Ever have something that you feel like you should love, but somehow have trouble actually finding the energy/time/resources to do it? Writing is like that for me and some of my peers: “I hate writing. I love having written.” It’s an act of will to bring myself to the keyboard every day and launch that blank page.
How about the other side of the coin: that thing that you find yourself doing, over and over again, even though you can’t quite see the benefits of it? Perhaps it’s a hobby, perhaps it’s a person, perhaps it’s just that particular pair of shoes in the window of that store you walk by on your way to work.
Both situations are things that you love, but the means of getting there are almost directly opposite.
Momentum vs. Gravity
I’m involved in a peer group affectionately known as the Millionaire’s Club, and while speculating about why we don’t quite live up to our name yet, a colleague made a very astute observation: “There is nothing about money that innately draws you towards making it.”
True enough. My relationship with the Money Monster (tip of the hat towards Havi) is not a friendly one; I’m far more likely to prioritize the value of doing something as follows:
- Does it help out a friend?
- Does it help anyone?
- Will it help me?
- Will it make me look good?
- Will I enjoy it?
- Is it purple?
- Is it profitable?
Not exactly the path to riches, that. But the urge to help out others? Definitely a drive. I see myself as someone who is a positive force to help out other people, and I push myself towards that end.
On the other hand, there are cigars. I never expected to like cigars – never smoked cigarettes, marijuana, not even cloves. I identified cigars with wealth, affluence, and conservatives like Rush Limbaugh. Why would I have anything in common with that?
Yet when I learned to smoke a cigar as part of a complicated practical joke on a girlfriend…I found I loved it. Everything about it, discovering a far deeper level of history, tradition, sensual experience and bonding ritual than I ever expected. Cigars began to draw me, in spite of the rational mind which said What? You aren’t the kind of guy to smoke a cigar! Put that back!
Stasis & Stagnation
Now, I could have listened to that voice, and spent time and energy driving myself away from that same thing that I was drawn towards. It wouldn’t be the first time; you can probably think of several things or people or situations that you have to exercise willpower to stay away from, because you are drawn towards them.
That takes a lot of energy, similar to Alice in Wonderland running as fast as she can just to stay in one place. Trust me, it’s exhausting. cIn those situations, it’s probably a good idea to re-examine whether the draw is really what you are feeling. Perhaps it’s more a habit? A comfort zone? Or an unrealistic ideal?
Because that drive – whether it’s willpower or won’tpower – is not an infinite resource (or is it?). Regardless, the fact is that it is expending energy that could probably be redirected into something you really want.
Of course, sometimes we see something we’re drawn towards…and all it would take was a bit of drive to push towards it. But that also may be outside our comfort zone, and we hesitate to add the drive to the draw because the acceleration of where we are to where we want to be is a very scary ride. What if we crash at the end? Everybody knows it’s not the fall that kills you, it’s that sudden stop at the end.
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
Those are all the deep kind of thoughts that keep me up at night and are quite bothersome when you look in your own reflection in the mirror. Let’s talk about easier ways to align your drive with your draw to help make things a bit happier.
You can take something you’re drawn towards and put it in the path of something you want to drive towards and use them to create momentum (the concept, not the conference, though that’s pretty cool too). A small example: I have a drive towards journaling; I know it’s a useful tool of reflection, and I’m vain enough to also see it as a legacy for my grandchildren when they look back and say “what the hell was Grandpa Gray thinking?”
But it’s always been a hard habit to get into – or it was, until I linked it to the draw I have towards a cup of coffee in the morning. From the first day that I tried having my first cup of java while writing in my journal (two pages every day, without fail) it became easier to do, the two things becoming more associated with each other. In fact, I’d hazard to say that there’s now a draw towards journaling that wasn’t there before, because it’s associated with a neurochemical joy that the taste of coffee in the morning gives me.
That’s a little example. I suspect that with a little reflection on the things you love – and whether you are drawn towards them, driving yourself away from them, or some version of both – you may find a way to spend a lot less energy and still get to where you want to be: surrounded by that which you love.