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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Conquering the Fear of Beginning

Sometimes it seems like there's a million things to do and you're paralyzed from actually completing any of them. I feel like I have thousands of ideas whirling through my head that are haphazardly scribbled onto scraps of paper. But, that's usually the farthest any of these things get. Why? The fear of beginning.

Fellow artists, you know the feeling when you buy a new sketchbook and then you leave it blank for however long because it feels like there's so much pressure on the first thing that you put into it? Starting a new project can feel really overwhelming. It's the process of taking something from your imagination into reality... which may or may not work out the way you hope.

I feel this way often, but I've begun to realize that when I actually complete something that I've been meaning to get to it feels really awesome. Even if the project doesn't work out the way that I imagined it to in my mind.

Fear of Beginning

Imagine the Worst Case Scenario
Usually what get's me stuck is the fear that something awful will happen. But, by imaging the worst case scenario, I usually can trick myself past it, because the worst case scenario often isn't that bad. Imagine that you're interested in someone and are afraid to make a first move. The worst case scenario in that situation is that you approach them and they turn you down. Obviously, it hurts to be rejected but then you know the answer and you aren't left wondering. 

Set a time limit
When I'm beginning a huge project, the task at hand can feel really overwhelming, like writing a big research paper or cleaning your entire apartment. By giving myself a time limit for how long I'm going to work can make it feel more manageable. Keith and I will often put a kettle on the stove and just clean the apartment until the water's hot. We usually get a lot done in that short amount of time, and knowing that we have an "end time" makes the task seem more reasonable.

There's a philosophy for paying off your debt called the snowball method. It means that you pay off the smallest loan while making the minimum payments on your other loans. After you've finished paying off the smallest loan, move onto the next. The idea is that you start small and simple and feel successful for completing a task; these feelings of success motivate you to continue what you're doing. I think that this is a useful model for looking at almost any project. If the entire task feels overwhelming, break it down into smaller, more manageable tasks. Then, pick one of those tasks to complete. I use this method for writing research papers, simply dividing the paper into sections (which it usually has to be) and focusing on just writing one section. Once I say, "Okay Kara, we're only going to write the first two paragraphs," it becomes a lot less overwhelming.

Find Your Motivation
Maybe it's a saying or a reward system, but finding a way to motivate yourself can really help you get started doing things. For me, keeping my desk organized and framing a motivational fortune make me excited to work at my desk. Being excited to work at my desk means that I get more things done. Figure out what motivates you and put it into action. 

Just Get Started
Seems like obvious advice, but most of the time once I just start something it's easy to keep going.  I had accumulated a huge pile of clothes that needed alterations, a hole patched, etc. I put them off forever because it seemed like a huge task. But, Keith was watching basketball so I decided that I'd just fix one hole. Next thing I knew, I had gone through my whole pile because in reality they were all pretty easy, quick fixes.

How do you conquer the fear of beginning, get motivated, and get things done?

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