When did you last do something new? We don’t mean little actions like switching up your coffee order or trying a different bus route, but something more life-affirming or confidence-boosting: throwing yourself into a new hobby, starting a side hustle, upskilling, or even joining a new ANZA group.

Saying ‘just do it’ is easy, but anything that involves getting out of your comfort zone and an element of change is also scary. Starting something new comes with uncertainty and our brains are naturally wired to want to protect us from discomfort should things not work out. It’s normal for our mind to come up with negatives around why we shouldn’t go for something as a way to protect us from potential danger. Feeling fearful, worrying about failure, and being wary of what’s going to happen are all perfectly normal reactions from our brain, which wants to check we’re not doing silly, dangerous things that could harm us.

Never too late

“Starting something new can be daunting, especially when there are so many reasons not to: ‘I don’t know how it will turn out, I’m comfortable with the status quo even though not fully content’, and ‘I’m too old and it’s too late’ are common excuses,” says Ho Shee Wai, Director and Registered Psychologist at The Councelling Place.

But, she continues, can we really use age as a reason to stay stagnant in today’s world? Time was, people (okay, mostly women) aged 40+ seemed to simply disappear from public view, in nice sensible shoes while saying sorry to everyone. However, society has changed. People return to uni after retirement, mid-lifers train for triathlons and embark on new careers, and don’t get us started on the fantastic Facebook group, Solo In Style: Women Over 50 Travelling Solo & Loving It!

“If there’s a will, there’s a way,” Shee Wai continues. “Sure, if you start ballet in your 30s you won’t be as flexible compared to if you had started as a child, but so what? You’re still dancing! If you stop fixating on the perfect picture you’re holding in your mind of what the outcome needs to look like, there is nothing that you can’t start.”

 “Switch your mindset to focus on the gain and not the loss


Certainly, our mindset is most often the biggest obstacle in our path, afterall, how we think is our reality. If we think something is not going to work, it is definitely not going to work. Alternatively, if we think something is going to be okay, it will be okay somehow, just maybe not in the exact way we imagined.

If the only thing stopping us from beginning something new is ourselves, a bit of mental shape-shifting is the best place to start. “It can be helpful to switch your mindset to focus on the gain and not the loss,” suggests Shee Wai. “Often things in life have both positives and negatives. An approach I suggest to my clients is ‘Prepare for the worst, hope for the best!’.” 

It’s also beneficial to concentrate on ‘what will I get if I start this?’. Continues Shee Wai, “Doing so can be motivating and help us to overcome any initial resistance. Approach the negatives you have about starting something as ‘problems to be solved’ instead of ‘reasons to not start’.”

And let’s not forget, despite our brain’s need to protect us from danger, our grey cells love new things and grow bored with the same old, same old. “Embracing newness is a way to stimulate, grow, and develop. Even Alzheimer patients are encouraged to learn something new so that their brains continue to make new neural-connections,” Shee Wai says. 

Entering the unknown in small or big ways can provide a new passion for life. We feel more purposeful, interested and enthusiastic which creates the feeling that there are always great things to look forward to. 

STEPS TO starting something from fear to the future

  • Choose your goal
    What is it that you want to try? Get clear about why you want to start it, when you will start it and how you will start it
  • Make a commitment
    Think about what will make this goal more appealing. For example, could you start with a friend, take small steps to prepare for the start, do some research, speak to someone, observe, or watch how it’s done?
  • List obstacles & solutions
    You’ll begin to see that most problems are solvable which will propel you to move forward 
  • Call in a reinforcement squad
    List people who can help support you or hold you accountable. Alternatively, journal your journey to keep yourself on track and to monitor your progress
  • Visualise your achievements
    Create a vision board of how life will look and feel once you’ve achieved your goal (Pinterest is great for this). Imagine yourself performing on stage/finishing the race/seeing your byline, and so on. Get your mind used to these new ideas
  • Just DO it!