What is the secret to getting started

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Saturday 12.23am

Sheffield

We’re all somewhere right now – somewhere that we are because of all the decisions we made on the way.

Every choice, every act has led to one inevitable place. Looking back, we can see how we got here with total clarity.

If we’re honest with ourselves, that is.

We carry the impact of those choices with us. Possessions weight us down, if we have any. If we don’t, envy weights us down even more.

Or perhaps it doesn’t. Perhaps we are content with what is.

Do you have children? Imagine that you’re trying to talk to your rebellious teenager about career choices.

The kid wants to be a musician. You’d rather she were a dermatologist. The chances of becoming a successful musician, in your eyes, might be low and is accompanied by a variety of exciting risks.

Dermatology, on the other hand, is a safe career and she’ll have patients for life – as treating skin problems is hardly a dangerous career, and skin issues rarely clear up entirely.

How would you approach making the decision? Would you stand your ground and insist that you know more about her career? Or give her the chance to make her own choices?

Let’s say you didn’t. She became a dermatologist. Now, 20 years later, she’s successful, with patients. And she’s miserable.

What should she do?

She’s invested years of her life in this career. It’s given her safety and security, just as you predicted. Perhaps she has a mortgage, a family, car payments. All the trappings of success.

Maybe she feels trapped. The things she owns have ended up owning her. What can she do? And when?

The when question is easier to answer – and it’s a trite response – a joke almost.

When’s the best time to start something? 10 years ago. When’s the second best time? Now.

Actually, the what question is not that hard to answer either.

What should she do?

Anything.

Anything that gets her moving in the direction of what she once wanted. Anything at all.

There’s a but.

But, it needs to be something she does every day from now on – perhaps for the rest of her life.

Perhaps she practices singing or her instrument five minutes a day. Or a hour a day. Every day.

When she commits, life will change. Not quickly. As the saying goes, people overestimate what they can achieve in a year, and underestimate what they can do in ten years.

She needs to stop looking for reasons why she can’t do what she wanted. And ask questions like how can she do what she wants.

What does she need to do to take the first step?

Then start. Take the step.

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