Motivate Yourself: Key#3 Check your Fears at the Gate

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Confront your fears

Even when employing the first two keys for motivating yourself, of detailing your vision and beginning to take action to realize it, you may occasionally feel frightened: especially when reaching your goals requires stretching yourself and encountering new territory. This is when the third key becomes critical. Don’t buy any excuses or limitations you impose on yourself. If you or others are hard on you, objectively think of these criticisms as positive feedback for your sustained growth. Do not internalize them allowing a false barrier to occur that will hold you back. The following habits will allow you to respond to, own, and address your fears.

1) Alternative Perspectives

Oftentimes, overcoming our fears leads to our greatest strengths. So, it is useful to reflect on what the opportunity or inspired action could be in the circumstances that are causing us anxiety. Think about the ways that you are conceptualizing the issue. In each case, examine them for truth and other possible ways of thinking about the experience. Are you anticipating or inflating problems? What would be a more useful, positive, and purposeful way to think about it? How can you make change work for you and direct yourself? Another way to address your fears is by taking a moment to own your anxieties and find the benefit or upside is a great way to keep on track. Identifying the value in what you are doing, even when you don’t want to do it, provides additional reasons to engage. It supports your decision to be great. Developing this type of honest contemplation also brings rewards of self-encouragement and self-compassion.

2) Focus on One Thing at a Time

Slow down. This aids with proving a pause to acknowledge and mediate your fears as above. It also provides you with space to regroup and restore your energies so that you can be fully engaged with the tasks you set yourself. And, it gives you the opportunity to check in on your ‘to do’ list. Carefully consider whether each item should be on the list, break these items down into small, doable, and contingent steps, and then rank them. Identify the items that are both urgent and important and that will make the greatest difference to your goals by being completed. These form your current itinerary.

If the anxiety associated with an item is overwhelming, find the smallest manageable step that will allow you to move forward on that item. Each day, do the most challenging or dreaded thing first and at the time of day when you are freshest. That way you are facing them when your will power is greatest. Getting it done and out of the way early will invigorate you as opposed to being drained by the thought of having to do it later. Block your time so you can give tasks your full attention without switching between them. If you find yourself with many unfinished items, allocate time in your routine to get them done. Completion brings a sense of accomplishment that is energizing. You are in charge of how you will spend your time. Choose what you will do, with whom, and when. Take command and spend some of your time doing the things that are scary.

3) Boundaries

Know when to use self-discipline to say ‘no’ to yourself and get things done, even when you don’t feel like it. On occasion, you will really not want to do something, but just have to push through. Commit to putting one foot in front of the other. By doing so a new horizon of comfort with these types of situations will be available to you. For these types of challenges, you might have to adopt the mantra ‘Just do it’. Address your fears by tackling the things that scare you. This prevents them from escalating into something worse. It also allows you to maintain control of progressing on your goals rather than being forced to respond by putting out fires. Check-in with your level of commitment to completing it, set boundaries, and make it happen.

Reaching lofty goals often involves stretching ourselves and our capabilities which can be frightening. Therefore, it is important to keep this in perspective and question whether we really have anything to fear. It is also useful to analyze how this fear can be minimized by breaking what frightens us into smaller steps or build in practice runs so that we don’t risk as much. However, you may still experience nerves, and this is the time when you have to do it anyway and be firm with yourself. You will look back with relief and wonder what you were so worried about.

The fourth key to motivating yourself is actively sustaining a positive framework for your goals.

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