Sometimes, the hardest part of getting where you want to go isn’t staying on the path and it isn’t finishing. It’s how to get started.
When I work with private clients, we frequently make a weekly plan of action to get them started on their weight loss journey. This plan might cover areas like eating, movement, mindset, self-care and overcoming any upcoming challenges. Together, we set goals in these areas.
Often my clients will come back the following week with some of their goals accomplished.
Of course, this is good.
Other times, my clients will return to our next session with none of their goals accomplished. They report feeling ‘overwhelmed’ and unable to make any movement at all.
This too, is good.
How can that be?
When you find yourself unable to do what you know you want to do, it could mean several things.
It could mean that you have made your steps too big.
Like trying to go from eating MacDonald’s daily to eating only organic vegan.
While that example seems obvious, many of us set the bar too high, too fast when trying to accomplish anything. We think about what seems reasonable to do and we disregard where we are starting from.
That leads to overwhelm.
And overwhelm leads to inaction.
Being unable to get started can also be looked at as your own personal barometer.
You might even consider it a blessing!
Although it may feel frustrating when you can’t get started on something you want to do, it may be because you have conflicting beliefs about what you are attempting.
When you want to change a habit, think about what you believe about your current habit.
If your main belief about changing that habit is that it’s really hard, and because you've never done it before it’s not likely you will succeed, then you will unconsciously work to prove yourself right.
But what’s great about this roadblock is that it gives you a chance to unearth those beliefs that prevent you from getting started, and gives you the opportunity to replace them with beliefs that will help you.
Another possibility that might hold you back from getting started on something that you really want is the payoff you are getting from NOT changing the old habit.
Yes, even with some behavior you really want to change, and are so mad and frustrated with yourself for doing, there's something you're getting out of it.
For example, if your goal is to plan your meals and shop so you have what you need in the house when you need it, when you don’t plan and shop, the payoff might be: 1) you get to spend that time doing something else, 2) you get to eat like you have been, without really thinking, or 3) you get to avoid confronting yourself and seeing what comes up when you do something new and uncomfortable.
If you can’t get started on something that you really want, think about these questions:
- Why do you want this?
- Is this reason really compelling?
- How will it make you feel if you can achieve this goal?
- Does it feel right in your gut?
- Have you broken your steps down into small enough bites?
- What beliefs might be holding you back?
Now, take the tiniest, baby step.
That step might be so small that you don’t think it’s worth mentioning.
But it is.
And all those baby steps will add up.
Right now, I hear some mumbling about how long things will take with these tiny baby steps.
Time will pass at the same rate, whether you take these steps or not. But if you do, you will inevitably get where you want to go.
Take one step today.