That was Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat Pray Love, and it’s one of my favourite lines from her because doesn’t the truth of those words hit you right in the face? If you’ve ever sat around and waited for your life to change, you’ll know that things don’t change until you do. And that happens when you finally decide that enough is enough.
When you wake up one day and feel exhausted of all the excuses; when doing nothing no longer feels like a comfortable blanket you like to roll in; when the bed of procrastination you like to lie in no longer feels cosy and warm, that’s a sign that change is impending.
You’ve grown restless. You’re fed up with your situation, with your life, with the way you want so many things for yourself but aren’t making any progress. You know you are not taking any steps toward any of them. And you’re tired of the same old, same old. You want change. And this time, it can’t wait till tomorrow.
If you ever feel this way, hold onto that feeling. When discomfort and frustration sets in, it simply means you’re getting too big for the small life you’ve been living. It means you have a burning desire to expand into new spaces, and you don’t want to feel constricted by old habits anymore. You don’t want to stand still; you want to start moving, open the windows and breathe in the fresh air, and allow yourself to feel invigorated again.
You don’t know how long it’s been since you’ve felt this way. It doesn’t matter how long it’s been because that’s not what’s important. What’s important is to take action right away.
When you feel the desire to start something good, don’t wait. Do it now. Whatever it is, even if it is a small step, do it.
And why not wait? Why not make preparations before starting on your journey of change?
Because the moment you allow the enthusiasm to simmer and sizzle out, the voices of doubt creep in. The who-do-you-think-you-are, what-makes-you-think-you-can-change, this-task-is-too-complex-you-are-in-over-your-head, you-can’t-do-it-so-why-try voices that we’ve heard so many times before will emerge, and the voices will do whatever it takes to drag you back into your bed-cave of inaction and procrastination.
Before the voices of fear sneak in, counter that with action. But listen, the goal isn’t perfection. The goal isn’t to go from amateur to pro overnight. The goal is simply to take that first step. That’s the hardest step, but that one step is all you need for now.
In the midst of your new path to change, here are some things to keep in mind:
1. Allow yourself to be a beginner
Unless you’re a child prodigy like Mozart, you’re probably not born with fingers that dance on a piano from the age of 3. Nobody sets out being excellent at what they do from the get-go. If you didn’t know how to swim and you’re just learning to, wouldn’t you expect to be flailing around for the first few (or fifty) tries? We learn, we practise and we get better with time. Knowing this, you allow yourself to fail. Knowing this, you allow yourself to suck terribly for the first few months of practice. Approaching anything with a mind of a beginner leads you to embody the playfulness and fearlessness of a child who has fun exploring a new activity. The first step isn’t scary anymore, it’s just trying and having fun while at it.
2. Do one thing, anything
Start now. Pick one thing to set you in motion. In order to run, you must first learn to walk; in order to walk, you must place one foot in front of the other. Take one step and then another, and soon you build enough momentum to walk, and run.
If you want to write, then write. The first step isn’t going out to buy new stationery (although pretty stationery is always nice to have). The first step is to grab a pen, ANY PEN, and write a sentence then another until altogether, it becomes a piece of writing, however incohesive it may end up being.
If you want to get fit, this means putting on your shoes, walking out the door and doing a 10-minute brisk walk around your neighbourhood. The first step isn’t to go online to look for the cutest gym outfit – that which you plan on wearing one fateful day in the future when you finally decide to sign up for a gym membership.
Beware all procrastination tricks your mind tries to play on you. Do that one thing now, don’t delay it.
3. Tackle fear by defining fear
At some point, fear will creep in. It comes in the form of negative voices in your head, feelings of inadequacy in getting the task done. That’s perfectly normal. Fear is that panicky friend who thinks the plane will disappear into the Bermuda Triangle – possible, but highly unlikely. Take the point fear is making. Fear usually makes a legit point but it also tends to be overly dramatic.
Entrepreneur and best-selling author, Tim Ferriss, shares in his latest Ted Talk how you can tackle fear by defining them. Just like how you would write down a list of goals in a goal-setting strategy, writing down your list of fears and the possibility of them actually taking place could help you view your fears objectively. By writing down the worst-case scenarios of hypothetical situations and how you would react to them, you soon realise that pinning down your fears makes them less abstract and scary.
The long road ahead
Pack some essentials like courage, perseverance and grit because the road to transformation is long and difficult. You will have to work every day for it. But you do because you know you are worth more than the excuses and inaction that you’ve been putting up with for a considerable number of precious years of your life. You put in the work because change is a choice, just like happiness is a choice and you know you deserve to be happy. The road is long and filled with struggles, and it’s okay if tomorrow, you regress or take two steps back. It’s okay because we all experience ups and downs. But commit to doing one step each day and soon you’ll be running instead of walking.
If there’s one thing you can do to start the ball rolling towards the completion of a task, a project or a dream, what would that be?
Originally published at wildcuriosities.com