"Too many of us wait to do the perfect thing, with the result we do nothing. The way to get ahead is to start now. While many of us are waiting until conditions are "just right" before we go ahead, others are stumbling along, fortunately ignorant of the dangers that beset them. By the time we are, in our superior wisdom, decided to make a start, we discover that those who have gone fearlessly on before, have, in their blundering way, traveled a considerable distance. If you start now, you will know a lot next year that you don't know now, and that you will not know next year, if you wait. "
The William Feather Magazine
You’ve probably heard the saying “to begin is half the work.” It is also the hard part of the work. Have you had trouble starting a thing or two? Why is it so difficult to begin? I think, it boils down to anxiety, uncertainty, lack of commitment, risk-avoidance and maybe, a few other things. What is a good way to begin something? Here are a few tips to get you ready to cross the start line.
Start at the end. That’s right. Begin by imagining the end result of whatever you want to do. George Bernard Shaw said: “Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will.” If the outcome is compelling enough, the vision will propel you to action. If you can’t see the positive result, it may be a sign that you should not start.
Take the bate. Is there a part of the project that looks more appealing to you? Start there if possible. Find the most exciting thing about the project and go after it. The energy generated from such beginning will carry over to other less enticing tasks. If you can’t find anything exciting, once again, it maybe a sign that the thing is not worth doing. If you really have to do it, pair it up with some unrelated fun. Make a deal with yourself that you will do the fun part first for a limited amount of time and then, you must do the boring part. For example, you can watch one movie, but then you must start writing, reading, outlining, or whatever you need to. That’s the reward upfront approach. The idea here is to put you in a good mood right away and mentally prepare you for other things to come. This approach may help you if the promise of a future reward doesn’t do the trick.
Transform procrastination into the beginning. Use your procrastination time to organize your thoughts, create a time-management system for your project, motivate yourself, rehearse ideas. In other words, procrastinate with purpose.
Set a deadline to begin. You have to set deadlines to get anything done. Share your deadline with people. If you make a public commitment, you are more likely to keep it.
Take small bites. What exactly qualifies as the beginning? If you need to write a paper, do you have to write a sentence, a paragraph, or a chapter to begin? Subdividing your project into small easily manageable parts is a great way to conquer your fears and resistance.
Enlist the help and support of others. There is nothing like sharing your misery with somebody else (I am being sarcastic here). Do you think runners would feel differently when they approached the start line if there were no cheering crowd around? Surround yourself with energetic, caring and motivating people, and feel a sudden urge to begin.
How would you begin whatever you need to do right now?
Today’s tips are general and applicable to a variety of contexts. It’s just the beginning (pardon the pun). In Part II, I plan to address some specific situations, for example:
- How do you begin writing a paper?
- How do you being a job interview?
- How do you being a presentation?
- How do you introduce yourself to people?
- How do you begin a cold call?
If you have any advice or a topic to suggest, I’d love to hear from you!