We all wanted to change our lives for the better and in our heads we create mental action plans that will make our dreams come true. And then we hesitate, we procrastinate, until these plans are put into our mental shelves and left untouched until cobwebs start building around them and until we finally forget them.
How many of us have been in this kind of situation? Almost everyone I guess (including myself of course). And how many times have we postponed doing something even if we know how crucial this thing is in our grand scheme of improving our lives? Again, almost everyone I know and yes, including myself again.
“Don’t let your dreams be dreams.” – John Arthur “Jack” Johnson
Why is taking the first step always the hardest?
There are lots of reasons why we are all having difficulties in taking the first step and in my personal observation of the people around me, here are five of the most common reasons why:
1. Fear of Failure: Whenever we are trying to start something, regardless if it’s something that we are familiar with or not, our fear of failure stops us on our tracks and prevents us from moving forward. We are so afraid of what other people will say if we fail on a certain project or activity.
2. Too Much Distraction: We are living in an era that is full of distraction. Our mobile phones are constantly notifying us of new text or social media messages. There are so many cute cat videos on Youtube and Facebook that seem to be too funny not to watch. There are so many entertaining reality shows and movies on TV that we are all bingeing on. And the list goes on.
3. Procrastination: We always tell ourselves that we will do this later. And then afterwards, we convince ourselves that it’s already too late and we’ll just do it tomorrow. This is very common and probably the main reason for a lot of people why we do not take the first step.
4. Analysis – Paralysis: Spending some time researching and analysing the entire situation is good but not if it prevents you from even starting something. This is very common everywhere including in the workplace wherein a certain project is put into a halt because a decision could not be made due to analysis-paralysis.
5. Lack of Motivation: Even if deep in our hearts we know how important this first step is to our overall plan, we still manage to fail to take the first step because of lack of motivation. We always doubt ourselves and our capabilities thus disabling us in taking the first step.
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” – Lao Tzu
How do we help ourselves in taking that very first important step?
1. Breathe: Go find a calm and quiet area in your house where you can sit quietly without being distracted by anyone. If you are in your room, light a scented candle to help you relax and help you maintain your calmness.
You have to understand and you have to accept the fact that you are not the only one experiencing this and you are not alone. A lot of people also go through this phase whenever they are starting a project especially if that project is outside their comfort zone
2. Accept and Understand Failure: You have to accept and understand that failure is part of your journey towards success. Failure is the process that strengthens your character and helps you develop a more critical mind. Failure also pushes everyone to become better in what we do. You also have to understand that you are not the only one that experiences failures in life, we all do.
3. Believe in Yourself: Naysayers will always be around because they have nothing else to do in their lives so they bother the people that are busy doing important things. Do not be affected by this kind of people and instead focus all your energy in believing in yourself. Instead of spending time listening to the naysayers, spend your time in trusting yourself that you will be able to accomplish what you intend to do.
4. Reach Out: Sometimes, it’s really difficult to take that first step even if you feel that you have prepared yourself well. In cases like this, it would be best to reach out to a community or group of people who are already successful in the field of your target endeavour.
If you are an aspiring digital entrepreneur, sign up on relevant online forums and become a member and reach out for some help. If you are an aspiring organic farmer, check out your local community or your city for any organisations or groups that support organic farmers. Meet similar minded people and you’ll be amaze on the level of positivity that will be shared to you.
5. Stay Positive: Motivation is both internal and external and there have been so many studies available online that talk about motivation. I personally believe that between intrinsic (internal) and extrinsic (external) motivation, intrinsic motivation will get you farther because it’s solely controlled by you and it’s not dependent on external forces. However, a combination of both is always welcome of course.
One way of keeping myself inspired and motivated is by surrounding myself with positive people and people who are also on the same or similar journey as I am.
6. Write Everything Down: Now that you have conditioned yourself well, write down what you intend to do and break them down in actionable items. To ensure that your goals are clear and achievable, I suggest that you create a SMART action plan.
- Specific (make it clear, simple and significant)
- Measurable (make it quantifiable in one way or another)
- Attainable (make it realistic for your current level of skillset and financial capability)
- Relevant (ensure that each step is aligned to your target overall goal)
- Time-bound (set a schedule or deadline on when you intend to achieve this)
7. Simplify: Now that you have written your plan, break down some of the steps that you feel are too gigantic for you to handle. Breaking down some action items will steer your brain away from the road of fear because it will perceive the smaller items as easy tasks that it could achieve.
I hope that this post helps you take that first step towards achieving your goal. Feel free to share in the comment section below some tips on how you were able to overcome your fear of taking that first step.