Learning By Doing & Getting Back on Track

Did you ever see the Beavis & Butthead episode where they went to jail to be “scared straight”?  For some reason, this episode came to mind when I saw this quote from Eleanor Roosevelt. 

"Do one thing every day that scares you." - Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt is one of my favorite women in history.  There are many reasons, but her caring nature is why I appreciate her so much.  And no, I’m not trying to compare her with Beavis & Butthead.  That’s disrespectful on so many levels!  

One reason I associated the quote with this episode of Beavis & Butthead is due to my 4-H upbringing.  “Learn by doing” was the 4-H Way and the way we did things in our house growing up.  And since I learned this way from an early age, I tend to still live my life by it.  I research new things, but I know I won’t fully learn how to do something without doing it first-hand.  Learning this way has gotten me into trouble a few times, but even so, I try to take something positive from it. Usually, it's a new perspective that I can use to help me relate to new people I meet.  (So back to the connection to Beavis & Butthead ... they had to learn to be better by getting scared in real jail and I have to learn by doing which may get me into trouble. Not usually crazy trouble, but it’s still scary to me.)

So, given this way of learning, the quote from Eleanor Roosevelt stuck with me.  You may think I’m adventurous if I enjoy learning by doing. Well, not really. Yes, I love adventure. Yes, I love trying new things. But only sometimes. Because I prefer a routine. 

Though with routines, I sometimes get stuck. And though it may be a good and productive routine, I get bored and want to test out something I’ve learned. So I add adventure and newness into my process and learn by doing something else. And does it always work? Nope! But that’s all part of trying something that kind of scares and excites me.

So, what happens when I realize a new routine isn’t working? How do I get back on track?

I know I need to do something scary - I have to admit to myself that it didn’t work and likely go back to my prior routine. And because the final step is the scary admission & another change, I ease into it with a few "comforting" steps. And this is a process I go through at least twice a year when my world gets a bit off kilter. So I know it works. For me. 

Comforting Step #1:  I clean or tidy up.  

When my mind is most chaotic (or if I’m frustrated or angry), cleaning or tidying provides a literal “clean slate” for me.  It helps me clear my head knowing that my surroundings are clean and I don't have to worry about it as a potential obstacle.  And since I usually listen to music while I’m doing this, that helps clear my head too. (I 💖 music!) 

Comforting Step #2:  I reread my Ennegram & Kolbe profiles & notes from coaching I’ve done in the past.

When I’m out of my routine, I question my natural tendencies. And I have to remind myself about my strengths and how they benefit me and the others in my life. So going through my Enneagram, Kolbe and notes from coaching always helps. And once I’m done, I immediately move to Step #3. 

Comforting Step #3:  I pull out all my old planners and habit tracking tools.

I'm not sure if this comes from my 4-H Record Book training or my 20+ years as an Human Resources professional, but I hold onto planners for a several years. Since they're a record of what’s happened, I either use them for scrapbooking or to jog my memory of something that happened in the past.

Once I have them out, I sit on the floor and start going through them ... like they’re my high school yearbooks.  I look at how I used the tool, when I stopped using it, what happened to make me stop, etc. I also read some entries and get nostalgic.

And once I finish this, I’m ready to move forward. Onto the scary step.

Comforting Step #4 (or Scared Straight Step #1):  I start immediately.

I call this step the “Scared Straight Step #1” because even though I’ve rebuilt my confidence using the prior 3 comforting steps, depending on what I’m trying to restart, it can be a little scary.  I just had to admit to myself that what I was doing didn’t work and likely will get back to my prior routine. 

So I push my ego & anxiety aside momentarily and use my excitement to get going. And I don't wait for tomorrow, or Monday to start ... I start TODAY.  Even if I'm starting a diet. I find something (even one small thing) to change today so I get started while I have the motivation.

I also print a week’s worth of pages from my favorite planner design and write down today's activities. And tomorrow’s actions too. Then, I remind myself that if I get “off track” again, it’s okay because I’ve reset my routines before with these 4 steps.

"Do one thing every day that scares you." - Eleanor Roosevelt

As you read through this, it may or may not have sounded scary to you. But to someone who likes routine - and also likes to question it & try something new - I get anxious. Luckily, knowing I've done it before & was okay, I am less scared / anxious each time, learning to trust my routines, both the on- & off-track versions.

Funny enough, I do the same with my relationship with God. I stray from attending mass, reading His words, and having regular conversations with Him. So when I start feeling that anxiety, I know I need to reset and get back into my routine. I start attending mass more, I move one of my door rosaries to a new door, I read my #bible app daily and meditate on what I've read. And I have more conversations with Him - either directly or through intercessions of Mary or the Saints.

This is the process that works for me. I get to be adventurous and start something new, which I love. But if I realize it isn't working, I use my 3 steps to get to the "scary" step of starting again and using what worked before.

Did any of this resonate with you? Do you have moments of straying from your routine? How do you get back on track?  I'd love to learn what you do!

Until next time,


P.S. If you sometimes stray from your relationship with God like I do, add a comforting reminder in your home. One of our beautiful door rosaries will not only add this reminder to your day, but also provide you a sense of comfort knowing He is there when you’re ready to talk to Him. And if you’re not Catholic and buy one without a crucifix (which most are made without a crucifix), you don’t have to call it a rosary, you can call yours Comfort Knots

 (Click here to see all Comfort Knots or click the image to be connected directly!)

Comfort Knots Knots of Grace Door Rosary            


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