What's Really Driving You In Your Business?
Drive, that feeling of fire in your belly, that energy that pushes you beyond what you thought you were capable of, the desire to succeed no matter the cost.
Many people in business or running their own business have a strong drive to achieve success, to out shine their competitors, to hit their numbers and to continually improve.
It’s often this drive that fuels us to work harder and longer. People with a strong drive to achieve are more resilient in the face of adversity and bounce back faster from set back’s or challenges.
Needless to say, your drive can be a useful force to propel you in your life. It can serve to motivate us and help us achieve our desired outcomes and goals, both personally and professionally.
On the flip side, an excessive drive can lead to burnout, overwhelm, anxiety and a need for perfection. That leaves you feeling like you need to be doing and achieving more whilst raising the bar at each and every milestone.
If I was to ask you where your drive comes from, what would you say? Perhaps you would say that you’re just a driven person, maybe you’re not sure when you first started feeling driven or perhaps you want to change the world and contribute.
None of these answers are wrong, but if your drive to succeed feels like it’s the always present, never satisfied feeling it’s possible that your drive is fuelled by more than attaining a level of success.
Factors that influence drive
Most commonly the drive to succeed no matter the cost is often because you are working to mask a hidden pain or anguish that simmers beneath the surface of your persona.
You may have been told you could not do or be more. As a child, you may have received message’s early on which told you that you were never good enough as you were. Perhaps the only recognition or attention you received was when you won an award, achieved a great result at school or performed above average. You may have been expected to learn or know more than other children or had the bar set very high in different areas of your life. It is these experiences early on that start to shape who we are and how you may have developed a strong drive to prove that you were indeed capable of more and worthy of recognition.
Alternatively, your drive may stem from other experiences; perhaps you have felt a sense of injustice and wanted revenge. If you have experienced a bitter divorce or bankruptcy and lost everything you may feel a strong drive to recoup your losses and ensure justice is served.
Drive may also be a product or friend of perfectionism, where you are relentlessly striving for extremely high standards that are not only personally demanding but often considered to be unreasonable in most circumstances.
Lastly, excessive drive often feels like an inability to stop, relax and savour the satisfaction from achieving your goals. It is this inability to fully experience your satisfaction when you have achieved a great result that also hinders the feeling of rest and relaxation, where you let go of one thing, pause and then move onto the next. When you don’t give yourself the opportunity torest in between you may experience a higher level of overwhelm and anxiety because there is never a moment to fully appreciate and enjoy what has been achieved
Sign’s your drive is doing more damage than good
One of the key signs your drive is actually impacting on rather than improving thing in your life is when the drive to succussed starts to be all consuming and the controlling factor in your life.
You have started to judge your self-worth based on your ability to strive for and achieve despite the fact that your goals may be unachievable or only achievable at great personal cost. You may be left feeling as though even your best efforts aren’t enough.
You continue to set high standards and keep pushing yourself towards those goals you are likely to be experiencing feeling, tense, on edge or stressed. You may be telling yourself that you should be achieving more than before.
Your well-being has been impacted and you are experiencing negative consequences including burn out, overwhelm, anxiety, anger, sadness or stress due to setting such high standards.
Your relationships and personal life are suffering. You may have started to notice or have had others give you feedback around the amount of time you spend focusing on tasks and goals in your professional life that leaves little time for personal relationships. You may also have felt social isolation, frustration, worry, depression, OCD, repeated checking of work, excessive time taken to complete tasks, insomnia, procrastination and a persistent sense of failure to name a few.
You feel as though you can’t stop. You find yourself working, moving on to the next project continuing to do and do but never really letting the satisfaction of your achievements sink in. One of my clients described their drive as feeling as though they were like the mouse on the wheel, constantly running, but never really getting to achieve a true sense of satisfaction, even worse, they didn’t know how to get off the wheel, or if they did they were scared it would only be to get on another wheel of doing.
How to bring the balance back into your professional and personal life
If you’ve found yourself feeling like success no longer feels good and those moments of genuine satisfaction and happiness in your life are short lived and fleeting, it’s time to bring back the balance and connect to what’s really important.
The biggest message here is that you can’t do it alone, and yes driven persons first thought is often, I can do this on my own, and this is exactly why you should get support.
By seeking support from a qualified professional you can discover the areas you need to heal so you can feel more effective and satisfied in your business and your professional life. Bringing your drive back into balance isn’t about stopping your drive rather it’s about feeling as though you have a more conscious choice in how to utilise your drive rather than feeling like it controls you!
Work on understanding that sometimes the drive to do well can actually impair performance. This can be a tricky paradox, however having high standards and working very hard to maintain these standards can actually make things worse, you may find you spend three times the amount of time needed to complete tasks because you need to ensure its 100% accurate, checking over things only to find you could have been more productive with your time had been able to complete the task at hand once.
Discover what your real priorities and values are. Often as we start to notice the negative impact our drive is having on our lives it’s because we're starting to get a sense that our drive has taken us away from what’s truly important and what we actually value over success, money career. When we live more in line with our true values we can feel more grounded, peaceful and happy in who you are.
Get clear on the specific strategies you need to help you understand and work with your drive. This might include giving yourself permission to make mistakes, reminding yourself of the consequences of your perfectionism and drive learning to laugh at mistakes (yes it’s possible) and rewarding yourself often for the small steps you make towards change.
Needless to say, when you understand your drive and balance it with your personal values it can be a valuable tool in helping you improve, succeed and achieve more in your life.
Natajsa Wagner is a Masters qualified Psychotherapist based in Brisbane, Australia. Natajsa blends relational Gestlat methods, contemporary Psychotherapy and neuroscience practices in her work. Natajsa guides and mentors professionals in understanding themselves and their behaviour patterns so they can make more aligned choices in their life. Natajsa is thought leader and advocate for authentic human conversations and connection. She works experientially with individuals and groups to teach, that in a moment, we can create and experience more deeply satisfying connections with each other.
Her work offers an antidote to the modern day disease of disconnection.She invites others to create a ripple of connection in the world, so that we might all feel more intimacy, belonging and aliveness.
Natajsa has been featured as an expert both locally and internationally and has contributed to a number of print and online media outlets including: Womens Health and Fitness Magazine, Cosmopolitan Magazine & ABC Online.