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Getting Good at Just Starting a Difficult Task (and 4 Tips to Practice the Art of the Start )

How to practice the art of the start? Set yourself a challenge to do with these 4 tips to starting a difficult task and achieve your goal.How to practice the art of the start? Set yourself a challenge to do with these 4 tips to starting a difficult task and achieve your goal.
Photo by Luis Villasmil on Unsplash

The tendency to put off difficult tasks that we don’t want to face is almost universal.

And it turns out, the moment of starting a task is often so much harder than actually doing the task.

Once we get started, there can be challenges (and we will want to switch to something else) … but if we can just start, then half the battle is already won.

So getting good at starting something tough can be a powerful skill to master.

Let’s talk about how to master it.

What Gets in the Way & How to Shift It

Why is it so hard to start? We feel uncertainty, fear, stress, overwhelm about the task. Or it makes us feel bad about ourselves, inadequate in some way.

It’s like opening a box that you know is going to cause you pain — of course you’d put off opening the box! We want to protect ourselves from that kind of stress.

We can force ourselves to touch the electric fence, but that can only last for so long. We only want to put ourselves through so much pain before we start to question why we’re making ourselves suffer.

The opportunity is in finding a new way of seeing these tasks — instead of filled with overwhelm, stress and inadequacy … can we find a more powerful way of seeing the uncertainty of this task? Can it be an opportunity, an adventure, a playground, an expression of our art? Can it be a dance of joy, a powerful way to serve others with love?

Find that for yourself. What is the opportunity of this task? What would make it meaningful and joyful?

Connect to that before you start, and things will get easier.

How to Start

Once you’ve taken a look at how you’re viewing the task, and find a new way to view it … you’re ready to train yourself at starting!

Here’s what I recommend:

  1. Pick a task that’s important/meaningful, but that you’ve been putting off. Usually it’s easy to find one. Look at your list, think about what you’ve been avoiding. Pick one, even if it’s a fairly random choice, it doesn’t matter.
  2. Find a way to make it meaningful & joyful. How can you view this task so that it serves others, that it’s an adventure or play, that it feels powerful opportunity? Even just a little bit is good. Connect to that.
  3. Shrink down the task. YOu don’t have to do the whole thing. Just a bit of it. For example, instead of having to write this whole blog post, I can focus on just writing the first few paragraphs. This will help lower resistance, because
  4. Clear everything away. Close your browser, disconnect your phone, close applications. Remove distractions. Give yourself the gift of simplicity.
  5. Dive in joyfully. You only need to start. You can work on staying with the task later. Just start! See it as a dance, a way to serve, a way to bring the full vitality of your being! Pour yourself in.

Appreciate this act of starting. It’s delicious and profound.

How to Practice the Art of the Start

An amazing way to practice this is to set yourself a challenge to do this once a day, 5 days a week, for a month.

Written by Leo Babauta

Leo Babauta is a simplicity blogger & author. He created Zen Habits, a Top 25 blog with a million readers. He’s also a best-selling author, a husband, father of six children, and a vegan. In 2010 moved from Guam to California, where he leads a simple life.
He’s also a Zen student, and is on a mission to help the world open through uncertainty training.
Buy his books here

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