How to Beat Performance Anxiety

adventure goals moticise Sep 20, 2017

For years, I’ve wanted to climb Kilimanjaro.

I love hiking. I grew up doing it with my mom and sisters. Isabel and I climbed Mount Whitney, which is the highest peak in the continental US, and my mom and I climbed Mount Washington, which is the highest on the eastern seaboard. She and I also climbed the two highest mountains in Norway. Basically, if there’s a peak, I want to climb it.

But I’ve never done any of the really big ones. So this year, for my birthday, I decided to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Stephen said I could go, as long as he didn’t have to. So I rallied my sisters, one of whom has always wanted to do it, and one of whom is reluctant (although optimistic – she was the first person to buy boots and a backpack).

As I began preparing, reading books, studying the trails – we’re going to do the longest one – I started to get scared. I was learning that the trail isn’t what gets people, but the altitude. I started to worry. What if I can’t make it? What if the altitude is too much for me?

Mt Whitney was high, at 15,000 feet, and most of the time, I was fine. But it was chilly, and at around 12,000 feet, I started jumping up and down, trying to warm up, and within thirty seconds I was flat on my back, passed out.

One night a few weeks ago, I told Stephen how nervous I was. “I’m so excited to do this,” I said, “but if I don’t make it to the top, I’m going to be so crushed.”

And he turned to me and said, “Why? If you don’t make it, you just do it again another time.”

It was so simple, yet so true. It hadn’t even occurred to me – it’s not like it’s easy to get to Tanzania. But if I wanted to, I could take a second shot at it. Or third, or fourth.

And isn’t that true about everything outside our comfort zone? We can always do it again if it doesn’t work out. You fall, you get back up. You try again.

That simple comment opened up a door for me. It felt like light and fresh air flooding in to a cramped, dinghy room. Where before I felt daunted and afraid, now I see it differently. I can have as many chances as I need.

So I’ve got 3 week to go!!  I’m preparing. Stacking the deck in my favor. Doing everything I can to ready myself for the altitude and for the rigors of the climb. I’m visualizing. I have every intention of making it to the peak of that mountain, getting that photo of the top of the world.

And if I don’t, I’ll just try it again. Until I make it.

What about you? What’s something that scares you, that you really, really want?

What would happen if you thought about it differently? If you thought you couldn’t fail?

How does it feel, to know you have the freedom to try again?

So take a leap, and fly!!

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