Daring to Dive-In: Overcoming Fear to Unlock Your Unlived Life

If you don’t swim, you can’t drown.

You also don’t get anywhere.

But what if there’s something you want on a small island out in the distance, and there aren’t any boats or other means to get there?

What do you do now?

More often than not, people tend to capitulate to their fear, saying things like,

“It’s not worth it.”

“Nah, I don’t really want it anyway.”

“I have so much already; I should be grateful for what I have.”

They retreat to their status quo and settle for complacency.

But what if a loved one was on that island, and they needed your help? There still aren’t any boats or other means to get there.

What would you do now?

You’d figure out a way.

Whether that be learning to swim, coming up with a plan, studying the tides and the conditions, practicing in shallow water until you built up your endurance, or maybe you would dive in and go for it.

Whatever it may be, you’d find a way to get to that island.

What if your friend desperately needed to get to that island? Again, there are no boats or other means of travel.

What would you do?

You’d figure out a way to help your friend cross.

Now, think about this:

What if what was on that island was the unlived life inside you, clamoring to break free?

What if it was the source of your greatest potential and the purpose, meaning, and fulfillment you yearn for in your second half?

What if it was the writer, painter, composer, artist, teacher, woodworker, entrepreneur, or volunteer you know you’re meant to be?

Are you willing to extend self-love, be the friend you are for your friends, and learn how to cross the distance between you and your unfulfilled dreams?

Sadly, the answer is often “no.”


When we think about giving life to our dreams, we strike our personal edges; we stand in our own way.

It’s not a question of capability; we damn well know we’d figure it out for a loved one, so swimming isn’t the issue; it’s what we make the crossing mean.

If we don’t make it across and complete the journey, we’re a failure, we suck, people will laugh at us, it feels like a proverbial death, and we’ll avoid that at all costs.

We may know how incredible the crossing will be and don’t feel worthy of making the journey; we’ll happily help others but not ourselves.

When we capitulate to our fears, we’re consumed by what lies before us. When we capitulate to our beliefs, we’re consumed by what lies behind us.

We don’t see that we’re already on an island, and each time we run away from fear and cave into our beliefs, our island, our world shrinks.

A remarkable life story doesn’t come from standing on shore; it comes from diving in — and doing the thing.

It flows from one of my favorite quotes,

“The purpose of life is to be defeated by greater and greater things.”

Rainer Maria Rilke

Reinventing my life from scratch after prison taught me the surest path I know to dive in:

Cultivating and embodying self-trust.

Self-trust isn’t the belief that everything will work out okay; we have no way of knowing that.

Self-trust is the deep inherent wisdom that regardless of how our journey works out, we’ll be okay.

If your journey doesn’t work out as you hoped? It will suck, and sting, but only temporarily, and you know you’ll be okay.

Knowing you’ll be okay in the long term is what allows you to take that leap.

The surest path I know to cultivate self-trust is making and keeping commitments to ourselves.

When you make and keep commitments, you become the person who does what they say they are going to do.

You’re the person who takes action.

It’s through this process that you develop trust in yourself.

The funny thing about the crossing, and this happens more often than not, is that at some point, we realize we can touch the bottom.

We may be neck high in water, and it’s still a massive effort, but we won’t drown.

This is how you write your remarkable life story.