How to overcome the fear of starting something new

How often do you think about doing something and end up not doing it? Like that business you always wanted to start, or that dream of playing the guitar. You procrastinate, work on other things, then makeup excuses to procrastinate again.

You argue with yourself. You worry about trivial things. You get distracted by anything and everything.

The lines of battle get drawn, and your work and distractions square off. Then suddenly, peace is brokered. Both sides agree to start afresh tomorrow… you set your alarm early to hit the snooze button as soon as it rings.

Fast forward to the present time: You have woken up. It is 9:10, so you have "no other choice" but to start at 9:30 because you convince yourself that "round numbers" or "20 additional minutes won't make a difference".

Sounds familiar?

Future self: your hero?

Your conviction that your future self will have all the answers is the key reason for falling into the trap of “I can do it tomorrow.”

Plot twist: Tomorrow's future self will be just as fearful. Because while you’re smarter, you’re probably even busier, more tired, and just as distracted.

💛 If your future self were a superhero who could time-travel, they would have one piece of advice for you:  ‘Just start.’

"If only it were that easy," you respond, a quiver of fear making it onto your face.

Why so afraid, friend?

Let's dive into that feeling. A study by the Perspective Collective reveals the top reasons people feel fear when starting something new:

Top Six Reasons for fear of starting something new: Putting yourself out there, commitment, failure, the unknown, not being perfect immediately, actually succeeding.

Which reasons apply to you? Furthermore, how do you combat these feelings?

Your game plan to defeat fear:

Step 1) Do not be hard on yourself.

EVERYONE procrastinates, more than you might think. The fact you are reading this shows that you care. Breath, smile, and pat yourself on the back.

Step 2) Use Dopamine to your advantage.

Be conscious of how dopamine affects you. Dopamine is a feel-good chemical produced in the brain when you experience reward or pleasure. However, challenging work doesn’t always produce dopamine (what a surprise!).

Yet, your brain produces it CONTINUOUSLY while scrolling through social media. Your longing for a dopamine kick might be stopping you from getting started.

💡 What is the best way to solve this? Take a moment to imagine you are on an exciting quest, the clock is ticking, and world peace depends on it. Visualize your excitement. You simply say, out loud: "I'm so excited to start on ...".

Use your imagination to trick yourself. Your brain cannot differentiate between fear and excitement. Use this to your advantage.

The Harvard Business School has written a whole article about this phenomenon.

Step 3) Break the habit of procrastinating to cope with stress.

Author and public speaker Mel Robbins reveals that we use procrastination as a way to cope with stress. Best to accept it and move on. There are many ways to get started on this strategy:

  • Acknowledge the stress: Be aware you use procrastination as a stress-coping strategy
  • Vocalize and count backward from five to one.
  • Drop whatever you are doing as soon as you realize that you are procrastinating and begin working on something productive. Habit triggers can help set this up.
  • Tell yourself to do something productive for just five minutes.

Research shows 80% of people will continue working on something after the first 5 minutes. Go get 'em, tiger!

Step 4) Stepping outside the comfort zone will always be, well, uncomfortable.

Remember all the other times you left your comfort zone. Think about how fulfilled you felt after the accomplishment. So stop thinking about how everyone else does things and go for it. Don't think about the output just yet; take your time and enjoy the experience. Play around.

Step 5) Use the Regret Minimization Framework.

Are you still struggling? We proudly present our final weapon of the day. The regret minimization framework, created by Jeff Bezos, is all about living life with the fewest regrets possible.

Think of something you are afraid to start today. In “X” years, would you regret not doing it today? If the answer to that is yes, you do it.

Good Luck!

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