Get Started Already!

The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” — Agatha Christie, British mystery novelist.

The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” — Walt Disney, American animator.

Get Started Already! by Laura Stack #productivity

No matter how grandiose your plans or how carefully laid your schemes, they’re worthless if you never shift gears from meditation into motion. You may have heard the old platitude, “Dreams are just goals without deadlines.” Yes, it’s true we all need to keep ourselves motivated as we work our way through life, but eventually, you’ve got to get off your duff and get moving.

I’m not telling you to leap immediately into action without considering the consequences. I like to say, “Thoughtless action will benefit you no more than action-less thought.” But once you’ve gathered your resources, considered each of your options from all the obvious angles, and formulated a basic battle plan, why would you pick procrastination over forward motion?

I’m no psychologist, but after 20 years “in the trenches” teaching personal productivity, I believe that procrastination—like all human behavior—arises from very primitive roots. To drum up the gumption to take action, you have to flip an ancient, hardwired motivational switch…and that means overcoming the FLIP factors holding you back:

1. Fear. As one of the most basic human motivators, fear isn’t all bad. If not for fear, we wouldn’t be here today, because fear made our ancestors run away from threats like fires and sabertooths. But irrational fear can drive you to ill-considered action…or no action at all. It need not appear at an unconscious level. So instead of standing there undecided, ask yourself if fear—especially fear of failure—stands in your way. If so, what steps should you take to conquer it?

2. Laziness. Sometimes you just don’t wanna. Well, hey, reality calling! You and your family need to eat, and you need to do something to stave off boredom. As long as you don’t overdo it, work keeps your mind nimble, helps level out your emotions, and enhances your self-esteem. So get off the fence. Too much laziness just dulls your edge.

3. Inertia. In scientific parlance, inertia represents an object’s resistance to a change in speed and direction. The same goes for human behavior. “We’ve always done it this way.” “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” “If it was good enough for Grandpa…” We’ve all heard these excuses for not changing. You may be dragging your heels because, deep down, you feel this way too. Successful companies and successful people often resist change, because what got them there worked well. Well, reconsider your reasoning. What got you here won’t necessarily get you there, so don’t let your natural conservatism get in the way.

4. Perfectionism. If allowed free rein, perfectionism can kill a project as surely as budget cuts. Contingency plans beget more contingency plans, one draft leads to another, and suddenly time’s up—and you’ve hardly moved beyond your starting point. Rather than waste time overthinking or falling prey to analysis paralysis, rough out the basics, break the project/task into workable chunks, put your head down, and start moving. You can always make course corrections as you go. Exercise flexibility and agility, handling the hurdles as you come to them, and you’ll eventually reach the finish line.

This Means You!

Some of us find it easier to FLIP procrastination into action than others. But no matter how hesitant you are about something, you can learn to stop dragging your heels in the productivity arena. Buckle down and get over the FLIP factors, so you can flip your action switch and get started!

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  2. […] blame someone else when change leaves damage in its wake because you did nothing. You can actively resist change, and snap in half like a rigid old tree. All these approaches fail eventually. If, on the other […]

  3. […] blame someone else when change leaves damage in its wake because you did nothing. You can actively resist change, and snap in half like a rigid old […]

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