why money can’t buy motivation

I have been thinking about some past employments I have had and why I left.  I was earning good money, earned some awards and putting away quite a bit into a pension pot too.  So why did I leave?  Was it because I like to be self employed?  Perhaps, I thought.  But what did I like about being self-employed?  The main thing that came up was the sense of being self managed or autonomous.  I have always been motivated and did many things like research in my own time because I liked to do so.

What I did not like in my employments was a ‘line manager’ poking at my records, filing up forms stating how many hours of (self directed) research I had done and going for performance evaluations.  After all, I was getting external validations such as awards and grants, so I could see any reasons for being evaluated by someone.  Also, I could not achieve my best because I was continuously having to limit my creativity due to external circumstances. In short, I did not achieve mastery although I was getting awards. There were also no purpose to my work- I just had to follow some outdated and uninspiring guidelines. I could not use my creativity and resourcefulness in directing my time.

So there we have it, we need a sense of autonomy, mastery and purpose in order to do our life’s work, in order to follow our heart. This cannot be induced artificially by someone, by someone’s rules or by money.  This has been researched by many organisations such as Harvard, London School of Economics and others but not yet used in every day work.  So now although I learn much less, I have a sense of autonomy, mastery and purpose to my time and work.  I found this video, which describes best what I went through, so I am sharing it here. Enjoy!


10 things to give up

This is not my writing but I wanted to share it with you because I love it. It is from Tamara Star, whose post I read in Huffington Post and have copied on to my computer screen since last year because I remind myself of these things often.  Tamara Star is a coach, healer, speaker, writer, and businesswoman.

I hope you like it and benefit from it as much as I did- Thank you, Tamara!

1. Give up caring what other people think of you. I know it seems counter intuitive as we humans are primal pack animals that don’t want to be cast from the village, but spending time worrying what others think, is a waste of energy. You’ll never please everyone and it’s none of your business what others think of you.

2. Give up trying to please everyone. Unless you’re living life to the beat of your own drum, your tribe won’t be able to find you. Be the best version of you you can be, and you’ll naturally attract in the people that are supposed to surround you.

3. Give up participating in gossip. 100 percent of the time, those sharing gossip with you will gossip about you. Believing gossip is like gambling everything on a horse sight unseen. It’s naive.

4. Quit worrying. Where thoughts go, energy flows. Worry is investing time and energy in something you don’t want to have happen. Learn to let go and trust.

5. Let go of insecurity. When we take ourselves too seriously, we think everyone else does too. There is one version of you on the planet. Be it, own it and quit worrying about it. No one really cares or watches you that closely.

6. Stop taking everything personally. Truth is, most people are too consumed with their own life to really consider what you’re doing. As my first boss said so well: “The world doesn’t revolve around you. Most people’s reactions have nothing to do with you, so let it go.”

7. Give up the past. We’ve all been hurt, we all had parents that made mistakes and we’ve all been through hell. You didn’t listen to your parents when you were younger, so why are you still listening to their voices in your head now? Every experience in life has taught you something or made you stronger.

8. Give up spending money on what you don’t need in effort to buy happiness. Living simply allows the space for life to flow. We complicate our lives by spending too much money and filling our home with “things.” Less is truly more.

9. Give up anger. Anger burns a hole in the hand of the person still holding on to it. Move it out once and for all.

10. Give up control. Control is an illusion. We live in an out of control world. Learn to embrace the new and welcome change; otherwise you’ll grow old through your own rigidity. Learn to let go.


The wrong choice for creativity

La Bombilla

Life happens, stuff happens- sometimes good, sometimes bad.  How does one keep being creative all the time?  When I am happy, I actually don’t feel like doing anything creative.  Surprisingly it is when I have been sad or ill, that is when I have been most creative.  I had a stroke about four years ago, just after receiving a contract to write a 320 page-book.  I had 71 blood tests, 5 scans and one operation.  I also had to deal with a terrible situation at work during that time.  The photo above shows the painting I did when I could not write and then after being able to sit up, I finished the book in nine months.  That painting became the book cover.

Henri Matisse’s works are testament to the incredible vitality of the artist at a time when his body was increasingly frail after life-saving surgery for duodenal cancer in 1941. Overcoming the physical limitations being wheelchair bound, Matisse reinvented himself as an artist,  from working with paint to collage.  Calling this period “ma seconde vie”, he used scissors and water-based gouache painted paper to create vivid cut out collages.  He called it ‘painting with scissors’.  He said of that time, “Every day that dawns is a gift to me and I take it in that way. I accept it gratefully without looking beyond it. I completely forget my physical suffering and all the unpleasantness of my present condition and I think only of the joy of seeing the sun rise once more and of being able to work a little bit”.

The author of ‘The Diving Bell and the Butterfly’ is a memoir by French journalist Jean-Dominique Bauby. Pre-stroke, Bauby had a great life being the editor of the Elle fashion magazine. However, his greatest creative act came after suffering a massive stroke in 1995 that left him with locked-in syndrome in which the only movement he could do was blinking his eyes.  The memoir was written by him blinking his left eyelid, which took ten months (four hours a day). Using partner assisted scanning, a transcriber repeatedly recited a frequency-ordered alphabet, until Bauby blinked to choose a letter. The book took about 200,000 blinks to write and an average word took approximately two minutes.

In an interview with the BBC, Judith Palmer, the director of the Poetry Society said that ‘There is no reason why rich poets can’t feel the hope, love, loss and wonderment they need to create their work. Money solves a lot of problems but it doesn’t stop you going through emotional trauma or suffering bereavement.’ But many artists and creative people have actually chosen ‘voluntary poverty’ in order to be more creative.  In the mid-19th Century, visitors flocked to the cottage of John Clare, the ‘peasant poet’ who lived and worked in grinding poverty. Charles Baudelaire who squandered his inheritance and sank into debt, said: “Any healthy man can go without food for two days – but not without poetry.” Even today, we imagine that life has to be hard in order to be creative and unconsciously set about making our lives hard or give ourselves a hard time, even!

However, I feel that choosing this kind of life of ‘bohemian or voluntary’ poverty or to subject one’s body extreme conditions, in order to be creative, is not really true creativity.  It is the opposite. True creativity is when one can use any life circumstance to be creative as Bauby, Matisse and others have done.  Polly Stenham, who wrote her first play aged 19, and went on to have it performed at the Royal Court theatre in London, talks about illness in her family, ‘..I think having an ill parent..can be a gift.  And you have to look at it like that. I wouldn’t have been a playwright had I not had to deal with it”.  Friesian poet Tsead Bruinja says that he no longer has such a narrow conception of the art-form, and thinks poems can come out of all kinds of life experiences. “There’s poetry everywhere,” he says. Yes, indeed- life is our true master; life is the one place where we can find all creativity.



everyday creativity


These are couple of embroidered items made by my mother when she was in her teens.  All hand stitched with amazing colours and details. My mother is now 75, the cataract in her eyes do not let thread a needle and her fingers are no longer nimble and active due to arthritis. Knowing how much I value her handiwork, she gave me many items- as have other relatives too.

I believed that my mother was not a creative person.  Yet not only did she make these exquisite items but also all our clothes and underwear.  We were poor and did not have the money to buy ‘ready made’ clothes.  With remarkable ingenuity, she made the best of each length of cloth and left overs which she got as a special deal and re-purposed items of clothing we outgrew.  I still have a blouse that used to be pyjamas once.  My mother made use of every scrap of food too- we were a zero waste household long before this became a fashionable term.  Couple of days ago, she told me that she had 15 tomatoes growing in her little container.  How did she manage that when I have tried special seeds, fertiliser and pot and achieved not much?  Her technique simply consisted of throwing ‘soft’ unusable tomatoes in the soil and watering it with water left from washing vegetables, using used tea leaves and other green waste for compost.

I used to think that creativity needed a studio, materials and time.  My mother’s everyday creativity did not need any of these things.  These were her everyday acts of creativity defying the lack of money and time, achieved in between bringing up three children on very little.  I am humbled by her and ashamed that I did not realise this before.  Let us celebrate the miracle of everyday creativity of people – we are all creative people!