(Photo by Mikito Tateisi)
As I talk to more and more people, it’s become clear what the most common sticking point is: getting started. I don’t think I’ve repeated any phrase as often as I’ve said, “Start small.” No matter what it is that you’re doing, whether you think you need to or not, whether you’re changing your life or starting a new project, start small.
Stop trying to overhaul your entire life overnight. I know you want results, and you want them now, but trying to change every habit you have immediately is unsustainable. You didn’t create all of your current habits in one day, so you’re not going to replace them in one day. That’s just not how it works for 99.99999% of people.
You know all those people living the life you want, the ones getting their homework done on time, exercising, drinking enough water, getting up early, meditating, etc.? They’ve spent years working up to that lifestyle. Don’t try to run before you can walk.
Sustainable lifestyles are built slowly. I know it’s easy to feel inspired one day and try to change it all at once because you want that new life NOW, but you’re setting yourself up for failure by trying to change everything immediately. In six weeks when you still have to maintain those habits—because, yes, you have to keep doing this forever—and that new-me energy is gone, will you have the self-discipline to maintain all 308 changes that you made? Probably not.
It’s faster to change slowly. If you build one new habit every six weeks, that’s eight new habits in a year. In one year you could be eating your vegetables, drinking enough water, meditating daily, keeping your space clean, sleeping 8 hours every night, waking up early, exercising regularly, and writing an app in your free time, if you make all of these changes in a sustainable way.
Or you could try four times to make all of these changes at once, burn out, and be in exactly the same place next year.
When it comes to starting a new project, I find the opposite issue is true—it’s not that we start too big, it’s that we don’t start at all. I know you have a project sitting in the back of your mind that you’ve been thinking about for months, maybe years, that you just have not started because it’s daunting. You don’t know where to start. You’re overwhelmed.
Start small. Writing a book starts with writing one sentence. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Don’t worry about the big picture. Starting is half the battle for a reason. It’s intimidating, but starting small makes it manageable so you can actually get started.
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