What Motivates You?

What Motivates You?

When I think about the lifestyle changes I have made over the past couple of years, I can’t help but think of the things, good and bad, that have motivated my changes.

Past experiences of course color my present views. I don’t regret much in life, because even the “bad” stuff is stuff to learn from and to help make changes for the better. I am motivated by holding onto memories of times that I don’t want to experience again. I remember being $12K in credit card debt in my early twenties and digging my way out. I remember how it felt to not be able to pay for the things I needed because I was too busy buying things I wanted.

I’ve spent a lot of my days thinking that stuff is worth well more than it is. I have thought stuff can define me, make me fulfilled, bring happiness. And I’ve learned in some not so easy ways how untrue that belief was.

I have gone through bouts of trying to keep up with people at the expense of losing myself. If I am trying to be someone else, impress someone else or please someone else, there is no way, in all of that, that I, at my core, won’t get lost.

Through these experiences in my life, plus many more, I can look back and know what I do and don’t want to do to make a better future for myself. I am motivated to live my life the way I am now – simply and frugally – because I have been on the other side, and for me, it isn’t a way I want to live anymore. I don’t want to live beyond my means in hopes that someone else will like me for my “stuff”.

Do I see others and admire who they are and how they live? Of course. Do I emulate the things that I admire? Sometimes. I try not to fall into the trap of doing things that aren’t me, even if they’re things that I consider admirable and good. I still have to be me.

It’s been a long road, or at least it feels like it has been, to get to this place. But it’s empowering and motivating to finally feel like I know who I am, what I value, and am confident enough to stay true to those things despite what goes on around me or what others think. I know that without my experiences, I wouldn’t be where I am today, and would certainly not appreciate it. The happiness that I’ve found in simplicity and frugality and all the amazing side benefits are a pure motivation for me to keep on my path.

What motivates you? Improving after past mistakes? Watching others make mistakes and not wanting to do the same? Having a vision of the future and a plan to get there? Seeing others that are inspiring? Maybe it’s the great feeling of accomplishment that comes after you’ve done something that feels “right” for you. I’d love to hear other people’s experiences with finding motivation to live their own authentic life.

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  1. Okay Emily, three things:

    First, this is a wonderful post. It is short, but to the point.

    “Do I see others and admire who they are and how they live? Of course. Do I emulate the things that I admire? Sometimes. I try not to fall into the trap of doing things that aren’t me, even if they’re things that I consider admirable and good. I still have to be me.”

    That is very well said.

    Second, I love your new theme. It is a lot cleaner and the look underscores your message very well.

    Third, I just noticed that I’m listed under Simple Living. What a compliment. Thank you.

    I guess I have a fourth, a compliment to your audience. I was looking at my analytics from the last couple of days, and from all my directed traffic, the people who get to my site from yours, stay the longest. You have a thoughtful crowd, Emily. You should be proud.

  2. @WriterDad, That was my favorite line too ;) And thank YOU for the compliments. I can direct people your way but it’s you who keeps them there.

    @Sara, how nice! I threw this post together yesterday before Fay was supposed to strike and didn’t really get to edit or go over it the way I usually would. Maybe that’s a good thing :) I like your points about mortgaging away your future, being present by creating a simple environment, and craving authenticity.

  3. @deepali, well they can’t go above the one, but I removed a few just for you ;) so now categories are up higher. I still have some sidebar fixing to do and you’ve motivated me to do it when I have a bit more time. And ah yes, love. A good motivator!

  4. @deepali, i love your new theme too!

    @neimanmarxist, that’s me, a zen minimalist ;) My journey has been extraordinary in many ways when I think about it. But for me, it’s my normal, so only when I think of it in context of others does it seem not so ordinary. I appreciate the commending. I went back through some old stuff today and used it to inspire myself as I have been feeling way uninspired lately. I like the simplicity of acting the way your best self would!

    @Denise, playgroups can be brutal for things like competition on everything from baby milestones to home size. I have been lucky enough to find a really fabulous group locally but I feel so fortunate because I have heard so many horror stories. I would imagine a lot of us flail a bit when we’re first starting out and trying to figure out who we are, what we want and what things are actually worth measuring ourselves against.

  5. @Steve – I think blogs are the same way – very therapeutic. If I was only writing and didn’t read others, I don’t think it would be the same. I love reading what others are doing, feeling, going through. A cool way to make the impersonal internet personal again.

    @Kelly – it is a comforting place to get to when you finally do, isn’t it?

    @Melissa – you are so right about living authentically and having that show in all you do. I think that it’s often apparent when someone is doing or saying something that isn’t really them. It comes through. You are certainly one that the beauty and love of everything comes through in what you do. The wedding looks like it was fantastic and truly authentic, like everything else you do!

  6. Good post! We will be linking to this particularly great content on our website.

    Keep up the good writing.

  7. There’s definately a great deal to learn about
    this subject. I like all of the points you’ve made.

  8. Good article. I am dealing with many of these issues
    as well..


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