In order to make changes in our lives we have to invest time, energy and resources either moving ‘towards’ a particular goal or ‘away from’ something we’d rather avoid – in other words, we have to stop or start doing things to make those changes.

This could be stopping smoking or eating chocolate and perhaps starting something new like an exercise regime.

Interestingly, research shows that women are better than men at starting new things and men are better at stopping. Working out which category you fall into, can help you to create changes in your life in a way that better suits you and your personality.

Answer these questions to help you find out whether you’re a “stick or carrot” kind of person:

– When you walk into a crowded room at a party, do you automatically start looking for those people you would like to speak to OR do you quickly scan the room for those you want to avoid?

– When you choose where to go on holiday, do you base your choice on what you DO want – nice beach, good hotel, interesting sights – or do you base your choice on what you DON’T want – long journey, dodgy food, mosquitoes?

– What motivates you to work hard? Is it the prospect of a promotion, more money and a bigger house? Or is it the fear that if you don’t work hard, you might lose your job, your home and even your family?

– Think back to when you purchased your last car: did you make your decision based on safety and economy or performance and design?

– If you want to lose weight, what picture motivates you more: seeing yourself in a slim pair of jeans, or the thought and fear of going up a few dress sizes if you don’t take action now?

All of this information will help you to tailor and design your goals in such a way as to ?t in with your motivational style.

Look out for ‘away from’ and ‘towards’ patterns

1. Advertisers often use this powerful pattern when they set out to sell to you. Have a look through the advertisements in magazines and see if you can spot this ‘away from’ or ‘towards’ kind of language.

2. Identifying this driving pattern in other people can help you to gain more in?uence or persuasion over them as you tailor your presentation or argument to answer the questions in their minds – before they’ve even asked them.
Neither pattern is better than the other, but it’s also useful to be aware of the bene?ts and the pitfalls of each.

People who put a lot of energy into moving ‘towards’ their goals can sometimes get so excited about their future that they don’t pay su?cient attention to the possible pitfalls. A lack of
instant success can then bring about a lack of motivation.

Those people who get used to using an ‘away from’ pattern can sometimes get side-tracked by the many potential problems they’re trying to dodge. Over-cautiousness can prevent them from moving forward.

Creating a bit more of a balance may be what’s needed if you feel a lack of motivation kicking in as you struggle to achieve your aims. This could put you back on the path to success.


Alicia Eaton is a Clinical Hypnotherapist and NLP based in London’s Harley Street. You can read more about her strategies for success in her latest book: “Fix Your Life…with NLP”. For more details see