Do One Thing Every Day That Scares You

“Do one thing every day that scares you.”

This quote keeps haunting me. Every day it seems there is something else to face that makes me very uncomfortable! Today it was creating a PayPal account for a brand new business I am opening – and wouldn’t you know it, I started it with a typo in my email address.

A month ago my family and I were camping in Death Valley. The only National Park that can petrify a mom just in the name alone, this place conjures images of people crawling across the desert floor while waves of heat float off the ground. On one of the gorgeous winter days topping off at 70 degrees (compared to the 115 of summer), we went exploring down one of the dry washes of Artist’s Canyon. My kids started shouting obnoxious Tusken Raiders yells as we hiked between narrow dirt walls, imagining the scenes from Star Wars that were filmed there. About a mile in, we came upon some dry falls. “Can’t go under them, can’t go around them, gotta go up them,” became my thought. The dry falls were about 10 feet high with a few foot and hand holds. Everyone in my family took turns and started inching up them. I was scared. I’ve tried doing this thing before and usually near the top my legs start shaking, my toes begin to slip, and I get a little dizzy. Even if I do make it up, the going down can be just as terrifying. But this time, that quote, “Do one thing every day that scares you,” echoed in my mind. I did not want to be left behind. I did not want to miss what was up above and around the next curve. I knew I would be disappointed if I didn’t climb up. With this thought empowering me, I handed up my backpack and carefully put my foot on the first ledge. I made it up over that dry falls that day, and back down I must add, and the feeling I had in camp that night carried me through for at least the next 24 hours. I had something to be proud of.


The flu swept through the nation this winter and we were no exception. 5 days of not wanting to get out of bed and extreme weakness created some days of boredom. I stumbled across an ad on Facebook for a photography class with the tagline, “Do you struggle​ with blurry pictures? Do you want to get off of auto mode?” “Yes,” I screamed, “I do!” I’ve always loved photography since my days in the darkroom​ of my high school but making the switch to a DSLR somehow hadn’t fully made sense to me. I signed up for the free class, which led to a 10-day​ trial of Cole’s Classroom, which led to taking a 10-hour photography fast track course and all of a sudden it clicked. Each day I practiced what I was learning and my photos improved dramatically. I knew I needed to take it to the next level, but it totally scared me. Despite all of my hesitation, I emailed some close friends of mine and asked them if I could take their family photos. It terrified me to put myself out there, to take a risk and possibly totally fail. What would happen if I took blurry photos, wasted my friend’s time, and put them in the uncomfortable situation of telling me​ I suck? But what would happen if I didn’t? Maybe this photography thing that I’ve loved for over 20 years could turn into a sustainable business? Or even if it doesn’t go that far, I could still do something I love and enjoy the experience. Clicking “send” on that email scared me, but I did it. My friend’s encouragement and excitement to be my “guinea pigs” made me feel like a thousand bucks. The photo shoot happened (another scary thing) and the images that came out of my camera made my heart sing.


Since hearing this quote I have hiked along a steep ridge in Death Valley, taken family portraits, done headshots for a dear friend, started a photography business, opened a business bank account, signed up to take school spring photos for our homeschool charter, and registered for California taxes. Just about every day something new comes along to scare me. Next month, it will be my 15-year-old​ starting drivers training. Oh, ​my heart!

I have decided that the reward is not found in doing the scary thing, but rather in being DONE doing the scary thing. Sitting on my couch at night, knowing I am safe and the scary thing is done is one of the greatest feelings in the world. Sure, I might be learning some lessons on perseverance​, climbing, and business transactions, but the best lesson might be in knowing that many things aren’t as scary as they first appear.

As a side note, that quote has often been attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt, but according to my limited research, I think she actually said:

“You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

Instead, it was Mary Schmich in 1997 that said,

“Do one thing every day that scares you.”

Thanks, Mary!


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