Even If You’re Afraid, Do New Things

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In the words of Yoda, “Do or do not. There is no try.”

Sometimes the success is in the doing, not in the outcome. It’s easy to forget that.

But I’ve often said “just start.” And before you know it, you have momentum, you have change…and then positive momentum and change will drive more positive momentum and change…the more positive momentum you have, the more muscle you have to deflect challenges, stay upright over the speed bumps, and scale other obstacles in your path.

Think big, start small and the next thing you know, you will be on your way.

For me, it was a disappointing performance in my most recent (third ever) half marathon that had me facing one of my “fears.” My fear of speed work. Maybe it’s because when I started running, people would report that they saw me out walking. Maybe I was intimidated and/or insecure. Maybe it was something else, or maybe it’s a combination of many something elses. But that’s no matter, and thinking about it is a waste of time. I had read an article about doing speed work on the road (v on a track) and I had to try. My running seems to be at a plateau, and I want and need to break through it.

So I programmed my Garmin and set out on the first speed workout—warm up, then alternate a half mile at target 5K pace and a quarter mile of recovery…repeat that three times, and cool down…for slightly over a 5K distance, and a little bit shy of my normal 3.4 mile loop. I figured I’d stop sooner than usual, anticipating that I would want to walk a bit at the end (I was right).

How was it? TERRIBLE. I couldn’t sustain the target pace in the third repeat. I needed the walk at the end of the cool down. And overall, my pace wasn’t much faster than my regular pace. So what was the point?

Before I knew it, I realized that the point was that it was so terrible. I committed then and there to do speed work of some sort one day a week. Because it was hard, I knew I needed to practice. If I had done the speed work and it was easy, what would the point have been? And today, a day later, I realize that I should be happy that it was so hard. It gives me a challenge, it gives me a goal, and it gives me the possibility of the satisfaction that comes with achieving results. Do I have to make a big deal about it? No. But do I have to make a deal with myself to commit to this improvement, and to commit 100%? Yes.

And that’s how the ongoing improvement works. Dealing with my own unique circumstances, finding a system and an approach that works for me, sticking to it, being kind to myself, and getting it done.

What was I so afraid of? What was the worst that could happen? And why wouldn’t I be willing to accept that “worst” consequence? In this case, not finishing?

I need to do more and worry less in all aspects of my life. Worry accomplishes nothing and doing changes the world.

So today, when I was hungry, I made and ate tofu yogurt.. It was easy and delicious and fast and cheap and healthy. And if it was terrible? I would have thrown it away, wasted about $2, and I would have known.

Which reminds me of the importance of knowing, even something bad, v wondering and/or dreaming and/or worrying endlessly.

So stand up and do. What are you waiting for?

I leave you with two very relevant quotes that crossed my path today (from Laird Hamilton and Anna Deavere Smith respectively):

“Make sure your worst enemy doesn’t live between your own two ears.”

“What you are will show, ultimately. Start now, every day, becoming, in your actions, your regular actions, what you would like to become in the bigger scheme of things.”

Like Ferris Bueller asks: “You’re still here?” Go. Do. Be. Be happy.

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