LIFE COACH COLUMN: Why the first step is the hardest and most important

By Alice Johnsen

IT’S a sensation we’re probably all familiar with. The sinking pit in the stomach, the distraction, the restlessness. You’ve got a job ahead of you and you’re pretty sure you’re not going to enjoy it. You don’t want to do it. In fact, you want to do anything but ‘it’.

The time spent avoiding the task becomes significantly greater than the time spent, eventually, on the task itself. It’s at this point the emotional side of our brain is running the show. Rather than applying logic and reason, our mind is drip feeding us a stream of messages about how the task we should be doing is going to be really hard, we don’t want to do it, our life is on hold because of this task and so on. The effect of not doing this thing is completely overshadowing its value and content.

So, when this happens, the best thing to do is just start, because by just starting, we shift our focus from not wanting to do something to the thing itself.

But that’s not always easy. Sometimes, we have got into such a mental spin the task before us takes on a form that far outweighs its own pay grade. Time to break this down. If you create small steps that take you into the task gently and easily, you will almost certainly find you get swept up in just doing it and spending less time thinking why you don’t want to do it. Whatever it is.

The method of breaking things down into steps is really useful. It can be applied to so many things. As long as each step takes you in the right direction, it doesn’t matter how small it is or how many steps there are.

If that creates a steady feeling of achievement and success that encourages you to carry on, it’s a good method for you to use, whether you’re revising for exams, building up a fitness programme, writing a business plan, learning a new language – whatever.

If it works for you for one thing, chances are it will work for you for most things, and you won’t feel the need to put things off so much.

But don’t be put off if this doesn’t work straight away. As will all new habits, they can only become habits by repetition and familiarity. There are no overnight quick fixes!

 Alice Johnsen is a life coach. Phone: 07961 080513; visit

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *