Don’t let fear control you.
Envision the good you want in 2014.
But vision boards and positive thinking are only half of the motivation story.
What you’re moving towards tells you which road to take. What you’re moving away from is the fuel that keeps you going.
At least, it is for me.
I learned this from my friend Tim Brownson. He taught me that some people are motivated by what they want and others are more easily motivated by what they don’t want. And, more importantly, he taught me that both are completely OK.
Negativity helped me quit smoking.
After several attempts, I finally quit smoking for good about three years ago. I wrote down my reasons for quitting and my plan of action. I used all the exercises offered by the quit smoking website, and I used a prescription medication for one month.
But what really made the difference for me was negativity.
I quit smoking because I didn’t want to keep telling my daughter she couldn’t sit on my lap.
I had a very clear picture in my mind of my little girl trying to snuggle up to me… and me pushing her away because I didn’t want her to be affected by the cigarette I was holding.
Every time I thought about lighting up, I remembered that gut wrench. To this day, I can call it to mind easily if I’m ever tempted to pair a bottle of wine with a box of cigarettes.
Negativity motivated me to fix my marriage.
Jared and I needed marriage counseling for probably five years before we ever walked into a counselor’s office. It’s obvious to me now when I go back and read really old blog posts and diary entries, but back then it was something we should do someday.
We talked about it. We said we’d look into it after particularly nasty fights.
And then we spent our money and time elsewhere.
Things weren’t that bad.
I couldn’t imagine how much better they could be.
And then things were as bad as they could get. Then there was no other choice but to ask for help to fix it.
Putting the pieces of our marriage back together was hard. There were moments when I wanted to stop trying so hard, to stop listening and to stop apologizing. But the memory of our darkest days – and of how twisted I’d let my soul become in the process – kept me pushing forward, just as much as any hope of what we might become.
There are times even now when I don’t want to listen or apologize. I want to fight easily instead of fairly. I want to be right.
And then I remember how bad things can get… and I push forward (or, in my case, stop pushing so damn hard.)
Negativity motivates me to work harder.
I was not always a writer and speaker. I spent a lot of years selling stuff, and I was good at it. It is easy for me, and my mind goes there quickly when I am tired of learning new skills, pitching new ideas, and stretching outside my comfort zone.
But I hated working in sales. I hate the never-ending treadmill and the crash that comes from realizing you just sold a product that will never be as good as you want it to be.
I never want to do that again. I never want to spend my days trading my integrity for an income, coming home angry with my life and taking it out on my husband and kids.
And so, I push forward on the hard days.
Negativity can make your life better.
It’s OK to admit that there are things in your life you want to change.
It’s OK to let yourself really feel anger, disappointment, guilt, sadness, or disillusionment sometimes. Give it a face and legs and let it walk around in your gut for a little bit so you can finally admit to yourself that something needs to change.
And then imagine your life without that blackness.
Imagine that ugly thing got up and walked right out of you, out of your life, and left something good in it’s place. What would that look like?
That’s when positive thinking can help you fill in the gaps, tell you what steps to take.
When those steps get hard – and they will – remember what you’re running from. You’ll keep running. You’ll run far enough that what you’re running towards won’t be so hard to see anymore. You’ll get so close that it would be foolish to stop.
Until then, a little bit of negativity can do a lot of good.