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Tackling Something For The First Time
by Dr. Dale V. Atkins, July 2012

A first of anything is not easy. Most things worth doing require, practice, determination and effort. I once heard someone say, "If I don't die the first time, most likely I will do it again". Most of us worry about whatever it is we are doing for the first time, putting pressure on ourselves to succeed the first time we try something. In anticipation of whatever it is, we "over-think" the experience.

Sometimes, this happens because we want to make a good first impression. (Who doesn't want to make a good first impression?) Yet under pressure, we are more likely to fumble. Whether it is a first date, first day of school, first day on the job, first interview, first visit at the house of a mourner, first night alone, first dance, first dinner on your own, first time in a new city, first time fishing, first public speech, first golf game, first singing, art, or piano lesson we need to remember that it takes practice to develop skill. Our worth is not determined by whether something comes easily to us on the first try, yet many of us give up after a first try, convinced that "this is not for me."

How is it that we KNOW (and we advise others) that when we do something for the first time it is unlikely we will do it well (and when we do, we call it "beginner's luck")? Even though we know the first of anything is difficult, that practice is what we need, whether it is in dating, softball, cooking, playing chess, we badger and criticize ourselves for not being "better," getting it "faster," being perfectly calm, cool, comfortable. This just adds to the stress. As the pressure mounts, we lose (instead of gain) confidence and may, because we did not do so well the first time, shy away from something we could have done well and enjoyed.

Actually, adding "first time " experiences can add dimension and depth to your life. Trying things or approaches that are different, out of the box, unusual for us, offers chances not only for new opportunities but to look at life from a different perspective. Going out of our comfort zone, taking a risk, helps us discover more about our self in ways we never expected. Being aware of the learning process give us permission to absorb what we need to know without such pressure.

As we move forward in our many "firsts," consider:

Be yourself. Be at ease. Be non-judgmental. Give yourself some leeway. Try and try and try again after the FIRST attempt.

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