zen habits : breathe

A Simple Technique for Launching Your Project in 20 Minutes

By Leo Babauta

I ran across a friend who’s been dreaming about starting his business for years … and he feels stuck.

Like many people who want to start a business, write a book or a blog, or launch some other kind of creative or entrepreneurial venture … he’s stuck in overwhelm, indecision, inaction.

I’m going to share a simple technique for overcoming these difficulties and taking action on your business, book, organization or other venture sooner. It takes just 20 minutes.

And it could change your life.

How to Overcome All the Obstacles

But first, let’s look at what stops people from taking action — and how we might overcome these individual obstacles:

So with this list of obstacles and solutions, we can start to see a few common themes. Let’s turn those into a simple technique for launching.

The 20-Minute Technique

OK, let’s get to the technique you’ve been waiting for.

First, I’m going to assume you have a business idea, project, book, blog, non-profit organization you want to start, something like that. If not, go pick one. Then come back and try this.

Second, I’m also assuming you are doing this business or project because you care deeply about something. You want to serve people. You’re not doing this just to make yourself look good or make money (those might also happen, but your reason goes deeper). If you don’t have this deeper reason, someone you are devoted to … take an hour outside in stillness and silence to look within yourself. What moves you to tears?

So this technique assumes you have the first two things above covered.

Now here’s the technique:

  1. Feel your fear & uncertainty for 2 minutes. This is a mini-meditation. If you are feeling fear of failure or any kind of uncertainty (it usually feels like stress, avoidance or indecision) … pause for two minutes. Sit still, and allow yourself to fully feel the fear, stress and uncertainty. Not your stories about these feelings, but the physical sensations of the feelings. Where is the fear/uncertainty located in your body? What does it feel like? Let yourself fully feel it, even turning up the intensity so that you can feel it without barriers, with an open, raw, tender heart. Notice at the end of 2 minutes that you’re perfectly OK, and that you can stay open and upright in the middle of fear and uncertainty.
  2. Pick one tiny step. Now take 1 minute to pick the smallest step you can take. Maybe just the first 15 minutes of outlining your book, or 15 minutes of calling people to ask for their support. You might have 10 things on your list (or 100), but it doesn’t matter — just pick one. Let your gut be your guide. It doesn’t matter if you pick wrong, just pick. Don’t let uncertainty cause you to avoid this step — you can feel uncertainty and be perfectly OK. So feel it but pick a tiny step anyway.
  3. Set a timer for 15 minutes and do the step with devotion. Now that you’ve picked a tiny step, set a timer for 15 minutes and allow yourself to pour yourself into this step. Just for 15 minutes, so you know you’ll be fine. Be devoted to what you care deeply about, the people who you’re doing this for. Don’t allow yourself to switch or put things off while the timer is going. Just keep going. Hold the pose. You can do this. Smile as you do it.
  4. Repeat and iterate. Take 2 minutes to review how it went, what you learned. Was this a good step to take? Do you need to switch to anything else instead (not out of fear, but out of what you just learned doing it)? Do you need to adjust anything? With this tiny part of the process, you are allowing yourself to shift as you take action and get more info and learn. Then pat yourself on the back, feel a sense of accomplishment. Breathe, and notice how you’re different than you were 20 minutes ago.

You’ve now launched your business or project. You have taken a tiny step, and that’s all that it takes to get moving. Now keep moving. Repeat these steps several more times, and notice how much progress you’re making. Let that encourage you to keep doing this, every single day, calling on support when you need it, reminding yourself of what you care deeply about, serving your people with all of your heart, feeling the uncertainty and being joyful in the middle of that shakiness.

This is your love story.


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