Full throttle or take it easy? Where do you sit on the push-pull scale of effort?
I wouldn’t describe myself as a particularly driven person. Others might look at some of the things I’ve done and disagree. But I know on the inside that my natural tendency is to sit back, tick along and hope for the best. Sometimes I get great results, sometimes I don’t. Hey ho.
As a direct result, one of my trigger words is most definitely ‘lazy’. It has such shameful connotations. Not wanting to make an effort. Bleugh. No-one wants to be that person. But, left to my own devices, quite often I am.
And, now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure that my choice to sit back and not do things is directly related to a fear of failure. If I don’t set the bar too high then it’s much less likely that I can fail. I guess I feel like I’ve got something to lose by trying hard.
So when I started to get interested in matters of the mind, I was delighted to discover that the concept of self-compassion was being touted as the fast tract to contentment.
Yippee. It felt like I was being given explicit permission to 1) forgive myself for times in the past when I hadn’t tried very hard and 2) to not place great expectations on myself in the present nor for the future.
Whatever I’m able to manage right now, that’s ok. I don’t have to force myself. I shouldn’t have to work up a proverbial sweat if I don’t want to. I’m just being kind to myself. No?
Switch now to a fantastic client that I’ve recently started working with, we’ll call her Mrs M. She’s a former GB rower (World Champ bronze medalist no less) who now, amongst other things, splits her time between running her own marvelous women’s health and fitness business, Strong to the Core, and being mum to two gorgeous little boys.
She’s really only ever known one mode. Full throttle. She picks a goal and goes at it with absolutely everything she’s got. A laser-like focus I believe it’s called. And it’s worked very well for her. Until now.
Now it can’t only be about being an amazing mum nor can it just be about growing her business. The goal of being the best at one thing doesn’t work for her anymore. She needs to juggle several really important things.
The laser-like focus needs to morph into a blended juggle. And, to her, that feels really unfamiliar and quite frankly a bit weird.
She knows what full throttle feels like. She knows how to give 100% to one thing. She knows how to put pain, stress, anxiety and, to some extent, herself to one side in order to be the best. Cor blimey, I’m coming out in hives just at the thought.
But taking her foot off the peddle, putting only some of her energy into work, moving away from things which might cause undue stress or anxiety so that she can be a contented and present mum for her boys. That’s going to take a bit of getting used to.
Here’s one of my childlike diagrams which shows where my client and I sit on the spectrum of push vs pull or effort vs ease:
Mrs M is in the pink and is used to pushing to 11/10 and now wants to get comfortable with 6/10. Me in the blue who would prefer to sit comfortably at 3/10 and aspires (at this point) to step up towards 7/10.
The bottom line is that if either of us were to completely give in to our natural tendencies then we’d struggle to be at a place of fulfilled contentment. Mrs M would be super stressed and neglecting some important areas of her life. I, on the other hand, would be sat back twiddling my thumbs waiting for life to come to me, which it might not.
At the same time, it’s also important to note that neither of us would benefit from moving to the other end of the scale. Mrs M would go stir crazy if she tried to sit still at 3/10 and my head would explode with fear at the prospect of going hell for leather at 11/10.
And of course, my scale is such a crude illustration of how this works in reality. Nothing is that simple, binary or static.
There are parts of my life where it’s perfectly ok for me to sit back and enjoy the ride and other areas where I might find it quite easy to up the ante.
We’re both likely to get more out of life from looking for opportunities to take few small steps up or down the ladder. That’s how we’re going to respectively grow and evolve into the next amazing version of ourselves.
And the first step for both of us is this awareness.
So, what about you?
Do you know where you sit on the push/pull scale?
Here are some helpful questions for you to think about:
- Where are you in your life right now in terms of pushing hard vs taking it easy?
- Where’s your natural tendency?
- What expectations do you set for yourself for how hard you should be pushing?
- How far away from each other are these three points?
- When/where might it be appropriate (and better for your wellbeing) for you to put in some more effort or take your foot off the peddle?
- How much choice do you have about the effort you do/don’t make? Where does this cause conflict?
Without exception we all have our light and dark sides – the light side being our areas of natural strength, ease and confidence, our dark side being our inherent fears, insecurities and points of weakness.
We can’t, and nor should we want to, fundamentally change our natural selves. But perhaps it’s possible that life can be more fulfilling, contented and fun if we’re willing to both embrace everything we are and aren’t, whilst at the same time looking for opportunities to evolve and grow.
Hey there, in case you didn’t know, I’m Hana and I could be your Personal Mindset Coach.
I’m occasionally known to my clients as ‘the lovely stranger’.
I’m here to help you see things from a different perspective, to choose a different lens, to find different ways of thinking, being and doing.
So that you can get out of your head and just get on with living a bloody great life.
If you’d like some support exploring this or other fascinating things about you further, then drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we can arrange a cuppa sometime to find out if we might like each other enough to work together.