You’ve probably heard the best way to eat an elephant, right? One bite at a time. It’s a super simple (albeit super gross) way of stating that when you have something giant looming in front of you that feels overwhelming and intimidating like you’ll never ever get to the end, all you have to do is take one small step. Then another, and another, until you realize you did it – bit by bit. Or in the case of the weird adage, bite by bite.thinking about how we have goals and dreams and plans, and about how some people seem to execute them with ease, whereas others seem to struggle just getting started. For many people, getting started is actually the hardest part.
I’ve been thinking about how we each have goals and dreams and plans, and about how some people seem to execute them with ease, whereas others seem to struggle just getting started. For many people, getting started is actually the hardest part.
Recently I’ve been thinking about how we have goals and dreams and plans, and about how some people seem to execute them with ease, whereas others seem to struggle just getting started. We’ve got our book to write, our movie to make, our business to open, our legacy to leave…if you take a moment to get really quiet, you’ll hear what it is you want to leave as your legacy too. For many people, getting started is actually the hardest part.
But those big plans can feel so important, so amazing, so vast, that they can feel so out of reach; sometimes it feels like it’s such a scary or insurmountable task that it’s not worth it, which results in many, many people, never getting past the hardest part in making that dream a reality: just getting started.
Let’s say for example, you want to become a YouTube yoga star. It’s very easy to say in your head “I really want to be a YouTube yoga star.” And then imagine all the good stuff that comes from being a YouTube yoga star. And all of a sudden the sheer magnitude of becoming a YouTube yoga star starts to bury you in anxiety. “Well, I only know how to do yoga, I know nothing about being on camera. Or marketing. Or being an influencer. Or hell, YouTube. Plus I really like pasta and Im not sure yogis are allowed to eat pasta. And I think I’d want to lose at least 20 pounds before I got in front of a camera…but shit, the camera adds ten pounds. So I better lose 30 just in case. Ah crap now I have to lose 30 pounds; good thing I just gave up pasta. Wait – I don’t even own a camera, er, a good one anyway. So now I have to get a camera. And some kind of selfie thingy device. And I’ll need to learn to use Photo Shop – is it Photo Shop I need to learn? I’m barely learning to SnapChat; I can’t use Photo Shop! Ok you know what, I’m not doing this. I can’t.”
Here’s the thing though: if you think about the mega list that comes with wanting to achieve your goal, or do anything really, hell yeah it’s intimidating. But if you start to think about what your bottom line is, and how you can get there step by step, suddenly that giant, shiny piece of goal is far more within your reach. So how do you get started?
First, you decide you want it. This is huge. Do you actually want to become a YouTube yoga star (app designer, bar owner, novelist, dog walker….), or are you in love with the fame and fortune that would follow? Do you want the feeling that comes from making an impact on people’s lives…and is there a different avenue you want to take…or this, like, IT for you?
Get very clear on what you want, and declare it. The stories that we tell ourselves matter, so the differences between
“Wouldn’t it be cool if I…” and
“Wouldn’t it be nice if I could…” and
“I could never…” and
“I really want to…” and
“I want this and am going to make it happen” are huge, and really, really matter. The story that you tell yourself about what you truly want, is the one that you will make happen. So make sure the story you’re telling is the one you want to write, and not the one your fear is telling you to write.
Fear is a powerful, crippling feeling. It’s what creeps into your brain and tells you you’ll never succeed, that there’s no point in trying, that everyone will think you’re an idiot after you try and invariably fail. You see, if you only ever talk about doing something, you’re at no risk of failing. However if you actually start to do something, you’re immediately – if unconsciously – opening yourself up to the possibility of failure. So for a lot of folks out there, it’s easier to never try.
You, and you alone, need to override that fear with the conviction that you can actually do this, and that comes from a deep place of self-awareness, love, and worth. Is there a guarantee that you will succeed? Nope. And I get how scary that is. But each of us has the ability to live a life that we can look back on and never say “I wonder what would have happened if I had…”
Then, you just start. For real. It’s actually that simple. Let’s go back to the YouTube yoga star thing; can you think of how you’d just start if this were your goal? How about registering your YouTube name and channel. Wow, you just took the first action, just like that. So maybe now you record a yoga session on your iPhone on selfie mode. Holy fuck right? Just like that, you’re in it! You recorded your very first video, and you have the medium to post in on. Omgeeeeeeeee you’re doing it!!! 37 minutes later, you’ve taken the first steps to achieving your goal.
Now do it again for the next step. Maybe you need to write out the webisode guide (are we still using “webisode” as a legit word?). Maybe you need to talk to someone about video editing and/or social media management; maybe you do need a better camera and can start researching the best one for you. Maybe you need a crash course with a nutritionist who can help get your own eating habits aligned with where your head and heart are at. Whatever it is you need, just do it…step by step.
It is constantly amazing to watch the flow of action that happens, just from getting started.
Now, set a timer. Really this means work out a timeline, write it down, tell a friend. Even the most well intentioned of us can get the momentum that comes from get started on something, then let life get in the way. In her (fucking awesome) book (that every single person should read) You Are a Bad Ass, Jen Sincero advises that you pick a firm deadline and a consequence that will unquestionably be followed through. Pick something awful enough that you will work against, and tame enough that your friend will do, if that makes sense. For example, let’s say you want to write a book. Tell your bestie that it will be written by December, edited by February, and in print / on shelves by October.
And if not, she gets to shave your head.
This is about commitment. Hold yourself accountable for your actions, and have your pal on board to hold you to it as well. Because sometimes you need both, and an extreme measure, to combat your fear.
Mark Twain said “the secret way of getting ahead is getting started.” It is just this simple. Figure out your bottom line, figure out your end goal, and just take one bite at a time. Trust me, everyone who’s ever done anything notable was in the “before” period like you are now: know, the years “before” they were a household name. Elizabeth Gilbert was a magazine writer in a not so great relationship. Julia Child was an awkwardly tall copy writer for an ad agency. Mark Zuckerberg was just a nerdy kid who dropped out of Harvard. None of them was ready, they just did it.
You will never be more ready than you are right now. Ordinary people do extraordinary things every single day, and you know what they each have in common? They start. So get going; the world is freaking waiting for you, babe.