There’s a self-starter in everyone. You might be inclined to disagree if human behaviour could fit neatly into, say 4, 12 or 16 personality types. However, for every aspect of human behaviour, and regardless of how many personality type indicators exist, there are two sides to every story. I’m talking about the hidden or less obvious side of every part of the personality, despite the personality type. It’s the shadow.
One side of the story goes like this. The self-starter in you is the part of you that takes the initiative. It’s the part of you that’s productive. You do it without being asked or told. It’s the part of you that doesn’t depend on encouragement from others to take action on on what’s important to you.
The other side of the self-starter story goes like this. This side is unproductive. It’s the non-starter in you trying to sabotage you. It’s responsible for your lack of enthusiasm, motivation and procrastination when it comes to acting on things that are important to you.
So it’s a matter of how important you perceive the task to be. You can do less than spend time ruminating on ways to make a decision and then take action. Mentally reach out and take the decision to act. Just take it. Don’t try to make it.
It’s also a matter of physical energy. For your brain to function effectively enough to engage your self-starter rather than your non-starter, you need a reasonable sized physical energy budget to fuel it. Neuroscientist and psychologist, Lisa Feldman Barrett, in her book titled How Emotions Are Made, calls it your body budget.
While mental and emotional wellbeing play their part, it’s too easy to forget that your physical energy levels will affect your ability to be a self-starter.
Which means that an inability to get started on a task may be due to something as simple as being hungry, thirsty or dehydrated, tired or exhausted, feeling too hot or too cold, overindulging in food, drink and being hungover.
Examples of more complex barriers to engaging the self-starter in you can be due to illness, being in physical pain, or dietary imbalances caused by too much fast food and not enough fresh, healthy food, unknown allergies, and more. The list is not exhaustive.
In short, feeling physically uncomfortable in yourself and your environment will have a negative impact on your ability to connect with your self-starter.
You don’t need to give in to self-sabotage. Before you start blaming yourself for being lazy or undisciplined, do a quick check.
If you notice that you can’t be bothered doing something that’s important to you, then check your physical wellbeing, identify the discomfort and rectify it. Sounds simple, so don’t rule out seeking professional assistance if you have trouble identifying or rectifying physical discomfort.
If you can find your own healthy remedy to ease your discomfort and you’ve made yourself more comfortable, then ask yourself:
Is the task important? Yes, or no? If it’s not important then let it go. If it’s a yes, then how important is it? Measure it, by giving it a score out of 10. To engage and remain connected to your self-starter, check your body for barriers, and keep reminding yourself that what you are doing is important.
The upside to the non-starter is the self-starter. Mental and emotional stamina relies on your physical energy. Your ability to be a self-starter depends on which the side of the story you’ve chosen to live.
Feldman Barrett, L 2018, How emotions are made: the secret life of the brain, Pan Books, London.