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Don’t Just Start

Start. Then Keep Starting.

I am a serial starter. I am a dreamer and I am an action-taker, and I often get so wrapped up in my convictions that I blaze ahead, even without a perfect plan.
And if you listen to any growth and development podcast, you’ll hear that “done is better than perfect” and that our biggest roadblock to success is not the adversity we face in the throws of production but rather the hesitation and fear of beginning in the first place. You’ll hear that action is the antidote to fear, that you can’t learn to drive in a parked car, and a multitude of other metaphors for why the single most important thing for you to do is simply just to DO IT. And there’s truth in this sentiment – you can’t learn from experience until you garner experience and you can’t grow and adapt until you figure out what doesn’t work, what you want more or less of, and how best to use your skills and talents. Generally, the advice is being administered by someone who has already “done it” and is able speak from a place of credibility and experience. But as someone who’s been inspired by this mantra a thousand times, been motivated to start a thousand times, started a thousand times, I’ve identified a measure of accountability to my own ambition that I’ve struggled with.
I don’t call this out to rain on your parade of inspiration – no one likes a Johnny Raincloud – but to encourage you to be prepared to bolster your ambition with sincere, resolute, and convicted action. Even when you run into roadblocks. Even when the initial excitement of I’m going for it! wears off. Because if that idea that’s making your heart race a little, keeping you up at night, and rocketing you out of bed in the morning is worth your attention, it’s worth your attention all in.

I recently heard a quote from Ed Myelett that hit me square in the solar plexus: “A flawed plan executed with ferocity and certainty is far greater than a perfect plan executed too late and with timidity.”
The point here: be excited, be creative, be ready for take-off even if your game plan is mostly-but-not-all-the-way there. And when you do, be prepared to keep showing up like that every day. I have a sister in the US Army, who has repeated the Army motto to me over and over – embrace the suck. Be prepared for your enthusiasm to plateau or for your momentum to face headwinds. That’s normal and it makes the process of working toward something so much more rewarding. The sweet, sweet reality is that the longer you push through resistance, the stronger you get.

I’ve outlined a few of the tactical ways I’ve learned to set myself up for success – not just success in reaching my desired end point, but success in maintaining enthusiasm and holding myself accountable to the work that must be done in order to start seeing results.

  • Identify your BIG goal then outline the three Check Points that need to happen in order for you to get there. For example, if you want to bake the most perfect chocolate chip cookies, you’ll first need a recipe to work off of. Then, you’ll need to source the ingredients and prepare yourself for the emotional roller-coaster of taste-testing a few batches to make sure you’ve got it just right (Monica from FRIENDS, anyone?). Finally, and perhaps most essential, you’ll need a kitchen to make the magic happen. Without these three key components, you just have an idea of what you want to produce – maybe you know the texture you prefer, the ratio of chips to cookie that nails it, or the “what” you plan to do with the cookies after they’re perfected, but until you tactically identify and prepare what will get you there, you’re stuck with just a hankering and no real product.
  • Roadmap what needs to be in place in order for my start to be fruitful – notice, I didn’t say successful, because success may not be an immediate result. But, in order for for that initial gusto to be time, energy, money well spent, it must have a specific purpose and a clear near-sighted benefit. I’m not suggesting you should know everything you’ll need to know before you get started, simply that if you’re going to get started, you should be reasonably sure that you have the time and resources necessary to at least begin making progress. Again, if you’re trying to launch an online shop, I’m not suggesting you have $20k to spare to buy inventory upfront, but do you have a plan for how to acquire inventory and how best to set the shop up for eCommerce, once you do? Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.
  • Schedule time into your day to specifically focus on your roadmap.
  • Set measurable stepping stones for success. This is a little more granular than identifying the three key components that will get you to your BIG goal – these stepping stones are progress check-ins, building blocks, and daily action items that all contribute toward one of your Check Point markers. Think of them as the individual ingredients or the steps in a recipe, like mixing dry goods separately, that help equip you for each of your Check Points. Maybe your goal is to get out of debt – your Check Points are better budgeting, increasing your income, and not taking on any new debt. A measurable stepping stones may be intentionally foregoing your daily latte and putting that money directly toward paying down the debt.

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