Discovering the Difference Between “Should” and Real Motivation

When it comes to money, you know you should do certain things. However, knowing that you “should” do something isn’t always enough.

For example, everyone knows that they should save for the future — which could mean anything from saving for a rainy day to building up a hefty retirement fund. But how many people actually do so? The same can be said of getting out of debt, etc.

It’s not until you really understand WHY you “should” do something on a deep level, or until you have a specific, tangible reason for doing something that you’ll really do it.

Unfortunately, as humans we tend to learn best by experience. Getting laid off and discovering that your emergency fund is inadequate is no fun, but I guarantee it’s something you won’t let happen twice. Real motivation lights a fire.

How can you become truly motivated to do the things you know you should do? I’ve found it helpful to try and imagine the worst happening. What would it really be like? What would have to change? How would I feel? How would it affect my family? Is that what I want?

After a little reflection along those lines I’m usually motivated to make the calls to the insurance company, lawyer, broker, or whoever that I’ve been putting off.

You can also try coming up with those tangible reasons. If you’re trying to save money for a distant goal like sending the kids to college, try making a list of the benefits to doing so, and then putting a small copy of the list and a picture of your kids where you’ll see it everytime you go to spend money.

Once you really get, on a deep level, the why behind what you “should” do, it’ll become what you are doing, and you’ll be doing it with a sense of purpose and accomplishment.

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5 comments

  • “Getting laid off and discovering that your emergency fund is inadequate is no fun, but I guarantee it’s something you won’t let happen twice. Real motivation lights a fire”
    Too bad most of us have to learn the hard way.

  • Motivation is really very helpful especially on careers and finances. Even the things that seems not doable can be done with a person that is highly motivated…

  • Ryan, yes motivation definitely helps (as does hard work)

  • What I love most about this blog is that it gets into the psychology behind saving money. So many people fail to realize the importance, or even the existence, of this.

    Great post

  • David, thanks, it’s good to hear what you like about the blog.