Optimally Money Motivated or Not? A WTR Discussion With Susan Fowler

Have you ever wondered why resolutions people make, in order to improve their lives, often fizzles into nothingness? The main reason boils down to the type of motivation for achieving the specific goal in mind. WTR welcomes guest Susan Fowler, a researcher, author, and co-founder of Out of the Box Learning, to our discussion. In today’s podcast episode, we will discuss why it matters to break a bad habits and instill new daily practices that will help you hone your ability of being optimally motivated.

Ingenious tactics to accumulate wealth, for people who see things differently.

Susan Fowler

Website: https://susanfowler.com/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/susan-fowler-955a174

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SusanNFowler

Twitter: https://twitter.com/fowlersusann


  • [00:53] Kevin: Susan Fowler is a researcher, author, and co-founder of Out of the Box Learning. Today, we’re talking about Optimally Money Motivated or Not
  • [01:07] If you wouldn’t mind could you share with us today a little bit about where you came from and what inspired you to get to where you are today?
  • [01:30] Susan: I have a motto and that is I teach what I most need to learn. My quest is understanding the motivation behind what we do and what we don’t do
  • [03:35] People say that I’m a motivational speaker, but I have to correct them because I’m not a motivational speaker, I’m a researcher and a writer and a speaker who talks on the subject of motivation for science and how to use it
  • [04:45] Kevin: So let’s talk about the scientific meaning of this because you’re saying that some motivational speakers have a model but it’s just something they came up with due to their experience, not necessarily scientific (it might be factual but not scientific). So what are we talking about scientifically?
  • [05:01] Susan: When I say scientific what I mean is empirically proven. So an example would be Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
  • [06:00] People latch on to theories or concepts without doing investigative work to say is there anything in this that’s actually real/provable?
  • [06:12] Kevin: In today’s talk about Optimally Money Motivated or Not, is there a scientific way of looking at this?
  • [06:18] Susan: Absolutely. If people texted 66866 with the word ARTICLES, I would be glad to send them these academic articles on money and motivation
  • [06:45] The question I would ask is does money motivate people? And it’s true. But there’s two things we need to think about[06:53] Are there alternatives to being motivated by money that are more productive, that are healthier, that enable you to be more creative and innovative?[07:02] The answer to this is yes
  • [07:04] If we can rather than being money motivated we shift our motivation away from the money and toward something else, then the money becomes the byproduct (it’s what we end up with but not what we were seeking)
  • [07:36] It’s not just being motivated by something other than money, but you have to understand the reason that you’re motivated by money if that’s your motivation (the reason is what matters)[07:49] Where you can scientifically map it out
  • [07:54] Kevin: I’ve noticed during the course of my life people have tried to quit smoking or get into better shape (things that are important that they know they should be doing)[08:15] Same thing is true for saving money for retirement. They try and they know they should do it and want to do it and they’re so focused on that goal that they don’t know the reason[08:40] When people understand the deeper meaning behind it, there’s no longer the will power (having to ‘will’ yourself to do it), a switch goes off and they just do it and it’s the easiest thing in the world
  • [09:11] Susan: I write in my book about a friend named Raymon and he’d grown up in the tobacco business (felt guilty if he didn’t smoke). The doctor told him he needed to stop because it was injuring his health, and so he had what we call “imposed motivation” (feeling like you have to)[09:52] One day he was driving and smoking and his 3 year old daughter yelled at him asking him to stop smoking and the switch flipped and he never smoked again
  • [10:13] He found something he loved more than the cigarettes (being a good role model)
  • [10:25] The skill of motivation is finding what you truly love, what you value, what your sense of purpose is, what you find joy and peace in and that’s the end result you’re looking for, not the means to that, which people think are money or instant gratification
  • [10:52] Kevin: How can we look at this scientifically to see what our motivation is?
  • [11:49] Susan: What the science shows is if we don’t satisfy or create in our lives 3 psychological needs, then not only will we not thrive, we will not be healthy (mentally or physically) and we won’t be able to sustain the energy necessary to continue pursuing whatever the goal is[12:21] Need for choice (we need to have a sense of choice)[12:24] As soon as you feel like you need to do something, you erode your psychological need for choice
  • [12:36] You don’t have to do whatever it is you’re talking about (quitting smoking, saving money, losing weight), but you’re choosing to do it
  • [12:51] Need for connection (to ourselves, to people who are important to us, or to the greater good)[12:55] You have to be doing something for a meaningful reason (ex: I’m choosing to save money because I really feel better when I’m a responsible parent making a future for my children)
  • [13:44] Need for competence[13:50] We feel like we’re growing and learning and we’re seeing progress
  • [13:54] Ex: even though you might save a portion of your paycheck, you’ll see it grow every month and you now are noticing that progress
  • [14:51] These three psychological needs are at the core of our ability to be optimally motivated[15:31] Optimal motivation: we are creating choice, connection, and competence in our lives (in general and goal-specific)
  • [15:45] Kevin: So what would be some tips about identifying the types of motivation people may have?
  • [15:57] Susan: Identify the type of motivation you currently have[16:01] Being aware and mindful about what your motivation is
  • [17:13] Where people really need to start in order to be optimally money motivated is with the awareness of the type of motivation they currently have (emotions can be indicators of the type of motivation that you might have)
  1. [17:40] The 6 different types of motivation[17:45] Disinterested: you’re so overwhelmed by the whole idea of your lifestyle change or you don’t find any value in your goal that you become disinterested
  2. [17:54] External: the only reason you’re doing it is because you want more money (doing it for the tangible or intangible reward that money gives you)
  3. [18:17] Imposed: feeling like you have to do it (guilt, shame, pressure, stress)
  • [18:48] Integrated: by doing the lifestyle change, you’re getting more in line with the person you want to be or should be (sense of deep purpose)[20:37] The only time we feel true joy is when there’s a deep seated connection to everything
  1. [21:06] Inherent: in your nature
  2. [21:16] Integrated: something that’s even deeper than the pure enjoyment of it
  • [22:26] Kevin: What are some tips about how to become more optimally motivated once they acknowledge their current motivation?
  • [22:31] Susan: The key to optimal motivation is creating choice, connection, and competence in your life or around the goal
  • [23:27] I think people need to be aware of their fatal distractions[23:32] Fatal distractions: the “shiny objects” that take us away from our choice, connection, and competence
  • [25:22] Kevin: I like to have an abundance mindset toward wealth. For me, I want wealth because I love my family and I want them to have a good life and I want to be able to help other people
  • [28:30] What is something in your experience that our listeners should look to avoid doing and what they can do about it?
  • [28:36] Susan: I think what they can look to avoid are those fatal distractions, they can make sure they are not enticed by “junk food motivation” (things that take us away from our basic nature)
  1. [28:55] We can instead consistently ask ourselves 3 questions[29:11] What choices do I have/ have I made/ do I have in the future?
  2. [29:20] What meaning did I derive from what I’ve done? How are my values aligned with what I’m doing? How do I make a connection with others through what I’m doing?
  3. [29:33] What did I learn/ what am I learning/ what could I learn? How could I grow through this process?

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