Are you an away or toward person?

I was having a chat to this young man the other day, he was telling me how he gets frustrated with himself because there are times in his life where he feels very motivated which leads him to achieving goals and feeling very satisfied, yet there are other times where he sees himself as lazy. 

When he is feeling unmotivated and lazy, nothing gets done and he beats himself up mentally because he knows what he should be doing, but just can’t seem to get out of this “rut”. 

When I asked him how much time he spent in each of these places, he said around 25% of the time motivated and 75% feeling lazy. Our conversation continued on and I tried to share some insight into how he could work towards spending more time in a motivated place. On a personal level, listening to him reminded me of a time in my life where I felt the same way, a time where I was mainly unmotivated but sometimes had the kick that I needed to be the person I knew I could be. 

One of the factors we should always be evolving in our lives is our ability to improve self-motivation. If you can identify with this young man and feel that the ratio of your motivation to laziness is tipped more towards the latter, it could be a a good time to start evolving yourself to tip the percentages the other way.  A part of your evolution is to learn different motivation strategies that work for you and as you learn these you can use these tools and strategies when you are faced with future challenges. 

One motivation tool that can be very helpful is called Away or Toward. Away or Toward motivation stems from how you are driven as a person. An Away person is someone who is motivated to move away from a certain area of their life. Let’s say you are overweight and you may feel  ashamed of the way you look to the outside world, you finally get to a point where you are sick of it and decide to create change. Thinking about yourself at your biggest weight becomes a motivator as you move towards achieving your goal, in this situation you are motivated to move away from what you don’t want to be. 

A Toward person is more about where you want to get to as a person. You may be inspired by a friend doing a half marathon and although you have never run before you suddenly have the desire to achieve that goal yourself. You start to visualise yourself finishing the race, you think about who you will become as you move towards the goal and this motivates you to make good decisions and ultimately achieve your goal of running a half marathon. 

When we look at Away and Toward motivation it can be easy to think that one is negative and one positive, but that’s not the case, both are just a focus that helps you create the change that you want. If you create that change, through either strategy, that has to be a positive outcome for your life. Many people will experience both types of motivation at different times and in different areas of their life. 

Thinking back to the young man I was talking to, he could use both the Away and Toward strategies to increase his motivation. He could spend some time developing a clear picture of what he wants to stay away from, this could be identifying the strong negativity he feels at the time, think about his self-talk, and remind himself where being in this lazy place takes him in his life. At the same time he could visualise where he is wanting to head as a person. He could see the things he wants to achieve, who he may become as a person and how his peers will develop more respect for him, not to mention the self respect that he will develop himself. By taking on this approach he would be covering both bases and increasing his chances of staying motivated. 

When you think about the times where you have felt most motivated in your life were you driven by Away or Toward motivation? How did that time go for you? Do you think that if you were to put the right type of motivation in front of you right now would you find it easier to move towards the goals you are chasing?

Putting some time aside to figure out the answers to these questions could give you the spark you need to create change in your life. Remember, no change happens until we have the motivation to change.

This piece orginally appeared in The Press


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Bevan Eyles