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Gratitude > Motivation

Engagement photo taken at Hyalite Canyon near Bozeman, Montana

When is the last time you started something you couldn't finish because you lost motivation? Maybe you were going strong on a new diet but you had a rough day that led to the reversal of your progress and resulted in you losing all the "umph" you mustered to start your journey in the first place. Maybe you created a new budget and became discouraged after a massive unexpected expense arose and plunged you deeper into debt. Maybe you failed a licensing exam you studied dutifully for and were so confident you would pass. Maybe you just couldn't get out of bed one morning because you were felt overwhelming and inexplicable sadness.

The challenge with relying on motivation to effect change is that it will be absent in more instances than not. We cannot press pause on the challenges and intricacies of our daily lives to clear a path for getting hyped up. The reality is that motivation is unnatural. Our brains are wired to protect us from doing things that bring about discomfort. It is uncomfortable to set an expectation and fail to meet it. It's especially uncomfortable to endure defeat publicly. It's easier to retreat and to eventually stop setting expectations of ourselves altogether if we perceive them to have only ever bred disappointment. While this is not a profound or new revelation, it often comes as a surprise to most of us when the motivation we once held on to so fervently drifts away.

I lost steam while building Moving Mountains Financial. It wasn't for lack of desire or hard work. Life happened as it always does and when I didn't hit my targets as a result, I began to doubt myself and question whether the reward of running a business was worth the exposure. Will people think I'm unqualified to coach them on their finances and careers? Will they sense that I'm still learning how to be a business owner? Will they trust that I have their best interests in mind? These questions haunted me, and they still creep in on a daily basis. But I realized that if I laid in wait for the perfect moment to launch, for a time when I thought those doubts would subside, and a time when I could exude the motivation of one thousand Tony Robbins, I'd be dead before I'd promote my business.

Cue the magic sauce: Gratitude.

I have always spoken in very concrete, actionable terms. I believe that abstract concepts typically lack definition and practical application. If someone were to tell me to "be patient", I might ask, "what exactly do you mean by that"? What does it look like to be patient? How long should I exercise patience until it's appropriate to stop? Can I be patient and assertive at the same time? One can imagine how obnoxious this quality is to people that have a deeper grasp on emotions than I do.

When I started hearing about the concept of gratitude and its ability to transform lives, I brushed it off as another woo-woo buzzword. It got placed on the shelf alongside pop culture trends of profitable self-care, juice cleanses, virtue signaling, and so on.

But I came to understand after some time that the neatly packaged gratitude that's sold to us in the form of self-help books, craft store signage, journal prompts, and thank you gifts in the dollar discount section isn't necessarily a reflection of the act of gratitude itself. Of course, utilizing these aids in the quest to identify or appreciate what there is to be thankful for is absolutely fine. But "hashtag gratitude" should not be confused with the contentment and peace that a person is overcome by when they experience authentic gratitude. It changes the lens through which we see life. It can also replace motivation as a driver for success in our lives if we let it.

One of the most clear manifestations of gratitude for me was during a Tough Mudder event in Colorado. The legendary Sean Corvelle ( gathered us eager participants at the starting line to prepare us for the literal and figurative obstacles ahead. He so eloquently explained that our participation in the event was a privilege and that we had the opportunity to live larger. He proceeded to give the floor to a fellow Tough Mudder raising awareness for Huntington's Disease – a fatal genetic neurodegenerative disorder. As he described the symptoms that plagued his own family members diagnosed with a life sentence, I couldn't help but think how fortunate I was to have my memory, a body that gets me from point A to B, eyes to see, ears to hear, and no conditions or qualities that would necessitate raising any kind of awareness. I was humbled by the trials so many people must conquer every day to simply exist. And suddenly, I had immense gratitude for my life and for the people that choose to be in it.

Food is not something we have to cook. It's something we get to cook because we live in a part of the world where there is not nationwide food insecurity.
Running a business is scary. But it's not as scary as fighting in a war or being the victim of a genocide. I get to run a business because of the sacrifices my family has made to give me better opportunities than they had.
Creating a budget can be frustrating. But it means we have money to spend and save and we get the opportunity to make decisions about how that money will be spent.

I would be lying if I said that gratitude pops into my head every time I take on a mundane task or do something I don't like. After all, it wouldn't be practical to have an existential crisis with every trip to the grocery store. But when it becomes clear to me that my lack of motivation is stifling my progress, I'm reminded of that humbling gratitude for the privileges and opportunities that I have been called to exercise. I should do more because I'm fortunate to have more.

Moving Mountains will seek to always be grounded in gratitude. In that vein, I am thankful for my husband who supports my dream in more ways than one. He is my cheerleader, accountability partner, and inspiration. I am thankful for my voice of reason, the person that I strive to emulate more and more with each passing day – my mother. I am thankful for every grandparent I have, all of whom have played such a unique role in teaching me everything from the value of generosity to the power of fun. I am thankful for my closest friends that have pushed me personally and professionally to be a better version of myself, often without even realizing they were having such an impact. And finally, I am thankful to my clients that have trusted me with some of the most sacred details of their lives – I so admire your commitment to steering your own ship.

Thank you.

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