Deb Sofield

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The secret to getting ahead is getting started

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“The secret to getting ahead is getting started”– Mark Twain

Sometimes I feel like a broken record when I remind my friends and family that the secret to getting ahead is getting started and that they need to get started to begin the process of creating a path to where they want to go.

I have come to believe that the hardest word in the English language just might be “start.” Seriously, a five-letter word is the difference between you heading in the direction of your dreams or you being exactly in the same place where you are today one year from now, in 2018.

It seems to be so simple when you think about finally putting things in place that you need to help you get going, but then, as life would have it, something always comes up. Sometimes the issue is important and sometimes it is just a waste of time. And in between those days and months of fiddling around while thinking about making a decision, you have put off the very thing you know you should be working on.

I get it. Life gets in the way, but you’ve been saying that for how many years now? Not to rain on your parade, but come on. At some point, to be true to yourself, you need to either acknowledge that you are not going to pursue your dreams or you are. And, listen, I am not trying to shame you into moving forward. If you choose not to, then fine, but please stop talking about it because your inaction might be the downfall of others who are watching you when you choose not to honor your commitment to yourself. So be fair, be honest and, for goodness’ sake, be truthful to your soul that you are not going to do the work to put you where you say you want to go.

Please hear me, I am not trying to be a smart-aleck and make you feel bad about your choice, but I really do think that if you are not going to do what you keep talking about, then change the subject and don’t be the reason your friends and family do nothing… just like you. No need to make it a generational mistake. Just admit it is too hard, and then sit back and watch the grass grow. Stop mumbling about how you’re going to do whatever pie in the sky idea you had, because you’re not, so just let sleeping dogs lie (as they say).

I’m not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions (unless they make sense and you can really keep them and that takes more work than most people want to do). But I think you’d agree that to finally live your best life ever, you’re going to have to put some mental muscle into the game and take some steps in the right direction so you can begin.

Remember, I am not talking to those who are finally going to be honest with themselves that the dream they once had is too hard and they are not going to do anything about it. They’re welcome to sit back and watch, but please don’t toss your two cents’ into the conversation, since you’re not going to be a player but a spectator. Please, just sit quietly in the stands, and watch the world go by.

Now for the rest of you, simply put, you need to start.

  • You need to stop thinking and start doing.
  • You need to stop planning and start doing.
  • You need to stop talking and start doing.

Now the reality of it is you are busy. You have people to see and places to go, and you have responsibilities that require you to continue down the well-worn path you’ve been walking for years. So where do you get the time, energy and, for lack of a better word, gumption to start?

The answer is… you’ll find it all when you make the decision.

Nothing is going to change until you make the decision to make the change.

What I find interesting is that when something bad happens, people just like you suddenly find the time to do the things they feel they need to do.

Recently, a friend of mine was diagnosed with cancer. Guess what? He suddenly found the time, interest and energy to change his diet, his habits and his mindset. Now I certainly do not wish any misfortune to come your way, but I am curious when you tell me you don’t have the time or you don’t have the energy or you don’t have whatever excuse you have for not doing what you should be doing.

Not to go too far out on a limb, but part of that getting around to doing what you promised yourself is to honor yourself. You said you would (fill in the blank, whatever it was) and here we are a few weeks into the New Year, and you still have not done what you promised. And by not doing what you promised you are continuing to dishonor your word to yourself.

Don’t you deserve better? You wouldn’t accept that action or attitude from others. Don’t accept it from yourself. Aren’t you’re better than that?

Let me leave that thought for you to consider and get back to the heart of my theme today, and that is the secret to getting ahead is getting started.

If you’ve been a reader or listener of mine, you know I advocate that you write things down, so you have a record of your promise. There is just something that seems permanent when you put pen to paper, so if you have a plan or dream or desire that you need to make happen, write it down. And make sure you write it down somewhere, so you will see it more often than not as a reminder that you need to start.

Now that it is written down…let’s quickly go through some of the other actions you need to take:

You need to stop thinking, and start doing. The reason I know you don’t need to keep thinking about your idea is that you’ve spent plenty of time mulling over your options, so now you need to make something happen. And don’t worry if it doesn’t work the first time. At least you’ll know what not to do the next time, but how amazing is it that you’re starting to get into the groove of making your idea a reality, step by step and day by day.

So now that you’ve begun the process from putting your thoughts into action you need to stop planning and start doing. Action begets action–it is just the way of the world– and that is why you must at least give it your best shot to start. Please don’t get discouraged; it will take time, but that time will pass, and you’ll be closer than you were last year. Starting is the key to making the sparks fly that will create the fire of your idea.

I don’t know how to say this nicely, but you need to stop talking and start doing. You know the person who always wants to tell you about what they are going to do–they’ve been telling you the same worn out story for years–and yet nothing has happened because all they do is talk. While talking seems to be the flavor of action, for most people it is just a circle of conversation that is never-ending; it just repeats itself with nothing new…ever. So stop the chatter and get going. Think about it, when you’re really busy working, you don’t have time to stop and talk–you really don’t have time to explain or fuss or fiddle because you have to keep moving. There is something about the movement of progress that seems to settle the soul.

There are many other options I could write about, but I am pretty sure you know what you want, what you think you can achieve if you stretch and what you might have to walk away from to begin again. Whatever it is, don’t give up on your dreams. This year let’s make something happen that will be a benefit for you for the rest of your life.

For 2017, reconsider the value of the word start–it has great meaning and will be the spark to your great future if you’ll promise not to waste another year thinking, planning and talking and, instead, commit to doing the work and honoring your dream and yourself.

Let me finish the rest of the quote by Mark Twain, “The secret to getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex, overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and starting on the first one.”

So what will the first task be? Let’s break it down, and let’s get started.

Deb Sofield

Deb Sofield is a Keynote Speaker, Author of the book, Speak without Fear – Rock Star Presentation Skills to get People to Hear What You Say and Encouragement For Your Life ~ Tough Love Memos to Help You Fight Your Battles and Change the World, Radio Talk Show Host in the Salem Network, Podcaster and President of her own Executive Speech Coaching Co., which trains women and men for success in speaking, crisis communications, presentation skills, media and message development in the U.S. and abroad.

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