Begin the Begin

Why is it so hard start something new?

I’ve been in the process of starting a business since the spring of 2016. I started working on my website in January 2017, and today, 18 months later, I am writing my first blog post. That might not seem like a big deal, except I’m a writer. My business is freelance writing, design and marketing. So what took me so long? I’ve been asking myself that, almost daily, for the past year.

But today, September 21, 2018, is the day I’ve committed to get it done. So it seems appropriate that my first post would be about beginnings, and why they are so hard. Am I a procrastinator? Sure, who isn’t. But I don’t think it’s among my worst faults. Am I lazy? Being that the sofa rarely sees my imprint until after 8:30pm most nights, I think not. Am I just too busy with other things? I generally work an average of 20 hours a week on my current freelance projects, hardly a crushing burden. So what is it, exactly, that holds me back?

It’s not just me. A google search for why is it hard to start something new brings up over 2,000,000,000 results. In 2018 alone, there have been dozens of blog posts on the subject. The truth is, when starting something new, many of us will drag our feet until our shoes wear thin. Whether it’s something big, like a career change, or something as small as calling your friends more often, it often seems easier to do nothing.

We all have different reasons for putting things off, but for me it usually comes down to one of these 5 things. See if you agree. Maybe you’ll even find some motivation to get started on your next endeavor.


we tell ourselves we don't have time

1. We tell ourselves we don’t have time. We all know those super-efficient people who juggle dozens of commitments and never seem to sleep. (If you’re one of them, you can stop reading now.) But the rest of us sometimes need a reality check. During her last couple years of high school, my daughter occasionally told me she couldn’t wait until she had only a job and could come home without any homework. Sound familiar? I think I said that myself, when I was in high school. But anyone over the age of 25 knows that life gradually becomes a little like eating dessert on Thanksgiving. You can almost always fit a bit more in, if it’s good enough.


do what's important to you

2. We make trivial things more important. It’s so easy to get side-tracked. I work from home on the internet a large part of the day. I’ve lost more hours than I can count trying to save a few bucks on a pair of shoes. I make myself feel better by saying I’m saving my family money. But if I’m honest, I’d like to say my time is worth more than $3 an hour. To really make each day count, start with the way you spend each minute. If it’s not enriching your life in some way, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it.


Don't be afraid to jump.3. We want to learn more before we start. Are you afraid of not knowing all the answers? I’m the classic oldest child, the one who wants to have all the advice and an answer for every question. Getting back into marketing after a 16-year absence requires learning a lot of things. Do I know enough about social media? Can I write for SEO? I’m not an expert, but maybe I don’t have to be. There’s something to be said for learning while doing. And anyway, I’m pretty sure if I don’t do it, I’ll never learn.


to get ahead get started4. We aren’t sure we can keep up with the commitment. I’d like to lose 5 pounds. Theoretically, losing a little weight should be simple – cutting out the wine and dessert for a few weeks will allow me to comfortably button my jeans. But a glance at the calendar shows a girls’ night out, Trivia Night, and a family dinner. No point in starting a diet this week, right? Flipping to the following week shows a similar smattering of events. Maybe it’s not about waiting for the perfect week. I can be good at least 4 days this coming week, which is better than not at all. So today, I’ll have a salad for lunch – no bread – and I’ll skip my afternoon cookie break. But it’s Friday, so I make no promises about the wine once 5pm hits.


It's ok to make mistakes5. We’re afraid to fail. It seems obvious to say that no one wants to mess up. But for some of us (raise your hand if you’re a perfectionist) avoiding failure is more important than actually getting something done. The feeling is especially acute when we are doing something we’re supposed to be good at. Afterall, if you don’t like this article, why would you hire me to write for you? For this, my first blog post, I have set a deadline of 4pm today, and I feel my stomach churning with every tick of the clock. Will it be perfect? Of course not. And once it’s up, I’ll think of a dozen other things I could have added, should have deleted, or wished I’d edited in some way. But I also know that, once I hit the Publish button, it will feel great. And at 5pm I’ll pour a glass of wine.


Begin the Begin – title borrowed from R.E.M., Life’s Rich Pageant

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