Leading Yourself

Start something new?

Some say, starting something new is easy. Finishing is hard. But is that really true? How easy is it to start something that you know nothing about? How easy it is to start something that others are good in already?

I joined Markus Andrezak’s stream on Twitch about Strategy Execution yesterday. While Markus usually talks about strategy execution in its widest sense, yesterday’s talk was all about starting something new. First feedback was “well, starting is easy, perseverance is the difficult thing“. But in the discussion the insight dropped, that this is not necessarily is the case. So they went with a few arguments on when and why starting something new becomes more and more difficult.

Maybe you want to take your life in your own hands. Maybe you want to change something. Here are some tipps on how to start something new.

Count backwards and start

A simple 3, 2, 1, go and you just start where you stand. Want to write a book? Start writing. Iterate over the first results. Think about structure and story later (as Tolkien did). Want to run? Get out the door, start running. Even if you have to stop after a few steps. Do the same tomorrow again. Do a few steps more.

Mirror the behavior of others

When starting, take a look at the behavior and practices of renowned practitioners. Want to live healthy? Look at people that practice healthy living. Read books, watch YouTube, but stay on track, keep practicing. Implement your learnings in your next practice session.

Make it a habit

Start with tiny repetitions. Don’t aim for the big change, just add small adjustments in your daily life. Want to start to blog? Start small to document your days in a diary. A few words a day. Write 5 minutes early in the morning. After 2 weeks, make it 10 minutes. Collect the amount of words. Want to read more? Read a few minutes a day at lunchtime or while commuting. Count the pages you have read.

Don’t think about it

Don’t think too much about how to start. You may get stuck and never start. “I just need to read that one more book…” or “I just have to research how to do x…”. Every question you can think of will take you one step away from the real start. Give your “thinking about it” a timebox. If you prepare something before start, write down your expectations on a small sheet of paper. After some weeks, pull it out again and reflect on it.

Choose a measurement

How do know whether it’s coming along? Choose a measurement and measure regularly.

Counting kilometers on a paper.
Running 1000km in a year? Put it up on the wall and measure your progress.

Have no numbers to measure? Write a smiley or a frown in your diary everyday. Even better: on a paper on a wall, so that you can see it when you come across it.

Choose a goal bigger than the first effect

One last hint: If the goal is too small, your engagement may backfire. Instead of going for a 5-mile run, choose to live a healthy life. The rubber band pulling you towards the goal needs to be strong and persistent enough. There are some beautiful books out there to help you understanding the importance of ambitions. Read Robert Fritz’ Path of Least Resistance or James Victore’s Feck Perfuction. They will help you on your way.

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