I’ve often thought about the idea of “starting” and whether it’s easier to start or finish. (I think I must’ve been a deep thinking philosopher in another life.)
It’s a little like the chicken and egg question and doesn’t seem answer-able because you can’t finish if you don’t start, but that doesn’t make it any easier to start.
And for the sake of discussion here, I’m talking about starting and finishing things you want to do for your own personal fulfillment.
Possibly to improve your life, possibly just for the joy of doing it, possibly for the satisfaction of checking off your bucket list, anything that requires you to get out of your regular routine, kind of get away from “Auto-Pilot” mode to disrupt your regular routine.
You’ll have to commit time, energy, and maybe even money.
The challenge of starting
For the purpose of simplifying the discussion, let’s pick a project. Let’s say we want to run a marathon.
A marathon is 26.2 miles. Let’s say the furthest you’ve ever run in your life is a 5k, 3.1 miles.
Here are some things people might say when you tell them you’re thinking about running a marathon:
Why would you want to do that?
Do you know anything about it?
Why the hell would you do that?
You’re not a runner.
That’ll be cool. You can cross the finish line like “Rocky”!
The only good reason to run is if something’s chasing you.
You start to doubt whether you can really do it. You consider the investment of time and money and think, “Why do I want to do this?”
You list your reasons to go ahead with it:
for the physical challenge
I’ve always wanted to
for the satisfaction of starting and finishing.
Then you think,“Wow, all this figuring and mental ping-pong is exhausting!” And you haven’t even done anything yet! But, in a way, you have.
When you undertake a marathon-like project you have to know that there’ll be obstacles. And you’re sure to encounter some you hadn’t considered.
It won’t be easy. The road will be long. Some people will doubt you can do it.
If you’ve considered all those things and gone back and forth about whether you should or not before commiting 100% and you want to do it anyway, and you decide you’re going to do it, that’s what will get you to the start. And you can’t get to the finish unless you get to the start.
It’s impossible to finish unless you start.
In our scenario, our enthusiastic but inexperienced runner goes out on her first training run and struggles to do 3 miles. In her mind she thinks, “How in the world am I going to run 26 when I feel like I’m dying after 3?”
Doubt creeps in, but she’s ready for it. She shakes it off and tells herself, “It’s okay. At least I got out there and did it. I have to start somewhere so I might as well start at the beginning.” (For more on this, see Believe in yourself when doubt creeps in)
That’s the spirit!
You have to start somewhere. Don’t shut yourself down before you’ve even started.
You have to trust the process (See Be patient and trust the process) and believe you can do it.
It’s okay if it’s a rough start. You knew there’d be obstacles.
Have a beginner’s mindset and be open to learning all you can. You may be surprised to learn of ways to make the experience more pleasant and maybe even fun. (See Embrace the Beginner’s Mindset)
Keep moving in the direction of your goal and you’ll gain momentum toward it.
Remember why you started. You may have had more reasons not to do it than to do it, but none of that matters because you’re committed. You knew it wouldn’t be easy going in.
I don’t know if it’s harder to start or finish. But logic tells us it’s impossible to finish what you never start.
When you start, knowing there’ll be challenges ahead and that it won’t be easy, but you’re ready to do it anyway, you’re more likely to finish what you’ve started.
So how about you?
What marathon-like goal do you have? How close are you to starting?
When you’re ready to commit, remember, you have to start somewhere. Forget about wanting to be perfect and always keep in mind why you started. That’s your why and your why will move you forward when you feel you can’t go another step.