kicking in right about…..wait……waaaaaaiiiittttt….now.
Here’s how I’ve learned to lean into the scary stuff, embrace stress, and live a better life:
First, understand that your body doesn’t know the difference between fear and excitement. They feel the same. When you start getting anxious before an event, ask yourself: “Am I actually scared, or am I just excited?”
As adults, we’re not excited often. Our body’s default response to increased blood pressure, elevated heart rate, and surging adrenalin is fear. Then we become a basket of nerves and get scared when we should really be excited.
Here’s something my football coach once told me in the state playoffs that I’ve never forgotten. Right before the kickoff he called me over and said, “It’s like opening your Christmas presents!” Now I repeat that to myself before the start of every big workout or event.
Second, know that anticipation is worse than the event.
Our fear of what might happen is always way out of scope from what actually happens. Our lizard brain takes over and our minds go to the worst-case scenario, and we run at max heart rate for three days before the event. When the event actually starts, we’re exhausted from replaying the possibilities over and over! We’ve already done the whole event—with every catastrophe included!—78 times!
Waiting, deliberating, anticipating—they’re always worse than doing. If you can choose when to start The Hard Thing, choose to start it right now. Skip the hard part.
Third, put the event in perspective: Will you actually remember this in a year?
If not, it’s not worth stressing about.
If you WILL remember the event a year from now, it’s REALLY worth doing.
Life is a series of moments. I often joke that “anxiety is my cardio.” These standout moments—not the daily rhythm of eating breakfast and shaving—become your story. Any story without these moments is boring. Become the hero of your story: Every time you do something that scares, every time you do that thing you never thought you could, every time just the thought of it makes your heart go up—they’ll all make a great story that will help someone else. In the end, these are the things that matter most. Lean into them.