The Art of the Start

If we did all the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves. – Thomas A. Edison

What if you had a lot of money? Like a ridiculous amount? Would that make you happy? Would it complete your life? The yin that goes with your yang?

Or how about time? What if you had loads of free time to pursue whatever it is you want to pursue? Infinite time to wander around, lay on the ground, travel, write a book, whatever? Would that make you happy?

Wait, how about education? What if you had additional degrees, advanced degrees, certifications, specializations and anything official-sounding? Would that make you happy?

If you said yes to any or all of the above things that would make you happy, does that mean you are unhappy where you’re at now? If that is the case, why not take steps towards creating your own happiness?

If you’ve always wanted to do a particular something, like run a marathon, quit your day job and be your own boss, take singing lessons and be in your local choir, teach English abroad, be a star-throwing and stealthy killing ninja, or whatever, why not just start taking steps, no matter how little, to get to where you need to be?

Not any one thing will be the magic potion and solution to you going from point A (your current situation) to point B (your dream situation). It’s really, after all, ourselves that often hold us back. Apparently, we enjoy putting ourselves in a tightening choke hold. Stop that. Stop giving yourself excuses and start just doing it!

It’s the Start That Gets Us Scared.

We’re afraid to fail. All of us, at some point in time, are afraid.

Before we venture into a new area, we think of an exit strategy. How messed up is that?? To come up with an exit strategy before you’ve even begun the project of your dreams? Are you banking on the idea of failing?

That doesn’t mean you go into something with blinders on and without some sort of wisdom. It’s just that you don’t let the possibility of failure hinder your initial start.

If you’re wanting to run a marathon, start training by going out there and running, and then run the damn thing! Mulling over the “what if’s” is stupid and a time waster. Just start!

If you’ve always wanted to write a novel, start writing a little bit every day. You’d be surprised how much momentum the initial start gives us to help complete our goal.

If you’ve always wanted to teach English abroad, start researching what programs and schools are at your country of choice, fill out the necessary applications, and do it!

If you’ve always wanted to quit your boring day job that doesn’t fulfill you but instead, leave you feeling as if a piece of you has died every time you go to work, start taking the necessary steps to pursue what actually matters. Drown out the haters and those who want to see you fail so they can say, “Told you so!” Punch them in the kidney and then go about conquering your world. Own your dreams! They are yours and yours alone, after all.

If you’ve always wanted to be a ninja, start training under me. I’ll show you some kick ass moves you can use anywhere (including work). Ha!

“But It Takes Time!”

Anything worthwhile will take time. You can’t just pop in a bag of microwavable popcorn that is your dream project in thought and expect fresh, buttery popcorn within 2 minutes (your dream project in action).

I could’ve easily not started my own blog this year with a multitude of excuses.

Yes, it takes time to write various articles that are interesting, thought-provoking and insightful.

Yes, it takes energy to keep it going.

Yes, it takes effort to make sure the blog runs smoothly.

If I’d have given in to my lizard brain, the part of me that is totally scared of taking risks and challenges, you wouldn’t be reading this now. So, I just had to start. And here we are!

Ashley Ambirge of The Middle Finger Project asks: Are You Your Own Dream Zapper? We’d fare well to realize we can go far in realizing our dreams if we just didn’t hold ourselves back.

4 Things to Remember About The Art of the Start:

1. Preparation is not always necessary.

Many of us are self-proclaimed planners. And proud of it too. We like to know exactly what we’re doing, when we’re doing it, how long we’re doing it for, where we’re doing it and with whom we’re doing it with. This spans little things like appointments, dates, lunches, dinners, parties, to big things like conference meetings, a big sales pitch, company presentations, your next vacation, etc.

What I’m going to tell you, as a once compulsive planner, is that preparation is not always necessary. Shocking! You mean I’m telling you to not know what you’re doing with your free time slot between 2:00 to 5:00 pm on a Saturday? *gasp* Yes. Yes, I am.

Now enlarge this concept to target whatever dreams or goals you have in mind.

Don’t spend countless hours researching the techniques, strategies, tips, things to avoid, etc., on how to scuba dive when you can just take a class and learn from the experts themselves.

Sometimes, it’s fun to not know. Ambiguity helps our creative selves use our imagination and go with the flow. If we already know everything that’s going to happen, it’s no longer fun, exciting and challenging.

2. Courage is essential.

I once read a story about an English teacher who gave her students an in-class written essay assignment. The topic: What is courage?

The students began to furiously write, using multiple sheets of paper and taking the whole class time to make their essay complete, with examples, stories, reasons, and so forth.

One student had begun his essay similarly. But at the very last minute, he scratched the whole thing and wrote 2 words in response.

He wrote: This is.

The student received an A.

How encouraging! Instead of describing courage, he just went straight to the source and showed it. That does take courage to do such a thing, especially when you have the possibility of failing. However, you never know until you try.

3. Believe you can do it.

The art of thinking positive is absolutely powerful and transformative. You may think it’s hokey, especially when bombarded with so many feel-good, Zen-like, tree hugging people who are all about being a ray of sunshine, all the time.

I’m here to tell you to not let your cynical, whiny self take over the best part of you, the part of you who has the capacity to appreciate beauty in life, to look at the brighter side of things, and to not always think others are out to get you and to take advantage of you. Because it’s true. There are people who genuinely want to help you, while not asking for anything back in return. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to meet many selfless individuals and they embody the idea of serving others wholeheartedly.

Believing in yourself in the first place will help you get started in the direction of your dreams.

If you hate yourself, have low self-esteem, talk and think negatively, yes, you will indeed find it difficult to start anything in life. It may be very difficult to just get out of bed in the morning, let alone proactively taking action to realize your dreams.

Believe you can do it. I believe you can.

4. Surround yourself with people who want to see you happy and succeed.

The people you hang around will eventually rub off on you. Meaning their habits, mannerisms, speech pattern, hobbies, and the like. Not everything will transfer over, and thank goodness! I wouldn’t want my friend’s addiction to TV to rub off on me. Or their love of junk food. Or compulsive shopping. Some things are better left on their own.

You have a choice of who you decide to spend your time with. Will they be positive, encouraging people or those who are always complaining, selfish and depressed? It’s a no brainer. Do it for yourself and you’ll find yourself much happier in the long run.

Starting a new endeavor will invariably be difficult as you are breaking out of the mold of someone else’s expectations and creating your own life as you see fit. Having those friends who cheer you on versus those who would laugh at the idea of you actually pursuing your dreams can really affect your sense of self, your mood, your motivation and drive to actually start.

Give those people a swift kick in the groin and tell ‘em to move it! Because you’re here to start having an awesome life!

Ready to start? Let’s do it!

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