How many of us have planned something out in great detail but were too scared to start it? Or maybe scared is the wrong word… it may not have felt like you were scared, but fear was the thing holding you back all along. Let’s deconstruct ‘Scared to Start’ and learn how we can better accomplish those things that challenge and scare us the most.
At Apex, our wellness team is constantly seeing individuals that come in looking for more data on their body in order to track goals and understand how their efforts with their diet, fitness or daily routines are impacting overall health. The primary test they use are DEXA Scans, followed by the RMR test. The DEXA Scan measures body composition, muscle mass, body fat and visceral fat. The RMR measures the amount of calories needed to consume in order to lose or maintain weight.
What all of the individuals have in common, is that they have decided to start – to simply (or not-so-simply) begin a lifestyle change, fitness routine or diet (or all three). Many, and nearly all, have noted that they spent months, or years, feeling too scared to start anything – for a number of reasons. Below are a few of the reasons that we found most people had in common when failing to start. Following that, what you can do TODAY to get yourself started, one small step at a time.
Here is a list of the reasons individuals who have come to see us note about being scared to start:
- Fear of Failing – the idea that if they start something, often too grand to begin with, they will fail and not have anything to show for their efforts, leaving them in the same place as before.
- Feeling overwhelmed – often the lack of knowledge, overthinking a change, and having no guidance or measurables lead to the overwhelm people face when thinking of starting a diet or changing their normal routine to something new, and better – which is often much harder (in the beginning).
- People rely too much on motivation, which is a limited resource and can run out, along with willpower.
Below we attempt to break these challenges that might be faced when looking to make a change, start a diet or do something we are scared to start.
First we have a concept that is used heavily in finance, and broken down nicely in the book The Slight Edge, by Jeff Olson (a favorite read here at Apex). The concept is known as compounding interest. Instead of using it in finance, we use it in self improvement. For example, improve by just 1% each day, and by the end of a year you will have improved by over 350%!
This concept allows individuals to build huge momentum, by taking baby steps. It makes perfect sense – and we need to make sure we start small if we want big change. One of the starting points we use at Apex – and a great example of a small change – is just start drinking more water… how basic is that? But you know what domino effect this typically has? Drink more water → expel more toxins → hydrate the muscles and tissue → skin clears up → muscle soreness and tightness improves (among more benefits) → better energy → improved sleep quality (the list goes on). These are huge things to notice and we notice them by looking in the mirror, by physically feeling the change happening in the body, all by just drinking, maybe, 2x more water every day. By just drinking more water, people find themselves with a better feeling body, clearer skin, and now they are open to doing more… like start walking or moving more, and eventually maybe even take up that group fitness class they’ve always wanted to do. It’s almost a way to build confidence by doing something small and easy, giving you the courage to start the next thing.
We tend to grossly overthink things, but if we break them down, and start small – water, sleep, movement – we can transform our lifestyles in a few short months, but it will take discipline and consistency (our second point), which trump willpower and motivation.
Willpower and motivation have been shown to actually use more brain power than discipline and habits. Not only that, they are a limited resource and will run out. The only way to work smarter and not harder, is to develop habits by having a strong core discipline to do the things that we don’t want to do, in order to make us happier and healthier down the road – being happy in the long term is important, but doing what makes us happy right now (eating the cake, laying in bed an extra 36 minutes) will not do anything for you. In the long run, you won’t be happy in life. So we need to do the things that challenge us today, that prompt change in our lifestyle, so we can accomplish that long term happiness – because the discipline and hard work was there when it was needed to form habits that keep you healthy, wealthy and happy.
Start small, with the end goal being a healthy and happy you in 10, 15, 20, 40 years. It isn’t a sprint, it is a marathon – one that every person will approach differently. The key is to pick something macro – a goal you’d like to have 20 years from now, perhaps play with your children, or grandchildren – and make it a micro goal. That would require one to be strong to pick up the children – maybe that simply means moving more today. Go for that walk. And once you’ve gone for that walk for a month straight, go for a walk and then do some body weight exercise after you’re done. When body weight gets old, start lifting some weights and doing some light running – build a stronger you, one day at a time.
The third and final way to break through the fear and overcome being scared of starting is to have quantifiable starting points to better show you what progress has been made. Along with this, educate yourself while you are changing your lifestyle so you can learn and retain what makes you feel better and helps your accomplish your goals. We use the DEXA, but you can use a number of different ways to measure progress. Create a goal, and figure out what can be measured to accomplish that goal. If you have data, and acquire the knowledge from someone who is a professional in that area, you will be more than equipped to attack your goals, and have more confidence to better your lifestyle, even when you hit a bump in the road.
Everyone’s path will be different, but we all face the fear of failure, and are scared to start. Understand and establish your goals, then break them down into what can be done now, with baby steps, so that your goal becomes easy to accomplish. No longer should you be scared to start – equip yourself with the knowledge, data and micro goals and attack them head on!