Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Motivation: A Poll

During my school age years, I was always a good student. I loved to learn and... I still do! My parents gave me money for every "A" that I made too. That, to me, was bonus. I liked being the "smart one" in class.

Funny enough, the worst grades I received were in behavioral conduct. It seems that I was quite the social butterfly and talked too much in class. Who ME?!

I'll never forget the first "D" I brought home on my report card. I was DEVASTATED. It was in high school physical science and I still feel nauseous when I think of that class. I remember the infamous "bomb drop" exam where we had to memorize a shit ton of formulas to figure out how to reach a certain target if a bomb was dropped from a plane overhead.


My dad giggled at my horrified gawking of my report card. I cried for days. I was so disappointed. My dad said, "It's just a grade! Sheesh!"

Can you say over-achiever?

By the time I failed my first class, it was freshman college algebra. I still hated math by that point and also was ready to move away from Louisiana. I didn't care about college anymore. I wanted to move to the big city and be a singer!

After I gave up my rock star dream and its frustrating competitiveness, I was married and decided to go back to college. I was terrified of taking that college algebra class again. The difference, this time, was my motivation. I WANTED to graduate from college. I WANTED to be good in an IT career. I was disciplined and ready to take it on.

The next three years, as I completed my degree, I made straight "A's"... bringing my cumulative GPA up high enough to graduate cum laude.


When my husband and I were first married, I had recently paid off all of my credit cards. I had accrued some debt after moving away from home and being on my own for the first time. I was finally in a great job and was thrilled to be able to cut up those credit cards and pay everything off.

My husband, unfortunately, hadn't been so disciplined. He had put much of our dating life, my wedding rings, and our newly married life on credit. He didn't tell me any of this, however, until 8 months into our marriage... right when I'd quit my great job to go back to college.

We spent the next three years barely scraping by. Once I graduated and finally landed an even better job, we decided we were going to get out of debt too. I controlled our budget and bills and we were debt-free within 4 years of my graduation.


I've lost weight, weaned myself off anti-depressants, solved a debt problem...

Since becoming a single mom, I've had to tap in to that same self-motivation in order to keep afloat. It's not been easy but I know I will get on top of this again. #thatswhatshesaid

I've done triathlons! I've bought my own home! I'm doing this on my own!

When I care about something, I can generally find motivation and be somewhat self-disciplined. I've had a lot of time in my life that I didn't care and my motivation was lacking. But in general, I know it's in there somewhere.

What I've noticed with some (for instance my ex), however, is that if the "motivation" to do well in school was parental approval (or rather the fear of parental disappointment), then the self-discipline simply isn't there. I also wonder if the same self-discipline needed to get out of debt relates to taking care of your body too. (Quitting drinking/smoking, losing weight, exercising)

It's almost as if... since mom and dad aren't threatening or controlling their lives anymore, they feel as if they don't have to or want to try as hard. Is that it?

Self-discipline helps with making smart choices. Is it an inherent thing or can it be taught? Do people actually feel victim to their lack of discipline or circumstance and therefore, stop trying? Does this mean that these people will never find their own discipline in order to motivate themselves?

This is only my theory. Care to take this poll to help me? Or simply leave a comment with your thoughts below.

Do you believe trying to avoid parental disappointment motivated you or are you self-disciplined?
My parents would kick my ass if I did bad in school. 
My parents could care less. I did it all on my own. Just for me.    

Depending on which you were, have you noticed if it affects you with debt or being healthy?
I was motivated by my parents with school, am not disciplined with money or my body. 
I was self-disciplined in school, am good with money and good with my body. 
I was motivated by my parents in school, am good with money and my body. 
I was self-disciplined in school, am not disciplined with money or my body.    

Thank you!!!

Thanks to


  1. Wow, what a great idea on the poll. I love this idea and I hope it helps get you to the place you want, to find what you are looking for, or to find the peace you want. XO.

  2. Interesting poll results so far. I'll have to check back later to see how it ends up. I've always been self-motivated; my parents weren't very present while I was growing up (I was even out on my own at 14). I'm still pretty disciplined - when I have to be (or is it because I have to be?) but I also like to play hard and let loose sometimes, but never to the point there would be adverse consequences.

  3. Definitely add me to the "parental motivated" group. The fear of disappointing my parents was a HUGE factor in my elementary and high school success.

    After that, I learned to be self-motivated.

    I was bad with money.
    But I was good and disciplined when it came to my body.

    As I grew older, I had to find my own motivations for all of it - as they have come and gone. I'm better with $$ now, but mostly because I have a wife who did what you did - took control and taught me. Now I know.

    Such an interesting idea, really enjoyed your post.

  4. I needed some more options for answers on #2. :-)

    Reading this I realized it's kind of a touchy subject for me. I'm starting to realize that my motivation to do things is very external. I tend to do things (and do them well when I do get around to it) to please others rather than myself. I did it with school and my parents. I've done it with lots of other things too. I always feel great when I've accomplished something, but it's knowing I'm going to get some sort of approval or cudos from others that gets me going. When there isn't anyone there for me to be accountable to, I'm kind of lazy.

    I don't like that.

    Work to be done!

  5. I've had to struggle to remain disciplined. I was good in school, overachiever to the max...but then I graduated college and was terribly undisciplined. I still am. DH is very disciplined, especially with money...I'm jealous. I'm hoping it rubs off on me.

  6. I couldn't really answer the first question. I did well in school... my parents expected me to try hard, and they rode my siblings (none of whom did particularly well) and left me alone because I had it handled. I was hard on myself because I didn't want to disappoint me. So the real answer is probably somewhere in between the choices.

    My parents were terrible with money. As a child, I thought it was normal to have your utilities turned off periodically. Like you, I got myself into a bit of debt when I struck out on my own. But I paid it off and never looked back... if I do say so myself, I am really good with finances - almost compulsive. I'm not sure how much of that is in reaction to the poor example set by my parents, but at least it has served me well.

  7. I've always been pretty self-motivated with quite an independent streak.

    I do remember in college my mum thought I could be doing better than I was but it wasn't until I decided I wanted it for myself that I wanted better grades.

  8. I think it was a little bit of both for me. My parents expected me to do well. I drove myself to exceed their expectations. But I am of the impression that if you really want something, you'll figure out a way to do it. You just need to find that one motivating factor just for YOU.

  9. My parents were strict yet didn't lead by example, so I self disciplined areas that I hated about them and rebelled in areas that I felt they were being hypocritical.
    I am good when it comes to my body for the most part but struggle with the money part. I used to be highly career motivated, but think I burnt myself out on that. I am all over the board here so I may confuse your poll! :)


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