Most people believe that certain things in life are pre-set. In other words, you were born a certain way and that determines the outcome of your life.
It’s really sad too because this type of thinking really limits people.
When interviewing one person for my blog, I asked her what some of her future financial goals were, and she said: “well, it’s not like I’ll ever be financially free or whatever, but I’d like to at least get out of debt”.
That really upset me.
Of course, you’re never going to be financially free if you already believe that it’s impossible.
But I have good news.
There is one single factor that determines whether or not you will be wealthy, gain financial freedom, and achieve your future goals.
It’s not being born into a wealthy family.
It has nothing to do with your annual income.
And it doesn’t include choosing the best investment.
Here it is.
That’s the trick.
The amount of self-motivation and determination you have directly impacts your financial future.
For the purposes of this post, I’m including three things inside of “self-driven.”
- Self-Determination and Drive
- Work Ethic
These three things together help drive a person to succeed, and without them, you’ll have a slim chance of actually getting where you want to go.
Let me show you how.
Why Self Motivation Matters (Hint: No One Else Cares)
No one cares more about your financial future than you do.
Not your mom or your dad. Not your boss or your coworkers. Your financial advisor doesn’t even care as much as you. No one cares.
And that’s why you need to be driven.
Having financial success requires determination to save money, spend less than you earn, and work hard to increase your income. You’ve got to be extremely dedicated and stick to it when times get tough.
It’s not going to be easy, no one ever said it was.
But being able to drive yourself is literally the one skill that will put you ahead even if you have nothing else.
But don’t take it from me, this is true in other areas as well.
Josh Linker says that grit and determination are the things he looks for most in aspiring entrepreneurs before investing in their companies.
A research study conducted in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity found that when people set weight-loss goals based on things that enhance internal motivation, as suggested by self-determination theory, they are much more likely to actually lose weight and keep it off.
The bottom line is that when people can connect their goals whether financial or not, to specific outcomes they can maintain a higher sense of self-motivation.
These people are much more likely to actually achieve those goals
And if you don’t make this connection, no one else is going to do it for you. That’s why having self-drive matters.
The Link Between The Self-Determination and Savings
When it comes to retiring wealthy the number one contributing factor is how much you save.
Seems like common sense, but it’s counter-intuitive for most of us.
We like to think that wealth means choosing the right investment, or increasing your salary. And while those things are helpful, it’s not the number one contributing factor.
Savings rate is.
And to prove my point, check out this article about savings rate by Mr. Money Mustache.
But in order to actually have a high savings rate, you’ve got to be self-driven. Again, no one else is going to save for you. You’ve got to have the wherewithal to spend less than you earn and save the difference.
Week after week.
Month after month.
Year after year.
If you don’t have enough self-discipline to stick to a good budget. Then you at least have to be driven enough to set up an automation that builds wealth for you.
If You Don’t Have It, You’ve Lost
Literally, unless your parents are gazillionaires, self-determination is extremely important.
Even if you have a high paying job, or a large inheritance, or an impressive degree, without willpower, you’re through.
And I don’t mean that you won’t survive and you’ll be homeless and on the streets.
I just mean that you won’t be able to do the things you dream of doing.
You won’t be working a job you really love, traveling places you want to see, or spending your time how you want.
If you don’t believe me, just look at these people:
Here are 10 stories of people winning the lottery and going broke within just a few years.
According to MarketWatch 1/3 of Americans who receive an inheritance blow it.
And even people who make over $100,000 a year are often broke because they lack self-discipline.
All of these people lacked self-discipline and drive to move forward. Earning lots of money, winning the lottery, or getting an inheritance may make someone initially wealthy, but it doesn’t guarantee lasting success. Unfortunately, if you don’t have this one single skill, you’re likely not going to reach the financial future you dream of.
Unfortunately, if you don’t have this one single skill to be self-driven, you’re likely not going to reach the financial future you dream of.
It’s just a fact.
The Good News: It’s A Learned Skill
Sure, just like many things, some people naturally have more self-drive than others.
But don’t be too upset.
If you’re fretting because you don’t have very much willpower, then don’t worry.
The good news is that it can be learned. It will take time, and it will be difficult, but you can learn it. The best way is to start building small habits over time and set goals that actually make sense.
If you want to increase your self-determination here’s three simple ways to get started.
- Start surrounding yourself with people who are more driven than you. It could be in their own finances, in their careers, or even in being a good spouse or parent. Stop hanging around people who are lazy and bring you down. Instead, find people who are already where you want to be and spend time with them.
- Start listening to podcasts and reading books that motivate you. This may sound cheesy and ridiculous, but it works. Start soaking in media that inspires you to take action and focus on the things you want to strive towards.
- Write down your goals future goals. Then every Sunday spend 30 minutes and reflect on the previous week and whether or not you focused on your goals, and then write down three things you can do this week to push forward.
Keep in mind these goals could be anything that will help you achieve the future you dream of. Maybe it’s making an extra student loan payment, or putting in a few extra hours at work because you’re hoping for that big promotion.
It doesn’t matter what it is, it just matters that you start doing something about it.
The Bad News: You Have No Excuse
Because it’s a learned skill, you have no excuse not to retire wealthy. If you get to be 60 years old and you can’t retire, you have no one to blame but yourself.
Unfortunately, I see this all the time. I know people who are closing in on 60 and retirement is nowhere in sight. But what’s even worse, is they don’t want to take responsibility.
There’s always an excuse about kids, or parents, or job changes, or house emergencies, or medical issues, or blah, blah, blah.
I’m not trying to be heartless here. Yes, all of those things are real and all of those things are part of life.
But going back to what I said earlier: no one cares.
Meaning, having self-drive can be learned and it’s a skill that can be grown. Combine that with the fact that no one else cares about your future more than you do, and that means the weight falls on your shoulders.
It may be tough to hear, but it’s the truth.
Albeit bittersweet, but the truth nonetheless.
If you get to the end of your life and you never did what you hoped to accomplish, you have no one to blame but yourself.
But I Don’t Want To End On A Sad Note
I’m not trying to be harsh here, just trying to show a bit of tough love.
But I know it’s hard to hear. It’s hard for me too. I hate thinking about the fact that if I don’t achieve what I set out to achieve, that’s on me.
Luckily, this is a truth that my Dad taught me when I was just a young boy. I learned early on the value of hard work and self-drive.
Yes, it’s hard, but it’s worth it.
Just remember, it’s a GOOD thing that you can learn how to be more self-driven. It means that if you weren’t born rich, you can still achieve the life that you want.
It means that you aren’t stuck with the hand you were dealt at birth. You have the ability to change your future.
You’ve just got to go after it.
I’ll leave you with this quote from Vince Lombardi (Coach of the Green Bay Packers, claiming 5 NFL championships in 7 years):
The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will.
So there you have it, it doesn’t matter what your income was, who your parents are, or what city were born in. You can’t change those things, so it’s useless worrying about them. Instead focus on what you can change which is how hard you work, how much you care, and how much drive you have.