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The Power of Beginning: Three Thoughts from the Last 2400 Years



Image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/denemiles/ / CC BY-SA 2.0

“All glory comes from daring to begin.”
Eugene F. Ware

“With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.”
Eleanor Roosevelt

A few days ago I wrote about how to make that change you really want to stick this year. Today I’d like to continue on the theme of newness and fresh changes with this companion piece.

1. There is always a new beginning.

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”
Seneca

“When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.”
Helen Keller

How often do we not miss the window of opportunity in a new situation just because we are still angry, sad or frustrated about that other door that just closed?

To me this is another powerful reason to remind myself to stay in the present. To not get stuck and hung up on missed opportunities. When you are living in the present – which is a way to live on the positive and open part of the emotional scale too – and not stuck in the past I have found that it is a lot easier to find the hidden opportunities in any situation.

So whenever you see a door closing, take your eyes off it at least pretty shortly after. And instead of letting your awareness linger on what is in the past, use your time and focus to find the new opportunity that lets you continue the unpredictable adventure that is life.

2. Just get started.

“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.”
Lao Tzu

“So many fail because they don’t get started – they don’t go. They don’t overcome inertia. They don’t begin.”
W. Clement Stone

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.”
Mark Twain

Sitting at home on your hands and thinking about something or hoping will not get you far. To get something out of life you have to get going. It’s not always easy though as fear and inner resistance and simple inertia holds you in your place. So how can you make it easier?

Well, you can certainly do what Mark Twain recommended, it works very well. You can also:

  • Ask yourself: What is the worst that could happen? A lot of the fear we feel before getting started comes from fuzzy and foggy thoughts about what could happen. But if you actually imagine the worst scenario then it’s often not as frightening as you thought. You won’t die or anything. And it won’t ruin the rest of your life. Imagine the worst scenario and then try to create a plan focused on how you could get on your feet again if that scenario, against all probability, should happen. You’ll realize that whatever your fear is you could probably get back on your feet and back to normal life pretty quickly once again.
  • Make a list of the reasons to get started. Do it on paper, on your computer or just in your head. When you stuck in fear and inaction it’s very easy to just focus on the negative aspects such as it being hard work or the risk of pain or failure. So you need to change what you are focusing on to motivate yourself to take action. Making a list of positives like benefits and possible opportunities can be very effective for turning your focus around.

3. The beginning doesn’t have to be perfect.

“Beginnings are always messy”
John Galsworth

“All great deeds and all great thoughts have a ridiculous beginning. Great works are often born on a street corner or in a restaurant’s revolving door.”
Albert Camus

When you read personal development blogs or books it’s easy to be lulled into a feeling of enthusiasm where everything will go smoothly if you just stick to the plan.

But reality is a bit more messy. Plans go out the window or may need to be modified as soon as you put them into action. That’s OK. That’s normal. Be prepared for that. It doesn’t mean that what you learned won’t work. It just means that a book or article can’t explain all the intricacies of your life and situation. There will always be a bit of simplification and things that piece of text could not predict.

So don’t go looking for perfect beginnings (or situations in general). Such hopes just tend to disappoint you since nothing or no one can live up to such unrealistic expectations. Instead, accept that this is how life is.

This is also why perseverance, patience and going after what you really, really want is essential. Without those things you’ll fold and give up when you hit a snag, bump or fall flat on your face.

Also, always keep a pen and paper – or a cellphone – nearby to write down all the great ideas that come to you in the strangest places.

If you enjoyed this article, please share it on Twitter and Stumbleupon. Thank you very much! =)



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  • Victoria January 7, 2010, 9:37 pm

    This is of course easier said than done, as so many things that are useful and true in life. I’ve been reading this blog over the past couple of months as I’ve been undergoing some changes, and it’s been really helpful. I just wanted to say thank you!

    • Steven | The Emotion Machine January 11, 2010, 8:40 pm

      I definitely appreciate the writings here too Victoria. Very interesting concept too. I like quotes because they add a different dimension of depth to the points that are being made.

  • Chris Akins January 7, 2010, 9:39 pm

    Another great post. This reminds me of the saying “Action generates motivation.” Getting started is often the hardest part of pursuing a dream, but once we get started we usually become motivated to continue. I often discuss this principle with clients who are feeling depressed, or those who suffer from chronic procrastination. Its a simple concept, but a powerful one.

  • Johnny January 7, 2010, 10:02 pm

    So simple and yet so true. Just keep moving forward as well.

  • Nacho Jordi January 7, 2010, 10:19 pm

    Great post, really inspiring. Regarding the “worst possible scenario” practice, something that I have found useful for certain projects is writing down a timeline: first I figure out the “hard landscape” of events, the way in which things would evolve if I take zero action, and then I start to tweak it with decisions to alter the course of things.

  • Susan Liddy January 8, 2010, 4:03 am

    What comes up for me after reading your post is too not overthink things. We can get so caught up in thinking about how things should be, how we want them to be, how we will plan to do them.

    Brings me back to one of my mantras: don’t think, just do.

    :) Susan

  • Sibyl - alternaview January 8, 2010, 5:50 am

    I really like that advice to not go out there looking for perfect beginnings. I think that it is right on point because we can just assume that things are not meant to be simply because they are not perfectly falling into place immediately and how we planned. Sometimes you really do have to just let go of expectations and be willing to continually work and dedicate yourself regardless of whether or not you are getting the exact results you want. You don’t rely on your immediate results solely for motivation and you realize you can find motivation and reasons to continue your pursuit in different places.

  • aDeeb January 8, 2010, 9:11 am

    Three very simple but accurate points.
    Just getting started is the most important thing in my opinion.
    What better time to start than in the early stages of 2010?

  • Richard Shelmerdine January 8, 2010, 11:33 am

    You know when you hear things centuries apart from well-respected people that there is truth in there. Nice unique and creative post.

  • Donna Johnson January 8, 2010, 2:48 pm

    I always enjoy and am inspired by yoru posts. Thank you.
    I thought you might like to know that it was actually Alexander Graham Bell, a wonderfully upbeat and optimistic person, who said,
    “When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.” He and Helen Keller were very close friends & confidants so I wouldn’t be surprised if she was quoting him. The addition of the word “happiness” would be very characteristic of her.
    :o)

  • Hilary January 8, 2010, 6:04 pm

    Hi Hendrik .. Just do it! Good post – don’t start wallowing in being overwhelmed, start clearing the decks, start going forward – the old say “do what you should do today – don’t leave it for tomorrow” certainly helps .. because tomorrow is a clean slate – especially if you’ve listed out your ‘to do list’ ready to hit the day running – or the best way you’ve found to start your day .. meditate, read, exercise and then get stuck in ..

    Thanks – we all need kickstarting at the beginning of a new year so we can achieve our dreams ..
    Hilary Melton-Butcher
    Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

  • Keriann January 9, 2010, 3:02 am

    Thank you for the post Henrik. I agree, sometimes we are hung up on what we think is an unfavorable situation. When we continuously dwell on that particular situation, we overlook the reason why this particular event might have occurred. Everything happens for a reason; our downfalls make us stronger and prepare us for some event in the future, which makes us greater and better. Without that particular experience we might not have been able to overcome our future hurdles, so we should accept and learn from every situation and move on. I heard someone say “a set back is a set up for greater things” and I agree. We are molded to have the ability to withstand anything.

    Thanks again for the post.

  • Devin | Travel To Grow January 9, 2010, 10:16 am

    I found recently when trying to start something new that I’d be hit with a few fairly strong reasons to give up. Some part of my plan would be ruined, or I would get overwhelmed by certain aspects of what I was trying to begin and… It just felt so much easier to give up on the idea and do something easier (but less rewarding) Each time I felt I should give up I instead just took a break for a little while, then when i got over the initial powerful feeling I re-focused, came up with new ideas, shifted things a little and got back on track… it was messy but now im well on the way to beginning what i set out to do!

  • Henrik Edberg January 10, 2010, 7:44 pm

    Thank you all for the added insights and tips! :)

  • Josten January 11, 2010, 3:06 am

    Whenever i have had hard times getting things done or starting things i had to say to myself just do it. Waiting for the right time is the wrong thing to do. A quote i had read said there never will be a right time or something along those lines. So with whatever i do now i just do it.
    Great post

  • Chris Ryan January 12, 2010, 3:52 pm

    Hi there,

    Visiting your blog for the first time…. very interesting blog you have out here

    with regards to this post…. passion and a never say die attitude will of course take you a long way….

    But the most important factor is, finding what you really love to do…. this is really the crux and is most essential….

    Cheers

  • Steve-Personal Success Factors January 12, 2010, 8:03 pm

    I liked what I read here: 1) Break down your big vision into bite sized goals. I like the idea of making sure that you are doing one small thing every day to work toward those goals, or at least toward a couple of them. 2) Relax when things aren’t always going according to your plan. Be willing to see other opportunities. Maybe even take a break and come back to it tomorrow.

    I also loved all your quotes :)

  • Deb/AskYourSpirit January 14, 2010, 7:41 pm

    Hi Henrik,
    I was thinking of hot air balloons yesterday so I knew I was in the right place when I saw the picture. This post is electric with powerful words!
    Thank you I needed that today. I will re read this again and again!
    Deb