Why is it so darn hard to just get started?
Have you ever noticed how so often there are things we WANT to do in life and yet we just can’t seem to muster up the motivation to actually take action?
And this doesn’t just relate to health and weight loss, but to SO many areas of our lives. We get stuck, and even though we KNOW we’re stuck and we wish we WEREN’T stuck, we just can’t seem to manage to get UNSTUCK.
So where does that motivation to just get going actually come from, and how can we tap into it a little more.
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What if you’re willing to accept the premise that what you’re currently doing clearly ISN’T WORKING, or that all the things you’ve tried in the past HAVEN’T WORKED. Yet you still can’t seem to find the motivation to make the necessary changes to get what you want?
Or what if it’s not even necessarily in the arena of health and weight loss that you feel stuck right now? What if it’s some other area of your life that you know you should be making changes to, or taking action on, and sometimes you think about it, and yet you just can’t seem to pull the trigger or get going?
What if it’s trying to get out of a dead-end job that you hate?
What if it’s trying to start a business of your own?
What if it’s trying to clear the clutter and organize your home?
What if it’s trying to get your finances in order?
What if it’s wanting to move to a different city?
What if it’s needing to let go of a toxic relationship?
What if it’s just wanting to find more purpose in your life right now?
Why is it so HARD to just get started?
Why is it so scary to commit to change?
And what can you actually do about it?
Understanding your Fear Archetype
It starts with understanding exactly what mental barriers are holding us back and making us so resistant to change in the first place. Before you can dig deep to find that inner motivation, you’ve got to get real with yourself about those deep, underlying fears that are keeping you stuck and making it hard to move forward.
This is something I wrote about in-depth in my book Do It Scared—in fact, for that book I did a huge 2 year research study on fear, where I surveyed more than 4,000 women on the role of fear in their lives and how it holds them back from pursuing their goals. And through that study, I came to understand that the way fear manifests for each of us—our Fear Archetype—is a little different.
When you can start to understand YOUR specific fear archetype a little more—how fear tends to show up in your life, and where it tends to hold you back, then you can also understand how to handle it better and not let it stand in your way.
Because ultimately, knowledge is power. What I’ve learned is that the more you can understand what’s actually going on inside your own brain, the less you allow yourself to be controlled by emotion and the more you can take ownership of your thought process. If you don’t actually know what’s happening inside your head, then it all feels automatic and subconscious, like something you have no control over. But that’s not true.
So let’s talk first about some of the most common fear archetypes and how they tend to manifest, specifically when it comes to health and weight loss.
Number one, the PROCRASTINATOR, also known as the Perfectionist. And if you’re a perfectionist, you probably already know that about yourself—and you might even see it as a source of pride, not realizing that all those perfectionist tendencies are actually a form of FEAR, because you use your need for everything to be perfect as a reason to not do it at all.
You typically spend a lot of time doing research or getting organized, and probably find yourself stalling and finding other things to do rather than that one thing you really want to be doing. You’re the one that’s likely done allllll the research and read allllll the diet books and listened to allllll the podcasts, because reading and listening feels safer than actually starting. You just never quite feel READY. But what you’re REALLY afraid of is making a mistake, whichis why it’s so hard to get going. Because now you’re overwhelmed with information overload and what if you make the wrong choice, or worse yet, what if you fail?
It’s easier just not to begin.
And you should know that this fear archetype—the Procrastinator/Perfectionist—is actually the most common of ALL the fear archetypes. About 40% of the population have this one as their primary archetype. So if this is you, you’re definitely NOT alone.
The People Pleaser
But next up is the PEOPLE PLEASER. And the fear that holds YOU back isn’t necessarily the fear of making a mistake, but the fear of being judged, or letting people down. You care a LOT about what people think, and sometimes struggle with boundaries or saying no.
So if you’re a people pleaser, this may be affecting your health and weight loss journey in a number of different ways. For one, you might feel embarrassed or ashamed of what other people might think if you start another new diet or weight loss program.
Or maybe you’re worried that you’ll be judged for following a plan that so many people—because of all the lies we’ve been told for so long about what’s healthy and what’s not—and you’re worried about having to justify yourself. And honestly, I’ve seen this with a number of our clients—friends and family get REALLY judgy when they perceive something as being “outside the norm.” It can be hard. And if you’re a people pleaser, it’s REALLY hard.
Or maybe, because you’re a people pleaser, you just can’t seem to make it past those social situations where you’re with other people and facing the peer pressure to indulge in all the things that got you to this place in the first place. Maybe you do okay on your own, or you feel committed, but the second you’re in that social situation, it feels IMPOSSIBLE to stand up for yourself. Because you don’t want to hurt any feelings or make anyone mad.
And it might not seem like this is fear holding you back, but it is, often in a really big way.
The Rule Follower
Or maybe you’re more of a RULE FOLLOWER Archetype. This means that for you, there is almost always a process that needs to be followed, and it makes you uncomfortable to stray from that path. You don’t even like it when other people step outside the lines. You’re the kind of person who always read the instruction manual from start to finish, and if you’re cooking a recipe, you follow it to the letter.
The good news for a rule follower is that if you’re given the right set of rules and instructions to follow, you will most likely excel. In fact, in all of my programs, I find that many of my most successful clients are Rule Followers, because they do the work.
But the PROBLEM for Rule Followers, when it comes to modern health and weight loss, is that SO MANY of the rules you’ve been given are total BS. For all these years we’ve been told all these things like if you want to lose weight you need to eat less and exercise more, and just count your calories, and eat less fat and more whole grains. And so you’re following all the rules, but they’re the WRONG RULES.
And yet you can can’t let them go because it’s what your doctor and all the experts keep saying. The fear of breaking out of that “conventional wisdom” and going against what you perceive as the “right way” to do things is absolutely holding you back. So that’s the Rule Follower.
And then there’s the OUTCAST. And if you’re an outcast, then I can definitely relate because that is my #1 fear archetype as well. But if you’re an outcast like me, then your biggest fear is typically the fear of being rejected.
And that might sound a little bit similar to the people pleaser’s fear of being judged or not being liked, but the way that it MANIFESTS is actually very different. You see, outcasts tend to manifest that deep fear of rejection by rejecting other people and ideas FIRST, before we can be rejected in return. It’s almost like a pre-emptive strike or a protection mechanism.
On the surface, it seems like we really don’t care what other people think. But we actually care very deeply. Rejecting the world or the things that might work for us means not having to face rejection.
After all, it’s way easier to say something like “Keto is dumb, everyone is doing it, it’s just another fad diet that won’t actually work for me.” than risk taking the action and having it not actually change the deeper issues that are causing your unhappiness. We also tend to reject anything that feels like it would make us vulnerable or require us to put ourselves out there in some way. So that’s the Outcast.
Next up is the SELF DOUBTER Fear Archetype. And it’s not hard to see how this fear keeps you stuck, especially when it comes to health and weight loss, because if you are a self-doubter you’re already struggling with deep feeling of insecurity and a fear of not being good enough. You have trouble believing that you are actually capable of making real and positive changes in you life, and that makes it really, really hard to find any motivation to get started.
You’re the person who would never in a million years dream of taking a “before” picture and sharing it in the Facebook group, because your self-criticism would be off the charts. But you also find yourself feeling critical of the people around you. Maybe even the people who DO post those photos of themselves. In fact, sometimes your tendency to be super critical puts a strain on your relationships because the people around you feel like you are always picking on them. But really it comes from that deep feeling of insecurity and not being enough that weighs on you all the time. So that’s the Self Doubter.
The Excuse Maker
And then there’s the EXCUSE MAKER Fear Archetype. And we can probably all think of at least one person we know who fits this description right? But basically the excuse maker always has an excuse, a reason for why they can’t get started, or in the case of health and weight loss and excuse for WHY you’ve gained weight and why nothing you try will actually work for you. Maybe it’s a thyroid issue. Maybe it’s hormones. Maybe it’s genetics. Maybe it’s the fact that you just don’t have time or you have food sensitivities. Maybe it’s type 2 diabetes. Or autoimmune. Or arthritis. Or you’re too old. Or your husband doesn’t support you. Or you travel too much. Or. Or. Or. Because there’s always an excuse.
For for the excuse maker, the deep underlying fear is the fear of taking responsibility or being blamed. Sometimes this goes all the way back to childhood trauma with parents who constantly blamed you for things. But it’s this almost visceral reaction to the idea of taking ownership for your own life and your own health, and it keeps you stuck in excuse land where you never have to take the blame for how things have turned out.
But at the end of the day, even a good excuse is still an excuse. So that’s the excuse maker.
And then finally, there’s the PESSIMIST Fear Archetype. And if you’ve experienced a lot of hardship and adversity in your life, or you are currently going through a particularly hard season where you’ve had some pretty big challenges or trauma—maybe a divorce or a job loss or the death of someone close to you, you might be identifying as a Pessimist.
Because when you get into pessimist mode, basically your biggest fear is experiencing more pain and adversity. For you, every opportunity feels too risky. It’s almost like you just completely shut down and you’re reluctant to TRY because everything in life feels like an opportunity to get hurt again. In essence, you’ve given up.
And not surprisingly, of all the seven archetypes, this is probably the HARDEST fear to work through and overcome, because you’re just in such a dark place. That said, of all the 7 fear archetypes is also the one that is most likely to be a temporary season.
Shifting Your Mindset
So there you have it—the seven most common fear archetypes across more than 100,000 test takers so far: The Procrastinator, The People Pleaser, The Rule Follower, The Outcast, The Self Doubter, The Excuse-Maker, and The Pessimist.
And if multiple archetypes resonated with you, that’s actually totally normal. No one is ALL Procrastinator or ALL Self-Doubter. Instead, there’s a sliding scale for each one, and they work together to form each person’s unique fear fingerprint. You could have one archetype that is most dominant, or several that score high for you. But the higher your score for a particular archetype, the more likely it is is that particular fear is having a bigger impact in your life.
And if you want to actually take the fear assessment to determine YOUR fear archetype, you can find it at DoItScared.com. It’s pretty enlightening, to say the least.
But the important thing to know is that you can actually do something about it.
Your fear, however it is currently manifesting in your life, doesn’t HAVE to hold you back. All that matters is that you identify it. Again, because all of this fear I just talked about happens subconsciously, beneath the surface, without really realizing that’s what’s going on, or even realizing that certain behaviors are actually fear manifesting in very real and destructive ways.
But as soon as you can start to identify those patterns of behavior in your own life, THAT is when you can actually change them. What was SUBconscious becomes conscious. You actually SEE it happening.
But what’s more, you begin to realize that you have the power to CHOOSE something different.
And that’s where the mindset shift begins to happen.
Instead of being subconsciously controlled by fear, you start to see how you can use it as a tool for growth. We all have our unique set of fears and insecurities that hold us back, but if you can learn to lean into them instead of run away from them, you can become stronger and more resilient.
Because the reality is that each Fear Archetype is a double edged sword. There’s a part of it that holds you back, but each one also has strengths associated with it.
If you’re a procrastinator, you’re afraid of making a mistake, yes, but you also tend to have a great attention to detail and are often incredibly meticulous and organized.
If you’re a people pleaser, you seek approval, but you’re also typically a great person to be around—thoughtful, well-liked, and fun.
If you’re a rule follower, you can get stuck in black & white thinking, but you’re also incredibly diligent and responsible.
If you’re an outcast, you fear rejection, but you’re also often an independent thinker with a lot of drive.
If you’re a self-doubter, you can struggle with insecurity, but you’re also incredibly empathetic.
By understanding your own fear archetype, you can actually start to use it as fuel to reach your goals, instead of letting it keep you stuck. And that mindset shift, in and of itself, can be incredibly motivating.
But do you want to know the UNIVERSAL antidote to overcoming fear, regardless of how any particular fear is showing up in your life right now?
Action is the antidote to fear.
It’s that simple. You have to actually DO sometime. Take a step in the right direction. Any step, even the smallest step. But then take the NEXT small step, and then next one after that. Let each small action propel you on to the next one. And keep moving forward.
Because at the end of the day, courage is a muscle that you have to exercise. You can’t start lifting weights and think you’re going to bench press 300 pounds. You have to start slow and build. Your courage and motivation is the SAME WAY.
So often our fear comes because we think we have to change everything all at once, and that feels super scary and unknown. But big goals NEVER happen all at once. They are only the result of SMALL STEPS taken consistently over time.
So when it comes to improving your health or losing weight, and really when it comes to achieving ANY sort of big goal in your life, what are the small action steps you can take?
Well, you’re already reading this blog, so that’s a REALLY good start. That’s the first small step. And there are a lot of other really great blogs and podcasts out there as well, on pretty much any topic you could care to learn about. But if ALL YOU DO is read and listen, without ever taking more action, that same fear will keep holding you back.
So you gotta take the next step, and the next step after that. So let’s talk about what some of those next steps could be.
Watch our Free Training Video
In the case of health and weight loss, if you haven’t watched that free on-demand training video that I mentioned at the beginning of this episode, then THAT should be your next step. Seriously. It’s really good, and really eye-opening, and will definitely help you put you on the right path. If you need the URL again, you can find it here.
Take Concrete Action
But for ANY goal that you want to accomplish, it’s important that you find a way to take CONCRETE action beyond just listening and learning. Content is cheap, and while I do believe that knowledge is power, it is only powerful when paired with action. You have actually APPLY what you are learning in real time, and test it out.
That means that if you want to get serious about your health, start by reading every single food label to see what’s actually IN the food you are eating. How much sugar and carbohydrates are you actually consuming on a daily basis? What are the ingredients? What effect are those ingredients having on your body? Simply starting to pay attention and becoming mindful of what you’re currently eating is the smallest, simplest step you could possibly take, but it’s something. And it can lead you to the next step.
Invest in Yourself
But when it comes to taking concrete action, do you want to know what I think is SUCH an important mindset shifter for any goal that you want to accomplish in life? It is actually INVESTING IN YOURSELF in some way. And this is so huge.
Because we as humans are weird. The minute we get something for FREE, we don’t value it. We don’t take it seriously. It instantly becomes something we totally take for granted.
Think about a college student whose parents pay for everything, versus the the one who is working their way through school to pay for it themselves. Which one values their education, and which one spends four years doing keg stands at frat parties?
I have two teenagers so I honestly deal with this all the time. If you have teenagers you know what I’m talking about right? My girls have NO problem spending MY money, and they don’t seem to value ANYTHING I pay for. And yet, the minute it’s THEIR money, they’re suddenly taking it much more seriously and spend it much more carefully.
And that means that if you REALLY want to make a mental shift in ANY area of your life, then the VERY BEST thing you can do is find a way to put your money where your mouth is.
Invest in yourself and the things you really want.
Want to leave your dead end job? Go back to school or invest in a career coach. Want to start a business? Take a real risk, rather than just keep talking about it. Want to improve your relationships or your mindset? Invest in life coaching or therapy. Want to be more organized? Take a time management course or invest in a professional organizer. Want to improve your health? Find a way to invest in yourself. In a way that actually HURTS a little bit, because that will force you to take it seriously.
Don’t spend your life hanging out in the cheap seats, telling yourself you can’t afford it. Because I promise you that whatever you’re spending your money on right now is determining what you actually value, whether you realize it or not.
And that might sound harsh but I tell you what, the older I get or maybe the older my kids get the more I realize how much that’s true. We value what we pay for.
Honestly, I could keep going with a million stories of how this has played out in my life. I’ve probably ranted long enough, and I’m already over time so I’ll just wrap by saying this:
There is NO SUBSTITUTE for taking ACTION.
Thinking about it isn’t action.
Just listening isn’t action.
Talking about it isn’t action.
If you actually want it, you’ve got to find a way to START with concrete action.
One small step. Even a tiny step. But a step that will get you closer.
So that is my challenge for you today. What is ONE SMALL THING you could DO differently, starting right now, one TINY ACTION you could take today?
Then take it. Build that courage muscle, one tiny step at a time.
If this was helpful to you, and there’s someone in your life who you think could benefit from hearing this too. PLEASE SHARE IT WITH THEM. Also, I invite you to watch our brand new FREE on-demand video training all about how to lose weight and transform your health (without dieting, drugs, or making yourself miserable)!
And if you want to find more support and recipes that will begin to start healing those root causes we talked about, then consider joining the TAS Program. We go SO much deeper into all of this in our program—and there’s a community of nearly 800 other women who are on the journey to healing their bodies and feeling their best too!
TAS stands for Thin Adapted System and is our main program here at Thinlicious.
If you are READY to get serious about transforming your health in a really significant way, then please be sure to check out that training video linked above.
If you liked this post, you’ll absolutely love our podcast on the same topic (and so many more!) Listen to Ditch the Carb Podcast now!