Sunday 9th October, 2005


Earning power and motivation

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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 measures.

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 doesn’t 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.

©2004-2005 Trinidad Publishing Company Limited

Designed by: Randall Rajkumar-Maharaj · Updated daily by: Sheahan Farrell