Human beings are strange creatures. We’re surrounded by all of these things that could potentially make us happy—like success and the associated positive emotions—but it’s rare that we stretch ourselves and seek them out. Mostly, we spend our efforts trying to avoid bad things rather than actively taking steps toward good ones.
We, mostly subconsciously, tell ourselves that we just don’t want to fail.
It seems bleak, but believe me—I’m not trying to be Johnny Raincloud and paint some gray skies picture for you. It makes sense that the average human being sees the world as a combination of threats to avoid rather than a playground that allows us to experiment and create whatever we want. Most of the human existence has been scary as hell—all kinds of things were trying to kill us. We haven’t evolved beyond mapping the world this way.
So, rather than swinging hard and going after that dream job, we settle for blending in and staying in middle-management at a place where it’s easy for us not to fail. We settle for relationships that don’t truly feed our souls but keep us from being alone. We just show up at the gym and go through the motions of working out rather than setting a worthy goal that would take us on a transformational journey.
But the thing is, we really don’t define what we’re avoiding. The pain of failure hurts, we know that, and we just don’t want any of it. It’s ambiguous though—just a general avoidance.
What if we knew exactly what we were avoiding? What if we wrote it down? We’d have something specific that scares, or at the very least bothers, the hell out of us. That increased motivation to avoid might be just what we need to make sure that we move in a positive direction.
So, let’s experiment with this. Set a timer for fifteen minutes and write out your nightmare scenario for your health, fitness, wellness. As you do this, don’t edit or censor yourself—just allow yourself to write whatever comes to mind, and think about yourself in the situation. How does the decline of your health, fitness, wellness, or your inability to go after a goal, affecting the rest of your life? How are you doing emotionally? What do you think of yourself?
Once you’ve got it all out, give it a read and, again, put yourself in the scenario. How does it feel to be in your personal, fitness nightmare? Note that feeling.
Ok, now we have something specific to avoid, and we can start to take steps that propel us away from the worst thing that we think could happen to our health, fitness, wellness. It’s somewhat unfortunate that we think of life this way, but sometimes we just need something scary to run away from so that we take the action the necessary action to improve an aspect of our lives.
What happens if we don’t define what failure is for us? Well, maybe nothing, actually, probably nothing—at least nothing perceptible. Most people, lock into an ambiguous failure loop—they keep failing over and over, but they just don’t realize it. There’s also a possibility that you’ll be successful. There’s a chance that you already have your hell defined somewhere in your brain, but you just haven’t fully articulated it yet. But maybe we can get on that path toward success a little faster if we have the motivation of a defined failure prodding us into a determined mindset.
If you define that thing that turns you to stone, that thing that scares you most, then you can start to develop the solutions that keep that thing from freezing you in place. Then you can avoid it. Then you can start to think about what you want success to be rather than just thinking that you just don’t want to fail.