The Power of PULL vs. the Misery of PUSH

by | Jan 4, 2023 | blog | 0 comments

Greetings from cold, wet, wintery Binghamton, New York…

It’s easy for me to go down the negativity spiral of low energy, pessimism, and lethargy when the weather pattern invites me to hibernate — when the days are short, so is my optimism. My get-up-and-go has got-up-and-gone.

But there’s another invitation I’ll say yes to — the one that invites me to energy, optimism, warmth, and light.

Consider the importance and power of being pulled towards something as opposed to pushing away from something. When you are called towards a destination instead of pushing yourself away from something, you stand a far better chance of reaching that destination. And the path to getting there is not nearly as fraught as when you are running away from something.

Whether you are reading this at the very beginning of a new year — in the cold dark winter — or the bright sunny warmth of the Summer I want you to throw out what you’re moving away from (what you’re avoiding) and instead, consider what are you moving towards.

As Yogi Berra is credited with saying, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’re probably going to end up somewhere else.”

Here’s a quick exercise to show the power of PULLING yourself towards a goal or destination, as opposed to PUSHING yourself away from a place or circumstance that is not serving you

Grab a pen and some paper, then answer these three questions:

  1. Knowing that inspiration breeds more inspiration, what INSPIRES you right now? What is possible for you? What do you want to move towards? What calls and beckons you? Is it health?  Happiness? Wealth? Peace? Name the inspiration that is coming up for you right now as you read this. What do you want so that one year from today, you can be 100% clear you have reached your inspired destination? Write that down.
  2. What does the path toward that inspiration look like? Can you identify and name all the possible OBSTACLES that will want to derail your train? List them now by taking 5 minutes to jot down everything that comes up for you.
  3. Lastly, look at your answers to the first two questions and consider: What can you PLAN as the route to getting you towards your destination – one that is reasonable and manages the obstacles you identified? Take a few minutes to think that through and then record your thoughts.

When you ask and answer the above questions, you get the energy and power that PULLS you towards a desired place. Think about it. We often make plans for escaping and moving away from something — for PUSHING ourselves away — without having a clear and compelling vision and plan for what we want to move towards.  

How would you feel if the questions were:

  1. What do you want to get away from?
  2. How can you push harder to get away from that?
  3. Describe how awful it is — how can you make it more awful?

This is the power of PULL ( i.e., promoting your success) vs. PUSH ( i.e., avoiding pain and failure). PULL is forward-thinking and focused on what is hopeful while PUSH is often stagnant and stuck in what is dreadful.

Are you more PUSHED or PULLED in your life and work? Can you get clarity on what you are moving towards and then backfill the plan for getting there with some pushes? We often do the reverse. We prioritize getting away from (or eliminating) something without first being clear on what it is that we want to become — or move towards. We tell ourselves to jump off the sinking ship without knowing what we are jumping into. Of course, that’s acceptable when you’re on a sinking ship, but you are not. Give yourself the grace of some time to get clarity on what compels and inspires you — not what repels and distresses you.

So, on this dark, wintery, cold day in upstate New York, I’m thinking about the warmth and light of Spring and making a plan for managing the obstacles that will plague me during the next few months of my winter. Among many other things, to support the PULL of my desired Spring future, I plan to …

  • Book a getaway flight to Florida  
  • Take daily doses of Vitamin D
  • Use my SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) therapy light
  • Dress appropriately to keep me warm, dry, and comfortable (you’d be surprised how easy it is to NOT do this!)
  • Do a lot of cozy Netflix-ing, fires in my fireplace, snuggling with Diva, and reading a good book or two

Staying in PUSH, it’s too easy (and frankly, seductive) to stay stuck in complaint and misery, simply tolerating the struggles of short, dark, cold days of Winter. We just try harder … to “just get through this”. Been there, done that — and it’s no fun. The positivity and power of PULL, however, smashes the negativity and struggle of PUSH every time. 

Try the mental reframe hack of converting PUSH to PULL the next time you’re considering how much you dislike your current situation. How can you pull yourself into your ideal future instead of pushing yourself from your present undesirable circumstance? You’ll find yourself far more equipped, energized, and focused on the brightness of the future — and not the darkness of the present.

You can thank me in the Spring!

About Danny

With over 20 years experience in training and leadership development  — and holding an MBA and an MA in Organizational Development — Danny Ceballos has worked with organizations across the country to strengthen their effectiveness in leading and managing others through supervision+motivation best practices and strategies.