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Do It

Do One Thing Every Day That Scares You

Yasha Wallin

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, "Do one thing everyday that scares you." The idea being the more we take ourselves out of our comfort zones—our little bubbles—the more we will experience life, community, the unexpected. Confront your fears: speak up, talk to a stranger, take a dance class, ask for someone's phone number, climb a mountain, learn to surf, begin writing that novel, go to a party alone, tell someone you love them. Let's all take the challenge: Do one thing everyday that scares you. Bonus: tell us about what you did in the comments section so we can cheer each other on.

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  • Mimi Schector

    I applied for a part in a media production overseas, was accepted and had the time of my life. It was the most difficult thing I've ever done, and the most satisfying.

  • stevolamott

    Did an hour of paddle boarding. First time standing on ANY board, and I'm from coastal California and Hawaii!!!

  • Alessandra Rizzotti

    This weekend, I got a swarm box to trap a swarm of bees that had started to populate my mom's fence. Next week, we plan on getting them out safely.

  • Heidi Sistare

    I'm a writer but I'm scared of writing poems and I'm scared of posting unedited work where anyone else might see it. In 2014 I'm writing and posting one magnetic poem everyday: (the magnetic part makes it easier somehow).

  • lorene.dodd

    I'm a line cook at a sports bar, and soon will graduate from culinary school. Last week I made dinner for a VERY attractive German nuclear physicist, someone I would certainly consider "out of my league." Despite having a physics doctorate and traveling/working all over the world, he was impressed with bolognese pasta and apple cake. Who knew?! And I've got a second date ;-).

  • Melissa Williams

    I'm letting go of the past and embracing the future. Oh, and overcoming my phobia of bugs.

  • Lilian Lee

    I quit my comfortable job with great bosses to go traveling around the world and work on different jobs for a year. I sold most of my stuff to fund my LEARN SOMETHING NEW EXPERIMENT PROJECT. And now I'm back in my country. It's sooooo awesome.

  • Saman Attarian

    scariest thing I do every now and then is letting go of what I believe and letting myself to accept new perspectives :)

  • engagedsoul

    I think this is a philosophy that can never be done! So I expect this to be on my to do list from now on. Every day I am doing something new, that is, by my definition something that creates at the least mild anxiety and at the other end FEAR. You learn somethings should not have been FEARED but were in fact just unknown. However, some things that cause that tingle of mild anxiety can at times be the very thing that requires developing new skills, practicing something again and again until the tingling subsides.

  • Emily

    Going to my first peaceful protest today. "Life begins at the end of your comfort zone"

  • Amy(aka)TheNagonMotherShip

    Inspiring topic! I agree with Chris, finding something that you are scared to do everyday is hard if not a little impractical (hey, some of us have less thrilling things to do every day) - but how about three days a week? I just started a boot camp exercise class and I've never done anything like it before. Being breathless and as red as a tomato scares the heck out of me but when its over I feel awesome. Being sore the next day also scares me but I know its a good hurt. One week in and counting to the best shape of my life.

    Other things I do less regularly that scare me - flying! I have to travel internationally for work and I get so anxiety ridden (in tears and sleep deprived) but I keep doing it because I know I have to face my fears.

    Recently I also left the security of gainful employment to start a consultancy, moved countries with my family and well I guess for now that is providing a bit of the ol' fear of uncertainty on a regular basis...

  • Dale Ottley

    I do things that scare me every day. I attend special events and I travel alone. Recently I left the country not knowing anyone or having a real agenda. I plan to return to that country before the close of 2013, again with no agenda but having a plan. I'll see where that adventure leads me...

  • Chris Plehal

    I tried to do this for a long time, and found it tough to actually do every day. Maybe because I don't run up against scary stuff every single day.

    For me, what worked better was to make a deal with myself. If I'm debating whether to do something and I feel that fear in the pit of my stomach... I HAVE TO do it.

    • Christina Vickers

      Good point. If something inside me says "noooo" then I should try it!

    • Jamie Martina

      That's exactly it! If a task at hand gives you great anxiety, then you know it's something worth doing.

    • Corey Zanotti

      I like that mentality and I apply it myself. I can recall the moments where that feeling arises and its usually a sure thing that I need to do whats in front of me.

    • Mike & Rick Tielemans

      Chris! I have made the EXACT same agreement with myself! This way there isn't that stress in the back of your mind, you won't go to bed feeling like you've failed, and yet you are still always challenged. BEAUTIFUL. thanks for sharing!

  • keishaca

    Whenever I find myself questioning whether or not to do something that I fear, I think of this quote. It really helps me overcome my hesitation and I've done everything from trapeze lessons to moving to a new city!

  • Tom Douvia

    I've been driving from the age of 15, and now 42 years old. I have to take the drivers test tomorrow...Scary!! The scary part, today, is that I'm actually studying for

  • Ronit Drobey

    I am finally being true to myself and changing careers! I have always been an academic kind of girl--heady and over-awed by intellectual achievement in myself and others--and I am finally embracing my spiritual/intuitive side and have started my Life Coaching practice! Scary but so amazing.

    • upnsing

      Beautiful, Ronit - and so very similar to decisions I am currently making. Now that I am nearly done with a graduate degree in the sciences, I've realized that I would be perfectly happy with a more practical type of employment. I am scared to drop something I've worked so hard for - but barely under that thin veil of fear is complete thrill. Change is thrilling, stepping into the unknown is thrilling. That said, "cheers" to fear - that springboard disguised as an obstacle - which only we can decide to be crushed by, or to crash through in celebration of our autonomy!

      • Ronit Drobey

        Cheers fear, to challenge and to us! I like to think of my graduate degrees as one more arrow in my quiver if I ever need it. May your quiver be full of tools and knowledge!

    • AnneOT

      Good on you Ronit ….. I did a similar thing except I expanded my early career by adding Life Coaching and getting my diploma :-). The journey has been well worth it (besides I definitely was not ready for it 4 years ago) Good luck with the scary but amazing .. best way to be!!!

  • POW Girl!

    I decided to leave my comfortable life in order to live the life I really want to live. I left it all for GOOD. It's scary. No steady income. No health benefits. No security whatsoever. But I am the happiest I've ever been. #Grateful @GratefulGroup

  • John Vaughan

    The Value of Emotional Fortitude

  • Amiera0

    Just been to this old castle alone at 10pm, although it was romantic, I was scared the whole time. Surrounded by all that nature and full moon, all I could think of was gettin out of there ASAP but then after being scared for 20mins, the fear of a serial killer showing up disappeared and I could finally enjoy the view. A memory I will cherish from Wales

  • NadyaC

    I have done some things that really scared me since January of the present year. First, I left my work, I was not enjoying that. I have been taking a scuba diving course, I only have practiced in a swimming pool but it is 5 meters deep, it's scaring for me. And now I'm writing in English (my mother language is Spanish), I've studied English, but this is my first public opinion in English, and then please excuse my language mistakes. I liked a lot this challenge because I have a lot of simple things that frightening me. THANKS

  • Amy Bauer

    Ironically as I saw this last thursday I did it the same day! I talked to a stranger on the street, sure it was someone handing out free iced tea (and it was refreshing) I normally would of just cruised by. But on this day I made eye contact and direct conversation. And no I did not buy any tea.

  • Bboo730

    Love this idea. It's interesting, reading previous posts, that many people are reticent or afraid to talk with strangers. Maybe because my mom was so friendly as we used to take car and bus trips with her when I was young, that I am somewhat determined to talk to or at least greet strangers. I just feel that the world is so big and everyone is so busy and there's too much anonymity and loneliness in our world. Ninety-five percent of the time, I -- and the person I've talked with -- walk away smiling or feeling warm from our usually-brief conversations. It's just opening up threads of connection. What could be bad? ANYway, I'm going to try to integrate trying something that scares me into my life much more. The one thing I'm doing at this point -- and I'm in my early 60s -- is starting my own small business. It's about an event I've managed on a volunteer basis at local high schools that bring health and mental health workers into speak with students in class-sized groups about issues of concern to the teens -- again, I guess, re connection and people helping people. But now I'm trying to make a Tool Kit and website (do NOT know what I'm doing!) so that others can do this in their community. Yep, scary on many levels. But I agree; this is good for me and I'm pushing myself forward. THANKS for putting forth this general concept.

    • Robin Debacker

      Very interesting. I encourage you in your efforts. I'm 62, and also "starting new." Scary for me too. I hope you get the help you need to do the tech part. It's important.

  • marriottm4

    I took a surf lesson today in Costa Rica!

  • 50Shades0fCraY

    I recently finished "my year with Eleanor" a memoir by a young woman who committed to eating, breathing, and sleeping everything Eleanor Roosevelt and documenting the year. I highly recommend it to anyone that happens to see this post superlate!

    • Yasha Wallin

      I love this, thanks so much for sharing!

  • abby.sherman2

    i am currently in florence (or as the italians call it fierenze), completely and utterly on my's scary and exciting at the same a sola traveler, i have to initiate conversations every day, otherwise i may pass the entire day (almost) in silence...i've traveled alone before this but when traveling to a foreign country always had a's definitely more fun to share the experience with but i love making last minute decisions without having to consult anyone...learning the public transport system in a new city is also definitely challenging, but with no schedule it doesn't matter if i'm on the wrong bus, i just jump off and catch a different one...even at home i push myself to step out of my comfort zone, i have a short attention span, i need change all the time!

    • Yasha Wallin

      Amazing! how was the trip?

      • abby.sherman2

        wonderful!...i met so many people and saw so much....i ate dinner at the same delicious neighborhood restaurant every night and the staff took very good care of me, it was almost like a 'cheers' episode...thank you for asking....

  • re404

    I just presses "Do it" which was already kind of scary !
    The thought of having something to do that scares me tomorrow scares me. Let alone all the days beyond that. But let's see how I'll so. (For now I'll interpret "every day" in the proverbial way ;)

    • Amy Bauer

      That is a perfect way to take it.

  • Alyssia Hargest

    I have been doing this since late last year - not conciously or in an organised way but whenever I feel those "I don't want to do this, how can I get around it" thoughts, I just think to myself, "Do something that scares you every day" and it's such a thrill to do it thinking that way! It could be a phone call or asking someone for help or it could be speaking in public but it's always more fun than grudgingly making myself get through it.

    One of the most common ones for me is around asking for help. That reminds me of this actually:

  • Benjamin J Miranda

    I would like to share with you this book, "What To Do When There's Too Much To Do" by Laura Stack. The title grabbed my attention, you know why? because during these days I needed to prioritize my tasks and do-not do lists. It covers a synergetic strategy and with spider web effect in order to overcome this struggle, "I want to do less and achieve more." Of course, this experience resonates with Eleanor Roosevelt's advice, "Do one thing everyday that scares you." Brilliant article. Thanks.

  • JCkarla

    I will confront my boss (professionally) about some barriers he's created for me at work. Yikes!

    • lindseylou31

      Go you!!! I've done some tough confrontation at work in the past week also! It's challengin, but better to stand up and use your voice, then just sit idoly by.
      Cheering you on!

  • Elle McKay

    I create a list every year that contains a wide variety of skills/adventures/ridiculous things I aim to experience. For example, since I turn 36 next year, my list contains 36 things I'd like to do by my birthday (my "36x36 list"). After doing this for a few years, I've learned how to roast coffee beans, taken a motorcycle class (& bought a motorcycle), learned how to screen print, run a 10K, brewed my own beer, started a small company, made cheese, had a mani/pedi, learned how to urban forage, ridden my bike to work one month straight, etc. Some things I was scared of, while others I just wanted to finally make happen. So far it's been great!

    • Bridget_Says_So

      I love this idea. I did it for the first time earlier this year and it is so awesome when I get to cross things off the list, especially things that I just thought weren't going to be possible. It is my list of inspiration when I am bored or not sure what to do that week or day. I go to the list and see what else I can do.

    • Vanessa Young

      That sounds like something i am trying, though perhaps a little slower. Fantastic idea, keep going!

  • Patricia Ho

    Yesterday I surfed waves that scared me a little. Scarier than bigger waves is to communicate to people what I really think rather than keep it to myself. Funny how I'm much less scared of things that can physically hurt me and more scared of things that I think can emotionally hurt me.

    • Yasha Wallin

      I absolutely agree. Although surfing big waves is also scary!

      • Patricia Ho

        Monster waves are extremely scary! I was talking about waves a little larger than I'm used to, which are waves that go just over my head. It probably doesn't look all that impressive from afar, but I still sometimes hesitate to take them for fear of tumbling around for what seems like forever in the whitewash.

        • Priscilla Villa

          I just want to surf! I'm scared to head out but I bought a surfboard to encourage me to do it, I love being out in the water. Your story is definitely encouraging, thanks!

          • Patricia Ho

            Go Priscilla!

            The one thing that I've found makes the biggest impact on my experience, on and off the water, is my attitude. Whether I make it or eat it, look awesome or (more likely) clumsy, being able to laugh and smile makes all the difference.

            As Amy Poehler so aptly put it, “No one looks stupid when they're having fun.”

  • Gerry van Heerden

    Heights, motorcycling in heavy traffic, talking to strangers. Still nervous of heights, but the motorcycling turned out to be fun (and more convenient than car or public transport). The talking to strangers thing has been weird, though it has in a few cases led to sharing a few laughs with strangers.

  • 10 TO THE 405 NORTH


    • Rakan A.

      Calm down dude, you sound stoned :p

  • Nicole Ektnitphong

    Each day I strive to be bold and pursue a life full of abundance above society's expectations and "norms"

  • Christina Elston

    Don't we all like to think of ourselves as fearless? Haha. Job applications scare me, and that's my to-do for today!

  • Cece Chou

    This is great! I'm scared of so many things, also including talking with people, not necessarily strangers... But I do feel every time I've done something that I used to be scared of, it feels awesome..

  • Hannah Wasserman

    Love this! I hate to admit it, but I usually don't have conversations with strangers-- but I'm making a big effort to change that. Last night I had a great little chat with a guy at Trader Joe's. It legit put me in a much better mood and I didn't even know this guy!

    • Rakan A.

      Glad to hear that! Probably because I, too, don't usually like to talk to strangers. You just motivated me to start doing so. Thanks for sharing! :)

      • Amy Bauer

        This is a great one! I talk to strangers when I am extremely happy, but never otherwise. I will put this on the list.