“The scariest moment is always just before you start. After that, things can only get better.” said Stephen King in his book “On Writing”.
These moments we all experience just before starting something new, moments when we have lack of motivation, moments of procrastination.
In this article we will try to find the reasons behind lack of motivation and reasons for procrastination, and how we can fight back and start new things in your life without being scared..
Follow me up in discovering scientific ways to improve your motivation, and overcoming fear of starting new things.
Into the Future
In 2015, UCLA social psychologist published an article on studies of the emotional disconnection between our present and future selves (The stranger within: Connecting with our future selves).
In this article, scientists found that humans experiencing emotional disconnect with the person they will become, with the future themselves.
When people think of themselves in the future, it feels to them like they are seeing a different person entirely … like a stranger on the street,” said Hal Hershfield, a social psychologist at UCLA Anderson who is exploring how human behavior can be modified by bringing people closer to their future selves.
Failure to identify with future selves, is the reason why they make bad decisions (or lack of the decisions whatsoever), despite knowing that they might suffer consequences down the road.
Team of scientists have been able to document that “disconnect” using fMRI technology. Scientists compared the neural patterns in the brains of subjects who were asked to describe their current selves, their future selves 10 years hence, as well as other people. Across the board, the neural patterns evoked from thinking about the future self were most similar to the patterns that arose when thinking about another person.
That’s right – our future selves look like complete strangers to present us.
That’s also one of the reasons why we’re experiencing fear before starting new things. We feel disconnected from the future rewards, and sink in the present moment of possible failure or perceived complications of the new.
In other words, we feel a lack of intrinsic motivation.
What is motivation?
Motivation is the internal strategy that initiates, leads, and maintains goal-oriented behaviors. It is a set of steps we all do internally, that causes us to act, to achieve our dreams, goals or simply to get to the gym after work.
There are at least 4 different types of motivations:
- Extrinsic Motivation that comes from outside us. It’s when we because we are told to do something by someone who has power over us.
- Intrinsic Motivation – when we do something for internal reasons, because we want to.
- Introjected Motivation – when we want to do something to avoid possible punishment, or bad consequences. Introjected motivation is similar to intrinsic motivation, but the source of motivation for a behavior is guilt, worry or shame.
- Identified Motivation – is where a person knows that something needs to be done, but has not yet decided to do anything about it.
As you can see, intrinsic motivation is the better form of motivation, because it comes from inside of us. Intrinsic motivation encourages cohesive actions and a higher degree of effort and long-term performance.
How can we become better motivated to overcome fear of starting something new?
If our intrinsic motivation is a type of motivation that pushes us forward to make a first step towards our goals, then we must find a way to increase our intrinsic motivation.
One of the ways scientists suggest is to create connections between our present selves and our future selves.
In other words, picturing ourselves doing it, and getting all the wonderful rewards as a result of your actions can increase our motivation and help us to overcome fear of the first step.
In fact, this very same technique is called mental preparation or mental rehearsal and it is very well known in the world of sport.
Mental rehearsal is a psychological technique in which the performer imagines or visualises themselves practising the skill in their mind, focusing on the specific stages and correct technique.
You can try this technique right now on something you’ve been afraid to start, or simply postponing for a long time.
How imagery and mental rehearsal will help you:
- Build confidence by allowing you to picture and feel success.
- Reduce anxiety by helping you to relax.
- Improve concentration by allowing you to focus on the task
- Overcome problems by helping you to prepare for situations and find solutions
How to perform magic of Mental Rehearsal to overcome your fear, and increase your motivation
- Find a quiet spot, where no one will disturb you for a next 15 minutes or so.
- Choose a goal that scares you, or something you’ve been postponing for a long time for no obvious reason.
- Feel the quietness of your environment, and understand that it’s going to be just a daydream like a film about your future, and you are quite safe now.
- Imagine yourself doing what scares you by using all of the senses you can. Try to paint vivid images involving sense of heating, touch and smell
- See how you get to the result and enjoy it.
- See how it will change your life, and life of the people around you.
That’s it. You can repeat the process few more times rehearsing, and becoming more familiar to the idea.
What do you think about your goal now? Do you feel more motivated?
I bet it’s not that scary anymore, and by understanding the long lasting benefits of your actions, you become a more motivated person willing to shape your future the way you want!