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The Anguish of Beginning

Yep. That's a stupid title. But it got me started. I stared at that empty title box, cursor blinking, for longer than I care to admit. I always hate writing titles. There's nothing more satisfying than writing a fantastic title/headline, and I can say confidently after writing maybe thousands of news headlines at this point, that that is terribly rare. Which is unfortunate, because the title can make or break your story. I think books are judged far more often by their title than their cover art.

Original point being, I gave up on a clever title for the sake of starting. Something about starting, no matter what it is, is stupidly excruciating. Why is that? Most people would probably agree that if they could snap their fingers and be dressed and at the gym, working out would be a breeze. It's the getting dressed and getting there part that prolongs and even prevents us from all being the shredded beach bods we were meant to be.

The book I referred to in the last post about making and breaking habits (titled Better Than Before--which I must say may not be a jaw-dropping title but it's pretty damn perfect at getting to the point of its goal) talks about starting very small; so small that intimidation of a large commitment isn't a factor. That merely starting whatever the project may be somehow takes the daunting factor away. Chipping away at something has never been my style, but I'm not bragging. Waiting so long that I have no choice but to half-ass it, or plainly never starting at all is my style. Impressive, huh?

I've been told for as long as I can remember by teachers and probably my parents that breaking up a large task into small parts prevents it from being overwhelming; makes it digestible, and makes starting quick and painless. But it's rarely felt that simple. I think that's because step 1 is almost always boring. It's preparation, research, set-up. None of the things I want to do. The redlight-free stretch of the Embarcadero along the shoreline of San Francisco is why I run. But that's step 7. If my run started dressed, away from the crowd, body warmed up, beautiful view ahead from the get-go, I'd be motivated much more than I am.

It seems odd to add a habit that's broad as "Just start" to a list of pretty specific habits, but it's really a prefix to all habits. I'm trying so hard not to quote Nike right now. That plus my crap title would make this post suck tremendously, so I'm going to quit. After all, my only goal today was to start.

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