“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’.”
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.