All too often, we decide to do things based on push factors, but it’s our pull factors that keep us going when the new devils who accompany the new levels show up.
Reasons to do something fall within two broad buckets: push factors and pull factors.
Push factors are things you want to avoid. Commutes, arguments, pointless meetings, bad health, and debt are common examples of push factors.
Pull factors are things you want to gain, be, or do. Rich experiences, quality time with people you want to spend it with, meaningful work, and worry-free wealth are examples of pull factors.
A common challenge is that we tend to make our decisions based on push factors more than pull factors. All too often, pull factors are aspirational futures we either haven’t experienced or discount, whereas push factors are very present to us. Between choosing between what we might like and what we know we don’t, the latter wins.
When I’m working with people on visioning and goal-setting, I always insist that we illuminate and anchor pull factors and get clear on why they matter. Anchoring pull factors helps us stick with the project and work since, inevitably, we’ll exchange one push factor for another. If we’re only focused on exchanging devils, when it’s “new level, new devil” time, it’s harder to remember how that new level gets us closer to what’s pulling us.
If there are no or few pull factors, I’ll invert it and ask what the likely push factors will be once the work or project is done. The goal of this exercise is to check to see whether myopia or novelty are merely what’s driving the change, and if it’s either, they have different approaches. Too many people blow good things up because they’re bored or tired, when what they really need is a change of scenery, a break, or to delegate better.
Try it: this week, journal or bullet out the push and pull factors driving this week’s decision-making and projects.