Messages about overcoming fear in order to be successful are built with good intentions, but they may be making fear your enemy instead of your friend. By playing a few mind games, you can transform fear from a force that holds you back into a force that pushes you forward.
There is one important caveat. Fear is a powerful motivator to lift you out of a rut and set you in motion, but living in a constant state of fear is damaging. Think of fear like the booster rockets on a space shuttle that help it pull free from gravitational forces, only to be discarded when no longer needed.
Fear can be temporarily useful. But there has to be something you’re moving toward because of love to sustain motivation.
Here are 4 ways you can use fear as fuel:
1. Make Your Comfort Zone Really Uncomfortable
One of the simplest ways to get out of your comfort zone is to make your comfort zone really uncomfortable. Let’s say Sarah loves to binge-watch Netflix each night instead of working on her blog. While she could force herself to work, it will never be as comfortable as watching movies.
What if Sarah set a deadline to finish a blog article every week, told five friends, and offered to pay them each $100 if she didn’t get it done? Now the idea of watching Netflix and not writing the article is more uncomfortable than writing the article.
She fears losing money, breaking her word, and looking like a failure to others. Accountability is one way to make your current comfort zone uncomfortable, but there are other approaches. Ask yourself, “How can I make my comfort zone more uncomfortable than doing what I know will move me forward?”
“Fear is only as deep as the mind allows.” – Japanese Proverb
2. Care More About Your Supporters Than Your Haters
One common fear among high achievers is, “What if people criticize me?” They may even feel bad about it and conclude, “I know I shouldn’t care what people think, but I can’t help it.” Consider this: To literally “not care what people think” is impossible for someone with normal human psychology. We’re hardwired with a desire to fit in and be accepted.
It’s normal to fear criticism. Instead of fighting it. The secret is to simply care more about those who benefit than about potential haters. The fear of letting them down can be a powerful motivator.
Tim Ferriss puts this in perspective when he discusses focusing on the 1,000 fans who get what you’re doing rather than the 10,000 who don’t. Ask yourself, “Who will suffer—even if I don’t know them yet—if I don’t achieve even greater success and share my work?”
3. Fulfill Your Future Self’s Desires
Playing small comes from avoiding the disappointment one may feel if they don’t reach an ambitious goal. Instead of trying to avoid disappointment, what if you used the fear of disappointment in your favor?
Imagine yourself 10 years in the future having not pursued your dreams. You review the previous 10 years and think about how you shrank away from opportunities and settled for mediocrity. How does it feel?
Now imagine yourself on your deathbed, looking back on your life. Your gravestone will read, “Here lies so and so. He was an ordinary person who inspired no one. He’ll quickly be forgotten.” How does it feel that you decided to play it safe all your life?
You may find your life was less about what you did or didn’t accomplish, and more about how you showed up to take a swing. A little disappointment now can sting, but major disappointment felt years down the road—realizing the actuality of your wasted life—can be soul crushing.
Ask yourself, “Would I rather experience the temporary discomfort of a particular ambition not achieved or the crushing disappointment of failing to show up as my greatest self?”
“Never be afraid to try something new. Remember, amateurs built the ark, professionals built the Titanic.”
4. Use Fear As A Teacher
“I can’t do it!” On the surface, this sounds like a limiting belief that invokes paralyzing fear. If you don’t believe you can achieve a goal, what are the odds you’ll go after it wholeheartedly?
What if that fear is actually trying to help you learn something? There are many things you truly can’t accomplish, and that’s okay. All you may need to do in these situations is recognize a simple fact. “I can’t do it on my own, but we can do it together.” Now you’re liberated from believing you need to do something alone and can free yourself to receive help from others.
Fear isn’t necessarily false evidence appearing real. While some fears are illogical and can be addressed using various forms of therapy, other fears are legitimate concerns that your subconscious brings to the surface to help you develop a strategy to avoid failure.
Fearing you can’t do something can be motivation to find mentors, build a team, and develop necessary skills. Rather than relying on positive affirmations to override all fears, you may find it more beneficial to acknowledge the fears and expose the underlying lessons the fears are attempting to share with you.
When you grasp the lesson that fear is trying to teach, the fear often disappears on its own. Ask yourself, “What is this fear trying to teach me?”
Which of these four things are you going to use today to turn fear into your friend? Leave your thoughts below!
Image courtesy of Twenty20.com
How to Stay Motivated to Achieve Your Goals
Time is the raw material of our lives. How we choose to spend it, shapes our life accordingly. So having the motivation to spend it on achieving goals is crucial to creating a life we want.
What is Motivation?
The Oxford dictionary defines motivation as the desire or willingness to do something – our drive to take action.
Scientifically, motivation has its roots in the dopamine pathways of our brains. When we do something that feels good, that’s dopamine kicking in. Our actions are driven by the desire for that reward (the good feeling).
Author Steven Pressfield describes motivation more practically. He says we hit a point where the pain of not doing something becomes greater than the pain of doing it. He sees motivation as crossing the threshold where it’s easier to take action than it is to be idle. Like choosing to feel awkward while making sales calls over feeling disappointed about a diminishing bank account.
However you choose to think about it, we all want to harness motivation to achieve our goals.
How to Get Motivated
James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits, says that most people misunderstand motivation. They think that motivation is what gets us to take action. In reality, motivation is often the result of action, not the cause of it. Once we start a task, it’s easier to continue making progress. Like Isaac Newton’s first law: objects in motion stay in motion.
This means most of the resistance when working on your goals comes right before we start. Since motivation naturally occurs after we start, we need to focus on making starting easier.
4 Ways to Make Starting Easier
1. Schedule it
One reason people can’t get started on things is that they haven’t planned when to do it.
When things aren’t scheduled it’s easier for them to fall by the wayside. You’ll end up hoping motivation falls in your lap or hoping that you’ll muster enough willpower to get it done.
An article in the Guardian said, “If you waste resources trying to decide when or where to work, you’ll impede your capacity to do the work.”
2. Measure something
It’s easy to feel uninspired when you don’t know if you’re making progress or what you’re even working towards. That’s why you need to make your success measurable in some way. Starting is easy when you know exactly how much closer your current actions will bring you to achieving your goal.
3. Extrinsic motivation
This type of motivation is from external factors. It can be either positive or negative. Positive motivation consists of incentives like money, prizes, and grades. Negative motivation consists of deterrents like being fired, having a fight, or being fined. Extrinsic motivation doesn’t work effectively long-term, but it can work well in the short term to get you started on something.
4. Make it public
Keep yourself accountable by telling friends and family your goals, or even sharing them on social media. This makes it easier to start something because you’re pressured to not let others down.
How to Stay Motivated Long Term
When we say we want to feel motivated to do something, we don’t want to be pushed or guilted into doing a task. We want to be so attracted and drawn to the idea that we can’t resist not taking action. That’s why it’s important to build a foundation that will set you up for consistency.
These are 5 techniques that will help you do just that:
1. Stay in your goldilocks zone
The goldilocks zone is when a task is the perfect level of difficulty—not too hard and not too easy. In this zone, we reach peak motivation and focus.
For example, let’s say you’re playing a serious tennis match against a 4-year-old. On this level of difficulty, you’ll quickly become bored and not want to play. Now let’s say you’re playing a serious tennis match against Serena Williams. On this level of difficulty, you’ll quickly become demotivated because the match is too challenging.
The Goldilocks zone is in the middle of that spectrum. You want to face someone with equal skill as you. That way you have a chance to win, but you have to focus and try for it. Adjusting your workload and goals over time to stay within your Goldilocks zone keeps you engaged and motivated long-term.
2. Pursue intrinsically motivated goals
Being intrinsically motivated to achieve a goal is when you want to achieve it for what it is. There are no external factors like a reward or the risk of being fired. The drive behind your actions is coming from within.
For most intrinsic goals we pursue them because they will enrich our lives or bring us closer to fulfillment. That makes these goals extremely sustainable long-term because they directly affect our quality of life and the things we care about.
3. Use “chunking”
Chunking is the technique of breaking down a goal into smaller short-term targets. By doing this you achieve multiple successes in your pursuit of the main goal. This triggers the brain’s reward system and drives you to keep going.
Traditionally, you may set a goal that you expect to achieve in one year. That’s a long time to commit without seeing any results along the way. By chunking your goals into monthly or quarterly targets, you get the consistent positive reinforcement you need to stay motivated long-term.
For example, instead of trying to lose 50 pounds in one year, try to lose 4 pounds every month for 12 months.
4. Be flexible
We’re all victims of circumstance. Things happen along our journey that we can either adjust to or quit because of. That’s why it’s important to have leeway and flexibility when you’re pursuing a goal. If you expect everything to go perfectly, the inevitable failure can make you disengaged and desireless. When you plan for things to go wrong, you make sure you can keep up for the long haul.
5. Pursue your goals in a sustainable fashion
Don’t lose hope when you’re not an overnight success. Overnight successes are the 1%—for the most part, they don’t exist. What we see as an “overnight success” is actually countless hours of work behind the scenes finally hitting a tipping point. Pursuing goals is a story of patience, persistence, and unseen effort.
Don’t compare yourself to others. Comparison is a recipe for a drop in self-confidence and satisfaction. It also cultivates a mindset where you think you haven’t done enough. As a result, you may raise your expectations and put more pressure on yourself.
This is pointless because things worth achieving take time. So we obviously won’t compare to the things around us when starting.
Mastering motivation is a superpower. With that ability at your fingertips, you can accomplish your goals and shape a life you want to live in.
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