I was afraid to start. I knew what I wanted to do, and I was even excited about it. But I was just terrified to begin it.
A few months ago, my friend Alexandra texted me with a brilliant idea for an Orthodox children’s book. It was such an exciting idea that I immediately said, “Let’s do it!” So, we began making plans, e-mailing contacts, brainstorming, etc.
Then, I just needed to write it. And fear set in. Doubt set in. I was too scared to start.
Have you ever felt like this? Was there something that you wanted to do but you were just plain scared of starting it?
Maybe it was something big, something you’d been dreaming of. Like writing a book, or going back to school, or starting a charity, or moving to a new place.
Maybe it was something smaller but still intimidating. Like trying to make a new friend, or signing up for an art class, or volunteering, or applying for a different job.
Maybe it was something mundane but still overwhelming. Like leading a project at work, or filling out piles of paperwork, or organizing a messy room, or buying a new car.
How do you start something that seems so big, so overwhelming, so scary?
What To Do When You’re Afraid to Start Something
1.Do It Fast
If the thought of beginning a task is daunting to you, try putting a time limit on it. For example, you can tell yourself, “I’m going to work on this for ten minutes.” Or fifteen. Or five. Whatever makes it seem less intimidating.
This is one tip that always works for me. When I have a big writing assignment, I will set aside fifteen minute chunks of time in my schedule. Somehow working for only fifteen minutes makes the task seem doable. Whereas, setting aside an hour or two hour period of time only serves to make me more scared!
Practical Takeaway: Right now, set aside fifteen minutes in your schedule to do that task you’re been scared of. Set it in stone. Make it non-negotiable. You can up the chances that you will actually get it done by specifying what you will do during those fifteen minutes. For example, “I will outline a chapter in my book.” Or, “I will print off the forms that I need to complete.” Baby steps!
2.Do It First
There’s an old saying attributed to Mark Twain that goes something like, “If you eat a live frog first thing in the morning, that will likely be the worst thing you’ll do all day long.”
The point is this: If you commit to doing your biggest, scariest, most important task first thing in the day, you are more likely to get it done.
I know this is true in my life. After a long day of teaching my fourth graders, taking care of my own three sweet children, and doing the tasks needed to keep a household running each day, I am wiped out.
While I generally do write pieces for the blog at night, if I have a big project or task to do, I know that I am fresher and more creative in the morning. I have more mental energy to approach big tasks after a good night’s sleep.
Practical Takeaway: Get up just ten minutes earlier to spend time working on that big task. You can pair this with Tip #1 and schedule your ten minutes of focused work for early in the morning.
3. Do It Together
Sometimes the thought of doing a big task is made even scarier by having to do it alone. What if I mess up? What if I can’t do it?
If that sounds like you, then finding another person to walk with you can “take the scary” out of the job.
Sometimes the person may literally do the job with you–like when my husband and I worked together to finish the mountain of paperwork we needed to do to change our driver’s licenses and register our cars. It turned an overwhelming task into something that was even a little fun!
Other times the person may simply encourage you or hold you accountable. As we are working on our book, my friend Alexandra is filling that role for me. Knowing that she is counting on me to complete my part of the book is definitely motivation!
Practical Takeaway: Think of someone who could either help you do your project or someone who can keep you accountable for doing it. Call that person today and ask them to help.
4. Do It Scared
Finally, sometimes you can have the motivation, the time scheduled, and the person to walk beside you, but you are still scared. That job still seems overwhelming. The dream still seems too big. The project still seems too daunting.
That is the time to do it scared.
Do it even though your knees are knocking while you do. Do it even if your heart is beating like crazy. Do it and trust that God will help you along the way.
Write that book. Make that video. Go up and talk to that person at coffee hour. Call that charity to see how you can help. Apply for that grant. Visit that school. Lead that project. Take that chance.
And do it scared. You’ll never know what will happen until you do.
Practical takeaway: Sometimes we have to just go for it. Do it scared.
Have you ever had something that you were scared to do? What happened?