The First Seven Minutes
Why starting isn’t the hardest part – it’s what comes next.
Whenever I go for a run, the first seven minutes is always the worst part. My lungs burn, my legs feel heavy, and I feel like I can’t catch my breath at all. I always want to stop. But then I get to the seven minute mark and I find my rhythm. I have no idea about the science behind this, but something happens at that exact moment which relieves the pressure and then I feel like I can keep running.
The same thing happens with any blog post that I do. The first draft is always a tangle of messy thoughts from my iPhone notes and mismatched sentences that I like the sound of. I rearrange the sentences like a jigsaw for a few days, hate everything I write and plummet into a hole of confusion about what the point of the post was in the first place. When I come back to it begrudgingly at a later point, I rewrite most of it. And only after all those stages, might it gradually form into something worthy of sharing. Seven minutes.
Then I realised – that’s life in general isn’t it? There’s no choice but to push past those uncomfortable feelings, or the ‘first seven minutes’, to move onto the next level. We mostly see the end result of things in life, and forget that the process to get there can be ugly.
Self help gurus talk a lot about ‘starting’. Start the diet, the project, daily meditation – whatever it is. It’s a given that to end up anywhere, you have start somewhere. But starting isn’t actually the hardest part. It’s what comes next. I’m more and more convinced that there is an equivalent of seven minutes in every single thing that’s worth starting, and committing to.
I recently did a course on emotional intelligence, and one of the biggest lessons that I’ll take away from it is that our brains aren’t always on our side. Quite the opposite actually. Our brains will sabotage our happiness to keep us in the safety zone. Even if you really want to achieve a big goal, your limbic brain just wants you to a) avoid risks and b) avoid drawing attention to yourself because both of these things would have put you in grave danger in caveman days.
The very start of anything is fun. Beginners luck, novelty, the euphoria of a new idea, and an endless horizon ahead of you. But the glow wears off gradually and then during the uncomfortable seven minutes your brain will do its best to trick you into thinking something isn’t right. You’ll feel like you’re not good at it, and it’s not natural, and stopping will seem like the better option.
Moral of the story; if you really want something but don’t know how to get there, start, and fight your brain for the first seven minutes. Repeat.
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