Fear as a Motivator

by Francisco Saez

This chapter is a free excerpt from The Pursuit of Mastery.

April 15, 2013

“Always do what you are afraid to do.”

—Ralph Waldo Emerson


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April 15, 2013

“Always do what you are afraid to do.”

—Ralph Waldo Emerson

Fear is an interesting thing that I’ve written about from time to time. In this post I’d like to explore the ways that fear can become a source of energy and motivation if you can learn how to turn it into something positive. In fact, if you learn to recognize your fears and use them to your favor, they may help you achieve your goals.

Fear of change

Besides the fears of success and failure, fear of change is surely one we face many times throughout our lives. Whenever we have to take a big leap, and we know that our life will probably be different after doing so, our insecurities come to the surface.

Normally we resist change until we consider that the pain of changing becomes less than the pain of keeping the current situation. This is the reason why many people accept all kinds of unproductive situations and dysfunctional relationships that harm and exhaust them without producing anything in return.

According to Chris Guillebeau, author of The Art of Non-Conformity, there are two ways to make ourselves to go through change in our lives:

  • Increase the pain of the current situation so that we’re forced to change. Many times we have no choice and this occurs gradually and naturally, without intervention.
  • Overcome the fear of making whatever change is scaring us.
Overcoming fear

The first step to overcoming fear is to acknowledge it. Most of your fears and insecurities are illogical, so writing a list of the reasons why you are reluctant to make a change can be helpful.

After the fear is recognized and identified comes the hard part. You have to prepare your mind to make the change, with no regrets. To do this, thinking about the worst case scenario (if all goes wrong) helps put things in perspective (usually, you realize that the world will not end). You must also build the necessary commitment to go for making the change—talk about your intentions, make it public, believe it, and think of a reward for when you are done.

OK, you’re ready. So one last thing: commit to a decision and act. Inaction feeds and grows fear, but acting increases your confidence and makes the fear subside.

When you face a change in your life, it is normal to be afraid. It is not about avoiding fear but accepting it and making the switch in spite of it. Don’t worry if you feel that familiar pit in your stomach, you’re on the right way.

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