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Negatively Challenged: Why Fear Will Get You Nowhere

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Meet Michael: He is 31 years old, is in a relationship and holds a job as an account manager at a bank. He spends a lot of time with his friends, plays sports and goes on vacations all around the world. It appears Michael is happy and successful. But deep down Michael is not happy.


He feels empty and wonders if “this is it”. He tells himself he doesn’t want to feel like this anymore, but doesn’t know what to do. He does know that he doesn’t want to be in banking. He knows he doesn’t like traveling a lot, but also doesn’t want to disappoint his travel happy girlfriend. He just doesn’t know what he needs to do to not feel so empty.

Most people have felt the same way Michael does: not knowing what to do to change their situation and feelings. A lot of those people start by telling themselves what the problem is: They don’t want to work in an office anymore, they don’t want to be overweight anymore, they don’t want to be in a bad relationship anymore, etc. So they start setting goals for themselves that help them to not be in their unwanted situation anymore. In other words, they put the focus squarely on the unwanted situation and start plotting a way to get out of it.

As you may have noticed, all of the above is based on negative focus. It is about NOT feeling unhappy. It is about NOT having a boring job. It is about NOT being in a bad relationship. This is all about avoidance. And avoidance is about fear.
If you tell yourself “I don’t want to be unsuccessful” or “I don’t want to have a boring job” you haven’t told yourself what you DO want. And the answer to that question is paramount for being successful. 
To put this in context: Imagine it almost being your birthday and the topic of birthday presents comes up. You start telling your friends that you don’t want a book. You basically leave it up to them to buy a present you will like. It is very possible that you will get what you asked for, but won’t get what you want. 
Let’s clarify one thing. There is nothing wrong with stating what you don’t want. But only if you use that knowledge to find out what it is that you want. If you are at a crossroads and you tell yourself “well, I don’t want to go left”, you still haven’t established where you want to go. It still leaves you without your destination. 
Instead, focus on on what you want to achieve. Think about what it means to be successful. With a clear destination in mind, you’ll be much more likely to achieve success. For Michael this means defining what a good relationship is. He needs to paint a clear picture of what he wants out of a job and see which jobs/ industries tick the boxes and he needs to find out what satisfaction means to him and his girlfriend.
Positive focus will put you in a position to recognize opportunities when they present themselves and act upon them with a clear destination in sight.

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