The Only Motivational Blog Post I’ll Ever Write

On Monday of last week, I got up at 5:50 a.m. and started my new, normal routine. I picked up my laptop, worked from bed for an hour, had coffee with the fam and “went” back to work. Around 11 a.m., I decided to take an early lunch break. Only instead of eating lunch, I changed into my running gear and hit the pavement. I ran 2K to the bank (where I put $680 towards my debt!) and ran back. And it wasn’t until I was halfway home that it hit me: the person I was two years ago would never have done what I was doing in that moment.

Before I started this blog, I was lazy. And I made every excuse in the book to stay that way. I maxed myself out financially, because I told myself I would pay it off one day. I drove 90 seconds to the grocery store, because the bags I was going to fill would be too heavy to carry half a mile home. I didn’t workout, because I was too busy. I didn’t care about how much weight I had gained, because drinking excessive amounts of wine and eating too many slices of garlic cheese pizza were two of my favourite pastimes. And if I didn’t get to spend my spare time doing things I enjoyed, I wouldn’t have been happy.

But I wasn’t happy. (Duh, Cait!) I drank too much, ate too much, spent too much, and didn’t care what anyone thought about any of it. It doesn’t take a genius to see how unhealthy that is. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until the day I realized I was maxed out that I decided I had to get my shhh together.

In June 2011, I decided to start my debt repayment journey. To jumpstart it, I moved into my parents’ basement for six months (winning). In that time, I paid off more than $10,000 of debt. After that, there was no stopping me. In 2012, I paid off more than $11,000 of debt, and I’m scheduled to pay off the last of it next month. I can’t pinpoint the exact moment I realized that I had full control of my life and my future, but something throughout my debt repayment journey sparked me to make a number of other changes in my life.

In February 2012, I decided I wanted to get fit and lose weight. I started by getting up at 5:30 a.m. 4-5 days per week and squeezing in a workout before starting the rest of my day. I counted my calorie intake for a while, which also helped, but forcing myself to get moving was the most important decision I could have made. Not only was I losing inches fast, I was happier in general. (Hello, endorphins!) Since then, I have lost 30 lbs. and have learned that even the worst days can seem a little bit better after a good workout.

In October 2012, I decided I wanted to quit drinking. While that decision didn’t stick at first, it’s one I am most proud of today. What 27-year-old wants to admit they soothe the annoyances of bad days by getting blackout drunk? Who wants to admit they can’t handle only having 1-2 drinks; that 2 turns into 12, and 12 turns into more bad decisions. Does anyone like thinking they might be an alcoholic? No. It’s been difficult attaching that word to my behaviour, but it is what it is. And I’m better without booze.

Based on this pattern, I’m due for another life-altering decision in June of this year. At this point, I have no idea what I will tackle next. The half marathon, for sure. Other than that, maybe I’ll stop procrastinating and finally finish my book. Who knows. But the point of this post is simple: over the last two years, I have changed my life. There’s nothing inspirational about it. There’s no magic formula or quick fix. I just opened my eyes, saw things I didn’t like, and decided to make changes.

Making the decision to change something about your life or lifestyle isn’t easy. First, you have to admit that you need to do it; that usually involves admitting to yourself that you’ve been doing something wrong. After that, you need to put your thoughts into action; with that comes good days and bad days. Heck, I just had a bad weekend! But each of the changes I have made are ones that will help me live a longer, much happier life, so I know the hard work and bad days will be worth it.

Before I wrap up this post, there are a few other lessons I’d like to share with you. And not to put a damper on the sales targets for self-help books this week, but if you’re thinking of picking one up soon, the answers you’re looking for are probably along the lines of this:

  • If you wish there were more hours in a day, wake up earlier.
  • If you keep avoiding the same task, it’s not a priority.
  • If you hate that your clothes are getting tight, pay attention to what you’re eating.
  • If you don’t feel sexy when you’re naked, workout more.
    • If you don’t know how to start, walk more. Walk everywhere. Just get outside.
  • If you’re sick of being hungover, stop drinking so much.
  • If you’re not getting enough sleep, go to bed earlier.
  • If you’re stressed out, reevaluate your priorities and do more of what makes you happy.
  • If you still haven’t found Mr./Mrs. Right, put yourself out there.
    • If you are dating, be thoughtful and don’t play games. The end.
  • If you want to save more money, you either have to make more money or spend less.
  • If you hate being in debt, stop spending recklessly.
  • On that note:
    • If you upgrade to the latest technology every six months, you’re doing it wrong.
    • If you’re not willing to pinch a few pennies and sacrifice some of your wants, you’re doing it wrong.

Life is what you make of it. You are in control of everything you do. Don’t make excuses or blame other people for things that you have the ability to change.

Oh, and please, please, please. Don’t create a vision board. Create an action plan.

I’ll leave it at that and share one of my new favourite quotes:

“If you don’t like where you are, change it. You’re not a tree.”

What’s the best piece of advice you can share?

Flickr: doug88888

  • I really love this post. And this quote

    “If you don’t like where you are, change it. You’re not a tree.”

    So much like that Mad Men quote – “if you don’t like the conversation, change it”. But the tree thing is so unexpected.

    You’ve come such a long way, and if anyone should write a motivational post, I think you’re well qualified.

  • Congrats on all the progress and for inspiring others :)

    “You’re not a tree” — I’ll have to remember that!

  • Love this post. Very inspiring.. I’m trying to make a bunch of positive changes in my life right now and I’m quite excited about it!

    Never heard that quote before… I feel like I’m going to be saying it a lot lol

  • Cait – I LOVED this post!!!
    I love the quote at the end too — think I will have to tweet that!
    Congrats on all your successes thus far, you are doing great!

  • I love this post! I love that it’s a no bullshit – you just have to want it – post. No, wanting it isn’t enough. You have to take steps to become the person you want to be – and that’s just what you did! Congrats on all of the progress you’ve made over the past two years, you’re amazing!

  • Great post! It is true that if you want to change something, you have to be the one to do it, not someone else some day. I loved the quote about change and the tree. :) Keep up the great work!

  • I LOVE LOVE LOVE this post. And especially love the quote. There are some major things that I want to change in my life, but I’m just scared. Need to start coming up with a game plan.

  • Congratulations. it’s neat to see you stop and review how far you have come. I am glad to hear that you are happy and pleased and moving forward :-)
    In the last little bit I’ve started to change some things that had slipped over time due to my current job setup, etc and it’s been a “I really don’t like this anymore” regarding things like exercise, food and volunteering.

  • LOVE THIS POST! This is exactly what I need right now. Sometimes getting your stuff together can take a while, but once you start realizing the things you don’t like, you can change, the process starts! Congrats on all that you have accomplished! You are inspiring!

    • Thanks, lady! Making changes definitely takes time… the important thing is to not give up, if it’s something you really want. :)

  • “What’s the best piece of advice you can share?”

    Well said, my friend. I couldn’t have said it any better.

    Life for me hasn’t always been “a walk in the park” either over the years as we all make mistakes and have to pay our dues. But ya know, the harder you try the more that you get back out of life. It’s a Karma thing.

    So, as for a piece of advice, I may have mentioned this here in past comments but I live my life according to these thoughts:

    Don’t worry nor regret the past – it’s all water under the bridge – instead learn from it.

    Don’t worry about the future – you can’t control it because you have reached it yet and you’re probably wrong about it anyway – instead plan well for it.

    Rather, live for today and make it count because you don’t get a 2nd chance at living it.

    So, in other words:

    Don’t sweat the small stuff because everything in life is just that – small stuff…

    • Great advice, Rob! I’ve always been a big believer in your first piece; that is, not to regret the past. I think everything we’ve done has gotten us to where we are… and if we don’t like where we are, we need to identify what needs to be changed and move forward. The end. :)

  • Can I just say that this post made my day. Talk about inspiration! I don’t know you, but I’m so very proud of you.

  • This really is a great post! You do break down self-help books quite nicely. It’s truly all about priorities and changing your habits. This is my first time on your site and I’m certainly coming back for more. I’m so impressed with how quickly you’ve managed to eliminate debt. Seriously, way to go!!

  • This is a wonderful post – I love the motivational lines, especially the last one! Great job on all of your accomplishments.

  • Cait I LOVED this post! Please don’t let this be the only motivatioal post you ever write!!!
    •If you don’t feel sexy when you’re naked, workout more.
    •If you don’t know how to start, walk more. Walk everywhere. Just get outside.
    Those two were my favorites and come June when me and you are in the same “hood let’s walk together :)

  • Umm . . . if you get up earlier to have more hours in the day and then go to bed sooner because you’re tired you still have the same number of waking moments. I would suggest that if you don’t have enough hours in a day that you cut what is unimportant out of your life. If every thing is important face up to the fact that you’re human and it is better to do a very good job at a couple of things than to do a mediocre job at everything.

    • I’m not saying that one person faces all of these issues at once (re: your comment about needing an unrealistic amount of hours in a day) just that these are some common things you hear people (like the old me) complain about. But great advice!

  • GREAT quote! I love it. I might have to put that on a wall somewhere.

    I must have been completely oblivious to your drinking problem, because this was the first I had heard of it. You’ve come a REALLY long way in such a short time Cait, it’s absolutely incredible. This post should be recommended reading for young adults. Possibly given to them at their high school graduation. Congratulations on everything you’ve accomplished so far; I’m looking forward to seeing what the next big hurdle you jump is :)

    • Recommended reading for young adults? Talk about a compliment! And I have to laugh about the high school grad comment, because I was valedictorian in high school and gave a big speech to my fellow grads and their families. Good memory, haha. And thanks for the sweet words of encouragement, Cassie. :)

  • Good work C! It seems like once people start cleaning up one area of their lives, it spills into the others as well.

    I find that even if I say I want to do something, I won’t actually do it until I get MAD or fed up or frustrated at the situation. I have to reach my breaking point, otherwise I don’t have the motivation to do it. The only reason I started paying attention to my money is because there was a layoff at work and I realized that if I’d been laid off, I would have been SCREWED. No savings, CC debt, no financial plan. That was in June 2009 and we really haven’t looked back since.

    I went to a work event recently where a woman who runs a life coaching business was speaking, and she mentioned the importance of small steps. I am trying to keep that in mind, especially when I have un-fun projects at work and am overwhelmed by the big picture. I think, “what is the smallest step I can take – right now – to move forward?” And then I have to actually do that. It’s been a work in progress for sure.

    • Yes! Reaching a breaking point can be tough, but it’s been what has pushed me over the edge to make all of these changes. At least that’s a moment we both know how to recognize and push through :)

  • Thank you for a wonderfully encouraging post! I started getting up earlier this week because I hated rushing in the morning. Oh how many times I have complained about that! But I wanted the fix, so I did it!

    • Woo hoo! I’ve always been a morning person but 5:30 a.m. workouts were tough, haha… I yawned through most of them, but at least I was up and at it! Thanks for your comment, Samantha :)

  • I don’t even need to add anything to this. This is how change is made. You just do it. There is no book that is worth the purchase to make changes. You see it isn’t right, then change it. Nice work Cait!

  • Love the honesty! You really are so inspiring and this was just a fun read! No guilt, just straight to the point, definitely my style. Can’t wait to see what you do next.

  • Hey Cait, We have chatted before via email. Just wanted to say I LOVE this post! Reminds me of a quote I have posted at my desk at work:

    The most effective way to do it, is to do it. -Amelia Earhart

    Congrats again all of your progress in the last 2 years! Hopefully the next 2 are just as life changing!

  • Hi Cait,

    I’ve been reading your blog for a several months (can’t even remember how I found it) and after today, I realize how much I’m going to miss reading it when you stop once your debt is paid off! While I was never in the same financial position (I was, and still am that person who saves money almost to the point or hoarder — saving for a downpayment for 5 years after finishing my undergrad) what you’ve shared about paying off your debt is EXTREMELY motivating even to myself even as a debt free person. This post especially hit home because I’ve tried making changes as well in my daily life like FINALLY moving out of my parents house, getting a dating life, and working out daily. I wasn’t unhappy before but my family says I seem happier now which is always nice to hear. I really look forward to reading your post once you’ve paid off that last bit of debt and (hopefully!) if you’re still writing after you’ve done the marathon (a future goal of mine too!)


    • It’s nice to hear that other people notice how happy you are, isn’t it? My favourite comments from family/friends aren’t about my weight loss or my debt repayment progress… they’re about how I seem like a whole new person. Congrats on making changes and hoarding your cash for so long! That takes major dedication, Michelle.

  • First, congratulations on the changes and improvements in your life!

    I am working on getting myself into gear and just living my ideal life. Much like your comment of something not being a priority if you are avoiding it, I am making myself replace the phrase “I don’t have time to…” to “….. is not a priority.” It is definitely making a difference.

    • Yes! I think it’s really important for people to be aware of the fact that, just because they aren’t doing something, that doesn’t mean they are failing. It’s ok if something isn’t a priority; just accept it and move on. Thanks for your comment, Sarah!

  • AMAZING. My favourite blog post, ever perhaps? So beautiful. I really relate to the drinking one, I have struggled and cut back on myself for the last two years, until I realized that just wasn’t working to get occasionally very drunk. Now I have borderline quit (aside from 1 or 2 glasses of wine on very special occasions, but having a set limit has helped me to not overindulge). Good for you for getting real with yourself and doing so much positive work to change your life! :)

    • Thanks for sharing your experiences, Gillian! It’s not easy to set limits for yourself; I have lots of experience failing at that, haha. Good for you for making that a priority in your life. :)

  • I just read this for the second time, and it’s so spot on! Thank you :) You’re right there’s nothing special or magical about it, but a decision to just do it. I’m sending this post out to fam and friends who could use a bit of perspective right now.

    Take care

  • That was a good read! Well, I hope this is not the “ONLY” motivational article you’ll ever write! Keep it up girl! XOXO

  • Cait, I considered myself blessed to visit your blog page today. This post is very motivational and encouraging.Pls keep on doing this.The world needs someone like you.

  • Very glad that I came here today from budgetsaresexy. Great post. All your bullet points are so spot on and in your face. I love it!

    Everyone has problems, but can not find the answers. Sometimes the answers are so simple, but we can not commit.

    I would CONSTANTLY wish I had more time in the day. I started waking up earlier and it is life changing, and not an inconvenience at all. Once you make a change like this and realize you can do anything it is kind of scary. It is almost like the cowards way out to set such limits on yourself. I quit smoking 9 months ago. I was ready to quit after 12 years. I still have cravings, but the benefits far outweigh the cravings.

    Thanks for your post. It was motivational.

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