5 Steps to Getting Started On Anything
One of the most pervasive questions I see written in Facebook groups and educational programs I invest in or hear people say when they commit to taking on a new habit, project or goal, is, “Where do I start?”
I find it fascinating that this question is asked so frequently. Folks don’t seem to try to figure things out on their own first as they used to it seems. I believe it’s because we live in a culture now where humans want instant gratification and they’re used to having information at the fingertips, literally. So, rather than spending a little time upfront, they start by asking where to start.
Get in there and get dirty
If you’re anything like me, you just jump in with both feet, splash around as much as possible, immerse yourself in everything you can, getting soaking wet in the process and see what happens. THEN, if you can’t figure something out, you figure out where to go to find an answer.
My mother was big on teaching us to be resourceful. She said that successful people were the resourceful ones. I know she was right.
Many people, I have noticed, from experience and observation, however, aren’t like me. They’re scared…afraid of failing, petrified of making mistakes, timid, reticent, overwhelmed, fluster easy, and are quick to give up, throwing their hands in the air with that, “I’ll never figure this out!” resignation that only compounds the emotions they were having about starting in the first place. And yes, I know that was a long sentence!
For many years, I led a multi-day teacher training for people who wanted to promote and teach our Camp Millionaire program. The 5-day training was part curriculum training, part ‘how to teach’ training, and part personal growth seminar. I realized early on that if they were going to be successful teaching the program, they would need to understand the program, how to teach it, AND they would need to shift who they actually WERE as they taught it.
I knew they would have to practice what they preached and in order to do that, they needed to shift who they were in their own personal world of finances. Sometimes they were where they needed to be, but more often than not, I realized there was a large gap between what they wanted to do and doing it.
I also knew they needed to BE a certain way when it came to both getting the program going in their area as well as teaching the program to the kids. Camp Millionaire is NOT your ordinary boring financial program. It’s playful, fun, and organic, which means that it is shaped, to a large extent, by the participants. The ‘organicness’ of the program challenged a lot of trainers’ ways of training. Many were used to following an outline and while we HAVE an outline when we start, I promise you we’re never followed it all the way through…not once. And we like it this way!
So, in that training, we had many conversations about ‘getting started.’ I noticed the discomfort, the unease, the shifting of butts in chairs, the avoidance. I also noticed the assuredness of the ones who had already figured a lot of things out financially and, for whatever reason, weren’t afraid to just jump in and give it a try. The energetic difference between the two sides was more than palpable…it was VISIBLE in people’s actions, words, and body language.
If you can relate to any of the discomforts above when it comes to getting started on any new habit, project, or goal, you are most certainly not alone. My intention is that by the end of this article, you’ll have some new ideas about the process of ‘getting started’ and a new understanding of how successful people become successful in the light of ‘starting/learning something new.’
1) KNOW WHY YOU’RE STARTING
In order to decide what approach is best for starting a certain thing, it’s a great idea to understand at a core level WHY you’re starting it in the first place.
There are many reasons why we humans start things:
- We want to make a difference in the world
- We want to accomplish something for the sheer sake of accomplishing it.
- We know it will give us pleasure and we’ve always wanted to learn it, do it, etc.
- We need something we don’t have.
- We want to change something about ourselves or the world.
- We want to do it because someone else has already done it.
- We want to build something.
- We want to make ourselves feel better in some way.
- We want to impress others for some reason (praise, appreciation)
- We want to advance in the world in some way (job, money, status)
- In the long run, it will be easier than not starting it.
- We’re bored and just want/need something to do.
- Often we start things simply because we’re interested.
By understanding WHY you’re starting something, you’ll have greater insight into whether or not you’ll actually follow through, whether following through is really important to you and how best to approach the process. The intensity of your WHY is directly proportionate to the degree to which you’ll actually follow through and/or succeed with whatever you started.
For example…let’s say you start something because you’re missing something in your life. If the ‘something’ you’re missing is a need rather than a want, you’re far more likely to be persistent and follow through until you get it.
If, however, you’re starting something because of a thing you simply want, your success really depends on how much you want the thing.
Bottom line…know WHY you’re starting in the first place.
2) END IN SIGHT
Most people I know who are even remotely successful got that way because they had a vision in terms of where they wanted to go in life or what they wanted to create or do. Not all, but most.
The sidebar, however, is that while they had an ‘idea’ of what they wanted the end result to look like, i.e., on what basis they would proclaim their success, they weren’t attached to the exact end result or how they got there. This is a critical point and I personally have noticed that most people who accomplish what they set out to accomplish have this attitude.
Early on in my business career, I learned my first lesson: never fall in love with our original idea! Why? Because while our original ideas are great catalysts, they are rarely where we end up going in the long run.
I see this philosophy as a personal autopilot of sorts. We all know that airplanes are flown mostly on autopilot these days. One statistic I read years ago said that even though airplanes are on autopilot, they’re still going in the wrong direction most of the time.
“WHAT?” you might be asking about now but stay with me. Autopilot is about ‘correcting’ direction based on a destination. So if you get in a plane in Portland, Oregon headed for New York City, the plane’s navigation knows that NYC is the final destination. Every time the plane veers off track, even a little, it corrects the navigation so the plane is again headed to NYC.
Life is exactly like this and so is accomplishing something. We know where we want to go but often we’re really not heading in the exact right direction the entire time…heck most of us don’t even know which direction IS the right direction. AND THIS IS COMPLETELY NORMAL.
The point is that STARTING anything requires knowing what FINISHING looks like, even if you don’t know exactly what the end result will be.
3) BABY STEPS
Baby steps are just that…they are small steps headed in the right direction, or at least headed in the current right direction.
Jan, who worked with me at Creative Wealth for many years (and oh, how I miss her to this day), had a great philosophy. She always reminded me that we simply needed to look for the next right step. If you take away nothing from this article but this idea, you’re ahead of the game!
The interesting, and sometimes frustrating, part about baby steps is that sometimes you take 20 baby steps forward one day and sometimes you take 3 steps backward.
On the final day of my teacher trainings, I had a sweet little closing activity that involved dice. I had everyone get on the floor and I passed around a bag of different colored dice, instructing them to each take two.
(Note: if you get all caught up in whether I used the correct word for two dice, let it go. You’re one of the ones who probably get flustered when you can’t follow the outline. LOL.)
Anyway, I would get their agreement that they all wanted to accomplish something either related to the camps or their own personal financial situations. I would then ask the following questions:
- “How many of you think you don’t know enough yet?”
- “How many of you think you’ll never be good enough to do this?”
- “How many of you are just scared for whatever reason?”
Most raised their hands to at least one of those questions.
I then asked, “How many of you want to change lives with this information?” They ALL raised their hands! I had found their common desire.
I proceeded to introduce them to the idea that everything is just a game and to win the game, or even just to participate, you needed to know, and use, the rules to whatever game you wanted to play.
Sometimes there are a few rules and sometimes, like in financial education and investing, there are a LOT of rules. Herein lies the importance of the answer to the question, “How do you eat an elephant?” (NOTE: please don’t take that question literally…NO one wants to eat an elephant nor does any elephant wish to be eaten!)
We all know the answer to the elephant question…you eat it one bite at a time. In other words, you take baby steps!
Bottom line…learning to do something is best accomplished in small, bite-sized chunks and sometimes you don’t understand what you’re learning, why it’s important, or even where you’re going to use the information…but it will come together.
The point is to keep learning every day. Keep taking baby steps. Even if you only take in one paragraph of an instruction manual or watch one video of a training program or create one web page or write one page of your new book…take a step in the next right direction. You WILL get there.
4) NEBULA STAGE and FAITH
The Nebula idea is what works for me personally. When I get an idea and then make the decision to actually go for it, I look at it like a nebula…a newly forming star formation floating all around me.
Little pieces and parts and steps. Some of it known, much of it unknown as yet. I know that I can’t know how it’s all going to come together but I have faith that it will…and therein lies the key. You have to have faith that it will eventually all come together.
One of my favorite lines ever uttered regularly in a weekly TV series was in the A-Team. At some point in every show, Halibel would say, “I love it when a plan comes together.”
You’ve probably felt that way at least once in your life and hopefully many times. Sometimes the key to getting started lies in our ability to remember that at some point, we’ll be able to utter those words again and have that fabulous feeling when our plan comes together.
5) PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE
We all know someone who’s wanted to accomplish something, set out to figure it out, got flustered, and quit. Perhaps you’ve done this one or many times yourself. I know I have! This can happen for many reasons:
- You’re moving too fast.
- Your expectations are too high or lofty.
- You want it too quickly.
- You have forgotten that it takes roughly 10,000 hours to become good at something.
- Someone convinced you that you should be able to get it right, right off the bat (this is a very common problem in society now).
- You refuse to ask for help (this is a huge one).
Now, don’t get me wrong. There are many reasons why it’s perfectly fine to quit. Successful people call this, ‘knowing when to stop.’
The main reasons to stop working on a project are:
- You realize you don’t want it badly enough. In other words, you realize that your WHY wasn’t big enough. This is actually a great reason to stop!
- You realize you aren’t willing to sacrifice what it will take to accomplish it. This happens often when you miscalculate the time, energy, and money it will take to complete a project.
- You realize it was a dumb idea in the first place (try to laugh during these situations…we’ve ALL done this).
- Life circumstances simply change and make the project, habits, etc. unrealistic.
Regardless of whether you keep going or you choose to stop for whatever reason, taking enough time and being patient with both the process and yourself is the main key to staying the course.
My second husband, who was a pillar of support even after we divorced, always told me to stay the course, never give up and just be patient with myself. His words were wise and I always appreciated his continued and gentle push that actually did keep me going on days when I just didn’t want to do anymore.
Starting takes work.
Breaking through the inertia of staying the same takes work.
Learning something new takes work.
Life takes work.
Know that going into whatever new habit, project, or goal you want to start is going to take work, but if we don’t keep trying new things, what’s the point of this beautiful life we were gifted with in the first place?
Laziness, personally, has never suited me. It’s boring and more to the point, I can’t help anyone if I never started things, never created things, never learned new things I could share with others.
So, re-read this article a couple of times. Know your WHY.
Pay attention to your attitude along the way.
Meditate if you start feeling impatient.
Talk to someone you look up to about what they do to push through ‘those’ moments.
Take a break to refresh your drive and passion, keep a journal, get involved with a group doing the same thing, stay engaged.
There are a million and one ways to get support from others, and lastly, every morning when you wake up, stop for a few minutes and remind yourself why you’re getting up in the first place. The answers may surprise you!