3 Things You Need to Stop Doing to Get Started with What You Truly Want to Do

by Henrik Edberg

“What is not started today is never finished tomorrow.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“It is never too late to be what you might have been.”
George Eliot

Getting started with doing what you truly want to do in life can be hard.

No matter if what you want is to start exercising, create your own business on the side, write a book, see other parts of the world or something entirely else.

But often we make getting started a lot harder than it needs to be by standing in our own way.

So in today’s article I’d like to share 3 things you need to stop doing to step out of your own way and make it so much easier to actually get started instead of just keep dreaming about it over the summer.

1. Stop making it a huge and vague thing in your mind.

The more you think about whatever you want to get started with the bigger it tends to become in your head. And as you keep thinking about the various ways this could go it tends to become scarier and scarier.

So do this instead:

  • Get knowledge from the others who have been where you want to go. To defuse vague fears about what could happen if you got started and about the unclear unknown, get information from people who have already gone where you want to go.
    It is easier than ever to find them today. Look them up online and read what they have written and said or send them an email. Or go ask someone you know in real life that has done what you want to do.
  • Ask yourself: Honestly, what is realistically the worst that could happen? Take a couple of deep breaths to calm down your mind a bit. Then ask yourself this question. You’ll realize that in most cases the worst thing that could realistically happen is not that bad. It may sting for a bit. But it is something you can handle. And it is a situation you can find something to do about if this worst case scenario were to happen.
    The clarity you get from this question can – in my experience – reduce worries quite a bit.

2. Stop trying to control everything.

Being prepared and knowing some things certainly helps.

But it can become a trap when you try to control it all or think things through 50 times to be on the safe side and to not risk making mistakes, fail or look like a fool.

What to do instead:

  • Realize: you will stumble and that is OK. It happens to anyone who steps outside of his or her comfort zone. It has happened to everyone you may admire and who have lived a life that is inspiring. It is simply a part of a life well lived. And if you reflect on what you can learn from a mistake then that will be invaluable to help you grow and improve.
  • Learn to set time-limits for small decisions at first. If you have trouble with overthinking then set a time-limit for when you have to make a decision. This might seem a bit scary though. So start small and set a 30-60 second time-limit when trying to decide if you are going to work out or reply to an email. Do that for a while and then move on to slightly bigger decisions. And then even bigger ones after that.

3. Stop thinking that you have to get started in a big and spectacular way.

If you have a big goal or dream or even a medium sized one then it is easy to think that you have to take an action of the same size to get started or to get where you want to go.

That is most often not true though.

What to do instead:

  • Go small. Just ask yourself: what is one small step I can take today to get the ball rolling with my goal/dream? Then take just that small action. And tomorrow or later on today you can do the same thing again. If that question still lands you in procrastination then ask yourself: What is one tiny step I can take to get the ball rolling?
  • Single-task each little step. Focus on just the one step you are taking based on the questions above. Nothing else. Otherwise it is easy to get lost in thought, to go off track or to feel uncomfortable or a bit of fear. So keep your attention on just this one action and step forward. And after that, the next one. Let these actions build day after day into something bigger. And before you know it you’ll have gone quite a distance on your journey.

Image by Susanne Nilsson (license).



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{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

Kemi June 12, 2014 at 8:07 pm

Very helpful

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D June 12, 2014 at 8:24 pm

I am a dreamer/planner – I love the excitement of a big idea and the set up, but I am one of those people that very easily gets frustrated with the details and obstacles that come later. As I’m sure you can imagine, this has caused quite a bit of unrest in my life – and tons of unfinished projects.

As of yesterday, I became committed to something I’ve let languish for YEARS, because every time I tried to do something about it I would get hit with an obstacle and would not go much further than the initial ‘idea’ or research. So this morning I did some brainstorming and broke things down into steps, setting this whole process up as a problem solving experiment rather than one huge vague goal that would happen ‘some time in the future’. It’s already difficult, but I figure if I do work on one step a day, it’s far better than doing nothing. I know I can do this and surmount it, I just have to actually…do the work!

Thanks again for this. I always enjoy reading your articles, especially during my lunch break when I have a moment for real introspection. I love what you’re doing here! Keep it up!

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Bryan Carmack June 14, 2014 at 3:46 am

I am exactly the same way… if the task doesnt end up being as straight-forward, rewarding, or efficient as I imagined in the planning, I wont stay commited (and shift the blame to how “things just didnt work out”.

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Anonymous June 12, 2014 at 8:46 pm

This is really good..

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Sebastian Aiden Daniels June 12, 2014 at 9:03 pm

“What is not started today is never finished tomorrow.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

This quote is so true. The last step resonated the most with me. If you don’t take the baby steps towards a goal and are worrying about the main goal then you will never get started or just quit once you do. Enjoy the process.

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Peter Robert June 12, 2014 at 9:49 pm

I really interesting in you article and I hope you could sent me more and to learn from them.

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Sarah Reid June 12, 2014 at 9:57 pm

Awesome as usual.I will save this and read it everyday for a while.Thank you!!

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Shirley June 12, 2014 at 10:49 pm

This is an AWESOME Blog. I always look forward to what Henrik is going to share next that I am able to use and share with friends.

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Diana Marinova June 12, 2014 at 11:03 pm

This post is so timely for me, Henrik – I hear what you say with trying to control everything and trying to start in a big and spectacular way – hahaha, that’s me!

I am becoming better though – i am almost done with my rough draft of my first book (i’ve been dreading writing it for 2 years now and just in 3 months – there, i have a draft!).

How come we know all these tips and yet – we fail to follow them? They are so simple, so effective, and so hard to stick to them most times…

thanks for the reminder and the great tips!

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Diane June 12, 2014 at 11:34 pm

Henrik, you nailed it in this article – no movement, no action and definetly no progress. Having goals is important but if you don’t take action then the goals are just words on a paper waiting to come alive.

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Melissa June 12, 2014 at 11:47 pm

Thank you Henrik for your inspiration. I always look forward to each of your posts. You are a blessing.

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Joan June 13, 2014 at 1:14 am

This is on par with what is going on in my life right now. I’ve been out of work due to my mental state. I have gotten better. Still some thoughts plague me, but that’s ok, I can’t go back now, with all that I learned. I can only go forward.

So I was overwhelmed with the thought of networking with people. But I did some research, digging learned some stuff and now I have 3 meetings scheduled within the week and I’m so happy that I did it. I still don’t know what I’ll say at these meetings but that’s ok, it will be alright, I’ll figure it out somehow.

Oh, and just to let you know, I want a good job this time, pays really well, I have the credentials. But my life experience thus far has taught me to think small, so its hard.

I heard of a phrase sometime back about how we only know what we know by experience. That we must step out of the regular, and just go and not trust just what we have experienced. Have you heard of something like that? I’m sure it would help many people.

Thanks for the posting, I sure look forward to these emails.

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Larry Hochman June 13, 2014 at 3:09 am

Awesome and brilliant, Henrik. We keep forgetting to do the things that are so obvious to others…like take small bites and chill out. :)

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nirmal June 13, 2014 at 4:15 am

henrik,
appropriate post at appropriate time, thanks

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Hari Prasad June 13, 2014 at 6:43 am

Hi Henrik,
The Newsletter which you have shared is very helpful in overcoming almost any difficulties or obstacles in life.Its makes me feel AAAHHH(some kind of Relief) from inside.I hope i visit sweden once just to meet you in person and thank you for taking up such useful content to help people in need.

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Rahul Upase June 13, 2014 at 12:21 pm

Very Informative article.

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Pamela DeNeuve June 13, 2014 at 4:30 pm

Henrik,

Thank you for another inspiring post. I loved the focus on things that we need to STOP doing in order to begin what we really want to do.

The points that resonated with me most was number one and three. I tend to think big and vague. When my focus is on making a goal or a project bigger and better, as you stated in number one, I can get lost in the creation stage and lose momentum and focus. Number three points out that the best way to begin is small with a single step.

I am about to embark upon an important new project and I will keep this post to the forefront of my mind.

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Adane wondie June 13, 2014 at 8:26 pm

Dear Henrik,
Wonderful job! You are an agent of change and you are making a difference. Thank you. Keep it up!

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Barbara June 13, 2014 at 8:49 pm

Yes! This is exactly what I needed to hear today…..I was doing well– but fell off the track about a week ago– now I will focus daily — even if it is simply a small task……..

Thanks so much! Goals and action!

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kevin June 13, 2014 at 9:27 pm

Very helpful for me. Thanks!

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Pierre June 14, 2014 at 10:29 am

I started in a big spectacular way! I failed flat. Some one called it baby step.. That’s the way to do big things.

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Alicia June 14, 2014 at 12:19 pm

Loved the article! All your articles really are truly inspirational. In my case, it has helped me a lot to print the articles and to keep them in a folder to read over and over again. I am finding an improvement in my approach to daily leaving. Thank you and God bless!

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Thiago Sanches June 15, 2014 at 7:54 am

This post was surgical for my projects. thank you very much!!! :)

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Chas June 15, 2014 at 8:32 am

It is never too late to be what you might have been. ~Unattributed saying c. 1881 that likely evolved from Adelaide Anne Procter’s poem containing the line “We always may be what we might have been”; sometimes also quoted as “It is never too late to be who you might have been” and mistakenly attributed to George Eliot.

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Gloria June 16, 2014 at 12:46 am

Gloria Law, June 15, 2014
Thanks Henrik. All your inspirational words helping me a lot and help many other people in this world. Thanks always, now and forever.
My Twitter: GloriaLaw@GloriaLaw3

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Jocelyn A. Fernandez June 16, 2014 at 1:59 pm

Dear Henrik,

Thank you. You have given me idea on how I can start a fruitful life. Your suggestions are attainable and realistic.

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Henrik Edberg June 16, 2014 at 3:06 pm

Thank you everyone for sharing your own insights about getting started and for your kind words!

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Nadine June 18, 2014 at 7:37 pm

Oh yes! I can really relate to this. I have to think it through, analyse, think again, analyse, start writing, rethink, edit and so on never being satisfied with what I have written so it never gets posted because its never what I envisaged at the beginning.

I keep telling myself “action” not “analysis” but I guess the perfectionist in me won’t let go .

Thank you for your inspirational words. I will start small, not worry about perfection and move ahead day by day.

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Jack June 20, 2014 at 7:45 am

3 points but very well cover the lot. Thanks for sharing, now need to get started.

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werena carsetti June 21, 2014 at 9:56 pm

That is a truely great article. I have recently written about how to change your life enirely after your own will. I really agree with many points that you bring up here! I will stay following!

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annoynimous June 22, 2014 at 5:02 pm

Its truely nice and encouraging,i would also like to know how to control obsessive thoughts about incidents of the past or failures of the past that may effect our future badly even if we trying to do something good at present?It will be a lot of help to me.thanks a lot

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yodi June 23, 2014 at 2:13 am

It’s always inspiring to read something like this to start jumpstart my morning. Thanks.

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jessica June 23, 2014 at 1:42 pm

Hello,

everybody should live for something and make everything he can for achieve his dreams:)

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James June 25, 2014 at 12:56 am

I think starting small with any goal has been a huge improvement in my productivity. BJ Fogg writes about this in his habit change model. Start by making the change so small that you can’t help but do it. I finally started using a daily planner (http://www.apolloplanner.com/) and I was able to make it a habit by starting small. So small I couldn’t say no.

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Daniel McKenna July 3, 2014 at 4:56 am

I loved the focus on chunking down, if you’re like me and have huge visions. The biggest roadblock for me was (and still is, to an extent) being able to distill my vision into something that I can do now, something that is so small that I can’t fail.

Something else to ponder though, what about the people who are too caught up in the fine-print? What I mean by this, is what would you guys recommend for somebody who is so caught up in the details that they get paralyzed, and even lack motivation?

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rene July 9, 2014 at 1:17 am

You’re an amazing young man. I’m much older but you’re much wiser. I am learning from your wisdom and I’m thankful I went searching for help today and found your site. Thank you so very much.

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Lucas Goossens July 12, 2014 at 7:00 pm

You GOTTA catch yourself when thinking negatively, and switch it to POSITIVE thinking :) I realized this and started making jewelry that reminds the wearer maintain healthy brainwaves… a.k.a positive vibes! Yay positivity! It helped me find my life path, and now I try to spread the word to others through beautiful shiny LucasPlus jewels, 3D printed by Shapeways.com

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Edmund July 13, 2014 at 3:59 pm

Taking consistent action and learning from my mistakes is another thing that has helped me to stay on track on my goals. Most importantly, don’t procrastinate. Otherwise, you will not achieve your goals even if you want to.

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Kris July 19, 2014 at 5:56 pm

Many times we all just get so overwhelmed with information coming at us from all directions that we just stall. We spend so much time searching for answers, waiting for the perfect time, and pretty much become totally overloaded and shut down. At least that’s what I have been guilty of. I’m one of those people who used to think everything had to be perfect and if I couldn’t make it perfect than I wouldn’t even bother. Over the years I’ve learned to just relax, take things in baby steps and just breathe. There’s nothing wrong with planning out your goals and going after them but it’s a process. Baby steps!

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