How to Finally Get Started on a Big Project or Idea

This One Tip Will Help You “Just Do It”

Starting can be tough. Especially on important and/or big tasks/projects/ideas. And the things that are stopping you from starting come in many forms. But their collective name is Resistance. I want to share with you a powerful quote about this phenomenon, which contains a simple formula for how to break through the Resistance and get started on a big project — or your big thing.

This is based on CrusherTV™ Episode 108: How to Finally Start Your Big Idea/Project, which was part of a series of Episodes revolving around what I call The Roadmap of Any “Big Thing” – whether that’s your book, your side-hustle, your major project at work, or just cleaning out that @#$%! garage.

The Roadmap consists of 4 Phases…


Roadmap for Any Big Project

The Roadmap for Any “Big Thing”: Each Phase has unique barriers to action.

In that series of Episodes I talked about the importance of understanding which of the 4 Phases of a Big Thing you’re stuck in. Because each Phase has its own unique barriers and solutions – and once you identify that Phase, you can choose the right mental solutions for breaking through to the next level – and onward to completion.

The Barriers to Get Started on a Big Project

How many projects or big ideas are sitting on your to-do list right now? Be honest — everybody has at least one. Maybe you have three – or thirty!

Barrier to starting on a big project Temporal DiscountingNo matter how many you have, I would bet that 90% of them are un-started due to one of three key barriers to starting – the three reasons we have so many un-started, unfinished ideas and projects lying around.

The first is Temporal Discounting (“Hey, it’s not due ’til next month, so, uh…”  Or worse, if it’s our own big idea, there’s no deadline at all!).

The second barrier is Fear of Failure. Quoting productivity guru Peter Bregman:

“We procrastinate on that big project precisely because it’s important. So important, in fact, that we’re too scared to work on it. ‘I’m afraid. Afraid that I’ll fail. That I’ll spend a lot of time on it — while other more immediate things don’t get done — and it’ll be terrible, anyway.’”   TWEET THIS  

But the biggest barrier on the bigger, more complex ideas, projects and tasks is Not Knowing Where to Start. We just think about starting it and, because it’s got a lot of moving parts or requires the help of others, we get a feeling of overwhelm and paralysis.

Barrier to start a big project Not KnowingAnd then we say, “Ah…Ya know what? I’ll figure it out later.”

Which is understandable, because a common characteristic of all “Big Things” is that their structure is big, complex and often, unclear.

But all three barriers – temporal discounting, fear of failure and not knowing where to start — tend to mix together in a powerful cocktail of Resistance: “I don’t know where to start. So I doubt I’ll have any success if I do start. But hey – I’ve got time. I’ll start it when I ‘figure it all out’ and my fear subsides!”

And that, of course, never happens. Which is why so many of our own big ideas sit in dusty drawers, and so many big work projects end up being slapped together at the 11th hour.

In Episode 108 I shared three solutions to beat procrastination and crush these barriers: A brain hack, a powerful tool you’ve probably heard of, and a no-brainer physical hack.

Right now I’ll serve up the brain hack with a quote from Steven Pressfield’s awesome book, Do the Work. I’ll share the full quote, but then we’ll circle back to dig in to some details – because there’s a lot of great procrastination psychology in it…

Start before you’re ready. Don’t prepare. Begin. Remember, our enemy is not lack of preparation; it’s not the difficulty of the project or the state of the marketplace or the emptiness of our bank account. The enemy is Resistance…our chattering brain, which, if we give it so much as a nanosecond, will start producing excuses, alibis, transparent self-justifications, and a million reasons why we can’t/shouldn’t/won’t do what we know we need to do.”   TWEET THIS

Pretty powerful quote, and as I said, there’s a lot in there. Let’s take a closer look…

Start Before You’re Ready

How many times have you said to yourself, “Well, I would start on my book/app/side-hustle/project – but first I need to do X,” or, “First I need to figure out Y”?

If we really examine our thinking around getting started on something big, we’d see this is the case: we construct reasons why we CAN’T start on it right now. But if we knew we didn’t have to prepare – actually SHOULDN’T prepare — there’d be no excuse for not starting!

The quote goes on to talk about Resistance and I just want to dig into that a bit more, because it’s so important to understand this phenomenon…

The Enemy Is Resistance

“Remember, our enemy is not lack of preparation; it’s not the difficulty of the project or the state of the marketplace or the emptiness of our bank account.”

Think about all those things: they are not reasons for not starting. They are excuses for not starting. They let us off the hook for taking action. That’s why “the enemy is Resistance…our chattering brain.” We manufacture these excuses to buy us time and ease our discomfort.

Starting on a big thing is UN-comfortable! And we as humans avoid discomfort. That’s why, “if we give it so much as a nanosecond, [our brain] will start producing excuses, alibis, transparent self-justifications, and a million reasons why we can’t/shouldn’t/won’t do what we need to do.”

So just to sum this up: The reason we haven’t started on our big idea is that our busy brain doesn’t want us to, and it’s handing us all kinds of reasons why:

“Oh, I need to do X first.”

Or “I need to talk with Y first.”

Or, “I need to prepare by doing Z first – then I’ll be ready to start.”

No!! Start before you’re ready.

To Get Started on a Big Project — Don’t Prepare. Begin.

And what’ll happen when you do heave yourself out of the Resistance and into any kind of action on your big idea or project, is that you’ll feel liberated. But just as importantly, you’ll start to get ideas on what to do next.

Then, you’ll start to develop a bias for MORE action!!

So…What big thing are you NOT starting because you think you need to do X first, or learn Y first, or talk to So-and-So first? Start…before…you’re ready!

More Tips to Get Started On Your Big Project/Idea

Want a couple more powerful solutions to help you beat procrastination on your big idea or project? I dedicated an episode of Crusher™TV to How to Finally Start Your Big Project/Idea, where I dig really deep into this common procrastination challenge. 

You can click the image below to watch the Episode Preview, which itself contains a brief description of the 4 Phases of a Big Thing that will surely resonate with you.


Episode Description: We all have at least one big idea or project we want or need to start. But too often, they languish, un-started. I’ll show why you’re stuck and evidence-based ways to get going on your biggest, scariest idea/project. Plus, coach Lynne Edris shares keys to your Unique Operating System.





Alan P Brown CrusherTVAlan P. Brown, an internationally recognized Productivity Coach, TEDx Speaker and #1 Best Selling Author of Zen and the Art of Productivity: 27 Easy Ways to Have More Time, Earn More Money and Live Happier is the host of Crusher™TV, where he and his Guest Experts share simple ways to get more done in less time with less stress. Follow Alan on Twitter and on Facebook.



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