One Crucial Step Toward Success, and How to Take It

Last year, I decided I wanted to change my habits and cut added sugars from my diet.  I don't have Type 2 diabetes, but it runs in my family, and my fasting blood sugar numbers have been inching up.  At the time, I had two young grandsons and a third on the way, so I had incentive to prevent that disease.

Can I tell you something?  Making a "decision" to do something is not the same as doing it.  It might seem obvious, but without action nothing happens.  Nothing changes until we do – and I haven't.

Plenty of people "want" to change a habit or accomplish a goal.  They think about doing it, they talk about doing it, they make lists and buy supplies and in other ways prepare to do it – but they don't actually do it.  They don't start.  It never happens.

There may be no more important action in life than getting started.

So what's the problem?  What holds us back?

first steps

3 reasons we hesitate to begin

1.  We worry that other people are already doing it better than we can.

I spend a lot of time criticizing myself and feeling like I don't measure up to some "ideal."  Do you do the same?  I think it's a default behavior for many.  We turn everything into a competition, and imagine that we are the losers, even though we have no evidence of that.

Perhaps there are plenty of other people doing great things, but there are billions of people in the world.  There will be those who can benefit from what you have to offer.

Never forget that you are unique.  Your combination of talent, personality, and experience is singular.  Whatever you do, it will be with your distinctive flair and different from what others are doing.  You definitely have something to contribute.

2.  We fear making a mistake.

I stumble over this worry all the time.  I want to figure everything out before I take a risk.  I want to know exactly how I'm going to proceed.

But that isn't how the real world works, is it?  Great ideas and innovations most often come through trial and error.  For example:

  • Thomas Edison had at least 1,000 failed attempts at making a useful light bulb.  He's famous for saying, "I have not failed 1,000 times – I've successfully found 1,000 ways that do not work."
  • Walt Disney was fired from his first job because he "lacked imagination and had no good ideas," and later his first animation studio went bankrupt.  
  • Theodor Geisel (better known as Dr. Seuss) had his first children's book rejected by 27 different publishers.  
  • Vincent van Gogh sold only one painting during his lifetime.

We're human and we want to be accepted by others.  So we don't want to look bad and we don't want to be laughed at.  We want to feel safe.  But that desire could keep us from ever attempting anything.  Think about it.  Little children wouldn't learn to walk, talk, feed and dress themselves, or use the bathroom if they were primarily worried about never making a mistake.

So we have to be brave and take the risk of doing it wrong.  According to author Alex Mathers, "You will never avoid making a mistake.  But mistakes add color to work anyway.  People want real, not robot."

3.  We're not sure of our commitment.

An opportunity presents itself and it sounds pretty good, but we're busy with a bunch of other things.  Do we really want to make the effort?

This is a legitimate concern and worth some deliberation.  If you aren't clear about your main priorities in life, you may be giving time and attention to activities and goals that don't line up with what you care about.

Mark Twain said, "The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why."

You need to figure out who you want to be and what you care most about accomplishing because you only have so much time and attention to give.  Once you know, don't hesitate to start on a project that does align with your life priorities.

Related article:  Keep Looking Ahead

Minimalism can be a way of life that provides more time, energy, money, focus, and freedom to pursue the things that matter to you.  By figuring out what is essential you can remove everything that distracts from it.

So if there's something you've been wanting to undertake – a new habit, a new project, a new direction – don't just think about it and don't just talk about it.  Begin.

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  1. This may sound too simple to work, but I have found that Nike's slogan -- just do it -- applies to pretty much every facet of my life. I tend to overthink and not take action. Reminding myself to just do it is the push I need.

    1. It may sound too simple to work -- so why don't we do it? That's what I was trying to get at in this post. Just take action!


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