Connect To What Drives You

So many people and articles talking about New Years’ resolutions. It’s a veritable orgy of junk content all basically saying the same thing: start small, pick one thing, then crush it.

As if it’s that simple.

In 2018 I went through a bout of what I would consider “mild” depression. Mild because I have much compassion for those that deal with full-on depression. It’s rough. I’m thankful and grateful that I’ve had the good fortune to not experience such pain. When I went through my episode, I had a pretty dramatic realization: motivation has nothing to do with external influences. I simply did not care. About anything. I didn’t even have the motivation to get motivated. I didn’t want to be motivated. I wanted to be a slug.


As I came out of that state of thinking, though, things started to connect for me. I realized that motivation is in itself useless. Drive, though, has tremendous power. These two things are similar, though, aren’t they? (I hear you thinking that to yourself as you read.) Sure, I may be splitting hairs a bit here, but for me, the distinction became clear and important.

Here’s how I think about it: drive is what connects to our core, our being, our soul. It’s literally what drives us each day. See, when we get up in the morning, the vast majority of us have some semblance of a routine that we follow. We eat (or not), drink some coffee or tea, or whatever, get ready for the day, then go about our day.

Sure, some people do a great job of meditating, actively creating their days, etc. But generally, people run on autopilot. The difference, I think, is that those people we hold in such high regard (leaders, gurus, etc.) have simply got a fancier jet that has a “better” autopilot. They are more in tune with what their underlying drive is, and that keeps them moving forward smoother, better avoiding turbulence.

Motivation, on the other hand, is superficial in comparison. When someone asks you, “what motivates you to get up in the morning?” I bet the answer is hard to provide. Our work isn’t motivating, even for those of us that are doing what we love. It’s not the work itself that motivates us. It’s not the results, either. The sad reality (in my view at least) is that most people try and find motivation in things. Money, house, cars, assets, etc.

But if we can connect what drives us with motivation, that’s the sweet spot. Drive isn’t passion, either. I can be passionate about a lot of different things. Just ask my wife about some of our disagreements over trivial things – I can get pretty passionate just in the pursuit of being “right.” Drive is deeper. It’s connected to survival. It’s connected to our soul. It’s connected to our reason for being here.

The challenge, though, is that understanding our personal drive is elusive. Why is that? Motivation, passion, and the like. These things can feel important. If I’m motivated to get up and exercise, and even if I get passionate about my workout routines, my nutrition, etc., that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m connected with my deeper drive. Drive connects with why.

In Simon Sinek’s book, Start With Why he illustrates how why drives everything. In Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren explains that God plans our lives before we’re born. I’ve personally always struggled with having my entire life completely planned out by the divine. I’ve always felt that if that were true, then why exist at all (see what I did there)? I believe we are connected to our purpose on our own deeper level.

So, back to those New Years’ resolutions. I think the reason 91% of people fail to stick to their resolutions each year is that they aren’t setting those goals based on anything concrete, and certainly they aren’t connecting to what drives them. It may be crude, but my primary motivation for getting in shape when I was a teenager: girls. I wanted to be sexy to the fairer sex. I wanted to be hot. I was motivated, to be sure. But was I connected to what drives me? Not in the slightest.

When we connect with our drive, we are able to focus. And focus is the key to any and all success. There you go, I just saved you from having to read that next inspirational book that just reiterates things that have been said for thousands of years in one form or another.

Think of any major success story, any comic book superhero, political leader, or business leader. The thing almost all of them have in common: driven focus. They know what drives them, and the focus on it relentlessly. To them, nothing else matters. To them, every action they take better connect to the goals that drive them, or else.

My suggestion is to constantly connect with your drive. If you don’t currently know what drives you, dig deeper into that. Keep asking yourself why. Ask yourself why do you really get up in the morning. Then, ask why that feels important. Then ask why again. Keep going until you’ve dug deep into the core of your being. You’ll know when you have connected with what drives you. How? You’ll feel it. It’s impossible to miss the feeling of knowing what drives you. Everything else fades away, and it becomes clear what your days should be filled with.

People that connect with their drive often quit their jobs without a plan. This is a scary thing to do, especially with a family. But, when you’re connected to what drives you, and you know where you need to focus your energy and time, everything else immediately feels unimportant. You can move forward with full confidence and clarity that what you’re doing is what you should be doing. And your drive is something you can trust. It will take you wherever you need to go. You will be successful in whatever you do because you’re connected to your drive.