Photo by Compound Eye
All my journals start the same way. The blank page stares at me menacingly, and the little voice inside my head says, “Why even try? You’re not going to write anything good anyway.” It can be crippling at times. But as soon as I put a pen to the page and just start writing, I conquer him (I think of him as a small ugly green leprechaun).
So how do we motivate ourselves? I have a friend who, when I told her that I was starting FnF, asked me to write about how to start, well, starting, whether that’s training for a marathon or becoming a world-class juggler.
Make your heart go pitter patter
Shake off however much time you’ve let accumulate between you and your goal. I know for me, the longer I think about starting something, but don’t act on it, the more insurmountable it becomes. But really, it’s the same amount of work it was the very first time you considered it, which is probably a much less than you think. Get away from the guilty feeling of “well if I haven’t done it now, I won’t” and back to the reasons you wanted your goal in the first place.
Do battle with your critic
Think of all the reasons why you haven’t started yet. Really let your critic loose. Write them down in a list; close your eyes, and tear up the list. This should help clear your head of all the negative reasons for not following or pursuing something you really care about. And once you (literally) discard them, chances are none of those reasons will seem that important anymore.
Silencing your inner critic from the social emergence factor, Metafilter, is worth a read if your critic is still bothering you. Not all the suggestions are helpful, such as one response: “I strangled him, weighted the body, and dumped it in the deepest part of the lake,” but knowing how everyone struggles and overcomes can be a cathartic experience.
Knowledge is power
You’ve thought through everything, you’re excited, and you’ve erased your negative reasons. There’s nothing left now but to just start! Make the first small step toward your goal. If you want to run a marathon, start by taking a long walk today. If you want to learn how to sew, find a simple pattern and buy a sewing kit. Buy a book, find an article online, or better yet, take a class with and find other people with the same goal. Classes are a great motivator and come with built in deadlines and minor goals.
One thing I find helpful is making a list of things I want to do. That way when I feel down or unmotivated or foggy-headed, all I have to do is look at my list and try something. 43 Things is a great resource for listing, yep 43, things you want to accomplish. People have goals that range from drink more water to Take over the world. My list in progress can be seen here.
Make time for treats
Once you’ve started, keep your enthusiasm and energy up by taking time out to reward yourself for the hard work. Maybe that means just lounging on the couch for an evening, or perhaps you want to show everyone just how much your cooking skills have evolved since you’ve been inventing recipes. Anything you enjoy that will make you glad you’ve spent your hard won time and effort (and possibly money) on.
What are your favorite “starters”?