Have you ever wanted to do something new, but procrastination just kept holding you back?
(I know my blog is mostly about communication, confidence, and social skills. But personal productivity is one of my other favorite topics. And today I’m going to share something with you that has helped me get a lot of things done.)
Maybe the thing you wanted to do was to refurbish your room, but you have no idea how to even paint a wall. Or maybe you wanted to start working out, but you’ve never gone to the gym before. Or perhaps you want to learn a new skill, but you just can’t seem to get started.
Procrastination is something we all struggle with at times. And while there can be many reasons why we procrastinate, there is one that tends to show up more than others when we procrastinate new things.
In fact, it tends to happen so often that I’ve hardly ever helped anyone start something new without this coming up.
This kind of procrastination mostly happens because of our fear of failure. Our fear of seeming stupid or silly. Or our fear of admitting (to ourselves or others) that we don’t know how to do something.
And while it’s tempting to say that we just have to get over that fear – there’s another piece of advice that’s both more helpful and more important:
We should learn more about the thing we want to start doing – before we start doing it.
Before I started filming my online courses I went online and learned about film making and course creation. Before I started creating mobile games as a hobby, I went online and learned about game design.
When we only know the general basics of something it tends to be a little scary.
Not knowing how things work at the gym, for example, makes the gym a scary place. Having no idea where to start when we want to make a website makes it seem complicated and chaotic. Only seeing the end result of someone doing a handstand and not knowing how they practiced getting there, makes it seem impossible.
But if you spend just one afternoon learning online or from someone who already knows, things suddenly start to look a lot different.
And it’s not just because you understand things better and therefore will feel a little more confident about it. It’s also because whenever you learn something new, your mind immediately wants to apply that knowledge.
The novelty effect – which comes from having a new tool available to do something – increases both productivity and motivation. And that effect also happens when that tool only exists in our mind in the form of new knowledge.
So, think about something that you would like to do or create – but you don’t know how to do it.
Then open your browser and search for “how to <that thing>”. Make sure you find a guide for beginners (if it starts out with too complicated or with too hard challenging steps this won’t work) and spend some time learning.
Treat it like schoolwork. Take a few notes. Write down some ideas. Then start to do simple experiments and attempts.
Once you start feeling like you understand what the first steps to doing that thing is – you’ll be good to go.
In most cases, the procrastination that’s held you back from doing it before will more or less disappear completely. Just make sure that you are at a comfortable enough place in your growth zone while you do it, and you should have far less difficulty getting started.