Not too long ago I talked about doing the hard things but failed to mention the Scary ThingTM. This is probably because of my own aversion to the scary. I’ve become quite adept at getting the hard things in life done but the scary things are a different story. The scary things are, unfortunately, the things I avoid at all costs maybe even more than others. It seems strange that I could take on things like kicking heroin, starting a business, taking on two jobs on top of that, public speaking, getting in shape, learning Ruby, Python, etc., and the rest but not things that take me too far out of my comfort zone. But don’t the hard things and scary things overlap? Yeah, I’d say so but not completely. I defined the scary things as those tasks that have no upside in the ‘economic’ sense. That’s probably an inaccurate way to say it. What I’m really talking about are those things that don’t earn you more money, respect, or praise. They’re not the things you need to do for your own good like working out. They’re often as hard but in a different class. The scary things are the things that you already do but would be scary to do a different way…
Update: I’ve done the scary thing! Read all about it
Trying new foods is a pretty tame example. That’s a scary thing. Calling up the debt collectors that hound you to try to work out a deal is a scary thing. Talking to the cute girl across the room is a scary thing. They definitely do have upsides but they’re not immediately apparent and you’re not losing out if you don’t take a shot. Or so it seems.
I’m not very experienced in the scary things like I am with the hard things but that’s all about to change. What I do know about the scary things is that, much like the hard things, you go through a period of wanting to do them, waiting, thinking, wanting, and waiting before finally doing them. Just like with the hard things you kind of get to a breaking point where you know it’s either time to jump off the diving board or climb back down the ladder like the total weener you are.
Like I said, my inexperience with the scary things is something that I plan to change. I’m going to start doing the scary things for better or worse and take the good with the bad. There are going to be times when I fall flat on my face but I need to try. Things to keep in mind during this process of trying new and scary things are:
You are in control. The moment you feel things are out of your control you’ll probably get depressed and give up. Yes, there are certain things that are not in your control like outcomes but what you can always control are your efforts. Your efforts are all that count. Think of the outcomes like a glitchy slot machine that lets you play for free. You get to pull the lever as many times as you like. If you don’t win it doesn’t mean you’ve lost anything because you’re playing for free – for the fun of it – and if you win you get a prize! It’s almost a win-win situation (except when you don’t win you don’t lose either which kind of is a win in a way).
The point is to have fun and follow a trail you would have never gone down before. Nothing but good can come of it even if things don’t turn out your way.
I’ve recently gotten to a point where I’m very bored and just not satisfied with my life. Professionally and to the outside world everything seems fine. I have good jobs, I’m doing what I enjoy, I get lots of media attention (I’ll be interviewed on a radio station in Milwaukee Wisconsin on the 25th of this month). Personally though, things have gotten stagnant and boring. I neglected this side of myself for too long and now I’m paying for it. Now that things are in order I think it’s time to start enjoying it.
This is a moment a lot like the moment that started my journey to where I am now. It was a moment where I was fed up and decided “I’m going to do something nuts”. And I did. And it worked. I’ll report back when I’m an expert on doing the scary things in life.