This July 4th comes midweek. It comes 183 days before January 1, the day most people are going to hold in reserve to start toward a new challenge, idea, goal or resolution.
But what are the odds that they’ll see an outcome different than they did with January 1 2018?
The human brain is wired to come up with big ideas. Following through? Not so much. Take business startups. A 2015 Gallup report found that 49 percent of potential entrepreneurs with a business idea say they don’t know where to start. Meanwhile, University of Scranton research found that a quarter of New Year’s resolutions are abandoned within the first week.
Yet, the secret to starting anything and seeing it through is really quite simple: JFDI. Just fucking do it.
Simple, obviously, doesn’t mean easy. Any new project, whether you’re launching a business, writing a book, or taking on a new diet or training program, can be so intimidating that by hesitating you feel like you’re protecting yourself from failure.
Stanford philosophy professor emeritus John Perry, Ph.D., calls it “structured procrastination.” As he explains in The Art of Procrastination, it’s not always bad to gear up slowly, especially when we’re still getting other things done.
But there’s a point when delaying is no longer an option. After all, if your dream is to run the Yukon Arctic Ultra, putting off your training while you detail your car isn’t going to get you marathon-ready, no matter how many times you wax on, wax off.
Same with shuffling tasks around on your to-do lists to get some boxes ticked. What looks like productivity often hides the fact that you aren’t really procrastinating so much as deciding not to act at all.
In their 1981 study on how we frame our decisions, psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky wrote that our brains have an aversion to loss. That’s why we nearly always choose the option that offers the least change, and by extension the least risk. Acting on our dreams, and failing, means we risk losing them forever.
Author Steven Pressfield makes a similar point in *Turning Pro. *Procrastination, he writes, is just one form of “resistance,” which comes in many guises, including self-doubt and suspicion. The nature of resistance is to make you too tired to do anything. It takes so much energy to convince yourself you can’t do something that there’s none left to actually start the project.
Which brings us back to JFDI. Instead of letting resistance fight you, Pressfield advises, you have to fight resistance to have any hope of getting started and eventually achieving your goal. How? By side-stepping all your B.S. excuses and, well, just fucking doing it.
Step 1: Show Up
In *Turning Pro, *Pressfield says you must show up not just on the first day, but every day. Want to start training? Go to the gym. Building a business? Start brainstorming. Want to write the next great American novel? Sit your ass down and start typing. Repeat every single day. It doesn’t matter if you produce great workouts or great ideas or great prose. You can’t do any of those things until you first strengthen your commitment to the project.
Step 2: Take a Bite
“Starting is a skill—start small and repeat,” writes author Seth Godin. By showing up and taking small steps each day, you’re learning how to develop a habit. Habits are vital tools to see an endeavor through to fruition without expending too much effort thinking about it.
Step 3: Stay in the Room
If you’ve taken a hot yoga class, the instructor has probably given you permission to take a break if the workout gets too tough, but with one caveat: You have to stay in the room. The same applies to your goals. When you start to feel overwhelmed, take a deep breath, drink some water, but don’t quit. Fight the distraction. You can wax your car another day.
Commit in 2018. Download The 2018 Spartan Race Schedule. #noexcuses