How to Get Started Today: 3 Very Simple Things That Work for Me

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“The tragedy of life is not that it ends so soon, but that we wait so long to begin it.”
W. M Lewis

“How soon ‘not now’ becomes ‘never’.”
Martin Luther

I love getting started with a new habit or project. There is excitement and a certain freshness ahead of you as you are about to get going.

But sometimes it stops there. At about to get going. Because “you don’t have the time”. Or it’s “not the right time right now”.

I have whole chapters on how I establish new habits, keep up the motivation after that initial enthusiasm perhaps has started to wane and on how to become more of a person of action in The Art of Relaxed Productivity.

But today I would like to share just three tips for that first, crucial step. Three steps that have worked for me over and over to get started with something and to grow.

Ask yourself: Do I really want this?

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.

But you don’t always have to have a burning desire to do something to get going. I have begun something many, many times  just because I was curious. If you are curious but feel an inner resistance then the next two tips will be helpful.

Ask yourself: What is the worst that could happen?

If you feel like you can’t get started for some reason then 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 realistic 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 then most often realize that whatever your fear is you could probably get back on your feet and back to your normal life pretty quickly once again.

Start the easy way.

If it feels like too big of an effort in your mind then you’ll come up with all kinds of reasons to not get started.

So start easy. Take a small step into something new.

  • Go out running for just 10 minutes. Instead of running for 45 minutes. Or run for just 5 minutes and walk for 5 minutes. The important thing is to make the habit stick and you do that by actually doing it a whole bunch of times. Then you can slowly, step by step, increase the amount of time you spend running each time you are out.
  • Work on something new for just 10 minutes. If you feel reluctant to starting with something new then commit to start doing actual work – not more planning or preparation – for just 10 minutes. Or for 5 minutes if 10 seems too much. Then do just 5 or 10 minutes of work on the new thing each day. After you have gotten started you will however often just continue working after those first few minutes minutes are up.

Getting started is often the hardest part so make it easy on yourself by initially setting the bar as low as you are comfortable with.

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About the Author

Henrik Edberg is the creator of the Positivity Blog and has written weekly articles here since 2006. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Gothenburg and has been featured on Lifehacker, HuffPost and Paulo Coelho’s blog. Click here to learn more…

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Jon

    The idea of time and how important it is in relation to the project is very important. I like some of your ideas about breaking a task up.

  • Thanks Henrik!

    What works well for me is to focus upon the end result: ‘Start with the end in mind!’ Usually, thinking about what you have to do is much easier than actually doing it. Instead of thinking about how much work something will be, how annoying it will be to do that work, etc. I try to see a lively image of the end result. The clearer that picture is, the easier it will be to start and the more excited I get!

  • Asking the question: Do I really want this? Really puts things in perspective. To often we do things just to please others, and we usually go about it with little or no passion. Great post!

  • WOW! This really strikes a chord with me right now! I started my bucket list blog a few weeks ago (please have a look and let me know what you think). I did it after clearing out my Dad’s house (I lost him earlier this year)..

    It was a horrible task, but passing most of his furniture, books and clothing to charities, and having to throw 8 car loads of papers, curtains, fittings, and nick-nacks into the refuse waste tip made me realise something that we tend to forget-that it’s not the possessions you accumulate or leave behind in life which are of value… It is the memories!

    …Why else are things of sentimental value so priceless, whilst insurance can take care of everything else we own in life? The only real heirlooms that my Dad left me were the ones that had sentimental memories attached to them, like photographs and a few paintings and ornaments. Maybe I will be lucky enough to leave some priceless heirlooms to the ones I love, but in the mean time, I wanted to focus on fulfilling all of my ambitions one at a time, starting with creating my list ( ) site to serve as a virtual scrap book of memories, ambitions, dreams and LIFE so that I can leave something truly priceless as my legacy for my loved ones!

    So far this year, I have been to my first music festival, taken all of my kids to Disney, Visited Las Vegas, Eaten at a restaurant I have always wanted to try, jumped out of a plane to do a charity sky dive and completed a wing walk! Life isn’t a rehearsal, and you have to let go of the little stuff that wont matter one year from now and enjoy or at least accept every moment as if you had chosen it.

    I found that the worst experiences of my life so far-have also offered me the greatest gifts as lessons.

  • I like your idea about doing work than spending more time on planning. Thumbs up!

  • Hi I once heard someone say do something by 2 degrees, in other words do something little to get started and do it consistantly. All of the two degrees will turn out to be 360 degrees over time. So keep doing the small things they will eventually work to become something big.

  • I always think about the worst case scenario and it helps me be prepared.