It’s time to pull the skeletons out of the closet and face them head on. I will do something every day that terrifies me, until I become satisfied with where I am and am headed. Or, at least for the next 21 days, beginning today. There’s nothing like facing your fears directly to overcome them and build self-confidence.
And to get a move on with life. For most people, it is probably the things that terrify us that hold us back more than anything. This has been the case for me. It will be no longer. No more complicated tricks to trick myself into the mental space I want to be in, no more attempts to solve the problem by avoiding it. And, for the love of Buddha, no more worrying about it! The key to not worrying is action, just as the key to inaction is worry. In action, we forget to worry and lose ourselves.
I will update this post each day with a report on what I’ve done. Feel free to join me. November 21 is the day to begin.
I have a date tonight, so I plan to start there. Ideas to begin with: talking to random strangers, communicating directly about my desires and thoughts, projects that have been put off. It may be a challenge to think up an idea for every day, but this creative thinking is half the fun! If you want to suggest any challenges, please do.
Updates after the jump.
Day 1, November 21
- Made a comment to stranger.
- Took first step on a project I’d been putting off.
- Communicated directly about something I normally wouldn’t.
Comment: I realized that once I actually make up my mind to do any of the above things / actually do it, I don’t feel much fear at all.
Day 2, November 22
- Took step 2 on project I’d been putting off.
- Took step 1 on second project I’d been putting off.
Day 3, November 23
- Asked a semi-stranger if I could friend her on Facebook.
- Took steps on two projects I’d been putting off.
Comments: I might or might not have done two of these actions on Day 3 without this 21-day challenge, but the third one I definitely would not have done. Because I wasn’t sure if the first two were truly terrifying, I made the effort to do something that was for sure. It took me till the end of the night, but it got done. 🙂
Day 4, November 24 (Thanksgiving)
- Played an improv game with a partner that I was afraid would be very difficult. It actually turned out to be pretty easy and was one of the most smoothly flowing games I’ve played.
Day 5, November 25
- Took another step on a project I’d been putting off. This is the most terrifying thing I’ve done so far in this challenge.
- Expressed physical intimacy I would have otherwise shied away from.
Day 6, November 26
- Communicated directly about my feelings.
- E-mailed boss.
Day 7, November 27
- Took step 1 on a project I’d been putting off.
Comment: This marks one week so far, and the challenge is going awesomely and helping me achieve a lot of things, however small! Today I am considering vamping up the challenge, but maybe I should just carry this out and then do a second, vamped-up challenge following.
Day 8, November 28
- Took steps on projects I’d been putting off.
Day 9, November 29
- Finished some projects.
Day 10, November 30
- Continued working on a project I was still putting off.
- Checked on something I was afraid to look at.
Comments: I definitely need to vamp this up a bit. For now, rather than committing to a greater length of time, I will go ahead and vamp this up. I am aiming to do at least two things each day that terrify me because the past few days I haven’t been ambitious enough. Beginning today
Day 11, December 1
- Checked on another thing I was afraid to look at.
- Took step 1 on project.
Comments: So, tonight I was like, “I need one more thing…” and did something and wrote it down, but then I thought, “I don’t think I was super afraid of it; I was just avoiding it because it was a little uncomfortable.” So I stopped myself and said, “What am I really terrified of right now that I need to do tonight?” And I thought of just the thing and went and did it. I’m so glad because I’d have just continued procrastinating all night and probably all morning.
Day 12, December 2
- Took more steps on project.
- Completed another project I’d been putting off, from beginning to end.
- Communicated openly with a loved one about something that was bothering me. And, wow, I’m really, really glad I did, because otherwise I was just confusing myself in the most foolish manner!
Day 13, December 3
- Completed a couple related projects I’d been putting off because I had to talk to someone I didn’t want to.
- Asked for a raise (and got one). It wasn’t much, but mainly I’m happy about the process of just doing it. 🙂
Day 14, December 4
- Started on assignment I found overwhelming.
- Asked for help with something I’d been putting off for a ridiculously long time.
Day 15, December 5
- Started on yet another assignment I’d been putting off because of how much money it costs, but that needs to be done anyway.
- Worked on several projects I was avoiding. I wasn’t actually terrified of the steps themselves, but definitely of the larger picture, which is part of why I was avoiding these smaller projects.
Comments: As you can see by now, I am using this challenge more for simple self-discipline issues than for social issues. That was actually my idea when I started it because I know this is something I need to work on more than anything in my life right now. And, slowly, it’s working. 🙂
Day 16, December 6
- Completed a project I was putting off.
Day 17, December 7
- Took care of a simple task I was putting off.
- Continued a project I was putting off.
Day 18, December 8
- Checked on an e-mail I was avoiding.
- Continued on a project I was putting off.
Day 19, December 9
- Jumped through hoops to complete a long put-off project, but must try again tomorrow.
- Searched for something in a huge mess that I had lost and was afraid I wouldn’t find. Found!
- Took step on another project I was putting off.
Day 20, December 10
- Spontaneously completed a social task that in the past I would have put off.
Day 21, December 11
- Checked on something I was avoiding.
- Had a long overdue conversation with boss that I had been afraid of. It went much better than I had imagined it would. He told me that he used to be shy and that I should not be afraid to talk to people. :)
Comments: That makes 21 days. So far I have accomplished a lot of things in this challenge that I otherwise would have continued not to do. One small thing at a time, I am slowly starting to move forward.
Day 22, December 12
- Took step on project I’d been putting off.
Day 23, December 13
- I did so many terrifying things today that I am not even going to list them here.
Final Comments: I tried to extend the trial by a week, but it did not work. I did succeed at the initial challenge of 21 days. The trial definitely helped me build up my self-discipline and showed me that updating daily on a public blog is an excellent way to hold myself accountable. I have gone on to do even better challenges and am continuing to do so.
Also, I know that at least one person (a friend from college) read this blog and joined me in the challenge, so hurray – and good for you!