Harnessing motivation requires creative challenges with concrete goals.
We live in a time where distraction and entertainment are without bounds. YouTubers alone upload 300 hours of video every minute. That's 18,000 times the speed of real time. Because of this, it's easy to get stuck on watching videos here and there while checking Facebook several times an hour while texting with your friends about the upcoming weekend. This never-ending cycle creates in us a need for immediate gratification at all times. This is not a good thing.
As a species, we are becoming less and less creative while consuming more and more. When was the last time you created something instead of going down to the store and buying it? Furniture. A birthday card. A sock. Tomato basil marinara. A painting. Even a story. It has become so easy and convenient to pay for everything that we're losing the skills to create things. But how does this relate to motivation?
Well, what is motivation anyway? Simply put, it's the ability to put your own energy toward doing something productive. It doesn't necessarily have to be 'productive,' but for the sake of this article, we're talking about motivation toward a specific goal. Your day job doesn't take a ton of motivation because you're required to work. Therefor that motivation is more a requisite for basic survival. But when you are no longer required to do anything, that's where true motivation comes into play.
If I am ever without a personal project to work on, I find myself lacking any sort of motivation. I end up watching more television or wasting more time on the internet. It's a tricky place to be in because entertainment is inherently pleasurable, so it feels good while you're there. However, it's not until after you start a project that you look back to be surprised how sedentary you once were.
But how do we get this first seed of an idea for a project or goal? Follow your dreams! Just kidding. Dreams are unorganized. In order to gain the motivation, you must first realize what your real goals are in life. This sounds vague, but the answer can be vague too. For most people, happiness will be high on the list of "things to acquire." How do we get happiness? What ingredients do we need? Well first, you need food, water, and shelter. Beyond that, it's nice to have a host of comfort objects: warmth, health insurance, friends and family, travel, freedom. But let's stop right there. Freedom is what we're going to focus on.
Pursuit of Freedom
Aren't we all free, though? This is America! Eeh, not really. Sure, you can hope in a car or on a train and go wherever you want, but you're still restricted by many things. Your finances aren't unlimited. You have responsibilities at your job. You have friendships and relationships to maintain. But these are just the facts of life, right? Yes and no. What if you could remove your work responsibilities while maintaining your income? Some call this retirement, others call it financial independence.
To achieve financial independence you just need one thing. The right amount of money in the right place. For most, that will be in the ballpark of $700,000 growing steadily in an index fund. If you want to learn more about the specifics of that, check out my introduction into investing. The higher percentage of your income you're able to invest into that index fund, the sooner you will retire.
So now that we have a concrete goal - financial independence - we have to get creative about reaching it. That's where our entrepreneurial pursuits come into play.
Make It until You Make It
This is where things get fun and challenging. In the most ideal world, we can all follow our creative ideas and make a living off of it. Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way. People usually don't want to give you money for drawing in your notebook or singing songs on your guitar. Unless you dedicate your life to the craft, you'll have trouble making a living off of it. You need to take a more business-savvy approach to it. As it stands, I have three creative ideas that I'm actively working on that could eventually net a nice profit. None of them are a guarantee of any money, but on the other hand, they could take off and bring in a lot of cash.
First, I'm working on this blog. Every day I'm writing articles about money, living, organizing eggs, and more. The motivation for this blog is manyfold. At the most basic level, it's extremely gratifying to write things that can actually help people. Since writing one post about investing, eight of you guys have started investing in index funds to retire earlier. That's huge! In addition to spreading ideas, there's also a potential for income. Every article is an opportunity to implement Amazon affiliate links for products I feel passionately about. For every purchase made, I get a little slice of that profit. Assuming that this blog continues to grow, that could start bringing in a decent supplemental passive income (currently the affiliate links haven't brought in more than $20 total...). This blog will also act as a launching pad for any future endeavor that I may be a part of. Already, Shoutmap has received a lot of attention from the post I wrote about it.
Speaking of Shoumap, that's my second outlet for creativity that happens to have the motivation of potential income. For this app, much of the motivation comes from the challenge itself. Making a smartphone app is tough enough, but making one that is successful, original, and profitable is another thing. Assuming that it 'takes off' though, would far outweigh the challenges and costs of attempting to make it in the first place. Motivation in this sense, is a willingness to try, knowing that failure is very likely. Because if you don't try, you don't have to worry about failure, but you will never taste success.
Get up Offa That Thing!
To summarize, here's a quick guide for revving those engines and getting that motivation juice flowing.
- Next time you waste time watching tv or surfing the web, think about how that's getting you ahead in life. (It's not).
- Sit down and make realistic life goals. These goals will determine your avenue for creativity.
- Start projects that utilize your creativity while getting closer to your goals.
- Share projects with friends to get additional support and motivation.
- Then, when your mind is exhausted from the Creativity Olymipcs, you may sit back and catch an episode of Archer, because you've earned it. But by now you're probably more driven to keep working on your projects! If so, keep at it! Go go go! Create!