Get Started

With summer coming to an end, students everywhere are starting back to school. My grandson, a sophomore in college, told me he’s not ready. Even though I’m not heading back to school, I found myself reflecting on the challenge I sometimes have with getting started. How about you: What are you ready to start before you are ready? What are you ready to start before you feel ready?

Think about it. The most difficult thing about launching a project or training for a race or making a change is the first step. Yet your brain is really good at sending signals that feed your fear about getting started: you lack experience, you don’t have enough knowledge, you haven’t done enough research, you don’t have the right resources. The brain is just trying to be helpful, and it’s list is endless. The result is that project never quite gets off the ground, that report doesn’t get written and that race never gets run.

What’s going on in our brain? Neuroscientists have demonstrated that the brain’s primary operating principle is “safety first”.   Our brain has a built-in bias that seeks to protect us from anything that looks like a threat. And starting something before we feel completely ready definitely qualifies as “threat”. The problem is, because of the brain’s bias towards safety, the threat invariably gets magnified and looms larger. Sometimes, it takes on a life of its own.

It has been said that if you are embarking on something important or worthwhile, you’ll never feel quite ready. You are bound to feel uncertain and unprepared. Maybe now is the time to acknowledge the brain for doing its job….and to start.