Spring is here! Once again the year is already flying by. I imagine many of you started 2018 with new year's resolutions and goals, but like so many of us, we sometimes put off the very projects and habit changes that we were so excited to begin on January 1st. Or, we’ve started but after a few weeks or days, we lost our momentum and didn’t get back on track.
Most of us know how this feels, so I was inspired to share my experience of ways I’ve found to just begin. I’ve also had the experience of doing the opposite. Waiting till everything was ‘just right’ before starting or re-starting a project, new venture or habit that I know is going to change my life or at least improve it in some way. I’ve let the fear of failure stop me many times from pursuing my ideas, expressing myself and taking a leap that my heart was nudging me towards.
So what changed? A few things, primarily my desire to live life more intentionally and authentically, which for me meant spending more time doing what was truly meaningful and fulfilling. This started to become a lot more important than protecting myself from my fears. The pain of holding back became what drove me towards action. Like the famous quote from Anais Nin, “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
Are you holding yourself back from growing and creating a life you love? What is calling to you that you’re hesitating to take action on? What have you been curious to do or at least try? Allow yourself to consider and explore what you want more of in your life. I like to think of life as the ultimate adventure and we get to choose how we want to experience our years here on earth. I invite you to begin that exploration.
And I get it. Sometimes starting something new can feel really scary. What will people think? Who am I to think I CAN DO THAT? I don’t have enough experience, talent or degrees. But the truth is, the difference between people who succeed and those who don’t is that they don’t let the fear stop them. They still feel the fear, but they want what’s beyond the fear more than they want to stay safe and comfortable.
So what is it that you want more than what keeps you feeling safe? Do you want to grow personally? Be successful financially? Be in a happy committed relationship? Travel the world? If you already know what that thing is (or things) great. But if you don’t, take some time to answer that question. What is it that you want more than what keeps you feeling safe?
How do you just begin? Well I’ve found a few things that have helped me, and the people I’ve worked with for many years. Experiment with one or more of the suggestions below and see what works for you.
1. Start even if you don’t feel ready
Sometimes we over think when is the best time to take action. If we want to start a new exercise routine we think we need to have the perfect shoes, outfit or trainer before we can start. But in reality we just need to start from where we are. We can always make adjustments, invest in better equipment, hire a better trainer, get the latest app, etc. Our body would still benefit if we only took a short ten minute walk in our neighborhood, than no walk at all.
The same is true for launching a business project or writing that book. Starting with where you are, even if you’re in the research phase, will support you in either continuing with realizing your vision, or give you the clarity if it’s not what you really want to pursue. In Steven Pressfield’s book, The War of Art, he talks about how resistance is universal and shows up when we want to do the work that calls to us. He states, “Resistance is experienced as fear; the degree of fear equates to the strength of Resistance. Therefore the more fear we feel about a specific enterprise, the more certain we can be that that enterprise is important to us and to the growth of our soul. That's why we feel so much Resistance. If it meant nothing to us, there'd be no Resistance.”
Remember, you’re not alone. Not feeling ready or feeling fear is a natural by-product of starting something new.
2. Start small
This has been the secret sauce (maybe it’s not so secret) for me to start taking action. As a coach I always knew that I need to make my goals do-able, but I’ve taken it to new level of do-ability. Some call it a tiny habit, a micro-change or three-foot toss. But what ever you call it, it’s making that next step so small and easy that it’s almost impossible to fail.
I recently wanted to start a 32 day practice to visualize my goals everyday, so I made the goal to do at least one minute a day. I knew I could do at least a minute. The funny thing is that I would always end up doing more than a minute, but the idea that I was committing to only 60 seconds; my brain was like… heck yeah, I could do that!
As Sir Isaac Newton taught us a many years ago, objects at rest tend to stay at rest, and objects in motion tend to stay in motion. This is just as true for humans as it is for falling apples. Once you begin doing something, it’s easier to continue doing it.
And celebrate it! An expert in the science of changing behavior, and author of the Tiny Habit program, BJ Fogg, says not only is it helpful to start really small, but to also celebrate your new behavior to enforce the little successes along the way. He talks more about this in his TEDx Talk, Forget big change, start with a tiny habit.
So start with a tiny step and watch yourself succeed.
3. Enlist a friend
Accountability is powerful. We all know that when we tell a friend, hire a coach, or take a class, we’re going to show up because we not only made the commitment to ourselves, but to someone else as well. Accountability also helps us accelerate our performance, measure our success and progress, keeps us engaged, responsible and gives us a sounding board to validate our thoughts and experience.
However you decide to create the accountability support, I encourage you to reach out and make that happen. It’s how top leaders, business owners, professional athletes give themselves the edge to reach their potential and succeed both personally and professionally.
4. Find your why
“It is not logic or facts but our hopes and dreams, our hearts and our guts, that drive us to try new things.” Expertly said by author and TED speaker, Simon Sinek from his book, Find Your Why.
What is that thing that lights you up, that continually calls to your heart or inspires you to be curious about? Taking time to connect with that voice inside can be a guiding factor and motivator to get us moving and taking action.
Years ago when I made the leap from graphic designer to coaching and facilitating, I took a step back to uncover what I really wanted to experience in my life and my career. I asked myself, “What would get me excited to get out of bed each morning?” I didn’t get my answer in one big Ah-ha. I got many little answers that guided me forward that I continued to follow. And my why began to unfold as, I want to make a difference in the world and in people’s lives. That why became my compass for my choices and actions as I moved forward.
Let's say you want to start a new exercise program, is it because you want more energy to enjoy your family? Or to enjoy feeling good about yourself, so you can take more risks and grow your confidence? It could be a number of things, and there could be layers to it, but when you begin to explore and understand why you want to begin something, your level of commitment and motivation naturally increases and becomes more sustainable over time.
Seize the day!
So take the leap, one small step at a time. Don’t get caught up in needing everything to be perfect before you start. There’s so much to learn and gain from taking action no matter how small. Celebrate your wins and share your journey with others who you know will support you whole-heartedly.
And let’s get real folks. We only have so many days to experience the fullness of our lives, so choose to make the most of it. Carpe Diem!
Goethe said it best... “Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.”
photo by: Bruno Nasciment