Going Toward the Good or Escaping the Bad?

Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.                                                                                                                                               Philippians 4:8-9 (The Message)

One of the concepts that I frequently discuss with my clients is that of motivation. Motivation can be positive or negative. In aspiring to a goal or a “desired place”, we may have several motivators in place. We are complex beings, so simple answers are often insufficient to explain all the factors that move us. Yet it is good to try to determine, “what is my true motivator?”

I tend to think that positive motivators, that is, going toward a goal is a better and more satisfying motivator than a negative one. A negative motivator looks like, escaping from a painful or disagreeable situation.

Take a job change, for example. If we are in a bad job, one that drains us or causes undue anxiety, we probably want to get away from it. The motivation is escape. While in the short run  another job may look like the answer, it may not solve the real problem. We may take the first job opening that comes up as an answer for the bad job. If that new job is not satisfying either, we have just traded problems, with no solution.

If, on the other hand, we are drawn to another job that is really part of our skills, experience and calling, that is a much better motivator. There is a much better likelihood of success and fulfillment.

This concept is true for many decisions that we make. Moving toward a high value is more energizing that trying to escape a bad situation. Running away is tiring. Moving toward a vision is energizing.

Prayer: Lord, help us to discern the things to move toward, and what we may be running from, Amen.

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