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The Gawk Factor: How to Use It to Your Advantage

By Marie Burns January 07, 2022 Managing Money

Now that we are in the month of New Year’s resolutions, we often have change on our mind. We all have something we know we want or need to improve in our lives. The hardest part can often be getting motivated to make that change, identifying specifically what to change (then sticking with it), or just plain getting started.

Mind, Money, Motion

You may have heard:

  • What you think about, you bring about (mind).
  • Your checkbook (remember those gadgets?) reflects what you value (money).
  • A glance at your calendar says a lot about how you spend your time (motion).

So, ask yourself, are your areas of mind, money, and motion in alignment with what is most important to you? Or are you in need of making some changes in this adventure called “life”?

If your answer is “no” or “not as often as I would like,” then making a change to live out your values is likely what you need. Here is where I believe what I call “The Gawk Factor” can come to your rescue.

The Gawk Factor

So, what is “The Gawk Factor”? Visualize yourself driving along and suddenly there is a sea of brake lights ahead of you as everyone slows down on the road. You are nodding your head as you read this since we have all likely experienced this at some point.

At least in my experience, nine times out of ten, once you get up to the scene that caused the slow down in traffic, you realize that the accident that triggered the traffic has already been cleared off to the side but people have been slowing down just to get a better look at what happened.

There was no real reason to slow down anymore other than to “gawk” at the scene. Now I admit, the term gawk may not be a true reflection of what is actually happening in the case of an accident. Webster’s dictionary defines gawk as staring with empty-minded fascination. I am using it more in terms of meaning you stop, stare, and wonder.

Choose to Gawk

So how does this relate to making changes in the new year? I want to challenge you to intentionally “gawk” at your life some time this month. Pause, stare into your life, and wonder. Are your mind, money, and motion in alignment with your values? Look at my three opening bullet points again.

Sometimes, we are so busy that we don’t stop to observe how we are living. And decide that we do or don’t like what we see. I heard a podcast the other day that made this comment: most people have a “Nature Deficit Disorder” based on the fact that most of us spend less than 5% of our day on average outside with Mother Nature.

The Gawk Walk

So, consider a walk outside as a way to “gawk” at your life. That could be a positive, forced pause in your life. Maybe you will find that you are all set and living true to your heart and purpose already. Awesome! Celebrate and appreciate your peace with life!

After your gawk walk, you may decide to make some tweaks and to be successful at making a change, you need to 1) know your “why” and 2) identify your specific next step.

Your Why

“Why” do you want to change? To feel better, reduce your stress, improve your health, spend more time with family/friends or perhaps to improve your finances? Your motivation for change has to be a clear visualization of “why” the results will be important to you.

One Next Step

Then to identify specific next steps, consider lots of options to pick which one matters most to you. And break down that sub goal into one manageable thing at a time. That way you have 100% focus, no multi-tasking, and are more likely to get it done so you can move on to the next small step.


Reframing whatever this change is that you are deciding to make can help you be successful in accomplishing it as well. Can you look at this change as an opportunity in your life instead of a chore that needs to be done? A positive mindset physiologically flushes healthy chemicals through your body so you physically feel better, more like you can accomplish anything.


Lastly, find the education and support you do best with to accomplish your change. If your desired change is related to finances, for example, do you prefer working with another person to accomplish change? Or reading about how you can do it yourself? Or watching a video (YouTube to the rescue)? Or using a checklist? Or attending a class with others working on the same change?

A New Year’s Wish

My wish for you in 2022 is one you may have heard before but nonetheless is still good advice: The past is like a cancelled check; the future like a promissory note, so the only real legal tender is THIS moment, right now. Make the most of today!

What helps you to make a change? Do you have a New Year’s resolution to share? Or a success story of a past change you made? Let’s have a discussion!

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The Author

Marie Burns, a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®), advocates for women’s financial health. She is an author of a financial checklist book series, speaker, podcast host and partners with clients to offer friendly financial advice in her independent practice Visit her at or

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