|Mixed Media painting created in the online class 'Lifebook 2014'|
Getting started can often be the hardest part of the task. Perhaps you have decided to go for a run today. The hardest part is actually making yourself put on your shoes and head out the door. Once you start, it's not so bad. In fact, you might even enjoy it. Maybe you set aside some creative time. Only now you are dithering between journal and canvas.... hmmm acrylic or watercolour? Perhaps your cursor is still blinking at the top of the blank page entitled 'Chapter One' ... Actually it's that voice of doubt that starts up at the beginning of the task that creates the inertia... you're not fit enough to get to the end of the street... you really dont know to handle watercolour... you write boring stories... this is going to be a waste of time that you could have spent doing something more useful, like the laundry.. So what to do about it? Here are four strategies you might like to try...
1. Just do it
Listen to the wisdom of Nike's marketing department and 'just do it'. Just start as quickly as possible. Get to the door right now without thinking about it, close it behind you and get running. Grab the first supplies you see and put pen to paper. Open that document and just start typing. The trick is in the speed. Not allowing time for the voice of self-doubt to get a word in.
2. Embrace the Doubt
Was it too late? Did those negative vibes creep in already? Give them their full voice. Grab a piece of scrap paper and write every negative thought, every possible reason for not doing the task, everything that might go wrong. Don't edit or format or worry about spelling - just spew it all out. Once you have done this you might just find that none of those reasons are convincing. You might even see what protective messages they convey, and be able to reframe them more positively. It might just make you more motivated than ever.
Look... it works on five year olds, so it is worth a shot. Promise yourself a reward. Find the thing on your day's to-do list that you most look forward to doing and tell yourself that you will do that once you have finished this task you are struggling to start.
4. Instant Gratification
Try the polar opposite of the bribery strategy. Marney Makridakis says that "what moves us moves us". In other words, that task that you find enjoyable and fun, the one you are looking forward to will actually give you a bit more momentum. So do it first. If you really want to make a collage or splash around a bit of paint rather than this other thing you are putting off then go ahead. Doing the fun task will energise you and probably give you the boost you needed to take on the job you have been struggling to start.