A Simple Rule To Get Yourself To Do Anything

Mumbai, India
August 22, 2014 8:28pm CST
One of my earliest memories of doing so was my first time jumping from a diving board into a swimming pool. Or rather, of walking slowly out on the plank, standing frozen in place for the most terrifying minute of my life, and crawling backward on hands-and-knees to the ladder. I was humiliated. More importantly, I had set a bad precedent for myself by bailing out when the going got tough. It wouldn't be until well into adulthood that I'd finally face my "fear" of heights. Everyone gets scared sometimes. In life. At work. We're afraid of being rejected, disappointing others, getting hurt, having cockroaches crawl in our ears (okay, maybe that one's not universal...), missing out on important things. In a word: we're afraid of failing. It wasn't my fault. It was the phobia. Yet—there was nothing inherently more dangerous about me jumping off the board than anyone else. I'd watched dozens of others jump; it was safe. In reality, I chose to indulge my fear. I don't have a clinical phobia of heights. As an adult, I've climbed to the top of skyscrapers and bridges. I've jumped from railroad trusses into rivers. I've been scared nearly every time, and that's kept me from making stupid mistakes. I've managed to operate despite my fear. And I've done much scarier stuff in my life and as an entrepreneur without backing down. Every time, my confidence muscle gets stronger, and I get better at pushing myself to do important things in life—which by definition are hard or scary. What life rule do you have for yourself that can never be broken?: I count to 5. This is a secret rule I have for myself. Whenever I don't want to do something (something small like getting out of bed, to something bigger, like asking a girl out), I count to 5 in my head. Whenever I reach 5, I have to do it. I have never failed to do what I set out to do once I hit 5, so it always works for me, in a weird sort of way. I know that if I didn't do it, the "rule of 5" would cease to exist, and since I need it to exist, I have to do what I said I would do. It's a weird paradox, but it works.
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