Why the First Few Minutes (of Anything) is Always the Most Difficult

The backpacker was standing at the edge of the bridge ready to jump. She looked down and took in another massive gulp of air. Her eyes were the size of saucers. Her friends standing on the bridge were cheering her on, encouraging her to jump.

She’d made it all the way to Queenstown in New Zealand, and now she was only seconds away from undertaking a massive bungee jump. But she couldn’t do it. The longer she hesitated, the worse she felt. Her face was full of terror at the possibility of the bungee snapping and then the inevitable falling to her death. For what seemed like an eternity she kept looking at the canyon below and then looking into the air as if trying to beckon the gods.

Whether she intended to or not, she leaned forward a little bit too far and began to fall into space. She kept falling and falling. Finally, the bungee cord stretched far enough, and then it snapped her back towards the bridge. Then, for the next minute, she went up and down and up and down. What started out as an experience of sheer terror, ended in her screaming enjoys of adulation and achievement. She did it!

Whether you’ve had the opportunity of bungee jumping yourself, I’m sure you’ve seen videos of people just like our young backpacker who spent countless minutes and stress deciding whether to jump or not. And, after the jump wondered what all the fuss was about.

Let me ask you, have you ever discovered yourself procrastinating on starting anything, only to find out that once you begin the task – whatever it is, you realised it wasn’t as bad or as hard as you thought it was. There is a famous quote in the book David Copperfield by Charles Dickens that goes something like this, “Procrastination is the thief of time, collar him.”

You see, there are so many things in life that we could be doing, but we don’t because we stop and procrastinate. However, within a few minutes of pushing beyond our discomfort or fright, we wonder why we didn’t do it earlier!

That’s why the first few minutes (of anything) is always the most difficult.

In the wonderful book written by Susan Jeffers called “feel the fear and do it anyway”, the author says, “Pushing through fear is less frightening than living with the underlying fear that comes from a feeling of helplessness.” How true!

In other words, those who spend their lives procrastinating on sometimes over the smallest and insignificant things live with a dread of something going wrong.

The truth is, it is easier (and more life-fulfilling) to try new things and just get out and make an attempt. As we say in Australia, “have a go!”

This week, whatever you’re procrastinating over, feel the fear or dread, realise it might be uncomfortable (for a moment), but remember that after the first five minutes you have forgotten about not wanting to start – in most probably be enjoying or at least doing the task or activity at hand.