What keeps you from getting started and how can you overcome that barrier? Your willingness to start something new has a lot to do with how skillfully you handle your current situation and how comfortable you currently feel.
If you have difficulty getting started, think about the area of your life in which you are trying to start something new (work, love, free time, fitness, parenthood, etc.), and ask yourself two questions:
1) In that area of my life, am I good at what I do?
2) In that area of my life, do I feel comfortable with my situation the way it is?
Evaluate your skill and comfort levels, and find out below what keeps you from getting started.
High Skill, High Comfort:
CURRENT SITUATION: You think you are great at what you do, and you are very comfortable in your current situation.
BARRIER: You’re not so motivated to get started because your current situation feels pretty good.
SOLUTION: If you want to start something new, make the new project really appealing by putting a cherry on top of it – a desirable built-in bonus.
EXAMPLE: Drew is considering having a second child (Area: Parenthood). He is at the point where he feels confident as a parent, and he’s comfortable with the family routine. What may be holding him back is thinking of the next baby as a disruption for his life that is already working well. If he really wants to get started on expanding his family, he needs to shift his focus to the benefits that he will experience with the new baby: hugs, smiles, friendship, and new discoveries.
Low Skill, High Comfort:
CURRENT SITUATION: You think that you are not great at what you do, but you feel pretty comfortable in your current situation.
BARRIER: The discomfort of challenging yourself prevents you from starting something new.
SOLUTION: The best way to get started is to figure out how your new project gives you joy, so that you can focus on the joy of it rather than on a potential failure.
EXAMPLE: Caroline is thinking of taking up jogging. (Area: Leisure). She doesn’t think that she manages her free time well, but she’s fairly comfortable with the way things are. What may be keeping her from starting to jog is her fear of challenging herself. If her fear could talk, it would say: “You can’t run as far as you think. You can’t commit to jogging regularly. Jogging is less comfortable than watching TV.” To get started, Caroline can focus on the joy of the new undertaking: pride she will feel as she comes back from a jog, feeling the energy flowing through her muscles, and being the person who follows through.
Low Skill, Low Comfort:
CURRENT SITUATION: You think you are not great at what you do, and feel uncomfortable in your current situation.
BARRIER: What keeps you from getting started is the fear that your new situation may feel even worse.
SOLUTION: Make your new project feel just a little better than your current situation, and getting started will feel safer and easier. Find one thing that you are good at – anything – and apply that strength to your new project.
EXAMPLE: Ty would like to improve the way he eats. (Area: Health). He knows that he currently eats a lot of junk because it’s fast and familiar, and is uncomfortable with the situation because his eating habits don’t fit with his self-image of a wholesome man. What holds him back from starting a new diet is thinking that eating healthy will be inconvenient for his busy lifestyle. To get started, he can identify one safe and easy change that he can make: buy water instead of soda or stop by a fruit vendor on the corner on the way to work to pick up an apple for an afternoon snack.
High Skill, Low Comfort:
CURRENT SITUATION: You think you are great at what you do, but feel uncomfortable in your current situation.
BARRIER: Losing a sense of being on top of your game is your barrier for getting started. To undertake a new project, start with the smallest and most familiar part of it.
SOLUTION: Start a new project from a place of strength, strength that you used in order to achieve mastery in your current situation.
EXAMPLE: Alex is considering looking for a new job. (Area: Work). He can do his current work with his eyes closed in half the time that his boss expects, but the thought of staying at this job for the next 3-5 years makes his heart sink – he’s not where he wants to be. What may be stopping Alex from starting a job search is knowing that he will have to prove himself again at the new job, and at first, may be perceived as less skilled and still feel uncomfortable at the new job. Alex needs to think what makes you great at his current job, and showcase those strengths as he searches for a new opportunity.
So, what would you like to get started on?