Ever been so terrified of failure that you drove yourself to success?

You may have been onto something.

If you’re the type that is occasionally motivated by fear, it’s time to manipulate that fear to your advantage.  Try one of the following experiments, or use these to brainstorm your own:

Looking to drop some weight?  Find a 5K in your area and register for it today.  Then train like a beast so you don’t come across the finish line last.

Always wanted to write a play but could never shut the TV off long enough to do it?  Email five friends today and ask them to come to your place next week to read a play you’re writing.  Then kill the tube and start typing.

Lift weights but unable to bust through to the next level?  Find a bodybuilding competition coming to a town near you and sign up today.  The very thought of standing next to some seriously ripped physiques should get you sweating again.

Want to cook like Julia but all you know is Ramen?  Stop what you’re doing and invite a dozen friends over next month for a dinner party hosted by you.  Then go out and find some cooking classes, pronto.

Studying a martial art but you’ve plateaued?  Seek out a competition coming to your area and register for it today.  Get better or get beaten.

Of course, if the very thought of failure makes you neurotic, miserable, and unhappy, then you’re better off examining your fears instead of amplifying them.  But for those who don’t mind being driven by a healthy dose of fear, this technique can pay serious dividends.

So go ahead, set yourself up for failure.  You just might scare yourself into a new world.

Most of us are positively swamped with things to do:  meetings, emails, work, laundry, walking the dog, going grocery shopping, taking the kids to toddler ballet, calling Mom (you are going to call your mother, aren’t you?) etc.

The list goes on and on, and it usually contains a fair amount of junk that can either be outsourced, eliminated, or put on a schedule so you can do it less frequently and far more efficiently.  But that’s a topic for another day.

Sometimes you may wonder aloud while tearing at your hair:  “Out of all the things on this enormous list how can I possibly know which is the most important?”

The answer is fortunately much simpler, and at the same time much harder, than you think.

Many approach this question by attempting to break down the list according to some criteria, or by determining which tasks might deliver the most satisfaction, income, or relief.

Thankfully it’s far simpler than that.  The most important thing you can do today is this:

It’s that thing you’ve been dreading doing.

We all have one.  Some task so complicated, life-changing, intimidating or downright terrifying that we continually put it off.

That is the thing you should do today.

You’re on the subway platform, waiting for the train.

Or in the supermarket, waiting in line.

Or at the bank.

Or at lunch, flying solo.

Suddenly the impulse comes.  You fish out your phone and check your email or messages.  With that you’re off, rummaging through the box of distractions you’ve just opened.

Rewind:  same scenario, but this time you feel the impulse and stop, hand on your phone.

Why did the urge come in the first place?  Were you bored?  Stressed?  Was a “big thought” looming?

The next time you feel the impulse to succumb to distraction, resist it and stay in the moment.  See what develops.

You might find something even more interesting than the same old messages that can wait until later anyway.