Getting started is hard work, but you have the right intentions.
Maybe this sounds familiar:
- You want to get fit, but you never use your gym membership
- You want to meditate, but you never seem to find the time
- You want to write a book, but you never sit down to write
You know the benefits. You can even smell the rewards. Heck, you might even have tried it before.
But then life happens and throws you out the deep end.
Why is getting started so damn hard? And what can we do to push through the initial resistance?
Why you never start
In one word: fear.
Fear of looking dumb. Fear of failure. Fear of success.
Fear expresses itself in many ways: procrastination, overwhelm, or the good-old “I don’t have the time”.
Beliefs about your ability also hold you back. Mindsets can limit your vision and willingness to act. Changing your mindset helps you get started with something new, and is an investment well worth making.
Just make sure you’re kind to yourself in the process.
Remember the why
Before you begin a new project, ask yourself: why am I doing this?
Many times, you won’t start something because there is simply not enough motivation for you to do it. Your brain is smart and lazy, it will save energy at every turn.
Find your why: it serves as important fuel.
Once you have a strong why, and a growth mindset, here are four steps you can take to get your project off the ground.
1. What do you need?
Do not overlook this simple question. Ask yourself:
- What tools do I need to get the job done?
- What do I need to learn?
- Where can I learn it, and from whom?
Get your gear in order. Some tools will be free, others will cost. It’s never been a better time to learn. Both free and paid resources are available at your fingertips. Take advantage of them.
We often need less than we think. To meditate, all you need to get started is a tape and 3 minutes. Did I tell you it doesn’t cost you a dime?
Avoid the mistake of choosing between tools. Choose one, and see if it works for you.
Once you have what you need, it’s time for the next step.
2. When will you do it?
Set a deadline. Fill in the gap:
I will have this done by _____ .
A deadline forces you to act and sets the project in motion. Without a timeline, your project ends up in the “Someday/Maybe” pile. And that pile usually means never!
For an extra push, give yourself less time. A strict time restraint pushes you to become more productive and focus your attention on the task at hand.
3. Who will you tell?
Find someone who can hold you accountable.
It can be anyone, but some people are better suited for this task. Mums perform well in this department, but you may or may not want to include them in your project. I leave that decision with you.
Lawyers and accountants, in my experience, do a pretty good job at it, too.
Bottom line: The more important the project is for you, the more essential it is that you choose someone you don’t want to let down. It can be your partner, your child, your friend, or your mum.
To balance the scales, find your own cheerleader: someone who can cheer you on when things get tough.
These people will help you believe in yourself when your confidence is low. They’ll also remind you why you got started in the first place, and can therefore serve as much-needed fuel for the journey.
Appreciate both types: both the accountability partner, and the cheerleader each play their role.
4. How will you celebrate?
Here’s a trick: Choose how to celebrate before you start the project.
It gives your brain an incentive to get started, and perhaps more important, to finish it off.
This is not the time to be hard on yourself. Choose a reward that stands in relation to the size of the project, and make sure you get the reward in the end.
If you forget to celebrate, you’re teaching your brain to ignore any potential future rewards and thereby lowering your chances of actually getting started.
Key takeaways for getting started
To wrap up, here are the stages we’ve discussed in this post:
- Fear keeps you from getting started.
Changing your mindset, breaking down your tasks, and being kind to yourself can help you overcome your fears.
- The stronger the why, the easier the how.
A weak why won’t be enough fuel for you to get started. Dig for a deeper why!
- Get your gear in order.
Make sure you have the right tools, resources and training to kick your project off the ground.
- Set a deadline.
Without a clear timeline, your brain will automatically procrastinate. Create a fake deadline if you have to.
- Find an accountability partner, and a cheerleader.
An accountability partner helps you stay committed to your project. A cheerleader gives you the support and encouragement we all need to keep going.
- Pat yourself on the pat, and give yourself a treat!
You are way to hard on yourself. What do you do to give yourself a reward?
Over to you
What projects do you want to start this year? What’s holding you back? Let us know in the comments. Both accountability partners and cheerleaders are welcome!
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