Everybody wants to start something big until they realize the work that’s involved. Most people just rather get to the finish line without figuring out the first step and all the other steps that come after that initial one. Starting something is hard. It requires effort and a plan to move forward. Then there is the work, which you must do to reach your end goal.
However, what happens when you begin and things fall apart? Where does the motivation to continue past the pitfalls come from? There is an awful lot of work involved in the follow-through so guess what happens? Most of us don’t start. It becomes easier to stay where we are, in that sweet but very sticky spot. You know it. It’s called the comfort zone.
GETTING OUT OF THE COMFORT ZONE
But what if we changed the notions we have about getting started? Suppose we saw it not just as a single act but rather as a fork in the road, a diversion we take from what we know and feel comfortable doing. That could determine everything, from what we do and how we do it to the way we pick ourselves up after we stumble. What if the fork did not just provide us with choices but also gave us the energy to change the mood. We get up with in the morning and the positive stories we tell ourselves during the day.
Finally, imagine if the choice we took led us to find our passion. Suppose it created such a groundswell of feel-good sentiments that we became fixated on the idea that we could move mountains to get where we needed to be. What it all of that drove us to START?
WANTING TO START BUT FEELING UNMOTIVATED
Ok! That was a bit philosophical. Forgive me. I’m in a mood. You can blame it on being quarantined but I was also struck by a note that I received from someone who shared with me her difficulty in knowing how to start. I read her despair in her email and all I could see was the fork in the road, the hard choices she had to make.
Here’s an excerpt from what she wrote:
[10:49 AM, 4/7/2020] Hi Judette, good morning. I have to say, your vids and posts inspire me. Honestly, however, I have been having issues getting going. I know all I need to do is start. Start something. One small task will lead to greater things. Every day I make plans but end up cooking, tidying, relaxing and I don’t do much for my business, or myself for that matter ( my hair needs to be washed, it’s overdue). Me being honest here.
I have all these great ideas floating around in my head that I need to put to paper, make them happen. I need to update my organizer, make a list of people to meet when all of this is over. Writing this is somewhat therapeutic. 🙂 I love what you do. Very inspiring and it gives me and I’m sure, many the extra push we need.
WE’VE ALL BEEN THERE
Firstly, can I just say: “Lovely, we’ve all been there so come on in a join the party.” I’ll be the first to say that even though I know how to self motivate, sometimes the struggle to start something is real. The difference between my “friend” (I’ll call her Ann for purposes of anonymity) and I, is that I see the fork fairly quickly. So I wanted to use this post to remind Ann that she had an ability to choose but certainly not without having a big mindset shift that began with three simple words…
I don’t know when playing small became a thing. Sometimes I wonder if it began when social media boomed and suddenly we began looking at what other people were doing and our lives began to feel inadequate. It takes three simple words to shift how you feel about yourself and let’s face it the negative stories we tell ourselves about what we can and cannot do are the toughest barriers to breakthrough.
So the best advice I gave to Ann was to find the power in these words: I. Am. Enough. 3 simple words that create an impact when you stare yourself in the mirror and say them out loud. With enough repetition and belief, you become the words you choose to say. I AM ENOUGH means for Ann, practicing positive self talk every single time in every single situation until she feels she is worthy of dreaming big dreams, of chasing after far-off goals, of self-worth, and of crafting a life that serves her inside and out.
Starting anything requires a positive mindset. Saying and believing the words I AM ENOUGH and feeling the energy and resolve pour through you is such a booster. Letting go of old. limiting belief systems is a great place for Ann as well.
What I know for sure is that everyone has a different driver. Some people get out of bed for money, others because they want to serve and inspire. There is no right and wrong and both drivers have advantages and downsides though they function best when there is some kind of middle ground.
However, both groups understand their WHY. That’s a powerful place to start. I always understand my “Why” when I am still, away from distractions and noise. Others find their “whys” in conversations and in journalling or while running on a treadmill. I told Ann she had that journey to undertake and she had to make sure that her why was supported by well-defined priorities and goals that provided a strong emotional connection to her desired outcome.
Ann said something powerful in her letter to me. She said she wanted to write things down, put them on paper, share her plans in an organizer, and take notes. Boom! That’s the secret sauce right there. Often, starting something requires a step-by-step plan.
Ann may have all these brilliant ideas as most of us do but we have to take the ideas out of our head and put them on paper. If we fail to commit then we’re promising to forget. Putting things in writing holds us accountable to our goals. It reminds us of all the progress we’ve made
In the Social Media Planner, a book I created for women growing their brands and businesses online. I began each month by asking users to write down their big idea. On the second page, I asked them to break the ideas into small tasks.
As unsexy as it is, committing to writing goals down is a CHOICE that not only allows you to see what you want, but also allows you to commit to action. It’s not just about starting, it is also about taking action after action to get to the destination That action feeling is addictive. Oh, and I’ll remember to tell Ann that she has to keep her writing in plain sight.
Writing things down puts the whole picture in front of you so you can start to take action, step by step. But not even writing things down will help Ann if the phone is right by her side, with notifications turned on or if she is constantly checking emails or getting up to look in the fridge, or constantly sharing social media riffs.
Having an ability to start also means getting rid of the noise and the distractions, which allow you to procrastinate and in the end feel defeated. Nothing is more distracting and demotivating than a cluttered mind and surroundings so I’d tell Ann to go wash her hair and cook that meal. Otherwise, she’ll see them as distractions, things she must do first in order to settle down to her work.
Look, going around in circles is something we all do on our worst days but it should never be the norm. I try to understand what are my priorities each day and Ann should too. When you know your priorities, it is very easy to trim off all the time-eaters and energy-zappers that keep you from moving forward which is the direction Ann really wants to move.
When I wrote Ann back I told her that making progress towards her goals might require her to find an accountability partner. Here’s the reason. Pitfalls! Sometimes I think they are placed there deliberately waiting for us to fall. Of course, they really aren’t but saying it allows me to let off some steam, for Ann.
Seriously though, being mindful of pitfalls once you’re past the start line is important because they can have such a derailing effect. I told Ann to be aware of all potential stumbling blocks because that way she can understand from up-front how to deal with them.
I know what you’re thinking. Ann is not a mind reader, neither am I but I do have this trick that helps me stay afloat when I feel the waters coming in. When I think about pitfalls, I classify them as obstacles. I figure out which ones I can control, which I can’t, and which ones I can influence to my benefit and for the positive realization of my goals.
I also try to understand the one with which I can do nothing about. Having assessed the landscape I release my energy and feelings accordingly because heck, sometimes pitfalls happen at the very start. You get out the gate and there it is. I suspect this is what happens to Ann and in that case, I’d tell her directly never waste energy on the things she can’t control. Pay attention to the other stuff, it helps to keep that forward momentum.
We sometimes forget the small things that keep us going: getting a call from the friend, doing that one task, getting a workout in but they all add up and they keep us motivated once we recognize their importance in our lives. Celebrating the little stuff gives us a boost and helps us to keep a positive outlook on the stuff that lies ahead.
Small wins do not have to include food or shopping, and I think Ann would be happy to hear that It could be something as simple as writing things down in a journal, heading for a run at the end of the day or even taking a scheduled break.
Occasional rewards could provide that instant gratification that Ann may crave, once she starts, stares at the fork and makes a series of intentional choices.