Define How You Get Motivated

Get MotivatedThere are tons of ways to get motivated. It’s what you need before you decide that you want to do something. Whether you want to earn a little extra cash, work harder to get that job promotion, or get out of bed, motivation is the first step before you make a decision. You may want to reach financial independence faster, get out of bed for food, or have more financial security. These are great end results, and the first thing to get motivated is to define what drives you.

I still remember like it was yesterday, coming home when I was little and I told my parents that I wanted to buy something. Whenever I came home to ask, all they said was “that’s too expensive.” It didn’t matter how much it costed, the answer always came back the same. This taught me a lesson on the trade-off between the green paper we all call money and having the next generation toy that I just had to have.

My Mother’s Roots Started in Poverty

Farm Life for Motivation
This wasn’t uncommon

My mother’s side of the family wasn’t and isn’t particular rich. In fact, her side of the family could be called almost poor. They lived a farm life, having just enough to live but never a surplus. When I visited my grandparents, they didn’t even have a proper sewage system for the toilet. This influenced my mother to save everything that she could save on and spend on things that she needed to spend on.

They lived a very happy life. However, money is getting a little tight these days and my grandfather was hit with Alzheimers 2 years ago. My 78-year old grandmother had to go back to work just to pay his hospital bills. South Korea wasn’t a particular rich nation. It would almost be a crime to not get motivated after watching all of this situation. I didn’t want to waste ANY opportunity to get richer.

I can’t and won’t ever forget this lesson. I envisioned what my life will be 40 years from now. If I have to slave away and work to fund my life, I will be miserable. I want to kill poverty out of my life so that the word doesn’t even come close to me.

How embarrassing would it be for me if I was the reason why I’m not rich so that I can give back to my parents. I would not just be heart-broken but also hate myself for not exploiting the opportunities given to me. Not looked for, GIVEN to me.

Get Motivated to Take Advantage of Everything

Land of Opportunity
Great country to create opportunities in

I got lucky getting to come to the United States because my Dad received a 5 year promotion to run an electronics manufacturing plant in Mexico. Living in a developed nation gives you an edge over living in an undeveloped nation and don’t ever waste the opportunity.

My parents sacrificed and not just sacrificed, risked everything for their children. Man, I remember my Dad coming home one day and saying that he got a Green Card for us. I was in the 5th grade, I didn’t care what a Green Card was. It was when I graduated college that I was finally told the significance of the Green Card. I was told that if the company that he worked for had found out that my brother and I had a Green Card, he would be fired on the spot.

It may not sound like a big deal “he can bounce back and find another job” but finding another job in a completely new country speaking a completely different language isn’t as easy as it sounds. If his company had found out, we would be living worse lives (not different, worse) than we are living today. It brings me to tears just remembering everything that they’ve done for us.

I’m not ever going to waste this opportunity that’s been giving to me. It’s not about who’s going to let me, but who’s going to stop me. It’s the way that you should think. Think about what’s holding you back and really take the time to write it out. Then achieve it. No excuses. Period.  

I mention in the post that the difference between success and non-success is you. You can also be the cause of your downfall by making excuses so eliminate all the things that aren’t making you richer.

It’s All About the Extra

Whenever I wanted to spend my birthday money, I 90% of the time resisted the urge to spend it. I understood that money gives you freedom and powerful to do anything that you want. Which is why I was so motivated to achieve a 5 figure net worth in college.

Yes it’s an extreme thing to go for, but I don’t care. I want to be extreme and not ordinary. Screw ordinary. I will take all of the criticism that I can get from people for being too extreme.

I share my story so that I could inspire you to get motivated and define your reasons for motivation. Everyone has a unique story to tell (7 billion people on the planet, no two is the same) and once you find it, never forget it. Your turning point propels you to the point where you want to go. Find it and never let it go.

Failure is Overrated

Jeff Bezos said that anytime that you do something even remotely interesting, people will criticize you. Other people will question why you’re not spending your paycheck, why you work so much, and a million other things. Ignore the noise and never forget your end goal.

Get motivated to never forget your end goal. I wrote down on a piece of paper one goal that I taped to my wall so I remind myself every day to not forget it. “Escape poverty, get rich.”

In the earlier example with my parents, I took that lesson with a grain of salt. Not everything IS expensive. Sure, it may have a high price tag, but price is what you pay and value is what you get. Some things are worth paying for, but it’s hard to find the things that are worth paying for. But it got me to err on the side of saving rather than err on the side of spending.

Making a mistake in the good side of decisions is far better than making the right choices in the bad side of decisions. 

Don’t Waste Opportunities

Wasting opportunities just flat out sucks. Why waste anything that you’ve been handed to on a silver platter? Whatever your situation, you’ve been given opportunities. It can be basic like the opportunity to not go hungry or complex like a manager liking you and recommending you for a position without asking for it.

* Do a little more each day. We think about money adding up to huge amounts in the end but we don’t focus on decisions adding up to huge amounts in the end. A smart decision one day and building that with one more smart decision the next day adds up to genius decisions in the end.

* Allocate time to highest value generating activities. Juggling blogging, work, and social life taught me to only do activities that generate the most value. Hard work is great and it got me off the ground, but now I’m feeling the effects of finite time to spend throughout the week. I will be looking for ways to look for the degree of benefit, instead of the marginal benefit. 

* Make choices that give you the highest probability of success. When you’re about to make a decision, think in percentage terms your probability of success. If the number is greater than 50%, then there’s no reason to worry about failure. Because over the long-term, it’s going to benefit you if you put your time into things that succeed more often than not. The failure doesn’t matter.

Failures give you the highest chance of success

* Fail more than you succeed. I made countless failures in my life. More times than I want but it’s put me up to a few wins that more than compensated for my failures. It’s not about the quantity of failures that matter but the degree of failure. If the failure isn’t drastic, and  the lesson you gained is worth more than what you lost, then it wasn’t a failure, it was a success. 


I wake up every day wanting to be a better person than I was the day before. The slight improvement over a long period of time is all that I can hope for. What helped me get to where I am today is the motivation it took to make the choices that I did. It’s humiliating to know that I’m not at my optimal point because I couldn’t get motivated.

Readers, what was your turning point? What inspires you to get motivated? Please comment below!


Finance Solver

I grew my net worth to $40,000 as a college student through hard work, discipline, and a little bit of luck. I graduated college in 2016 and will be starting to plan for my retirement once I start working.I am planning on reaching financial independence by my early 30's and I will document my moments of inspiration all the way to desperation here.

My goal is to enable your success in personal finance so that you can realize the American dream. The first step is starting today!

Read more about me here.

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28 thoughts on “Define How You Get Motivated

    • Finance Solver says:

      Thanks for stopping by Matt! Wanted to use this story to inspire others. I can’t imagine taking that much risk (cause it wouldn’t just be me that I’m risking) but I’m so grateful for my parents to have taken that risk. Gotta risk it to get the reward!

  1. Thanks for sharing your story Finance Solver. I’m a child of immigrants myself so I always appreciate the risk that my parents took in order to give me the opportunities I have now. Great point about striving to be better every day. We owe it to ourselves and to everyone who helped us along the way.

    • We have that much more to prove with being an immigrant. It will never stop me and I will not let it be a chip on my shoulder but use it as leverage for having an international perspective!

      We really do. Can’t take anything for granted and have to be grateful for everything.

  2. Love your story man it was humbling to read. I am not from America and have come from a third world country so I see what true poverty and what being poor really means. Not to say America does not have this but I think poor is two different meanings based on what I grew up with. My motivation comes with taking care of myself first, it is greedy but always do you first, then being comfortable enough to go and give back in a meaningful way.

    • Finance Solver says:

      Thanks Stefan, I really appreciate that. I remember seeing that you were from the Caribbean Islands from your blog and wouldn’t mind hearing your story later in a blog post!

      I don’t think that’s greedy at all. I think it’s only greedy if someone takes care of his or herself by hurting others, but I agree that you can’t help others if you don’t take care of yourself. Thanks for coming by!

  3. What motivates me is the desire to work on projects and businesses without the risk of financial ruin. This helps me stay focused and perform at a high level at my day job even though my ultimate goal would be to work on my own businesses.

    • Finance Solver says:

      That’s a fantastic motivation! Looking for opportunities with limited downside and unlimited upside is a great way to better yourself.

      That’s my ultimate goal as well, I’m looking for side projects to do after I come home from work and working on weekends and hopefully have the option to quit my job for other opportunities. Small risk for a potential big return is the way I like to look at it.

  4. Very inspirational post. I think what has given me motivation so far is really seeing the results of my efforts. After a while, it’s addicting.
    More generally, I probably haven’t failed enough. Or not cared enough to realize I failed.
    Allocating time to the highest value activities is probably one of the best advices. Otherwise don’t do them or outsource them!

    • Finance Solver says:

      Thanks Nick! It sure can get addicting when the results are substantial compensation in terms of financial, recognition, or anything else.

      That’s the viewpoint that I think will serve you really well. People care a lot about failing when really it’s more of fear of being judged that they care more about when they fail. I love failing smartly to put myself up to succeed!

  5. Thank you for sharing your story. So much good information here, where do I start? 🙂 Wanting to give back to your parents is a very beautiful thing. It’s something that is important to me as well.
    You talk about taking criticism for being too extreme and I bet you’ve already dealt with that in college. But very few can say they have a positive net worth leaving college, let alone a 5 figure. Maybe it’s time to develop a personal finance course for college students? 🙂

    • Finance Solver says:

      Thanks Kelsey, I appreciate it a lot! I just hope that I can give at least a little back by the time that they retire (which is coming up in the next 5 years).

      I have dealt with it a lot, people have called me a cheap (fill in the blank) and they weren’t joking around. Those were the friends whose parents paid $130k in out of state tuition for them for the 3 years PLUS living expenses and miscellaneous expenses. I’m glad that I didn’t keep up!

      That’s so needed these days. I wouldn’t mind teaching a personal finance class to a student but my college sure didn’t have it for undergraduate students.

  6. Thank you for sharing your story! Great read and your list at the end is spot on.

    My motivation is for my husband to be able to walk away from his day job and be able to spend more of our time working on projects we are passionate about.

    • Finance Solver says:

      No problem Amanda, thanks for reading it!

      That’s a great motivation. The end goal is a noble one and there’s been research that says that people who have a purpose tend to live longer. I’m looking forward to following your progress on your blog!

  7. Thank you for sharing your story! I think many of us take for granted the opportunities we are given, and as a result, we stop striving for something greater. But every day offers us new possibilities. I get motivated by seeing other people succeed. That energy is contagious and it makes me want to succeed and to help others do so.

    • Finance Solver says:

      No problem! Not taking opportunities that are handed to be should almost be a crime. There’s always a next level that we can reach no matter how established we are.

      That’s a great reason to be motivated! I try to study a lot of successful people (Mark Cuban and Sylvestor Stallone are the two who comes to mind) to get myself motivated as well. If they were able to do it, so can I.

  8. Great story brother. Very inspirational. I work with a lot of folks in the process of getting their Green Cards and currently have H1b visas. It’s such a stressful position to be in. I’m happy it all worked out for you and your family.

    • Finance Solver says:

      Thanks! I did not know that, that’s really cool. It’s stressful because you know you want to get into the land of opportunity and the only thing keeping you away is a plastic card.. You’re doing great work!

  9. Such a great story – thanks for sharing with us! I love this line – “A smart decision one day and building that with one more smart decision the next day adds up to genius decisions in the end.” SO true! We can learn from mistakes but they often set us back, and sometimes set us back so far that it is hard to “dig out”. What you describe is a kind of incrementalism. Doing a little bit at a time – and having change happen over time.

    • Finance Solver says:

      No problem, I love sharing personal stories!

      I feel that the most common misconception when people see rich people is that it happened overnight, they inherited it, or they won the lottery. Couldn’t be further from the truth! You work at it for 10+ years then when you make it, people call you an overnight success. It’s so much easier to attribute their success to something that’s beyond their control!

  10. Your story is amazing! Thank you for sharing with us. It really puts things into perspective for me since I think we often take our citizenship for granted. I can relate to not wanting to waste the opportunities given to you and wanting to give back to your parents. I hope to be in a position to give back soon!

    • Finance Solver says:

      Thank you! I definitely took my green card for granted when my parents told me about it. I started working at 17 and for some weird reason I get a lot of utility out of working. I’m sure with how hard you’re working you will be in a position to give back!

  11. Thanks.

    … for sharing your story with us! The determination in your family is amazing. I think there is a bit of a pattern in western culture that success comes in generational waves – I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the most driven people are the ones who have faced the most adversity. We really will have broken the cycle as a society when we manage to teach the next generation of kids what true work ethic and determination is – without them having to experience the extreme adversity. There is definitely a worry that we build this amazing life for our future children but they don’t have a true value of it, take it for granted because they haven’t lived on the other side – that other side is often what makes you strong.


    • Finance Solver says:

      No problem DDU! I love hearing about personal experiences so I thought I should get my experience out there.

      That is so true, the ones who are so out of the norm have a need to prove themselves and achieve their goals. Rags to riches stories are abundant!

      I’m excited for the generational wealth transfer. If they get used to things getting handed to them, it gives room for those who don’t have much but are willing to work to get ahead. When I have kids, I will have to teach them the value of everything because it’s so easy to take everything as a given and a right when in reality, it’s a privilege!

  12. “If the failure isn’t drastic, and the lesson you gained is worth more than what you lost, then it wasn’t a failure, it was a success. ”

    By far the best definition of failure i have read!

    • Finance Solver says:

      Thank you! I failed so many times in my life and I always felt bad afterwards. These days, I love to fail because it’s where I grow the most and I view failure with a different spin these days. Thanks for stopping by!!

  13. AWESOME post, FS!!! It’s so nice to see someone who truly understands that we have a responsibility to take advantage of and appreciate opportunities that come our way. I have a feeling you’ll reach that million dollar next worth long before you expect to. 🙂

    • Finance Solver says:

      Thank you so much Laurie! I can only hope to give it my best and hopefully I can make it. I can’t take anything for granted and I see everything that I have currently as a privilege, not a right. Thank you so much for stopping by!!

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