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Do It Anyway

By Mary Ann Bailey, MC

When was the last time you wanted to do something outside the normal routine of your life? Maybe you wanted to take a photography or pottery class. Maybe you wanted to train for a marathon. Maybe there is a special trip you wanted to take or maybe you had been thinking about volunteering at a local nonprofit.

We all come up with things that we would like to do from time to time; but unfortunately very few of us consistently follow through on these ideas.

Did you follow through on your last idea? If not, do you know what got in your way? I would venture to guess that it was a combination of factors starting with fear and doubt, then adding in some guilt, and ending with some questioning concerns from your family, spouse, and friends.

Making any kind of a change in life, even something as small as taking a class, requires us to learn and try new things. That is the very nature of change. But systems abhor change and our body's system is no exception. It will try to do everything it can to talk us out of what it sees as taking an unnecessary risk.

We start hearing voices telling us that we don't have enough time, that it costs too much, that it's too hard and we probably aren't adequate to the challenge anyway. Our muscles tense up, our stress level rises and there is a very strong urge to just give up and return to the safety of our old way of being.

Fear and doubt are powerful entities; and when they start doing their thing it can be very easy to lose touch with the willingness and excitement we felt when we first thought of the idea. We start to think of excuses as to why this is not such a good idea and begin to talk ourselves out of moving forward. It is at this point, when we find ourselves wanting to give it, that we need to find the courage to Do It Anyway.

If we can get past all the fear and resistance that is coming from inside us, our next challenge is to overcome the resistance of our friends, family and colleagues. One of the things we have to remember about the change process is that when we make a change, everyone around us feels the ripples of that change.

And often, it's the people who are closest to us, the people we would normally turn to for support, who are the most resistant to our changing. Since they are the ones who interact with us on a more regular basis, they feel the shift in our behaviors and thoughts more acutely than others. But we can't let their fears and discomfort hold us back from pursuing our dreams. We need to forge ahead and Do It Anyway.

Why do we need to Do It Anyway? Why is it so important to follow through on our dreams, particularly the smaller dreams? What possible difference could it make whether we take a watercolor class, learn a new computer program, or decide to volunteer at a local teen center?

Whether we choose to follow through or give up on our dreams makes a huge difference in our ability to deal with change throughout our life. It goes back to the saying, "It's not about the destination, it's about the journey. When dealing with change, the saying goes, "It's not about the content, it's about the process."

When we make a change in our lives we will always experience some level of fear and doubt. If the change is small, like taking a new class, the amount of resistance we face will also be relatively small and not so intimidating. So, if we can stay with the process in small changes and push through that thinner wall of resistance, we end up with two important benefits.

First, we get to learn new skills from whatever class we are taking. But more importantly, we become familiar with the process of change. The content of the changes we'll face in our lives will vary; but the process we go through with each of those change will stay pretty much the same. So the more familiar we become with the process, the better off we'll be.

As we work through the easier resistance of smaller changes, we begin to understand how change works, where we get stuck, and what we need to successfully navigate the resistance. Once we have that knowledge we'll be better ready and able to successfully cope with any change that life throws our way, be it big or small.

So, the next time you find yourself backing down from pursuing a new idea or activity, remember - in spite of the doubt, in spite of the fear, in spite of the guilt, and in spite of what other people think - Do It Anyway.

Copyright © 2009 Mary Ann Bailey. All rights reserved.
Mary Ann Bailey, MC, is a life coach who specializes in helping professional women successfully navigate the challenges of midlife career transitions.
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