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Monday Moment: The secret to doing difficult things

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When I was in Year Six, I starred as ‘Katisha’ in our school production of The Mikado.

In rehearsals I’d been quite shy. I sang softly. I held back on the actions and drama. The music teacher was quite worried about how I’d go on the day, and spoke to my mum about it.

On the night of the performance, I remember standing in the wings, terrified. The idea of going out there, in front of all those people, completely freaked me out.

It wasn’t until the actual moment of stepping out onto that stage, that I realised it was going to be okay. I realised I could do this. Waiting in the wings was by far the worst part…

Last week, I had to make a difficult phone call

It was the kind of phone call you lose sleep over. The kind you rehearse in your mind. The kind you psych yourself up for. And I’d done all of that, including having an imaginary conversation out loud in the car.

Then I remembered some advice my dad gave me. He’d worked in a high-pressure political job for a long time and had a lot of difficult conversations and calls to make. Like me, he could have sat there, staring at the phone, mentally preparing. But he’d worked out that the easiest way to conquer something like this was just to pick up the receiver and dial the number. To throw yourself straight in—sink-or-swim style.

I remembered that when I was standing there, phone in hand, procrastinating. Without any further thought, I scrolled to contacts list and hit ‘call’. I’d work out what to say when we got into the conversation, rather than trying to imagine how it would go.

And, just like that, it was over. Much easier than I’d envisaged. Certainly not worth the sleepless night preceding it.

Don’t overthink the hard stuff

Waiting in the wings is almost always the hardest part. We make it worse by getting stuck in a loop of ‘what ifs’ and delay.

When you walk out on that stage, or into that meeting, or job interview, or when you pick up your phone and hit ‘call’ before you’re ready, or put your running shoes on and just leave the house—you do a really important thing. You move yourself out of fear and procrastination and into action.

Coming at something from a place of action is far easier than coming at it from inertia. Easier, quicker and often surprisingly less difficult than we imagine.

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