Fear As Motivation: Friend or Foe?

I’ve been thinking the past day or so about what motivates us to get up and DO. And, is what motivates you to start something necessarily the same thing that motivates you to continue to do something? Obviously this is a highly personal thing, and what’s true for one may not be true for all, but I recently spoke with someone who seemed to indicate that the only thing that would truly motivate a person to make a lasting, positive change was fear.

I had to think about it for a while, and initially yes, fear was absolutely a motivator for me. It certainly got me started – I didn’t want to be in pain for my entire life, I didn’t want to feel ashamed for being too heavy to ride on a roller coaster, I feared being alone, I feared not being able to have a baby. There was a lot of fear going on in there, and I acted on it. I don’t think I regret that, it’s what it took for me to take those first few steps.

But here’s the thing – I think fear is a bit insidious, it kinda cozies up to you in the beginning and says, “hey, let’s be buddies! I can help you.” But maybe fear is really not your friend. After a while, fear can consume, and it can become controlling. You may start to believe that you can’t live without that fear, that you’ll “fall back” into old habits if you don’t keep that fear alive and burning bright. It can trick you into not trusting or believing in yourself

Fear can actually start to hold you back and keep you trapped in a very small world, when all along you intended to open up a whole new world of possibilities, a whole new life!

So instead of fear – what else can motivate you? What do you find to get you moving, and what do you find to keep you going?

What about love? Ideally you make changes for you – for your health and well being. Sometimes that’s not enough in the beginning, so even if that isn’t there for yourself, what about a family member? A child or a parent? Do you want to see your son or daughter graduate from college, walk down the aisle, have a child of their own? Do you want to be sure you teach your children the healthy habits to last THEIR lifetime?

What about personal growth? Maybe you just want to learn a little about anti-oxidants, or really understand how certain nutrients fuel the body. Maybe you want to change careers and become a personal trainer. Maybe, you just want to try something new ‘just because.’

What about FUN? A sense of adventure? Trying something new! Maybe you’ve always wanted to run a 5k or learn to snowboard. Maybe you want to climb a mountain? It doesn’t really matter exactly WHAT, but in order to achieve that goal you’ve got to eat a little better and move a little more. It doesn’t have to be a labor, it certainly doesn’t have to be a chore.

I’d love to hear comments – what got you moving and what keeps you coming back for more? If you haven’t gotten started yet, if you’re still thinking about it – what do you think would help you get started, and what will that first step be?


  1. Very well said.

    Fear of needles (from diabetes) really got me started. I was also tired of not being able to keep up with co-workers walking to lunch. The challenge of getting my blood test numbers gave me incentive until I got those under control. Then it became feeling better, looking better, and knowing that I had the power to accomplish things I didn’t think I could.

    I also worked with a personal trainer for a couple of years from almost the beginning, who really helped to motivate me. He kept me coming to the gym, pushed me harder than I would have on my own, and helped keep me safe and injury-free.

  2. Thanks Robyn,
    So maybe you started with fear, but it morphed into another motivator, something more intrinsically meaningful to you and I think that’s just awesome 🙂

    For me I am also continually motivated by personal growth and a sense of fun and adventure – trying new things, but sometimes there’s a lot of fear still at work – a neverending journey, this one!

    Thanks for commenting 🙂

  3. I printed a lot of your blog out thanks my friend

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