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4 Ways to Punch Through the Scary Questions at the Start

ID-10083769Do you long to finish what you start?

Finishing is huge for our psyche. It wows and gives us confidence. It releases pressure and tension when we finally reach our goal. Finishing creates momentum and catapults us forward to even greater things.

But we don’t start at the finish…we start at the start; and the start can be a very confusing place to be. Remember what it was like in those moments when the dream was birthed in your mind? Wasn’t it exciting and scary all at the same time…and full of questions?

Can I do this?

Where do I begin?

Do I have adequate knowledge for this?

Who out there can help me?

What if I mess something up?

And the most paralyzing question of all – What will other people think?

Unfortunately, the answers we give stop us dead in our tracks. We don’t move beyond the initial stages of exploration because of fear, uncertainty and doubt. Our dream is brought to a screeching halt before it ever begins.

It’s not easy to punch through these formidable questions and begin the pursuit of a dream. Fear is a powerful motivator for non-change. It feeds stagnation. We would rather sit still than challenge our fears.

Start breakthroughs can happen though, as my wife and I have learned over the past three years.

In that time, she has transitioned careers from high school math teacher to CPA and I morphed from unhealthy-loaf-on-the-couch to two-time marathon finisher. These questions plagued us at the start of both journeys – especially hers because the stakes were so much greater for our family. However, we found ways to cope with the pressure and uncertainty of the start. Here’s how.

Be Courageous

I realize this sounds a bit Rambo-gung-ho-ish with a sprinkle of cheerleader thrown in, but you must garner the courage to chase your dream.

Fear is a must-go. He will try to worm his way in all along the way, but he’s the worst at the beginning. If you can punch him down in round one, it will be easier in rounds 4, 8 and 11 as the fight goes on.

Be courageous. Don’t give into fear. Shout, “YES, I want that thing!” Then go after it with abandon.

Develop a Plan

If courage is the emotion which jump starts our engine, a plan is the chassis that provides it structure for the journey. You can’t just wing this dream of yours. It has many floating parts, with twists and turns along the way that will derail the plan-less.

I was a complete newbie three years ago when I started running. What a thrill it was to cross the finish line of my first 5k race. I knew, though that distance would not be enough to challenge me going forward. I wanted the big ones, the half-marathon – maybe a full. A daunting task, I know.

So I started researching. Seeing a weekly running plan from someone with more experience eased my anxiety about starting the bigger pursuit. It gave me realistic hope that I could complete those distance races.

Two completed marathons later I can say it would have been impossible without a plan to follow. Had I tried it on my own with no direction, I would have most assuredly failed.

Commit to learn

Face it…we don’t know everything at the start. How could we? Even with a well-designed plan, all the details will not be known at the beginning. These unknowns are frightening, especially those that will occur in areas we know nothing about and therefore, feel unable to fix.

Lack of knowledge is a start-buster.

You can take heart though, because the learning doesn’t have to occur all at once. It happens gradually, building on itself piece by piece. The problems that come in year two of the journey, you will be able to tackle because of the knowledge growth obtained in year one.

It’s like taking Algebra II after Algebra I. The concepts of the new class come easier because you’ve had the prerequisite.

Being willing to learn will be key in completing the journey. If you can’t commit to learn, you might as well not start.

Ignore the Naysayers

People will always be around to shout down your dream.

“It’s too crazy” they’ll say.

“You don’t have the skill, connections, money, influence or whatever to make it happen.”

“Why don’t you just play it safe? After all, you’ve got a good thing going now.”

Refuse to listen to the naysayers who will persuade, guilt, chide and belittle you into not starting. Instead, seek out wise counsel from people who have experience in where you want to go. Take them to lunch and pick their brain. That’s what we did three years ago with a senior level CPA.

During that lunch, this CPA detailed for my wife what it would be like to transition into a new career. She gave a thoughtful and objective analysis of the field, sharing its ups and downs. Mostly though, I remember the excitement in her voice and the words of encouragement. It bolstered my wife’s confidence that this crazy journey she was about to embark on might actually be rewarding.

It was the best money we ever spent.

Connect with these type of people. They will help push you across the start line.

There is great personal value gained in seeing a dream through to the end. But first, you will have to overcome the start. Get started today.

How else do you get motivated to start? What is the toughest obstacle you had to overcome at your start? How do you say “No” to fear? Why do you think people shout down your dream?

Image at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Next Post: Stealing From Your Employer

Prior Post: ATTN Men: A Woman Values Security. Get It For Her!

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  1. Stapler Confessions says:

    This post is great timing for me! I have a lot of fear about some opportunities I’m trying to develop now that I’ve been laid off. A lot of it is a fear of messing up and what people will think of me when I mess up. It’s time to just buck up and jump on in!

    • Fear of the mess up and fear of what others think are two big ones. I can’t think of one mess up I’ve done though with this blog that wasn’t correctable. And I think people applaud the effort more than they criticize the mess up. We just don’t think that’s true and that holds us back. My mind always exaggerates what people think.

      • Stapler Confessions says:

        Hey Brian, I want to thank you for this post. Guess what I did after reading it? I took some small steps ahead, which involved contacting friends and colleagues to help me connect to potential customers — something that terrified me because of my fear of failing at our new project. I finally feel like I’m on the road to getting this thing launched, now that I’ve “outed” myself. Thank you!

  2. I have always hated running, but I knew that many of my friends loved how it cleared their minds, gave them alone time, etc. Not to mention all my friends who run are fit! So I set a goal to run a 5k one day. It’s not much, but it’s a start. Having a weekly plan (I’m using Couch to 5k) definitely helps. I know that when I cross that finish line, I will be so glad I started!

  3. I usually worry about how things might turn out…am probably my greatest nay-sayer…I go on and on about just what could go wrong or what if the project fails. Funny enough, its a great way to scope out a project…when am aware of as many things that could go wrong, I prepare adequately for them. After, I start very small…toes in the water, upto ankles, then the knees etc and keep learning at each point…tends to build confidence over time. Just as you put it…being ready to learn as much 🙂

  4. Timely post for me Brian! I have my 1/2 marathon plan up on my bulletin board, complete with sharpie so I can cross off the days. I also rented a bunch of running magazines from the library so I can gain a lot of knowledge about what to expect! I know I’ll have my fears and doubts along the way, but I plan to just accept those thoughts for what they are…thoughts. I had a lot of naysayers about blogging too, till they find out what I can make from my blog. Now they are all asking me how to get started. 🙂

  5. Inspiring post, Brian! I think the hardest thing is starting. Usually once you start you have some failures here and there that set you back, but it’s much easier to continue the course once you’ve started. I think people generally don’t want others to succeed because they are jealous. You really need to seek out those people who will encourage you in your pursuits. They are few and far between, but they’re out there.

  6. Shannon Ryan says:

    Great post, Brian! It is easy to get stuck thinking about what others think of the things we’re doing. Ironically, few are actually thinking about us in that way because they are too busy wondering what we’re thinking about the things they are doing. 🙂 I definitely have fears and doubt too but I know when it’s something I’m passionate about I can work through those fears. A plan for me is a must-have as it gives me focus. I’m fortunate to have an incredibly supportive husband too. He gives me great, constructive feedback and is my biggest cheerleader. I believe that while it is important to eventually share goals/dreams with others, it’s better to wait until they are out of their infancy. I find when my ideas are new and not completely formed yet, they are the most vulnerable to naysayers. But when I have a plan in place and forward movement, I am less influenced by their negativity because I have a clear vision of what I want.

    • “…it’s better to wait until they are out of their infancy. I find when my ideas are new and not completely formed yet, they are the most vulnerable to naysayers.” That’s a great point. Waiting gives us time to reflect and determine if the goal/dream is a legit one or something we thought of on a whim because we were being emotional.

  7. Wow, it’s like you’re reading my mind. I’ve actually been thinking a lot lately about the different kinds of fears that control different parts of my life, and how incredibly frustrating and self-defeating that is. I don’t think fear is something that simply goes away, so instead you just have to make a decision to be okay with it. Instead of running from the fear, figure out how to take one step towards it. Then another. And then another. It won’t take too long for you to have made it all the way through something that you couldn’t have imagined earlier. But you have to face it one step at a time.

    • Must be a Vulcan mind-meld thing going on. 🙂 I like the visual of moving towards and attacking the fears instead of running from or avoiding it. The more we address it the less it controls our life.

  8. Alexa Mason says:

    You have to ignore the naysayers. There will always be somebody trying to tell you that you can’t do it. That’s usually what motivates me the most – I want to prove the negative people wrong!

  9. kelly @stayingonbudget says:

    For sure, ignoring the haters and a plan will get you so much further than you ever thought! Great post!


  1. […] Fourman @ Luke1428 writes 4 Ways to Punch Through the Scary Questions at the Start – The start can be a very confusing place to be. It’s exciting yet filled with many […]

  2. […] Luke1428: This is another post that really resonated with me because of some of things I’ve been working through in my own life. Brian talks here about the control that fear can have over our lives and how that can limit us. He also talks about the ways that both he and his wife were able to fight through their own fears to accomplish some really great things. This is an incredibly important subject and one that Brian captures really well. […]

  3. […] Brian from Luke1428 talks about overcoming obstacles to finish what you start: 4 Ways to Punch Through the Scary Questions at the Start. […]

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