Finding the Motivation to Make a Change

Photo by JasonGoodger

I read an article recently that mentioned the problem with a budget is that it doesn’t give someone the incentive to save money.

It’s not really supposed to. A budget is a tool. It doesn’t make you save money.

A diet plan doesn’t lose weight for you.

A home management notebook doesn’t clean your house.

An alarm clock doesn’t make you get out of bed.

All of these things are helpful, but they are simply tools, and you still need to find your own motivation to make any changes.

Sara at On Simplicity recently said,

Breaking a bad habit isn’t about doing what’s “right.” It’s also not about paying absolution. It’s about finding something you simply want more, and weighing that cost whenever you’re tempted.

When you want to make changes, the motivation has to be big enough that the long-term reward is greater than short-term satisfaction. That’s why bad habits are so hard to break, because we love instant gratification, and we usually don’t see the consequences until later.

So what is it that you really want? (Or what do you want to avoid?)

  • If I want to drink more water, then a water bottle might help, but my vanity’s desire for pretty skin will motivate me to use it.
  • If I want a clean house, my desire for peaceful surroundings will make me clean up more than a posted schedule will.
  • If I want to save money, then I need to think about my reasons why, because a budget won’t do the work for me.

Overcome a big goal simply by getting started. Things often seem too hard at the beginning, but if you get started, you gain momentum. Just take that first step.

Keep your motivation reminder close by, whether it’s on a post-it note, or a photo, or an inspiring quotation.

What is it that you want, and what are you willing to give up for it? Just think about it for a little while today.
About Rachel

I write about practical tips that will help you simplify at home. Connect with me on Pinterest and Twitter.


  1. beautifully said! you’re exactly right about budgets, diets, etc., being tools… not the solution. thanks for that reminder.

  2. So true – brilliant post!

    se7en´s last blog post..Saturday Spot: My Virtual Book Pile…

  3. What wonderful thoughts, especially as we’re quickly putting together New Year’s resolutions so fast that maybe we don’t really think about them as we should. Thanks!

    Katie at´s last blog post..How to Restore Old Furniture

  4. Speaking of powerful tools … you hit it on the head with momentum. It usually isn’t so bad once you get going. Great post.

    Nicki´s last blog post..Carnival Of Family Life

  5. Great post – I’m working on my New Year resolutions, specifically seeing them through walking the walk, as opposed to simply talking the talk. It’s not easy and your ideas about contemplating the inspiration behind them is right on!

  6. Motivation is the key. I loved that post of Sara’s when she posted it and you’ve added to it beautifully. It’s hard to keep focus in each moment and understand that not doing (or doing) something now is going to result in either a desired or undesired outcome later. I think we often want to eat the cake and get skinny too or spend money now and have millions later too and it’s just not how it works. Beautiful post as usual, Rachel!

    Emily@remodelingthislife´s last blog post..Photo Tiles

  7. It’s sometimes tough to realize it’s about finding the “why?” more than it is finding the “how?”, & knowing that with the “why” will come the “how”!

    WhenIGrowUpCoach´s last blog post..Motivation Monday: Installment 10 (Hooray for double digits!)

  8. “keep your motivation reminder close” EXCELLENT!!

    Gonna go do that…right now :)

    Sarah@Life in the Parsonage´s last blog post..It’s the Little Things…

  9. It’s so easy to forget that those tools AREN’T the solution. Thanks for the reminder! I need to post it on those bags of chips in my pantry…

  10. Well said, Rachel. I keep reminding myself to just do something – it almost doesn’t matter what it is in the beginning, as long as it somehow relates to your goal.

    If you want to be better at keeping a clean house, do something today that’s in the cleaning realm. Wipe a counter. Empty the dishwasher.

    If you want to lose weight, do something that’s active. Go on a walk. Just get off your keister.

    Thanks for the continued motivation!

    Tsh´s last blog post..Link Love :: the hurray for family-owned shops! edition

  11. We got in a savings rut after completing Dave Ramsey’s baby step #2 – kicking all the consumer debt to the curb. I think we just got tired. I started hanging out with other savers and thankfully, we are back in the habit of paying ourselves before spending money.

    Mary´s last blog post..A year without sugar?

  12. Thank you for your wise words. I always find that I’m more motivated when I truly live in the present and not trying to wish time away to get to a “better” place.

    Alana @ Gray Matters´s last blog post..I’m Sew Excited!

  13. Motivation is a massive subject but I completely agree with your thoughts on momentum. One thing I’ve learned is to trigger that by instigating extreme disruption to your routine. It’s crude but it works and the body and mind get given a message that something different has begun. An example would be to go and stay with a relative this weekend and be away from your family for just two days. Wake as early as you can bear and go for a 2 hour walk. Something like that can help you explore your own personal beliefs and establish a baseline motivation that builds resiliance.
    Thank you for your provacative and articulate post.

  14. These are great reminders and we must be on the same wavelength today! I agree wholeheartedly- I love the way you have versed this!

    Amy´s last blog post..An Apron Full of Giveaways 01.06.08

  15. That is a great way to think about it. I want to save money so we won’t worry about our home, so we can go on vacation to see family, so we can celebrate being debt free! Those are great motivators, maybe I’ll print it out as a reminder. :)

  16. Very good post. We really do need to continue and ask ourselves whether or not our spending habits are going to serve our long term goals. Motivation is what starts us going, dedication is what keeps us going.

    momstheword´s last blog post..FRUGAL FRIDAY (FINANCIAL "DIET" UPDATE)

  17. If you don’t focus on where your headed and focus on where you have been you’re gonna crash for sure.
    More than ever in todays world people need help and encouragement to succeed. Thanks for your discussion.

    sandkat´s last post…Make Money Online Motivation with Sandkat – Long Tailed Keywords

  18. I like the idea of focusing on why you want to change momentum, or what you’re attracted to about your new goal. Maybe there’s some visual things to do in our environment to keep those benefits on our mind.
    sean koon´s last post…Motivation is Always 100%