Reinvigorating Your Drive

Most of my life, I’ve been lucky enough to have a lot of drive: drive to produce, drive to accomplish, drive to grow, drive to learn and discover, drive to get what I want.

Most of my life, but not recently.

I don’t know if anyone noticed, but for the past few months I’ve been republishing blog posts from a couple of years ago, rather than writing new ones. For almost the first time in my life, I simply lacked the drive to think, to learn, and to write. I didn’t have any drive to do much of anything else, either.

That’s not normal for me, but I couldn’t get my mental or physical engine going again. The longer this lassitude lasted, the less I liked it, and after a while the less I was willing to tolerate it.

So a few weeks ago, I resolved on trying to restore and reinvigorate my drive.

As I usually do, my first step was to investigate the topic: what have other people said about restoring drive? I couldn’t find much of value. Most of the advice, in fact, depended on having the drive to follow the advice. That’s like telling me to get in shape by exercising. Duh. If I had the energy and drive to exercise, I’d already be in shape!

So as I usually do, I did some thinking and came up with my own advice. Here it is, my recently developed plan to restore and reinvigorate my drive:

  1. Remember and re-live past times when you had strong drive. What were the circumstances? The goals? How did you feel? What was the outcome? Who else was working with you on these actions?
  2. Rank your past instances of drive according to some important criterion: The outcome? The pleasure you felt doing it? The importance of what you were driven to do? The satisfaction you felt from the accomplishment? The level of challenge it presented? The rewards you got from the experience? Or maybe something else.
  3. Relate these past instances when you felt a strong drive to one or more current actions for which you’d like to feel more drive. Look for similarities and commonalities between the past and the present. Meditate on what it would be like to feel that drive now.
  4. Make an appointment to work on one of these current activities, projects, or goals you’d like to accomplish. Honor that appointment. As you work on the current item, remember and try to re-experience the most similar past instance when you felt a good measure of drive. Take as much pleasure as you can in working on this item.
  5. As your drive for the current activity fades – as it may well do, since your drive is still under repair – be ready and willing to take a break, even after just a few minutes of work. Don’t force yourself to work without that feeling of drive. While you’re on such a break, itemize what you did right, what you accomplished so far, and how you felt doing this work.
  6. As often as necessary, repeat steps one through five.

I started following these steps, and they are helping.

I find that I really enjoy reliving my past experiences of drive. These memories make me happy, and help me feel better about myself and my history of accomplishments.

To be honest, ranking these memories is really just another way of reliving them. The actual rank order is not important. It’s the process of ranking them that helps me think and feel more deeply about each of them, and lodges them more vividly and powerfully in my mind and heart.

I find that the more I revisit these past instances of drive, the easier it becomes to take action in the present.

My drive is still not back to the level it was when I was younger. Let’s get real here: I may never feel that much drive again.

But my lassitude is lifting. I find I’m going places instead of sitting around, keeping up with chores instead of putting them off, ticking items off my “to do” list instead of letting them pile up. Most important, I’m writing this post, and – if the process continues as I hope it will – writing more in the future.

What’s more, my emotional outlook is changing. I’m feeling more positive about my situation and my possibilities for the future. Apparently, having a certain level of drive is significant not just for meeting my obligations and accomplishing my tasks, projects, and goals, but for enhancing and sustaining my constructive outlook toward every aspect of my work and my life. My drive is a big part of who I am.

I sincerely wish you never encounter the same loss of drive that I have experienced. But if you do, I hope you can use this plan to reinvigorate your level of drive as much as I already have.

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