New year, new you – so the saying goes. So why is it difficult to get started on your goal when it’s so exciting, so attractive, so authentically you?
Why do the trainers remain the box, why does the application form for the gym remain empty, why will we get started next Monday, next week, next month?
And if you do get started, why is it hard to keep it going – why do you find yourself flagging in energy somewhere down the line? Why do many people abandon their goals and dreams within a short while, because it was, after all, “too much”?
Get started with your brain
One reason is the reason is that we are built to cling to the familiar, and our wiring keeps us from risking pain. Which is fine, but in that category comes fear of the unknown, fear of doing things differently. Of making significant changes.
The second reason is we can only hold a very few things in our mind at once, no more than three. Some people say between two and seven items: forget them. It’s three. Beyond that we will experience real, neurological overwhelm, and that’s likely to happen with transformative goals and dreams because they are made up of many parts.
So these are why. Well, a couple of reasons why.
The essential question is how can we get started and keep going, if it appears to go against our mind/body nature? The answer is to work with it, not against it. And it can be done in two steps. We can turn things around so that these problems don’t ever arise, and the ability to get started kicks in the moment after the dream is created.
Step 1 Get started in chunks
If goals are too complex, is the answer to scale down? To dream small?
No. But they need to be what NLP calls ‘chunked down’. Self-explanatory, I think.
You have your goal, your intention – maybe to lose weight, or get fit, or reclaim your health or to build your own business that nets a huge and defined amount of profit per year. No matter what the scale of your goal, it is composed of parts – of chunks.
“What do I do first?” is a really good question. Get three ideas in your mind, then prioritise them. Write them down, with a date and time of expected completion.
But here’s the thing. The three answers should include at least one that is an action that results in change. For example, buy the exercise kit (no change, except to bank balance), join gym (likewise), go to first session (action which makes a change towards weight loss/fitness goal).
Step 2 Get started now
Do this as well as chunking. It’s called Nudging.
Nudging is making small but highly significant changes to your environment that express, motivate and bring into being the person you are now becoming. After all, to do things differently and be different, we have to do things differently – and be different.
Nudging works because you are bringing changes about that do not stimulate the pain resistance in your brain. The acts are different – but doable. They are motivating and sustaining. First, an example.
Get started like Peter
My client Peter (not his real name) moved to one of the UK’s most beautiful counties lock, stock and barrel. His intention was to devote his life to his love – which was to be an artist. He loves to draw. His drawings are complex and he doesn’t complete one in a single sitting.
But it wasn’t working. He has a beautiful house in lush countryside, with all the equipment he needs, but he couldn’t get started. For him, to get started meant to complete a first piece of work.
In our coaching conversation, he described how he would get out his materials and do a little or even maybe a lot of drawing, then put things away. But he was finding that when he took the drawing out again, he had lost whatever inspiration moved him to start it. So he would start another one.
And therein lay the frustration that sent him round in circles of false starts and wasted paper!
You can probably see what he could do in order to get started and keep going. To cut to the chase, he left the drawing and the materials out – didn’t put them away. In this way, he adjusted his surroundings to that of a ‘full-time’ artist and it was a simple (but not obvious to him) step.
He then found he could look at his work as he did other things, walking past, drinking his coffee, kept the inspiration and engagement alive, and he re-found the fascination that had literally and emotionally moved him to live this life.
Here’s how you can get started with Nudging
In your own surroundings, make sure you won’t be disturbed for this. Now take some time to imagine that you are that future you of your goal or dream, and you are being, doing and having what you want in your dream future. And imagine you are where you want to be. Enjoy this. Breathe it. What do you see, feel, hear? Breathe it.
By doing this, you are stepping into your goal, and biochemically, in your body and mind, you are living it.
Now open your eyes and look around you. You are now that future you looking at your present surroundings – which may not be the surroundings of your future. It doesn’t matter. Whatever you see is fine – it’s the environment of your change. To get started now, look for something to change, to make your surroundings those of the future you – the person you are becoming from now on. It can be something you add, or the way you look after it. It may also be something you get rid of, or stop doing. Because there’s a trade-off.
The bargain to get started
Peter was quite a tidy man by inclindation and had to trade his tidiness for continuing creativity and stimulating, immediate access to an artwork in progess. The tidy sitting room became the room of a practising, active artist and his productivity and deep satisfaction soared.
So to find the answer to that question “What can I do now?”, step into who you will be when you achieve your goal. After all, you need to be that person in order to achieve it.
Now make adjustments you live in your surroundings in line with who you are becoming. Exert your values and taste on your environment, even if it’s not the one you will inhabit in that dream future.
So – get started with chunking and nudging
Keep nudging and keep those chunks prioritised, doable and effective. I know there’s more to large scale changes than this, but together these steps powerfully prohibit stagnation and overwhelm, and keep you going in creating your dream.
For Coaching with Faith, either one to one in person or via Skype, see these details and please get in touch with any questions at all.