Blog Short #61: Are you thriving or self-destructing?
Welcome to Monday Blog Shorts – ideas to make even Monday a good day! Every Monday, I share a short article with you about a strategy you can use, or new facts or info that informs you, or a new idea that inspires you. My wish is to give you something to think about in the week ahead. Let’s dig in!
Photo by mikkelwilliam, Courtesy of iStock Photo
Every day you make decisions about what you’re going to do that day.
The question is:
How aware are you of the impact of those decisions?
Likely a lot of what you do is just routine, which you probably do on autopilot, but there’s still an impact.
In fact, every action has an impact on your life, even non-actions. It’s all logged in, so to speak, and has an effect, even if it’s a small effect. These effects accumulate and eventually create trends. Then the trends build and gain momentum to guide your life in one direction or another.
The issue is:
If you aren’t aware of these trends as they formulate and gather energy, you don’t have control over where you’re going.
One way to get a handle on trends before they get out of hand is to examine your everyday actions. An easy and effective way to do this is by using the “two-drive meter.” Let me explain.
The Two Drives
We have two basic drives that enter into our decisions. These aren’t the only drives that influence us, but these do significantly impact how we make choices.
- The first drive is to thrive. We want to flourish, reach, achieve, aspire, learn, become more enlightened, connect, and progress.
- The second drive is to destroy. We sink, obstruct, become sluggish, laze, deny, ignore, disconnect, and opt out.
The first drive is a push toward growth, actualization, joy, and sometimes even transcendence.
The second drive is a descent toward pain, inertia, apathy, and ultimately ruin.
When you align yourself with the first drive, you make decisions and take actions that:
- Guard and increase your physical health
- Move you steadily toward worthy goals
- Help you attend to your relationships and engage in ways that deepen and support them
- Sharpen your conscience
- Reflect your best values
- Promote kindness, empathy, and compassion
- Help you stay connected
- Make use of your desire to learn
- Consider the consequences of your actions
- And if you have a spiritual belief system, honor and practice it
With the second drive, you’re more likely to:
- Avoid dealing with situations that need attention
- Vegetate (stay in bed too much, binge watch TV, ignore work that needs to be done)
- Overeat, overdrink, overspend, overindulge
- Ignore relationship issues that are clamoring to be addressed
- Make decisions based on emotions without using your thinking
- Deny information that stares you in the face so you won’t have to deal with problems
- Be defensive
- Take shortcuts you know aren’t right or good for you
- Ignore the consequences of your actions
How to Use This
We’re all a mix of both drives, but it’s important to know how much and in what way. Here’s where the “two-drive meter” comes in.
Whenever you’re making a choice about something important or taking action, ask:
“Is this action (or thought, behavior, or decision) in my best interest, or is it destructive to me?”
The answers are not always so black and white – that’s all right. That’s to be expected. But usually, the answer is clear enough if you think about it.
To make this exercise more powerful, start by taking an inventory. Your goal in doing this is to see if you’re more in line with the first or the second drive.
Over the next week, observe what you do – not every activity, but most of them, especially those involving choices.
Create a document or hand-written list and set up two columns (or pages) entitled “Thrive Drive” and “Destroy Drive.”
As you go through each day, jot down your activities, including your thought trends, emotional reactions to situations, and interactions and responses to other people. Also, include what you do when you’re alone. Place each activity in the column that fits. Using our same question again, ask:
“Is this activity or decision helping me thrive, or is it destructive to me?”
If you’re not sure, put it in a “neutral” category for now.
At the end of the week, schedule a review. Spend at least 30 minutes and more if needed, and delve a little deeper into your list. Look at each item and rank it in terms of importance. The more impact an activity has on your life (positive or negative), the higher it will rank.
Use the descriptions I gave you above in the first section to help you. For example,
For thrive activities, ask:
“What activities or decisions did I engage in that were positive and moved me toward my goals, health, aspirations, and connections? “
Did you eat healthy, exercise, get enough sleep, engage in empathetic interactions with those close to you, make progress on work goals, or solve problems that needed attention? What worked?
For destroy activities, ask:
“What activities or decisions did I engage in that held me back or contributed to regressing?”
Did you drink too much or eat mostly junk food? Cut back on sleep? Fight with people? Get on social media and rant? Did you ruminate a lot about other people’s problems and not attend to your own? What did you do that is moving you backward?
Estimate the Percentage
Now, as best you can gauge the percentage of each. Are you more on the thrive side or the destroy side? If it’s close, determine which side is at least 51% or greater. That’s your tipping point.
Be honest, because the whole point here is to see your general trend, not beat yourself up about it. You want to get an accurate picture of your place on the thrive-destroy continuum and identify activities and behavior you need to work on. You can then prioritize what needs attention most and begin working on one issue at a time.
Why This Helps
You might be thinking,
“Can’t I just make a list of things I need to work on and leave it at that?”
Yep, you could. But then you might “leave it at that” and go no further. I’ll bet you’ve already done that before. Me too.
When you make yourself categorize a daily habit or action as either life-supporting or life-dimming, it takes on a more compelling meaning. It provides some hard clarity that’s difficult to refute. It feels more urgent. It sinks in more.
And once you see it that way, you can’t un-see it. Even if you don’t change anything right away, the knowledge that you’re creating destructive trends stays with you and eventually helps move you toward taking action.
This is an exercise in awareness that’s more granular because it makes you look at those daily actions that are stacking up over time and creating trends, yet remain under your radar.
The “thrive-drive meter” is a more potent tool to help you recognize and get a handle on those daily decisions before they take hold. Give it a shot!
That’s all for today!
I hope you have a great week as always!
All my best,