Have you ever feel overwhelmed while trying to achieve a goal? I have, and I guess you have too. That’s why it’s important that you have a good strategy. Otherwise you might not achieve your goals, or will only achieve them through unnecessary stress and frustration.
One good strategy I found is persistent starting in The Now Habit by Neil Fiore. Here is what the book says about it:
“…essentially, all large tasks are completed in a series of starts… Keep on starting, and finishing will take care of itself.”
In essence, persistent starting means that you shouldn’t fill your mind with how big a project is. That will only make you feel overwhelmed. Instead, just focus on starting on it every day. By doing that, you will eventually finish the project and achieve your goal.
Why Persistent Starting Is Powerful
There are three reasons why persistent starting is powerful:
1. It helps you reduce stress. Instead of filling your mind with how big a project is, you fill it with the simple task that you need to do today. That makes the burden much lighter.
2. It helps you overcome procrastination. One big reason why we procrastinate is that we feel overwhelmed by what we face. As a result, we hesitate to take action. This principle makes the task feel manageable.
3. It allows you to overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges. By just continually starting, you will eventually achieve a big goal. The whole journey might seem daunting, but by going through it one step at a time, you will eventually reach your destination.
A simple example in my life is when I tried to finish reading the Bible. It seemed like a huge task. If I focused on how hard it would be, it’s unlikely that I would ever finish it. But I focused instead on reading four chapters a day without thinking about how far I still had to go. With this attitude, I eventually finished reading it within a year.
How to Apply Persistent Starting
Here are four steps to apply persistent starting:
1. Know your destination.
First of all, you need to know where you are going. If you don’t, you will only wander aimlessly. So set a clear goal. What is it that you are trying to achieve? How will success look?
2. Plan the route.
Now that you know your destination, you need to plan how to get there. A good way to do that is to set some milestones. These milestones serve two purposes:
- They help you stay on track. You will know if you deviate from the right path.
- They give you small victories along the way. Having a sense of accomplishment is important to stay motivated. By having milestones, you can get it along the way, not just at the end.
3. Keep doing the next simple task.
After planning the route, you should figure out the next simple task to do. What can you do today that will move you toward your destination? After you find it, then allocate time to do it.
4. Adjust your course as necessary.
You need to be careful not to go off course. So regularly check where you are (for example, by comparing your position with your next milestone) and adjust your course as necessary.
Persistent starting is a simple strategy, but it can help you achieve your goals with minimum stress and frustration. It works for me, and I hope it will work for you too.
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A great piece for those who are uncertain about how to start a project! Thanks for the good post!
it is very helpful indeed
This is a great way to approach a big project or really any goal you want to achieve. I think the hardest part of goal-setting might be figuring out how to actually make it happen. Your ideas about breaking things down into smaller tasks makes a lot of sense. I believe that the most important part of achieving any goal is just plugging along, not giving up, until you get there. Thanks for the helpful ideas!
I agree with you CJ, execution is the hardest part of goal-setting.
Thanks for this entry, Donald.
One of the reasons persistent starting works is due to what’s called the Zeigernik Effect, which is named after Bluma Zeigernik. Zeigernik found that we have a strong tendency to hold onto things until we’re done with them.
With regard to goals, if we leave a goal/sub-goal/task partially completed, a natural ‘suspense’ develop, which makes us want go back to it and see it finished.
Think of soap operas and end of series cliffhangers, where the story is left open-ended, compelling you to come back and watch what happens next.
And you’re so right about breaking down a goal into bite-sized pieces!
Interesting thoughts, Jehangir. I never thought of it that way. Thanks for sharing!
Thank you for the inspiring article. Great ideas and if your strategy is followed, I’m sure it will lead to great results. But the challenge is to keep on the track and not deviate as you mentioned.
Yup, this is how I get out the door for my Couch to 5K training every (other) day. It’s just 40 minutes. I can do that. Can I run a 5K without stopping right now? Nope. But I’ll be back up to those distances if I just keep doing these little runs.
Any goal big or small can’t be achieved without starting it. Thanks for sharing this article.
That’s interesting. Persistent starting is a good strategy but MUST have a route and end goal. Otherwise you run the risk of starting projects and never finishing them, leaving them for new tasks.
As the saying goes, the three Ps are the ingredients for Success! Practice, Patience and Persistence. Anything done with persistence ought to give us the results that we seek.
Good post. As I am, trying to learn english these tips can be useful. I came to this page through stream.
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