Sink or swim
Swimming in a lake is completely different than a pool. 70 laps in the pool was no walk in the park, but at least I could see the bottom, stand if I wanted or take a brief rest when I got to each side. And the 5 foot deep, still water was fairly easy to stroke through.
In contrast, the lake is opaque, and deep, and cold, and windy. I eventually found the equivalent of a walk break in running: I turn over and do elementary backstroke until I get my breathing back on track. But I’m still moving and there’s no place to truly rest.
This reminds me of the way some parents teach their kids to swim. Some equip them with PowerPuff arm floaties, sunscreen and a kickboard, and then gently talk them into the shallow end. Some will just throw the kid into the deep end and watch them swim back to the side. One approach takes longer and one is more traumatic, but they are both motivational and effective in their own way.
Jumping in the lake is throwing myself into the deep end. What can I do when I get tired? If my only other option is to sink, I just keep going.
Now for the obvious analogy. When you are throwing yourself into a new challenge in your life, do you typically choose the pool or the lake? I’m not just talking about athletic challenges. Think about immersing yourself in work challenges, fundraising, education… are you dipping your toe in, or really going for it?
If you give yourself a side to hold on to in the pool, you will occasionally hold on to it. You may still get to your goal, but it will take longer. If you choose the lake, you will build strength faster and learn a lot about what you are really capable of.
Maybe try NOT playing it safe next time and see what happens. Go jump in a lake.