The Two Types of Motivational Pressure

Most people can set goals. Sometimes we go on to achieve them. Then there are times when we struggle with motivation and persevering through the obstacles that inevitably pop up.

When that happens we tend to blame ourselves and we either push through or fall through. If you manage to push through and keep the momentum going then, good for you!

But if you fall through with your plans to achieve a particular goal, the emotional aftermath can trigger a downward spiral. The shame and guilt knocks your confidence and the next time you pursue a goal it will take even more willpower and blind faith in yourself. And you’re not even sure you still have those.

If this happens once or twice, I’d say to just plough on through that resistance. If falling through with your goals tends to be a consistent result, then it may be time to pull back and get back to the drawing board. (Or vision board.)

Achieving goals is meant to be challenging.

It’s part of the growth process of shaping you and your reality. However, if you have less and less motivation surrounding a particular goal causing you to release the pressure on the gas pedal, maybe it isn’t entirely your fault. It may not be that you didn’t try hard enough or that you didn’t rise up to the challenge.

It all begins with our why.

Why set goals in the first place? Probably because we want to achieve something. But what if we were motivated by something other than what is true to us? What if the goals we set for ourselves were borne out of a need to fit in, or please others, or be accepted, or a desire to be loved? What if these goals didn’t originate from an authentic place within us?

Think of motivation as a natural consequence of either external pressure (like stress resulting from financial troubles that prompt you to work two jobs or launch a business) or internal expansion.

Internal expansion is what happens when you feel inspired, curious, creative, energetic.

It’s energy rising within you and then expanding outwards exerting pressure on everything else, prompting you to take action. It makes you want to do that little bit more. Dig deeper than before.

It isn’t as extreme as fleeting inspiration, that rush of adrenaline at the beginning of something new. Motivation arising from internally expanding energy is more balanced, never aiming to build Rome in one day.

Have you ever attempted something just out of interest and not out of pure ambition? You were not invested in a defined outcome but you were just ready to try something different? Maybe it was a cooking class, a gardening course or starting to workout at the gym.

You followed the program and got great results! Or maybe it didn’t go as expected. It didn’t discourage you though, because something kept you going back to do more. You wanted to try again. Improve just that tiny bit. Then you know what this internally expanding motivation feels like.

Needless to say, of the two types of motivational pressure I’d much prefer to go with the second. It puts me in charge of the direction I’m going. As much as possible, I’m going to want to harness this kind of motivation.

Internal expansion only comes from being true to yourself.

There’s no other way. We can fake being curious about something that bores us to be polite, but it won’t carry us for the long term. We can experiment with creativity, but we cannot keep the creative juices flowing long enough for something that doesn’t stimulate us.

Even when it gets tough and we’re ploughing through those challenges, what gets us through it, is reconnecting with why we’re doing it in the first place.

So if your goals are forever on the horizon and you lack the drive to persevere through the challenges, then make some coffee and re-examine your goals. Ask yourself if it is something you truly want for yourself.

A good acid test

If nobody ever knew of your achievement, and you never earned a dime for it (money problems aside) would you still feel driven to figure out the challenges as they come? And would the achievement still be worthwhile to you?

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