You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great – Zig Ziglar.
Hard To Believe
I feel like it was yesterday when I wrote my last “lessons from blogging in 2020” series of posts. Time has zoomed. This by far, is the hardest year for me in terms of writing. I violated many of my writing rules. For example, I didn’t always write my 300-500 words a day. I failed to meet my blog deadline more times than I can count. There are days I sat in front of my laptop and stared at the blank screen with nothing to write. On top of that, my daily reading plummeted.
However, there is one lesson is as real as ever before. When I kept showing up to write and could only stare at the screen, I would encourage myself with two words, just start. These two words kept me sitting in my chair, ready to write, when the urge to get up and walk away reached its zenith.
And that’s what I kept doing. Just start, is my go-to phrase when the pain of having nothing to write almost drove me to write, “I have nothing to write this week” to my editor Samson. On days like that, I chose to start.
Looking back, I am glad I kept starting. Because I started, I finished. Each week, I discovered content not previously available, once I started. Like an archeologist, who knows a valuable relic is buried underneath the rubble, must start digging, I learned that you cannot extract what’s valuable until you get to digging.
Starting does not mean that everything will flow like an open water faucet. A struggle exists. For example, I would write a sentence and then read and delete it. Then write another, and after reading it wish I didn’t delete the first one. But in the struggle, I found fluency. When I open the faucet of my thoughts to put on paper, at first, there is a sputter before I realize a steady flow of thoughts and words.
The willingness to start, according to best-selling author James Clear, “is the littlest thing in life that makes a big difference.” It is a theory I have put to the test and seen positive results. Each time I asked, “Will I be able to finish this blog post?” fear, anxiety (my heart would beat faster than normal), and worry would take hold like a vice grip. I eased this grip when I replaced this question with the statement, “Just start.”
Again Clear reminds us about the importance of starting:
Having the courage to get started is more important than succeeding because the people who consistently get started are the only ones who can end up finishing anything.
Why We Don’t Start
Throughout the just-concluded Olympic games, I noticed that athletes stepped to the starting line. This was the first step to finish their respective race. What starting line do you need to step up to this day, week, or even month? In his book, The Hero Code, best-selling author Adm. William H. McRaven (US Navy Retired) reveals, “The student who looks too far into the future often fears that he will have to endure more than he is able.” This fear is one of the main reasons we don’t start. When I stare at my blank screen before writing my next blog post, I would ask myself, “Do I have enough valuable content to fill the page?” The question casts a dark cloud over my mind, and my thinking gets constricted. The outcome is suffocating fear and crippling pressure. Kicking the can down the street is a tempting option. It’s a bait I have bitten one too many times, and regret was the price. How do we brave the waves of fear, anxiety, and pressure when they rise? Just start.
Brave the Waves
Each time I start, the waves of fear, anxiety, and pressure give way to inspiration, motivation, and perseverance, the ingredients we all seek to possess before we start. Unfortunately, we won’t discover these valuable traits that usher us into consistency and propel us towards results without starting. Starting converts the dark cloud into rain as momentum builds with every word, sentence, quote, and story until I reach the promised land of another completed blog post. What was once daunting, becomes rewarding and satisfying, knowing that I am helping others raise their quality of life with enriching and edifying content.
Along with just starting, there are other lessons I have gleaned in my fourth year of blogging. This road map will guide us into each life lesson:
Just Start (today’s post)
Better, not Bigger (September 9)
It’s The Little Things (September 16)
Give What You Are Good At (September 23)
Throwback Blog Post (September 30)
Final Thought: There is a hump when you decide to start. Overcoming this hump over and over again is perhaps the greatest challenge we face as we pursue our dreams and goals. Your goal may be to simply clear clutter around your home or take on a dietary challenge to become healthy. The willingness to start makes all the difference. As I close the curtain on my fourth year of blogging, I have plenty of lessons under my belt. The willingness to start again and again is as important as ever. The willingness to start each blog post still takes courage and vulnerability. However, I choose to keep showing up to the starting line. What are you willing to start?
Keep on keeping on
The Hero Code (2021) Admiral William H. McRaven – U.S. Navy (Retired)