Write down what is stopping you from starting

There are lots of reasons why you may be putting off doing something. We may choose not to look into what those reasons are and would rather put off doing what we should do. It can be easier to do what we enjoy or what is familiar to us. But there are things we may want or need to do that we continue putting off.

In the short term putting things off means you have more time to do the things that provide instant gratification. In the long term putting things off means you’re delaying the inevitable or at least causing yourself undue stress. It can also mean you never get around to trying new things or taking chances.

Taking a look at the reasons that are stopping you from moving forward can mean confronting things that are uncomfortable. It means being honest with yourself and that’s not always easy. But, looking for those reasons and putting them into words can help you move forward and start those things you have been putting off or trying to force yourself to do

Write down your why

Write down what you need to do and what is stopping you

Whenever you are having a hard time starting, continuing, or finishing something there is a reason, though you may not be aware of what the reason is. Sometimes you may know the reason but choose to ignore it.

When you find yourself with a task to do but are putting it off doing it, write down your reasons.

Start by writing the task at the top of the page and beneath it all the reasons you do not want to do it. If at first you don’t know what to write, just put down whatever comes into your head. Maybe thinking of all the steps involved in the task will help you see why you don’t want to do it.

You can also think about how the task makes you feel. Are you anxious? Worried? Uninterested? Build off of those feelings. Are you worried that you don’t know what you’re doing? That you won’t do it right? Write down how those feelings may be a barrier to the task at hand.


What I need to do: Clean the kitchen

What is stopping me:
I don’t want to do it.
There are other things I would rather do.
It will take too long.
I get anxious thinking about how long it will take

As you write more and more work to get as specific as possible. Put down as many details as you can to get down to the bottom of why you are having a hard time starting this give you a solid foundation from which to build.

Write down why you need to do it

After writing down what is stopping you from starting, next look at the reason you need or want to do the task.

Understanding the why it needs to get done can help you get to the bottom of the why it isn’t getting done. Is it something that truly need to be done? Is it something you simple want to do? Or is it something you feel you should do?

Your taxes need to get done, but finishing a book you aren’t enjoying doesn’t need to be done. An appointment with a doctor needs to be scheduled, but an appointment to have your nails done when you’re not excited about it doesn’t need to be scheduled.

Writing down why you need to do it also solidifies the reason why you are doing something. It turns from something that you decided needs to be done to something that has a reason to be done. You may discover there isn’t a reason it needs to be done nor is it something you want to do. We can put pressure on ourselves to do things when in reality it’s not something we truly want to do.

In the age of constantly being bombarded by social media we can get excited for our fantasy self. This is the fantasy version of ourselves that we think we want to be but in reality is not truly who we are. We may think we want a certain job, to go to a certain place, or have a certain hobby when in reality we just want to want those things.


I need to clean the kitchen because dishes are piling up. Soon I won’t have anything to eat off of and having so much of a mess causes me stress.

Take your time when making your lists

As you make your lists try not to rush through them just for the sake of getting something down. This isn’t a race and there doesn’t need to be a defined end point. Quickly creating a list may not truly get to the heart of why you are having trouble starting. You can’t rush on to trying to figure out how to start if you don’t take the time to truly understand why you’re not starting. If you feel the need to rush through making the lists, think about why that is.

If you start to write things down but you’re not in the right headspace or you just can’t figure out what to write, step away. Take a break to clear your head. Come back when you’re ready to be honest with yourself and you have the capacity and strength to do so.

Questions to ask yourself when your lists are done

You can always add more to your lists, but when you get to a good stopping place, look over what it is your need to get done and ask yourself some questions. Not every question below may fit for you, but use it as a starting place to think about if the task needs to be done, how doing the task will affect your life, and when it needs to be done by.

Is this something I want or need to do?

Is this something that has a deadline?

Is not doing it something that will negatively affect my life?

Will doing it positively affect my life?

What are the consequences if I don’t get it done?

If writing lists doesn’t work for you, find your own way

If writing your reasons feels like too much or just isn’t right for you, try another way to get ta the heart of what is stopping you from starting. Maybe it’s saying it out loud to yourself or talking it through with someone else. If one way doesn’t seem to be working for you keep trying to find the way that resonates with you.

Final thoughts

If you are having a hard time starting something work to gets towards the reason why. Giving yourself the time and space to truly open up will help you be honest with the reason you are not starting. It doesn’t mean there is an easy fix to the barriers you are facing, but it gives you a place to start.

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