Let 2019 Be The Year You Decided to “Go For It”
Here we are, on the outermost edge of another new year. A fresh, unspoiled runway of time and space for us to forge ahead in new directions and take risks and make things happen. And I don’t know about you, but I’m excited and inspired and ready to do all the things. Because the New Year is a crisp, clean, blank canvas, and we each get to paint it as vividly as we want.
Me, I’m always electrified by the possibilities and the opportunities and unlimited potential that a new year brings every time the calendar zeros out and starts all over again. Because the New Year is a natural jumping off point for things to start fresh. The timing just makes sense to line up new goals and challenges and expectations and get after them once the ball drops and the new year begins.
What holds a lot of us back, though (myself included), is that along with a renewed drive to hit the new year hard and crush all our goals, we have another emotion working against us in the background. Behind all our enthusiasm and energy is often a layer of fear. And that thin coating of anxiety or stress about reaching our goals is often the one critical mass that keeps us from breaking through barriers and unleashing our full potential. It’s our primal fear of letting ourselves or someone else down that keeps us from moving forward. Or testing ourselves. Or learning something new. Or changing something about ourselves that we desperately want to change.
In other words, we’re afraid to commit to doing something new or hard or uncomfortable because we’re petrified of coming up short or failing altogether. We worry about making mistakes or not finishing what we started or just looking like a fool. We stress about disappointing people we care about after we’ve made promises and big statements and even bigger plans.
But you know what I’ve learned? I’ve learned that holding myself back out of nothing more than fear is bu*****t. Because when we stop where we think our threshold is, we almost always stop short of our true limits. And you know how I know that? I know it because some of the most powerful things I’ve ever accomplished have happened on the other side of my comfort zone. They’ve happened when I pushed past the place that felt safe or comfortable or manageable. And even though sometimes it was painful getting there, it’s always been worth the extra effort in the end.
Here’s an example that I think captures the true essence of what I’m talking about. It’s also a pretty perfect metaphor for what happens when we push past our fears and take a leap of faith in ourselves.
When I was learning to snowboard a bunch of years ago, after a lifetime of being a skier, I had to step away from something that was comfortable and easy and effortless and commit to trying something totally new and hard and scary—something that would put me back on the beginner slope and make me fall and rattle my confidence. It was something I’d wanted to do for years but just kept stewing on the burner because I couldn’t take the leap. Finally, though, in spite of how freaked out I was of sucking, I just couldn’t bear the thought of spending another winter afraid—afraid of feeling incompetent, afraid of looking like an idiot, afraid of missing out on something I really wanted to learn. I was done finding excuses to avoid putting myself out there. And I went for it.
Now, ten years later, I’m so grateful that I didn’t let fear keep standing in my way. I have a decade’s worth of beautiful memories in my head of days riding with Dave and the girls, memories and stories I wouldn’t have if I had stayed afraid.
Just so we’re clear, I did beat the living s**t out of myself those first few days. But I’ll never forget what it felt like to link that first turn. Because it was within that one, single act of letting go and committing to that fall line, where you momentarily feel out of control, that you truly gain control in the most beautiful way. It’s when we finally let ourselves face directly down the mountain, with nothing to stop us, that we’re finally in the right position to execute the move we need to make. It’s not until we’re slightly exposed and totally vulnerable that we’re actually in the right position to link everything together and complete the turn. Then, once we’ve done it, we’ve got it forever. And that applies to everything we do in life that’s nerve-wracking or intimidating or hard. Once we reach the other side of the fear we’re facing, we’re home free.
So as you round into the new year, let yourself be bold. Take risks. Put it all out there. And remember that it doesn’t matter what kind of strides you make as you’re facing the thing you’re afraid of, because a stride of any length is still a step forward. And every step forward is a step closer to the place you’re trying to go.