Ego and Fear and Money, oh My!

I’m going to resist classifying this post because, as y’all should know by now, I just write what comes into my head.

Ever since my trip to Colorado I’ve been really thinking about my life on the meta level – why do I do what I do? What’s influencing me? Who is influencing me? What guides and directs my life and actions and thoughts on a daily basis?

Really, this post is all about motivation but you can partially blame it on the Wizard of Oz DVDs I ordered in January. I can’t help it. I’m from Kansas and I like sparkly shoes.

While I can’t definitively isolate all of the positive influences by which I want to influence my life, I did find three not-so-positive ones that I’m now hyper aware of:

  • Ego
  • Fear
  • Money

None of these things are bad by nature but when the control your motivation, watch out!

Ego, aka ‘because I’m important’

This one is born and bred in the school system, I swear. Who gets attention in schools but the kids who know the most, have the neatest handwriting and excel in academics? They get bumper stickers and certificates and recognition in school assemblies. From a very early age we’re conditioned to want that recognition and do whatever it takes to achieve it. Don’t think I’m the artsy kid who felt left out because I could draw better than spell. Oh, I got those little certificates and I’m sure there in a file cabinet around here somewhere! And I can’t draw. At all.

For the most part this evolves but still, no matter where your passion and strengths lie, it’s ingrained to be the best, the star, the one who gets attention. When that ego gets in the way of everything else it’s a dangerous thing, baby. When you act the way you act, work the jobs you work and communicate the way you communicate to feed your ego it’s a losing battle. Because the most powerful things we can do is serve others.

Fear, or ‘oh crap!’

I’ve written about this before, but oh how do I fall back into it all the damn time! Making decisions based on fear (of running out of money, of looking stupid, of becoming like people I dislike) means that I’m working against, instead of working towards an outcome. And if I’m just running from something, I’m going to be running all over the place without a real direction.

At this stage in my life the biggest fear is the unknown. The most horrible, nagging question EVER: what do you want to be when you grow up? Do I really have to choose NOW? What if it (life) changes drastically? Who really sets the entire path for their life at 18, does everything they set out to do and is happy throughout?

I really like working from a place of nervous fear, that jittery, I-better-get-this-right-because-it’s-really-important-and-I-want-to-deliver feeling. Good fear is motivating. Crippling, scary-hide-under-the-bed-and-cry-because-I-can’t-make-a-decision-because-it-might-be-the-wrong-decision fear is not so productive.

Money, really doesn’t buy happiness

Despite a book which suggests the contrary from a former MSN Money editor, money doesn’t result in inner joy, peace or fulfillment. Sometimes money does help make life easier, I won’t deny it. But the idea that money, cash and more moolah will bring some kind of satisfaction is a lie. Why then does money motivate so many life decisions?

Do you work a job you hate because the pay is good? Or it’s more than unemployment? Do you engage in frugality because you fear running out of something? Do you feel the need to spend money to feel better without caring what you spend money on?  I used to notice this with friends who had parents that were absent 18 hours of the day, home just to sleep, when their child was in elementary school and junior high. ‘Cause nothing bad could happen to a 10 year old left alone all day. These parents substituted their presence, time, affection and attention with money. Poorly. Now I see adults doing the same thing to themselves! I work too many hours, didn’t have any relaxation time, managed a big account, went to the gym every day and didn’t have dessert all last month! Now I will spend $50 or $500 or $5000 on something I care nothing about as a reward. Thus, I need more money to reward myself more so I can try to feel better.

Do you know what is motivating your decisions? Have you ever stopped to think and consider it?

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