“Be not afraid of going slowly;
be afraid only of standing still.”
- Chinese proverb
Do you ever have trouble motivating yourself to get started with a project? Whether it’s implementing a marketing strategy for your business, writing the first words for an article, or changing your eating habits, taking that critical first step is key.
A lack of sufficient motivation keeps you stuck in the status quo. Fear of failure and criticism can paralyze you. Self-doubt might creep in and undermine your confidence.
You could conjure up any number of excuses to explain why you’re not taking initiative and moving forward.
But the reality is, nothing happens until you take action. Thought alone doesn’t produce any result.
So how do you get past your procrastination and get started? Following these four steps can help.
1. Take time to think about why you want to do this.
When you tap into the real motivation that’s driving you, you’ll become more eager to take action, despite any concerns that enter your mind. Staying focused on that purpose will inspire you and keep you going even when you encounter difficulties.
(By the way, if you’re “why” is not strong enough, you may be pursuing this goal for the wrong reasons. And if that’s the case, stop now and re-assess.)
2. Visualize the desired outcome.
Paint a picture in your mind of exactly what the result will look like. The sharper this image, the more likely you are to take the actions necessary to make it a reality.
3. Imagine the feelings you’ll experience about yourself and the accomplishment.
Logical reasons alone are not enough to keep you on course. You also need to engage your emotions. When you allow yourself to feel them intensely, you’ll feed your drive and enthusiasm.
4. Identify one small step you can take to get started, and take that step.
You can get overwhelmed if you consider everything you need to do to reach an ambitious goal. It’s counterproductive to dwell on the entire process at once. Instead, map out a reasonable, realistic plan and zero in on just one thing you need to do first.
Then determine the step you’ll take the next day, and the next, until you’ve established a daily rhythm.
You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish once you make a beginning. Just get started. Take the first step. Remember, your first effort doesn’t have to be perfect. What matters is action—making progress.
If you ask most people who’ve achieved great success, they’ll tell you that most of the things they attempt don’t work. But they refuse to let those failures stop them. They keep trying other things because they’re confident that at least a small percentage of the things they do will work. They know that the only way to get momentum going is by taking action.
Don’t let the fear of failure or criticism hold you back. If you find yourself hesitating, repeat this wisdom from world-famous hockey player Wayne Gretzky: “You miss one hundred percent of the shots you never take.”