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.

  • Hi,
    Very inspiring post (as usual)!
    Best Regards
    Classier Corn

  • I really like the tip about finding your own motivation and reasons for going after a goal rather than somebody else’s reasons. I think that this would be a great way for college students to look at their education in another way in case they were pushed by everybody else to attend. It would certainly help them get through the campus years in a more positive way.

  • That’s true though, it’s best to take it easy and start in small steps. If you overwhelm yourself, it might be a case of too much too soon, and you’ll end up giving up before it even officially begun.

  • Great content here as usual. You’re right, just start out with 5 or 10 minutes and before you know it you have no problem with 20, 30…. soon you’ve developed a good new habit and you’re rolling. Baby steps right?

  • I use this question to test my motivation;

    ‘Will it be still important for me in 5 years?”

    If no, than it is not my heart, but somebody else idea. But it happens, that the answer is yes and then I do it with new fresh inspiration from the future!

    About the small steps, I cannot agree more. When I restarted jogging and swimming after some break, I do it only for 15 minutes, with an increment of 10 percent every week. I found that this the best for my body and mind.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Hi Henrik

    Thanks for this useful tips. I could not agree more, We do not need to change al lour habits at once. Starting small is the best. I sometimes have tried changing everything at once and it does not work. You get too overwhelmed. I believe starting small and increase the time you do something or increase the new habits or things you want to change is teh best.

    Finding the big “why” of the things you want to do is very important. Not only you will know why you do it, but knowing the why will help you staying committed. You said it right, it needs to be your own why otehrwise you are living someone else’s live and you wil not stay committed to it.
    Thank you

  • Henrik,

    I like these tips! I have also realized, that when you get started with a task, you just keep doing it and it is hard to stop once you get the ball rolling :)

    If I’m having issues of getting started, I also try to focus on the feeling I have after finishing a task – the good feeling.

    You just feel good about yourself of taking action and that could be one way to to tackle the obstacles of not getting started.


  • Thank you for all your helpful and kind comments, guys! You add so much good, positive and useful stuff to these articles. :)

  • darren

    Sometimes, I think of a series of positive things one after another. They just build momentum and my mood changes into one that is more appropriate for real action. That definitely helps to get going – however, emotional slumps can happen for very serious reasons. Afterwards, these episodes definitely need to be re-visited, some things can be learnt from the re-visit too. Not a good idea to attempt the debrief in the middle of one!! But a man learns more from his failures than his successes..

  • I absolutely love your blogs… keep them coming ;) Namaste <3

  • I like the blog. I have my own blog where I keep track of inspiring stories from all the different backgrounds. I mix it with travel stories and other fun diversions..

  • I love the section titled “Ask yourself: What is the worst that could happen?” I first heard about this idea about 6 years ago while listening to the audio cd “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living”. To be honest it’s the only tip I remember from that book. I always ask myself “What’s the worst thing that can happen?” And like you said “You won’t die or anything. And it won’t ruin the rest of your life.” is always the answer. It makes taking on anything big or small much easier. Thanks for a great post!

  • When writing a book, the first page is always the hardest. A blog post, the first paragraph.

    Knowing that after getting over the first little hard part, things become a lot easier, is a great motivator to getting myself going.

  • I have experienced wanting to do something before and got that ” stuck” feeling where I couldn’t move forward.

    I found the culprit to be a limiting subconscious belief that had kept me from moving forward. Once the limiting belief is gone it is much easier to achieve that which I desire.

  • Nice. What I usually is that I let my passion be for a couple of days. If it doesn’t fade, I move on. If it fades away, its gone!

    In the end, it’s all about the motivation!