Are you looking for reasons to do the thing that scares you most?
Last week, I willingly put myself at the top of Mt. Katahdin, one of the highest mountains in the eastern US, with an elevation of 5267 feet. As I stood there on top of this pile of rocks and looked across at the mile long traverse called the Knife’s Edge that I was about to cross I thought to myself “There is no way I can do this.”
But I had to. There was no turning back. I had just slogged 4 miles up over 5 foot boulders and there was no way I was going back down those things.
So I took it one step at a time and managed to make it across in one piece.
How did I feel at the other side? Incredible!
Doing things that scare us can be daunting and, because we usually have a choice to turn back, we often do. But after doing something that scared me, something I had no choice but to do, I realized that doing it changed my life in many ways.
And that is what I want to share with you today. How to change your life.
#1 – Do it to have some fun.
You know how you feel at the top of a roller coaster? You are strapped in and you have been slowly rising to the crest of the rails and there you sit for a moment. Anticipating. And scared as *%&$. And then you are off.
You soar down, over and around the rails, screaming and scared and oh so very exhilarated. Your adrenaline is pumping and your face is smiling. You feel very much alive.
And having fun!
I have a client who had always ridden behind her husband on their jet ski at the river. The prospect of driving it scared her and she was perfectly willing to be a passenger. After her divorce she decided to try things that had always scared her and that included driving the jet ski on her own. So she did.
And? You guessed it. She loved it. Her kids have to fight her for it every time they visit.
#2 – Do it to challenge your assumptions.
I never assumed that I couldn’t climb that mountain, which is why I put myself up there, but my client did assume that she couldn’t drive a jet ski. After she proved to herself that she could in fact drive it she started to question what other assumptions she had made about her life that were false.
My client had always questioned her ability to run her own business so she had never tried and had always worked for other people. At this point in her life she just didn’t want to do that anymore and wanted to go out on her own.
Because she started challenging her own assumptions she challenged the one that she couldn’t work for herself. Together we created and implemented a step-by-step plan to get her out of her office and into the world. Within a year she was running a health and wellness business out of her home and she was living the life of her dreams.
#3 – Do it to prove to yourself that you can do anything.
One of the things that happens to us over time, as we age and experience disappointment and regret, is that we lose the belief in ourselves that we can actually do things, big things or small. Because we have failed before we believe that we will always fail.
Doing something that scares you will prove this to not be true.
I have a client who wanted to move out of her dark, cramped apartment but she truly believed that she would NEVER be able to do so. She hired me to help her in this endeavor and, while she worked diligently to achieve that goal, we still had the conversation a few times a week about how she couldn’t pull it off. That it would actually kill her.
Fuess what? It didn’t actually kill her. She now has a new apartment which she purchased on her own that she loves. Accomplishing her goal allowed her to start believing in herself again.
Last weekend she was invited to spend the weekend with old high school friends who hadn’t seen each other in 20 years. As they each told the stories of their life my client froze up, as she always does in such situations, because she was ashamed of the story of her life.
And then, because she believed in herself for once, she unfroze and told these women her story. And it was wonderful. They listened and accepted her and loved her even more for doing so.
#4 – Do it to conquer fear.
I have a client who read Jaws under her bed-covers with a flashlight at the age of 8. And then at 16 she saw the movie. Because of this my client lived with a debilitating fear of the water. She couldn’t go in the sea, a lake, a pond or sometimes even a pool out of fear of what might be in there that would nibble at her toes.
Living with this fear had had a big effect on her life. She and her family had traveled the world and she had missed out on many adventures because she had avoided the water. Her family had swum with dolphins in Mexico, kayaked with whales in Washington, snorkeled with sharks in Thailand and she had missed out on all of it.
One Christmas, while visiting the Caribbean, my client watched as her family ventured out on yet another snorkeling adventure without her. She would sit in the boat and take pictures. Again.
“Wait,” she thought. “Not this time.” And without thinking too hard about it she donned the snorkel gear and accompanied her children into the water. They stuck by her side for a few minutes but then she shooed them off because she was entranced by what she was seeing under the sea. Fishes! Beautiful fishes! And they weren’t biting her toes or menacing her in any way. How about that?
My client returned back home a changed woman. She had conquered THE biggest fear of her life. She set out to conquer others and she did and still does.
My client is always telling me that knowing she can conquer her fear has given her a freedom she never thought she would have in her life. How great is that?
#5 – Do it to change your life.
Okay, so you have had some fun, challenged your assumptions, reminded yourself that you can do anything and conquered your fears. What’s next? Do you think you are just going to back to your old way of life? One built on fear, indecision and insecurity.
Of course you aren’t. You are going to take your newfound skills and self-awareness and go out and change your stars.
Because my client decided to take the step to move out of her apartment her life has changed in so many ways. She had lived in fear so she never put herself out there to have fun. Now she plays in an orchestra, goes to church and has started to date. Because she assumed that she was unlovable she cut herself off from friends and family. Now she knows that she is very lovable and she is letting them all back in again. Because she proved to herself that she could actually do it when she set her mind to moving she has set her mind to the fact that she wants to be an accountant and will pursue that goal at all costs.
Did I mention that my client is 68 years old? She decided that she wasn’t going to live in her dark apartment anymore, set her mind to a change and ultimately changed her life.
If she can do it you can too!
Eleanor Roosevelt said “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face…Do the thing that you think you cannot do.”
Do it today. Think of one thing that you think you can not do and get determined to do it. Figure out what you need to do to do it. Set a goal for when you will get it done. Tell someone you are going to do it. And then do it. Don’t TRY to do it. Do it.
It will change your life.
You can do it! I know you can.
Looking for other reasons to do the thing that scares you most? Contact me and I can help.
I am a NYC based Certified Life Coach and mental health advocate. My writing has been published on The Huffington Post, Prevention, Psych Central, Pop Sugar, MSN and The Good Man Project, among others. I work with all kinds of people to help them go from depressed and overwhelmed to confident and happy in their relationships and in their world.