I often meet people who want to invest in stocks but can’t bring themselves to get started.

It may be laziness or fear that holds them back – or perhaps a mixture.

The composition of the emotions is irrelevant, as the cure is the same.

In this blog post, I’ll give you seven steps to break through whatever is holding you back and take the plunge.

1. Set a Specific Goal

Find out what it is you want to achieve. Write it down on a piece of paper or in a notebook.

It sounds silly that this is necessary, but it is.

It’s important to make the goal very clear and specific. If you’re doubting what the goal is, you won’t achieve it.

Is it getting started investing? How much do you want to invest and by when?

Do you want to invest $1,000? $10,000?

Do you want to invest your retirement savings yourself?

It’s important to be specific and to set a concrete deadline, because if you don’t know exactly what you want to do and by when, you won’t get it done.

The goal must be ambitious compared to where you are now – but also realistic and concrete.

2. Say It Out Loud

We spend a lot of energy on not losing face in front of others and trying to seem consistent to those around us.

Sometimes we are more eager to keep our word to other people than we are eager to keep our word to ourselves.

You can use this to your advantage.

Tell people you trust about your goal and ask them to inquire about your progress.

3. Set Up Sub-goals

Sometimes we lose steam because the goal seems abstract.

That’s because you haven’t divided the elephant into edible pieces.

What do you need to do to reach your goal?

If the goal is to get invested for the first time, a sub-goal may be to open an investment account. Another one could be to transfer money.

If the goal is to invest your retirement yourself, a sub-goal may be to call the bank to open a 401K or to get them to request a transfer from wherever your retirement savings are.

Now that you’ve set up sub-goals, be sure to do a little each day. One step forward all the time. Do not procrastinate.

I’ve written more about this in the blog post about being effective here.

4. Decide On a Reward

When you achieve your goal, you need to reward yourself. Decide in advance what that reward is, so you have something to look forward to.

It’s important to celebrate your success.

It should be self-pampering and preferably sensual, like a good dinner, a spa day, or a professional massage.

5. Select a “Punishment” For Failure

No, do not start whipping yourself as the sensual opposite to the reward.

An appropriate punishment could be to donate a considerable amount to a charity. The amount must be large enough to matter to you.

6. Count Down From Five To One

When I was a child, I almost drowned in a pool. I was around seven years old when I visited my best friend after school. She had pool, and there were no adults at home. We thought it was a brilliant idea for me to sit on a swing that hung over the pool, as I couldn’t swim but would still be part of the fun.

My friend pulled the swing to the edge, and I swung myself onto it. I sat there rocking while my friend and her younger brother swam around me.

The problem occurred when I had to return to the edge of the pool. My friend and her brother couldn’t pull the swing to the edge because of the weight. I had to jump into the water. There was no other way.

I remember the bubbles and the panic, and I’ve been a little afraid of water ever since.

Today we live in a house by a pool in Portugal, and it’s important that my two boys learn to swim. I’ve decided to swim every day, with or without them.

I have to force myself to go in the pool and show them that it is not dangerous, and that swimming can be learned.

If I go down the stairs, they can read the fear in my face, and I end up going up again before the water reaches my navel.

There is only one way to do it, and that is to hack myself.

I go to the edge at the deep end, count down from 5 and jump in headfirst. Once I’m in, it’s fine. The counting down trick works. By the way, I learned this from Mel Robbin’s TEDx talk.

The point here is that courageous action only requires a brief moment of courage. It may feel like you’re spending weeks gathering courage, but you’re not. It’s just a few seconds at a time.

7. Ask Yourself: “Who Will I Become If I Let Myself Down?”

Do you remember as a child when an adult made a promise that they didn’t keep? Do you remember the disappointment? Do you remember how you stopped believing in them if it happened repeatedly?

It’s the same thing.

If you make yourself a promise that you don’t keep, you’re failing yourself, and the more you fail yourself, the more you’ll stop believing in yourself.

The good thing is that it’s actually easy to get things done if you learn to hack your defense mechanisms by counting down from five to one.

The more you do it, the better it seems to work. In the end, your psyche knows that when you count, it’s serious.

And now you can count down from five to one and click here to download my investment book, Free Yourself. It will only cost you the hour it takes to read it.