10 February 2012

That First Step

I’ve worked with a lot of students who have a hard time getting work done.  Most of the time, I find, their problem isn’t simply that it’s difficult for them to get the work done–they actually have a hard time getting started in the first place.  I’ve met many students–and people in other situations–who have such a hard time getting started that they almost never get anything done.  And usually, I find, they have a hard time getting started because they’ve psyched themselves out to believe that they can’t do a good job in the first place–so why even start?

Sometimes it can be attributed to an extreme sense of perfectionism–if what I do isn’t going to be perfect anyway, then why even do it?  What these people don’t want to hear is that almost no one’s work is perfect–and most people are willing to do the best they can, even if it isn’t the best job in the world.  In real life, the best we can do is almost always adequate, and very often much more than adequate.  But the people who don’t begin rob themselves of the ability to learn this lesson.

Sometimes people don’t begin because they constantly shift their focus to something else, either out of disinterest or fear.  Sometimes it simply grows too late to start, and they miss important deadlines.  Sometimes they resent having to do the job in the first place, so they’ll show the person who assigned it to them!

I’ve found in my life, though, that the most important step I can take in anything is that first step.  Once I have that behind me, I can almost always find the road all the way along, even when it goes in directions that I never anticipated.  That first step provides me with motion, with inertia, and maintaining motion always is easier than creating it–that’s simply a fact of physics.

What in your life is waiting for that first step from you?  Your first step doesn’t need to be perfect, and it doesn’t even need to be in the right direction.  It simply needs to be a first step, one that will get you started, and one that will make that second step–and the third and fourth–easier.  I’ve got a few first steps of my own that need to be taken, and I think that I’m going to take the time right now to decide what they’re going to be, and when I’ll take them.  Some things just have to be done, don’t they?

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