What sort of motivational fuel are you putting in your tank?

What sort of motivational fuel are you putting in your tank?

If you want to make things happen, it’s worth understanding what sort of motivational fuel you are putting into your tank.

Are you using fear to motivate yourself?

In a recent blog – What’s in the Way of You Getting What You Want? – I discussed how fear can motivate. We all have an inner voice that can sometimes sound like a very hard taskmaster. It cracks the whip and drives us into taking action by threatening us. “You have to achieve this goal OR ELSE you’ll be a failure, you’ll be humiliated, people will think you’re worthless/a fraud/incompetent/lazy etc etc.” “You have to get this done OR ELSE the project will fail, you’ll be fired, you’ll lose everything and so on.”

So, to avoid these feared scenarios, we go into a frenzy of activity.  Yes, you get results but it’s exhausting and unsustainable in the long run. And, acting from the attitude of “I have to…OR ELSE…” doesn’t bring out the best in us.

When I respond from this place, I tend to rush, be short with people, make decisions reactively, get clumsy and my creative thinking abilities virtually disappear. Time seems to contract. Mistakes happen. And, I can even feel it in my body – my breath shortens, my back tightens and my shoulders are up around my ears.

It’s like putting dirty fuel into your engine. You make a certain amount of progress but it’s a bumpy ride, the engine suffers as a result and will, eventually, grind to a halt.

Fortunately, there is another way.

Which is to harness the power of purpose. Purpose is the clean fuel. With purpose in your tank, the journey towards your goal becomes smooth, easy and enjoyable.

When I’m in this space, I’m more resourceful and resilient, time expands and my ‘engine’ relaxes – my breath deepens, my back loosens and my shoulders come down. Plus, I make better decisions, am more creative and get much more done – with ease. And, I actually enjoy whatever I’m doing!

I’m sure you’ve all had your own experiences of each of these motivational states and, if you’re anything like me, you’d rather put clean fuel in your tank.

Yes, but how?

The key to motivating yourself using purpose rather than fear is to shift your attitude. When there’s something that you want to have happen, notice how you are talking to yourself. If you’re telling yourself that you “have to do something”, fear is in the driving seat. Investigate further by asking OR ELSE….? and you’ll uncover the fears that are under the bonnet.

Shift your attitude by switching your language. Get curious about why you want to have this thing happen. The positive reasons why this matters to you. Instead of “I HAVE TO…OR ELSE..” start thinking in terms of “I CHOOSE TO…BECAUSE…”.  For example, you might turn “I HAVE TO get this promotion OR ELSE I’ll never be a success.” into “I WANT TO get this promotion BECAUSE it’ll help my career.”

Different fuel, different feel.

Give this a go now. Think about something you want and play with the language. Say the dirty fuel version to yourself and then the clean fuel version and notice the difference in how you feel. You’ll likely feel lighter/happier when you’re in touch with your positive reasons for wanting something rather than your fears about not getting it.

You can strengthen your purpose still further by coming up with more positive reasons why you want something and, then, get in touch with why these particular reasons matter to you.

Knowing this, you then have a choice about which fuel to put into your tank – clean or dirty!