Like most people in the world, I start January off with exciting goals and grand project ideas only to drop them a week later or never start them at all. I’ll buy a new planner and my favourite Hello Kitty stickers, light a candle, and organize my desk for a productive new year. Instead, they sit there and gather dust because I find it too challenging to begin. If you also struggle with your procrastination and fear of failure, here’re my top three strategies to finally get started on your long-awaited projects!
Don’t Overthink It
Your mind can be your own worst enemy when you’re trying to start a project. You quickly become wrapped up in negative thoughts about failure and potentially embarrassing yourself. But you can’t let yourself get swept up in the anxiety and fear, or it’ll completely overwhelm you. Instead, give yourself three reasons why you should succeed. Dr Sian Beilock recommends that you learn to reframe your thoughts and focus on what you’re going to achieve rather than why you would fail (Krawcheck & Wallace, 2019). Don’t waste time worrying about failing because you’ll lose opportunities.
As an introvert myself, I am terrified of public speaking and always jump to worst-scenario conclusions. Whenever I need to talk to a crowd, my hands get sweaty, my voice shakes, and I start to feel dizzy. My friends have to remind me to stop criticizing myself and instead think positively: I know the material by heart, the speech is well-written, and I am capable. If you constantly call yourself a failure, that’s all you’ll ever be. Don’t overthink it; otherwise, you’ll never get started.
Use Mind Maps
If you’ve been feeling a lack of creativity, try using mind maps to brainstorm ideas. They are fantastic tools for communicating ideas, brainstorming concepts, simplifying tasks, and improving efficiency. Start with one word and let your thoughts travel intuitively, writing down relating words without order or structure. Allow your mind to think freely, which can help you visualize your thoughts and feelings to organize them into easily digestible content. Using a mind map helps you declutter your thoughts and explain your WHY. What is your reason, your purpose, and your end goal? Mapping these details will solidify your goal and motivate you to get started.
I find that my productivity increases when I set milestones and goals for myself. For example, I set milestones where the number of people in the crowd increased every time I spoke in public. You are more likely to work harder to reach them, especially when you reward yourself after each one. Blocking out your calendar can also improve efficiency since you can follow a routine and manage your time. These strategies help you track your progress, which is a huge motivator to start and keep working. Remember to start small, though, as your milestones should be measurable and attainable. Even if they’re baby steps, celebrating small wins can drastically boost your confidence to increase your productivity and creativity.
The most challenging obstacle to overcome your procrastination and fear of failure is your mentality and self-judgment. Stop being so hard on yourself–you are much more capable than you think! You need to give yourself a chance to grow and achieve your dream project, so take baby steps to keep moving forward. Most importantly, don’t overthink it!
Julie Zhu is an NYC-based marketing strategist. She helps female founders and small business owners simplify their marketing, become well-known experts, and attract their dream clients without spending a fortune. Get her free guide on 6 Ways to Make Your Business Unignorable here.
Krawcheck, S., & Wallace, K. (Hosts.) (2019, June 16). Why We Choke Under Pressure with Sian Beilock. (No.170) [Audio podcast episode]. In Ellevate Podcast.