Taking the first step

“Journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” – Lao Tzu

Safe to say a lot of us have grand ideas within our minds that – if they came to life – would solve our problems and improve our lives. Most of those ideas never come to life because of two reasons:

1. The risk of failure

The thought of failure puts people off. We comfort ourselves by repeating an inner monologue along the lines of, “Why do it?... I’m not cut out for it… it never would’ve worked”

2. The enormity of the task ahead

As if the thought of climbing a mountain wasn’t daunting enough, our mind is programmed to seek out the comfort. Most people don’t undertake a challenge when the list of excuses for not undertaking a task (it’s risky, it’s tough, it’s probably impossible) is gets bigger than the list of benefits of undertaking the challenge (because I can!).

The importance of the first step

So, here’s something that should put people at ease. There’s high chance that the first step you take will be – metaphorically speaking – in the wrong direction. So why not get the mistake out of the way early, and pivot, before taking another step. And if we get that wrong, guess what? We pivot again. No one said the steps had to be in a straight line.

With every pivot, you’re homing in on the direction you should be heading in. And once you eliminate all the wrong options, there’s only one left – and guess where that’s headed?

Here’s a couple of things you should know about the first step towards achieving your goal

The first step should be easy – the first step should be the smallest possible step you can take on your journey. The intent of the first step is to translate your thought into action, not to ‘climb the mountain’. It is to convert your vision into something that may resemble reality one day, than to simply remain a ‘vision’ in the back of your mind for the rest of eternity.

  • Putting off that book you’ve got sitting on your nightstand? Start with one page (takes ~3 to 4 mins)

  • Been meaning to mediate but can’t find an hour of quiet time in your day? Spend 5 minutes doing a breathing exercise when you wake up first thing in the morning, or on the train to work.

  • Don’t have time to go to the gym? Do 10 push-ups today (less than 1 min)

  • Been meaning to start a business? Write down 1-sentence mission (takes less than 1 minute)

It builds momentum – taking enough ‘first steps’ will create momentum. Over time, momentum will help you build a habit. Human beings are creatures of habit, and it is well known that once you are in action, it takes more of an effort to stop the momentum than to keep going.

Over time, improvements will mean that you will want to do more to achieve your task. Maybe you’ll read 5 pages instead of 1, or mediate for an extra couple of minutes

It takes time, but when the rewards of your habits become evident, it’s an extra incentive to keep the habit going.

A LOT can be accomplished in our personal and professional lives if we just take that all important first step – regardless of which direction.

So go on, there literally aren’t any valid excuses to why we don’t have the time to take the first step.

Start today!

There literally aren’t any valid excuses to why we don’t have the time to take the first step. Start today!
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