Afraid to start

Procrastination is a problem we all have to deal with every day. It is like the hydra, the multi-headed creature from Greek mythology. Cut off one head and another sprouts in its stead, more ferocious and cunning than the one before it. One form that procrastination takes is fear: the fear to get started on a task. An individual may delay getting started on a task simply so they can think about all the ways it can go wrong. If you have found yourself doing this often, rest assured chances are you are chasing phantoms. Even if you fail, the outcome is rarely as bad as you imagine. How do you defeat that fear?

That mountain of paperwork isn’t going to take care of itself

Lower the bar

Being able to envision the finished product of your goal can be a good motivation. However, an awareness of just how much work that will involve can induce crippling fear. Take an aspiring Author who has a goal to write the first draft of a 50,000-word novel by the end of the year. That’s a solid goal but 50,000 words is a lot of words. For comparison, the average word count per post on this blog is 450. At 52 posts a year, it means I write 23,400 words annually. The Author will have to write double what I do to meet their goal. The sheer magnitude is enough to give any rational individual pause. The way to break this paralysis is to start extremely small. Most people can write 100 words a day. 100 words are not enough for a novel. However, by writing 100 words every day, you are making a commitment towards the kind of person you want to become. People who write 100 words each day become writers who write 50,000 words a year.

Capture it

All those hours you spend gazing blankly at a wall can be put to better use if you could actually put a finger on what you want to do instead. A task that doesn’t get captured will never get done. If you can’t find space for a task on your to-do list or an event on your calendar then it probably isn’t important (in which case, you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place).

Uncaptured tasks never get done

Accept it’s ok to fail

Many people find this difficult to comprehend but I assure you the majority of the things you will fail at in life won’t be irredeemable failures. Students fail courses in a semester and go on to score better in the next session. Businesses do poorly in a quarter and recover the next. Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric became infamous in his early managerial career for blowing off the roof of a factory. Yet, he recovered from that mistake and went on to have a successful career. The secret: He accepted responsibility for that failure and drove all the way to New York to explain to his boss and resign. Impressed by his dedication, his boss didn’t fire him. The rest as they say is history.

I’m sure many of us will not make the kind of mistakes that destroy buildings. Whatever it is, you are afraid will happen, chances are your career and reputation can probably survive it. Take a chance and get started. If it helps, think of it as picking up your sword to slay the hydra.

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