We want to be healthier, fitter, have more money, travel the world, and whatnot. We dream big. But we would also like to have a clutter-free home, good food on the table, have an emergency fund in the bank, use sunscreen, and floss teeth. Because we would also like to change some small habits, too. It’s nice to have dreams and goals, but then life gets in the way. There’s just not enough time in life to get everything we want.
One day, one day. Someday. When you have more time or more money or when you feel ready. And many of our dreams move like the horizon,
And that might be true. However, we can still accomplish way more than we think.
We get stuck on the mundane, worrying more about the daily grind than our Future Self. There’s fear, there’s perfectionism that tells us we don’t have enough time, we don’t know enough, or merely lacking in another department. We also need to be ready, but we are not.
And I suggest we start right where we are, with what we have. Because we just have to start somewhere, and starting here and now might are the best option. Quite frankly, this is our only option. You’re probably familiar with the slogan: “Just do it.” I would like to rephrase it to “Just start.”
Why is learning to just start so valuable? Because it is linked to Newton’s First Law of Motion.
First Law of Motion: An object either remains at rest or continues to move at a constant velocity unless acted upon by an external force. (i.e., Objects in motion tend to stay in motion. Objects at rest tend to remain at rest.)
Sometimes it’s all it takes. Starting takes up the most energy, so you want to make it as easy as possible. But once you start, there’s a good chance you’ll just get going. That’s why it is essential to learn how to start and repeat it often.
PUT A TIMER ON
Once you master the art of starting, you can hone on your skills by adding your best friend: The Mighty Timer.
Many of us have problems with Just Starting. It seems easy but, especially for things that do not have a deadline (aka most of our important life goals). So here’s another little trick you can use to help you with starting: use a timer.
This is a straightforward yet powerful tool. Especially for things that overwhelm you, and there’s an extra layer of resistance. Having a clear starting point and a finish line helps contain some of the anxiety and resistance towards a task. I use the timer often in many different areas of life: from cleaning, to exercise or admin tasks. It’s one thing to think: “I need to clean my house” and quite another to think: “I’ll clean my house for 10 minutes, and we’ll see where it gets me.”
The moment I started using a timer, I was in for a big surprise. Have you heard the Parkinson’s Law that “work expands to fill the time available for its completion” Otherwise: the work contracts to fit in the time we give it.?
5 or 10 minutes may not sound like a lot, but you’d be surprised how much you can get done in that time! Sometimes that’s all you need to get a proper workout (try 6 minutes of HIIT training, and you’ll understand) or straighten your kitchen and the living room. You know how cleaning the house can take forever on a regular day, but gets done in no time when the guests call you, they’ll drop in in 15 minutes? And sometimes, you will not see enormous progress first, but even just making a dent in a massive project is a step in the right direction.
KAIZEN – Tiny Bites
Do you know how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. And that’s what the timer does for you! Tiny but frequent bits that don’t strain you are easy to fit into any schedule and make a lot of the work effortless.
By accepting the idea of “just starting” and learning to remove expectations from your actions, we lift a huge burden off our shoulders.
It is almost as if we scheduled a partial failure to deliver. You just know it’s nearly impossible to get everything done, but that is the whole point. It’s not about finishing a task, it is not about the perfect final product; it is about just starting where you are with whatever you have.
Do what you can within a short amount of scheduled time and when the time’s up – stop. And I mean it! Stop! Learn to surrender, to accept the task is not finished – unless, miraculously, it is done (and you may be surprised to find out how often it will be!).
So when there is something you’ve been procrastinating on for a long time, get your timer and just start.