To Or From

Is it more inspiring to move toward something you want, or away from something you don’t?

I am not sure there is a correct answer to this question, as one can make a case for both. If I am on a trail and a bear suddenly appears and starts chasing me, moving away – and quickly – is the only answer for me. On the other hand, I am much more inspired at the prospects of vacationing on an island paradise, rather than simply getting out of Ohio for a while.

There are plenty of studies which describe the motivating power of an exciting vision. Wanting to reach a better future, whether that is the pursuit of becoming a better version of yourself, or the pursuit of a really meaningful work goal, can indeed have an almost magnetic affect. That vision literally pulls you toward it. Look at any entrepreneur or inventor working toward making a dream come true, and you will see relentless energy and commitment. Moving toward a desired outcome does put wind behind your sails, for sure.

However, when I talk with people about their aspirations, I more often hear them describe what they don’t want, rather than what they do. “I am sick of my job” is more common than “I want I job where I can do such and such kinds of work, and be affiliated with such and such kinds of people.” Or, one of the classic examples, “I just need a change. I feel like I am in a rut.” And yes, there are those who have even made it known that they are tired of being single and want to get married. Hmm, kind of makes one wonder what this person might settle for, just to get away from the single life.

My personal observations tell me that it must be easier to commit to moving away from a bad situation, than toward a more desired one.  I guess that bear has family and friends all around us.

So, why do you think that is?

My hunch is this. The current, bad situation is crystal clear in our minds, as we are living it every day in full color and surround sound. We know all about it and feel our energy being sapped by its dragging weight on us.

But we are not so clear on what we do want. Maybe we have thought about it, maybe not. But either way, there seems to be more fog around it. And because this new, desired place is not so clear, it makes us hesitant to commit ourselves to it.

But maybe that doesn’t really matter in our minds. As long as we get out of the lousy place we are currently in, we are willing to accept landing in the fog, because we know it has to be better.

Just keep this in mind. Cincinnati in late summer can be a bit miserable with oppressive heat and humidity. But the goal to just get away for a while, could land you someplace like the beautiful island getaway of Turks and Caicos – right in the middle of a massive hurricane. I imagine a number of people stranded there last year after hurricanes Irma and Maria, would have cherished the heat and humidity, and power and running water, and perhaps even a working brewery or two of good old Ohio. Moving away from something does not ensure a happy ending.

So as this year comes to a close and a new one approaches, I encourage you to think about the desired places you truly want to reach, not just those you want to leave behind. Lock in a couple of truly aspirational targets. Work on picturing them clearly in your minds. Talk about them with others. Turn them over in your mind as you sleep on them. Anchor in “why” they are important for you. Believe it or not, the fog surrounding them will begin to clear and you will begin to feel the tractor beam of each, pulling you toward them. And, that will likely become very inspiring for you.

Enjoy your holidays and creating the path toward an exciting and fulfilling 2019.


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