When you set yourself a goal - and even if you don't have clear intentions - there are two things you'll probably do:
Running towards or away from something.
Knowing on which side of the spectrum you are is essential to help you make the right decisions.
Because decisions made out of fear or scarcity are rarely good in the long term.
An example could be:
"I need the money now, so I'm going to take that job even if I don't want it."
"I want to build my own business but most entrepreneurs fail and it's too risky. So, I'll stay in that job because, at least, I know what to expect."
"I'd like to write a book but it feels so overwhelming and like so much work" So, you never start, which is also a decision.
We usually avoid pain and seek pleasure. But, in every one of us, there's a motivational factor that is predominant.
Now, you might think that it's better to run towards than away from something but it's not always the case.
Avoiding pain can serve you and it can help you find smarter solutions and set priorities.
But running towards something doesn't automatically means seeking pleasure. Mostly, when you run towards big goals, you're not in for immediate gratification.
If you set yourself any kind of goal, it's always very insightful to know, to which category you belong because it will give you a first tool to find out what's blocking you.
In this article, I want to help you find out, what you're seeking or avoiding, and how to leverage it in order to solve any kind of creative and mental block you might have.
What are you running towards?
Now, that seems to be pretty easy to answer but there's always a deeper motivation behind every one of your actions (or non-actions).
And it's worth, if not essential, to explore because when things are going to get hard, you need to be prepared and have a rock-solid "why".
Let's take a concrete example. Let's say you'd like to lose weight.
Now, what I always hear when people say that they want to lose weight is that they want to be healthy. This argumentation is tangible, though, it's too vague.
Of course, everybody wants to be healthy, because being sick sucks. If your health were ever at risk, you know how valuable it is to have it. If you're sick, you not only suffer physically and mentally, but everything else in your life is impacted by it. Your career, your finances, your relationships and so much more. And depending on your situation, it can have a dramatic turn of events.
So, in that case, you'd try to avoid being sick by staying healthy.
However, the problem here is that "being healthy" could mean anything from "being not sick yet" to "being a super trained triathlete" (although I don't know if it's healthy either, I would have to check). In other words, it doesn't mean anything or means something different for every one of us.
So, in brief, it's a weak "why" that isn't going to take you far.
The second problem, in our example, is that it's not because you're slightly overweighted that you're not healthy. Or, you could be already thin and want to become even thinner, which has absolutely nothing to do with health, but everything to do with aesthetics.
If you'd say, I want to fit in size so and so, or look good naked, or look like X, Y, Z. it becomes more concrete but it still doesn't tell you why you want it.
Now, I want you to think about something you want but haven't made happen yet and while I'm guiding you through this, try to find your own "why".
So, to go back to the "losing weight" example, it would be very helpful to know why you want to fit in size so and so since going on a diet isn't the most fun thing to do at first.
Asking yourself the right questions could look like this:
- Do you think it will make you attractive?
- Do you want to be attractive?
- Why do you want to be attractive?
- Do you feel insecure about yourself?
- Is looking good a priority for you? Why?
- Do you want to be accepted?
- Do you think the good look is going to get you something? Open doors? Admiration? Respect? Love?
- Do you identify with and admire thin people?
- Do you associate being thin with being successful?
- Do you want to look good to find a potential partner?
- Do you think people are going to like you more?
- Are you going to like yourself more?
- Or did your spouse asked you to lose weight?
- Or did someone made you a hurtful remark about your weight?
As always, there is no right or wrong answer and not everybody wants the same.
In this example, I'll give you that, at least, in Western Societies, being thin and beautiful still is put on a pedestal, otherwise the fitness and fashion industry wouldn't generate so much money.
And there's nothing wrong with that. Wanting to look good is human. It becomes problematic when it starts to crush you inside and jeopardize your self-worth.
Finding a strong enough "why" is going to influence everything that you do, including being super successful.
What are you running away from?
Now that you have the tools to find your "why", let's dive into the things you're avoiding.
Because they are also a great insight to help you achieve the things that you want.
If you want something, it might involve you doing things that you don't want to do.
For example, if you want to build a business but you don't want to take care of your marketing and sales or you want to avoid talking to people at any price because you're afraid, it's going to be tough to find clients. You might be exceptional at what you do, if nobody knows, you don't have a business.
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Let's say you have a problem with sales. You're afraid to put yourself out there and to talk to people to sell your services. So, at first sight, you're avoiding selling your services.
You might tell yourself it's because you don't want to sound salesy but the real reason could be much deeper. Being salesy comes mostly from the cliché we have of a pushy salesman who doesn't listen to what we really want and would force us to buy anything with manipulative rhetoric no matter the quality of the product and if we need it in the first place.
But frankly, are you afraid of "being salesy" - if you know you aren't and have control over your sales speech - or are you afraid of something else?
- Do you feel your services aren't good enough and therefore you feel uncomfortable selling them?
- Do you have problems with setting boundaries - aka saying no - and are projecting that fear into your prospects. "What if they feel obligated to say yes ?!"
- Do you doubt your competencies in general and have a self-worth problem?
- Do you think you're not enough prepared?
- Are you afraid to disappoint people once they've purchased your service or your product?
- Are you afraid of rejection?
All of those fears (might they be well-founded or not) are going to prevent you from putting yourself out there and bringing new clients into your business even if you truly want a business and it's not a seasonal mood you currently have.
If it's well-founded (for ex: your product isn't good enough), at least you now have something concrete to work with. You can ask for feedback, tweak your service or product, and come back more sure than ever.
If after having pulled all the layers, you find out, that it's not a product or service, but a self-worth problem, you also have something to work with. You know it's not founded on something related to your skills.
Clarity is power.
Knowing what exactly you're running away from is as important as knowing what exactly you're running towards to:
You'll gain clarity. And clarity is power.
The clearer you get about what you want and why you want it, but also what you don't want and why you don't want it, the easier it will be for you to hyper-focus and get in the direction you want to.
Mostly, inaction, or taking the wrong decisions come from a place of confusion. We think we don't know what we want or we think that we don't want something because we're afraid of what we might find out, or of the actions, we'd have to take in order to make it happen.
If you dive deep into this, it might not always be pleasant. Nobody wants to hear that what they do sucks.
However, if the (self-)critic is well-founded (and not coming from a vicious place), opening your heart and your eyes to what's exactly going on is going to benefit you in the long term - and maybe immediately.
And remember: Nothing is permanent. It's not because you're not good enough now, or because you're insecure now, that's it's always going to stay that way.
It's really up to you. And making things happen takes courage.
Much love <3