Many things motivate us at different times in our life but fear is the universal motivator and the most powerful. It is a primal instinct designed into us for our protection. Its adrenaline surge etches vivid memories into our brains and can teach us lifesaving lessons and hasten necessary action. While it works well short term, it is an extremely poor stimulus for sustained, long-term health change.
Because it takes us out of our comfort zone, fear is a shrewd marketing ploy and is used to sell us virtually everything from health products to cars, deodorant, breakfast bars, and life insurance. Marketers present a scenario in which they hope we will put ourselves and then shows us the solution. We live in a culture that teaches us that the solution to everything involves spending more money. I don’t know about you, but I have wasted lots of hard-earned money trying to “spend my way” away from potential problems that triggered my fear response. I want to learn to live a more proactive life, more reliant on God and less reactive to what might happen.
To be a source of energy and sustained change, this extrinsic fear stimulus must be transformed positively into an intrinsically motivated plan of action. Fear must be recognized for its benefits and limitations and has to merely be a START SOMEWHERE. How do you make the switch from reactive, short-term decisions to meaningful, sustained change? One strategy is to first ask yourself these questions:
1. What do I want my life to look like in five years? Picture it in detail and describe it to yourself. 2. How does my (behavior/habit/etc) affect that picture?
3. What changes have I made in the past that I am proud of?
4. What strengths did I use to accomplish this change?
5. What one area can I start on today?
Remember, fear is the universal motivator but when fear is employed, facts fall by the wayside. To keep fear from manipulating you into making commitments that don’t last regarding your vitality and that ultimately frustrate you, spend time with yourself evaluating what you really want and what you are willing to do to achieve it. My best advice today is to invest in the “pondering time” and “start low and go slow” with changes. START SOMEWHERE making one small change a lifelong habit. You can do it. I will help you!