A look at motivation

Motivation is an interesting thing.

What is interesting about it is that the things that motivate us are different for each of us. For instance, I am motivated to pay off my debt because I don’t like having my hand forced. Meaning – I want to be able to take my money and do what I wish with it instead of having to send it all off to credit card companies.

My motivation for going to college to get my undergrad degree was that it was what I was supposed to do. My motivation to keep my grades up was to keep my scholarships. Other motivation was the whole ‘need to have a degree to get a good job’ thing. Then I got out of college and have had a succession of good paying jobs that required no college degree at all.

Then I got motivated to get my MBA because of the thought of a higher salary and quite possibly an office with a door.

Getting up and going to a job I hate? The motivation for that is the debt and the thought that one day I won’t have to do that.

The motivation for getting into a healthier lifestyle? Seeing family members health deteriorate mostly due to choices that they had made to do things the unhealthy way.

Motivation for blogging? Partly a jumbled mind, partly a quest to make some extra cash online and partly because the original “When I grow up” dream involved writing for a living.

Now, if we take all of these things and asked a group of people to say what motivates them to do each of those things I am certain that the answer would be completely and totally different.

Just a search on Google shows a plethora of people that are blogging with their sole motivation being to make money online. Some of them happen to be decent writers and they actually have pretty good sites. And some of them, well, let’s just say that it is obvious that they are focusing on cash instead of anything else.

And of course, motivation can also change along the way. It is also subject to things like procrastination and laziness. Or, if we use yesterday as an example, it can be affected by external factors (electricity going out for waaaaaay too long) which then leads to emotional factors like annoyance and frustration causing a decline in motivation.

I think it is safe to say that for the most part that most of up want to keep our motivation levels high.

So, the million dollar question is: How do we maintain high levels of motivation?

I am certainly not an expert, but this is something that I have been pondering. And from thinking about it and writing this post it seems that there is one underlying thread that could maintain a constant high level of motivation were it present all of the time.

What is that one thing?

A positive attitude or outlook.

Sure, that is easier said that done. Trust me, I know. Of course being able to maintain a constant positive outlook also means that you have to have pretty decent self-esteem and self-worth so that you do not succumb to depression and such. Like I said, easier said than done, right? But if I was able to maintain a positive outlook I would not have gotten so frustrated by the lack of power yesterday. Instead I could have used the time sitting outside and enjoying the fresh air or something. Instead, I repeatedly called the electric company’ s hotline for a service restoration update. Needless to say I got practically nothing accomplished yesterday even though there were plenty of things I could have done with no electricity.

So, one of my new personal goals is to try to always have a positive attitude about things. Everything. No matter what. Well, within reason. I mean, if this was WWII era I would not be all positive about what was happening, but you know what I mean.

So, I am going to try really hard to keep that positive outlook and I am going to see how that works out for me. And I am going to try to be even more productive. It stands to reason that if I am more positive that I should be more motivated to get things done and should therefore be more productive.


25 things I’d love to do

1. Learn to play violin.

I have always loved the violin but my parents did not encourage us to be musical, so it was a faraway love. I’d love to be able to rock a violin like Sharon Corr or the girls of Bond or Lindsey Stirling.

2. Be out of debt!

This is something that I am working on. I really wish it would happen sooner rather than later though.

3. Spend a year reading the classics.

I love literature and I love reading – but I never seem to have enough time to read. I’d love to be able to focus on reading some of the classics. So far, my favorite of the classics that I’ve read so far is The Three Musketeers.

4. Live a minimalist lifestyle

I would love to be more of a minimalist. I really hate clutter and stuff but when I try to get rid of stuff it never works. I think living in a tiny house would be cool.

5. Learn how to sew my own clothes

My mom can sew like nobody’s business. She made my prom dress my junior year because I couldn’t find anything that I liked in the stores. It was so awesome and it ended up costing only around $60!

6. Learn to fly a plane

My dad had a small plane when I was growing up. It was pretty cool to go on vacation by hopping in your own plane. Plus I have control issues so I would be better flying myself than getting on a 747.

7. Be able to read a book in a foreign language.

I’d like to be able to read books that are written in another language in their native language. I’m certain there are things lost in the English translation.

8. Be my own boss.

I would love to have my own business. It would be great to be that much in control of my own money potential. Plus I have issues with authority sometimes 😉

9. Be fluent in Spanish, French, Italian and German.

I know a fair amount of Spanish and some Italian. I would really like to be able to visit places where these are the languages spoken and have no problem communicating. I’m learning on Duolingo now.

10. Be able to make shortbread cookies that taste like Walker’s Shortbread.

I’ve been working on this for a few months. Just when I think I have found the right recipe…I am wrong.

11. Learn some kind of karate.

I don’t want to be a ninja or anything, but it would be nice to know some of those moves.

12. Be able to not care about what people think.

For the most part, I don’t care what people think. However, I don’t do things like sing or dance in front of people because I care what people think. I’d like to be able to get past that at some point in my life.

13. Learn to salsa and some other Latin dances.

Of course, first I would have to conquer #12…

14. Live in Europe.

Where exactly – I’m not sure. How long – as long as possible.

15. Feel successful.

It is hard to feel successful when life does not turn out the way that you have planned.

16. Go on an archeology dig.

I used to want to “grow up” and be an archaeologist. It is still something that I find insanely interesting.

17. Retire early.

Of course, I need to pay off the debt first. Maybe I can find a place in Europe to move to with a low cost of living, then I can retire early!

18. Do stand up paddle boarding at Waikiki Beach.

I definitely don’t have the money for hawaii right now, but I’ve seen photos of people on paddleboards like this at the beach and it looks like a lot of fun (though I’d probably fall in!).

19. Grow my own veggies.

Once #18 is done, I’d like to have a pretty decent garden with my own veggies and herbs. It will be a long process though cause I keep killing my house plants! lol 🙂

20. Have a foosball table in my house.

I love to play foosball. So, I’d love to have a room with one in it so that I could play some games whenever I want like back when I was in college and they had one in the common room at the dorms. I’ve looked and some of the foosball tables are cheap.

21. Be more laid back and less stressed.

I get stressed pretty easily. So, I would like to get to a point where I can be more laid back and easy going.

22. Go to a Christmas market in Switzerland

I’ve been reading about these in travel magazines for a while. I would so love to go to one. Especially the one in Basel.

23. Learn some graphic design skills

I tinker with website stuff here and there but I would really like to have some actually skills.

24. Learn to drive a stick shift car.

I kinda know how, but I get really nervous on hills!

25. Get back into art.

I used to be very into painting and sketching. Now there just doesn’t seem to be time for it. Well, that is my list – what are the 25 things you’d like to do?

Why use a price book?

I had a email from a reader on my post on creating a price book where the reader wants to know:

“What’s the purpose behind a price book? To compare prices of the same items at different stores? I get that I guess, but I just can’t see creating a grocery list for 1/3 of my groceries at Safeway, 1/3 of them at Save-on-Foods, 1/4 of them at Costco and little bits and pieces here and there at random places around town. My time is worth more than having to drive all around town to save a few cents on a box of Kleenex, for example… so what purpose does it serve in a really practical way?”

I am new to creating a price book, so some you may have better answers than me! I posted my response to that post before realizing that this might be best as a separate post so that it does not get buried in the comments section of that old post.

My response to the above question is:

I’m not an expert, but here is what I plan to use it for..
1. To see what store really has the best prices on the things that I buy
2. So that when I see a sale ad I will know if it is really a good deal or not
3. If I see something on sale in the store I can check if it is really a good deal.
4. To help set a realistic grocery budget.

I don’t plan on driving all around town to save a few cents cause gas is too expensive for that! But say if I happen to be by a Target and I am low on mustard and they have the cheapest mustard then I know that and can run in for it.

So,  now I am calling out to those of you that use price books or have thoughts on them that you would like to share. You can leave your comments on this post instead of the one on price books.

Take control of your destiny by changing your thoughts

I am a big believer in the thought that you control your own destiny. While I do believe that each of us is destined for certain things, I see it as more of a loose pattern. Yes, we are supposed to go from A to B, but it is how we get there that we have control of. And not just how we get there, but how quickly or how slowly. Unfortunately, there are a lot of times when we are delaying our progress just by the way we are thinking. In essence, we are holding ourselves back from greatness and from our destiny. I think that there are a lot of times that we do not even realize that we are doing this detrimental thing to ourselves. I know that I am guilty of it, even though I try to be conscience of it on a regular basis.

Here are some of the things that I have identified in my life that you might recognize in your own as holding you back.

1. Being scared of change. It is easy to get comfortable in doing something the same old way, day in and day out. But with comfort you sometimes get fear. Fear of change specifically. Sometimes we need to recognize that just because something has always worked for us in the past, there could be another more efficient way to do things.

2. Underestimating you. How often do you want to do something but do not because you think you cannot? Instead of thinking you can’t do something, you should think “I can try.” Most times, you will find out that you can indeed do whatever it was that you though was out of your reach. I recently took some graduate level finance classes that I had put off taking for sometime, even though I really wanted to take them. Why did I do that? Because I didn’t think I was smart enough to grasp and handle the work. I finally realized I should just try it. Guess what? The class was difficult for me and it kicked my butt on a daily basis. But you know what? I learned a lot more from it than I thought I would AND I got an A in the class. I could do it all along, I just underestimated me.

3. Failing at something is not a bad thing, contrary to what we tell ourselves. It is easy to fail at something and then label ourselves as worthless. It is also easy to leave whatever that thing was to the wayside and not ever try it again. What we do not realize is that with failure comes knowledge. Lessons can be learned from failures that leave you stronger and more knowledgeable that you were to begin with.

4. I am no more unique than anyone else. This is a silly way of thinking because we know that each of us has something to offer that is unique and special. Sometimes, we can only see the unique and special in others and fail to realize that we have something just as great to offer the world.

5. No one cares if you succeed or fail. Remember that you are a someone and that YOU care if you succeed or fail. You do not have to have a family or a significant other to cheer you to the finish line. You can cheer yourself to the finish line. And really, it is most important to have you on your side.

6. If only you could have done that when you were 20. Age discrimination is not legal for employers, so why are you practicing it against yourself? Age truly is only a state of mind for the most part. Sure, being of a certain age group may present some advantages, but you can do anything you want no matter what age you are. Using age as an excuse is just another way of holding yourself back and preventing you from fulfilling your destiny.

Go to college or join the peace corps?

My youngest brother is navigating his way through his senior year of high school. He’s a smart kid and everyone and their mother is telling him what he should be and what schools he should go to. The funny thing is that the kid is not too interested in going to college at this point.

He called me a few nights ago wanting to know what I know about joining the peace corps. Seems he would rather spend his time helping people with the peace corps than going to college or getting a job right out of high school.

Unfortunately for most high school students the peace corps prefers people that at least have some community college under their belt.

Qualifications are:

  1. At least age 18
  2. A US citizen
  3. A four-year college degree, or solid work experience in an area such as agriculture, business management, or a skilled trade. A community college degree paired with specific skills or work experience may also qualify you.

So, for him, this applies:

For applicants without a college degree, there are opportunities to work in several program areas, provided you have the appropriate work experience or knowledge of a skilled trade. To find out about these opportunities, call your regional recruitment office at 800.424.8580.

The skilled trade areas (from the best I can tell) are:

  • agriculture
  • business
  • community development
  • construction
  • and more

Fortunately our father works in construction building new homes. And my brother has spent many summers helping him out. So, I suspect he will actually end up qualifying for the peace corps if he decides to pursue it.

I did a little research for him so that he would know what he is getting into. He thought he could do it for a year and then assess things and take it from there.

All Peace Corps Volunteers commit to 27 months of training and service overseas.

Volunteers do earn 2 days of vacation time per month though.

I was under the impression that all you got in terms of pay for this gig was room and board and transportation. Looks like you get a little more than that.

From their website:

The Peace Corps provides Volunteers with a living allowance that enables them to live in a manner similar to the local people in their community. The Peace Corps also provides complete medical and dental care and covers the cost of transportation to and from your country of service.

When you return from your 27 months of service, you will receive just over $6,000 toward your transition to life back home. The money is yours to use as you wish: for travel, a vacation, making a move, or securing housing.

Wow. Sounds like a pretty decent gig to me.

Did you know that there is no upper age limit for volunteers?

There is no application deadline for being a volunteer as applications are taken on a rolling basis. The entire application process-from completion of your application to departure for service-takes an average of nine months.

If you are legally married, then you can serve together with your spouse. If you are in a gay relationship though you are out of luck. That’s really unfortunate. I wonder how many volunteers the Peace Corps and those in need are missing out on just because the USA does not recognize gay relationships?

Applying is a five step process.

  1. Submit your application.
  2. Wait to get contacted for an interview.
  3. Get medical and legal clearance.
  4. Qualify based on your skills and suitability.
  5. They contact you with a placement.

And that is it.

And here is an interesting benefit once you get out of the Peace Corps:

Receive Advantages in Federal Employment

Volunteers who complete two years of service receive one year of noncompetitive eligibility for employment in the federal government. This means that if you meet the minimum qualifications for a position, you can be hired without going through the standard competitive process, at the employing agency’s discretion.