Get Started: Make "Someday" Today
Mark Twain said, "the secret of getting ahead is to get started," and I have several clients who should heed those words.
The term déjà vu is often used to describe a feeling or sense when we believe we have experienced something before.
Such is the feeling every time I meet with a particular client, Jake.
The dialogue is predictable: at some point, the conversation will turn to Jake (not his real name) and he will announce with great gusto, “I really should write a book.”
I nod my head and offer, “Yes, you really should.”
This is always followed by one of two predictable statements: “I just can’t seem to find the time to get started,” or “A friend who wrote a book can’t find a publisher and he ended spending thousands of dollars to self publish, it seems like such a scam.”
We All Do It
I am not accusing my client of procrastination. I can’t, in good conscience, do that for I hold the world’s record in that practice.
As a former professional procrastinator, I have learned firsthand that the only benefit of never starting is the knowledge that you can never fail.
You can’t, however, succeed either.
I know writing a book can be a daunting task. I felt overwhelmed on many days when I sat and stared, yet again, at the computer screen waiting for pearls of wisdom to magically appear. They didn’t. But what I grew to understand is that they would, if I kept at it and focused on my task.
My words seem to resonate with Jake when he confessed that his hesitance was due in part to his own lack of confidence in his ability to write. Did I have any suggestions?
As a matter of fact, I did, as I too had those awful feelings that plagued me about my ability to write something that somebody else would want to read. I passed on to him the advice given to me by a very wise person long, long ago.
I was invited to pick up a newspaper or magazine and look for headlines of interest. And then, without reading the article, to write 500 words using the headline as a topic.
I began doing this in earnest, always deleting my writing once I was done. It didn’t take long before I could feel the “flow” of writing and began to look forward to my next headline.
I started with newspaper headlines but quickly graduated to publications like the National Enquirer, once I realized their headlines were far more entertaining, creative and frequently salacious.
Knowing that no one was ever going to read my writing, I had unmitigated license to open the gates and allow my imagination to roam free. I won’t share with you any of my writing from that time, but I do remember being quite surprised, shocked, horrified and, if I dare, even occasionally impressed by my own creativity, once I found my groove.
From that auspicious beginning I have now written one book, nearly finished a second and am closing in on my 800th blog. Not bad for a chap who for years would choose to walk away from potential clients rather than endure the pain of having to submit proposals.
There is a simple step to this, and anything else that we have long intended to get around to “someday.”
The Habit of Getting Started is the only way I know of overcoming procrastination. The old saying that a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step affirms that we can never get to the thousand-mile mark if we never get started.
Interestingly, once we get started we are frequently surprised by how easy it is and how often all the challenges we anticipated seem to seldom, if ever, appear.
Time To Get Started
I have learned to just take the first step. It’s a simple lesson that took me a long time to understand, yet it is one of the most powerful methods of getting to where we want to be.
I see this with my clients who regale me with reasons (excuses) explaining why they have not done what they have committed to do. Each time this happens, I introduce The Habit of Getting Started with a strong recommendation that they begin today.
Today is yesterday’s tomorrow. If you are happy with today, then keep doing what you are doing.
But if you yearn for more, you must act today, so that your tomorrow is different.
A simple formula, indeed.
Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.