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A Beginners Guide To Starting Something New

How to deal with the stress, anxiety and frustration of starting something new

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The beginning

New year, new you?

As usual, when I sit in front of my PC and think about what I want to write, my mind decides to evict any kind of resident thought.

Instead, I’m left with a feeling of emptiness between my ears and a growing sense of frustration, just one sentence, just one word, let me get started…but alas nowt!

The wealth of ideas that my head usually throws up disappear, and instead I’m left with a landscape scorched of any budding creativity.

Now, in normal circumstances I would spend time daydreaming, trying to provoke some meaningful mental dialogue, or doing something more physically demanding like cleaning the under-stairs cupboard.

Before long, this gets the creative juices flowing and I’m back at my keyboard, tapping vigorously to spew as much as I can, before my mind goes AWOL again.

Laptop in dark

This time, it seems different!

I think the idea of writing a blog has put so much stress on my functioning brain that it has triggered a shut down! The idea mill is working to no avail!

After some time, it has dawned on me that I think too hard – making the proverbial mountain from a molehill.

What I need is a bit of clarification.

I need to think about what it is I’m trying to do and how I want to set about doing it… suddenly, I see the light…the first topic of my blog – how to approach a new beginning!

After all we are still in January!

The start of the year, a fresh moment of change, and one which can’t be exemplified any better than with what’s happening with Brexit!

Don’t worry, I’m not delving into that topic here; although, the emotional and mental impacts of Brexit may be a topic for the future! – Let me know if you’re interested!

Once Upon A Time

Whilst I’ve decided to attack the topic of New Year and fresh starts, I don’t want to lecture anyone on the benefits and hindrances of New Year’s resolutions. Over the years we’ve all made some, broken some and just not bothered with any at all!

Instead, I want to discuss new beginnings – how to tackle something new – providing a sort of checklist which might help alleviate the stresses and anxieties which accompany a new venture.

Is this what you want?

As human beings we have a knack of wanting or needing the next new product, skill or regime, the one that will revolutionise our lives.

In reality, these very rarely exist. Our wants and needs usually arise in a result to please others or boost our own ego.

Before starting anything new, I recommend weighing-up the pros and cons of WHY you want to do it.

Knowing the reason behind your choice, and whether it’s the right thing for you, can be empowering, and provide for more successful outcomes in the long run.

Once this step has been identified, it’s worth considering a plan of action…

What are your limits?

Although we might want something, and feel strongly motivated to do it, we may be restricted by our limitations.

Such hindrances can be assessed by using SMART targets, an acronym which provides a simple way of assessing the viability of our new start…

S – be specific about what it is that you want to start afresh.

M – identify ways that will allow you to measure your progress.

A – think about whether the new venture is achievable (if not, is it worth starting in the first place?).

R – decide if the new project is realistic (if not, can you modify it so that it is?).

T – make sure that whatever you’re starting has a time frame attached to it – whether that’s for part of the task or the whole of it. If you don’t have a start date you never begin, if you don’t have an end date you never achieve!

How do you eat an elephant?

Now don’t worry, this is a metaphorical elephant, not a real one!

Sometimes, when we face something new, we feel overwhelmed by the responsibilities and tasks involved – this is often why we give up.

To eat a metaphorical elephant, we need to consume it in bits!

You’ll often find that big challenges can be overcome by breaking them down into suitably sized portions, dealing with each part on its own.

Break large tasks down and soon enough you’ll be able to consume whole elephants without fear or pressure!

What if things don’t work out?

Remember, as human beings, we’re not perfect; in fact, we learn better when things don’t go as expected.

To fail does not necessarily mean doing something wrong; it might just be our First Attempt In Learning!

Starting something new always involves a period of trial and error – learning how to do it, how not to do it and allowing ourselves to benefit from the mistakes we make.

The key here is to manage your downside risk – if know you can deal with the worst-case scenario, starting something and persisting with it becomes so much easier!

Looking after me…

We all know that forging new habits can be tiring, challenging and demotivating but that’s the price of development!

To deal with the stress, anxiety, frustration and anger that sometimes arise when starting something new, it’s important to indulge in some self-care and compassion.

In continuing with this blog, I’ll be taking on board my own advice, using the above pointers to help me identify topics and write up responses.

Feel free to add to this list as you begin your own ventures throughout the year and let me know what works best for you!

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