How to get moving when your worries are stopping you

Do you have a hard time following through on your plans?

Some people are very good at creating plans, but less skilled at carrying them out. I count myself among them. Do you have this problem, too?

If so, I have a solution for you.

But first, let’s talk about why you might not be taking action on your plans. Let’s assume that you want to start a side hustle. (The technique I’ll teach you works with any project you’re planning, though.)

You have an idea for a service to sell, an idea of whom you might sell it to, and you’ve even thought a little about pricing. This is an excellent start. But for some reason, you haven’t started. Why not? Probably because you have all sorts of objections, such as:

  • I don’t know whether this idea will pan out.
  • Is it even worth my time to start a side hustle?
  • If this project makes me a lot of money, would I want to quit my job?

These are all worries, or fears, that might be worth examining under certain circumstances. But when you have not yet taken any action, such worries are not relevant. You do not have enough information to answer the questions or to make decisions.

So we need to set aside these objections and start carrying out our plan. That will give us data to work with. But how to start?

I could go all Instagram-slogan on you and tell you to CRUSH YOUR FEARS. But those slogans are a load of nonsense. What they suggest might work once or twice, but those approaches are not sustainable.

Instead, we’ll use a combination of project planning and mindset work.

To begin with, divide your project into actionable steps. Actionable steps are small enough that it does not make sense to further divide them into smaller steps. This is the core of the Getting Things Done methodology that I use every day. (I describe in detail how I use it in my guide to using OmniFocus, a task management app.) 

For example, to start a side hustle, actionable steps might include:

  • Ask John whether he still needs a menu designed for his new café.
  • Offer to write the copy for Sarah’s website on which she advertises her accounting business.
  • Email three friends to ask them to put you in touch with people who are getting married, so you can offer to do the photography at their weddings.

Each of these actions would take you a few minutes at most. By starting with a small task like this, you can do something—and once you complete one task, it’s often easy to complete the next task too.

Now that we have actionable steps, we need to get in the right mindset. The key is to reframe our definition of success.

Rather than considering your side hustle a success when it makes you boatloads of money, instead consider it a success when it teaches you something about running your own business. (If you want to read more about reframing your decision of success, read “How to make failure impossible”.)

You see, you want to be successful for the long term. And for the long term, it matters much more that you learn today than that your first business idea pans out.

Even if your project is not starting a business, you still want to focus on the long term, whatever long-term success might look like. For example, if you’re dating, long-term success might look like improving your emotional communication skills, or understanding what you’re looking for in a life partner.

With an actionable step in hand and a learning-oriented mindset, go ahead and take that small first action. Try to learn from it. Then take the next action and learn from it, too.

Finally, rinse and repeat.

Yours,

— Peter

P.S. Are your objections holding you back from following through on your plans? I can guide you, one-on-one, to get you moving. Let’s chat about it—just email me.

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