Beginning a new thing often starts with time spent dreaming and planning. This part of the process can be extremely enjoyable as the thrill of possibilities takes hold. Unfortunately, it can also be easy to get stuck in a perpetual cycle of dreaming, planning, analyzing plans, and adjusting them. At some point we must cease the strategizing and “just start.”
This can be extremely difficult, worry about what others will think can prevent us from doing anything. We create lists of other tasks that need to get done but it is merely a tactic for delaying our initiative. The best thing we can do in such a situation is lean in. We must make the first move in the right direction. As Rev. Chris Wylie puts it, “A lot of times faith comes down to fear [versus] trust and we are afraid to let go because what we see and what we know is what we are comfortable with.” When complications with cerebral palsy took away his ability to walk, Wylie was forced to accept the limitations it presented and find creative new ways to be in the world. The loss of walking shut doors to him, but it also helped him open himself to seeking new directions for how he might impact the world. As he let walking go, he began to focus on new endeavors. One of those was his composing of new music. That endeavor did not begin with setting up professional studio time and making an album. Wylie’s journey began by making a single light-hearted song about his daughter and her friends for their enjoyment. That one song gave him the courage to create and share more. As he reminds us, “Sometimes [the letting go] is by force, but you don’t have to wait until you're forced to do [something new].” Theologian Paul Tillich called this having, “the courage to be,” which was his way of saying we must dare to lean in, create things, and exist in our own unique way.
Break It Down and Line It Out
Looking at the end goal and the larger picture is good for setting our direction and getting started. However, just as a Lego kit must be assembled block by block and a car driven turn by turn, so we must do the next immediate thing in developing and nurturing something new. It’s simple. Here’s the steps:
Take out a piece of paper and write the goal at the top.
Make a list of 5-10 steps to accomplish that goal.
Do number 1.
What if I have a mental block? What if I can’t make that first move?
Then it’s time to remember that old adage, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”
Or put another way, break it down, line it out, and check it off.
If any single task is overwhelming, break it down into simpler ones. For example: you need to clean up the yard. That is actually a large task. You can break it down to rake the leaves, mow the lawn, trim the hedges, but some days even that may seem overwhelming so reduce it to simpler pieces and make the bites smaller. The task of raking the leaves can become; take out the leaf bag, open the leaf bag, get out the rake, make a small pile of leaves, and put that small pile into the bag. Accomplishing this small task builds confidence and encourages one to do more.
What task has been plaguing you? What dream keeps you awake with excitement? How might you break it down piece by piece, block by block to make even the smallest of advances and yield the result you desire?