Strengthen Your Drive

To some people, the whole idea of “willpower” is vastly overrated. Some believe there’s no such thing as “free will.” I’ve also heard arguments that willpower can do little to defend against the habits, incentives, enticements, and motivations that are inescapable parts of our work and our life.

In my own experience, however, proper cultivation of a drive to succeed – really just another term for willpower aimed toward high-level efforts and productivity – can lead to a major upsurge in one’s degree of success.

I find it useful, therefore, to think about and practice techniques that will increase a person’s drive. They include:

Align With Your Values

Burnout and failure usually flow from working on tasks, projects, and goals that don’t align with a person’s values. That’s why one of the prerequisites for establishing and maintaining significant drive is first to identify what you really care about, and then to find activities – a career, a sideline, or even a hobby – through which you can support and further those values.

Stay Positive

There’s power in positivity. For whatever reasons, we are more driven to strive for values we favor than to avoid those we don’t. This is why you’ll generally feel a great deal of motivation and meaning when you’re actively doing something useful to achieve some positive objective that aligns with your values.

In business, for example, it’s commendable to work hard to avoid bankruptcy. It’s far more motivating, however, to strive toward providing worthwhile products and/or services.

Seek Favorable Feedback

Most people believe willpower and drive arise from within, and I generally agree they do. But relying only on your own willpower in a non-supportive environment quickly gets old and tiring, and may eventually wear you out.

The reason is that most of us are hard-wired to tune-in and accept whatever feedback we’re receiving. When it’s largely absent, or negative, it doesn’t offer much nurture for our drive.

That’s why it’s helpful to find people, environments, and situations that encourage and support you in accomplishing the tasks, projects, and goals you’re pursuing in hopes of furthering your values.

Practice Gradualism

Monty Python made famous a funny sketch about a chartered accountant who yearns to be a lion tamer. “It’s a bit of a jump, isn’t it,” cautions the skit’s vocational counsellor, “chartered accountancy to lion taming, in one go?”

Sage advice.

This is because even the most fervent drive can readily be thwarted or even erased when you too quickly try for too much that’s too difficult.

Granted, it’s difficult to exercise patience when we’re seized by the fever to support and further our values. But starting slowly and taking easy steps toward the change you want to see in the world is a powerful way to sustain your drive and keep putting forth your best efforts all the way to the end.

Establish Interim Rewards

It’s even easier to sustain your drive and keep putting forth your best efforts when you collect rewards along the route. This is an important reason you should get in the habit of patting yourself on the back at key moments – even giving yourself a treat – as you make progress toward your goals.

The more intensely you desire the next available reward (regardless of what it may be), the more emotional power you imbue into your drive to do the work necessary to get there.

Allow for Setbacks

Drive toward your values is rarely linear. Some days you’ll work your hardest and some days you won’t. Some days you’ll make great progress, and some days you won’t. What’s more, the two are not always related.

Understanding and accepting this natural fluctuation in your drive and your results is critically important to sustaining your commitment.

The idea here is simple: don’t fret over lapses; treat each new day as another opportunity to work on the tasks, projects, and goals that are associated with your values.

If left unattended, your drive can easily be weakened or even erased. That’s why practicing these and other techniques to nurture and sustain your drive to succeed are almost as important as feeling the drive itself.

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