Have you ever reached that point in your life where you’re just ready for something new? Maybe you’re fed up with your job. Or maybe you’re in need of a creative outlet but aren’t sure where to begin. You might even already know what you want to start, but haven’t made it over that first hurdle – actually starting! I think everyone goes through times in their life where they get notions about taking up a sport, losing that weight, learning a new language, instrument, or skill. But how many of us actually follow through and see it to completion, never mind make a start? To start something new takes effort, time, commitment, perseverance, and dedication. It’s not easy. But the rewards are huge. We have to get over that ‘fear hurdle’, lose the limitations we put upon ourselves and embrace the possibilities.
Here are 10 Tips to get you started on something new…
1. Face the Fear
Fear is the number 1 roadblock to you starting something new. We are so afraid of what we don’t know, of what might happen, if we’ll embarrass ourselves, or if we might fail, that we never get across the start line. Fear is okay. It’s a natural response to the unknown. But we have to face the fear, not give into it! It’s important to figure out why you’re afraid; is it something within yourself, or is it external, be it a person or a situation? When you know what is driving the fear, you can find ways to overcome it. Try not to focus on the fear, but instead think about why you needn’t be afraid and give yourself positive affirmations about the ways you are going to succeed, improve your wellbeing, and up your happiness levels. You are so capable, you have so many skills already at your fingertips that you can draw on to help you along the way. Be brave and don’t let fear steal your dream!
2. Figure out the ‘why’
If you don’t clearly know why you’re wanting to start, you’re less likely to stick it than if you do know. Our underlying motivations play a huge part in the overall success rate of doing anything, so you must clearly know what they are before you begin. Positive motivations inspire and buoy you along, especially when things get tough. Wrong motivations will drain you and you will lose inspiration and motivation fast. Be clear on your reasons and stick to them throughout the process.
3. Be Realistic
There’s nothing wrong with dreaming big! We should push ourselves to achieve great things and be our best self. But we also need to remember that they need to be achievable too. If we set ourselves an unrealistic goal we often never get started because deep down we know it’s not achievable and the levels of unattainable perfectionism within us will only stress us out. Work within your skill set and use those to dream big. Don’t aim to be a virtuoso soprano if you’re tone deaf. You’ll only disappoint yourself. Singing for your own enjoyment, however, regardless of ability, is always acceptable! Above all you must enjoy what you are setting out to do. If the task is so unattainable that it becomes stressful, a chore and just unenjoyable, you need to look for something else.
It’s important that you actually begin! In order to do that it’s often easier to break down what you need to achieve into small steps that are easily managed, that lay out an easy to follow plan of attack, and allow you to measure your success too. Don’t worry about the end product. That’s a way off yet and you can often feel dejected at certain points on your journey there. Keep yourself mindful of the present and complete the stage your at. Then you can think about step two. Don’t expect to find it easy all the time. Guaranteed it won’t be. What’s important however, is that you reflect on what went wrong, why that might be and then seek a different approach. There’s more than one road to the top so don’t be dismayed by failure. It’s what builds character and determination within us if we don’t let it beat us.
When setting out to achieve a new skill, goal, dream, it is important to remember that it will require a lot of your time. Nothing worth doing, and doing well, is easy. You have to prioritise it and make time to invest in it if you’re to realise it. It is therefore necessary to ask yourself if you have the time to give to your new goal. Is there time that you can set aside each day to commit to furthering this new skill? What needs to be moved around to accommodate it? Will other important aspects of your life suffer if you don’t create the right balance in your life? We all go through different stages of life and opportunities come along, but we must make sure that we prioritise what is most important, and use our time well.
6. Expect to put in the work
Like I said before, you can’t expect to find it easy all the time. Learning, or beginning anything new, is difficult and requires hard work and commitment. We live in a world of instant gratification and so often people give up because they aren’t playing piano like Elton John within a month. It doesn’t work like that! New skills take time and patience and above all, hard work! No-one else is invested in your new project the way you are, so no-one will push you as hard as you can push yourself. If it’s something you really want, go for it. Make it happen.
7. Expect to be pretty average at first
Further to what I said above, you’re not going to be playing at Carnegie Hall or competing in the Olympics anytime soon after starting. Skills, plans, dreams, take time to achieve and you will be pretty average to begin with. As a piano teacher I see it all the time with new students. They don’t realise the hard work and time it takes to build a skill up properly and get frustrated when they aren’t playing Mozart in week 4. Build up strong foundations and then keep building. Accept the good days and the bad ones, and that you will not get it right straight away. Celebrate the wins, learn from the failures and don’t expect too much from yourself early on. Give yourself time to establish yourself and find your feet. You’ll get there in the end.
8. There will be challenges!
Expect challenges. Sometimes they will be external challenges that interfere with your progress: an unsupportive family member or friend, financial difficulty, a global pandemic. Others will be internal: illness, mental health, will-power, self-belief. Often the internal ones are harder to deal with as we’re battling with our self. When you hit these challenges, and you will, don’t treat them as unexpected. Accept how you feel, accept what is happening and seek a solution. It’s not a stop sign, it’s a road block that requires a diversion. Stop, breathe, evaluate the situation and make a plan forward.
9. You step out into the unknown
When you make the conscious decision to start something new you are preparing yourself for a voyage into the unknown. Uncharted territories await you where you’ll leave behind the comfort of what you already know. Feelings, emotions, big decisions, difficulties, new joys – expect it all, good and bad. What’s important is the decision you’ve made to change a part of your life because you want it to look different from what it does now. You made that choice. You want change. So you must expect some discomfort as you accommodate the change, but also welcome the refreshing change that something new can bring too.
10. Get rid of the what ifs
Doubt anesthetises dreams. We slowly suffocate our dream by numbing it with what ifs. What if I fail, what if I’m rubbish, what if there’s someone better than me, what if, what if, what if… So many songs have been left unsung because we’ve put our dreams to sleep with doubt. Instead turn those doubtful what ifs and turn them into positive ones. What if I succeed, what if I get really good, the doors it might open up to me. What if I meet new people and make new friends, what if I develop more new skills than I initially planned to. Whatever your doubts are, turn them on their head and create better ones. Ones that fill you up, boost your confidence, and set you on your new course.
Go On! Start something new!
How many times have you said to yourself ‘oh I’d love to be able to do that’? And then how many times have you followed that statement up with ‘but I’m not clever enough’? It may not be those exact words, but regardless of what you say to yourself, there are so many times in our lives when we limit our own potential by believing ourselves incapable. Sometimes it may be true that you admire a skill in others that you realistically know is beyond your abilities, but most of the time I bet that’s not true. You shouldn’t try to be someone else, you can only be you, but you can be inspired by others and their skill to better your own life.
Take the first step. If there’s something that’s been niggling away at the back of your brain that you’d love to do, why not start by taking the first step today and make a plan.
- Be as informed as you can at the start so you can set yourself realistic goals.
- You won’t know every step of the way at the beginning. You have to begin the journey to discover the way.
- Take that first step. Learn from the experiences you have. And then take another one. Soon you’ll be at the top!
Any advice for starting something new? Leave it in the comments to inspire others to do the same.