You've got to get started!

You've got to get started!

just do it

You've got to get started!

Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed.

Every morning a lion also wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. In Africa, it doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle: when the sun comes up, you had better be running!

This fable of the lion and the gazelle encapsulates powerfully the significance of getting started. Whether it is survival or a surge in life that we are after, the ability to start is the best tool that can help us get ahead in life.

Indeed, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Most among us are ambitious, fantastic dreamers, earnestly desiring to change the world and strive for a better future. Yet, when it comes to putting thought to action, we fumble and backtrack.

“I have starting trouble,” is a cliché commonly thrown around in support of our hopelessly dogged habit of never getting out of our comfort zone. Anyone wanting to start a habit of taking morning walks or start a business venture or join the neighbourhood yoga class will tell you how daunting it is to take the first step. But the key is to push yourself. Well begun, they say, is half done.

Achievers are those who have the ability to transform a to-do task to a done one. The first step that you never took is usually what stands between all that you are capable of achieving and all that you never do.

The effort it needs

John F Kennedy Space Center in Florida, USA is one of the world’s most renowned facilities where space shuttles are built and launched. It is the base from which the NASA operates its space shuttle programme. It is from this base that many space shuttles have left the earth’s atmosphere to enter the realm of outer space.

Though the mechanics of how these space shuttles work is mind boggling for a lay man, scientists divide the process into just two sequences – the initial liftoff and then the trip around the globe.

They explain that the initial liftoff is perhaps the most arduous task, a process in which the space shuttle uses nearly half its fuel just to get off the ground.

Once lifted above the ground, the complex vehicle is at ease, moves with much less fuel than it consumed during the liftoff and its entire trip around the globe settles into one smooth ride. The act of countering the pull of gravity requires tremendous effort, necessitating great amounts of fuel and power.

The above principle is just as true to the physical nature of man as it is for these high-tech machines. Taking the first step is what requires the maximum effort. Getting over the temptation to procrastinate, overcoming laziness and freeing ourselves from the pull of old habits is simply too overwhelming for many of us. Add to these factors the demands of making a transition.

Unlike in the case of children who are guided through the course of transition by parents, teachers and guardians, adults seldom have such custodians who can motivate and gear them up to a start.

The end result is that we are all victims of the starting-trouble syndrome, a condition that makes for an uneventful life full of disappointments. All this means is that we are the only people in control of our destiny.

The reward that awaits you

“What saves a man is to take a step. Then another step. It is always the same step, but you have to take it,” wrote Antoine de Saint-Exupery, the renowned French novelist.

Formidable as it might be, it is only the first step that can get us going. It is power-packed with the ability to propel an action forward. It prioritises our goals and attaches a sense of urgency to our desires.

It eliminates the apathy we often have in shifting gears from less important, but enticing activities to more significant and fulfilling ones.

Start big or start small
Considering that the first step is important, deciding its magnitude becomes a key factor in determining its success. It could be small and simple or large and challenging.

Thus, for the same goal of losing weight and getting fitter, those wanting to start small could make minor changes to their lifestyle and hope to make sustained progress over a period of time, while those with a more ambitious outlook could go on a new diet regimen or a detox plan or a boot camp to get that surge of energy to make a roaring start in the right direction.

Whatever be the strategy, it is enough to begin. The goal is not to be perfect on your first day, but rather to simply cross your threshold. After all, nothing is more exhausting and elusive than the task that is never started.

Just like you can never get an automobile running without turning the ignition on, for anything that you wish to accomplish in your life, from developing a new habit to chasing more valuable dreams, nothing is more important than taking that first faltering step.

German author Johann Wolfgang von Goethe nailed it when he said, “Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”