Start where you are today…

March 15, 2012

Focus is a typical issue facing creatives, or anyone in search of their life’s work. It doesn’t need to be such a battle though, because the problem is often based on one dangerous, false assumption – which is that you have to start big…


BIG mistake

Every day, people pursuing their dreams make this mistake, shooting for the moon without taking the first step. For example, if you want to be an actor, you move to Hollywood, or is you want to be a writer, you start working on an 80,000 word manuscript.

If this is your strategy though, you will end up frustrated, unfocused and bitter. The better plan is to start small.

Little bits at a time

As Aristotle said: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” It follows that we become what we practice. If we do something long enough, it becomes habitual, second nature, like you’ve always done it.

If you want to “leave a dent in the universe” (as Steve Jobs once said), you have to start where you are, not where you want to be. You have to take the first step. In other words, before you write the next Pride and Prejudice, you should begin with a short story.

The secret is small increments of effort that build up over time to create something meaningful.

The ugly alternative

The only other option is to kid yourself: to create a lofty goal or aspiration and never practice, only dream. This will leave you (and others) feeling disillusioned.

It seems counter-intuitive, but instead of going big, go small — really small.

Start with something you can do today, even if it’s only for five minutes. Tomorrow, do it again… maybe for ten minutes. Then carry on. Everything involves practice, so just begin. Don’t plan the life out of it, or make a million lists. Just start!

The more you work, the more effortless it will become. And soon, you’ll find yourself falling in love. Here’s to taking small steps that lead to big impact. Good luck!