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December 16, 2020

The Hardest Part To Finishing Anything Is Getting Started

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We’ve all been there... We’ve made a to do list and didn’t know what to do first. We’ve been inspired to create a business, invest in hobbies, and prioritize our values, but we don’t start. What I’ve found to be true in life is that the most difficult step is the first step, and that the hardest part to finishing anything is starting.

I believe this is because we are hardwired to reject change. Evolutionarily change in our environment signaled uncertainty and was often viewed as a threat, and our brains actively resist change because it is subconsciously perceived as dangerous. This is called "activation energy", the focus and an attention required to get started, and I’ve learned a few things that can help in overcoming it. 

First is to have a starting ritual. If you consistently use an affirmation to trigger your behavior it will eventually become automatic. My favorite starting ritual is the 5 Second Rule shared by Mel Robbins. If you want to get yourself to do something, simply countdown from 5 and take off like a rocket at 0.

A second way is to commit to only a fraction of the activity. In "Atomic Habits" James Clear talks about the two minute rule, where you distill the desired activity into a two minute activity, making the task seem much more doable.

And last, if it’s a bigger project or idea and you don’t know where to get started, just take a productive action in any form. Your small action is a commitment that is representative of your larger intentions, and will help you take the next steps. This is something Adam Braun did when building the non-profit Pencils of Promise, putting a $25 deposit down in the hopes he’d raise $10,000+ to build a new school. 

The hardest part to finishing anything is getting started, and if you’re inspired to get started on the next chapter of your life and move forward, I'd like to help you out!

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