Feeling Driven


There’s a fine line between the phrase “feeling driven” becoming your friend or your foe. And the name of that fine line is time.


I am someone who works well under pressure. Provided said pressure does not equate to the weight of a thousand unrealistic demands, all jockeying for a spot upon my meagre shoulders. But for many folk, the latter is more often the case. And what that can do to a person’s mindset and their mental health is often surprising.

Many clients have described to me the effects of too much pressure and stress using words such as confused, overwhelmed, failing, worthless or stupid. Because “feeling driven” had turned against them, they had begun to feel ineffective, unable to fight back.

Feeling driven motivates us. But this power is useless unless we can control it. Time is the one resource that can balance this equation. Yet when the pressure’s on, it often seems that our time has been exhausted. With one minor shift in perspective, we could change that mindset. And that shift starts when we apply the word, stop.

Years ago, a wise mentor once said, “best way to get things done is to put a date to them”. Through the years I have modified that advice. I say that the best way to get things done is to plan backwards, learn the time required, then put a date to it, and work forwards. This method makes feeling driven my friend, and “stop” to be my secret weapon in controlling any stress or pressure.

Here’s how I use the ‘plan backwards’ method, and where stop fits in along the way.

Know the goal.

If you’re not clear on what you’re chasing, then your efforts required to achieve will be huge. So too the odds of you feeling stressed out. Feeling driven with an unclear objective is like diffusing a bomb using Ikea instructions. It’ll blow up. Get clear on your end-game, take the time to create clarity around what it is you want and what it looks like when you’ve hit it.

Know the steps.

Holidays require planning, saving money requires planning, business ideas require planning. By looking at your goal and planning the steps required, feeling driven will supply the motivation. But it’s your plan that allows ‘stop’ to bring any stress or pressure back under your control should anything turn pear-shaped.

Know your ability.

Time is the fine line between feeling driven becoming a friend or foe. You need to know your available time. Grab a sheet of paper, a diary, or create a spreadsheet. Start recording what you do hour by hour, day by day. And be honest. If you spend two hours a day watching TV, record it. If you spend 45 minutes commuting, record it. If you spend an hour doing nothing, record that too. Your goals, and the time required to achieve them, all depend on where you apply your drive. Unless you thoroughly understand what’s available, you can’t maximise your chances for success.

Know the date.

Here’s where the power of feeling driven kicks in, along with the feelings of doubt. Can I or can’t I? Self-doubt is normal, and confidence is gained through experience, and experiments. You have a clear goal, you know the steps, you know the time you have available. Put a date to it and enjoy feeling driven.

Know discipline.

Nobody achieves anything worthwhile without hard work and discipline. You can’t save large amounts of money if you’re always partying. You can’t run a marathon without training. You can’t earn a certification without studying. You can’t start a business idea without doing long hours. Discipline combined with feeling driven keeps you focussed. Yes, at times discipline will drain you of energy. But watch how that energy returns when you start kicking goals.

Know that it’s OK to say stop.

Fact; projects and plans run past deadlines every day. Feeling driven turns bad if you ignore stop signals. Time is a resource that everyone has the same amount of, and plans don’t always go to plan. If the plan you created is showing cracks, then stop. You’re not failing to meet your deadline, you’re not ineffective, and you’re certainly not worthless or stupid. Take ‘stop’ moments to regather your thoughts and review your plans. Think about ways to bring things back on track. Avoid the trap of blindly battling on.

Finally, I want to say this. Feeling driven helps you stretch your boundaries, and push you further than the limits you placed upon yourself. Stop is how you maintain a positive mindset, and keep your mental health in great shape. Pressure is good, controlled pressure is better. Always be prepared to give anything a red hot go, using a plan.