I was watching a show the other night where contestants had to make their way through an obstacle course. One contestant found himself at the top of an obstacle, needing to jump across it in order to continue on. Simple enough right? Just jump? Worst case scenario, he doesn't clear the jump and lands in some water, foam or some other soft landing. Yet, he couldn't do it. He would reach out in preparation to lunge himself forward, then put his hands down as he decided on another approach. He'd do a squat, stand up, do another squat and so on. Up and down, step forward step back. He was mentally and physically stuck. And the longer he rethought his strategy, the harder it seemed for him to move forward. He eventually timed out.
We have all been there. We pass up an opportunity to go on a trip we've always wanted to go on, or we tell ourselves it's too late to learn a new skill or take part in a class of some sort. So, What can we do to help us move forward in reaching our goals or passions. How do we move past the fear?
Be Intentional and Act. Life has a way of passing us by and there are a lot of demands that bid one's attention. Set some time aside to think about what you want and what's getting in the way of moving towards it. In making these goals, don't forget to make them S.M.A.R.T. to increase their likelihood of fulfillment. Then, make a point of taking the next steps towards meeting your goal. Don't just think about it, do. Even setting 5 minutes out of your day to work on your goal is better than nothing! Just start!
Make a list of what you want to do and break it down. There is nothing too big or too small that can't go on this list. Write it down. Some things may take longer to complete than others. That's okay! In the beginning, try knocking off some of the easier goals to help build confidence, experience and momentum.
Once you've picked something, break down the steps of what needs to happen for your goal to reach fruition. Want to learn how to swim? A sub-goal might be calling your local pool to see when they offer lessons. You won't have to do this for every goal you want to accomplish (sometimes it's helpful to just jump in), however other times, it might make the larger goal more manageable. It can also help you stay on track!
Recognize Your Emotion. It's okay that the goal or desire may bring up some fear, trepidation or some other feeling. Fear doesn't mean we shouldn't do something. Emotions aren't the only one who has access to the drivers seat. There's difference between being overcome by your emotions and acknowledging their presence. Remember to balance your emotions (and sometimes distance or defuse them) by focusing on your values and/or rational (wise mind).
Take stock of your thoughts. Take a step back and check in to see if your thoughts are in line with your goals/passions/values. Challenge those thoughts that tell you you are too old or that it is too late. Also, watch out for those self-fulfilling prophecies. If you tell yourself you can't do pottery, you likely won't sign up for it, and you still will not have learnt how to make it.
Replace "No" and "I Can't" with "Yes" and "I'll Give It a Try". Pick a day to intentionally make an effort to saying 'yes' to things you would have typically said 'no' to. Have that as your goal for the day or week. See where that takes you. As always, safety is a priority. Common sense still applies. Unsure of what to say 'yes' to? Check it out with a therapist or trusted friend.
Build Accountability. Choose a few people you trust and tell them about your plans/goals. Learn which supports will encourage you versus those who tend to project their fears onto you. Think about what role you would like your supports to be. Need someone to accompany you? Would it be helpful to have someone check in on your progress every now and then? Maybe it's just helpful running your goals by someone else.
Don't Expect Perfectionism, Embrace the Process. You might completely bomb in your attempt and steps towards reaching you goal. That's okay! We can't be good at everything we do and there is nothing wrong with that. Don't use this experience as a reason to stop trying new things or to feed into your negative self-perception. Re-frame the experience and move forward in a more positive light!
What are your goals? What do you want to do next? Come on... let's start doing them!