The Problem of Security and Negative Motivation

It is very easy to get lost in an endless conversation about money issues. What kind of retirement plan should I have? How do I get rid of my debts? Am I saving enough for my child’s college fund?

The goal of all of those things seems to be the accumulation of money. Money provides security from the unknown, after all.

The problem is that, for many people, having money merely for security is boring. It doesn’t have any real impact unless something is actually going wrong in your life.

As human beings, we’re pretty good at convincing ourselves that our lives are going well. We might see some problems here and there, but most of the time, we see our lives as being generally decent. We are predispositioned to not see too many clouds on the horizon.

Thus, it’s often hard to convince people – particularly younger people – that it makes sense to save for their own security. Things will be fine down the road, after all.

I’ll admit that I find security to be a pretty poor motivator, too. I want my children to be reasonably secure, but beyond that, it’s pretty hard to feel as though it makes sense to save a tremendous amount of money for security’s sake. When life isn’t actively slapping you down, security doesn’t seem all that important.

For me, the single big motivator to save isn’t security at all.

It’s freedom.

What is it that I truly want more than anything else on a day-to-day basis? I want the freedom to basically do whatever I want.

The problem is that professional needs continually get in the way of that. I have to invest significant time each and every day on the pursuit of earning money. That money keeps food on the table for my family, a roof over everyone’s head, and provides for all of the basics and a few perks in life.

What would my life be like without having to invest that time in the pursuit of earning money? What would I fill it with?

When I think of saving money for security, it paints a grim future. The situations where I would have to tap into savings to pay for emergencies or to keep things afloat are almost entirely depressing ones. They’re situations I don’t want to think about.

When I think of saving money for freedom, it paints an incredibly bright future. I am drawn to that kind of future where I don’t have to work and I can fill my days with personally fulfilling pursuits.

Each and every day, I spend some time thinking about that wonderful image for my future. I imagine what I might be doing if I were in that situation today.

Then, after I visualize that great future, I ask myself what can I do today to help put myself a few steps closer to that amazing picture?

When I feel like those steps aren’t making a difference, I compare my financial state right now to the state I was in just a few years ago and the progress I’m making with all of those little steps becomes incredibly bright.

When you’re trying to push yourself to save, try looking at a positive future, not a negative one. Imagine yourself free from work, free from debt, and free from all of that stress. Isn’t that worth making a few relatively minor tough decisions today?

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