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It is the hardest, most dreadful, scary, awkward and fearful thing we can do.
It doesn’t matter what it is, but when we start something, we are immediately thrown into the unknown, the unfamiliar, the new, different and uncomfortable.
Why is starting something so hard? For all the reasons above and more. Routines are easy, mindless and safe. Even if they are wrong, harmful and inefficient, doing what we have always done make us feel secure. Security comes from an outcome we can predict, or look forward to since we have been there before.
Whether it’s a new job, new school, saving money, losing weight or beginning a new relationship, it will be difficult. One tip is to recognize that you are not starting so you become instantly better, but that you know in the long run you will be better off. Hold onto that thought, because the journey will be more difficult before it becomes easier.
They say to do something for 21 days straight, then it will become habit. This is due to your body or mind adjusting to this change, and change takes time. So much of our society is built on instant gratification, or immediate results, that we look for the easy or fast way to change something.
Having taken that path many times in my life, I eventually come back to the realization that anything worth doing isn’t easy. But take solace in knowing that your urge to change, or start something new is a sign that what you are doing now isn’t working, and you should nurture that.
In order to be effective at starting something, I have listed some tips to give you a greater chance of success:
- Write it down- Just the simple act of making it physical, such as a piece of paper can help you make it real.
- Quantify it- It is not enough to simply say I want to do something, specifically determine an amount of money you want to save each month or weight you want to lose.
- Have a timetable or deadline- Following from the above, it will help to give a goal or time frame to reach your goal by. Set a date!
- Tell others, have accountability- They need to do nothing else, but by simply letting someone else in on your plan helps accountability. You can bet they will at least ask you how it’s going.
- Take time along the way to reflect on where you have come- Sometimes we can get so caught up in reaching our goals, that we forget to take a moment to enjoy how far we have come. Make sure to set aside time to reflect and be proud of your progress, this will help refill the tank for the next push forward.
- Have small goals along the way- If you have a goal to lose 30 pounds in 6 months, maybe make little goals to lose 5 pounds each month. That way you can track your progress better. Don’t worry if you do not reach every mini goal, but use them to give yourself added motivation.
- Celebrate milestones along the way- When you reach or surpass those mini goals, celebrate!
- Reevaluate progress if needed- Sometimes when we first start towards our goals they may be a bit unrealistic or too easy. Do not be afraid to adjust your goals along the way. You want it to be attainable but not too easy it doesn’t provoke much change.
- Have a mentor or expert- This tip can go a long way. By having someone who is an “expert” in the area are starting in, or went through a similar situation, you can use their wisdom and experience along the way. They will be able to office advice and insight most may not be aware of.
Another tip is to simply start! Many people get caught up in thinking they need to be experts in finance before they can start saving money. Or they need to be a certified personal trainer before they begin losing weight. NOT TRUE! Learn as you go. Just start somewhere, and pick up more knowledge as you come across questions. Just start walking to lose weight, and learn about eating right along the way. Save money by eating out less then learn how to efficiently maximize your 401(k) contribution later.