One sunny morning in 2009, I was walking from Waterloo Station, London over the bridge towards Trafalgar square. It was a stunning morning and I was listening to a CD set by Brian Tracy about goal setting. As I listened, soaking up the words, walking through the busy streets, I started to feel a feeling of depression and sadness through my body. I started to realise that I was so far from achieving my goals, so far from achieving my dreams, that I had missed the target so many times, that I didn’t know if I could ever do it.
The more I listened to the positive words of encouragement, the more I felt like I was so far behind in life. It felt as though it was insurmountable; that I would never be able to achieve my goals. By the time I got to my first meeting with my business mentor I had a mini-meltdown proclaiming that I was never going to be able to achieve my goals and should I give up!

The insurmountable mountain

Have you ever felt that you are so far off achieving your goals that it saps your energy and stops you from starting? Have you ever looked at where someone else has got to and wondered if you could ever achieve that? Sometimes it feels like the mountain is too big to climb.

Recently a friend recommended a television series for us to watch and then proclaimed that there were 8 seasons! I immediately had the feeling of, “I am not going to bother because where am I going to find the time to watch that in my busy life!” I was put off by the size of the task in front of me and decided not to start. It might have been a good series, but I was put off by the size of the project!

This is a silly example but brings to life the feelings that sometimes come up when we start a big new project and one of the reasons you might not get going as quickly as you could. Let’s look at some examples:

  • Book writing – this can be a year-long project and a HUGE time commitment. I know so many people that procrastinate over starting because they wonder if they will ever get it done or out into the world!
  • Financial independence (FI) – so you are telling me that I need to save £1m to get to FI? That is impossible. I don’t have any money left at the end of the month. How am I ever going to get there? Why bother starting to save?
  • Building a business – I have sold one product or service and it took so much effort! How am I ever going to get this business to make me money? How do I get from here to running a successful business? It is so far off!
  • Learning a new skill – I am so bad at the moment; how am I ever going to get good at this? They look like naturals, I am never going to be able to do it as well as they do!

Sometimes when you are starting something new it feels like you have such an insurmountable mountain in front of you that it can put you off starting.

At the beginning of March 2019 I started a new project to write a movie. I remember after 3 days of reading, researching and learning, I was ready to give up! It felt like it was such a big task that I was never going to be able to do it. I had a mini-meltdown over starting and nearly gave up before I had ever written a word! I found it SO, SO, SO hard to start writing! The more I learnt, the more I realised I didn’t know and that made it harder to consider starting!

When you first are starting a new project it can feel daunting and overwhelming. I understand, and I feel it too. The one thing I have learnt is that if you don’t start (no matter how small the step) you will never make it to the top!

Comparison and the consequences

One way to scare yourself off starting is to compare yourself to people that are really good at what you want to do.

In Croydon in 2016 at one of the Rebel Business School sessions the subject of financial independence came up and I started talking to the group about the shockingly simple maths of FI. I explained that all you needed to live off £40k every year for the rest of your life was to save up a pot of £1 million.

I remember the feeling in the room changing and instead of inspiration I felt desperation and de-motivation. What had happened was that I showed them a goal that was so far away from where they imagined they could get to that they were put off ever starting. They started to compare where they were now to where I was telling them I was, and then thinking, “I can never get there.”

I killed the energy in that room that day, and I had to work really hard to bring it back up and help the people I was working with to see a route up their mountain.

I made them (yes, this is my mistake and my fault) compare their situation to mine and then made them feel bad as they felt like they could never make it there.

Comparison can be inspiring if you see someone doing something cool and then think to yourself, “I could do that”. Comparison can also be demotivational as you look at someone successful and say, “I could NEVER do that”. ​

The best thing to do is to compare yourself to yourself. Track where you are going and compare your progress each week, month or year. A couple of examples:

  1. Finances – track your financial net worth each month and see if you can improve your savings and investments (even by £10) each month as you move forwards
  2. Health – track your body fat % and energy each week and see if it is going the right way or not. Measure yourself and see if you are improving.
  3. Words written – if you are writing a book, blog, or screen play then measure your number of words written each week and see if you are going in the right direction

Measuring yourself against yourself to see how fast you can move in the right direction is one of the best ways to motivate yourself and help yourself stay on track.

Compounding effort

When you first start a project it can feel like you are hardly moving the needle. You work and you work and you work, and nothing seems to happen. This is what leads to frustration and people giving up.

The thing I want you to hold in your mind as you start any new task is that it is the compounding effect of micro actions taken over time that creates the motion that gets you going. Let me give you some examples:

  • You start to work on your confidence, you read books, talk to friends, meditate and more, and work so hard without seeing any results. Then all of a sudden, months later, a friend says to you, “You were really confident in that meeting.” You didn’t notice the change as it happened
  • You start to eat chocolate every day. You don’t notice any visible change in your waistline so you keep eating each day. Then one day three months later you look down and you realise you can’t see your feet any more!
  • You start to learn how to write. You tap away at your computer, you practice, you read, you work hard for months and then someone reaches out to you and says, “I am really impressed by your writing skills!” You had to work for months with no visible reward to get to that stage that someone noticed the progress
  • You start to advertise your business, you write emails, you Facebook people, you give out flyers, and you sell one item. You feel dejected and stop. What people don’t realise is that if you kept going, these marketing actions compounding over time would lead to exponential results (2 sales, 4 sales, 8 sales, 16 sales) and eventually a profitable business. But you have to keep putting in the work!

When you start a new project it can feel like you are making no progress at all. It can feel like the tiny first steps are insignificant in the scheme of things and are not worth taking.

But you have to have faith. You have to take action (however small) every day. You have to just make it happen. If you don’t make it happen then no one else is going to make it happen for you.

Ways to get started…………..

Starting is the hardest part of the journey. Getting going, motivating yourself and throwing yourself into it is by far the hardest bit.

So here are some of the tips and tricks I use to get myself started and going:

Alan Donegan Starting

Start NOW! Get going!
  1. You don’t get motivated to do something, you get motivated by doing something. If you are sat on the couch waiting for motivation to hit you then you are going to be waiting a long time. Bounce up and do something (anything) to find the motivation. Repeat, “you don’t get motivated to do something, you get motivated by doing something!” to yourself and then jump up and start something.
  2. The 15 minute rule – could you do 15 minutes to get going? Surely you could do 15 minutes only? Give yourself permission to stop after 15 minutes if you aren’t into it and just start for 15. What I find is that giving myself permission to stop helps me to start and most of the time I find I am into it and just keep on going. If you aren’t into it you have permission to stop and try again tomorrow
  3. Change your state. The quickest way to change your state is to change your physiology. For those of you that have been to a Rebel Business School you will have seen me bouncing around before a presentation. This is to change my state and give me the energy to get going. Get up, move around, do some press ups, bounce around the house. Anything to create the energy and get yourself into a more positive state and then START!
  4. The 3 second rule. When you think about starting give yourself a countdown and just do it. If you do it and start within 3 seconds then you don’t give yourself the time to talk yourself out of it. If you have a phone call to make that you don’t want to then 3, 2, 1 and make the call. Wait, and you won’t start.

You need to find the way that you can start and make progress each day. If you take action every day and then compound that over months and years it is AMAZING the progress that you make! I will write an article soon about keeping momentum up. It takes a different energy and state to keep going than it does to start!

Thanks for reading and please leave me a comment so that I know what you thought of the article. Tell me whether it helped or annoyed or anything. Just let me know so I can keep writing content that helps you.

You rock. Keep on making the magic happen. It is a lifelong and fun journey.



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  1. FInance for Dum Dums July 4, 2024 at 12:30 pm - Reply

    I agree that sometimes you just have to start! Good advice! Don’t wait! :)

    • Alan Donegan July 5, 2024 at 6:36 pm - Reply

      Thanks for reading! Love your youtube name. And yes! just got to get in the game!

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