Finishing is huge for our psyche. It wows and gives us confidence. It releases pressure and tension when we finally reach our goal. Finishing creates momentum and catapults us forward to even greater things.
But we don’t start at the finish…we start at the start; and the start can be a very confusing place to be. Remember what it was like in those moments when the dream was birthed in your mind? Wasn’t it exciting and scary all at the same time…and full of questions?
Can I do this?
Where do I begin?
Do I have adequate knowledge for this?
Who out there can help me?
What if I mess something up?
And the most paralyzing question of all – What will other people think?
Unfortunately, the answers we give stop us dead in our tracks. We don’t move beyond the initial stages of exploration because of fear, uncertainty and doubt. Our dream is brought to a screeching halt before it ever begins.
It’s not easy to punch through these formidable questions and begin the pursuit of a dream. Fear is a powerful motivator for non-change. It feeds stagnation. We would rather sit still than challenge our fears.
Start breakthroughs can happen though, as my wife and I have learned over the past three years.
In that time, she has transitioned careers from high school math teacher to CPA and I morphed from unhealthy-loaf-on-the-couch to two-time marathon finisher. These questions plagued us at the start of both journeys – especially hers because the stakes were so much greater for our family. However, we found ways to cope with the pressure and uncertainty of the start. Here’s how.
I realize this sounds a bit Rambo-gung-ho-ish with a sprinkle of cheerleader thrown in, but you must garner the courage to chase your dream.
Fear is a must-go. He will try to worm his way in all along the way, but he’s the worst at the beginning. If you can punch him down in round one, it will be easier in rounds 4, 8 and 11 as the fight goes on.
Be courageous. Don’t give into fear. Shout, “YES, I want that thing!” Then go after it with abandon.
Develop a Plan
If courage is the emotion which jump starts our engine, a plan is the chassis that provides it structure for the journey. You can’t just wing this dream of yours. It has many floating parts, with twists and turns along the way that will derail the plan-less.
I was a complete newbie three years ago when I started running. What a thrill it was to cross the finish line of my first 5k race. I knew, though that distance would not be enough to challenge me going forward. I wanted the big ones, the half-marathon – maybe a full. A daunting task, I know.
So I started researching. Seeing a weekly running plan from someone with more experience eased my anxiety about starting the bigger pursuit. It gave me realistic hope that I could complete those distance races.
Two completed marathons later I can say it would have been impossible without a plan to follow. Had I tried it on my own with no direction, I would have most assuredly failed.
Commit to learn
Face it…we don’t know everything at the start. How could we? Even with a well-designed plan, all the details will not be known at the beginning. These unknowns are frightening, especially those that will occur in areas we know nothing about and therefore, feel unable to fix.
Lack of knowledge is a start-buster.
You can take heart though, because the learning doesn’t have to occur all at once. It happens gradually, building on itself piece by piece. The problems that come in year two of the journey, you will be able to tackle because of the knowledge growth obtained in year one.
It’s like taking Algebra II after Algebra I. The concepts of the new class come easier because you’ve had the prerequisite.
Being willing to learn will be key in completing the journey. If you can’t commit to learn, you might as well not start.
Ignore the Naysayers
People will always be around to shout down your dream.
“It’s too crazy” they’ll say.
“You don’t have the skill, connections, money, influence or whatever to make it happen.”
“Why don’t you just play it safe? After all, you’ve got a good thing going now.”
Refuse to listen to the naysayers who will persuade, guilt, chide and belittle you into not starting. Instead, seek out wise counsel from people who have experience in where you want to go. Take them to lunch and pick their brain. That’s what we did three years ago with a senior level CPA.
During that lunch, this CPA detailed for my wife what it would be like to transition into a new career. She gave a thoughtful and objective analysis of the field, sharing its ups and downs. Mostly though, I remember the excitement in her voice and the words of encouragement. It bolstered my wife’s confidence that this crazy journey she was about to embark on might actually be rewarding.
It was the best money we ever spent.
Connect with these type of people. They will help push you across the start line.
There is great personal value gained in seeing a dream through to the end. But first, you will have to overcome the start. Get started today.
How else do you get motivated to start? What is the toughest obstacle you had to overcome at your start? How do you say “No” to fear? Why do you think people shout down your dream?
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