You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop and look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you cannot do.
– Eleanor Roosevelt
Are you ready to tackle some new experiences this year? I’ve always been pretty adventurous, and love to try new things and travel to new places. However, what I realized when I was creating my vision board at the end of 2019 for 2020 was that I wanted to keep the adventurous nature when traveling, but get out of my comfort zone closer to home too.
Do you feel like you’re stuck in an “everything’s fine” rut?
I realized a few years ago that this vision board thing works really well for me. I have it where I can easily see it throughout my day, so the visual cues are there with me all day long. There’s something profound about making a commitment to yourself in many areas of your life, and then making what’s in your head something concrete and visible. I also didn’t realize how vulnerable it made me feel to have my hopes and dreams for the coming year out of my head and on display until a close friend saw it and commented on it (in a positive way), but it still left me feeling quite vulnerable and exposed.
But, what I realized on a recent vacation where one of my vision board items was available (trying paddle boarding for the first time), was that I probably would have talked myself out of it had it not been on my vision board. Why? It was a totally fear based response in that I was truly scared to try something I had never done before, and as it turned out, in front of an audience of people who were on the beach at the time.
However, because I had made a commitment to myself and I wanted to stick with it, I knew I would feel worse if I let this opportunity go without at least trying it for the first time. So, did it, and totally sucked at it, but had a great time (in front of the many spectators) anyway. I only spent a small amount of time on my feet on the paddleboard, and the rest of the time on my knees paddling, so not quite the calm and peaceful image I had on my vision board, but it was a success all the same.
Yoga was also on my vision board for this year as well, and something I can do closer to home. I tried a few classes at a local studio in December, and then fully committed to taking weekly classes starting in January. It’s something else I’m not very good at, so I’m constantly reminding myself that I’m brand new to this and I will improve (hopefully sooner rather than later). It’s humbling. It’s embarrassing. It also sometimes makes me quite envious of the strength and cool yoga moves the other participants are able to do. Then I remind myself to just be here now and focus on what I am able to do in this moment in time.
What I noticed this year is that some of my goals will be seen by others (so far just the paddle boarding and group yoga classes), and that feeling of (perceived or real) judgment from others can be loud and strong and scary at times. Once I get past the external stressors, I have to watch out for my own self-judgment too. If I’m able to quiet all that, I’m then finally able to be in the moment, enjoying the process as it unfolds in front of me and not worrying about the outcome (or how bad I feel am at this particular activity).
Here are some ways to quiet the fear and help you focus on the new activities you long to try:
- Write it down. Make this a commitment to yourself and attach a time frame to it.
- Put up visual cues that you see throughout the day. This can be a great reminder as to why this is so important to you in the first place.
- Take time each day to visualize yourself doing this activity in the future. Make it real in your mind. Picture yourself there and how you will feel before, during and after the event.
- Come up with a mantra to help you stay focused on your goals here. Make it something definitive that will help you get through the fear and doubt when it shows up.
- Talk about it. Let other people in your life support you and keep you focused on making your dreams a reality.
Finally, take time to give yourself kudos when you’ve completed your goals. Talk about what you liked or didn’t enjoy and what was unexpected in the process as a whole. For me, sharing my experiences with my family is a great way to share my joy with them and also acknowledge how hard trying new things can be. It can also be very powerful for our kids to see our fear doing something, and ultimately face these fears and do it anyway!