Why Money Should Never Be Your Motivator

Yesterday I watched a short clip that a friend had posted on Facebook entitled "œWhat If Money Was   No Object?" and it was so good that I shared it on my own wall. It made me stop and realize that for a good part of my life, money was my motivator "“ the driving force behind 90% of every decision I made.

For a lot of people, their life"™s equation looks like this: work + money = success. Yet at what cost to human creativity? I wonder how many of us reach a certain age, stop and look back over our lives and wonder, "œWhat if I"™d done something different. How would I feel today?" Even worse, there are far too many people who lay on their deathbed and think, "œI wish I"™d followed my true passion of "¦" you fill in the blank.

Yes, money is important, to the extent that we need a certain amount of it to live a reasonably comfortable life. We all need a dry roof over our heads, clothes on our back, and food on our table. These are the basic necessities of life and in order to enjoy them, we need to earn money to pay for them doing some type of work. However, where is it written that we have to stifle our dreams and desires for doing what we truly love to do in order to be considered a success? Who, exactly, dictates that we need to work at a 9 to 5 J.O.B. that we detest simply because "œThat"™s what everybody does!?"

I wonder if people like Monet or Rembrandt thought, "œWell, I"™ll never be rich and famous because I"™m "˜just"™ a painter" or if writers such as Hemingway, Fitzgerald, or so many other literary giants decided, "œI"™m going to write because I"™ll achieve critical acclaim and be revered for my work when I die." I suspect they, along with thousands of others who have followed their passion, did what they did because they paid attention to their innate intuition to follow what made their heart sing "“ to do what fulfilled them and made them want to get up in the morning, EVERY day of their life, and do it all over again.

The title of this piece is "œWhy Money Should Never Be Your Motivator" and here"™s why I believe this statement to be true. If you base your sense of self-worth and self-esteem on the size of your bank account, you run the risk of having a zero balance "“ in both your wallet AND in your life. Finances have a way of ebbing and flowing, much like the tides of the ocean are governed by the moon. If your moral character is based on hard currency, then what happens if you lose all your wealth? What do you have in your "˜internal"™ safety deposit box to fall back on to get you through such a hardship? Probably zilch.

I have no children of my own, but I do have nieces and one nephew whom I adore, as well as an extended family of great-nieces and great-nephews. If I were allowed to share with them only one piece of business advice, it would be this: Choose your career path by that which makes you feel happy. For if you follow your instincts and take the path that fills your soul with satisfaction, the money will eventually come. And when it does, you will most likely be more appreciative of those dollars and cents, and share your wealth (and joy) with others in the world.

Pay attention to your dreams as they will provide you with a lifetime of joy.

PS: By the way, here"™s the link to the video clip should you like to watch it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=siu6JYqOZ0g

9 Words

I"™ve read a lot of self-help/motivational books over the years and have taken bits and pieces from each of them to build the life I lead today. Some of the "˜experts"™ claim that the most important statements one can make to another human being are "œI love you" or "œI am sorry." While both of these phrases certainly belong in everyone"™s vocabulary, (and should be used frequently in my opinion), I recently heard 9 words that should be shared with the people in your life, especially with those you are fortunate to be around in their early childhood. 

Last Sunday afternoon, my hubby and I went to an afternoon matinee at our local theatre. I got to choose the movie we"™d see, and since I"™d heard rave reviews of the film, The Help, based on the book by Kathryn Stockett, that was my pick. 

It turned out to be best $10.00 I"™ve spent in years. 

This amazing movie chronicles the behind the scenes feelings of colored domestic maids in the early 1960"™s in Jackson, MS. While I suspect that some of the incidents and situations in the movie were indeed true, I"™m choosing not to comment on the politics of the film, but rather the words that from the moment I heard them, I knew them to be some of the most profound I"™ve heard in my lifetime. 

The main character, Aibileen Clark, portrayed brilliantly by actress Viola Davis, tells her story of raising white children during this era. In one of the early scenes in the movie, Aibileen reaches into a crib, picks up the little white girl she is looking after, sits down with her in a rocking chair near the bed, and says"¦Â 

"œYou is kind; you is smart; you is important."Â 

9 words. 

Aibileen makes the little girl repeat these words after she says them to her as if repeating them will somehow make the child realize her own worth.

I"™ve been wondering all week long what would happen if all of us said these 9 words to the children in our life. Better yet, what if we, as adults, switched them around a bit and daily told ourselves, "˜I am kind; I am smart; I am important."

They say it takes 28 days to either break or form a new habit. I"™m issuing a challenge to everyone who reads this post. For the next 28 days, before you get out of your bed each morning, silently say these words: "œI am kind; I am smart; I am important." Better yet, if you happen to have children or grandchildren, or even young nieces and nephews, at least once a day tell THEM these same words. 

9 simple words. 

I wish I"™d heard them sooner.

2011: The Year of Being Me

Here I sit, perched excitedly on the cusp of the beginning of brand spanking New Year with mere hours to go. I ask you "“ how invigorating is it to know that come January 1st we all get a fresh clean slate to start writing on? I feel like I"™m eight and it"™s the commencement of a new school year. I"™ve got a shiny backpack, unmarked notebooks and sharpened pencils, plus a fresh package of new crayons with which to color my world any hue of the rainbow I desire.

That"™s what January 1st means to me: it"™s a "˜do over"™ start if you will, and I know exactly where I"™m going to begin"¦ with me.

2010 was a year of learning for me, and with some of those lessons came smidgens of sadness and dabs of disappointment. I won"™t lie and say that all those lessons were great because they weren"™t. At times I felt a bit lost, as if I were oar less in a leaky rowboat, somewhere out on a seemingly endless sea.

Thankfully by November, I had found a life-line, pulled my battered boat to shore, and on shaky legs finally stood up on solid ground once more. And here"™s what I"™m taking with me from the journey of 2010 into this nice, sparkly New Year:

1. It"™s okay to not always know where you"™re going. Why? Because if you travel the same path over and over and over again, without taking side trips and an occasional detour here and there, you"™ll never get to see any of the wonders that await you off the beaten tried and true path.

2. Learn to trust your intuition because your "˜gut"™ never lies. There"™s a reason why they call it "˜gut"™ instinct "“ that little voice inside us that sends out clear messages like, "œDon"™t touch that burner "“ it"™s hot and you"™ll get burned!" That wise person inside each of us also tells us what is the right (and wrong!) thing to do when faced with making decisions. We just have to learn to be patient "“ to wait for directions, and be still enough to hear them when they arrive.

3. We are our own worst critics but can also be our best supporters. Believe that you matter. You are a "˜somebody"™ in your own life "“ a hero to yourself. When you are living a life that makes you smile, brings peacefulness and joy into your heart and others, then YOU have become the champion of YOU.

4. Keep the fire of adventure and imagination burning brightly in your heart and mind. Never lose your sense of wonderment. I grant you that some days the only wonder you may experience is trying to figure out how they get the caramel into the Caramilk bar, but never stop dreaming. At least once a day ask yourself, "œI wonder if"¦" and fill in the blank. Even if it"™s something totally silly it will keep those creative juices flowing in your mind and may cause you to smile.

5. And last, but certainly not the least by far, laugh. Out loud. At anything, at least once every day. A true, straight from the belly, snorting, guffaw until tears leak out from your eyes type of laugh. This was the life-line I regained back in November and I am going to do my utmost to hang on to it for the duration of 2011.

I’d like to leave you with this wonderful prayer I found many years ago which has been my unofficial mantra for the past year.

“To Be Prayer”

O Lord, I ain’t what I ought to be,

And I ain’t what I want to be,

And I ain’t what I’m going to be,

But O Lord, I thank You,

That I ain’t what I used to be.”

I know I love this new me and have a great feeling I’m going to like this New Year. Happy 2011 to all!

Is "˜Hugh Muir"™ A Part of Your Life?

I know that this is a very strange title for a musing and probably has quite a few of you wondering, "œWho the heck is Hugh Muir, and why do I need him in my life?" Keep reading and you"™ll see why.

I"™m a solopreneur. For those of you who"™ve not heard that term before, it simply means that I"™m self-employed and have no other employees in my business. It"™s just me, myself, and my overactive imagination, the latter of which does come in handy since I"™m a writer and editor.

Some days I"™m crazy busy, and others I"™ll have a few hours where there is nothing in my inbox for me to work on. It"™s those "˜others"™ that sometimes gets me into trouble.

A few years ago I developed an online buddy support system with another virtual assistant who is self-employed as well. He resides in another province so we communicate mainly through instant messaging and occasional phone calls (on his dime I might add, as I"™m too frugal to purchase a "˜real"™ long distance plan. Hey, VoIP works for me and is inexpensive! What can I say.)

Two days ago we were kvetching through instant messenger and got chatting about how some people have absolutely no sense of humour, especially irate clients who expect everything to have been completed yesterday when they"™ve only sent you the work to be done an hour earlier. Since both of us have clientele from the US and Canada, we frequently switch back and forth between the two different spelling formats of each country. In his haste to type the word "˜humour"™ in the IM box, he pecked out "˜humer"™, then "˜humor"™, followed by "˜humour."™ By this time I was snickering and since I was having one of my non-busy days, I responded, "œDon"™t you mean "˜Hugh Muir?"™ That did it for me. I started laughing and couldn"™t stop until I had tears running down my face and a stitch in my side.

It suddenly occurred to me that this one trait, my whacky, off-the-wall, slightly warped sense of humour, is what has gotten me through all the rough patches and obstacles I"™ve faced in growing of my business. For example, when I first opened my doors for business and noticed nobody seemed to be beating a path to them, I got very scared. Then one day I simply decided that while I was waiting for those unknown clients to line up, I"™d plant beautiful flowers along the front of my walkway. This way, I reasoned, at least they"™d have something nice to smell when they arrived.

I firmly believe that if you can cultivate the ability to be able to laugh at adversity, or find something funny in a down situation, then you"™ve developed an admirable trait. I know for a fact that laughter reduces the level of stress hormones and increases the level of health-enhancing hormones like endorphins and neurotransmitters in your body, plus it just plain feels good. Another benefit of laughter is that when you"™re with other people and one of you starts chuckling, it sort of becomes this contagious "˜smiling"™ disease. The next thing you notice is that most of your group is laughing as well.

Laughter is also a terrific ice breaker when trying to engage new clients in conversation. I"™m not suggesting that you try to be a comedian and crack them up with witty one-liners every 2 minutes, but I"™ve yet to see a book on business building where they strongly suggest that you NEVER smile or say something funny. In fact I warn all my new clients that I don"™t have a very good filter on my mouth and to be prepared for the unexpected when talking with me.

So, the next time you"™re feeling frustrated because your client list isn"™t as big as you"™d like, or your bank account isn"™t even close to what Madonna pays her personal trainer, (I couldn"™t find an accurate estimate here or I"™d have shared it with you!), go ahead "“ laugh. It"™s free; it feels good; you won"™t gain a pound from it, or have to go to confession because of guilt. And you just might find that your day and disposition will improve.

Invite "˜Hugh Muir"™ into your life. I can guarantee you he"™ll be a very nice addition to your household and life.

PS "“ To all the actual real life "˜Hugh Muir"™s"™ out there, I do apologize for borrowing your name for this article. I"™m certain that you"™re very nice gentlemen and most definitely have developed your own sense of humour"¦ or humor"¦ or however you spell it where you live.

Sometimes a Flower Isn’t Just a Flower

firstsignofspring2010 adj1I woke up this morning to bright, beautiful sunshine flooding my bedroom through the slats of my window blind. This is the second day in a row where I experienced this wonderful phenomenon after a week that brought more snow, (blech!) and cold temperatures to my little corner of the east coast of Canada. At this point, any warmth or semblance thereof brings me comfort as I am not a winter person by any stretch of the imagination. 

After breakfast, my hubby and I decided to go run a few errands. Even though the temperature still was in the minus Celsius range, we could feel the warmth of that wonderful sunshine beaming through the windshield. Both of us commented on how great it was to be alive on such a glorious morning. And the day just got better and better. 

Upon arriving back at the house, we took our little Westie, Angel, outside to do her "˜business"™ and I ventured around to the front of the house to marvel at how the snow was gently melting around the basement footing. 

And that"™s when I saw it – a tiny sprig of greenery popping through the thawing ground, yet still surrounded by snow banks. Whether it was a tulip or hyacinth daring to show its face to the world, I couldn"™t be sure, but it was the first sign that spring is on its way to my region. Then this amazing thought popped into my head: sometimes a flower isn"™t just a flower!

Somewhere this past winter, especially after seeing only grey-filled skies and snow-laden clouds for so many months, I had lost the wonderment of life, and of how precious even a smidgen of warmth can warm the soul and lift the spirit. 

I found my "˜joy"™ again this morning. The struggles of repurposing my business after suffering disappointment after disillusionment this past January melted away, just as the snow surrounding the little budding flower was slowly receding. 

So, if that amazing budding greenery can dare to show its tenacity and bravery to show up well before spring is even official in these parts, then I too, can persevere and emerge victorious through my really minor trials and tribulations. 

Sometimes a flower isn"™t just a flower "“ it"™s a sign that beauty and joy can be a part of your life"¦ if you"™ll just stick around long enough to see them.

Look out world. I’m back!

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