Many of us have big dreams and plans to go after them. We hope and intend to get right at it as soon as we have the time, or the money, and all the other parts of our lives adequately taken care of. But the excuses are too many and the time never comes.
Part of the problem is that once we decide what it is we are after we focus too much on the long term goal and not enough on what we’re going to do today, right now, this second, to get one step closer to reaching that goal. It can be quite intimidating. We resist getting started thinking it’s better to not start than to start and quit. That’s the wrong way to think about it. It’s easy to not start, but it’s hard to quit.
Let’s take the common goal of getting in shape as an example. Whether you are an athlete or a stay at home parent with 5 kids, this is one goal nearly all of us deal with, or should if we don’t.
But getting and staying in shape is a big commitment. You have to watch what you eat, how much you eat and when you eat it. You have to find the time and energy to stay on a consistent exercise regiment every day. And even if you do that it could be months before you are even close to being in the shape you want to be. All you will see from the work you do today will be pain and discomfort. Take your attention off your long term goal and break it down to the first step the smallest step.
I have my family and job to schedule around. I can’t go to the gym during work hours and after work is family time. The only time available to get to the gym is stupid early in the morning so I can be back home before the kids get up for school. What’s the first step?
Get my butt out of bed. When I open my eyes and see the clock reading 4:30 I don’t think about working out, or improving my life by being in better shape. At that moment it’s all about getting out of bed, nothing else.
Next step: Get my gym clothes on. I leave them next to the bed so I basically trip over them as soon as I’m up.
Next step: Get out the door. I don’t stop to eat or clean up. That would only give me time to think about how good it will feel to get back in bed.
Next step: Get in the car and drive away. The more space I put between myself and the mattress the better.
Once I’ve driven away I have enough momentum that it would actually be harder to go back to bed then to go to the gym. It is essential that we continue to take the next step forward, no matter how small. With each step we build momentum and it becomes harder to retreat and easier to keep moving forward.
Writing Above All Else was much the same. I never dreamt about writing a book. To be embarrassingly honest, I hadn’t read that many books. I was coaching the Russian National Skydiving Team and team’s sponsor asked me to write a book for him about how to win the World Meet. Three months later I had finished the 200 page very rough draft he asked for. By then he had lost interest. At that time it was so far away from being a finished book, there was so much left to do. There was every reason to bag it. I was upset I’d ever started it but I couldn’t stop then, I had too much momentum built up. The idea of leaving it unfinished haunted me more than the idea of writing a book nobody liked.
Don’t wait until the time is right and you have every detail figured out before going after your goals. That time will never come. Stop making excuses and just get started. Take the first step.