When my boyfriend got down on one knee in Bryant Park and promised forever, I never imagined the subsequent months would be spent stressing about our wedding budget. But like many engaged couples, romantic discussions about our future quickly turned to serious talks about our finances.

Married people warned me how expensive weddings can be—especially weddings on the East Coast—but I never truly believed it until I was engaged. Within two months of our wedding planning, my fiancé became visibly stressed about how we would afford a walk down the aisle. One night after a long discussion about money, I decided I had to step up my game. Although I make less than my fiancé, my profession as a writer provides a powerful opportunity to earn extra cash through freelance projects. I had not, however, taken advantage of this opportunity for several years.

Over time, I had lost the inspiration to brainstorm articles, work on my book, or make freelance connections. The desk in my living room was the enemy, a reminder of laziness and dreams unfulfilled.

But the budget gap threatening to create distance between us was just the push I needed to dive back into my abandoned freelance work. So I cleaned off piles of mail from my desk, placed a plant in the corner, and returned to writing endeavors I had procrastinated on for months, even years. Suddenly I saw my career as more than just a job; it was the gateway to our future. Behind words on the computer screen were mortgage payments, our kids’ college funds, our retirement savings. For the first time, my writing success hinged on something bigger than just me—it was a family affair.

This got me thinking: Do major life events create a shift in work habits? Do they motivate us to work harder for promotions, raises and freelance gigs? Do they revive our careers by catapulting us into a vision of the future? Of course, I should have cared more about growing my freelance projects before our engagement, but like many people, I lost sight of my goals and needed a swift kick to remind me.

Our impending wedding has created the perfect deadline to accomplish short-term career goals that will set the stage for long-term success. With 14 months to go, there’s no time to procrastinate or give less than 100 percent. My day and night jobs both feel more purposeful, and I wake up each morning thinking about how I can maximize my time and earnings. On Tuesdays I go straight home from my day job to continue the night shift of freelance writing. I’ve established an organized, weekday routine I actually look forward to. (Now if only I could replace this $10 plastic chair for a piece of legitimate office furniture.)

Although our wedding will come and go next May, I foresee a permanent shift in my career as I experience more life events that inspire success not only for me, but for those I will share a future with.

What motivates and pushes you to work harder? Tell us in the comments!

Ask Gloria Feldt, Co-founder and President of Take the Lead, what motivates her!