How to Start When You Can’t Get Started

Jordana del Feld
4 min readMay 9, 2024

We all say we want to change.

But what happens when we get stuck trying to get to the starting gate?

It’s easy to get stuck in our echo chambers of fear. It’s hard to step into the unknown.

Even when we are starving for change, sometimes we still can’t get ourselves to sit down and face the smorgasbord of change available to us. It’s new. It’s scary. We want to bite into it, but it might bite us first.

So what then?

Here’s how to calm yourself down so you can get unstuck and chomp into that exciting change.

Do a body check-in.

How are you standing or sitting right now? How does the ground feel under your feet? How does the chair feel under your butt? Are you leaning more to one side or another? What does the fabric of your clothes feel like on your skin? Are you warm or cool?

What else are you feeling in your body right now?

Where do you feel your breath? Where don’t you feel your breath? What would happen if you invited some breath into those spaces?

Think about what it’s like to be stuck when you want to change. Where do you feel “stuck” in your body? Just noticing it is enough for now.

Are you comfortable the way you’re sitting right now? Is there something you could shift to make yourself feel more comfortable? What if you had permission to make yourself feel all the way comfortable, what would that look like?

Figure out what’s already working.

When we mire ourselves in misery, it’s generally useful misery, even if we say we hate it. Something about it is working for us. Some need is being fulfilled. So ask yourself: what about this situation is secretly useful? What wonderful service is it providing in my life? If I didn’t have this dark but fantastic thing going for me, how would I have to redefine myself?

It’s safe to ask yourself this scary question. Nobody will overhear your secret answer. This is just for you to notice for yourself. Since you’re alone and safe, go ahead and really pry. “I could never tell this to other people because they’d think I’m a freak, but actually, this situation is working great for me. If it were different, I would lose out on a lot.”

Describe what’s working, to yourself, as specifically as you can.

Love the mess.

Nobody is selling spectator tickets to your subconscious. You are allowed to notice whatever you want, and think whatever you want.

And this is what you must do if you want to leave a dysfunctional pattern behind and step forward into change.

Check in with the dark corners of yourself. Love your own hot mess. Love the part of you that fights hard to hang on to that thing you want to change. Grab it. Hug it. Love it.

Because this warty, black, rat-encrusted part of you is your ticket into your next chapter. This unlikely suspect is the precise power that will catapult you into change. But it can’t do anything until you recognize and embrace it.

So visualise that part of yourself. What does it look like? Does it look like Maurice Sendak’s wild thing? Does it look like a Dementor? Does it look like a very young version of you?

Whatever it is, make it as specific as you want. See it in front of you. Then see how you might go about making friends with this being. Because there is something about it that will be incredibly interesting to you.

Scale it back.

What if you were almost about to start the process of change, but then just couldn’t quite. You were so close, and then…nope.

It’s tempting to beat yourself up when this happens. But what if, instead, you scaled the change back?

Is this a change you can make in teeny increments? What if you took baby steps and made a huge deal out of congratulating yourself at every tiny step? And if you fall down, you just start over, and that’s fine, and you keep on making a huge deal out of congratulating yourself at every tiny step?

Baby steps. Love yourself as you are. And then you can get where you’re going.

Be present with what is.

Lastly, look at the whole situation. And sit with it.

You’re balancing between old and new. You have things that hold you back and things that push you forward, and they’re all tools in your toolbox. They are all here to help you evolve into your new you. Even though they all work differently.

Forces from the past pull you one way, your desire for change pulls you another, and that’s awesome.

Take the pressure off. Sit back. Breathe. Be in your body. See if you can sit with that interesting balance of forces, and be curious about it. See this balancing act as a work of art. Admire it from all angles, without thinking of changing it. Allow it to impress you.


And then…change has already begun!