Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, magic, and power in it. Begin it now.
- W.H. Murray, The Scottish Himalayan Expedition
There’s magic in making a start. Once you get things in motion, other things start to happen. One thing leads to another, and before you know, you’re somewhere other than where you started.
But you’ve got to start with your first step.
In the Alchemist, Paulo Coelho expressed it like this: When you pursue your personal legend, the universe conspires to help you along your way.
So just start.
When you do start something, a couple things happen.
- YOU GAIN MOMENTUM. It might not feel like much, and at first it likely isn’t much. But it’s something. There’s a tendency to adopt a Sisyphus-like mentality when engaging in work, that it’s a struggle to push the boulder uphill, that a constant threat exists to push your boulder back down the hill. Viewing the challenge that way is a choice, though. We can just as easily choose to view the progression as moving downhill, picking up speed as it goes. Either option is available to you. In my experience, one approach provides much more value than the other.
- YOUR PERSPECTIVE CHANGES. What you can see right now is merely one of an infinite number of perspectives you could have right now. Life is full of challenges that look insurmountable from the starting point. Too far away. Too difficult. So don’t go all the way there. Just try taking 3 steps in that direction. The result is that you’ll be that much closer to whatever you’re heading toward and will be able to see opportunities, potential allies, and tools that might have been invisible before.
In an interview with Krista Tippett on On Being, writer Elizabeth Gilbert talked about how her idea of progress has shifted to something much gentler than it used to be. She said that when thinking about a project, she asks herself, Did you do something today to move the project forward?
Then you’re good.
Finishing something presents its own set of challenges, but first things first.