River Dee 4 © Sarah Marie Lacy

River Dee 4 © Sarah Marie Lacy. 24"x30" oil on canvas. Available at the Pilar Shephard Gallery.

I had a realization this morning. A really obvious one actually, but I can be dense sometimes.

When I do something for me and my own reasons, I succeed. When I do something to prove myself, or get approval, or from a sense of guilt, I never get anywhere.

Really simple, but it explains a lot of my life. I’ve been baffled for months with the ease with which I can achieve some goals, and the way I only seem to run in circles with others.

I’ve finally realized what the key ingredient is – my motivations for doing it.

Rejoining an online forum that I adore but costs $400? I found that money easily.

Paying off my credit card because I feel incredibly guilty and silly? Struggling to make it happen. No matter what I do, the total just builds itself back up again. No matter what, I’m always hovering around $1000 in debt. Not a huge amount, but it’s a month’s living expenses. Big enough to feel insurmountable to me.

But what would happen if I changed my motivation? What if I wanted to pay it off not because “Oh my god, you have debt, you financially irresponsible little girl!” (In my defense, it’s business debt. It’s not like it’s clothing.)

What if I paid it off because I wanted to free up that energy? Because I wanted to have a fresh slate financially? What if I did it for me?

I think that’d make a huge difference. I’d actually be motivated to do something about it instead of just making the minimum payments. Right now, I’m avoiding it because I’m embarrassed. My parents always taught me that you don’t talk about debt, that it’s shameful. You don’t tell people that you have debt, because oh my god, what would they think of you?

Or what about buying a new computer? I wanted to get one because I felt so guilty about using my boyfriend’s (and somewhat destroying it.) I didn’t want it because it would make my life 8 billion times easier and I could do things like web design without crashing it, or continue my live streaming painting show. I wanted it so I wouldn’t feel so horrible about myself.

Do you know how far I got?

That’s right. Nowhere.

And I look at so many other parts of my life and I can see why certain goals – as admirable as they might be – go nowhere because I want them for the wrong reasons. I want them for someone else, or to alleviate some sense of guilt, or because it’s “what I’m supposed to want.”

It’s so easy to fall into that trap, to forget who you really are, and to not run your life according to you. To run around after things you think you’re supposed to want. To forget what it is that you really want.

I’m taking the next week off to recuperate from my painting madness, and I’m going to be spending a lot of time thinking about what I really want. I’m going to be examining my life and making sure that I want things for me, because they’d bring me joy, not because I’ll look better to others. (Like getting in shape because it makes my body happy and I hurt less, rather than because I’m ashamed of myself and not looking exactly like some Photoshopped Victoria’s Secret model. Don’t even get me started on female body image in the media. That’s a rant for another day.)

Do you find yourself setting goals for things you think you’re supposed to want? How do you remember to set goals for yourself and your needs and not just to keep up with the Jones’s? (Whoever your personal Jones’s are.)