Do the Thing that Scares You

woods

Anticipation is so often the hardest thing.

As a writer and a climber, I feel this pressure constantly. The mix of anticipation, anxiety, and apprehension that makes you constantly feel like you should just walk away.

The fear of failure is strong and your brain knows, it just knows, that the higher your goal the farther you can fall. It’s part of what makes the stories of successful startup companies captivating. Listen to any episode of How I Built This. The founders are so gutsy.

I like imagining this voice of anxiety as the “evil shoulder devil” whispering in my ear. Telling me ridiculous lies that my rational brain and inner heart fight back like a game of whack-a-mole while I just try to get through my day.

“Writing is a lot of work or you’re not great at it, maybe you’ll be good enough next year,” the little red devil says.

“That climb looks hard, just don’t try it,” the devil voice says.

The desire to build, or write, or climb big things is always coupled with anxiety. But once you get started, make that first move, find your flow, the rest can begin to fall into place.

For writing, maybe it’s hitting “publish” on the post you’ve proofread five times. Or maybe it’s just the first sentence on the page.

In climbing, it can be stepping up to a boulder problem you know will be tough for you. Or maybe it’s just getting yourself into the gym or packed for the crag.

In everyday life, it can be as simple as tapping “send” on a message you’ve anxiously re-typed several times.

We face these little choices every day. The choice between the voice that says “walk away” and the voice that says “just go.” The choice to take a step, to raise a hand, to open a door, to send a message or pick up the phone. To turn on the camera. To step up on stage.

The first step of doing anything difficult and rewarding is the biggest, yet tiniest choice.  The choice to ignore that devilish promise that walking away is the best option.

“We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.” ~ Kurt Vonnegut

Posted by shanmcf