This month’s reality check is all about how to shred The Dread. I’m talking about that sickening, sinking feeling when you are confronted with something you don’t understand and have to learn. First there is the fear factor, the “I don’t think I can do this” that flashes without conscious thought. Then, there is the sense of overwhelm, the “This is too much to learn, I don’t want to do this” that grabs you by the throat and throttles you. At this point, you either give up and retreat back into your safe little world, feeling relieved but ashamed at your failure, or you put on your big girl (or guy) panties and dive in.

For me, the reality check came last week courtesy of learning how to make an app game. My experience in this could be summed up in the words of Sgt. Schultz on Hogan’s Heroes: “I know nothing!” However, I was assigned the task of creating an app – any app – so some friends and I could learn the process of getting one onto the market. Since I was Sgt. Schultz, there was a huge learning curve. I spent a week just researching templates before buying the one that promised me that I didn’t need any experience to make it.

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When I downloaded the template and read the less-than-clear-or-complete user guide, The Dread appeared like one of Harry Potter’s Dementors and had a field day. Fear, overwhelm, and a slight sense of panic at failing all flew at me at once. However, since I have been making a concerted effort this year to combat my fears, I halted it as soon as it showed up. No, I didn’t cast a Patronus like Harry, but I did actually say out loud, “Everything seems hard until you learn it.” I thought about all the software programs I learned through the years. All of them seemed challenging, if not daunting until I learned them. Then, they were a piece of cake. So, I ploughed ahead, asked a lot of questions, and while I don’t understand all of it, I was able to create an app that will be available in the next week or so. Was it rocket science? No. Did it feel good? Heck, yeah, it did! It felt great. Not just because I built an app, but because I did something I didn’t think I could ever do. This is something I am going to hold dear in my heart and build upon as I move through life. If I can do this…I can do that.

I’m going to challenge you to do one thing in the next 30 days that you didn’t think you could do. Find one thing that you’re interested in, something that’s doable, but you’re scared or hesitant to learn, and tackle it! Do you want to learn how to knit? Build something? Learn a new software program? Cooking technique? Surf? Plant your own garden? Start a new business? Whatever it is – no matter how small – shred The Dread and move ahead. Kick it to the curb and move forward. Take action. Expand your mind and your confidence by learning something new. It feels really good.

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