The Line Between Motivation and Obsession

A Google search for “personal growth” brings back 58,800,000 results. There is no lack of resources for people who want to improve themselves, learn more, make a change, be happier, reach their goals, get a better job, lose weight, build their self-esteem, make peace with the past, learn to say no…Whatever your personal demon may be there is likely plenty of information from people with the same problem who have battled and bested it. Or so they say.

Sometimes, I get a motivation boost from reading about people who have made big life changes in ways that seem healthy to me. But I always wonder, when have you gone too far? When do you stop building good habits and begin behaving compulsively?

At one time, I had the blog Get Rich Slowly in my reader and felt inspired by the story of someone who began with overwhelming debt, but wrangled his finances into order. I read the posts and comments regularly and tried to think of ways to reduce my debt and to bring in more money, I was ready to get serious about it and look for credit counseling so I could fix my finances for my future. Then, the blog as a whole began to bother me. Where is the line between being frugal and being a tightwad?

If you want something really badly, and your finances wouldn’t suffer if you got the thing, why would you deny yourself? Why would you continue to max out your savings when you could spend just a little and get something that you’ve wanted for a long time? (This line of questioning may be the reason my finances are not, ahem, in the best order they could be.) However, being overwhelmed by your debt is not something you should allow to happen just because you really want to buy a material item. Be sensible and astute in how you spend your money.

Along the same lines, when does striving to reach your goals become an unhealthy obsession? One of my daughters once had an aerobics teacher who worked out for 2 hours during the day, then went home and ran 5 miles every evening, yet worried about being fat. I worried (needlessly, it turned out) about the effect such a role model might have on my impressionable daughter.

In my own life, I want to build a writing business. I want control of my income and of the work I do on a daily basis. I may even look into investing on websites like SoFi to bolster my finances on the side. I try to work on building this business somehow or other everyday. Several times a week I end up staying awake for an hour or two longer than I should to do this work. Every weekend I spend time writing and marketing. My family doesn’t get much computer time.

Right now, it doesn’t feel like an obsession. If it becomes one, will I know? How? What is the line? Can you become successful in something like running a business withoutbeing at least a little obsessed?

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