“The tragedy of life is not that it ends so soon, but that we wait so long to begin it.”
W. M. Lewis
One big problem with trying to improve your life simply is that sometimes you never seem to be able to get started. You say to yourself: There is never really time.
Sometimes that's true. Sometimes you're just procrastinating or postponing for some reason.
There is often quite a bit of inner resistance when trying to get started.
If you have trouble getting started here are at least a few tips you can try. I hope that you'll find them helpful.
1. Choose something you really want.
One reason that you may never seem to get started is because your heart is not in it. If you set a goal but it isn't your goal then it will be hard to achieve or even getting started with it.
If you realize that it's a goal set by people around you – parents, teachers, bosses or society in general – then, when possible, eliminate the goal and set a few goals you would like to achieve.
Or try to find you own motivation and reasons for achieving a goal rather than the ones people around you have set. This could put the goal in different light and suddenly you'll feel a whole lot motivated to get started.
2. Research and make a plan.
Downsides and problems that we imagine before getting started are often just in our heads. They are a bunch of excuses or opinions based on something you heard from someone at one time or another. Do a bit of your own research instead. Read books, do some googling and ask people who have actually been where you want to go.
With a bit of research you can often reduce your inner resistance and anxieties and find more positive benefits in getting started.
After you have done some research and know a bit more about your goal and the road towards it create a plan. Creating a plan, writing down when you have to do this and that can also calm you down and lessen much of the fuzzy anxiety and fear that can hold you back from getting started. With a clearer image of what you can do and how you should go about it a big chunk of your negative feelings will become less powerful.
3. Ask yourself: What is the worst that could happen?
After you have done some research and made a plan you will probably have lessened your fears and anxieties a bit. If you still feel like you can't get started ask yourself: what is the worst that can happen?
A lot of the fear we feel before getting started comes from fuzzy and foggy thoughts about what could happen. But if you actually imagine the worst scenario then it's often not as frightening as you thought. You won't die or anything. And it won't ruin the rest of your life.
Imagine the worst scenario and then try to create a plan how you could get on your feet again if that scenario, against all probability, should happen. You'll probably realize that whatever your fear is you could probably get back on your feet and back to normal life pretty quickly once again.
4. Make it easy on yourself.
You don't have to overcomplicate things. If you do there is bigger chance that you'll give up before what you started becomes a habit.
Making it easier on yourself will make it easier to get started.
So, for instance, instead of buying a membership at the gym that is located 20 minutes away from your house to improve your aneoarobic capacity invest in Stairmaster. And start working out while watching TV, playing videogames or doing some reading.
5. Pump your emotional state.
If you just need a boost in motivation to head down the gym for the first time or try out something new there is a whole bunch of techniques you can use. Some of my favourites are guided mediation cds, changing your physiology to change how you feel and listening to inspirational material. You can find 25 ways to motivate yourself here and even more motivation tips here.
6. Find encouragement and help from other people.
You may for instance find a buddy who also wants to start working out in a gym. So you motivate each other to get going and to continue that habit.
I think this can become an excuse though. If you don't have friend that wants to start working out with you don't let that stand in your way.
You can find motivation from others in other places. Start reading workout blogs and get involved in that community. Or start a blog of your own. Or start participating in a forum or two to find the support and help you may need.
7. Just do it.
If you are sitting around just procrastinating day in and day out just stop over-thinking. Shut off you brain. Just put on your clothes – or sit down at the phone, computer or wherever you need to be – and go and just do it. When our thoughts and feelings and constantly holding us back then I think that you sometimes just need to stop listening to them and take action.
This is easy to say of course. It's a bit harder to do and to develop into a consistent habit. But it is possible. Thinking has its place but it isn't action. No matter how much you think you still need to take action. Developing a just do it habit can make taking action easier and will stop you from wasting a lot of time going over different scenarios – that are mostly negative – over and over in your head.
Just getting going and doing something even if your thoughts and feelings want to hold you back becomes easier if you have small list of positive benefits in your mind or on a piece of paper. Then you know why you should go even if you don't feel like it and are having negative and self-defeating thoughts and feelings at the moment.
And if you think back to the times in past when you first felt hesitant you may remember that those negative feelings pretty quickly were replaced with more positive ones. And you were happy that you got started. It's pretty likely that the same thing will happen this time too.
8. Learn about time management.
If your troubles getting started actually just are based in a lack of time have a look at these 6 Questions to Help You Free Up Time. Or check out this article on the 7 Habits of Highly Ineffective People. Hopefully you'll find a few tips that can help you manage your time better and finally get started with that thing you've been wanting to do for some time now.
Comments on this entry are closed.
Starting is definitely the most important part of any plan.
Lots of people “want” to be something. I always ask, are they “willing” to achieve it. Success is knowing the difference between wanting to and willing to.
Number 7 is what worked the best for me…I’ve been away from the gym for a long time and finding it hard to get back into it. So I forced myself to do a ten minute session, and after that, it’s just easier and easier to get into the gym.
Good stuff, as always!
Modern personal development, entwined with ancient spirituality.
#2 Should come with a caveat though – you can’t research forever! Sometimes we can get so wrapped up with reasearching, considering, thinking, reading etc, that we talk ourselves out of doing! There has to be a limit to such activity, valuable as it is, because sooner or later you have to take the leap of faith to #7 and Just Do It!
Kate is right: #2 should include a caveat. Researchng can turn into analysis paralysis! You can get stuck researching and planning, all the while feeling like you are making progress but you may be simply masking your procrastination.
I agree with the overthinking and the negativity part but I also find that spending some time thinking out of someone else’s shoes and thereby utilizing compassion allied with realizing ones own blessings in relationship is a good habit for creating the start habit. Both fear and procrastination come from a state of selfishness and the more we become open to understanding as connected entities, the refreshing and renewing energy is one more way I think of motivating the living a smart life gene.
Thank you everyone for your great comments.
Albert: I’ve had the same experience with working out. You just need to just go and do it for a few minutes and it becomes easier and easier.
Kate and T. Dorsey: I totally agree. You should never let research trap you into the devious analysis paralysis. At some point you just need to do #7 and just go do it.
Yes Henrik I agree with you, #7 is definitely a good point because you can do 100% perfect for the above but if you didn’t go and take action. It means nothing.
So just do it!
8 tips for getting started out of which 7 come down to procrastination or excuses to not start or pretend that you have started.
No.#7 – oooh yes !!
JUST DO IT – HAVE A GOAL !!!
â€œObstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal. â€
AND WITH DREAMS AND DEDICATION – you have a powerful combination.