January provides the opportunity for a fresh start, a chance to begin again, to make forward motion with plans and accomplish goals. But often those plans fall by the wayside with the first obstacle and goals are put aside when the hurdles are higher than expected or life intervenes.
Sometimes the hurdles that halt forward motion are external; other times, they are internal and require a concerted effort to overcome. Good intentions aren’t always enough of a catalyst for action. You have to identify what prevents taking first steps and then circumvent those obstacles.
What holds you back from starting a new project or moving to the next phase of life?
Following are some deterrents to beginning:
Fear is one of the greatest roadblocks to beginning. Fear is multi-faceted. You may be afraid the challenge is too great or you’re not smart enough, skilled enough, or capable enough. Or your greatest fear may be failure, that you will be unable to complete what you start. The flip side of fear of failure is fear of success. I know that sounds crazy, but if you succeed with what you start, then you have to keep all the plates spinning so you don’t crash and burn. Some find the expectations that come with success stressful and delay beginning because of anticipated challenges. Quash fears by remembering to take what lies ahead one step at a time. Each step and each challenge equips you for the next.
Often people fail to begin something new because they’re not sure they can do it perfectly. Perfectionists make an industry of investigating, collecting information, analyzing, and processing, but often have a hard time beginning the actual activity.
While it can be argued all the preliminaries are a beginning, if you never move beyond these initial steps, you’ve lost momentum and fail to complete. Overcoming perfectionism is challenging because you have to give yourself permission to be less than and tame the bent toward second guessing. But many great ideas never take flight because a perfectionist won’t risk imperfection.
When considering a new endeavor, you can be sure distractions will vie for your attention and prevent you from beginning, if you allow them to. Distractions are more prevalent today than they ever have been. We’ve become so accustomed to stayed tuned in to some form of technology that we rarely take time for quiet reflection and to avail ourselves to inspiration found through art, music, and nature. Make taming distractions a priority as you begin and you will be more likely to maintain forward motion.
Sometimes, beginnings are delayed by inadequate planning, lack of focus, or not taking time to envision the big picture. As with building a house, you can’t just throw a bunch of materials on a job site (or ideas on a piece of paper) and expect a completed project to appear without planning.
While planning is a foundational element of beginning, don’t let planning control to the point that you never start. Take time to lay the groundwork, but make sure you set a deadline for planning, and then, begin. Those first steps may be tentative, but you will gain confidence and momentum as you move forward. Beginning is halfway to finishing.
“Though your beginning was small, your latter days will be very great.” Job 8:7 NRSV