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Making Progress When You “Can’t Even”

Making Progress When You “Can’t Even”

Sometimes, just getting started is the hardest part.

Ever have that feeling that you need to start something and just… can’t ?

Be honest to yourself

In the last post, I wrote about having small, specific, achievable tasks that build toward a bigger theme. But the truth is, even small tasks can be intimidating.

For example, I know I personally have a nagging fear of “doing it wrong” (in whatever context “it” applies). That fear can make even simple, achievable, well-defined tasks feel challenging and uncomfortable.

For me, a couple of examples are things like “incorporating lunges into my workout” or “calling my accountant.”

How to defeat these little goblins? I think the first step is just “real talk.” Identify what you’re putting off and then have a little chat with yourself about why those particular things are difficult. Is there a emotion that makes the task seem more intimidating?

Break "it" down

For me, that breakdown looks like this:

The task I never get done: Calling my accountant.

Why? I hate making phone calls, and I hate talking about my taxes. (Note: He’s a lovely person. It’s nothing personal.)

Another task I never get done: Adding lunges into my workout.

Why? I feel wobbly when I do lunges, and I don’t feel confident when I’m unsteady and off-balance.

Make it easy

Once we acknowledge that these tasks are hard for whatever reason, there are a bunch of motivational tricks we can use to stop avoiding them, for example:

Picture your success. Think about how much better you’ll feel when it’s over.

Make yourself accountable. Tell someone you trust that you’re doing this task by a certain date/time.

Make yourself a deal. “After I call my accountant, I’m taking myself out for a fancy cappuccino.”

Get it done. Each morning, make sure the hardest thing on your list is the first thing you do.

Anticipation is nearly always worse than reality. So identify what the problem tasks are for you, soothe any nagging fears that are holding you back, and start knocking them down.

Bonus: If there’s something you just can’t get done, post it in the comments and we’ll help make you publicly accountable for accomplishing it. 

Leitha Matz
FinTech COO. Startup Mentor. Woman in Tech. I spend a lot of time thinking about technology products and user experience, and I love stupid puns.
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