Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Teaching An Old Dog New Tricks

One of the things I fear most about getting older is being afraid to try new things.

You hear this a lot. Change is hard. The whole comfort zone thing.

One of my really good friends got a new car this year. Her previous car was 20+ years old. When I saw her new car, I was stunned. A Cadillac? Isn't that something our grandparents drove? Are we that old? But that isn't what bothered her. For her, the hardest part was getting used to all the technology. She didn't know how to work all the gadgets. She wanted her old car. It was comfortable. It was easy to operate. This new car "beeped at her", she said. She "hated it".

How did this happen? My fearless friend, afraid of a car?

It's funny, because, in my job as a pediatric nurse practitioner, the kids I see all have no fear. They bang on my computer. Grab the otoscope off the wall and play doctor. Operate their parents' phone like a tech expert.

What happens as we get older? How do we prevent ourselves from becoming fearful of new things, new experiences?



It isn't just older adults that have fear of trying new things. The one thing that stands out to me is the kids I see in my clinic who don't know how to swim. It seems to me that by the age of 10 or 11 if you haven't mastered your fear of the water, you're not going in over your head.

That makes me sad. I mean, what is more fun that jumping off the high dive? Cannonball, anyone?

It is the perfect analogy for today's post. How do you get past your fears? How do you get out of your comfort zone?

If you've been following me for a while, you know that I'm all about staying out of my comfort zone. But it hasn't been easy for me. I'm a perfectionist, for one thing. I don't like to fail. So trying new things is a risky proposition. Who wants to look foolish?

But the one thing that keeps me going is my FOMO. I don't want to miss out on anything. That doesn't mean I will be jumping out of airplanes or anything like that. I have no desire to skydive.

What I'm talking about is chasing dreams. Maybe it's something big, like running a certain marathon. Ahem. Got to check that one off my list. Maybe your dream is to jump out of an airplane.

Maybe it's something small. Right now, I'm chasing some little dreams. Like doing a handstand. Doing a pull-up. Climbing the rope. Stuff I never did as a kid. All of which are kind of scary to me.

But in reaching for the sky, I also learned a few things. Such as how to run a marathon on my own terms. Low mileage and lots of heart.

Swinging on the monkey bars. Something I've never done. Ever. Until this past week.

Lifting heavy weights. Seriously heavy. All the while strengthening those muscles that propel me forward down the road. You can build muscle as you age.

If you think you are too old to try new things, you need to think again. Don't let age dictate your limits.

I don't. Because the day I do, I'm done. The day I do is the day I'm old.

Do you let fear hold you back from chasing your dreams? Can you learn to be brave? Do you think age should define your limits?

I'm linking up with DebRuns for Wednesday Word. Today's word is teach!

I'm also linking up with Coaches' Corner aka Debbie, Rachel, Susie, and Lora!




64 comments :

  1. I'm with ya! Comfort zones are for sissies ;-)

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  2. I agree with you the day I stop trying to learn something new is the day I am old. Not ready for that yet either so lets keep going :)

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  3. I am fearful of many things and 95% of the time I don't let it hold me back, except for skydiving. I kind of want to do it but I am def too scared. I do wish I could go back to that I am invincible feeling I had as a kid, no fear of anything, although not sure that is good either,.

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    1. I'd love that invincible feeling again! It is definitely much harder as we get older--it's really like jumping in the deep water. Just do it.

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  4. Ohhh this speaks to me so much! I have FOMO, but also don't handle change well and can totally get in my own little rut. But, I know it's good for me so I push.
    On a side note, I totally understand what your friend is talking about. We've been car shopping and it' crazy what new cars can do. My Dad got one and he says the same thing- haha!

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    1. Oh, I totally get it! Technology can get really overwhelming. I'm shopping for a new laptop and I just can't make a decision. One of the younger doctors I work with is helping me. Oh, the irony!

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  5. No way should age define your limits! I hope I don't ever let it define me. The kids at school are fearless too, and I remember being fearless as a kid. Now that I am older, I am always afraid of "worst case scenario". Like, it is hard for me to even enjoy a roller coaster because I am convinced I will die. Even 20 yr old Megan wouldn't have been afraid of that!

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    1. I wonder why that feeling goes away! I guess it's a maturity thing. Blech.

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  6. I'm with you. Totally.

    Age is just a number.

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  7. OMG, we are obviously channeling each other today.

    I will be the first to admit that I can be fearful of new things, but that is my nature -- always has been, always will be. But I also LOVE trying things, and like you, I hope I am that way til the day I die.

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    1. I just read your post and yep, you can teach old dogs new tricks. Provided they want to learn, right?

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  8. Love this post, so inspiring! You do YOU and keep inspiring us all sista!

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  9. Your insights and your writing are always a great pleasure to read.
    Me? I'm afraid of everything. But I do try to push past my fears. I'm younger at sixty-three than I was in my teens and as a young adult when I did let my fears stop me. This is better. I've learned that I can do and handle a lot more than I thought I could. It's enervating. I embrace senior citizenship. It doesn't mean I'm old!

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    1. I'm impressed that you keep pushing past your fears!

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  10. Old age is a state of mind. I don't live in that state. That's my quote and I'm sticking to it.

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  11. I believe that you can learn to be brave, your post reminded me of my life 5 years ago, married to a man who I didn't know any more, who didn't care for me. It scared me to think of being alone, but I kept telling myself to do it one day at a time. I moved out and started a different life, and it taught me that fear was my enemy and to not let fear rule me.

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    1. It has to take courage to leave a bad relationship! Glad you made the move that was the right thing for you.

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  12. You're a pediatric nurse practitioner?!?!? SO GREAT!!!!! That's incredible! I love your theory of facing fears and doing the things that scare you. It's the only way to detonate its power, right? My therapist helped me a lot with my anxiety issues and now I know that if I ever start avoiding things, it means that I have to force myself to do them otherwise they'll control me!

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    1. Oooh, love that idea of detonating the power of fear! Just the expression sounds powerful. That's exactly what we have to do!

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  13. Age is just a number! Amen to you for taking the bull by the horns and getting out there!!! We all only live once - and I believe in living without regrets. One of my favorite quotes is from Frank Sinatra, who said: "You only live once - but if you live like me, once is enough." =D

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    1. Since I turned 50, I feel this urgency to get it all in! We only get one trip, so may as well make it meaningful, right?

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  14. What is this "comfort zone" you speak of? Let's keep living life large and embracing new challenges!

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    1. I don't know about a comfort zone because I've never been there!

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  15. Speaking as someone who had to sit with her salesman and record how to work the electronic center console on my Mini Cooper so I could go back and review every time I wanted to do something for the first six months of ownership, I can appreciate your friend's frustration with her new car - but the changes they have made in the last 20 years (I drove an older car, too) are really cool once you figure out how to work everything. It's better to move forward with learning rather than stay stuck (and helpless) in the past.

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    1. That's my thing--if I let technology overwhelm me, I'll get left behind. I'm never good at being in the back of the pack...

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  16. Love this.. This post is me... I want to try new things that test my limits, but not things that are risky like skydiving. What I've noticed is how many kids don't learn to ride a bike anymore!! Sort of like the swimming thing... I tell parents that all kids need to learn... I don't care that they are getting around on scooters, they need to ride bikes. The running a marathon slow with your heart, that's me, too:)

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    1. I'm pretty sure I need to slow down--on and off the road. Going at full speed isn't doing me any favors!

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  17. I truly believe the older I get the more I am actually willing to try new things. I am getting more brave with age.

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    1. That's great! So many people succumb to their fears and it really limits them. I'm with you!

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  18. I love you and your approach to life--you are better than a fine wine. You are a barrel aged bourbon--stronger, deeper, richer, and more complex.

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  19. I've gotten braver as I've gotten older. It helps that I'm married to an adventurer who pulls and pushes me out of my comfort zone on a regular basis. I've also realized that nothing stays the same so I might as well embrace change. Hello living in Hawaii for 6 months that has turned into part time for almost 4 years ;)

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    1. Yes, I thought about that! I wish my husband was more risk-averse. We need to get out of this stifling suburban existence!

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  20. I think that one of the benefits of getting older is that you don't worry as much about the fear of "what if it doesn't work out?" when you try something new. I'm much more willing to give things a try now than when I was younger and more self conscious!

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  21. Ok but in your friends' defense, I hate technology! Haha. I remember when I was a teenager, my parents were always soooo good with computers and technology (this was in the beginning days of ICQ and AOL). I was like, "cool, I'll be like that when I get old." Now I don't even know how to operate my phone. Whatever. I still run farther than anyone in my family. ;)

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    1. You're like the reverse of your parents! Maybe their love for technology cancelled out when it came to you?

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  22. WE are not old! It helps to have great friends cheering us on at home and virtually! Technology makes us all nervous- look how healthcare has changed in the last 25 years! I am very cautious because I am afraid of hurting myself but dang there is plenty of me to go around- No Fear Wendy- WE got this!

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    1. I feel like I"m always nursing some sort of injury! I could sit on the couch to avoid hurting myself--but I'd be hurting myself in other ways. You can't win, right?

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  23. I'm gonna guess most people are afraid because they just fear the unknown and that's pretty understandable. I wouldn't say i'm afraid to try new things but I certainly don't embrace change well (especially when it's something that is working already).

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    1. Change is hard, but I've learned to just roll with it!

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  24. When I was growing up, my grandmother was lamenting that she had never continued her education. I said to her "So go back to college and do something about it." She replied "No. I'm too old. That time has passed." In that moment, I pretty much vowed to never let fear or discomfort hold me back from things I loved doing. In recent years, I've changed that to include never letting my head hold me back from things I wanted to try.

    I love that you're swinging from monkey bars. You rock.

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    1. The monkey bars were hard but going upside down--like a headstand or handstand-- is way scarier! I love this whole crushing my fears thing...

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  25. Oh hell no! I have plenty of phobias that go along with my anxiety but being "too old" for anything is NOT one of them. I love trying new things and challenging myself. I did it with triathlon (learning to swim as an adult) and now look at me. I agree that you need to keep getting out there and pushing your limits because the alternate is horrible. Great post Wendy!

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    1. I'm still scared of the swim. I don't have a desire to do a triathlon but I'd like to master swimming. Maybe over the winter? We'll see...

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  26. I don't think age defines our limits or goals. That being said, I am also a perfectionist who doesn't like to step out of my comfort zone and not be able to "master" new things. But I am trying and exploring (to be honest, mostly out of boredom especially in the fitness area). In my work life, I was forced to step into an entirely new area of our company last year when HPE went through a major re-org. I really learned a lot about myself and found that I do have a voice and I do know a little something about something :) But at the end of the day, I always have to ask myself "what would you do if you weren't afraid?" because I can let my fear of failure and my fear of the unknown keep me exactly where I am.

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    1. It's hard for us type A types to step out of our comfort zones, which is exactly why I do it!

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  27. I've definitely let my fear hold me back sometimes, and I think it's because I'm a perfectionist too. But it's great to try new things and continue to challenge yourself, even though change sucks sometimes haha! Great perspective.

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    1. I just think when we stop trying things, we get old and stagnant. I'm not ready for that!

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  28. I hear ya on the FOMO. I think that's one reason why I "think" I might eventually try my hand at a marathon. Now definitely isn't the time, so its definitely a down the road thought I have.

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    1. That FOMO did get me to run my first marathon. Nothing like a little pressure...

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  29. I totally overthink certain situations--def needed to hear this today! Thank you friend!

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    1. I'm trying not to overthink anything these days!

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  30. FOMO is what keeps me trying new things. Also, blogging has made a huge difference. Because I blog, I read other blogs and when I read about the fun running things other people are doing, I want to give them a try. I ran my first Ragnar for that very reason and this weekend I'm running my fifth! :-)

    Thanks for linking up!

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  31. I push myself out of my comfort zone often, because if I don't, life gets boring. The best example of that is when I travel... I try to explore or do something by myself which is hard, because I am way out of my comfort zone in a country where I don't speak the language, can not read a menu, and don't know where I am going.

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    1. I want to do more traveling--it seems as I get older, the wanderlust in me grows stronger!

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  32. Age should definitely not define your limits, no. I do sometimes think that maybe certain limits aren't achievable anymore, but I have no real proof of that of course (like for example, my husband clearly has talent in running, but he's older and he started late. as hard as he works to reach certain levels, it may just not be possible. it could be age and lack of experience but we just don't know). Being American and living in the Netherlands, I let a lot of things hold me back - language was a big stumbling block to furthering my education for example. But last year I did a pretty hard course in my 2nd language, something I thought I would never do. (I still have to pass the practical exam). That was really stepping out of my comfort zone. The more I push past my fears (also joining a running club, changing jobs, etc - all language barriers), the more I feel alive and not my age at all. Sure I'm close to 50 but I feel like I'm FINALLY living now! I do have to be careful with FOMO though (I have it too!!!) because I don't want to injure myself. But still... FOMO had me running 4 marathons last year. I promised myself ONLY 2 this year and I'm signed up for 3... I may be out of my comfort zone but learning what my limits are is also not a bad thing! (maybe next year only 2, ha!)

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    1. It almost feels like life is accelerating and we need to get it all in, doesn't it?

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