Have you been thinking about doing something big, but are yet to take the plunge?
Maybe something that requires a large time commitment, or a change of habit? Something that takes you out of your comfort zone?
It’s hard to take that first step. We tell ourselves we need to wait until the time is right, or until we’re better prepared. We have to do our research first, or perhaps take a course. We have to wait until we’re ready, until our family is ready.
But do we? Really?
Research has its place, of course. Waiting until the time is right can also be beneficial — in some circumstances. But too often we’re putting things off because we’re afraid to start. We think we’re not ready.
Sometimes you have to just start.
I’m a fiction writer. I love making up stories, I love the thrill of discovering what my characters will do next, and I love keeping readers turning the page into the wee small hours.
But for a while now I’ve wanted to branch out into non-fiction. I want to share my story, and possibly (hopefully) inspire others to get out and do whatever it is their heart desires.
So what have I done about my desire? I got stuck down the rabbit hole of research, for one thing. I lost myself for months reading other people’s stories, their ideas on how to write good articles, how to engage with your audience, and so on.
It’s all good advice, of course. I don’t want to write anything no-one wants to read. But in my quest to make my articles the very best and most informative they can be right from the word go, I haven’t managed to start yet.
Not a single article published.
So what’s really holding me back? What’s holding you back from your big thing?
I think it’s fear.
Fear of failure, maybe. Fear of getting it wrong. Fear of being laughed at. Fear of saying we’re going to do something, and not following through.
These fears are always going to be there. Whether I’ve published a hundred articles, a thousand, or none, fear of failure will always be at the back of my mind. Even if I’m successful, the fear will still be there. What if the next article is rubbish? What if this is all a colossal waste of time?
So let’s look at it another way.
What’s the worst that could happen? If I jump in and start publishing today, what’s the worst thing that could possibly happen?
Maybe no-one reads a single word of it. Maybe my first article goes into the black hole of the Internet, never to be seen again. And so does the next article, and the next one.
My other fear is not following through. Proclaiming to the world (or not, as we’ve established above if no-one is listening) that I’m going to publish an article every day for a month, or once a week for a year, or some such timetable, and then not doing it.
Again, so what?
We can put too much pressure on ourselves. Part of the reason for sharing my story is that I want to explore how doing the things we love and are passionate about can change our lives.
Whatever it is you want to do, whether it’s to start a blog, start a new fitness regime, get a new job, or just get out into nature and enjoy the outdoors, sometimes you just have to start. Forget the rules, forget trying to do it the right way.
If you fail, so what? Try again. And again. Keep failing, and before you know it you’ll succeed.
Or you’ll at least have fun trying.
So I’m going to do this non-fiction thing a little different. I don’t promise to write every day or every week. I promise to write when I want to write, and publish when I want to publish.
I’m not going to keep researching and practicing until I have the perfect writing checklist or six months worth of articles ready to go.
I’m just going to start.
Are you with me?