Last week I signed up to participate in a 3-month decluttering course. Although I’ve done plenty of decluttering in the past few years, I’ve not had a decent cull for about a year. The truth is it’s so easy to put it off. And this is true for any project or goal you want in life. The doing is not always the hard part. It’s the starting that can get you stuck.
Every single essay or assignment I wrote in my 10 years at university began the same way. “Ugh, why do I have to do this!” or “It’s too hard, I’ll start tomorrow”. The starting bit, the getting off the blocks was always the hardest part. But once I started, and the flow began, it didn’t seem like a chore anymore.
It was also like this when I knew I needed to make exercise a habit over a decade ago. I knew I needed something that I would enjoy and stick to. I decided to give running a go but starting was the hard part. I’m sure I put off starting for several months before finally tying up my laces.
And even after 14 years of consistent running, it’s still the starting, the heading out the door that’s the hardest bit. But once I’m out, sunshine or rain, I enter the flow and wonder why it took me so damn long to start in the first place!
Why we get stuck
We struggle with starting due to many things, but the biggest by far is fear. Fear of failing at whatever it is we desire to do keeps us stuck at the starting line.
And sometimes this fear has already driven us to make a prediction that we will fail, so why bother starting.
The problem is, if we consistently live our lives stuck at the starting blocks, we won’t achieve anything. We won’t make the changes we need to. And we won’t grow.
Sure, starting can be uncomfortable. We have to go head to head with the fears that keep us stuck. And that’s scary! But once we start and gain a little momentum, or get in the flow, we are usually pleasantly surprised at the results.
You might be at the starting line of a new healthy eating regime, or perhaps like me, you are needing to embark on a big decluttering mission! Whatever it is, you just have to push off and go.
8 Tips if you are stuck at the starting line.
- Figure out why you are stuck. The first thing you need to do is to figure out why you are stuck. What’s keeping you from taking your first step? Is it fear or something else? (And yes, sometimes it can be just pure laziness :p). Knowing why you are stuck is a tangible step to becoming unstuck.
- Figure out why you want to do xyz. Understanding your why for anything you do is important. Why do you want to start eating better? Is it to lower your cholesterol? Or fit back into those skinny jeans hiding in the back of your closet? (Identifying your why might help you decide if you even need to be at the starting line!)
- Visualise your life with xyz done. How will you feel? What will it mean for you to have this thing done (or at least started)? Imagine your life with this goal complete. This type of visualization is motivating and can nudge you closer to your first step forward.
- Make a plan. Sometimes, with more complex goals, the starting point isn’t always clear, You could do this, or that. But which step is the right step! Get clear on what your first step is. Write it down.
- Be accountable. Sometimes all we need is some accountability. There have been many times I’ve wanting to start something and kept it to myself. But as soon as I tell a friend, and know that the next coffee date will include questions about xyz, I’m much more inclined to step off the starting blocks.
- Put failure into perspective. If your main reason for being stuck is fear, take some time to put that fear into perspective. Will you really fail? Will the failure be that bad? Are you risking your home and livelihood? Or your reputation? Of course, if there is a lot at stake this will be difficult. But there’s also a good chance you’ve overestimated the negative consequences of your perceived failure.
- Warm up (but not for too long). Most good runners will perform some sort of warm-up before a race. It helps prepare their body for what’s about to happen. You need to do the same. Good preparation keeps failure on the sidelines and makes success much more likely. I did a fair amount of preparation before I sat down and wrote the first sentence of the first chapter of the book I’m writing. It gave me the confidence I needed to get off the blocks. But I also didn’t overdo it. Because I can do all the preparation in the world, but if I don’t have a manuscript to hand over, there is no book. Don’t use preparation as a procrastination tool.
- And go! Yes, you’re here. You have to do the thing you want to do. No more waiting. Remember there will never be the perfect time to take your first step. So just do it. Apply for that job, sign up for the fitness class, tell someone about the bad habit you want to ditch,
Wanna know the secret sauce to all of this though?
You actually might fail. It’s true. You might. But even if you fail you’ll have learned something. Which means you’ll have grown. You’ll have some knowledge about yourself that you didn’t have before. And this makes the failure, um… a non-failure!
The secret is, everything we try, even things that don’t work (aka ‘failures’) are opportunities for growth. And with this mindset, you’ll never fail.
Success starts when you start – where you are.
So just start.