Getting motivated is a challenge, and it often takes more than good intentions to really get going. When we first come up with an idea, our heads are filled with scattered thoughts and a vague plan of action. The problem is that good ideas don’t go anywhere on their own. Without a tangible force behind us nothing happens. Do you work harder when faced with a deadline? We all do because we have no choice but to produce.
So how do we force ourselves into action? A great way is stepping up and putting some hard earned cash on the line. Investing money in a goal does two things. First, it provides you with a valuable resource towards reaching your goal. Second, it gives you something to lose. If you don’t do anything at this point you’re wasting your own money.
I was first exposed to this idea in a post by Violent Acres that explains why the poor have a higher rate of obesity than the rich. V points out that poor people don’t lack the willpower to get in shape, they lack the resources. Only the rich can afford personal trainers, expensive gym memberships, and high priced groceries. With all these resources available it’s hard not to stay in shape.
At first I disagreed. Why can’t someone get a great workout for free by running outside and doing pushups and situps at home? In theory this works, but practice is different. Say you decide not to buy the gym membership and resolve to work out at home. Excuses always turn up. One day the weather is bad so you don’t run. The next day you come home tired, turn on the TV and never get up. Without a monetary investment to lose, there isn’t pressure to perform. By investing in a gym membership, you’re not just buying a place to workout, you’re buying motivation.
In effect, you become your own employer. When someone is hired, an employer pays for office space, a computer, training, etc. If that person doesn’t produce, the employer loses money. That’s why he also pays a supervisor to ensure the employee works hard. If you decide pay a consultant or personal trainer, you hire you own supervisor. By investing money in your goals you become employer and employee.You have something to lose if it fails and everything to gain if it works. It’s harder to be lazy when it means wasting your own money.
This strategy can be applied to any goal. When I decided to create this website, I started writing articles and bought a domain name, but without a significant investment my motivation fluctuated. I nearly abandoned this pipe dream before I put down $200 for a year of hosting. I could have gone month to month, but I knew it would take a year to build traffic. With that money spent up front I was committed. I also had a new resource. Seeing my articles published online was a tangible sign of progress. I also bought a great book on CSS(aff) and a Wacom Tablet(aff) to develop my web design skills and improve the looks of the site. These are all assets that enhance the site and provide reasons to keep working.
Any savvy entrepreneur will tell you that it takes money to make money. If you aren’t willing to spend a nominal sum to further your cause then how committed are you? By all means be frugal, but look at the big picture. Free resources are great but you can’t rely on them alone. What is the worth of a $30 book that helps you make thousands in the long run? Spending on valuable assets that grow your business is the sign of a wise investor.
We’re only human. We have good intentions, but our willpower can fail us. Over time we wear down and need an extra push. Don’t let the fear of wasting money prevent you from investing in your goals. If you know you want something, invest in it financially and mentally. Give yourself a resource and a reason to push yourself. Don’t be afraid to make a mistake. One great investment can make up for scores mediocre ones. With hard work you’ll make back the money you spend, but you’ll never be able to get back lost time.