What Motivates You?

At first, most people's motivation is the same – pay the bills and make your business profitable.

But even with the most basic of needs, sometimes, you can still lack the motivation required to get through the latest Dip.

My solution to this for a long time has been a variation of the “dream board.”

Only mine doesn't ONLY include “dreams” (like something I want to buy or a trip I'd like to take) – it includes “reasons” as well (like my children).

My dream board

A decade ago my board consisted of pictures of cleaning services, a floor plan of a 2500 square foot house I hoped to one day own (at the time, the mere thought of a house that big – and brand new – seemed insane at best) and pictures of places I wanted to visit (far away lands like Southern Florida when I lived in Central Florida LOL) – along with pictures of my children.

One day all those “dreams” were realized and down came the board.

An unintentional consequence of passive income: If the money comes in regardless of whether or not you “work” it can become easy to stop pushing yourself.

A year ago I re-created my dream board, essentially making it one out of my entire office. I added new wants. I added new reasons. I added new inspiration. And I deleted from my efforts anything I was working on that didn't have an ROI that made it worth it – to me.


All around my office, you'll find Scarface. Now, I'm not saying I support murder and drug dealing LOL. I'm saying I identify with his sense of entrepreneurship and his sense of getting what he wanted. And my favorite quote of all time was a line by Tony Montana: “Who do I trust? Me.” However, I hope not to be gunned down at the end of my SEO career. ;-) Above my desk are other quotes by “more respectable folks” that inspire me and mottoes I try to live by. Among them?

“Admit your errors before someone else exaggerates them.” ~ Andrew V. Mason

“Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune.” ~ Jim Rohn

“It isn't what they say about you; it's what they whisper.” ~ Errol Flynn

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” ~ Albert Einstein

“We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

“Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” ~ Dwight Eisenhower

“Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” ~ Winston Churchill

“Being rich is having money; being wealthy is having time.” ~ Margaret Bonnano

“Before doing something ask yourself, ‘Will it increase my bank account, increase my happiness or improve the world?' If the answer is no, don't fucking do it.” ~ Me


Also present? Pictures of my new “wants.” The house we are currently building, the picture of the 244 Sunesta I'd like to buy once I'm completely settled in here, and several bookmarked photos of spectacular backyard patios and kitchens that I am looking to for inspiration to design the one I plan to add to our new house (complete with my logo actually built as a mosaic into the patio.) [Yes. Seriously.]


My office also contains numerous pictures of my children, close family and good friends. A printout of a letter from a chick who thanked me for having “helped four children more than you'll ever know” by helping her create a successful business working from home. A letter from one of my employees telling me how much he has loved his tenure working with me (he still does) and the opportunities he's been able to explore as a result. A print out of my fundraising efforts for the Stroke Walk that reminds me though this online “fame” may be bullshit, it allows me to help so many folks both monetarily and awareness wise. Those are my reasons.

What's on (or should be on) your dream board?

I no longer look at a dream board as a task to be completed, but more of a rolling motivation. I'll add new quotes, I'll add pictures of my new son (due soon!), I'll add pictures of the bar I'd like to open when I retire when I get a better idea of what I want it to be.

Do you use a “dream board” of any type? What's on it? What should be on it? What motivates you?

Posted in


Rae Hoffman aka "Sugarrae" is a veteran digital marketer and SEO consultant. She is also a serial entrepreneur. You can find out more about her entrepreneurial efforts here. Rae is most active on Twitter.


  1. Melissa - SEO Aware on March 10, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    God and my family are my main motivation. I have a kid in college now…that takes money. My husband worked hard and supported me while i got a bachelors and masters degree. I like being able to lighten his load in money worries. I like that we can buy what we want and still have money to pay bills (however, I am not a big spender ! – except for cars and purses :-).

    I was raised very wealthy and I married a poor guy while my parents protested. I was much happier with him broke than I ever was when I was “wealthy”. All I want is to not worry about money, have time with my family and all of us remain healthy.

    I love my industry and I love my work, but I love being with my family more. I like being respected for being honest and ethical. This motivates me.

  2. Nick "Not the Peanut Butter Cup" Reese on March 10, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    For me, I’ve always been motivated by my peer group and doing things they say can’t be done or wouldn’t dream of doing.

    As my peer group is changing I now focus on doing things that I wouldn’t have dreamed of doing before. I.E. Traveling and launching traffic and trust while in Peru.

    I’m seeing my goals change over time and it is fun to always dream up new stuff.

    My 10 year goal is a timeshare in a private jet or buying a English lordship title.

    For some reason Duke Nick Reese, just rings well. ;)

  3. Michelle MacNevin on March 10, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    I was just talking to my boyfriend (Neil DuPaul) about this yesterday. I have started my own business of teaching American Sign Language and like all new businesses it’s a slow start. My problem is, is that I don’t have a lot of motivation. When a new business is starting out you need to bust your ass getting zero sleep in making sure that it becomes successful. Since I am getting plenty of sleep I am clearly not working hard enough.

    Neil definitely pushes me but I need to push myself. Right now my motivation is to be able to pay all my bills without any help from my family. Another motivation is to be making enough money from teaching so I can get out of my other job. These motivations aren’t good enough for me. They are not keeping me up at night thinking of things I can do for my company. I need a constant reminder so maybe I will do a dream board so when I am about to login to Facebook or watch a movie I will look at my board and decide to work!

    Thanks for motivating me to reach my dreams!

  4. Nancy Davis on March 10, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    Reading this just inspired me to create a dream board. The thing that motivates me is knowing that when I am an old woman, I will look back and say “I did the things that I set out to do” I want to give my son a good life, and to that end, I work hard and learn as much as possible. Nothing gets done if you just sit around and talk about it. Now I am working on doing it.

    My other big motivator is coming from where I have in my life, I should have been gone long ago. How dare I not be grateful for the second chance I got and make the most of my life and help others along the way? My biggest passion has always been to help others, and now I am working on ways to make that a reality.

    I am going to cut out some pictures too. That is a really good idea

  5. Bo Johnson on March 10, 2011 at 4:43 pm

    Been on your RSS for awhile now. Way to go on the baby thing. Too bad about the beer.
    Love your posts.

  6. Kim Rowley on March 10, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    My “dream board” is the homepage of all of my browsers on all of my computers. I update it with pictures of my goals (and links to URLs I use everyday). Five years ago I built my 2500+ square foot house for me and my four children after adding that as a goal. I like your idea of adding “reasons” as well, so I’m off to update my homepage now… Thanks for the inspiration!

  7. Kathy on March 10, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    Brilliant post! What motivates me?.. Actually waking up in the morning, seeing my children achieve their dreams.. especially love watching all the fabulous clients we have, discover that life does go on, and that happiness can be grabbed again despite adversity.

    Stuff……. nah! Got it.. its nice sure, but that’s not what floats my boat in the end. I guess this must mean I’m really a grown up now and what motivates me most is finding new ways to hang on to my ‘mind’ before senility sets in, that and dancing on the treadmill of life.

  8. Deborah Carney on March 10, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    I’ve had a dream board but didn’t call it that. After my sons died I moved west. I had a wall in front of me in one apartment, it was actually the sliding doors to a closet, but it was where my desk faced. On that “wall” were photos and images that were my inspiration. Photos of my children and grandchild, special friends that got me through the bad days, art of mine and a special butterfly print created by Jen Goode. That print was the center of the wall and everything else was around it. Something to the effect that happiness is like a butterfly, it will eventually find you when you aren’t looking.

    When I moved into a rented house, my wall next to my desk was covered with photos of my kids, my sister, my dad, my closest friends. I needed that wall to make me realize that I wasn’t alone even though many of those people are gone.

    My current home has mostly windows around the office, I haven’t resurrected my dream wall, but I look across the desk at my current inspiration every day. My dreams are to get through each day and help someone along the way.

    I gave up on some dreams, that are actually fulfilling my son’s dream, because I can’t imagine accomplishing them without him at the helm. My dreams aren’t monetary or physical things.

    My inspiration was my son’s voices telling me to never give up, because they didn’t. This is serendipitous because I wrote a very similar story last night, but I am not ready to post it yet.

    Rae, you are an inspiration. You’ve accomplished what I tried to, but I got sidetracked.

  9. Jen Goode on March 10, 2011 at 5:51 pm

    My motivation comes from the results of my work from other people. For me it’s never been about the money.. it’s been about the reach. If I’m not reaching anyone, I’m not successful. My business tag line has always been “inspiring smiles every day” which drives that motivation… If I’m not working on something to encourage someone else to think positive or smile or some kind of self happiness, then I’m not reaching my daily goal.It’s easy to get side tracked, letting crazy family schedules and work deadlines cause stress – not very smile worthy – so I try every day to remember my the busy isn’t want I want to leave behind when I go.

    I love the idea of a dream board! Recently I’ve been working on building my studio space with the intent of working in it, instead of all over the house… I think a dream board would fit perfectly into the whole concept of inspiring happiness. I’ll think on that and share what I come up with. Thank you for the inspiration today.

  10. Laura Zarrin on March 10, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    This is a great post and it reminds me that I should get my dream board up! Thank you!

  11. Yolanda on March 10, 2011 at 10:17 pm

    I don’t use physical boards, but I do have a dream “background” on my desktop. It includes pictures of Japan and my dream canopy bed and interior bedroom design.

    Trust me, it’s really motivating to close all the windows you had open and see your visions/dreams as you shutdown your computer and turn it back on. :)

  12. kimber cook on March 11, 2011 at 12:52 am

    Okay, fine. You’ve inspired me to dig out my old “dream board” in hopes that that shit really might work. ;)

  13. Loretta on March 11, 2011 at 12:53 am

    Holy heck, comments are open! I love your idea of having “reasons” instead of dreams on your board and around your office, it makes so much more sense. The usual dream boards never really did anything for me. Having reasons reminds of what you DO have and why you want to keep it instead of what you don’t have. Your quote there at the end is my favorite ;) You are indeed an inspiration.

    I’ve recently decided to go in an entirely new direction, make huge changes in my (family’s) life, and it has been a bit overwhelming the past week or two. So, your question and discussion of motivation came at a perfect time in my online journey. Thanks for that.

  14. Ioana on March 11, 2011 at 6:59 am

    Thank you for another inspiring post.
    Right now I dream of going to the best SEO and UX conferences and workshops in Europe and in the process see some new places and buy lots of stuff (especially books). Then I dream of one day having enough money and time for a car trip that would take me through Budapest, Prague, South of France, Genova, Venice, Vienna and Belgrad (of course, that would require buying a solid car). When I think about taking the plunge and going freelance (maybe even doing a little affiliate marketing, what you wrote really gave me the courage and hope that it just might be worth to try it), that’s what I think about. I probably should make my own dream board!

  15. Marlee on March 11, 2011 at 8:18 am

    Hey Rae,
    First of all I wanted to mention that I’ve noticed your blogging more as of late and that is VERY cool. Second, I was like WTF….she is taking comments…I must partake. That said, thank you for the fresh perspective on motivation.

    To be honest, and I’m not sucking up here because your not one who can be sucked up to anyway, YOU’VE motivated me a lot. When I get all whiny and frustrated I read your “how you got started” post and it reminds me how good I’ve got it.

    You’ve pushed through some incredible things and with whatever challenges you face you continue to bring yourself to the game full throttle. That’s pretty motivating. So, thanks for keeping it real, being a great example, and sharing words of encouragement.

  16. Melanie Harth on March 11, 2011 at 8:46 am

    I gotta do what I love, with folks I love! That’s what keeps my creative juju high, and a delighted smile on my face — love. I know, it’s one of the least-used-in-public 4-letter words. For my money, it’s the most powerful. Thanks for a thoughtful topic. The SoulDoc

  17. Satu on March 12, 2011 at 6:35 am

    I created a dream board maybe 2 years ago but I haven’t looked at it for a long time. I doubt I even want many of the things I put there. Sometimes things change fast.

    I want all kinds of material stuff too, but what I most want is to have a say in my life: pay my debts and have a source of independent income so that I can do what I want instead of being a slave to crazy professors (I work in Academia) or work in some equally insane job or project. I would also like to have some fun in the process, if it’s at all possible! :-)

    The motivation thing is tricky though: I appear to be motivated, but I still find myself doing things that are not in my interest!

  18. Amanda Orson on March 12, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    I’ve LOOONG been an advocate of dream boards and setting goals. That said, I learned the hard way that taping pictures to a piece of cardboard or pinning them to your cork board does NOTHING to achieve them unless the bulk of your time is dedicated to the actionable work that goes into each.

    A quote that could be easily applied to this post I try to keep in mind by Thomas Edison (a NJ boy, at that!):

    “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”

    This industry, in particular, has a lot of people who enter it with the notion that it’s going to be easy money. And if you’re lucky, really lucky, that might be true for a few months. Maybe a year. But the algorithm will shift, a traffic source will die out, an affiliate offer will cease to be profitable- something will give. The people that come out on the other side of that are those who understand this is a business foremost. Google, your affiliate network, God- whatever- no one owes you a living. You have to grind it out and get whats yours, because no one else is as invested in your ‘dream board’ as you are.

    As for the stuff on my dream board right now, for the first time, they aren’t “things”. They’re experiences. Being able to send my mom on the trip of her dreams. Places I’d like to go. Crazy things I’d like to say I’ve done.

    And always… always… spending more time with friends and family.

  19. Be Free on March 12, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    My favorite part of this post:

    “Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” ~ Winston Churchill

    No kidding! Amen to that! We all have failure, even those who are very successful! The difference is who quits and who doesn’t. And enthusiasm is key. You can try and try to do something, but if you aren’t putting your whole self into it, you will be so much further behind what you could have been.

  20. Martin Cole on March 13, 2011 at 11:29 pm

    I’ve never had a dream board and only at certain points in my life have I ever had properly focused goals. Surprise, surprise – when I’ve had focused goals, I’ve usually managed to achieve good things. Then the focus goes, the drift begins and the good things slip away.

    I guess what I’m saying is that, from my experience, the most improtant point you’re making here, Rae, is not necessarily about simply having a dream board or whatever it is that works for you. Instead, it’s about the need to keep reflecting on what it is that you do want and where it is you want to get to. You need to constantly adjust your goals to suit your current situation.

    By keeping your sights adjusted you can keep your destination in view. Otherwise you’re just cast adrift in the fog (and heading for the main shipping lanes).

    I enjoy your stuff – thanks.

    Shame about the ‘starting an affilliate site’ series – I thought that might be my magic bullet ;)

  21. Allegra Sinclair on March 14, 2011 at 11:40 am

    Ninja! I just found your blog through the DIY newsletter and it’s awesome!
    This post is so timely and challenging. I have been playing around at with my business for far too long because I have been easily distracted. I have occasionally created vision boards, or dream posters, etc. over the years but they never included WHY I wanted to achieve those things. That is so powerful! That thought never even occurred to me. It’s easy to get distracted when I just focus on the ‘stuff’ I want to accomplish. It won’t be as simple to ignore the friends, family, and soon-to-be-friends whose lives won’t be impacted if I don’t get my butt in gear. Thanks for being so authentic and speaking the ‘unspoken’. Have a POWERFUL week! Allegra

  22. Jim Rudnick on March 18, 2011 at 8:50 am

    Ross has a great piece on this same mindset here too – http://www.rosshudgens.com/how-to-motivate-an-seo/


    lots to read this weekend…sigh….many many viewpoints on just this item, eh!


  23. Aurelius Tjin on March 22, 2011 at 3:35 am

    Inspirational post Rae! What motivates me? God and my Family motivates me. Their happiness is my happiness. They always inspired me everyday. ^_^

  24. Mikael Rieck on March 25, 2011 at 7:39 am

    I also have a dream board (it is down at the moment because I am moving) and it is placed right in front of the computer where I spend so much time. Like yours, it is a work in progress and includes both the things I want and the people I love.

    Luckily I have no problem dreaming big (not “buying an island” big but still…). I can’t say that the dream board is what drives me or that it is what motivates me but if it can help just one small bit, that is enough for me.

    And obviously I like looking at it :)


  25. Rich Mistkowski on April 2, 2011 at 6:55 am

    Everything I do is for my family.

    I like to say that “stimulus plan” starts at 5 a.m. everyday and ends about 11 p.m. Being a small business owner and a very active father, my day takes many twists and turns throughout the day. And I can get side tracked very easily.

    One of my businesses focuses on building a life with passive income and the most successful people in this business talk about “dream boards”. I’ve thought about it and have done absolutely nothing to make it happen.

    Then I read your post and something “hit” me. I’m on vacation in Siesta Key with my family and we are ready to head back to the cold today. (not looking forward to leaving) My head cleared a bit and had some really quality time with my family. So, one of the first things I am going to do is get my office set up when I get back with “my dreams”.

    My son has Down Syndrome and I am working on making sure that he is taken care of for, not only my life, but his life. This is my biggest motivation everyday. He’s 5 years old, and he is the MOST POSITIVE person I know. I keep learning from him everyday. If I’m going to make my dreams come true, I need to be surrounded by the positive influences that will keep me on track.

    I’m not sure how I found your blog, but I’m glad I did. Thanks for the reminder about how important having dreams can be.

  26. Rae Hoffman-Dolan on April 2, 2011 at 9:01 am

    Rich – I totally understand the motivation re your son. Trust me that even with that challenge, success at this is totally possible. My son is severely multiply disabled so I get where you’re coming from – and can promise you can still make it where you want to go. :)

  27. Riz on April 4, 2011 at 8:59 am

    It’s kind of awesome to read a post about “Dreams” in an internet marketing blog. :) It’s a breath of fresh air from all the daily SEO stuff I get on my feed. This moved me, thank you! :)

  28. John on April 4, 2011 at 12:35 pm


    This is a great idea that I had not considered. I have been working at this, part time, for quite a while with a little success but nothing great. I find myself wandering a bit and not sticking with one thing long enough.

    A “Dream Board” or “Wish List” is just what I need to stay focused!


  29. Ron Shearer. on May 19, 2011 at 8:53 am

    Thanks Rae for an interesting article. I have to admit that most of my life I have not had the inspiration to be motivated to any great extent. I was always (de)focused on the here and now of enjoying being young. Traveling the world seemed to be the be all and end all for me. However now that I am in my later years there seems to be a splendid and happy urgency for me to be motivated no matter what the cause. This may seem to readers to be a ‘panic’ button response to the time and place that I find myself in now – but I do not see that as the case. As silly as this may sound, being 65 years of age I find myself doing things that a 20, 30, or a 40yr old would attempt -and quite frankly I am loving every minute of it. I love getting up in the morning and feeling the surge of adrenalin preparing me for the day and the feeling of what can be achieved within the next 12 hours.