Imagine this hypothetical situation:
You’ve saved up $10,000 in pure cash over the past year, and you’ve hidden your stash away in your sock drawer.
One day, you’re lying on your sofa watching reruns of Deadliest Catch and I suddenly burst in the door:
“I have a great client for you! He’s ready to give you $10,000! Come with me; he wants to meet you right now – get up, let’s go!”
Would you leap up and run out the door with me?
Now imagine a difference scenario: You’re back on your sofa, lazing around and watching reruns of House, and suddenly you hear shattering glass, a thump and footsteps coming from the bedroom.
You hear your sock drawer sliding open – I’ve broken in, and I’m after your money.
Would you leap up and try to chase me away?
Most people would be after me with a big stick, far faster than they’d follow me out the door – and if that’s how you might react, then you probably have an “away” mindset.
Which is why you’ll want to keep reading to the end.
What motivates you to action?
According to NLP psychology, people with an “away” mindset are generally motivated to move away from what they don’t want. In the opposite camp, people with a “towards” mindset are motivated to move towards what they want.
Some people fall somewhere near the middle or lean in one direction more than the other. But most people are squarely in the “away” group – as much as 70% of the population.
That’s all very interesting, but here’s why you should care:
If you’re motivated to move away from negative consequences, you could be screwing up your ability to reach your goals, succeed in business, and achieve success. You’ll probably never make it to the heights that you could, if your mindset wasn’t in the way.
Thankfully, that can all be changed. First, let’s look at how an “away” mindset affects you.
“Away” holds you back from success.
Freelancers often complain about the common financial roller coaster they discover when they leap into business: One month your schedule’s full and you’re making bank; the next is full of chirping crickets, and you’re scrambling to make ends meet.
It’s said this is just all part of being a freelancer.
This financial roller coaster shouldn’t ever be considered the norm. It shouldn’t be blamed on seasonal waves of business or industry changes either. It’s a symptom of the “away” mindset, and you have full control over it.
Here’s how it works, in this case:
Despite their claims, most freelancers aren’t motivated towards wealth and success. For the most part, they’re motivated away from struggles and poverty. As long as their business is doing well and money is coming in, they’re quite happy. They can relax. They market a little… or not at all. They don’t hustle or prospect for new clients, because, after all, they don’t have to.
They’ve avoided struggle. Everything’s going great.
Until it isn’t.
When the projects are over and the clients dry up, there’s no long lineup of new clients at the door. There’s just no work at all, and it’s scramble time to drum up some income. They hustle to bring in new clients.
They aren’t moving towards wealth – they’re moving away from hard times. And the cycle repeats itself again and again.
Had these freelancers had a “towards” mindset, they would have maintained and even ramped up their marketing efforts. There wouldn’t be any lull in work. There’d be so much of it that they could raise their rates, start a waiting list and live like kings!
Or queens. But I digress.
Before you think that the “away” and “towards” mindset shows up only in the case of marketing and income, think again. In business, there’s far more to chase than just wealth, and there’s more to avoid than just poverty.
Take one of those small projects, for example. Let’s say that you’ve been neglecting your blog for months. Your audience has started to dry up, and you realize that you’d better breathe life back into things.
You set yourself a goal: you’re going to write until you’ve built up a hopper of a year’s worth of articles. You’ll cue them in the schedule, and you’ll be set for the coming 12 months. Then you can sit back and relax!
An excellent idea.
Week one, you dive straight in and write with fury. You publish a new post, and you start to build up a bank.
Week two, you’ve hit your stride and are coasting along nicely. You publish your next post and cheer, because you have plenty more in store. You’re weeks ahead of the game!
Week three, you realize you’re up to 5 months worth of posts in the hopper, your audience has revived, and you feel like you can breathe again.
By week four, you decide you’ve done enough for now, and you take a break from writing. Just a little one. You’ll get back to it after a few days… or next week… actually, you’re fine if you don’t write for the rest of the month…
You’ve moved away from what you didn’t want – a dried-up audience and no blog posts in the hopper. Deep down, that’s all you really wanted… and thank goodness you noticed your blog was in trouble. All good now!
Here’s the bad news: Your goal doesn’t exist anymore.
Here’s worse news: Your motivation to write a full year’s worth of posts goes down the drain.
That’s just an example, of course. Maybe you’ve stopped mid-way through a training course or slowed down on your new podcast interviews. Could be anything, really. If you’re not avidly chasing what you want, it’s because you’ve taken action to avoid a consequence, and you’ve achieved that goal.
You’re safe. And so you get complacent.
Some might call it laziness, and maybe it is. Some say it’s procrastination – that’s possible too. But I prefer to call it like it is:
Your “away” mindset got in the way of achieving success.
That’s just one aspect of what an “away” mindset can do. Here’s what else can happen: You focus on the negative, all the time.
You have to. Your mental conditioning words hard to avoid all the bad situations, experiences and events that you’d want to avoid. Your mind continually scans like radar, focusing on blips of potential negative consequences on the horizon so it can bring them to your attention.
Want to know what happens when your brain focuses on the bad?
It ignores the good.
People with “away” mindsets have minds are continually filtering out positive experiences, because they’re so attuned to watching for negative consequences – spotting and dodging them is priority #1!
As a result, you’ll miss out on tons of positive opportunities and pleasant experiences as if they simply didn’t exist.
A “towards” mindset helps you win the game
A tendency of an “away” mindset isn’t a terrible thing to have. Business owners need to be aware of potential outcomes, both good and bad, so that they can make appropriate business decisions.
And too much “towards” becomes the opposite of “away” – your brain filters out all the danger zones you should watch for and hands you rose-colored glasses. That’s not good for you or your business.
But a more balanced mindset might just give you the best of both worlds.
Developing more “towards” in your mindset helps you create effective goals that get results, and you’ll be more motivated to achieve them. Instead of focusing on the negative, you’ll look for the positive – what you want instead of what you want to avoid.
And you’ll be properly equipped to chase after it.
With more “towards” in your mindset, you’d be able to better imagine a positive outcome. Not only that, you’d be able to plan for it, set direction towards it, take action on it, and follow through with it so that you make steady forward progress.
Oh, and you’ll achieve more of your goals… and reap the rewards.
Are you stuck with “away”?
If you’re starting to feel like your business is doomed because you recognize your “away” tendencies, take heart.
You’re not stuck. You can change the dial on your motivational direction and point it to “towards” – the steps are simple. All you need to do is try on a new mindset, the same way as if you were trying on a new shirt. Here’s how:
- First, know what you want to change.
Effective change begins with specificity. You need to determine when, where, and with with whom your “away” mindset shows up a way that doesn’t serve you well, and also determine exactly how it doesn’t serve you well.
- Know what you want to change it to.
This is the second half of getting specific about your change. Now that you’ve completed the first step, you need to get specific again and determine when, where and with whom you’d like to use the “towards” mindset, as well as how this new mindset would serve you better.
- Try it on.
For this step, change your location – get away from where you are right now and go somewhere new. Close your eyes and imagine yourself using this new “towards” mindset in a specific situation.
Try it on for size. Allow yourself to experience what the “towards” mindset feels like, physically, emotionally, and mentally, and take note of the feelings you have.
- Become an observer.
Shed the “towards” mindset, like you’re shrugging out of a shirt. Change location – find somewhere new. In this new location, close your eyes and take on a new mindset: that of a detached but interested observer who’s reviewing what just happened.
What are your first observations about what happened when you tried on the “towards” mindset? What do you observe it would do for you in terms of behaviors, capabilities, beliefs, and values? What kind of a person would you be? What do you observe would happen to your life, your relationships and your business if you adopted the “towards” mindset?
- Ask yourself for objections.
Go back to the location you were in when you tried on the “towards” mindset in Step 3.Get comfortable, close your eyes and ask yourself this question:
“Does any part of me have any objections to making this change?”
Be open to the thoughts your mind will present, and be respectful of any objections it has. Acknowledge them, take note, and thank your mind for making you aware of them.
When that’s done, think about when, where, how and with whom the “away” mindset served you well. What gain did it provide that would be important to preserve, and how would you preserve it?
- Give yourself permission.
Now that you’ve tried on the mindset, observed what it feels, and acknowledged objections, make a deal with yourself.
Give yourself permission to try on the “towards” mindset on for a specific time period, such as a few hours, days or even a week, and at the end of this trial period, you can decide to keep this new mindset or switch back to the old one.
You might need to run through this exercise several times or have regular “check-in” sessions to see how it’s going. Changing long-term conditioning and behaviors won’t happen with the snap of your fingers, after all.
But the simple act of awareness about your “away” mentality will already start creating change in your life. You’ll find yourself making fewer excuses. You’ll start to realize exactly why you’re procrastinating.
Most of all, you’ll be able to address your complacent tendencies the “away” mindset creates and remind yourself to take action towards your goals.