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What's the Difference Between Drive and Stress?


When someone works a lot, or when someone is consistently trying to do more and be better, others will say that person has a lot of drive. They clearly have all this motivation and passion that keeps them going. Is that true?

I look at myself, at the work I do, and I can't help but think that drive or passion isn't the only motivator. I keep trying to do more and get better, at least in part, because I'm terrified of what could happen if I don't.

I'm stressed about money and family and responsibilities and making wise decisions. Doing more and more could be a way out of that stress, or at least a way to minimize it.

Money obviously isn't everything, but it sure makes everything easier! More work generally means more money, which generally means less stress. Ergo, stress or fear can be, and I think for many is, a very strong motivator.

You know X has to be done so you can experience or avoid Y, so you kill yourself to make sure X gets done. And that's perfectly reasonable!

It seems that many times stress and drive can be the same thing. To me that's really interesting, because they take opposite approaches. Drive is typically based on gain, whereas stress is typically based on avoidance. They lead to the same end, so aren't they both just as good?

People want to avoid punishment, and make various decisions based on that fear. People also make decisions based on potential reward. I think that where stress and drive really intermingle, though, is for the person who has to prove something. The person who wants to be better, but also wants to be seen in a certain light.

Strangely, most of us have something to prove. Maybe it's that you're a good parent. Maybe it's that you can do this or that.

Maybe you're just out of college trying to prove you're worth something. Maybe you're the new person at work, trying to prove you belong or can contribute.

Maybe you've gained a lot of knowledge and experience, and are trying to prove you're worth more than the credit currently given to you. Or maybe you just have a ton of stuff to get done, with no other option but to do it!

Stress and drive tend to merge into this one powerful motivator. Individually, they both lead to the same end - getting things done. But together they become a bedrock for everything someone does. And I think that's okay.

I think it mostly means that we each need to understand where a person is coming from, or why they might want to do something. Understanding is always a good first step.

For myself, I know I have to do all these things and more if I ever want to grow into another opportunity. That's based on a combination of stress and desire for fulfillment. Can you relate? Do you have something similar driving you? What is it that keeps you motivated?