Scott’s Thoughts: Starting by Not Starting

“Each project, I suffer like I’m starting over again in life. There’s a lot of healthy insecurity that fuels this stuff.”

Frank Gehry, architect (b. February 28, 1929)

Starting line at the track.

There’s probably a project you have in the back of your mind that you’d like to get to, but haven’t for one reason or another. It may even be something that you’re excited about, or think could be a life-changing experience. Yet the weeks go by, and you haven’t started.

Why is that?

I bet one or more of the following statements apply:

  • “I don’t have a plan.”
  • “I’m waiting for the right moment.”
  • “I need to learn more.”
  • “I don’t have enough time/money right now.”
  • “I don’t feel ready yet.”

To which I would reply:

  •  ”Your plan is going to change along the way.”
  • “You can’t know for sure one moment is right or wrong.”
  • “You learn a lot more by doing.”
  • “You don’t need all the time/money at the start.”
  • “You’ll never feel ready, so why not now?”

Starting is hard. That’s all there is to it. But one word on the page, one step on the path, or one call to put things in motion inspires forces in the universe to help you move along. A body in motion tends to stay in motion.

So how do you get going? One way is to trick yourself into beginning by committing to work on your project for an almost ridiculously small amount of time. For example, tell yourself: “I’m going to work on this for five minutes today. Just five.” It’s too easy not to do, and by giving yourself a time limit, you won’t feel discouraged if you actually do quit for the day after five minutes.

The funny thing is, most people will keep going. They’ll have gotten over that beginning hurdle. There’s no shame in fooling yourself into success. Start by not starting.

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