My old psychology professor once said, “Without properly motivating my students, the knowledge I pass on is meaningless.” He made a good point. It’s highly unlikely that we’ll achieve specific goals or get the results we want if we don’t have sufficient knowledge. It’s not impossible, but it’s extremely difficult. But no matter how much knowledge we have, it’s nearly impossible to achieve anything meaningful if we don’t take action.
Much of what we write is informative. We discuss tips, tools, and strategies to help you achieve financial success, but it’s up to you to take action.
Several years ago, after I had just graduated college, I would walk to nearby second-hand stores and pick out used tattered books about finances. Some of my first reads were Total Money Makeover, Investing for Dummies, and Think and Grow Rich. After realizing I had a genuine interest in money I began studying different mutual funds, investing strategies, and general tax laws. I gradually built up a modest base of financial understanding, but my life was not yet affected by the steady educational journey.
In other words, I had accumulated knowledge but I hadn’t put it to use.
That’s when I started to look for ways to put my knowledge into action. Along the way, I discovered various resources that motivated me to take action. They inspired me to go from informed, to involved. I want to share a few of those sources of inspiration with you.
Art Williams – Just Do It
The man above looks like an enthusiastic football fan. And he used to be. Today, he is better known as the man who left his job as a high school football coach and went on to become a multi-millionaire in the insurance industry. That’s Art Williams, whose famous “Just Do It” speech highlights the subtle differences between winners and losers in America.
He tactfully illustrates how society as a whole prefers to “dip their toe” into whatever their current passions are, hoping for instant success.
Personifying the ultimate contrast to the norm he represents a finisher in a world of starters. Art Williams admits that he actually has a below-average intelligence quotient. He thought society had him pegged as a future truck driver or janitor. Maybe you’ve felt the same way at one time or another during your life. Or, maybe you are a highly intelligent individual who has lacked the motivation to truly achieve your definition of financial success. Regardless of what side of the spectrum you represent, this speech has something to offer everyone.
Matt Cutts – The Power of the 30-Day Trial
Everyone knows about Google, but many people don’t know the man who is responsible for refining Google’s revered search engine – Matt Cutts. Matt Cutts has recently gained more mainstream attention for his short speeches that focus on the power of 30 day challenges.
I felt his message is important for anyone looking to add something new to their life – especially when it comes to improving your financial situation. We discuss all types of strategies to make the most of your money. But the key is actually implementing those strategies so they become part of your lifestyle. Whether you want to cultivate a new behavior or eliminate a bad habit, Matt Cutts suggests that a one-month commitment is the optimal amount of time to integrate something new into your life.
We recently wrote about how you can save money by purchasing generic products instead of brand name items without having to settle for substandard quality. Let’s say that article resonated with you and you want to see if buying generic will make a difference in your life. You challenge yourself to only purchase generic products for the next 30 days.
Next time you go to the grocery store, instead of mindlessly tossing Skippy Peanut Butter in your shopping cart, you reach for the store brand. Maybe you take it even one step further, and track the price you pay for the generic products compared to the name brand items you’d usually purchase. At the end of the month, you add up the total costs to measure your total savings.
You discover that you can make small, sustainable changes by making minor adjustments for 30-day increments. No wonder those grandiose, life-altering changes are so difficult to sustain. Making massive changes that as supposed to last for the rest of your life seem so much more daunting than simply trying something new for just 30 days!
You can use Cutts’ 30-day challenge strategy for virtually any type of life improvement. It’s played a major role in my own life as I’ve used it to put the information I’ve gathered into action. What’s something you’ve always wanted to try? Maybe it’s time to give it a shot for the next 30 days!
The Minimalists – “Buy only things that enrich your life”
How much of your 2,000-square foot home do you use on a daily basis? What consumer artifacts do you purchase that have a low impact on your quality of life? Are you listening to society’s message that more is better? In Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things, Joshua Fields and Ryan Nicodemus discuss the life events that lead to their realization that less is more.
They’ve inspired millions to live better lives by imploring people to look at consumer goods and consider if those goods will add value to their life before they purchase them. Their goal is to teach people we have finite resources and we should use them to acquire objects or experiences that will enrich our lives.
I often hear people claim that minimalism encourages people to be complacent and live better with fewer possessions. That’s not the message here folks. Fields and Nicodemus are really just trying to create more efficient and conscientious consumers, regardless of how much wealth they have. I highly recommend that you check out this film to see if you connect with any of their principles. If you do, maybe you can challenge yourself to adopt one of those principles for 30-days to see if it makes a difference in your life!
A Few Final Thoughts
The jump from being a financially informed individual to a financially effective individual is all about finding your inspiration. For me, seeing what Art Williams could accomplish after being written off as an “Average Joe” was unbelievably motivating. It altered my paradigm for what a successful person looks like. I took that information and created a vision for what I wanted to achieve in my own life.
You might not fully connect with any of the three sources of motivation that I mentioned here, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find something else that will inspire you to take that next step in your life. Search for other successful people who have a background similar to yours and find out what they did to achieve success. Try to emulate those who inspire you and use the vast amount of free and easily accessible information that’s out there to improve your life.