shark.jpg(Blog #6 on Implementing Your Life Plan in the New Year)

A while back we discussed how motivation breaks down into two basic types: “moving away” motivation and “moving toward” motivation, or avoiding pain and seeking pleasure. They each have their practical pluses and minuses. On a philosophical or spiritual level, moving toward values strike me as being a bit more ethically pure. I prefer a leader who unites us in search of hope or inspires us to become the “shining city on the hill,” rather than the leader who speaks to our fears to unite us against a purported common enemy.

In the real world, when I’m searching for the last dregs of motivation I can find to propel my “spirit is willing but flesh is weak” self over the finish line, I take a more pragmatic approach: “If it takes fear, use it!”

This is why on the racquetball court you might sometimes hear me yelling at myself, attempting to get angry with myself for not performing to the levels I know I am capable of achieving there. I prefer the pursuit of excellence to be my fuel but if it is anger that will bring forth energy from my weary body, so be it.

Even in the more sedate arena of life planning, I use a form of fear. My greatest fear is to have lived an ordinary life in areas where I had greater untapped potential within me, to have sacrificed the gift. Thoreau’s quote from Walden that “the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation” always haunted me. I never wanted that to be my life. From that fear has sprung tremendous wellsprings of motivation that I have directed and used.

To trip the light fantastic, to live no ordinary life: This has been my goal, this has been my motivation.

Is there a shark in your life you can use? A fear you can turn around and use positively to help you implement your life plan? Someone you absolutely DON’T want to be like who you can use as a negative role model? Some calamity that you wish to avoid at all cost?