From time to time, we all feel the pull to begin, to start something big, to follow a juicy idea, to give birth to a new project, to launch the next stage of our vision.
And there’s nothing so great as that initial burst of energy you feel when you start to feed that idea, right? The gears are turning, the brainstorm is full of thunder and lightning, and the ideas come fast and furious and you can’t WAIT to get started!
Yet if you’re like some people (okay, if you’re like ME), a funny thing starts to happen: there begins to be a big gap between THINKING about the cool idea and DOING SOMETHING about it.
Your head, which was previously hanging out on the sidelines while your heart dreamed and schemed, has begun voicing its opinion, and it’s kind of busting your groove. Your inner critic shows up under the disguise of “logic” or “reason”, and you stop actually making any kind of tangible progress or taking honest-to-god action steps that move the idea forward.
What the heck! What’s going on?
There’s a great book by Steven Pressfield called Do the Work, in which he says that the more our calling or dream or idea is in alignment with our true north, the more resistance to it we will generate. In his words:
“The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more Resistance we will feel toward pursuing it”.
Your inner critic (AKA resistance) is clever, and in some ways is just trying to help by protecting you from possible mistakes or failure. The problem is, it tends to over-function, and your enthusiasm and mojo about going after a dream is one big wake-up call to the critic, mobilizing it into action. And once it’s awake, it can come up with all kinds of insidious ways to slow you down and keep you from taking those first steps.
By the way, Pressfield also says that “resistance is always lying and always full of s***”. Which is a good thing to remember when you start getting pulled off the tracks by it.
So if you find yourself thinking any of the following, pay attention—your inner critic is behind the curtain trying to pull your chain.
It might sound something like this:
- I’ve got to get it right the first time. Often times we try so hard to get things exactly right that we scrap way too many good efforts and ideas. Perfectionism is one of the biggest buzz kills to your goals or dreams (or to anything, for that matter). Stop worrying about doing things right and start figuring out what one thing you can do to get the ball rolling. Do something, anything—and then learn from the process and give it another go ASAP.
- I’ve got to know exactly what I’m doing before jumping in. If you wait until you feel completely certain before you begin, you might be waiting a very long time. And if you think you need more info, training, skills, or experience—that’s a nice little story, but it’s not true. There’s a shortcut that will get you around all of that: learn by doing.
- I’ve got to watch what everyone else is doing, and copy them. Yes, you can learn a lot from other people who have been down a similar road. Here’s the problem with this strategy: THEY are not YOU. Learn by example, yes—but do it YOUR way. It’s the only way you’ll be completely happy with the results.
- I’m waiting until the time feels right. Guess what? The time is never “right”. See item #2 above. Did you ever see the movie Sideways? One of my favorite scenes in the movie is when the main guy has this amazing bottle of wine and tells his girlfriend that he’s just waiting for the right special event to show up so that he can open the bottle of wine. Her response? When you open the bottle of wine, that IS the special event. In other words, having the right timing has much less to do with waiting for the moment than it does creating the moment. You can make it the right time by setting your own agenda and following your own timeline.
- I’ve got to do it all by myself. Hooray for you—you’re Wonder Woman, you’re Superman! Congratulations—now you’re completely swamped with too much on your plate, as well as feeling potentially lonely and overwhelmed. So: learn to ask for help. Engage others in your dream. Create your own personal advisory board or cheering squad. Hire out the pieces you can. Delegate. Get a mentor. Doing it all on your own is overrated, not to mention a drag!
- I’ve got to play it safe in order to succeed. It’s easy to dream big and then get a bit scared of the size of your idea, and one possible response is to scale down your aspirations and shrink your plan to fit into something more comfortable and less risky. I love comfort, don’t you? I love feeling safe, it feel so…comfy. The problem is, just about everything worth going after (like your dreams, your goals, your passions) lies just outside of your comfort zone, and playing it safe is a sure way to let your dreams shrivel on the vine.
- If at first I don’t succeed, I should just quit. It’s easy to fall into the trap of “well, I tried that once, and it didn’t work, so I’m not doing it again.” Play this game: view everything as an experiment: Try X, see how it goes, and then you’ll have fresh, relevant information about what to do next. Nothing is a failure; everything is good info about how to keep moving forward. Rumor has it that it took Thomas Edison about 10,000 tries before he got a light bulb that functioned, and what he said about it was “I have not failed 10,000 times, I have successfully found 10,000 ways that will NOT work”.
The voices of resistance, that wheedling inner critic—sometimes they get to yammering away, and trick you into staying put, not starting.
So what should you do, when you’re on the verge of starting something big and those voices start running interference with your plans and ideas?
It’s simple, but not easy (yeah, one of THOSE things.)
Start before you’re ready.
I’ll say it again:
Start before you are ready.
Find one thing that you can literally take fast action on, and do it. Quickly. NOW, not tomorrow or next week.
Because when you move fast you won’t have time to second-guess yourself, and there’s no better ammo against those voices of resistance than action. It really shuts them up, and gives you renewed energy in your tank for following your big idea.
So, over to you: what’s your big idea or dream, and what ONE THING will you do RIGHT NOW to move the ball forward?
Let me know in the comments below!
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