Essentially, there are two forms of motivation:

  • Motivation AWAY FROM some undesired outcome (eg “I don’t want to be broke”)
  • Motivation TOWARDS some desired outcome (eg “I am heading for financial freedom”)

AWAY FROM motivation has a problem: it is most effective when you are close to the thing you want to avoid, and as you get further away, the motivation fades.  The result is a kind of wave pattern of achievement, moving strongly away from the pain at first, then reducing, and even slipping back towards it when complacency sets in.

Motivation Away-From sine waveTOWARDS motivation is much more effective.  The closer you get to your objective, the stronger the motivation becomes, like the attraction of a magnet increases as you approach it.  So you’re far more likely to actually reach your goal.

Motivation Towards log curveBut even towards motivation has its limitations: if your current situation is too far away from the dream, the attraction of the Towards “magnet” is not strong enough to create powerful motion.  That means a long slow start on your journey to success, and that leaves many people discouraged, sapping even the weak attraction.

So, if TOWARDS motivation isn’t very good at the start, and AWAY FROM motivation isn’t all that great once you get going, what you need is a mixture of the two.  In the right order.  A good solid boost of aversion to get you moving, to move you up the acheivement track away from the pain.  And then, as you’re now nice and close to the magnet, fully in its traction beam, the TOWARDS gain attracting you powerfully to your dream.  This combination, used right, could massively shorten the time it takes you to achieve your success:

Motivation Away then TowardsSo, as I asked in the title of this post – how’s your motivation?

Andrew Horder
Andrew Horder

Founder of the blog at, Andrew has been working with business owners for many years, helping them find and maintain their unique Focus - those activities and opportunities that they love, and will produce their success, what Andrew calls your Joyful Genius! Andrew's first book, The Busy Fool's a to Z of Loving Work is available from Amazon

    5 replies to "How’s your motivation?"

    • […] two types of motivation can both be useful.  I wrote here [How's Your Motivation?] about Towards and Away From motivation, and how both can be effective.  In the context of […]

    • […] You can see some more on this topic of combining towards and away motivations in this article at How’s Your Motivation […]

    • How to be free | The Busy Fool

      […] a certain income.  The problem with income based goals is that they are inherently ‘away from‘ not having them.  And when the ‘required’ income level is too high, they are […]

    • Julia Barnickle

      Great post Andrew – love the infographics too! I totally agree with your descriptions. I find that, if I believe the goal is achievable, I’m very much “towards” motivated, but if I think the goal is impossible, then I tend to be more “away from” motivated. The tricky part is changing over from “away from” to “towards”…

      • Andrew Horder

        >> The tricky part is changing over from “away from” to “towards”…

        Absolutely Julia – just now I’m trying to work out how to research whether there’s a reliable way to identify the point at which a coach shifts the focus from Away to Towards.

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