Just give something a try! Please!
A plea for you to engage yourself with something new, possibly even scary because you never know exactly how you will benefit from trying
“Don’t just think about it: do it, do it, do it!”
This jingle reverberated through the minds of many Canadians back in the 1980s, with the goal of getting people off their butts and making them active. ParticipACTION was a government funded program that encouraged Canadians to become more active, with catchy slogans like “walk a block a day” that were designed to grab our attention and motivate us to exercise.
And, of course, Body Break. If you know, you know.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the border, Nike’s famous catch phrase “Just do it.” carried a similar message. Let’s be active, let’s push ourselves, let’s be the best, fittest people we can be.
Oh dear: five paragraphs in and you’re probably exhausted already. My bad. I know my pulse is moving a bit faster just thinking about all of this.
OK, let’s change it up a bit and try something less physically strenuous.
I want to encourage you to try something different today. It doesn’t have to be a huge, gut wrenching effort that will give you anxiety for weeks. It doesn’t need to change the world. But maybe it could be something that you’re unsure about.
Maybe you want to paint. Maybe writing fiction or poetry is your thing. Maybe you want to act or try improv. Maybe you finally want to cook that delicious looking dish that no one else seems to want to make for you (the jerks…)
Maybe you want to work on that fear of heights. Or fear of speaking. Or fear of… rejection?
Maybe you feel like you’re stuck in a rut. Maybe you’re bored. Maybe you’re just curious.
Maybe you just need a change.
I want you to pick something and try it, at least in a small way. Take a 30 day challenge for the topic of your choice. Find a teacher, a peer, a friend or a friendly face. Buy a how to do book. Look in that limitless online library that is the World Wide Web and find an article, a video or an ebook on what you need to do.
Start small, start simple. Use free resources wherever possible. Carve out a small block of time (15 minutes might be enough to start, an hour is better).
Do the thing. Accept that it could be hard, painful, awful and embarrassing. Accept that your results may be flawed. Accept that it will likely go wrong somehow. But do it. Then be pleasantly surprised if the results are not that bad.
Why am I encouraging you to try something new, especially if it’s something you’ve been thinking about it for awhile but you are either too scared or too unsure of yourself to do it?
Because too many times I hear people say “Oh, I could never do that.” They marvel at someone’s drawing, their dance, their gymnastics routine, their singing or their words and regretfully say “I could never do that, who has the time?” There’s a tiny sigh of regret or envy in their words, like they’re wistfully taking a glimpse at the life that is forever out of their reach.
Guess what? Everyone started out that way. Michael Jordan and Wayne Gretsky couldn’t score from their baby cribs. Julia Child wasn’t born knowing the secrets of French cuisine. Every writer, every artist, every performer started out knowing nothing. They might have had physical advantages, some innate aptitude or other benefits in their favor but I can virtually guarantee you that they sucked when they first saw or did the things that they became famous for doing.
But they started. They tried. They worked at it. They made a lot of mistakes.
Here’s the thing about trying something new: it’s a gateway to trying another new thing. And another. And another. And so on.
It’s about getting past inertia, past fear, embracing some uncertainty and pushing ahead. It’s about taking a small risk or three, doing something that feels uncomfortable because you haven’t built a baseline of practice and competence from previous attempts.
From experience, I sucked at the following things when I started them:
I can confidently say that I am not horrible at doing any of these things now! Although I was for an extended period of time! But I got better!
** running excepted, I haven’t run in over six years and I am in horrible, horrible shape but don’t let that hold you back because I went from zero to runner twice! **
In all seriousness, one of the worst feelings in the world is to feel inadequate when you see other people doing things you’d like to be doing but you don’t know how to do them. Been there many times. It’s an awful feeling.
Sometimes it hurts like hell.
The only possible solution that I see is simple (but not necessarily easy):
Try. Find the lowest risk scenario that you can if you feel especially vulnerable and give it a try. Write a paragraph. Make a simple drawing. Practice a short speech in front of a couple of people you are close to (and, in all seriousness, I recommend trying Toastmasters to work on public speaking. I was a member for ten years. You don’t get much lower risk than Toastmasters and the clubs can be incredibly supportive).
And if you still suck after trying… that’s OK! At least you tried! You learned something new! You stretched the boundaries of what you thought you could do and that’s wonderful. You made the effort! It’s all part of the human experience!
Sometimes the end is not the real point of doing something new. Sometimes the point is simply to try and have the experience.
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