Often, the first (and one of the biggest) obstacles to getting things done is getting started… Once you’ve started, you’ve got traction. Once you’ve started, you’ve got an investment. (note: you may have invested money beforehand, but once you start, you’ve invested time and effort and for a lot of us, those seem to be even more tangible than cash…)
Things that get in the way
Things come up. They just do. Between writing the headings of this post and writing the body text, my wife had a sudden unexpected meeting in my office, my printer melted down, and I tweaked my back. But I had those headings in place. I’d already started. I had something I could hold on to and keep going. If I hadn’t had that leg up, I might easily have stopped dead and not gotten a post out this week.
Things will still crop up after you started (like in the example I just gave…), but by having started you give yourself an advantage; the momentum you build up can help you get through.
Sometimes when you’re starting, or restarting after a pause, the magnitude of the project creates a barrier that’s really tough to get through. “You mean I have to do all of that?” “Ummm, a novel should be at least 50,000 words???” It can be rough.
Sometimes, the solution is to not think about the whole thing. Just think about one part of it. You know, the step right in front of you.
“Opening the box”: doing something is where you start
As a kid, I built plastic models. As an adult, I write books, assemble tools, create sculpture, and (occasionally) do home improvement projects. The first step in all those things is to “open the box”, to look at what’s involved, get a feel for the process and figure out what to do next.
When you look open the box (literally or figuratively), you cut out a huge chunk of fear (primarily fear of the unknown); because you now know what’s there and can make better decisions. You have a better idea of what’s going to happen, what you might need help with, what to do next, and an investment.
Once you’ve opened the box, you can say, “I’ve come this far already.” And, you can make better decisions on how to proceed.
Of course, opening the box isn’t usually the end of the road.
Now that you’ve started
Once you’re started, there are still plenty of questions: what’s next? Should I keep going? Am I missing something? You’re not done, but you’re in a better place to decide and answer the questions in front of you (for some questions you have more information and for others you know they exist… You can’t answer a question till you know it exists).
There are lots of answers to the question “what should I do next?”. There are lots of options. But you can’t get to any of them, and you can’t succeed in anything until you get started.
It can be scary. Beginnings always are. Starting is the first step to finishing. It’s something we have to do if we want to succeed.
I’ll end today’s post with a question. What helps you get started? If you’ve got a good one, leave a comment. And, I’ll see you next post.