We can be motivated 1) toward what we want or 2) away from what we don’t want. It’s easy to just say that both situations are motivating, however, when you really look closely, often you can determine which of these two is primary in your own mind.
This is our motivation model for today, although there are many types of motivation out there. Toward and away motivation is a construct used by NLP practitioners, many of whom are also mental health counselors.
But why dive into different kinds of motivation at all?
Because it may help you troubleshoot problem areas where you lack motivation. For example, my wife and I just went on a cruise that left from New Orleans, LA. Upon returning from the 7-night adventure, we still had a couple of days to do more in Louisiana, so Hope booked a bayou tour. Neither of us had ever jetted about in the thick of a swamp, so this was something we were excited about doing.
Until the morning of…
I was exhausted from all the fun and wanted to spend the day before we flew home to San Diego in bed recuperating. Time to just relax and drop the tourist stuff! I’d earned that day of downtime in my mind. After all, I’d been a good sport during the entire week. It made sense at the time even though we’d already booked the event, paid for it, passed the refund date, and Hope still wanted to go together.
Meh. I didn’t feel like it.
All I could think about was how I was tired of feeling tired. I imagined myself, half-asleep on some boat in a swamp, surrounded by other tourists and some yahoo of a tour guide playing swamp tricks on us. I wasn’t up for it. And I said as much. “You go ahead. I just want to stay in the hotel and sleep.”
Thanks for any votes of confidence, but…
While I appreciate the sentiment if you’re siding with me on this one, it isn’t fair from an insider’s point of view. The point of this – and all of our excursions – is to enjoy time together and cherish mutual memories. We build our relationship through experiences and I had agreed to this one.
Moreover, I have known for many years that Hope doesn’t like doing excursions by herself and prefers not to go at all vs. going by herself if it can be helped. I had no valid reason for spending the day in my hotel room, the least of which being fatigue. I’m not even sure the fatigue was anything other than emotional resistance.
Where did the resistance come from?
This is where we revisit the two types of motivation – toward and away. In that case, I was moving away from the image of being exhausted. In my mind’s eye, I pictured myself on the tour, head-bobbing my way through it and being generally miserable. I didn’t want to go through that!
I was moving away from going on the tour because I was predicting a bad experience and resisting it in advance.
I went. And had I not gone on the swamp tour, I would have missed these little swamp raccoons! Incidentally, during the entire tour, I was not in the least bit tired. My motivation changed from moving away from exhaustion to moving toward enjoying time with Hope. When I embraced that, all was well.
Have you ever considered that the way in which you motivate yourself takes a toll on your mind and body?
What does any of this have to do with imposter syndrome?
On the surface, the two kinds of motivation have nothing to do with imposter syndrome, although the syndrome itself is riddle with moving away motivation. We’re all moving away from being exposed as frauds. What are we moving toward? A life in hiding?