.
This doesn’t have to be serious – when my husband and I were planning early retirement, we got into the habit of watching Peak Practice once a week. It was a run-of-the-mill British soap, but it happened to be set in exactly the part of England we were thinking of moving to, so watching it together was a gentle re-affirmation of our shared ambition.
Updating the numbers
Some people get a buzz from knowing their budget is completely up-to-date, that sense of satisfaction that comes from neatness and precision.
The bigger your financial difficulty, the more crucial control over your money is. As a debt advisor, I know drawing up and using a realistic budget is the single biggest step anyone can take to improve their situation.
But with a long-term ambition such as early retirement, not a lot changes in your lifetime spreadsheet from week to week. As a friend said to me “There is budgeting in extremis, and there is budgeting for the average man. You don’t need to get tied up in knots about every single penny being correctly pivot-tabled to the right sub-category to know whether you are on track or not.”
It may be a wild cultural generalisation, but I get the feeling that Americans like motivational sayings a lot more than most Brits. If that’s right, I’m an honorary American, because I love them I often set one up as my PC’s wallpaper – this is my current one:
“Anyone can do something when they want to do it. Really successful people do things when they don’t want to do it.”
So every time I switch on, there it is. A small but perfectly directed kick to get me to not wallow in the soothing bath of social media but tackle something less fun.
Dave Ramsey is the king of killer debt quotes, and Oscar Wilde managed to say important things in a way that wasn’t just witty but word-perfect:
“To recommend thrift to the poor is both grotesque and insulting. It is like advising a man who is starving to eat less.”
But it’s fun when a gem from a “non-regular” pops up on my twitter feed, which is where I saw this Julia Child quote yesterday:
“Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.”
Which leads onto my last suggestion of ways to keep motivated…
Enjoy doing something non-commercial
If you are singing in a choir, playing bridge online or campaigning for better cycle-paths, then you are too busy to read yet another review of the new iPhone or long for a winter break you really can’t afford.
Even though it’s free, routine TV watching for many hours a day is the leisure equivalent of junk food – easy, addictive but not good for you. Even if you can tune-out the adverts, the endless procession of well-dressed, beautifully-groomed people on the box gives a warped impression of the real world and what you should aspire to. And it’s so passive.
It often seems an effort to make time for hobbies such as gardening, reading or cooking, but if you do, you may decide you should do it more often. As Michelle said in her recent post “We are more frugal and saving more money than ever, and it’s actually been a lot of fun.”
Author bio: Sara Williams runs the Debt Camel website. She is a debt advisor who lives in London with her two student children and a spaniel.
What works for you? Do pictures or music help keep you focused? Does your motivation level need topping-up every day or two, or is a once a month “check we are on track” enough for you?
What are you trying to stay motivated for?
Mrs. Frugalwoods says
What a lovely post! I completely agree with you on the power of online communities to inspire and motivate. And, like you mentioned, it’s so comforting to have a community of folks working towards similar financial goals. I’ve met very few people in real life who share my love for extreme frugality and so, it’s refreshing to read about it online. Staying motivated is always a challenge and I find that, simple as it sounds, short breaks do wonders for me. Doing yoga, going for a walk, even doing the laundry can all provide that mental respite to enable me to tackle projects head-on.
Sara @ Debt Camel says
Short breaks work for me too, helps me to refocus on a project. Not (alas!) doing the laundry, however…
Will: First Quarter Finance says
I watch interviews of Elon Musk to jump start my day if it’s not going well. He’s ridiculously awesome so I try to make myself at least 1/1000th as awesome.
Sara @ Debt Camel says
oh yes, he’s got a great combination of energy, vision and decisiveness! That’s a pretty tough role model to adopt!
Natalie @ Financegirl says
Constantly reading and listening to podcasts keeps me more motivated than anything. I don’t know where I’d be without my podcasts!
Sara @ Debt Camel says
hi Natalie, are there any particular podcasts you love?
Don @ Breath of Optimism says
For me, it is all about visualization. I have pictures as reminders in a bunch of places….most notably on my computer screen and as my home screen background on my phone. Seeing these reminders helps to keep me focused even when times get tough.
Sara @ Debt Camel says
I felt sure some people would be very visually orientated… are they pictures of your family? or a drem house / holiday?
Kayla @ Femme Frugality says
I am trying to stay motivated to get my consumer and student loans paid off. It sure is hard at times though. Things like hanging out with friends, or buying the latest and greatest whatever are temptations that I’ve had a hard time saying no to. I’m still spending less than before I began this journey, but I know I could do much better.
Brian @ Debt Discipline says
Great post. Others peoples stories help keep me motivated. The debt free screams on Dave Ramsey’s show always bring a smile to my face.
Carolyn Flanagan says
thanks for the good tips!
“The bigger your financial difficulty, the more crucial control over your money is” – such a true statement! Thanks for this, it was just what I needed today!
Sara @ Debt Camel says
The perfect comment for you is the one that somehow chimes in with how you are feeling at this moment, doesn’t it? Tomorrow you might want something more upbeat. Or just to be distracted!
I try and picture why I’m doing all of this for – freedom to live my life the way I’d like to. Sometimes the going gets tough, but I’m going to keep plodding along 🙂
Ciel Belle says
Sometimes what keeps me going with this debt repayment is reading older blog posts from people who paid their debt. It just keeps me motivated whenever I have set backs
Dan @ Our Big Fat Wallet says
I agree, online communities definitely can help. Reading personal finance websites makes people want to (hopefully) take control of their own finances and the content within the sites can both inspire and motivate people who are on the edge about taking the next step with their money
Sune @ Extra Income Blogger says
I must remember that quote ““People say that motivation doesn’t last. Well neither does bathing, that’s why we recommend it daily.”
I find that I get motivated and excited about something really easily. Until the next day, then the motivation slowly starts decreasing until it isn’t there anymore. I’ll think about the above quote each time that happens, that should help kickstart my motivation back into place! lol
thank you for sharing, this is very informative 🙂
anna pry says
things that help me include reading a book with new tips that i could use towards reaching my goal, i also get a boost when i update my spreadsheets with current financial data and see how things really are changing
Carolyn Flanagan says
thanks for sharing
Veronica Lee says
I started out baking cookies as a hobby. Now it has become an obsession and I have made some money selling and donating them to charity bake sales.
Diana Corlett says
This fits my current situation unfortunately well: “To recommend thrift to the poor is both grotesque and insulting. It is like advising a man who is starving to eat less.”
Myles Money says
I find other people’s stories particularly motivating. Anton from Financessful is one I’ve just come across and his story resonates because he’s managed to achieve financial independence without any magical formula or a lottery win: just hard work and common sense.
Bailey Dexter says
Great post! I enjoyed reading, always nice to read other people’s input. Thanks!
Wendy T says
I am trying to stay motivated to continue my fitness routine, get through some really tough days that coming up this year, and to get my finances back on track.
I’ve faltered a bit with my fitness routine, so I made myself a goal for this week. I’ll just take it week by week. And I suppose with the upcoming dates this year (daughter’s date of death, her birthday and the holidays). I’ll just take it one day at a time. And the finances? I can just do all I can and then trust in the outcome.
Sandra Watts says
I totally need more motivation. Getting dressed in the morning always helps.
Paula Varble says
I like this quote: Anyone can do something when they want to do it. Really successful people do things when they don’t want to do it.
Geoff K says
What keeps me motivated and focused, especially when I’m stressed or dejected, is to step outside myself and picture my current situation from a more distanced perspective – that way I can more easily grasp the big picture of what I’m facing and not dwell so much on negative thoughts or emotions!
Betsy Barnes says
Usually, taking breaks with some 80’s music does the trick to motivate me. I try to think positive, focusing on how far I’ve come and how I achieved past goals 🙂
Awesome quotes and inspiring to read indeed
Luisa M Davila says
great article thanks
Sometimes, your daily motivational updates may come from someone on the job to has very short patients. Your daily motivational updates-boost may come from dealing with workplace related challenges and how to humble yourself in the moment. Those types of daily motivation boosts end up making the one who’s striving for excellence a future “side hustle millionaire.” 🙂