Use Fear To Motivate Yourself

Fear is powerful. We all know it.

It is the most effective behavior-controlling emotion, but usually it’s not in a good way. We can change that by changing what it is that we fear.

Knowing that fear is a deterrent – that is, you run away from polar bears, not towards them – it would make sense to be afraid of something that chases you towards something good, right?

polar bears enjoy chasing you towards success

Over the last few months I’ve been working on a secret project. It’s something I’m very excited about, but that certainly didn’t stop me from getting lazy about it. I got off track one day and it turned into two months (I won’t admit it if it was longer than this :-)). Not good. I was in danger of losing it.

Fear saved me from losing it!

One day in my procrastination, I was struck with fear – but it was a good kind of fear. I came to the realization that this project (which is on “dream road”), was in serious peril. This fear pushed me to start again and I’m back on track now.

Pick A Fear…Any Fear

I have always heard negative things about fear, but it was surprising how it helped me. It made me wonder – what if people were most afraid of things like…

Not changing the world
Not getting in shape
Not living the dream

Fear powerfully shoves us in the opposite direction, so you’d find yourself really trying to change the world, get in shape, and live your dream. These are the things in life to fear, because they matter.

Some might wonder if the fear would freeze them instead of motivate them. That depends on a subtle difference – is your fear that you can’t accomplish these things or that you won’t? The healthy fear is that you won’t do what you want, even though you know it is very possible. When you fear your very ability to do something, you lack the confidence and you’ll freeze in self-doubt.

To use fear for motivation:

  1. Reecognize your vast potential (all humans have ridiculous potential)
  2. Be terrified that you’re not on track to reach it.

This technique kills apathy and challenges you. Ironically, it can be more motivating than reward-based motivation. It provokes you to protect your self-image and live with more purpose. You’ll be on a mission to make your life the way you’ve imagined it.

When we see the glimmering trophy at the end of a path and still settle for less…

When we’re slowly sputtering towards our dreams and running out of fuel…

When we aren’t burning with passion for life…

We become polar bears on thin ice. We need to be scared because polar bears weigh more than 1000 pounds. But good news! The resulting fear will motivate us to find solid ground and a seal to eat.

polar bear girl

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