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Why You Should Do That Thing You’ve Always Wanted to Do

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“Better to do something imperfectly than to do nothing flawlessly.” ~Robert H. Schuller

In March this year, I did something I had wanted to do since the age of nine: I had my first piano lesson. At the time I was nearly thirty-five, so it had only taken me twenty-six years to get around to it.

Why the delay? Well, when I was little, we couldn’t afford lessons, but looking back I see that was only an excuse until I got my first part-time job at sixteen—which means that the last nineteen years of procrastinating were entirely down to me.

Over those years, thoughts of playing the piano had come back to me on quite a few occasions.

Whenever I talked about it with anyone, we would usually end up agreeing that either it would be too expensive or that I was now just too old. After all, piano lessons are for kids, and posh kids at that.

Then, one day, I heard that the TV presenter Jonathan Ross was learning to play. He wasn’t posh! And he was older than me! If he could do it, surely I could too. After hearing this, I decided I’d really have to start thinking about having lessons.

And I did—think about it, I mean. I thought about it a lot. Every time I saw Jonathan Ross on TV, every time I met someone who could play the piano, every time I saw a piano, every time I heard the word “piano.”

“One day I’ll learn,” I’d think, “when I have more money.”

Then, when I was teaching in Italy, a golden opportunity came my way: one of my students was a piano teacher. I was very excited when she told me this and instantly told her that I’d love to be able to play.

Guess what? She offered to give me a lesson. For free! I leapt at the chance and rushed to her house first thing the next morning. Of course, I didn’t really do that. That’s what I should have done.

Instead, I told her I thought it would be easier for children and asked her if it would be difficult to learn at my age.

“Maybe,” she said, and that was that. We quickly forgot all about it and the idea was pushed aside once more, with me safe in the knowledge that there really was nothing I could do about it.

Fast-forward about seven years and I was teaching a group of mixed nationality students in Bournemouth, England. At one point a student asked me if I played an instrument.

I gave him my usual answer: “No, but I’ve always wanted to be able to play the piano.” He smiled at me and asked, “What have you done to make your dream come true?”

I was slightly stunned by this question. Not only did I realize I had done nothing, but I hadn’t really thought of it as a dream before; I just thought it was something that I’d quite like to do, if only I could.

But it was a dream. It had come back to me again and again. Why hadn’t I done something about it? Why couldn’t I do it? What was stopping me?

I would like to be able to tell you that I ran home and found myself a teacher right away, but I didn’t.

It wasn’t until a few months later that I finally went for it. I was writing a list of all the things I’d like to start doing in my free time and again, piano lessons were on my list. My student’s words rang in my ears: “What have you done to make your dream come true?”

“Right! That’s it!” I thought. Turning to my trusty friend, Google, I did a search on “piano teachers in Bournemouth” and found one who lived five minutes from my flat.

What’s more, she gave free trial lessons. I had nothing to lose. I emailed her right away and booked a lesson for later that week.

Eight months and a few “good job” stickers later, I am quite amazed by how much I’ve learned in such a short space of time. But one question still bothers me: Why did it take me so long?

It wasn’t the money; I could have had free lessons in Italy. It wasn’t a lack of a good teacher; I hadn’t even tried to look for one before. When I finally did, she lived a stone’s throw away from my flat.

What it really boiled down to was this: I was scared.

I was scared that I wouldn’t be good enough, posh enough, young enough, confident enough, and Lord-knows-what-else enough to learn how to play a musical instrument. People like me just didn’t do that sort of thing.

How many of us do this? How many people put off doing the things we want to do through fear of failure or being ridiculed?

What was the worst thing that could have happened? I would have been a rubbish piano player, that’s all. And only my teacher would have known.

Why do we do it? Why are we so afraid of stepping out of our comfort zone?

Because that’s just what it is. It’s comforting; we know what’s going to happen. There’s minimal stress involved; we’re safe.

We’re also most probably, bored rigid. Staying in our comfort zone doesn’t allow us to grow into the people we were meant to be.

Why is it so important to do that thing you’ve always wanted to do?

Learning to play an instrument is hard, but not as hard as I thought it would be. Seeing that you have the ability to do something that you didn’t think possible helps to boost your confidence and leads you to think, “Hang on a minute; what else could I do?”

Nowadays, I’m busy taking my first baby steps toward self-employment and getting my writing out to the world. I’m fully invested in going for my dream.

While that’s not entirely because of the piano lessons, they have helped give me the confidence to see that I can do whatever I put my mind to.

It’s never too late (except that sometimes, it kind of is).

I was originally going to title this post something like “It’s never too late to…” but then I realized that’s not entirely true.

The truth is, none of us know how long we have, or what condition our health will be in if we do reach old age.

You never know when the chance will pass you by completely.

And while I’m happy with my progress, as I practice my latest masterpiece in the hope of another sticker, I can’t help but wonder what I could be playing by now if I’d started earlier.

So my message is simple: Whatever you want to do, go for it, whether it’s pottery, rock-climbing, tap dancing, or knitting.

Think of the worst thing that could happen, which will probably be that you’ll be no good.

So what?

You have everything to gain and nothing to lose.

There’s no reason not to go for that thing you’ve always wanted to do.

Photo by Alex Indigo

About Louise Watson

Louise Watson is a meditation teacher and writer who offers a range of classes designed to meet different needs, lifestyles and locations. Her classes are mainly taught over Skype and include a variety of techniques, ensuring you find a practice that works for you.You can find out more and read her words of wisdom at www.louisemwatson.com.

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  • lv2terp

    Inspiring post, and congratulations!! I also just fulfilled my dream of leaening the piano this year!! 🙂 Thank you for sharing your story, such an important message!!! 🙂

  • Kiki

    I love this post I’m 23 and always wanted to pursue acting I’m starting late and I have a child but I don’t want that to stop from doing what I always wanted to plus I want to show my little girl that no matter what always follow your dreams

  • venusbu03

    What a great story! And so relate-able. This was totally me and rock climbing! When I’d go hiking and see guys climbing (there were never girls), I’d watch in wonder from afar. I’d stare at the pictures and videos thinking “I wish I could try that some day.” About 7 years ago, I finally went to a rock climbing gym. But after trying to climb one, maybe two routes, I got uncomfortable and left. I panicked. Same thing happened one year ago. After all, I’m not a rock climber. I have no upper body strength, and more to the point, I’m not that bad-ass. Rock climbers are bad ass!

    Then about 4 months ago, I decided that I was going back and that I was going to go once a week for two months. If I didn’t like it, then I could stop. Of course, I LOVE it. It is as awesome as I imagined and I’ve gotten significantly better in a very short time. I’ve also made some great friends who I wouldn’t have met otherwise. I just needed to accept the intimidation factor, accept that I’d be uncomfortable, and try it anyway. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

    Congrats to you on pursuing your dream!

  • Last week I completed a list of 101 things in 1001 days, a lot of silly tasks included to be sure, but it got me out of my comfort zone and built my confidence tremendously. One of the things on my list was to re-learn a song on the guitar that I had learned as a teen thirty years earlier. I am not musically talented, and it was hard for me, but I stuck with it, and I eventually posted a video of my playing it. In the post, I wrote about how I had really wanted to be able to “just play,” which to me meant strumming rock songs, but I didn’t have any talent for that, then or now. I finally realized, though, that it wasn’t enough to just cross that one song off my list. This week, I’ve watched a YouTube video on how to play “Let It Be.” There are mainly just four chords, and I am already getting the hang of it. I am going to work through some songs on my own, and I am really amazed by how “easy” it can be to get started and do the thing that I’ve avoided doing for 30 years. Congratulations to you on the piano! This was an inspiring post.

  • Dea

    This is just the story I’d like to read, as if it was written to answer all my doubts. I may not have a dream to be able to play the piano (or any other musical instruments), but I do have that thing that keeps staying in my head, urging me to do it. I was scared, but not anymore. Thanks to this post. I am going to do what I love doing and pursue that long life dream.

  • Louise Watson

    Hi Dea. Thanks for reading and for your comments. So glad this post has helped you decide to go for whatever it is you’re planning to do. Good luck!

  • Louise Watson

    Hi Marcy, thanks for sharing your story. Yes, it amazing how long we put things off and then discover that actually it’s not even that hard, and not even the least bit scary. Congrats to you too!

  • Louise Watson

    Hi, thanks for commenting and well done on going back a third time, not sure I’d show so much perseverance!

  • Louise Watson

    Funny you should mention acting, that’s next on my to-do list. Hope it
    goes well!

  • Louise Watson

    Excellent, another piano player! Hope it’s going well Thanks for your comments!

  • Sandra

    Wonderful article! I’ve talked myself out of doing the things I’ve always wanted to do my whole life, thanks to shyness and fear. Your article made this 51 year old woman want to pull out her magic list and run with it! Great read to start of the new year–thank you!

  • Louise Watson

    So glad to hear that Sandra! Have fun working through your list!

  • Ohana de Oliveira

    That’s why I need to go back to my singing lessons o/

  • Navi

    I really enjoyed reading it. Thanks from bottom of my heart, Pls keep writing and enlighten the world.

  • This was an awesomely helpful post, Louise, and funny too! This reminds me of my experience with delaying and then ultimately learning how to drive. I wish I had it to read when I was going through that experience. And thanks for the reminder that at some point it will be too late. Instead of using this knowledge to depress us, I too think it can help to push us to just give what we’ve been putting off a try.

  • Louise Watson

    Hi Varonica, so glad you found it funny. I try to aim for that but you never know…
    Well done on learning to drive, I still haven’t managed that, not through procrastination but because I am a seriously dangerous driver!

  • Happy Chick

    Thank you!

  • Angela Lam Turpin

    Thank you for inspiring me to fulfill my childhood dreams!

  • mdb

    Funny . do not mind sharing why I do not do what that things infact many things that i wanted to do at various times of life known to be by the impulses . ( drugs, killing, rape , driving to death, killing myself etc etc ) i have already done it as paramhansa Yogananda’s master ( kriya yoga fame ) shree Yuketeshwar giri would say . there are many things worth to do but can some one tell me how do i generate the impulse to carry it further . I have tried a lot with will power and perseverance and i have failed miserably and nothing left further. with love happy new year buddha team. God bless you.

  • Liz Roberts

    One word captures your article – awesome! Thanks for the inspiration Louise. May you find much light, love and continued moments of joy in 2014… I know I sure will 🙂 Cheers, Liz

  • dalisay

    Great motivational article! I’ve always wanted to write my to-do list and make things happen! Thank you.

  • Carrie S.

    Thank you for this article. It really resonated with me. For some reason It just dawned on my that at 34 I really have slowed down at reaching for goals like I used to….Instead I reach for my security blanket. I’m hoping 2014 sees me reaching farther than ever before.

  • Louise Watson

    Thanks Liz! Same to you!

  • Louise Watson

    Yeah me too. I kind of put a halt on things for a few years after travelling and am just getting back into the swing of things. Also hoping 2014 is going to be the year I really go for it!

  • Louise Watson

    Thank you dalisay! Glad you enjoyed the post.

  • Louise Watson

    Thank you! Glad you enjoyed the post.