One of the biggest fears we all have is the fear of making mistakes. We are terrified of doing something incorrectly and looking stupid as a result. This is why most men are scared to ask out women, why so many are scared to start their dream business, and why so many don’t get to the gym for the first time or start the diet they know they need to.

I’m sure you already know this, but I’m going to remind you again. Any mistake you make while learning something new is orders of magnitude less than the mistake of not getting started.

Let’s look at the long-term impact of starting something new versus not starting at all. We’ll use going to the gym for the first time as an example.

The effects that result from not taking action are obvious. You stay overweight, out of shape, and will have a shorter life as a result. The evidence is quite clear on this. Without physical activity, your life will be shorter and the years you have will be worse.

What are the effects of going to the gym for the first time? You face your fears and walk into an environment surrounded by people you feel you can’t relate to and equipment that is completely foreign. I’m not going to tell you some nonsense about how everyone is there for the same reason, blah, blah, blah. We both know that doesn’t work.

Going to the gym for the first time is a terrifying experience. There’s no getting around it.

You will probably end up doing the activity that looks least threatening. This will likely be hopping on the treadmill or some other cardio equipment. Perfect. You’ve discovered one “safe space” in the gym. First lesson complete.

While you are doing your cardio, you can watch everyone else in the gym. Notice what they are doing and try to figure out who’s worth watching and who’s just trying to pick up chicks. Once you’ve got a sense of that, you’ve learned your second lesson. Some people are worth paying attention to and learning from and some aren’t.

Maybe that’s all you do on your first visit. You do a little cardio and get a sense of what being in the gym is like. Was it the best workout ever done? Not even close, but it doesn’t matter. You’re now moving in the right direction instead of letting your fears hold you back.

For the first few weeks, you might do exactly the same thing. You do your cardio and you watch everyone else. Eventually, you’ll build the confidence and knowledge to try some machines or free weights. They will feel strange and awkward, but you will improve at this skill as well.

As your confidence grows you’ll try more and more new things and eventually, you’ll be as comfortable at the gym as you are at home. 

Years later, you’re in great shape, know exactly what your next workout is going to look like before you even get to the gym, and you’re going to have better and longer life as a result.

Was your education comfortable? Nope. Did you sometimes make a fool of yourself? Yes. Does anyone but you remember those moments? Not a chance. Are you a better person because you faced your fears and took action? Without question.

Starting anything new and making mistakes is scary. It’s scary for everyone. But making mistakes while you’re learning is not a bad thing. It’s just learning.

The real mistake is never getting started and settling for a lesser life because your fears held you back.

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Make them frequently and make them big. You’ll learn more that way and your life will be better as a result.

Not starting is the only mistake you ever need to worry about.