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  • Writer's pictureFelicity Neeson

Are you motivating yourself in the right way?

There are two key types of motivation. “Away-from” motivation which is about avoiding something you don’t want, and “towards” motivation which involves striving towards a goal. Both are useful in their own ways, but can be problematic if the balance tips too far in one direction.

How are you motivated?

To determine what style of motivation you lean towards, think about your goals and priorities and ask yourself why they are important.


“Away-from” motivation

“Away-from” motivation can be very useful as a catalyst for action. It is easy to stay complacent when we’re feeling comfortable. Discomfort can be a good motivator. For example, finally deciding to wash the dishes when the pile in the sink makes cooking difficult. Or going for a promotion because you aren’t enjoying your current job.

The problem with being “away-from” motivated all the time is that it can become stressful and exhausting. Focusing energy on what you don’t want is problematic because the unconscious mind doesn’t recognise negatives. If you think “I don’t want to get sick” over and over, all your unconscious mind will register is “sick”. What you focus on is what you get, which is why it is best to frame goals positively.

The other problem with “away-from” motivation is that it lacks forward direction. As the only sense of direction is away from the problem, you may end up going around in circles.

“Towards” motivation

“Towards” motivation is when you focus on what you do want. What are your dreams? What makes you happy? Knowing what you are striving for and why can make your actions feel more meaningful.

One technique to keep your “towards” motivation clear in your mind is to create a vision board and place it somewhere where you will look at it regularly. For more info on how to create a vision board, click here.

The best goals are positively framed and future focused. The imagination is a powerful tool to bring these goals to life. If you want to be a great public speaker, visualise yourself standing on a stage in front of thousands who are hanging on your every word. Feel your confidence fill you from within and hear the sounds of the crowd cheering you on.

By focusing on what we want to happen, rather than what we want to avoid, we teach our brains to notice opportunities, and gain clarity around where we are heading.

“I can't change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” - Jimmy Dean

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