Updated: Mar 25, 2022
"Where do I start?" That's what this article is about and what I thought as I sat down to write it. I had no idea where to begin.
If you've been meaning to start something and haven't yet, this is for you.
You will discover
Why starting something is important and
What stops us from beginning some things.
Then you'll learn ONE powerful exercise on
How to get started so that you can finally do that one thing you've been meaning to do.
WHY STARTING IS IMPORTANT
If you never start something, it'll never get done. That's obvious, but that's not the problem.
The real issue is that 'one thing' -that inconvenience of yesterday will pile onto today's to-do's and build into tomorrow's frustrations. Allow me to explain.
Suppose you're putting off doing something important. Initially, you might sense undercurrents of unease, which later become ripples of irritation within yourself. But, with time, this lack of follow-through may develop into waves of self-doubt about your capabilities and will shake your confidence.
This internal annoyance with yourself may show up as self-sabotaging behaviour or frustrations you unconsciously unleash on those around you.
The internal irritation from inaction is like a crack in the foundations of a building. Initially, no one sees it, but slowly the crack becomes visible on one wall and then another. If nothing is done, the damage gets bigger and spreads to affect more rooms in the house. Eventually, the whole building may collapse because of that one small crack.
A minor inconvenience becomes a big problem.
BUT WHAT STOPS US FROM STARTING?
Think of one thing you want to change in your life but haven't yet done. Besides time and money, what's stopping you from getting started?
Often the thing we're trying to do seems like such a big task we feel overwhelmed, and one of three things may happen.
You either freeze, say "I feel stuck", and do nothing. You might circle the problem, avoid it, and honestly admit "I'm procrastinating". Or you may become confused, like you're spinning around but going nowhere and might say, "It feels like I'm going around in circles".
So how do you move from overwhelm into action?
You start by asking yourself better questions. Sometimes we can't seem to get started because we're asking the wrong questions and expecting a different answer.
Have you've ever asked, "Where do I start?" I certainly have. Commonly given advice to this dilemma includes "Start where you are" or "Just start". If you've ever been at the receiving end of that kind of answer, you'll agree it's the most annoying and least helpful response, right?
But annoying as they are, these are appropriate replies to "Where do I start?" This is because you are asking for a location. Instead, a better question is, "How do I start?" By asking "how", you're enquiring about the next steps to move from an undesirable situation towards what you want.
So, how do you start something you've been avoiding or meaning to do?
Well, take your next step – read on.
HOW TO START THAT THING YOU'VE BEEN AVOIDING DOING
Say you've decided to go on holiday to a new place. How do you get there?
You need a map to show you what direction to take. Without a map guiding you, you won't reach your destination. You'll end up either stuck, going round in circles, or aimlessly spinning around trying to work out which way to go.
Now, think of using your phone or car's navigation (GPS + map) system to get you to your destination. First, your navigation system asks for your desired destination then either requests or picks up your current location. Then it uses this information to calculate the direction you need to take and the fastest way there. Your navigation system also gives you alternative routes based on time, tolls, changing traffic conditions and choice of transport, i.e., road, rail, water, or air.
Approaching any task in life is like planning a journey.
However, you don't need to know the exact details of the whole trip. You need to know the right direction to take your first step. Because if you are headed in the right direction, there are many ways to reach your desired destination.
Once you're heading in the right direction, the best route becomes the one that suits your current situation. The best step is then simply the next step forwards.
5 STEPS TO FINALLY START DOING SOMETHING YOU'VE BEEN AVOIDING OR THINKING ABOUT
Remember what you want to change or do in your life but haven't yet done? Here are 5 steps to start you moving in the right direction towards your goal.
You'll need a pen, paper to write on and 10 minutes of commitment. To begin to bring massive changes to your life, start your 10-minute timer and do the following exercise right now.
Brain Dump of 10(or more) Possibilities
1. Start that ONE thing. At the top of your blank paper, write down that ONE thing you want to change or do in your life.
2. Brain Dump of 10(or more) Possibilities. Write at least 10 things you could do or need to do to achieve your goal. Get creative. Think big, small, and outrageous steps to accomplish that ONE thing! This is a brain dump of ideas, not a step-by-step list, so nothing needs to be in order, logical or even appear possible to you right now. Just write. E.g. If you want to lose 5kg, your ideas might include: stop eating bread, tape my mouth shut between the hours of 7 pm to 7 am, walk briskly for 30 minutes every day, book dietician appointment etc. (see image above)
3. Awesome threesome. From your 10+ possibilities, circle 3 ideas you MUST get done to make that thing happen for you. This awesome threesome must be within your control and easily doable.
4. The power of doing one thing right now. What are 1 or 2 things you can do right now?
5. Do it. Take immediate action.
There, you've finally started that thing and moved not one but 5 steps closer to your goal.
Every day, adjust, add and most importantly, DO something else on your list. Soon you will finish that thing you finally started. Now imagine how that's going to feel…
The problem with never starting something is that 'one thing' becomes a source of underlying frustration and a more significant issue later.
Often, what we're trying to do seems like such a big task. So, we feel overwhelmed and either stay stuck taking no action, circle around the problem- procrastinating or spin round in the confusion of overthinking.
To move from overwhelm into action, start by asking yourself better questions.
Instead of asking "where do I start", try asking "how do I start" and see how far that question takes you.
If you know where you are and where you want to be, you don't need to know the whole journey ahead to begin.
You only need to know the right direction to take your next step to get started.
To START DOING SOMETHING YOU'VE BEEN AVOIDING, do the Brain Dump of 10 Possibilities above because it will guide you 5 steps in the right direction.