New beginnings simultaneously hold nothing and everything. There is no history, no experience, no successes to repeat. In the same moment, there is limitless possibility, undiscovered opportunity, and unrealized potential. In both directions, there is a lot of not-knowing. The paradox experience at beginnings can feel almost paralyzing.
Today is one of those beginning days for me.
Today, I am completing a commitment to myself to “just write something and post it”. The hold-up isn’t with the writing, it’s with the sharing. I have volumes, carefully crafted and completely unread. Something happens inside of me the moment the send or publish button needs to be pressed.
I’ve decided to get over that, by practicing it over and over again. (Yikes!)
When I was deciding what to write about today, I remembered a quote in a journal I started years ago. I fished it out of the stored away pile and read the inside cover.
“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”
(Yes, this quote has been turned into a thousand glittery inspirational posts. But still, thank you Arthur Ashe. I needed this today.)
In my coaching practice, and in my work in healthcare, I sit alongside people with real struggle. I listen and appreciate the full situation of stuck-ness. People meet complex challenges and unexpected circumstances with enormous capabilities. I’m not necessarily writing about those kinds of new beginnings here. (Although, some of the strategies described later in this post do help with taking the first step of big change.)
I want to be extra clear. I do not compare my fear of sharing a creative work online to real struggle. It’s pseudo-struggle at best.
What I’m interested in exploring today are those pseudo-struggle moments. Those beginnings that, in the scheme of the world, are NO BIG DEAL. Yet we sometimes make them HUGE, and they hold us back.
I am curious how many good works never make it into the world simply because someone couldn’t get over themselves.
So here’s where I am, and why this matters to me.
One year ago, I returned from a month-long coaching experience in Vancouver, BC, with the most clarity I’ve ever had in my adult life. I could finally see where it was I wanted to be, as a person, a wife, a mother, a friend, and a professional. I could deeply understand my potential for even more contribution to the greater good. I could also see that I had a long way to go to get there.
If I’ve learned anything over the past year, it’s this:
Nothing brings out inner gremlins like uncertainty. Perfectionism and unworthiness, the nasty cousins that they are, lurk in the corners of creative ventures. Their job is to keep us afraid and stuck. Thus, the seriousness of the pseudo-struggle begins. When we can’t move past our uncertain selves, to take one step forward, we can’t bring forth our unique goodness. Every piece of progress that humanity has ever made, started as a creative venture. Someone had to just start anyway.
It’s not about waiting until you feel better about doing it. It’s about doing it.
So how can you JUST START ANYWAY ?
Take three deep breaths.
Grab a dose of perspective.
Really, look around. Get out of your head. Get out of your neighborhood.
If your position on this planet is one that allows you to experience and contemplate a pseudo-struggle moment, then congratulations. People are dealing with real struggles, and this isn’t one of them. Use your place of privilege to grow and bring others along with you.
A better you makes things better.
Who benefits if I can get over myself?
Let good enough be enough.
Right now, right where you are, you are ready. Behave as if you are, even if you don’t believe it. Seriously, it’s just. one. step.
Dialing back expectations is a useful exercise to find “good enough”. What you’re going for here is one doable step. Momentum will come later.
What would be just good enough for this step?
(If you’re in a long term relationship with perfectionism…keep asking…)
What if I could lower my expectations by just two more notches, then what would be good enough?
Focus on what you CAN do.
Circumstances, as real as they are, don’t control what you do. You do. The more deeply you believe this, excuses and blaming leave your mindset.
Energy is limited. Spend it on what you can control.
What CAN I control here?
Open up to uncertainty.
Beginnings are loaded with uncertainty. Find the light side of its force. The trick is to take a broader view and realize that EVERY MOMENT IS UNCERTAIN. When you do this, you realize that beginnings happen with every breath and this one has no extra special power over you.
There is no guaranteed outcome (even if you feel certain there is.)
If I knew it would go well, regardless of my next step, what would I choose?
Value action over outcome.
Desired outcomes, intentions, and plans are necessary pieces of getting somewhere new. ACTION is what actually gets you there. Think of your actions as a learning practice. Each experience further refines the direction you’re heading.
Practice makes progress. Success is in the doing.
What’s one thing I could complete before the end of the day, that moves me in the direction I’m committed to?
What are you going to start?