According to an August 2005 World Bank Group publication,
Trinidadians are estimated to have a life expectancy of 72
years; only six per cent of children under age five suffer
malnutrition; 91 per cent of the population have better access
to water; and we are 98 per cent literate.
These are indicators of what is called standard of living,
and they are gauged from compilations of statistics. Overall,
our standard of living looks wholesome enough for a developing
country, but it is individual motivation that separates the
sheep from the goat.
In truth, the social disparities are seldom indicated in such
studies, and statistics remain a good tool for presenting
a particular point of view.
Individual motivation is really what demarcates those who
rise out of poverty, and those who make the leap from the
more-month-to-the-money syndrome, and learn to participate
in the mainstream of financial viability.
The most brilliant way to rise out of individual lean financials
is to harness tax reductions, and tax shelters, whenever they
arise, and to make quick alternative decisions in safe investments,
when the shelters are removed. I refer here to recent budgetary
But what is it that motivates the individual to take action
to better his/her financial situation?
Motivation theorists define motivation as the degree to which
an individual wants and chooses to engage in certain specified
behaviour. It is an individual phenomenon that results from
an intention, and can be intrinsic or extrinsic.
Extrinsic motivation refers to the economic, tangible, and
monetary rewards perceived to result from certain kinds of
actions. This fuels motivation to work and save.
In addition, intrinsic motivation also fuels work and savings,
but centres around psychological or personal rewards. These
are, for example, the feeling of meeting and beating a challenge,
or the public recognition from a job well done.
There is a third category of motivation, and that lies in
the arena of status and affiliation, that come with certain
levels of wealth or achievement.
When we form an intention to achieve certain financial goals,
or career objectives and we are blocked by either our own
feelings of inadequacy, ineptitude, or by externals such as
prejudice, the common response is frustration!
Many financial dreams die right there, and we commit to a
lifetime of just getting by. But everything remains available
for the asking, so we need to understand how frustration works,
in order to rise above the blockage.
There are four common responses of frustration. These are:
aggression, regression, fixation, or withdrawal.
Aggression is what it is, and doesnt need explanation.
Regression refers to a sinking back into a kind of behaviour
that is childish, or unbecoming for the status of the individual.
Fixation is where one gets stuck in the rut, and is bent on
doing things the same way, over and over, with the wild hope
that the result will be different.
Withdrawal, is simply to remove oneself from the challenges
and give up. Very often, observers confuse these responses
and on top of all your individual dilemma, they begin to condemn.
And that could catapult depression.
The important thing to recognise is that the four common responses
are human responses, and you are entitled to recognise the
feeling, then dust your pants and move on.
Recognise that the theorists have established that the things
that motivate are: money, nice houses and cars, awards, recognition,
and a personal sense of development, to name a few.
Recognise, too that the processes that motivate are many.
They include theories of expectancy, equity, goal setting,
and attribution. But details on those are for the behaviourists,
and our focus is really our own standard of living.