Knowing what you want is half the battle, yet an illusion. And even if you have a clear vision where you are headed, it's not always easy to start. And once you are on your journey you realise that what you thought you wanted has changed.
In my last article I explained how creating your My Life Matrix will help you plot out what is important for you in life. It's a great place to start but you must start putting those goals and ideas into action straight away.
I meet hundreds of women and hear their stories in our Lifeworking groups, and this sentence is voiced way too often: "I will start when I'm ready".
You will never be ready. There might be a theoretical 'perfect day' when 'you are ready' and you 'know what you want' in a distant future, but until then, let's just start on the second best day, which is TODAY.
"The best day to plant a tree was 20 years ago.
The second best day is today."
- Chinese proverb
My mission in life is to help you get started and move you from thinking to doing things that really matter to you.
And to do that, let's forget your big goal for a moment. Let's forget finding a purpose, and pretend we never talked about a 'bigger life'. There's no need to get paralysed by too big visions that feel impossible to reach. Let's just focus on what we can do -- today.
If I promised you that your goal, no matter how big it is, will be a reality in 15 years, would you make a start today? Would you commit to small, doable steps with me?
I think we should do it!
Even dedicating 5 minutes every day for little life changes will yield miracles in the long term. Trust the path and just start.
How can I start when I’m afraid to step outside my comfort zone?
Getting started on your ideas can feel scary at first. One thing is for sure, carving out a new path in life means stepping out of your comfort zone. But too often our own pre-historic safety mechanism (the 'lizard brain') kicks in full panic mode before we have time to act.
Dr. Steve Peters explains in his book 'The Chimp Paradox' that this 'old brain', he calls 'the chimp', used to keep us safe from danger, however, it still keeps giving us the same alarm bell warning signs when we think of doing public speaking or presenting our innovative idea in a meeting, than if we were in an instant danger to be eaten by a lion. Your life is not in danger simply if you are to try something new (even if it fails), but you are sabotaging your own happiness and of those around you.
How can I start when I don’t know what to do?
If you don't know what you want, then the key is to try things out, start exploring. Break up your daily pattern, just do something new. Do something you have been longing to do for a long time. Something you used to enjoy but have lost contact with.
"Definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different result." -- Albert Einstein
Dr. Robert Holden suggests you should follow your joy: "People who follow their joy experience the fullness of their being. They discover a depth of creativity and talent that inspires us."
Scandihus founder Stine Dulong took a pottery course after quitting her high flying job as a city lawyer. One thing left to another and now she's a happy and successful ceramic artist whose work has been featured in Vogue and top London restaurants. Even if you don't end up on a new career path, you have opened a new window to joy and creativity. Read her successful career transition here.
How can I start when I don’t have the resources to do what I want?
Arthur Ashe was an American professional tennis player who won three Grand Slam tittles. He famously said:
"Start where you are.
Use what you have.
Do what you can."
DrivenWoman member Tiia had a big business idea, so big that she definitely didn't have the resources to make it happen. At DrivenWoman we always start with the smallest doable task possible, with no risk. So she started by filming a short video clip where she explains her idea and she started sending it around to influential people. 18 months later WhatCharity.com was fully funded and launched in March 2018.
Everyone can start. All you have to do is to take the smallest possible step that involves no risk using the resources you have, right now. You might feel uncomfortable on camera, for instance, but you are building your courage outside your comfort zone and that's a new resource you have in your use straight away!
How can I start when I have so many ideas but I can’t choose one?
Try Julia Cameron's Morning Pages, writing three sheets of paper first thing in the morning. The idea is to write what ever comes to your mind, it's not to write down ideas or stories, just to clear your mind with anything that's there. You need to keep up with this practise before you can see how your real, authentic thoughts will emerge to see the one your heart should follow.
Establish a regular (2-4 times a week) 15 minute mediation practise, and again, over time, you will clear your mind and stop over thinking. I like the guided mediation by Deepak Chopra, but you can also try Headspace or any other mediation app.
How can I start and crush self-doubt?
Best selling author Mel Robbins over came self-doubt by launching herself out of bed (instead of pressing the snooze button) within 5 seconds the alarm went off. She soon realised this '5 second rule' can be applied to any life situation, including when you want to crush self-doubt. In this video she explains how you can use it to get started on your dreams.
How can I start when I'm already busy?
Being busy is easy. Doing something that actually matters to you, something you are deeply connected to on soul level, something that is authentically you, is much harder. Often people keep themselves busy so that they don't have to look at themselves and face their true feelings, even anxiety or depression. It's much easier to pick up yet another item on the to do list than to stop and let your real feelings arise.
I know this, I have always been a 'doer' and filling up my days have not been a problem. But I was for a long time scared to stop running away from my shadows. Anyone who wants to connect with themselves authentically has to one day stop and face the shadows. There's no shortcut. It's time to stop, and give space to the feelings and thoughts that wants to arise in you.
How can I start when nothing I’m trying is working?
Sometimes it's not for lack of trying that we feel frustrated and stuck. You may be a massive 'doer' but it still feels like nothing is working or you lack satisfaction. I see this often with the women I meet in our Lifeworking groups. People simply try too hard. I believe it's always a good rule of thump to stop doing anything that doesn't feel right. So even if you don't know what it is you want you can start eliminating what you don't want.
And if you then end up with 'nothing', in an empty space, then that's the path you have to walk and the door you must go through. And often it's exactly the emptiness and being alone with ourselves that we are the most scared of.
I'm a big fan of Leo Babauta's Zen Habits. Try the 'Month Of Letting Go' challenge!
How can I start when I have no time/ I have to clean the house first/ my boss needs me/..?
Difficult things don't happen because we haven't made a commitment, a real personal, soul level decision that this is important. Until you make a decision that this thing you want to do is important, everything else will take a centre stage. The obstacles can be physical, emotional, social or even or moral.
DrivenWoman member Julia learned how to move from drifting to acting and started manifesting the things that were important to her, rather than reacting to opportunities and requests that were thrown her way. If you find yourself finding excuses for not starting, write down your goal and find an accountability partner who will make sure it happens, or join your local Lifeworking group.
How can I start when I find myself procrastinating?
Perhaps you do know what you want but still something is holding you back. It's hard to get things moving when the first step feels difficult to handle or something you haven't done before. The temptation is to push it to the bottom of the to-do list, and so days will turn into months, years.
"Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” -- Mark Twain
This means that if you start your day with the worst task, then the other tasks that follow will feel like a piece of cake. Also if you 'eat a lot of frogs', you keep moving past your comfort zone and smash all your goals in no time!
Brian Tracy, a leading international success coach and author 'Eat That Frog' puts a good spin on the whole frog eating business and says:
"If you have to eat a live frog at all, it doesn’t pay to sit and look at it for very long"
Meaning, the worst thing you can do to yourself is to procrastinate on the thing you know you should do, as they will weight you down. Here's how a procrastinator can get out of her own way.
If you still find it difficult to start putting your My Life Matrix into action, watch this TED talk by Tim Urban 'Inside Of The Mind Of A Procrastinator' , not only does it cut right into the heart of putting things off, it's dead funny!
So ladies, the only way to get from here to there – is to just start!
Find your local DrivenWoman group and make a start on your dreams and goal today by booking a ticket to our Lifeworking workshop.