Pull Vs Push – The Two Main Forces of Life

I have always wanted to do many things in life. I have had lots of goals, dream and aspirations (I should probably take my own advice and let some of them go). In all my years of adulting, I have tried many things and pursued many of these goals. Some worked, some worked temporarily and some were flat out failures (lessons).

Now what I have come to realise from these experiences is that there are two types of forces in life that compel us to do things. A pull force and a push force.

This is not a new idea, push and pull strategy is quite common in marketing and the idea is that push marketing is a promotional strategy where businesses attempt to take their products to the customers — push the product to the customer. Whereas pull marketing takes the opposite approach. The goal of pull marketing is to get the customers to come to you.

Numerous writers and self-help coaches have talked about the push and pull forces including the infamous Tony Robbins and one of my favourite podcasters Jonathan Fields
Here is my (simpler) version.


Think of Pull as the force that pulls you towards a task, project or a goal. It is the attraction an endeavour has to pull you towards it. Or, you are the type of person who pulls certain ideas and projects towards yourself. Ever get that feeling that something just landed right in your lap?

This pull or attraction exists because the idea resonates with you. It challenges you, intrigues you, makes you curious. Perhaps it is a problem that you think you can solve or you like the idea of taking it on and completing this endeavour. Whatever the case may be, the pull force gives you the motivation and sometimes even the impulse to take action and pursue a purpose.

Think of all your dreams, goals and desires driven by this pull force. You get pulled by them to take action. To keep going. To improve yourself. To solve the puzzle. To challenge yourself.

Can you think of an idea, project or a goal that you got pulled towards? That attracted you?


Push is the force that is, quite literally, pushing you in a direction (mostly to take action), with or without your desire and intention. Think of being pushed by circumstances and ‘life’ to do things that you wish you didn’t need to or didn’t want to do.

Push is all the ‘shoulds’, ‘musts’, ‘have to’ and ‘need to’. This is something you are pushed to do irrespective of how you feel about it. Example; waking up at 02.30 am to feed your hungry, crying baby. Studying (not for the sheer idea of learning) but to sit and pass an exam.

Another example is that you are pushed to go to a job that you, perhaps, don’t like very much in order to pay your bills. However, at the same time, you are pulled to a different calling (being a sportsperson, musician, dancer etc).

Can you think of a push situation in your life?

Which force is better?

Everyone is different and has different styles of working, disciplining and motivating themselves. Push force and push experiences have a tendency to get the task done as they feel urgent and important (although they might not always be important), and often times can have serious consequences (for example losing your job, failing the exam or starving your baby — morbid!) but everyone performs differently under pressure. I can remain calm under pressure (thank you, meditation!) and get the task done but I know friends and colleagues who shut down and perform very poorly under the pressure of this Push force.

So, there is no one right answer and needless to say you need both the pull and the push in life for the various situations you face. Some goals/tasks are performed better with push and some with pull and sometimes you may experience both these forces working together. 
Some people, for example, make great employees and generate tremendous profits for the organisation they work for but are terrible bosses and business owners. They need that structure, hierarchy and someone to guide and tell them what to work on next. They suck at it themselves — in a self-employed situation for example. For such people, the Push force works better. Sometimes feeling like you have no other choice (there is always a choice — read my post on how everything in life is a choice) works great for such people in getting the job done.

Conversely, some people are great at motivating themselves and staying focused. They like the freedom of doing their own thing, on their own terms without having the constraints of hierarchy and often tend not to work well in corporate structures. The Pull force gets them going as they not only just see the possibilities of what can be but also take action in making it a reality. But it might not work in all areas of life. For example, I am very good at disciplining myself when it comes to going to the gym, eating healthy and fasting but when it comes to productivity and working on my own personal projects, I often procrastinate, lose focus and easily get distracted. I need Pull and Push simultaneously.

Know Thyself

First, you need to know what type of a person you are. 
Do you like structure? Hierarchy? A clear and defined goal and a way to get there? Maybe someone to tell you and show you how to do it? 
Or do you like ‘chaos & freedom’ (everyone thinks they like freedom — but not everyone can handle it)? Do you like forging your own path?
How well do you perform under pressure? Do you like a routine and structured way of working? Or do you like to rely on the moment and work based on motivation/mood? 
Do you often start something with a lot of motivation only to realise that the steam has fizzled out over time?

Once you are able to answer these questions, you will have a better understanding of what will work better for you in different situations.

A perfect balance of both of the Pull and the Push force creates the best results.