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January 10, 2024

Your Next Step Is Always Clearer Than Your First

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One of the most challenging parts of pursuing something meaningful is that we want to know exactly where we’re going before we get started. We’ve evolved to be careful with our time and energy, and if it seems like there might be a chance that we waste it, then we find ways to talk our way out of getting started. After all, one of the main functions of the brain is to conserve energy.

But here’s the truth to it - It’s very difficult, if not impossible, for us to know what the end goal is supposed to look like at the beginning. Just like anything, the details become more apparent the closer we get to it. And in order to get closer, we need to take real steps forward to unveil the full picture.

What this requires from us is that we evaluate the limited information we have on hand and faithfully get started. It’s not going to be perfect, we’re going to make mistakes, but it’s all in service of forging our path.

Then once we’ve begun and committed to a direction, we need to give ourselves permission to change our goals once we start pursuing them. My mentor Jim Bunch says “goals are written in sand and not in stone.” Goals are meant to be flexible and dynamic. We can update them and adjust them. Goals guide our behavior, and once we have more information and context available to us, then of course it makes sense for us to make adjustments. But for whatever reason we resist it.

Here’s a real example that I’m actively in the process of. At the beginning of this week I started sending daily emails that highlight the tip of the day in one sentence. At first I didn’t know when or how I’d do it, or even what all needed to be included in those emails. But it became clearer to me once I got started and took a step forward, and now I have new systems and details that I’ll be implementing to make it all more doable.

Our first step doesn’t need to be complex, overthought, or overengineered. It just needs to happen. And once that first step takes us to a new place with new problems, we solve those problems and stack on necessary complexity. So don’t let the lack of clarity keep you from getting started because the fastest way you’ll acquire the clarity is by getting started.

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