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What’s Your Motivation?

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Financial Motivation Through an Actor’s Eyes

motivationIt is time to ask yourself, what is your motivation?  After several months of blogging I have finally decided that it is time to put my University degree to some use!  As I’ve mentioned in a few previous posts and in the Couple of Sense Podcast – I majored in Theatre when I went to University.  I didn’t have aspirations of being an actor, or an acting teacher.  Theatre was just something I was good enough at to make it into the program.  It was that or Computer Science, I chose Theatre.  I doubt my degree has helped me in my career to date, although the extra practice in public speaking can’t hurt during a sales presentation.  When it comes to personal finance though, theatre is what taught me the importance of motivation.

Motivation On Stage

When I speak about motivation in the theatre, I’m not exactly referring to it in the deep or inspirational sense.  This is more about purpose.  When a stage actor crosses the stage, or a film actor makes a gesture – there needs to be a reason for it.  Every single action a character takes needs to either directly or indirectly serve a larger goal.  When this doesn’t happen, you get fluff, not acting.  In a play or movie, the character’s motivation also serves the larger picture; the driving force behind the story.

Stage Direction

When you are reading a script for a play, the writer will include stage directions.  Stage directions are things like “Tobey crosses stage left and sits on the couch”.  The actor playing Tobey can simply follow direction, move across the stage and sit down.  If the actor does this, the audience sees the actor following his direction and cannot possibly become engaged in the play.  If however, the actor becomes Tobey you have a different situation.  Tobey has no director’s notes, no written purpose for making this move.  He needs to sit down because someone just told him he’ll be losing his job.  He is overwhelmed and needs to sit to gather his thoughts.  This is the meaning behind the stage direction and any lines that Tobey has in this scene.  This is not the text, it is the sub-text.

Stanislavski’s Method

If the actor takes this route, his body will have a natural physical response to the stimulus and instantly become more believable.  This motivation is a major part of what is referred to as method acting or Stanislavski’s Method.  Constantin Stanislavski was a Russian theatre practitioner.  Stanislavski was a game changer in the way an actor would hone their craft.  Engaging theatre could not be achieved through actors reading eloquent verse.  They had to become Hamlet (Hamlet), Blanche Dubois (Street Car Named Desire) or Willy Loman (Death of a Salesman).  This was not just for the benefit of the audience; it was for the actor to believe what they were doing.  This is where the focus shifts from the stage to the budget – keeping motivation in your mind.

Motivation In Your Budget

Just like the actor playing Tobey can’t possibly believe he is overwhelmed by the bad news he just received if he is simply following a script – you can’t possibly believe you are making the right money decisions just by following a plan someone else sets for you.  You are playing the most important role of your life, you are playing the role of you.  The financial world is full of scripts for you to follow.  Save a certain percentage of your total earnings, spend only this amount on housing – invest in this, buy high, sell low.  Even if you find the one that works for you, how are you going to keep on track if you don’t believe in what you are doing?

Before you take on that task you need to ask yourself, “What is my motivation?”  If you walk into the store, you can make the choice to not spend money on things you don’t need – you can tell yourself that it isn’t in the budget and keep your wallet away.  This is the harder way to go about things.  You feel deprived, and since you are pulling the strings you are only depriving yourself.  Since you have control, it becomes almost unbearably easy to bend your own rules and satisfy your desire for instant gratification.

The Easy Way

That is the hard way to do it, the easy way to do it is to change your focus to your motivation.  If your priority in life is to retire early, your motivation for not spending that money is that you can invest that money and retire earlier.   When you make the choice to avoid spending, you aren’t depriving yourself of anything – you are supporting your own desire.  Instead of playing the role, you become the playwright.  You make your own script that supports your dreams and aspirations.  Now when you put on the play you are not simply following the words on a page – you are living the experience and have immersed yourself in this world you created.

Let Your Motivation Be Your Guide

It doesn’t matter if you want to follow a script you find on the internet (we have a few tools available for you on this very site), or if you want to write out your own masterpiece.  What is important to your success is believing in your purpose.  Let your motivation be your guide and you won’t go wrong.  Your motivation can change as your circumstances do, it isn’t forever.  Tobey’s motivation changes as soon as he heard his bad news – yours may as well.

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“Love the art in yourself and not yourself in the art” – Constantin Stanislavski



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