As we embark on the final few days of 2020, I want to write an encouraging and uplifting article to round out what’s been a challenging year for most of us. When I considered the topic of the article, motivation immediately jumped to mind. Maybe it was my conscience nudging me to write about something I’ve struggled with this year; perhaps it was thinking back on the many articles I’ve read about the myriad challenges everyone has faced during the year; perchance it’s just the holidays making me mushy. Whatever the reason, motivation feels like a timely topic.
When you think about motivation, what comes to mind? For me it is: drive, determination, grit, ambition, desire, and so on. To borrow from the dictionary, motivation is:
- The reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way
- The general desire or willingness of someone to do something
Think back on all the inspirational interviews you may have heard from people who had a breakthrough invention, solved a persistent or significant problem for humanity, set a world record, or changed the world for the better in a measurable way. It’s easy to be mesmerized by the magnitude of the accomplishments, and it’s even easier to assume those folks must have been hyper-motivated every step along the way. Every morning they must wake up and exude brilliance and accomplish the day’s goals with feverish dedication, right? WRONG! Aside from their skillsets and circumstances, they aren’t much different from the rest of us. They have good days and bad days; they experience frustrations and setbacks; they have upsetting interactions with family, friends, coworkers, or colleagues; they experience stressful situations.
So, what is it that enables them to be high-performers? My submission is this: they possess an understanding of and appreciation for the fact that not every day is going to be a success; not every day will they make progress or move forward toward their goals. Some days they will stay still or even regress; they will be lazy, negative, or distracted. And still they triumph because they know it’s about being consistent in the long run; not necessarily every hour of every day do they have to be highly motivated.
How does that relate to personal finance? Motivation is certainly an important factor in achieving your financial goals, but it’s also crucial we allow ourselves to have those low points. Occasionally, we should get a pass for having a lazy day or missing a personal finance goal. There were points throughout the year where the Sow a Dime household was less than diligent in paying attention to our finances and goals. Some months, Mrs. Sow a Dime and I spent a few hours on our monthly financial meeting, discussing or revising goals, and developing strategic plans; other months, we spent 15 minutes and discussed the bare necessities. Of course, we were disappointed with those “off months” where we didn’t cover much ground, but we gave ourselves a pass and doubled down the following month to ensure we got back on track to meet long-term goals.
Even though it’s discouraging to feel less motivated to pay attention to personal finance—or even that you’ve lost motivation—I would argue the ebbs and flows are an important part of the process. Humans, by nature, cannot be fully motivated all the time. The low points are what we use to fuel the high points; without the days, weeks, or months of undermotivation, we couldn’t come out swinging and be fully motivated to accomplish our financial goals (or any goals!).
As the calendar flips into 2021, I encourage you to make peace with the highs and the lows of motivation. Embrace there will be times when you just don’t want to build a monthly budget, review your spending, or set short- and long-term goals for yourself or your family. There will be times you spend more or save less than intended. Allow yourself a short-term pass and reenergize your attitude; reflect on the WHY (motivation) behind your WHAT (outcome) to set yourself back on course to meet or exceed your goals!
From the Sow a Dime & Reap a Dollar household, I’m signing off for 2020. Have a blessed and safe new year and in 2021 remember: you got this!