Getting Motivated: Towards or Away From Your Goals

Some people are motivated away from the things that they don’t like and some people are motivated towards the things they want. For example, some people will work on increasing their income because they don’t like where they live or they don’t like being in debt. That would be called an Away From strategy; moving away from something that is uncomfortable. A Towards person increases their income because they are thinking of the home that they prefer or they are thinking about wanting to increase their savings or their retirement fund. Most people have some combination of both such as 60/40 in either direction. Statistically, this is the most common combination with most people leaning in one direction or the other rather than equally balanced. There is a social bias that a Towards strategy is preferable but that is not necessarily true. If someone has an Away From strategy and it is working then it is a good strategy.If you are primarily motivated away from things that you don’t like then it is important that you use that strategy successfully to stay motivated. If your house is messy, there is a point where it gets to be too much and it gets tidied. At what point does the tidying begin? Does it begin at a comfortable level or is your house a disaster before you reach your threshold to clean it? Someone with an Away From strategy for cleaning their house has to notice the house becoming uncomfortable to get motivated to clean it. If you put on blinders and ignore the mess then your Away From strategy isn’t working. You will have to take the blinders off and notice how uncomfortable your house is to change the threshold and have a house that is comfortable.A Towards person is thinking about how nice the house looks when it is clean and is motivated to get it to look the way they like it. If the Towards person forgets what their house looks like with everything put away then there is no motivation that way either. For a Towards person it is important to remember what is good about a tidy house so that they stay motivated to keep it the way that they like it.In both cases the amount of work and effort is the same but one is motivated away from messiness and the other is motivated towards tidiness.If you think about it for a moment you can probably figure out which motivation strategy you are using. Think about something that you regularly get done. Are you motivated away from discomfort or towards a goal? You probably have a different strategy in different contexts. Most people have variations depending on whether they are motivated in their career, at home, in their relationship, etc. If you’re not sure which strategy you are using in these different contexts you can begin to observe yourself being motivated to find out which strategy you primarily use.If your motivation strategy isn’t working there are things you can do to turn it on more strongly. If you are primarily Away From, build your Away From strategy. Build your discomfort level by really noticing how bad the thing you don’t like is. If you hate your job, career, home or finances, and you want to change it – really notice how much you hate it and build that until you start moving away from it. If you have goals and things that you really want, notice how much you want them and develop that strongly. Think about what it will be like when you have what you want. Make it strong and really compelling.Towards people are focused on a goal. They are thinking about what they want to achieve. They are motivated by what they want to get, have, achieve, or attain. They are energized by their goals and tend to be good at managing their priorities.Away From people notice what they are avoiding, getting rid of and not allowing to happen. Their motivation is often triggered by an increase in difficulty or discomfort such as a new problem or an existing problem getting bigger that becomes a threat. Away From people respond to deadlines, penalties and negative consequences. They are good at troubleshooting, problem-solving, identifying obstacles and picking up on the things that could go wrong. They are motivated by fixing problems, correcting mistakes and a lack of mistakes. This is their style of writing and studying. They look for errors and correct them, constantly upgrading their accuracy by making corrections. They are often distracted by goals and are more motivated by a response to something negative. They are sometimes disliked by Towards people by being seen as negative, cynical, jaded, managing crises, and drawn to problems. To accurately determine an Away From strategy get beyond the surface reason for doing something. Most of us have been trained that it is better to think positively so our first response is often going to be in a positive direction. Dig deeper for the real reason that you want what you want and look for an avoidance pattern or a moving away strategy. Identify what you want and then find the reason why you want it. Do you want it because of what it will give you or do you want it because of what you will avoid? Away From people set goals, but they do it to avoid failure. Their reason for setting goals is Away From and that is what triggers them to take action on their goals. Away From people sometimes get easily distracted by any little thing that goes wrong. For an Away From person’s strategy to work they need to have a balance of some Towards thinking to stay focused on what they need to fix and what they want to accomplish.

Towards people need to be aware of any problems that might arise and stay Towards while they work on solving the problem. They need to have back up plans and contingencies for the things that can go wrong. Without a well thought out plan the Towards person can lose motivation when things go wrong if they haven’t thought about how to solve their problems.Both Away From and Towards people need a successful combination of clear goals, contingency plans and a focus on priorities.The Away From or Towards strategy is often what gets the person started on a project but something bigger is usually needed for completing a goal bigger than cleaning the house. For big life goals it is important to be primarily goal focused rather than problem focused. An Away From person can still be primarily motivated away from discomfort, but staying focused on problems only will not succeed in maintaining motivation. Whether the person is moving away from a problem to avoid or moving towards a problem they are solving, as soon as the problem begins to get either resolved or successfully avoided, the discomfort of the problem is reduced just enough so that the motivation stops. The problem is no longer an irritant even though it is still there. Being problem focused does not maintain motivation.What maintains strong motivation is a focus on goals. If you are headed for the Emerald City and that is what you are focused on, if there is a mountain blocking your path you are either going to go under it, around it, over it, through it or go the whole way around the planet in the other direction, because you are focused on getting to the Emerald City. A problem-focused person is going to be stuck at the mountain and decide that it is not possible to get any further on their path. They will even forget about their goal because the problem becomes bigger than the goal. Don’t ever let your problems get bigger than your goals. Don’t be ruled by your limitations.It’s all a matter of perception. If goals were always easy to achieve they wouldn’t mean as much to us. A challenging goal that has been reached is a valuable achievement, worthy of effort and even sacrifice. Keep your eyes on the prize!In archery you never aim for the bulls-eye. Gravity will always put the arrow in the ground before it gets there. Raise your aim a little higher, zero in and take your best shot. You can learn to hit the bulls-eye every time.Set a goal, define it very accurately, and generate a lot of excitement about the goal. Focus on what you want with a body of knowledge that supports that. This is what you want to build on. For a big important goal, think about that goal 3 or 4 times a day and get excited about it. It’s a matter of focus. Attach a high level of energy to it. Learning to increase your own energy is a very useful thing to be able to do, particularly for achieving big goals. Attach an immense amount of energy to something that you want to accomplish, like riding on a roller coaster, galloping on a horse or skiing down a slope. Attach that intensity to achieving your goal and think about that several times a day.For a long-term goal, pick your goal and put intermediate step goals in between. Put your energy in that, keeping your eyes on the end goal. All along the way there will be obstacles, problems and things to resolve, go around, or avoid to get to the other side of the problem. As soon as you reach an obstacle reorient to the target.When a rocket is sent into outer space it is off course most of the time as it heads towards its destination. It will go off course to the right until a mechanism indicates that it is off course and if self-corrects back to the course. Then it goes off course to the left for a while until it self-corrects and starts heading to the right. The rocket is off course most of the way towards its target but it is programmed to reach its destination. As long as the rocket stays on course it will reach where it is going.Students tend to focus on a goal of getting through school rather than to focus on what their goal is for going to school which is whatever their chosen career is. This tendency can cause a lot of people to get stuck along the way and lose sight of their original goal for going to school. The ultimate goal must be maintained in order to stay motivated to achieve all that is required for this big undertaking.Define where you want to be. Where do you want to be five years from now – career-wise, health-wise, relationship-wise… ? If you stray from that path you’ll lose your focus. Motivation comes when you keep accessing the goal(s) that you really want. Attach fun to it. Make the achieving of this goal exciting – extra exciting – and really, really fun! Make it sparkle. Attach the same level of excitement to overcoming the obstacles and problems to be solved along the way to the goal. Keep looking back at the steps you have achieved to maintain your enthusiasm and belief in your ability to continue doing that as you continue toward your goal.Here’s a little exercise that you can follow now from NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming):Think of a time in your life when you were really motivated. It might be that you are motivated to be in front of your TV at a certain time every week for your favorite show. It might be a time of learning something fun that you really enjoyed. It could be an experience from a younger age or something you got done easily yesterday. Think of an example where you were easily motivated; the motivation was switched on automatically. It doesn’t have to be a big success. It can be any example, even a small one like making a cup of tea that you really want. Maybe it was learning a language or hang gliding. Find an example, any example, from any time in your life where you were highly motivated. Good.Now close your eyes and go back into that memory as if it is right now; fully associate into that memory as if it is happening right now, and notice everything that you can notice from that experience – what you see, what you feel (physical sensations), what you hear, and everything that you are aware of when you go to that memory fully associated. Close your eyes and go there right now.

Write down everything that you notice: pictures, sounds, physical sensations, and everything that you notice from that memory. What are you aware of when you think about that memory of being motivated? What do you notice most strongly? What is the one signal that is strongest? Is it certain words you are saying inside your head like, “Yes!” or “This is great” or is it a picture that you see? Do you see yourself in the picture or are you looking at the picture from your own eyes? What does your body feel – exact physical sensations such as temperature, movement, muscle sensations, smiling, etc.? Find one signal that is the strongest.Okay, now think of a goal that you have now that you want to be motivated to have. Bring the signal from your motivation memory to the goal you have now. So, for example, if you have, “Yes!” as your biggest signal from your past motivation memory, think of your current goal and hear yourself say, “Yes!” If the signal from the past memory was warmth or tingling in your body, think about your current goal and feel warmth or tingling in your body. This is a simple example of NLP using a signal from a past experience to elicit a similar response in the present.Another way to set up motivation for a successful future is to look into the future and see yourself achieving what you are working on having. If you are a student, for example, don’t focus on graduating or passing – focus on what you will have after you achieve those steps on your path. School and exams are a doorway or stepping stones that lead to where you want to go. Graduation is not the destination; it is part of the journey. Focus your attention on where you ultimately want to go. It could be debt or job limitations that are triggering you to move forward but you have goals of where you want to go. Focus on that. Create a clear picture for what that looks like and put it right in front of you, ahead of you, and not too far away. You want it to be achievable in the near future so have your picture somewhat close in front of you. It’s not important to actually “see” a picture, but just to imagine in your mind’s eye or even just to pretend that an image is there. Good. Now look on your path for obstacles. Is there anything there that you can clear out now? Maybe you can just put it to the side of your path and walk past it. If it’s an exam, for example, see yourself walking through that to the other side where you have your goals. See that there might be some problems or challenges on the path to your goal and see yourself climbing over or around those or resolving them in a routine manner. Facing challenges is normal in achieving a big goal and increases the value of achieving it. Go out now into that future and imagine having your goal, experience what that is like (what it looks like, sounds like and feels like) and then come back to the present with that experience, knowing what it is like to have the goal.These are some simple exercises from NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) and TPM (Thought Pattern Management). In my work with clients each session is individualized to the needs of each person. A Motivation Strategy or Success Strategy is strongly identified and made to run automatically. Any blocks or barriers to success are identified and resolved.We can elicit a successful strategy for achieving any goal. Keep your eyes on the prize!©2017

Best in Class Finance Functions For Police Forces


Police funding has risen by £4.8 billion and 77 per cent (39 per cent in real terms) since 1997. However the days where forces have enjoyed such levels of funding are over.

Chief Constables and senior management recognize that the annual cycle of looking for efficiencies year-on-year is not sustainable, and will not address the cash shortfall in years to come.
Facing slower funding growth and real cash deficits in their budgets, the Police Service must adopt innovative strategies which generate the productivity and efficiency gains needed to deliver high quality policing to the public.

The step-change in performance required to meet this challenge will only be achieved if the police service fully embraces effective resource management and makes efficient and productive use of its technology, partnerships and people.

The finance function has an essential role to play in addressing these challenges and supporting Forces’ objectives economically and efficiently.


Police Forces tend to nurture a divisional and departmental culture rather than a corporate one, with individual procurement activities that do not exploit economies of scale. This is in part the result of over a decade of devolving functions from the center to the.divisions.

In order to reduce costs, improve efficiency and mitigate against the threat of “top down” mandatory, centrally-driven initiatives, Police Forces need to set up a corporate back office and induce behavioral change. This change must involve compliance with a corporate culture rather than a series of silos running through the organization.

Developing a Best in Class Finance Function

Traditionally finance functions within Police Forces have focused on transactional processing with only limited support for management information and business decision support. With a renewed focus on efficiencies, there is now a pressing need for finance departments to transform in order to add greater value to the force but with minimal costs.

1) Aligning to Force Strategy

As Police Forces need finance to function, it is imperative that finance and operations are closely aligned. This collaboration can be very powerful and help deliver significant improvements to a Force, but in order to achieve this model, there are many barriers to overcome. Finance Directors must look at whether their Force is ready for this collaboration, but more importantly, they must consider whether the Force itself can survive without it.

Finance requires a clear vision that centers around its role as a balanced business partner. However to achieve this vision a huge effort is required from the bottom up to understand the significant complexity in underlying systems and processes and to devise a way forward that can work for that particular organization.

The success of any change management program is dependent on its execution. Change is difficult and costly to execute correctly, and often, Police Forces lack the relevant experience to achieve such change. Although finance directors are required to hold appropriate professional qualifications (as opposed to being former police officers as was the case a few years ago) many have progressed within the Public Sector with limited opportunities for learning from and interaction with best in class methodologies. In addition cultural issues around self-preservation can present barriers to change.

Whilst it is relatively easy to get the message of finance transformation across, securing commitment to embark on bold change can be tough. Business cases often lack the quality required to drive through change and even where they are of exceptional quality senior police officers often lack the commercial awareness to trust them.

2) Supporting Force Decisions

Many Finance Directors are keen to develop their finance functions. The challenge they face is convincing the rest of the Force that the finance function can add value – by devoting more time and effort to financial analysis and providing senior management with the tools to understand the financial implications of major strategic decisions.

Maintaining Financial Controls and Managing Risk

Sarbanes Oxley, International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), Basel II and Individual Capital Assessments (ICA) have all put financial controls and reporting under the spotlight in the private sector. This in turn is increasing the spotlight on financial controls in the public sector.

A ‘Best in Class’ Police Force finance function will not just have the minimum controls to meet the regulatory requirements but will evaluate how the legislation and regulations that the finance function are required to comply with, can be leveraged to provide value to the organization. Providing strategic information that will enable the force to meet its objectives is a key task for a leading finance function.

3) Value to the Force

The drive for development over the last decade or so, has moved decision making to the Divisions and has led to an increase in costs in the finance function. Through utilizing a number of initiatives in a program of transformation, a Force can leverage up to 40% of savings on the cost of finance together with improving the responsiveness of finance teams and the quality of financial information. These initiatives include:


By centralizing the finance function, a Police Force can create centers of excellence where industry best practice can be developed and shared. This will not only re-empower the department, creating greater independence and objectivity in assessing projects and performance, but also lead to more consistent management information and a higher degree of control. A Police Force can also develop a business partner group to act as strategic liaisons to departments and divisions. The business partners would, for example, advise on how the departmental and divisional commanders can meet the budget in future months instead of merely advising that the budget has been missed for the previous month.

With the mundane number crunching being performed in a shared service center, finance professionals will find they now have time to act as business partners to divisions and departments and focus on the strategic issues.

The cultural impact on the departments and divisional commanders should not be underestimated. Commanders will be concerned that:

o Their budgets will be centralized
o Workloads would increase
o There will be limited access to finance individuals
o There will not be on site support

However, if the centralized shared service center is designed appropriately none of the above should apply. In fact from centralization under a best practice model, leaders should accrue the following benefits:

o Strategic advice provided by business partners
o Increased flexibility
o Improved management information
o Faster transactions
o Reduced number of unresolved queries
o Greater clarity on service and cost of provision
o Forum for finance to be strategically aligned to the needs of the Force

A Force that moves from a de-centralized to a centralized system should try and ensure that the finance function does not lose touch with the Chief Constable and Divisional Commanders. Forces need to have a robust business case for finance transformation combined with a governance structure that spans operational, tactical and strategic requirements. There is a risk that potential benefits of implementing such a change may not be realized if the program is not carefully managed. Investment is needed to create a successful centralized finance function. Typically the future potential benefits of greater visibility and control, consistent processes, standardized management information, economies of scale, long-term cost savings and an empowered group of proud finance professionals, should outweigh those initial costs.

To reduce the commercial, operational and capability risks, the finance functions can be completely outsourced or partially outsourced to third parties. This will provide guaranteed cost benefits and may provide the opportunity to leverage relationships with vendors that provide best practice processes.

Process Efficiencies

Typically for Police Forces the focus on development has developed a silo based culture with disparate processes. As a result significant opportunities exist for standardization and simplification of processes which provide scalability, reduce manual effort and deliver business benefit. From simply rationalizing processes, a force can typically accrue a 40% reduction in the number of processes. An example of this is the use of electronic bank statements instead of using the manual bank statement for bank reconciliation and accounts receivable processes. This would save considerable effort that is involved in analyzing the data, moving the data onto different spreadsheet and inputting the data into the financial systems.

Organizations that possess a silo operating model tend to have significant inefficiencies and duplication in their processes, for example in HR and Payroll. This is largely due to the teams involved meeting their own goals but not aligning to the corporate objectives of an organization. Police Forces have a number of independent teams that are reliant on one another for data with finance in departments, divisions and headquarters sending and receiving information from each other as well as from the rest of the Force. The silo model leads to ineffective data being received by the teams that then have to carry out additional work to obtain the information required.

Whilst the argument for development has been well made in the context of moving decision making closer to operational service delivery, the added cost in terms of resources, duplication and misaligned processes has rarely featured in the debate. In the current financial climate these costs need to be recognized.


Within transactional processes, a leading finance function will set up targets for staff members on a daily basis. This target setting is an element of the metric based culture that leading finance functions develop. If the appropriate metrics of productivity and quality are applied and when these targets are challenging but not impossible, this is proven to result in improvements to productivity and quality.

A ‘Best in Class’ finance function in Police Forces will have a service focused culture, with the primary objectives of providing a high level of satisfaction for its customers (departments, divisions, employees & suppliers). A ‘Best in Class’ finance function will measure customer satisfaction on a timely basis through a metric based approach. This will be combined with a team wide focus on process improvement, with process owners, that will not necessarily be the team leads, owning force-wide improvement to each of the finance processes.

Organizational Improvements

Organizational structures within Police Forces are typically made up of supervisors leading teams of one to four team members. Through centralizing and consolidating the finance function, an opportunity exists to increase the span of control to best practice levels of 6 to 8 team members to one team lead / supervisor. By adjusting the organizational structure and increasing the span of control, Police Forces can accrue significant cashable benefit from a reduction in the number of team leads and team leads can accrue better management experience from managing larger teams.

Technology Enabled Improvements

There are a significant number of technology improvements that a Police Force could implement to help develop a ‘Best in Class’ finance function.

These include:

A) Scanning and workflow

Through adopting a scanning and workflow solution to replace manual processes, improved visibility, transparency and efficiencies can be reaped.

B) Call logging, tracking and workflow tool

Police Forces generally have a number of individuals responding to internal and supplier queries. These queries are neither logged nor tracked. The consequence of this is dual:

o Queries consume considerable effort within a particular finance team. There is a high risk of duplicated effort from the lack of logging of queries. For example, a query could be responded to for 30 minutes by person A in the finance team. Due to this query not being logged, if the individual that raised the query called up again and spoke to a different person then just for one additional question, this could take up to 20 minutes to ensure that the background was appropriately explained.

o Queries can have numerous interfaces with the business. An unresolved query can be responded against by up to four separate teams with considerable delay in providing a clear answer for the supplier.

The implementation of a call logging, tracking and workflow tool to document, measure and close internal and supplier queries combined with the set up of a central queries team, would significantly reduce the effort involved in responding to queries within the finance departments and divisions, as well as within the actual divisions and departments, and procurement.

C) Database solution

Throughout finance departments there are a significant number of spreadsheets utilized prior to input into the financial system. There is a tendency to transfer information manually from one spreadsheet to another to meet the needs of different teams.

Replacing the spreadsheets with a database solution would rationalize the number of inputs and lead to effort savings for the front line Police Officers as well as Police Staff.

D) Customize reports

In obtaining management information from the financial systems, police staff run a series of reports, import these into excel, use lookups to match the data and implement pivots to illustrate the data as required. There is significant manual effort that is involved in carrying out this work. Through customizing reports the outputs from the financial system can be set up to provide the data in the formats required through the click of a button. This would have the benefit of reduced effort and improved motivation for team members that previously carried out these mundane tasks.

In designing, procuring and implementing new technology enabling tools, a Police Force will face a number of challenges including investment approval; IT capacity; capability; and procurement.

These challenges can be mitigated through partnering with a third party service company with whom the investment can be shared, the skills can be provided and the procurement cycle can be minimized.


It is clear that cultural, process and technology change is required if police forces are to deliver both sustainable efficiencies and high quality services. In an environment where for the first time forces face real cash deficits and face having to reduce police officer and support staff numbers whilst maintaining current performance levels the current finance delivery models requires new thinking.

While there a number of barriers to be overcome in achieving a best in class finance function, it won’t be long before such a decision becomes mandatory. Those who are ahead of the curve will inevitably find themselves in a stronger position.