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You can have all the advantages of skills and career successes. People can be eager to help and support you in your quest for change. However, motivation is a door locked from the inside. No one can want you to do something. If it’s going to be done then it will be done because you want it to be done. 

Motivation to remain 

You also cannot want something for someone else. You can’t want someone to be more ambitious, or to lose weight or to run a marathon. Some people are happy with the job they have and are living life as they want to live it. They don't want change and they don't seek difference. Their motivation is to stay with what they have. 

Motivation to change 

Others are ambitious for the next move, more responsibilities, greater power, better working conditions, more money. Motivation is the energy that propels you to create goals and then move to achieve them. Some people are motivated to learn new skills and put themselves in an unfamiliar situation where they might not be the most knowledgeable person in the room. They’re motivated to learn more and do more,  rather than finding themselves in a position of complacency.

Motivation to avoid 

A different kind of motivation is one where the impetus is to get away from something you wish to avoid. For example, if someone’s main interest in a potential role is because they hate where they are working now and they want to leave, then their motivation will not be as strong and focused as someone who is fired up by the new opportunity. 

Motivation and directional attitudes 

Positive people are likely to have a ‘towards’ attitude; one that is driving you towards something that is life enhancing. You could be working in this job because you want to be the Chairman or because you want to make a capital profit. You might be doing it because it gives you a great work-life balance, making you happier and healthier. These potential exciting benefits are positive drivers for people that propel them to success. 

On the other hand, ‘away from’ people are motivated by a desire to avoid something. They could be working to avoid the alternative, which is not being able to afford the lifestyle of their choice, or they could be avoiding the risk of doing something that they might prefer as they don’t want to fail. 

Many people stick in the job they’re doing as they don't want to risk rejection at the interview stage, or they may fear failure in a new role, not wanting to expose themselves to that risk. ‘Away from’ people can be perceived to be negative by their more buoyant and positive colleagues, and yet their caution can sound alerts about possible traps and pitfalls ahead. 


Uncertainty and avoidance are unlikely to lead to major transformational wins. For this to happen there has to be clarity, focus and an absolute determination to succeed. Take the opportunity to examine key areas of your life and decide those that you approach with a ‘towards’ attitude and those that you approach with an ‘away from’ attitude. Then ask yourself “Is this the best approach and, if not, how can I change it?”.