When Michelle’s 76 year-old Dad decided to take a leap–he didn’t just impulsively jump. He had his son and daughter make sure the river was deep enough, there was no floating debris, and it was safe. He had enough data to know his decision was a good one, but he still had to take that first step off the edge and into the water.
That first step is the hardest–true for most of us! Especially if it’s something new or unfamiliar. It’s that moment where desire and fear collide and we freeze at the starting line. The first steps when I embark on something new are especially hard for me especially at this second half of life. My inner dialogue goes something like this: ” I should’ve known how to do this by now and I should be wiser, smarter and more competent.” “I can’t possibly do this at my age, what will people think?” or “I should’ve done this years ago when I was younger.” Blah, blah, blah……and on it goes.
Consider changing your perspective. Instead of anxiety or fear, rename this feeling “excitement“! Simply be aware of the feeling and act anyway. (Unless you’re jumping off a cliff, actions are generally not life-threatening and we can make a different decision or hit reset.) It’s amazing how action replaces fear and gives us a boost in confidence for the next step and the next until we are well on our way. Interestingly, it feels like it gets easier.
Start where you are by knowing your decision-making style. This helps you not get stuck or risk unnecessary failure. I believe there are two types of people when it comes to making decisions: those who research, process, and think about the decision long before they make it and after it’s done, they move forward and rarely look back. (I fall into this camp.) Then there are those who leap into something, often without much planning or forethought, often leaping before they look carefully. It’s generally after the action is taken, they regret it, change course, or doubt themselves. While we’ve all done both, we have generally prefer one over the other decision-making style. Which one are you? There are pros and cons of both. The first type tends to over-analyze and worry a lot before the decision is made, however once the decision is made they rarely second guess themselves because in their mind, it was the best decision based on their research. The downside–they may wait much longer than necessary and miss opportunities. On the other hand, impulsive or quick decisions and actions without enough information may have negative health, financial or personal consequences. When things don’t work out, there’s also the tendency for someone to regret the consequences or beat themselves up about it.
Is there something you want to begin? here are four keys to help you take that first important step.
“If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything, it is open to everything. In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s mind there are few. ”
- A Beginner’s Mind is one open to possibilities, discomfort, unknowing, and the likelihood of possible failure by not achieving what you’d hoped in the first, second or tenth trial. Don’t give up if it is something you want to try. In midlife, this is especially difficult for those who are starting something new after being comfortable and successful in other parts of their life. Just remember, everything has a beginning and success is not a straight line nor obstacle-free course.
- Start small. Even the smallest steps move us forward. For something new, learn, read, and talk with others who have succeeded in what you’re interested in. Exploration can begin easily with an internet search. Google, Pinterest and Instagram are just a few places to get the juices flowing and find resources and other like-minded people. And don’t forget your public library—it’s a wonderful place to visit.
- Read and gather timely information. Subscribe to special interest newsletters for timely information. For example, I love to travel and explore. So I enjoy local adventures and Weekend Sherpa sends out a wonderfully inspiring and informative newsletter describing specific places and experiences to travel for day trips, short weekends and the like. I’ve tried some of his suggestions—very fun. When I’m feeling a need to nurture my traveler spirit, I love to read blog posts and articles from Rick Steves, international traveller.
- Local groups and clubs. It’s easy to find local groups of people who get together with shared interests on meetup. Meetup can be searched for specific interest groups, there’s no cost to sign up with meetup and they will notify you of upcoming events. There are groups for about everything. Chances are if you’re interested in something, so are others.
Regardless of what type of decision-maker type you are, these tips should get you started. Let me know what new and exciting adventures you’ve leapt into and taken that first step!