The greatest amount of wasted time is the time not getting started. ~ Dawson Trotman
This place called stuck… I’ve been here before.
I’m not fond of it. I don’t like how it feels—ensnared by a trap.
I set the trap myself. I know it. I admit to it.
I work hard to escape, grasping out into the world for the right inspiration. Waiting for the right mood, the right time.
I know what I have to do but can’t make myself do it. As if it will entail chewing off my arm.
I see others doing it, exuding passion in what they’re doing. And I remain here in this spot. Running furiously, trampling my dreams but not getting anywhere. The drama of it all!
Procrastination. Fear. Fatigue. Anxiety. Worry that it won’t be perfect or good enough.
We’ve all been there. I know because I’ve asked people. Yes. It happens to the best and brightest of us.
But why and how in the world do we get out and get moving into that groove that feels so good? The groove that once we’re in it, it feels like we never left. The one that seems so out of reach sometimes.
Groove. I want to be in it. I want to be groovy.
I was in a groove, working as an editor. Busy busy busy. Editing. Connecting with people; connecting other people to people. Writing. Doing.
The downside was that this work was sapping me of energy. It was also keeping me from my consulting work which a) allows me to pick and choose what I work on and b) helps pay the bills. Sure, I got paid for editing, but it was 50-75 percent less than I could make consulting. Ouch! My son needs orthodontia ($5500). We have about 10 dying ash trees (thank you, emerald ash borer!) that will need to be removed professionally lest they fall on our house ($500 to over a thousand per tree). Yada yada yada.
The job was also, in my mind, eating up any free time I could utilize to write more. And to keep up with those silly things we must take care of in life.
I resigned about a month ago. It wasn’t easy, but I had to do it. And now I’d have all the time in the world to focus on what I reallywant to do. Hell, now I could even put time aside to clean out the linen closet and that damn kitchen drawer where matches, toothpicks and other miscellaneous items dance together in chaos. Oh, the humanity! I could finally address these pressing issues and fold the laundry promptly after its removal from the dryer. I could investigate refinancing our house. The sheet hanging out of the linen closet taunting me like a razzing tongue would be tidied up. I would be oh so organized!
The only one telling me what to do was me. No pressure!
Guess what? I found the linen closet could wait. My writing could wait (and it would have to since I contracted another serious bout of writer’s block, which may be contagious). The laundry would remain unfolded until the next six loads forced me to free up the laundry baskets.
And it waited, but not without a price. These to-do’s jammed up my head. I scolded myself. I became paralyzed—what am I supposed to tackle first?! No pressure? Wrong!
Having less to do meant, ironically, that I got less done. And I tried to be okay with that: “I’m on sabbatical,” I told myself and others. Sabbatical would be cool if it meant traveling to distant lands, meeting new people or taking an art class. But in my case, it meant more lap time for the cats.
I missed the ongoing conversations with my co-workers and my inspiration fizzled. The pile of to-do’s grew and I just didn’t feel like doing.
I wasn’t on sabbatical, I was idling (a word I hate).
“Enjoy this time,” I yelled at myself.
It wasn’t working! I wanted to do something, but couldn’t. (Or was it that I wanted to want to do something?)
If you’re like me—and this has, no doubt, happened to you in some form or you wouldn’t have read this far—you berate yourself about not getting started on something. Anything. Just to begin.
Days turn into night turned into days…. with each passing hour, I asked myself what was stopping me. I’m stopping me. I analyzed myself. If I’m stopping me and I’m asking myself why I don’t do something, how is it really me stopping myself? Am I schizophrenic? There’s the half lazy ass I turn into after a five mile run (no trouble getting in that run or yoga class. For others, getting into an exercise habit feels impossible). This lazy ass persona is bullied by the task master who asks, “What the f*ck is the problem?!” And there’s the mediator in me saying, “Just go with it. This is how you feel. Task master: put down that whip.” Then, “You’re a hard worker. You’re creative. You’re funny. You’re driven. Maybe you just need this time to chill.” And the lazy ass says, “I know, but it doesn’t really feel good to chill. Yet I can’t stop doing this chill thing. I’m mad for chilling and I’m mad that I can’t enjoy the chill.What now?” And the task master points to the long list of wants- and needs-to-do. The things that could move me toward my dreams.
In a study published by the Journal of Consumer Research, it was found that those who believed they had already made progress towards their goal were twice as likely to achieve it than those who thought they were starting from scratch. ~ Christina Curtis, Psychology Today
I read and I read and I read. Articles. Books. Blogs. About inspiration. About acceptance and breathing. About love and being. About writing. About being, not doing.
I continued to talk about it (to myself, mostly) and ask myself why. Or why not.
I dwelled upon this lack of passion and beat myself up over it. I should be writing. I should be exploring the world around me (limited funds, but I could use my f*ckin’ imagination, couldn’t I?!). I should I should I should. Why am I not listening to myself, I’d ask myself daily. What’s wrong with me? Where did my creativity disappear to? Who stole my motivation? Who stole my rudder? People say I can write—some have even expressed how I’ve inspired them—why can’t I write daily like some writers do? How do they do that? What’s wrong with me? Yes. These are the things that I’ve said (and say, past and present tense) to myself and I’m now putting to paper.
Please note: I’m a self-starter. Hire me to do help you with marketing and I won’t just do it, I will likely exceed your expectations.
Remind me about the laundry and I’ll just sigh. Tell me to write and I freeze up.
For you, it may be something else you’re trying to get to but can’t seem to muster up the energy to take that first step.
The beginning is the most important part of the work. ~ Plato
Beginning is also the hardest part. If I’d only just plop a few words down on paper, it would count as beginning. I scroll up and see that I’ve written. Hey, I’m writing!
I started by thinking about how difficult it is to start sometimes and by doing so, I had something I could write about—express—in that moment. What I was feeling in that moment was distress over not writing (or not cleaning the damn linen closet, or not calling the bank about refinancing options) and telling you, dear reader, about that experience. Hoping that you’ve been in my shoes so you can relate and I can know I’m not alone. Hoping there’s a writer or a linen closet cleaner wannabe who made it to point B by simply starting. Then I can breathe and know there’s hope for me.
Whatever you do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius and power and magic in it. ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
It can be problematic when the list of things to do is lengthy (have you ever heard anyone talk about a short to-do list?). Even when we check one thing off of that list, chances are there’s another one or five things that come up. That’s life. And wouldn’t life be boring if we had nothing to do?
A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step. ~ Lao Tsu
I really want to write. I want to call myself a writer. I’d love to be a published author in the real sense, as in, an actual book. Who cares about all the other stuff? The linen closet is perhaps a symbol of my cluttered mind, something I need to clean out one sheet (one experience, one story, one word) at a time.
Fold one sheet today, possibly two tomorrow. Or by folding one sheet, since I’m there, I may be inclined quite naturally to pick up another and fold it.
Since I’m in my blog, I write this. I explore the difficulty of starting by pouring the jumble of thoughts onto paper (or in this case, channeling them through my fingers via keystrokes onto the computer screen). Explore, write, think, write. Unfold.
We cannot do everything at once, but we can do something at once. ~ Calvin Coolidge
Hell, I say by George, it’s working!
Getting started is beginning. Beginning feels hard until we do it. Fear must be what holds us back. Fear of what? Writing gobbledy-gook? Being laughed at? Not being good enough? Getting lost in the groove? F*ck you, fear and false starts. I’m starting now. And I’m starting tomorrow. And the next time I feel starting is impossible, I will breathe and let myself be.
Beating ourselves up won’t make us start.
What made me start was this. Starting. Having the courage to begin.
What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.
~ T.S. Eliot
And then, to end. To say, “This is good enough.” And let it go so we can move along to the next thing. The next breath. The next inspiration or bout of fear.
The Hardest Part:
Lynn Hasselberger lives in Chicagoland with her son, husband and two cats. She loves sunrises, running, yoga, chocolate, reading and writing, and has a voracious appetite for comedy. The founder of myEARTH360.com, Lynn also writes for her blog I Count for myEARTH. She’s a treehugger and social media addict who you’ll most likely find tweeting excessively and obsessively (@LynnHasselbrgr, @myEARTH360and @IC4ME) or posting on facebook. She hopes to make the world a better place, have more fun, re-develop her math skills and overcome her fear of public speaking. Like her writing? Subscribe to her posts.