Click here to listen to Podcast 1
Today I’m going to answer two questions:
Why is it so hard to start something new? and
How can you make it over that beginner's hump?
While reading this I want you to think of that one thing that keeps coming back to you. You know, the thing that you’ve wanted to do and you just haven’t done it yet. A lot of times our brain comes up with excuses, reasons, fun ways to procrastinate. We say things like “I’m going to start when it’s the new year, on Monday, when my child goes to preschool, when I get that new job, when I have a little bit more money, when I have more time and the whens go on and on. Life gets crazy and there are always going to be reasons not to start.
I help people challenge their thoughts that keep them stuck. One of those thoughts is. “There’s never the right time”. Many parents use their kids as an excuse to not move forward with things they’d like to begin. They say to themselves that “There is never an ideal time to start something new. Life is just too crazy right now.”
There will always be at least one excuse not to do something. Most of the time we have several reasons. In my practice, I help people to challenge thoughts like these. I want to challenge that thought with you right now. When I said earlier that life is just too crazy right now, I’m sure some of you were like “Yeah! You’re right, Sommer”. I don’t see myself ever having time to start.
Just so you all know as I’m writing this I have 2 sick kids at home. I just got through my own 10 day quarantine and I’m in the middle of catching up on my recertification for life coaching and there are a million other things I’d like to stay on top of.
Monday was supposed to be the day that I got out of quarantine. I had big plans to get back to work and go to the grocery store. I work from home, so quarantine didn’t really stop me, but today I was thinking that I’d have the house to myself and I’d be able to catch up on the things that I’d been putting off for today, when the kids were all supposed to be in school. Well, when two of them were coughing and not going to school, I just wanted to crawl back in my bed and pull the covers back over my head. That is just what I did. I took my two oldest kids to school, ate my breakfast and crawled back in bed.
I still have some congestion from my own sickness, but I have no fever, aches, cough, headache, nothing except congestion. I didn’t have a physical reason to get back in bed, but I was feeling depressed, let down and bugged with life. The life that had “promised” me that I could get back to it today. After sulking for a couple of hours, maybe dozing off here and there I texted my 11 o'clock appointment to confirm. I was bummed to hear that she was still on for our meeting. I would have canceled on her, but I had just reminded her of my 24 hour cancelation policy the week before. I pulled my covers back up for a few more minutes and thought “I might as well get up and get ready”. I jumped in the shower, put a little bit of makeup on and brushed my teeth.
That was the best decision I had made. During that 11:00 call I decided to start this podcast.
So what better topic to start with than the topic of starting. What’s the big deal about starting? Some people are amazing starters. They start tons of projects. Some people actually finish the projects they start. Whaaaat? Today I’m going to talk to you about why it’s so difficult for us to start something new and how to overcome that roadblock.
Our brains are amazing, efficient, powerhouses that have ridiculous amounts of information weaving in and out of them every day. The brain maintains its efficiency by using the least amount of energy possible at any given time. Conserving brain energy = conserving thoughts. This happens by creating neural pathways. I’m definitely not a neuroscientist, but I’ll give you the lowdown on what I have learned about these neural pathways. We all have them. We can compare our habits to a big 4 lane highway in our brain. They are thoughts that have been thought so often that our brain goes on autopilot to take the action. The path of that thought is so traveled that it becomes quick and smooth.
When we want to start something new we have to begin to think differently. That takes brain energy. Your brain wants to get back on that smooth highway so it can do less work. In creating this new pathway in your brain it takes not only fighting against that nice 4 lane highway that is so automatic and easy, but it also uses energy to create a new pathway that’s never been traveled. Sometimes that new path needs a machete to create it. That’s a lot of work.
In the beginning new thoughts feel foreign, unfamiliar and uncomfortable SCAREY. I want to emphasize that these new pathways are created by thinking new thoughts. Not by physically doing anything… yet. That’s why creating a new neural pathway doesn’t require you to do something physically a hundred times. It does take the work of thinking new thoughts on purpose and not just falling back to your default. You can even just envision yourself meeting and overcoming obstacles for less than 5 minutes a day and you will be able to change a neural pathway. Watch this video to see a great example of what I am saying. And, like I said before, the first time you think a new thought it is like starting that new trail that doesn’t yet exist. It takes thinking that thought over and over again intentionally to turn that new trail into a paved highway.
Some of our current highway thoughts are: I don’t have enough time, money, or ideas. I’m not smart enough, fast enough, strong enough, young enough or old enough. You are enough! You are enough. This is the new neural pathway to create. I have enough and I am enough.
Now let’s tackle the fear of failure. This is another highway that those other thoughts lead up to. It also holds us back. Fear of failure for me seems like it has gotten easier with the help of life coaching. What has helped me is that I have changed my definition of failure. Now for me, failure only exists if I don’t try. Because each time I try whether I succeed or “fail” I have succeeded, just because I tried. Let me repeat that. Each time I try, even if I “fail”, I have succeeded. Trying is succeeding. How freeing is that. That means that I can try anything and it is now so much less scary to fail.
The third thing that I want to touch on is Self Doubt. Did I have self doubt about starting this podcast? You better believe it! I could have avoided my self doubt and easily stayed in my comfort zone, not trying something new. It would have gotten me out of the discomfort I have of recording this and figuring out how to edit and put it out there. BUT, I would have been stuck with that other kind of discomfort of not fulfilling my desire, not evolving, not growing and ultimately of shrinking. I choose instead to move through self doubt and fear. I choose to evolve my brain and my life.
Now the last thing I want to talk to you about is being your own compassionate mentor. This is magic. This is loving yourself and committing to yourself. The way this looks in my own brain is by telling myself things like:
Of course you are going to doubt yourself,
Of course you are going to be afraid, you have never done this.
Trying new things is scary.
You are doing something amazing.
You are doing something you are afraid of.
Is it possible that you will fail? Heck yes! Is it worth the risk? Heck yes.
That is so much different than how I used to talk to myself. I’d believe all my thoughts that held me back. Those thoughts that were trying to convince me that I’m not good enough. If you are having a hard time getting yourself out of those programed thought patterns that keep you stuck, set up an exploration call with me. Let’s get you moving forward on your dreams.
I am creating new neural pathways. I am learning and growing. My confidence will continue to grow every time with the repetition of that new thought. And the same is true for you. It will be uncomfortable to begin this process, but your confidence will continue to grow everytime you repeat that new thought. It will grow and grow until it feels automatic. The best part is that you get to choose your thoughts. You get to choose the ones that you want to keep and the ones you want to reprogram. This is a game changer.
So what have you been thinking about doing for the last several months that you keep saying “one day I’d like to….” I want to hear in the comments. Also, I’d love to help you start and finish that project you keep pushing to tomorrow because really there’s no need to put it off any longer.
As for me and this new podcast: Yes this is something new. Yes it’s something I’m afraid of and yes I have self doubt about it. Here’s to showing up even when you’re scared.
Practice the new thought. In todays example, I’m practicing the thoughts “I am a podcaster and I have a podcast”.
Change your definition of failure. The only way to fail is to not try. Trying = success.
Walk through fear and self doubt.
Advocate for yourself. Choose intentionally to talk to yourself in a way that is comforting, lifting, encouraging.