Life is an adventure and sometimes adventures scare the bejeezus out of us. You might feel like the task ahead is completely insurmountable, and you can’t figure out what the first step is you should take. Like you’re standing at the bottom of a 15,000 foot mountain, you’ve just laced up your boots, and you can’t for the life of you figure out what the right first step is. That’s the point where you might say, “I could climb this mountain if I knew where to start.”
Maybe it’s not a mountain; maybe it’s the book you want to write. When I wrote my book, In Spite of the Odds, I was nervous as hell about starting it. I was never a strong writer and thought that only the people who pulled off A’s in their English classes could succeed as writers. But I took that first step, and ended up with an Amazon #1 Bestseller!
The reality is, this fear and worry is completely normal. Like Blues Traveler’s John Hopper sings in Just Wait, “Did you think for one minute, that you are alone?” You’re not alone, and nobody else feels completely at home when faced with the start of an adventure.
The truth is, even with all of my own personal accomplishments, I often feel paralyzed when I’m trying to decide what to do next. I’ll find myself lost in planning, endless planning, countless decisions, on the verge of not doing anything at all except plan. When I find myself running into that particular road block, there are three ideas that keep me moving towards greatness, and they’ll help you, too.
1. Think about what I’ve already accomplished
I take a step back and look at the progress I made. I pat myself on the back for coming this far, and congratulate myself for recognizing that I’ve developed my mindset enough to recognize that I want to make a difference. Just being awake to the possibilities is a huge step, and it’s something you should congratulate yourself on.
Every week, I give myself a bath in gratitude and pride. This helps me to see how capable I am, and to think about options that I never knew were there before. When you feel good about yourself, it’s hard for fear to creep in. So celebrate what you’ve already accomplished, and you’ll find the next step will come to you without all of the fear and trepidation.
2. Don’t be the Lone Ranger
Instead, spend time with the right people. Quit trying to go at it alone, and find people who have already done what you have in mind, people who are doing it, people who want to do it, or anybody else you can relate to in your next adventure.
It’s probably the last thing you want to do when you’re feeling lost, sharing your confusion with someone else. The truth of the matter, though, is that when you’re feeling the most lost is when you need other people more than ever before. Reach out to your friends and associates, or even to complete strangers!
There is always strength in numbers, and you’ll get some great tips just by bouncing ideas off that person’s head. This is another great way to come up with your next step, especially since the people you talk to might have already taken that step, and several more besides. When I talk with others about what I want to do next, I almost always walk away from that conversation more confident and with ideas I never thought of before.
3. Focus on just that one thing
The key to action is action. Do something, anything, but make sure that action is focused. Remember, your next step doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be a movement in the right direction. Even if you start up the wrong path to climbing the mountain, you can always go back and take a different trail or even switch direction while you’re ascending.
The key, though, is focus. Focus on that next step, that next product launch, or that next mountain to scale. Take the easiest step, then the next easiest one, and then the next. The key towards David Mamet’s idea of “Always Be Closing” in Glengarry Glen Ross is to always be focused on taking that next step, and focusing on what that step should be.
Once you get it in your head, take the next step! Don’t get mired down in details; you’ve planned it out, so do it! When I let myself focus on planning, I get that done. The problem is, you have to decide when it’s time to focus on making that first step, and executing your plan.
You’re moving, so use the momentum
Now you’ve taken that all-important first step, don’t stop! Keep moving and let your momentum carry you forward. The little first steps get me on the right track, and then it’s just a matter of continuing to follow my plan. You don’t scale a mountain in a heartbeat; you scale it step by step. You don’t write a book in an evening; you write it word by word, over as many days as it takes. The key is not to stop, and never give up hope.
Remember, your path won’t always be easy. I can almost guarantee that it won’t be easy, and it will scare the hell out of you. If something is easy, though, it probably isn’t worth doing. Easy doesn’t get appreciated, but moving forward along a tough path definitely is. Be proud of your accomplishments, and keep stretching yourself to do bigger and better things.
Comment below if you have any other ideas to add?