Managing Self

Stop scaring yourself

Written by Jill Farmer

“I’ve gotta hustle up some new business… or else.”

My client Ryan painted a dire picture about the current state of his book of business.

Whether you’re desperate for billable hours, for new cases, or for your bosses’ approval—chance are, you ‘re trying to scare yourself into action.

Fear is an okay short-term motivator.

It can launch you into immediate action in an attempt to get safe. But, you will be in reactionary mode—not a innovative or brilliant state of mind.

But, it’s a crappy long-term strategy.

Fueling your motivation with fear is like filling up your car’s tank with rocket fuel. It will give you a fast start, but you’ll fun out of gas very quickly.

Plus, it will burn out your engine.

It’s not a sustainable way to work and live.

Next time you try to frighten yourself in to motion, try these steps, instead:

1) Catch Yourself—Freaking out or trying to motivate yourself into action by telling yourself scary stories? Simply notice. “I’m trying to scare myself.” Then remind yourself fear, and the fight or flight response is not the best place to make decisions, research or come up with good ideas.

2) Take a Breath—Ask yourself what you’d like to experience long-term? Do you want to foster client relationships? Are you looking for interesting work, a sense of accomplishment, a feeling of serving others, and a connected community of colleagues? Write out 3 ridiculously easy steps you could take right now to move toward what you want.

3) Meditate. I know. You’ve tried it. It’s not for you. You don’t know how. It’s not your thing. Whatever. The scientific data supporting meditation is so overwhelming it’s ridiculous. Stop with the excuses.  There are thousands of guided meditation tracks (on iTunes) and apps for your smartphone. I’m a big fan of Deepak and Oprah’s meditations. I also recommend you read the book

10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works–A True Story by ABC Television’s Dan Harris. It’s the perfect book for a skeptical meditator.

Here’s the bottom line, we all feel fear. It’s part of our limbic system. The goal isn’t to get rid of it—it’s to let the wiser, more sophisticated part of your brain drive for you. You’ll enjoy a much saner ride.


About the author

Jill Farmer

I love helping people get more meaningful work done in less time. I am the author of "There's Not Enough Time... and Other Lies We Tell Ourselves" which debuted as a bestseller in the Time Management Category on Amazon. In 2015, The Washington Post named me to its 21-Day Time Hacker team. I travel the world delivering keynotes and seminars for top corporations and organizations. I am also a wife and the mother of two teens and I have the two worst-behaved dogs in the universe. You can reach me at or visit my website

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.