9 Tips to Start, Make Progress and Get Ahead

So you have a project or a dream you want to make a move on. Yet you’ve not made a start. Or perhaps you took the first step and it was harder than you thought or you didn’t see any results, so you quit. And your old routines – sitting on the couch, playing hour after hour of video games, or sleeping all day – raised their heads. Sound familiar? A few months later you’ll look back and your life is still a mess or you’re still unhappy or myriad other problems. As the well known saying goes, “If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always got”.

So how can this time be different? What can you do to break the endless cycle of stop-start, never making progress? There are in fact several simple but powerful mindsets and strategies that you can use to start seeing results, to get you further ahead than you’ve managed in the past. Incorporate these into your current or future projects – commit to them – and you’ll be amazed by the results.

9 ways to better results

  1. Do it scared. Here’s the thing: fear will never leave you. As long as you have a fully-functional amygdala, you will experience fear. There are many techniques you can use to manage fear but it’s always there in the background, ready to make an appearance when it senses you have something to lose (basically, any time you pursue a worthwhile goal). So, don’t wait for a time when you’re not afraid, because as long as you’re trying to accomplish something big, it will be there. Take action despite the fear. In the same way as you would leave the house if it was raining or cold outside, take action even when you doubt, when the outcome is uncertain or when you’re afraid. Keep going where the discomfort is.
  2. It’s the inaction that’s scary. Fighter say the worst time for nerves is the run up to the fight. Once the fight starts, survival mechanisms kick in and there’s no room for fear – they are completely absorbed in the moment. You may not be in a physical fight but the principle remains. The more you sit around thinking about doing something, the more likely fear will stop you. So get started as soon as you can. It’s a primal thing. Fear can’t be reasoned with. The only way to overcome it is to do the thing you’re afraid of. Yes, you may – no, you will – fail at times, but you’ll discover the fear has less of a hold over you, if any.
  3. Pull the trigger. Think back to those moments that changed the course of your life for the better. Asking that person out; starting a business; changing career; moving to a new city; trying something. They all have one thing in common. They required you to pull the trigger – to take action with no guarantee of the outcome. You need to take more decisions like that: decisions where the results are uncertain and you are OK with that. Decide that some things are more important than security, certainty and comfort. The next time you’re faced with something you want to do but lack the confidence, take a deep breath, screw up your courage and do it. That’s success right there, regardless of the outcome.
  4. If you’re not uncomfortable, something’s wrong. Discomfort is a sign of growth. If you’re pursuing a goal and feel completely comfortable, then the goal is not big enough – it won’t change your life. You need to set goals that stretch you; that make you dig a little deeper and discover or acquire skills and strengths you have not used before.
  5. Everyone feels the same. The people you admire experience fear, doubt, inadequacy, unhappiness, frustration. They’re just better at hiding it. They have those same thoughts but they don’t dwell on them. However you feel realise that everyone has at one time or another felt the same way. You’re not missing something. There’s nothing wrong with you. You are human. You’re experiencing the same thing as everyone else. Keep going.
  6. Do the thing you keep postponing. You know the thing we mean. It’s the idea that keeps popping back into your thoughts. It’s that one thing you know you should do but haven’t started. It’s the piece of the puzzle which, once it’s in place, will help other pieces fall into position. That’s the thing you need to be doing. It may be writing an email to ask someone for something; starting a podcast; creating that app. Forget about the outcome – that’s not important. What’s important is that you do the thing and start bringing energy and purpose to your project. Once you apply effort, things start to move. Until then, nothing changes.
  7. What results have your old behaviours produced? What have your past actions and choices brought you? If life is great, congratulations – keep doing what you’re doing. But if you’re unhappy, broke, lonely, depressed – whatever it may be – start doing different things and start doing things differently. If you want things to be different – you need to be different: different in thoughts, actions, attitude, behaviour. If you fall back into old behaviours, understand that you’ll get old results. If you don’t like where you are in life, change. Change your appearance; change your thoughts; change your actions; change your choices; change your attitude; change the company you keep – whatever it is, do things differently to how you have done things in the past.
  8. Meet new people. Every new person you meet is a potential door to a new world. You can literally transform your life by meeting the right person. New romances, new businesses, new journeys, new experiences, a new life – all open up to you when you make the effort to meet new people. Your world is not just confined to you – it can open up in limitless ways when you expand your circle of friends and acquaintances. Everyone thinks they have to change themselves to change their world when, often, you just have to change the people in it.
  9. Stop quitting. Someone once said, “If you’re tired of starting over, stop quitting”. Treat your goals like a journey, not a destination and as a marathon, not a sprint. The value of a goal is who you become in pursuit of the goal not the goal itself. (Many Olympic medal winners talk crashing back down to reality after their accomplishments. Imagine, even winning an Olympic medal can become normal). So forget about the outcome. Give it your best shot, keep plugging away knowing that this is the name of the game, and don’t quit. If something isn’t working, change it but stick with it. Perseverance is greater than talent.

Takeaway points

  1. Fear will always be with you when you’re attempting big goals. That’s perfectly natural and there’s nothing to be “fixed”. The antidote to fear is to take action immediately.
  2. If you’re not feeling some anxiety, the goal will not change your life. You need to stretch yourself slightly. Discomfort equals growth. Follow your discomfort.
  3. Persevere. Success rarely happens the first time. You need to stick with it through thick and thin. If you fail, get up, dust yourself off and keep swinging for the fences.

Action steps

  1. Do the thing you’re postponing. You know there is something you should be doing, that if you did it and were successful it would change your entire project for the better. Quite often, it’s just the first step. But whatever it is, identify it, write down the action you’re going to take and set a deadline for taking it.
  2. Start reaching out to people. Work 50% on your goal and 50% on making connections with new people. It could be to email someone with a request or an offer of assistance or even a word of encouragement. Other people are an essential ingredient in your success – and your project becomes more meaningful, too. Identify three people who you could help and reach out to them.
  3. Be mindful of your thoughts. Pay attention to your thoughts and what you say to yourself. If your stream of consciousness is one negative thought after another, you will sabotage your own success. The challenge is to be aware of your negativity to begin with – your thoughts are such a seamless part of you (like breathing) that it can be difficult to notice them throughout the day. So, set an alarm once every half hour to check in with your thoughts, words and actions.

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