The Adaptive Agency Blog

Getting Your Drive Back

by | Apr 7, 2023 | Self-Improvement

Today is a slight departure from the usual culture and strategy themes, but I’ve found it to be foundational to everything I’m trying to accomplish.

I’ve had times when I thought I could accomplish just about anything.

Then there were times when the best I could muster was my C game.

Drive is a funny thing. It’s one of the biggest factors of our success. But we don’t always have control over it. Sometimes it’s hard to come by.

One thing we can do is to identify things that are hurting our drive and work on them with amazing results.

Today I’ll share some big ones.


First, what do we mean by “drive?”

I’m thinking of 3 things:

  1. Motivation, which helps us find the energy to chase and achieve valuable goals.
  2. Resilience, which lets us bounce back from setbacks and keep going.
  3. Perseverance, which keeps us committed to long-term goals.

And when we keep our drive up, we get a lot of good things. Here are few:

Goal achievement: Drive propels us towards goals, keeping us focused and committed.

Adaptability: Driven people adapt to changes, which is crucial for long-term success in a fast-paced world.

Problem-Solving: When our drive is strong, we fix things rather than just working around them.

Productivity: Drive leads to productivity and efficiency. Initiative: Drive encourages proactivity in addressing challenges or seizing opportunities.

Continuous learning: Driven people stay updated and develop their knowledge and skills.

Leadership potential: Drive is essential in leaders, helping them inspire and motivate teams for a positive work environment.

Personal brand: Driven individuals create strong reputations, attracting potential employers, clients, or collaborators.

Job satisfaction: Drive leads to a fulfilling career, as we grow and maximize our potential.


What hampers our drive and what can we do about it?

This is the question millions of people ask themselves in February or March every year when their New Year’s resolutions fail.

We often set goals and don’t achieve them. Here are some things that might be sapping your drive—and some ideas for dealing with them.


1. Being in the wrong tribe.

The wrong tribe will never let you develop drive and accomplish things. Even if they don’t actively hold you back, they certainly won’t help you move forward. You need a tribe that inspires and supports each other and provides positive reinforcement.

Go find the group of peers and mentors that will help motivate and inspire you.

The right tribe will help you stay accountable for your progress without judging you. Great tribes thrive on collaboration and healthy competition. And if you’ve built your Personal Advisory Board, they’ll provide you with mentoring and opportunities to learn.


2. Having weak alignment.

Sometimes we’re like REO Speedwagon: “I’ve forgotten what I started fighting for.”

Maybe we started with great intentions. We were going to make the world better, leave people better than we found them, do something that made us really proud.

Then the grind set in.

We lose track of the “why” behind what we do. Maybe we end up chasing goals that don’t suit us, imitating others’ achievements. If our efforts don’t align with our purpose or values, it’s hard to keep going.

Ask yourself:

  • Am I still being true to my purpose?
  • Have I been distracted by other people’s accomplishments?
  • What has to change to get me back on track?
  • What will my life look like once I’m realigned?

As the old cliche goes, “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” If you’re not in love with what you’re doing, you’ve got the power to realign it to give you joy and satisfaction again. That will do wonders for your drive.


3. Self-Doubt

When you don’t believe in yourself, drive suffers. Most of us experience feelings of inadequacy. Even very successful people report struggling with “imposter syndrome.”

But consider hard things that you’ve accomplished in the past. Somehow you made them happen. Why wouldn’t you be able to do it again?

Also, consider others with less talent or knowledge who succeeded in similar pursuits. They pushed through their doubts. (Or maybe it never occurred to them that they couldn’t succeed.)

Either way, if they can do it, you can do it.


4. Burnout

Often we set lofty objectives when things are going great. But when we hit a low, those objectives can become unmanageable. Remember that when we burn out, everything we’re doing suffers, not just the last thing we added to our plate.

Don’t overcommit. Prioritize self-care, set boundaries, and be realistic with your time and energy.


5. Clutter

This can take the form of your environment, your daily routines, and even your mind. The more things that distract you, the harder it will be to maintain drive.

Clutter can distract you enough that you simply forget about important things. A few weeks go by, and you realize you’ve made no progress.

Decluttering will help boost your drive by:

  • Giving your brain fewer things to toil over.
  • Reducing stress and anxiety.
  • Giving you control over your time.
  • Reducing decision fatigue.
  • Improving your overall mental health and energy.

Consider taking time each evening to decide what the next day’s priorities will be. Organize your environment. Eliminate, automate, or delegate as many low-value tasks as possible. Consider writing down your most important things and reviewing the list each night to make sure they’re prioritized for the next day. Also, you might look into “Kanban” as a system for reducing mental clutter and decision fatigue.

Decluttering will make it easier for your brain to focus on accomplishing important things.


6. Dopamine Addiction

When working on something important, do you crave snacks, feel drawn to your phone, or end up watching Netflix all evening? That’s dopamine at play. Dopamine is a brain chemical that keeps you seeking rewards but disappears once you get them, leaving you craving more.

Dopamine serves a crucial purpose, but now, with junk food, endless scrolling, and binge-watching, we’ve become addicted to it. Fighting a dopamine surge is hard without preparation.

Look into “dopamine fasting” for help. As you depend less on dopamine, your ability to focus on long-term gratification will improve. You’ll gain better self-discipline, motivation, and more time and focus for achievements.


7. Unrealistic Timelines

Things that require drive often take time. They also frequently require learning and developing new abilities.

This learning process isn’t a straight line but rather an upward zigzag. If you focus on a short timeline, low points can be misinterpreted as failures.

The key is to realize that things often take longer than you wish they would.

For example, on January 1st, many people set a goal to lose weight. They made some quick progress but gave up the first time they slammed a package of donuts and a 32-ounce soda.

If they had zoomed out to a full year, they might still be losing weight and developing healthier habits.


8. Bad Health

Speaking of diet and exercise, drive is mostly a mental thing. But an unhealthy body will struggle to support a healthy mind. Physical health is critical.

Especially sleep.

Nearly every health guru, whether their specialty is diet, exercise, nutrition, or whatever, will say that sleep is the most important thing. Not getting enough sleep, or getting poor quality sleep, will eventually rob you of drive.

Diet and exercise are also critical.

Gradually introducing nutrient-dense foods, keeping key blood indicators in check, and getting more cardio and resistance exercise will make a world of difference in your mind’s ability to focus and persevere toward an accomplishment.

And don’t forget mental health.

Having too much stress and anxiety will kill your drive. Do some research and consider talking to a therapist. Try to eliminate things that create unmanageable stress or anxiety. Liberate your mind by figuring out what is making you feel bad and resolving it.


Finally, become a student of your own mind.

Maybe the answers you need aren’t listed here. That’s ok. Just start paying attention. When you lose your drive, instead of feeling guilty about it, experience it fully.

  • What caused it?
  • Was there a window of opportunity to prevent it?
  • How did it make you feel?
  • Did you feel guilt or shame? How intensely? Why?

Take notes. Deep learning about yourself will give you more power than perhaps anything else.