Fix the Tug of War Within – Push vs Pull Strategies

Push (definition) – exert force to move away from one’s self
Pull (definition) – exert force to cause movement toward one’s self

Over the last few weeks I’ve seen a number of clients make a great deal of progress towards their goals. It’s been exciting as well as rewarding.

I wish it were always this easy.

I once had a mentor tell who was one of the most productive people I know. I asked her how she produced so much good, high-quality work and she told me, “When I started my business, I was a single parent with a small child in daycare. No matter what was going on in my business, I had to pick my son up by 6pm or they would start charging me $40 for every 15 minutes I was late. I started noticing that the last 90 minutes of my day were the most productive. It was simply because I didn’t have an extra $160/hour to be late. I started imagining what I could do with that $160 and decided to track how much imaginary money I was saving by getting my work done in advance. In those days, I wasn’t charging that much yet and it really hit home. Now that my business is so much larger, I still think of my time that way and organize my work around goals I’m working towards.”

The one thing that each of us has – the exact same amount measurement of an hour – regardless of what we do with our time. Which is exactly why being more intentional with our time is so important.

In addition to being more intentional, my mentor had also done something else. She had created a “pull strategy” to get her work done in a way that was motivating to her.

“Pull” strategies are ones that we are drawn to, that we most often “want” to do. On the other hand, “push” strategies are most often ones that we feel forced to do – that we “need” or “have” to do.

Interestingly, in the situation above, my mentor could have just as easily created a “push strategy” by saying she “must” pick up her son or she would lose money. Instead, she chose to think that she was keeping or making money every time she picked up her son on time and that made her “want” to be more productive and efficient.

Most of us, especially freedom seeking entrepreneurs who like having choices, resent being told that we “must” do something. Even if we are the ones who are setting the rules.

While “need to” and “want to” may seem like a subtle difference, an abundance of “need tos” in our lives is exhausting. Push strategies may work for some of the time, but eventually we will run out of energy needed to keep pushing us forward.

That’s why I am continually listening to the language my clients use when they are identifying and setting goals. If “need to” is showing up as they discuss their aspirations and goals, we look for ways to find more supportive language to reach their goals.

How can this work for you?

The next time you are feeling overwhelmed with work or tasks, take a few quiet moments to review the work in front of you. Do you associate “need to” statements about your work or tasks? If so, discover and create equally true reasons why you “want” to do that task, write them down and remind yourself of these “pull” thoughts. It won’t eliminate the work but it will help make the journey more enjoyable.