Fear vs Passion: Which one are you fueled by?


When you think of what fuels your decisions, your motivation, your goals, who's in the driver's seat--fear or passion? You might assume you are driven by passion but consider this example: You are given the opportunity to present your latest research findings to a panel of experts. When you are told about this opportunity, do you think, "I better not stumble during my presentation or else my reputation will be ruined!" or do you think, "Wow, what an amazing opportunity to share my latest research to panel of experts I admire!" If your thought patterns look more like the first example, then you may be driven by fear. 


Is fear bad for us? Not entirely. Fear can serve as a useful tool and life saving signal that something is off. Our ancestors used fear to signal a threat (a bear lurking in the forest) and to escape danger. Today, we typically aren't fearful of a bear or tiger out to get us but we respond to perceived threats as such. Today, our fears, and especially for perfectionists, typically are consumed by:

  • Fear of failure
  • Fear of not being enough, inadequacy, worthy, or loved
  • Fear of rejection
  • Fear of making the wrong decision

Dr. Elizabeth Lombardo introduced the acronym below in her book, "Better than Perfect." What I like about this acronym is it reminds us that, our fears are based on the beliefs and the stories we tell ourselves.

Fictitious (something made up)

Envisioning (in your mind)

Alternating (changing)

Reality (what is really happening)

Fear is usually not an external threat but rather a perceived internal threat.

Dr. Lomardo states, when you are fueled by fear, you focus on what you don't want to happen. Your thoughts, behaviors, and choices are geared towards preventing a negative outcome. Dr. Lomardo points out, fear can cause excessive worry, anxiety, stress, anger, shame, guilt, resentment and jealousy.

When fear is present, it is telling us something is off and it needs to be addressed, so be aware of your fear. Get curious about where it's coming from and what it's rooted in. Dig deeper so you can move past it and keep moving forward in life.


Passion is rooted in suffering, love, and emotion. According to Webster dictionary, passion is, "a strong liking or desire for or devotion to some activity, object, or concept."

Are you pursuing your passion? Are you doing something in your life that energizes you when you wake up in the morning? Have you found something that you are deeply devoted to?

Dr. Lomardo writes, When you shift your perspective from being fear based to passion based, you focus more on what you want rather than what you don't want. This shift can improve one's motivation, optimism, and willingness to pursue one's goals. Lomardo further explains, "We experience passion when we are applying our values and strengths, when we are being our true selves, and when we are taking on challenges that energize us." When we follow a life that is in alignment with our true selves and values, we are able to find meaning, purpose and more satisfaction.

When you shift your perspective to what you want in life versus what you don't want, or rather from fear to passion, you start to see yourself, others, your environment, and opportunities differently. You are more motivated and have a clearer, more positive outlook on life.

Ready to shift your perspective from fear to passion? Consider the fears you have around relationships, career, health, money, etc.  With each category, write out your desired outcome. What do you want to happen? How can you pivot your mind to think more passion oriented? 

Remember, you get to choose what fuel drives your life. The choice is yours to live a life that is fear or passion focused, so rethink your happiness and choose wisely!