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Crush your excuses and take that first step

Is there something you want to, but are afraid to start? You might want to start learning cooking, photography, or dancing. You might want to start making films, writing novels, or running your own YouTube show series. You might want to start your own business. Or you might want to start a revolution, because new year’s resolutions are for chumps? Or perhaps anarchy?

So, you want to start it (whatever it is), but you haven’t started it yet, because… Why? You are afraid of something?

Sometimes taking the first step is the most difficult part. But what stops you from taking that step? I can’t cover every particular excuse that stops you from doing what you want in this brief post, but let me try to nail down some of the fundamental excuses.

I believe these fundamental excuses include the following:

  • I’m not good enough.
  • I’m afraid of making mistakes.
  • I have no idea about where to start.
  • I don’t have enough resources (money, time, equipment, etc).

What can you do about these excuses and take that first step? Let me help you crush them.

Excuse#1: “I’m not good enough.”

You are not good enough? What exactly does that mean? Let’s say you want to learn dancing, but you think you are not good enough at it. Here’s good news. You are a beginner and you are supposed to become better by taking lessons and practicing what you learnt. Being good enough is not a prerequisite for you to get started with it.

So, don’t worry. You’ll get better along the way. But make sure to start as soon as possible, because if you start now, you’ll have more time to practice.

Excuse#2: “I’m afraid of making mistakes.”

This one is similar to Excuse#1 above. You will probably make mistakes as a beginner, but that’s expected. The most important thing is to survive from those mistakes and to learn lessons from them.

The most important question you need to clear away regarding this excuse is: Is there any mistake that will kill you?

If the answer is no, then your mistakes are more likely to make your life richer.

There is no losing in Jiu-Jitsu. You either win or you learn.
– Carlos Gracie Jr.

Excuse#3: “I have no idea about where to start.”

You know what you want to do, but you don’t know where to start. But what exactly does it mean that you don’t know where to start? Are there many first step options and are you overwhelmed by that? Or is it the case that you simply don’t know what to do?

Let’s say you want to start learning how to cook and let me answer these questions from this angle. So, there are many recipes and you don’t know which one you should start with. My suggestion is to choose something simple and stick to what you like within the range of simple things. It might sound too obvious, but I’m sure it will narrow down your options.

How about the case in which you don’t know what to do? You don’t know what to do, because… you don’t have the information you need to get started. Let’s say you don’t have any recipes handy. OK, this solution works for the other question as well, but you can ask your friends or search online. For example, you can search “how to make pancakes” and you’ll find a lot of helpful information on how to make pancakes, including instruction videos. How simple is that.

Excuse#4: “I don’t have enough resources (money, time, equipment, etc).”

You want to start your own business, but you don’t have money to do it. You want to write a novel, but you are too busy with your day job. You want to start taking photos, but you can’t afford to buy a DSLR camera.

  • If you have this worry, I have some questions for you.
  • Is it absolutely necessary for you to have those resources in order to start what you want to do?
  • If it is, why is it absolutely necessary?

If you can’t answer this question, it’s possible that it may not be absolutely necessary after all.

If you can answer it, however, I want you to ask yourself another question:

  • Is it absolutely necessary for your first step to be as big as you think it needs to be?
  • In other words, can you make your first step much smaller so you can actually take it?

Let me give you some examples.

You want to start your own business, but you think you don’t have money to do it? It does depend on what kind of business you want to run, but it’s possible to start a business under $100 and you can read more about it in this post by Chris Guillebeau.

If you want to take a very small step, you can get some “running your own business”  experiences by selling things on eBay, for example. That’s much smaller a step than founding the next Apple Computer, but you do get some experiences.

You want to write a novel, but you are too busy with your day job? But you certainly have 30 minutes a day to spend on writing a novel, don’t you? If you write for 30 minutes every day and you can write 500 words within that time slot on average, it will take you about 100 days to write a 50,000 word novel, which you can edit later.

If you want to take a very small step, you can write a short story instead of a novel. You can even write a three sentence long short story, for example. You can then step up further and further.

You want to start taking photos, but you can’t afford to buy a DSLR camera?
The question is: Do you really need that DSLR camera? Can you get a camera you can afford and start taking photos anyway? If your goal is to learn photography rather than to own a DLSR camera, I believe you can get much closer to achieve your goal by taking photos with a camera you can afford to buy than doing nothing.

The take away message

Don’t worry about how bad you are before you get started. You are a beginner, and you will get better along the way. Making mistakes is OK as long as they don’t kill you. Make sure to learn from them. If you don’t know what to do, ask for help. Make sure to stick to something simple in the beginning rather than trying to do something too complicated. Start small, because it’s possible that you don’t need those resources you though you needed if you make your first step as small as possible.

Great resources I recommend

I recommend these resources below if you need some creative inspirations to start what you want to do.

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
TED Talk by Elizabeth Gilbert

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Photo: AlicePopkorn

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