Do you want to achieve all the wonderful, exciting goals that you’ve set for yourself for the year and decade ahead? Can I suggest that to increase the likelihood of getting where you want to go spend some time getting to know yourself a little better before you charge out. Spend time gaining some perspective and self-awareness to set yourself up for success. Knowing yourself and having a grip on what motivates you, what energises you and what scares you are key to achieving your goals. You are your greatest resource when it comes to ensuring your own success. If you are unaware of yourself, you’ll only end up self-sabotaging your efforts and disappointed with the end result.


If I were to ask you what your strengths are, the things that you are good at and enjoy as well as excite, engage and energise you, would you be able to answer? And if I were to ask you what your fears are; not the superficial kind of fears but those deep down fears that act as a driving force in your life like the fear of being unworthy of love, of being worthless, helpless, not good enough or of being vulnerable; would you be able to answer?


Knowing the answers to these two questions is incredibly important. Regardless of what we are doing, we are either moving away from something (being motivated by our fears), or we are moving towards something (being driven by our strengths, those things that excite, engage and energise us).  While the action may be the same, research shows that the motivation behind why we do something has a significant impact on our happiness and wellbeing, both physically and neurologically and as a result our ability to achieve our goals.


Here’s an example, I can make a cup of coffee for my colleague because I have a deep-seated fear of not being liked and so I make the cup of coffee as a way to get them to like me. On the other hand, I can decide to make the same colleague a cup of coffee because kindness is one of my signature strengths, and this is an opportunity to exercise that strength. At the end of the day, my colleague still gets a cup of coffee but the effects this action has had on me, depending on my motivation, are very different.


When our fears motivate us, our fight or flight response is activated. This leads to stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenalin being released and flooding our system, which limits our ability to think clearly, creatively and fully utilise our executive function. On the other hand, when our strengths motivate us when we are moving towards something, we are able to think more creatively and increase levels of inventiveness and big-picture thinking. It also helps to increase personal resources such as social and relational connections as well as help us to handle stress and the challenges that life throws at us.


People who frequently use their strengths are happier and more confident as well as more engaged at work and perform better.


As this year begins, spend some time discovering your strengths, as well as your fears, and understand what is motivating you. Knowledge is power and once you are aware of why you are doing certain things you can then reframe your thinking and choose to operate from your strengths, rather than your fears, which will help you to be happier, more confident and in a position to achieve your goals.