“You can’t be that kid standing at the top of the waterslide, overthinking it. You have to go down the chute.” – Tina Fey
I stood there, backwards, at the very end of the diving board, paralyzed with fear. I knew in my head the motion my body had to follow, to do a full backflip and land feet first into the water. I knew all the steps. I knew the pool was twelve feet deep, and there was no danger of hitting the bottom. I just could not do it. I tried to garner the resolve to make the plunge, but I couldn’t. It was a total mental block.
I eventually walked forward, and climbed dejectedly down the ladder. I would try again tomorrow. Tomorrow turned out to be just as hard. And the day after that. And the week after that. Then on the 10th day trying, something changed. I decided I was tired of waiting, tired of failing to do what I had set out to do, which was to learn the backflip from the high dive, before the end of the summer.
So I walked back up to the diving board, turned gingerly around and stood on my toes on the end of the board. I steeled myself, began to bounce slowly, then in a large leap, jumped backwards, tucking my knees to my chin and then opening them again to land straight, feet first and hands straight up in the air, into the pool. The motion was simple, natural, easy. The fear was groundless. The second time was easier. The third even more so. After that it was effortless, and I was able to fine-tune the motion and experiment with different rotations and twists. It isn’t the most useful skill, but the experience taught me an important lesson.
There are so many reasons at our fingertips to do tomorrow what we know has to be done today. So many things get in our way, stopping us from taking the steps we need to take, or making the changes we need to make. We feel that the moment isn’t right, or there are too many other things to think about, or we can only handle so much at one time, or maybe feel we’re not ready to deal with the consequences of actually changing.
Don’t overthink it. Don’t worry about everything else. If you need to make a change, make it. If you need to turn a page, turn it. If you need to end a relationship, end it. Our time on earth is too short to waste doing the things that don’t matter, or that will separate us from the growth that we need to accomplish.
So don’t wait any more. Do it. Take the step. Take the plunge. Make the change. I think you’ll find that the results will be well worth the effort.