This year I’ve started to face one of my biggest fears — one that I’ve been putting off for about 8 years now — and that is, learning how to drive.
I got my learner’s permit when I was 16, but I never fully committed to learning how to drive.
It wasn’t really a priority in my life and I kept putting it off for so many reasons…
Getting behind the wheel of a car made me feel more uncomfortable than anything I’d ever done before. The first time I drove on the “real” roads I crashed my Dad’s car. I have anxiety, and doing things outside my comfort zone (like driving) makes it infinitely worse.
And I was good at distracting myself and focusing on other things in my life. Like getting my Bachelor degree. Training to become a life coach.
I kept telling myself that I would learn to drive when [insert reason that’s really just an excuse here].
But the truth is: I was — and am — terrified of driving.
Deep down I know that letting this fear limit me has really held me back.
But it wasn’t until this year that I decided to get over it.
I got so over my excuses. I got so over holding myself back in this way. And I got so over letting the fear dictate my behaviour.
So I decided to get over it.
As Liz Gilbert puts it: “I’ve never seen any life transformation that didn’t begin with the person in question finally getting tired of their own bullshit.”
And that’s what happened to me.
So I booked my first driving lesson and decided that I was going to start working towards getting my license.
Going to my first lesson was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I felt like I was on the edge of a cliff the entire time. I felt like I was physically going to be sick. And even though I don’t remember much about driving during the 1 hour lesson, I do remember that it took me 3 days to calm myself down and feel “normal” again after it.
Since then, I’ve shown up to 9 lessons and driven a handful more times with my boyfriend.
That’s over ten times I’ve done something I really haven’t wanted to do. Ten times I’ve felt the fear — and shown up anyway. Ten times I’ve had to get over myself and my excuses and just do it.
I wish I could tell you that it isn’t hard anymore. But I can’t.
I wish I could tell you that my fear has gone away. It hasn’t.
But I’m glad I’ve kept going.
So how do I keep showing up to lessons even though I don’t want to? How do I keep doing something that makes me incredibly uncomfortable? How do I keep facing this fear and not give up?
These are the questions I’ve been asked recently. And here’s how I keep doing it…
I tell myself 5 words:
I try not to think about what I’m going to do during the lesson.
I try not to worry about what could go wrong.
I try not to think about actually having to drive.
I only think about the very first step — getting in the car.
Just get in the car becomes my mantra. I repeat it to myself again and again.
When I find myself getting worked up over my next lesson I tell myself, just get in the car.
When I’m thinking about how I can get out of my next lesson I tell myself, just get in the car.
I know once I get in the car I’ll start driving and before I know it the lesson is done and I’m one hour closer to feeling more comfortable driving.
This approach of focusing on the very first step — a step that feels do-able — has been my lifeline for showing up even though I don’t want to.
And focusing on these 5 words has helped me to show up and get in the car again and again — even when I really didn’t want to.
This approach can be useful for anything that scares you, or even anything that challenges you or anything you’re avoiding.
Focusing on taking the first step takes the size out of it and makes it seem more manageable.
Last month I used this approach again when I was going to an event that I didn’t know anyone at. As the date approached I found myself starting to freak out about it, so I told myself: Just show up.
And I did. And it was fine, it all worked out and I had a great time.
And by focusing on just showing up I avoided freaking myself out more about it by only focusing on the one thing I had to do.
Whatever it is that’s challenging you — focus on the first thing you have to do.
If you’re wanting to start a blog, just press publish.
If you’re wanting to train for a marathon, just get your runners on.
If you’re wanting to enrol in a course, just sign up.
If you’re scared to attend an event, just show up.
Just take the first step.
Just focus on the very first thing.
Just get in the car.
PS. If you’d like some extra support in taking the first steps, getting outside your comfort zone and working towards something that’s challenging you, step right this way to see how we can work together.
Enter your details below to get access to The Infinite Collection — a FREE mini (and growing) library of resources to help you get the most out of your one infinite life. Plus you’ll also receive super exclusive content from me, including personal stories and insights, behind-the-scenes peeks and lots more.