Pull, Don’t Push: The Blueprint To Create Magic In Your Life

We all have heard these motivational quotes: Work hard, play hard. Life is a grind. Just keep going. Sleep when you’re dead.

That’s the mantra of our generation. And we don’t question it. Basically, it is no wonder, because we have been taught this simple mindset since our early childhood. Teachers, parents, friends, and bosses have bombarded us with the same message: Push Forward

Sure, it’s a great feeling to get stuff done. Everyone likes success. But let’s be honest for a brief moment: We are all tired.

We are tired of pursuing goals. We don’t want to be productive every single day. And we intuitively know that limitless growth is not feasible – at least not for the long run. And rightly so – there are a number of issues with the conventional approach of relentlessly pushing forward in life. These are the most important ones:

  • Tremendous Loss of Energy: The first reason is obvious – you will get tired and burn out. There is no doubt that people across the world are suffering from the concept of limitless and unhealthy expansion, be it on an individual, local or global level. It is certainly no coincidence that psychological illnesses like depression and burnout are increasing at an alarming rate.
  • Imbalanced Life & Tunnel Vision: If you are rushing towards your goals, you tend to lose the overview. Think of an entrepreneur who wants to change the world with his mission, but neglects his family and health along the way
  • Opportunity Costs: Life on a fast lane will result in making many mistakes. On one hand, you will do careless mistakes because of your relentless speed. On the other hand, you won’t be flexible enough to screen your environment. In other words, you won’t look left and right, and hence you will miss out better opportunities along the way, also known as opportunity costs. One example would be a teen who desperately wants to succeed as a musician but actually is more suited to become a singing coach.

The sad thing is that most people don’t question this kind of lifestyle. Because with all this hustling, grinding and fighting, one crucial question gets neglected along the way:

What if there is a better way to get stuff done?

What if there’s an easier, more efficient and playful way to fulfill your dreams?

Pull Versus Push Principles

Ironically, the world of marketing offers an interesting solution. In order to explain this concept, let’s suppose that a business owner, called Tom, wants to promote his product.

On a fundamental level, Tom can follow two contradicting strategies to market his product: On one hand, Tom can implement a push-strategy. On the other hand, he can implement a pull-strategy.

With the push-strategy, Tom literally pushes his product directly onto his customers. He tries to make them buy as quickly as possible. In practice, this could imply short-term actions like doing ads, commercials and direct sales like phone calls.

With the pull strategy, Tom would take a more strategical approach. The idea is to attract his customers and make them come to buy his product. This could be achieved with marketing techniques like improving brand awareness, word of mouth referrals or content marketing.

A great way to explain the difference between a push- and pull-based strategy is this: Think of a hunter who is hunting animals. If he follows a push-strategy, he will go out and hunt with a shotgun. But if he follows a pull-strategy, he will rather focus on using baits and laying traps.

The interesting thing about these two strategies is that they can not only be applied to marketing, but to every aspect of life. Furthermore, they represent two powerful ideas on which you can build your life around.

How To Pull Success – 3 Examples

To understand the pull- and push-strategy on a deeper level, let’s apply them to common real-life scenarios:

1. Get wealthy

Push-Strategy – Because you want to achieve wealth as quickly as possible, you research stories of self-made millionaires and current business trends. After a quick research phase, you come up with several business ideas and decide for the most promising one. Although you don’t know if your business endeavor will turn out to be successful, you quit your job to make it happen.

Pull-Strategy – You realize that getting wealthy is a long-term commitment. While still having a full-time job, you start to break down your interests, strengths, and weaknesses. Based on these results, you come up with several business ideas and validate them with little experiments. After your initial experimentation phase, you decide for the most promising business idea and start to implement it incrementally. After your business generates enough revenue, you eventually quit your job.

2. Get In Shape

Push-Strategy – With your bikini body in mind, you register to your gym nearby, and workout 4 times a week. The rest of your life stays the same. Although you are tired, you keep fighting in the gym until you reach your bikini figure. Despite your short-term success, you experience a YoYo-effect after the end of summer. Needless to say, you have to start all over again next year.

Pull-Strategy – Before you start with your exercise routine, you create an optimal environment which increases your chances of success, including an individual training plan, nutrition schedule,  and a mastermind group. Besides that, you choose a type of sport which is fun for you, so that you stick around.

3. Get A Romantic Partner

Push-Strategy – To increase your chance of finding a partner, you get in contact with as many people as possible, be it on parties, work or Tinder. After several dates, rejections, and up&downs, you eventually find a partner.

Pull-Strategy – While you are living a balanced life (i.e. work, social life, fitness), you break down new activities in which you are currently interested in. Based on these results, you identify the locations in your city where you can pursue these interests (e.g. museum, sports club, …). You start to visit these locations regularly and get in contact with like-minded people, among them your future partner.

The Last Time You Experienced Magic

To get a more personal connection with the pull-strategy, please ask yourself this question: What has been your biggest unexpected success in life so far?

An unexpected job promotion? A new life partner? Or maybe a life-changing realization?

And now, in retrospect, please ask yourself this: What did you do to achieve this success? Do you even know?

If you don’t know, you are certainly not alone. Most people who experienced this phenomenon would say that it just has happened to them in a magical way. But somewhere, deep down, you ponder: Maybe it wasn’t a sheer coincidence?  Maybe there’s a pattern I overlook? And if that’s the case, might this pattern be repeatable?

Designing A Pull-Strategy For Your Own Life

Now it’s getting exciting. Let’s assume you are tired of pushing forward in life. You decide to live a pull-based life. But where do you start?

Before we go any further, I want to make clear that I’m not an expert on the pull-based lifestyle. I am simply tired and bored with the conventional “push-forward-under-any-circumstance“ way of life. Moreover, I am convinced that there has to be a more effortless and profound way to go about things, in every aspect of life.

To achieve that, I designed a framework by which I try to live by. Sure, it’s just a model. A model is idealistic (hello students!), and reality is dirty (hello 9-to-5 workers!).  However, I think it’s a good starting point. Having a good framework helps me to reconnect to my overall vision.

But how do I know whether my pull-concept actually works? To be honest, I don’t. So far, I don’t have enough data points to prove that the concept clearly works. However, it makes a lot of sense because it combines three powerful and proven concepts, and merges them into a holistic pull-framework. By combining these three dimensions, you have a powerful and resilient framework which helps you to master life.

Which concepts am I talking about? Systems thinking, lean principles and self-improvement.

I know, I know, so far, you have no idea what I’m talking about. But please bear with me, things will become clear in a moment. The concept can be summarized in one sentence:

Be ready, be happy, and increase the change to experience magic.

If this sounds too esoteric for you  (I understand, it does), here’s a more scientific summary:

Apply lean principles, build systems & networks, and work on yourself

Before we look at the framework as a whole, let’s take a deeper look at its single building blocks:

1) Systems:
The idea behind a pull-based life is to attract success without putting in too much effort. In order to do so, you need to master your current life. But how can this be achieved? Put simply, you have to create the right systems. In your life, everything is a system (whether you know it or not). Your job, your health, your computer, finances, your documents, your family or your household. Understand these systems, and then improve them. By doing that, you will save your precious resources, mainly money, time, and energy. In practice, break down all the processes that run your life and improve them. This could be done by changing the environment, using better tools, or redesigning the processes. To start small, have a look at your housecleaning routine. How long does it take? Can you improve it by using better cleaning tools?  Or by reordering your cleaning steps? Which steps are unnecessary? Do that in every aspect of your life, and you will be amazed how much time, energy and money you will save.

2) Networks:
Human beings are social creatures who thrive on emotional connection. Thus, we need to live in organizational networks like family, workplaces or local communities. But also from an evolutionary standpoint, these networks make a lot of sense: Networks force you to get better by exposing yourself to organized chaos. On the one hand, they give you stability.  This stability helps you to blossom, i.e. go to school, learn to drive a car, or start a family. On the other hand, networks expose you to a reasonable degree of chaos, i.e., salary negotiations,  sports club competition, discussions, and so on. And all that without getting killed.

Especially if you want to live a pull-based lifestyle, you must learn to harness the power of networks. Put simply, networks represent a massive opportunity. They provide ideas, know-how, and resources. But does that mean you have to socialize all the time? No, in our day and age, we thankfully have the internet. You can engage in online communities or dedicated forums, according to your interests. However, try to balance offline and online activities as well as you can.

3) Lean Principles:
Once you set up the right systems and networks in your life, there is one lurking danger (I admit, I’m a victim): Over-strategizing and -planning. You start living in your head and don’t act in the real world. Fortunately, this can be easily countered: Live Lean. First, remove your ballast (see „minimalism“). Remove the ballast in your life, these could be your possessions or toxic people. Second, learn new things and do little experiments. This will help you to become anti-fragile. And in the best case, you will hit a home run. Even giants like Airbnb or Google started as innocent small side projects. Think of yourself as a fisher, who keeps throwing out little baits until he catches a big fish.

4) Inner Work:
I’m sorry to disappoint you, but living a pull-based life requires some internal work. This is the most fundamental building block of this concept. Because, as you probably noticed in the previous examples, implementing such a long-term strategy requires patience, emotional control and wisdom. Of course, this is a massive topic by itself, but you don’t have to go there. If there are only 2 things you have to remember, it’s 1) awareness and 2) facing your fears. If you do these two things, you are already ahead of 99% of mankind. Everything else will come naturally. I promise.

How To Start Pulling Success

These have been the building blocks of my pull-framework. A lot of different ideas have been mentioned – but here’s the big advantage of this concept: It tackles different dimensions which are all intertwined. So, if you improve one dimension, you will automatically improve all the others. This is also called a holistic lifestyle. Here are some examples:

  • If you live lean (i.e reduce your possessions), your systems will become easier (i.e. your cleaning method)
  • If you have good systems in your life, you will have more time to improve your network.
  • If you face your fears, it will be easier to do little experiments

What is the best way to implement a pull-strategy for your own life?

Decide for one dimension (for example „systems“ ), and improve one thing within this dimension (for example your wardrobe). Once you achieved that, tackle the next thing within this dimension. At some point, you will achieve impressive results in this area. Then, come back to this blog post, have a look at the figure above, and choose the next dimension. Now repeat the same thing again.

If you do this several times, something like this could happen:
You start off by getting your current life in order. You create effective systems, step by step. You organize your files, you structure your wardrobe in a more efficient way, and you start to think about your nutrition in a more systemized way.  Slowly but surely, you get out of the rud. You start to master the “current stuff“ in your life. As a result, you have more time, energy and money. With this surplus of resources, you have time to think about new ideas, work on your craft, and experience new things. It’s time to create the “new stuff”, new ideas and projects. With all this new passion and experiences, you start to reach out and meet like-minded people. Sure, you have you face your fears, but you still do it. At the same time, you are thankful for your life, and you are aware of your blessings. Congratulations, you just created an upward-spiral in your life.

Some Final Words

I’m not bashing the push-based lifestyle, and I don’t have anything against setting goals. To be quite frank, sometimes you just have to work hard. Sometimes, life is a grind. But as a coherent lifestyle, I think the pull-based method is more effective, sustainable and fun. Because in the end, life is a marathon and not a sprint.

Here is one last thought – If you think in terms of economy, the push- and pull-based lifestyle have two different currencies.

The push-based lifestyle values facts and achievements: The amount of money in your bank, your job resume, and the countries you have visited.

The pull-based lifestyle, on the other side, values something different: People, passion, authenticity, ideas, and vision.

These currencies may be different, but they aren’t mutually exclusive. You can have work for an impressive employee like Google, and you can live authentically at the same time.

However, I think pull-values come first, push-values second. It’s much harder to experience the advantages of the pull-based lifestyle by living a push-based life. On the other hand, if you live a pull-based life, you will achieve push-based goals, but they won’t matter that much to you.

Now you have to decide – What is your life currency?