Faced with the prospect of turning 50 in 2022, at the start of the year I gave myself two options.
I could either hide away, hands over ears, saying “la la la it’s not happening”
Or, I could face it head on, hold my head high and laugh in 50’s face.
There was no contest really…
So, I declared 2022 to be my year for saying YES to new challenges and things that scare me. And what a year it turned out to be!
what did i learn?
Most importantly, throughout the course of saying yes, I removed so many barriers. My confidence grew, my spirits were lifted and I had some amazing experiences!
I discovered a new way of thinking, and I saved time I might otherwise have spent deliberating over whether I should do something.
I learned that it’s easier to sneak to the front of a concert when you’re on your own. I stood around 10 rows back from Robbie Williams when I drove to Stoke for the first time, on my own, to watch him on my own, when an opportunity for a ticket came up.
I learned that when you say yes to stretching your comfort zone, you can sometimes achieve more than what you thought you were capable of. There’s a group at running club that I’d avoided training with as didn’t think I would be able to keep up. I couldn’t (and still can’t) keep up, but they don’t mind. Not only do I feel amazing after running with them, my Strava is full of gold and silver trophies after each outing with them (if you know, you know).
When I found myself arriving at The Ivy in Manchester ahead of the people I was meeting, I learned that it’s ok to just sit and be. Is it just me who harboured a dream of sitting alone at a nice bar, sipping a glass of champagne? Well, after a little tug of war with myself over the extravagance of it all, that’s precisely what I did. Scratch itched, and I’m actually not bothered about doing it again, but boy did it feel good!
There was the moment when, having joined a new group for an ice skating session, the coach invited those who weren’t doing the spins and jumps section to leave the ice. I was one step away from leaving the ice when I turned back to join the session. I think I left some dropped jaws behind! Spinning and jumping are hard, and scary, no matter how easy they make it look on TV. The coach asked if I jump and spin, to which I tentatively replied “a bit”. She didn’t turn me away, and I felt amazing afterwards! And I managed to stay upright too, which is a bit of a bonus.
I learned the power of saying yes before my brain has time to click into safety mode and talk me out of something. The list includes… a fell relay race (that I swore I’d never do again); a hilly trail marathon (attempt, but I was happy to get to 20 miles); running with the best in the North at the Northern cross country championships; putting physical fitness to the test with a Sabre Challenge; being a guest on a live video… These are all things I may well have previously told myself I shouldn’t do because a, b, c… (Whatever a, b and c are doesn’t matter, because they’re not ‘there’ any more).
And why put things off? Through diversions come new opportunities. When I injured my ankle back in February and couldn’t run, I went for a swim. I’d only been swimming twice in around 9 years, but managed 40 lengths. The only problem was that I was terrified of putting my face in the water. I just didn’t know how to do the breathing under water ‘thing’. I had a little chuckle to myself, made some enquiries and started a swimming improver course, which led to a new hobby. Not only can I now swim whilst breathing out under water (not so good on the front crawl, but I needed to save something for 2023), but I can also attempt tumble turns. And, not only can I dive in, I actually enjoy it too! Who’d have thought that all that could come from damaging some ligaments?
I have more examples, but I think you get the idea.
so, what’s next?
So, will I carry this new approach forward into 2023 and beyond? You bet I will! 2023 might be a bit slow getting off the mark with saying yes to new challenges and things that scare me, and I haven’t had much opportunity to stretch my comfort zone so far, but we’re only a month in.
Who knows what the year might have in store, but I’m ready to find out.