The power of new beginnings – Start right in 4 simple steps
1. Make a conscious decision to change
“To dream by night is to escape your life. To dream by day is to make it happen.” Everyone’s dreams are uniquely personal, so make sure you are dreaming for yourself and not for others. However once you have a dream, you need to commit to it to make it reality. It is human nature to want to stay within our comfort zone, which is so important to push yourself out of during new beginnings. Although the level of comfort is different for each of us, some actively seeking to go out of the zone whilst others prefer staying in, change often happens when pushing these boundaries of comfort. As Tony Robbins puts it “By changing nothing, nothing changes.” If change is what you want, there is nothing stopping you.
2. Embrace being a beginner
I am a firm believer that positive thinking is essential to happiness and accomplishment. This is valid from the very start of a journey. Rather than envying what others have already achieved or wishing you were like someone else, embrace being a beginner. This can be valid at all levels of fitness as well as outside of the health sphere. “The real secret of the arts is to always be a beginner” (Suzuki) resonates strongly in me as it encourages us to let go of any preconceptions or negative thoughts, and choose to be animated by the wealth of opportunities and infinite potential we have.
Nothing is a black and white. Rather, a beginner’s mind is closely linked to expertise by going beyond the constraints of this dualism paradigm and acknowledging the power of her mind.
So begin somewhere, and just like swimming, immerse yourself completely without looking back. Repeat if the initial attempt does not feel right. “Nothing begins good, but everything good begins. “The courage of creation is making bad beginnings” (Ashton) holds particularly true with difficult challenges which like swimming in cold water will cause physical discomfort on top of the mental challenge; however the rewards are well worth it.
3. Create a vision
“A year from now you’ll wish you had started today” – Karen Lamb
Once your dream is bursting and inundates your thoughts, it is immensely gratifying to set up a vision for yourself which will serve as a guide every step of a way. A vision can be broken down into smaller more realistic steps but ultimately paints the big picture that coincides with your dreams. In the long-term, Nelson Mandela’s quote “It always seems impossible until it’s done” serves to frame this vision in the sense that there is no dream too big once you have set your mind to it.
In the short term, however, having a plan and creating habits and discipline are hugely fruitful in helping you achieve your vision. Simple acts such as telling yourself what your next steps are (rather than a long to-do list), what the smallest step is (make it easy for yourself, creation is iteration), and what is stopping you from focusing on that small step (commonly some form of distraction) are extremely helpful in turning a vision into an actionable plan.
4. The intention is not all
Russian composer Stravinsky noted “Work brings inspiration if inspiration is not discernible in the beginning.” As such, work and enthusiasm are closely interrelated. Your own efforts and results will make the process more enjoyable as you become your own inspiration.
Confidence is a cycle rather that a static state, so go beyond certainty and welcome doubt, go beyond the comfort zone of your thoughts to plunge into action. Not every day will be good, especially in the context of a new beginning, but peaks are by definition exceptional rather than constant, therefore there is no bad work but the one you do not do. Success is an accumulation rather than results that strike, so stick to your dreams even when it gets tough. Woody Allen claims he “never waited for inspiration” bur rather always “had to go in and do it”. This attitude combined with his indifference to other people’s opinions, i.e. he did not care for awards, never read reviews etc., greatly contributed to his productivity and success. When you act, you build both your confidence and intrinsic motivation. In turn, you become one step closer to your goal, enriching yourself beyond a vision making tangible progress.
“Embrace the suck” is a common military saying, which makes a lot of sense if you interpret it as creating growth opportunities in every experience. You learn more from a challenge, if you approach it with an open mind-set and curious disposition. It does not really matter what others think, what you think others may think, or if you are disappointed in yourself for something you believe you “suck at” or even failed at. If you are able to regard these with a positive mind-set, they will most likely become learning experiences, which build a stronger you and bring you one step closer to your goal.
Everyone is a beginner; just the dream, vision, and journey are different for each person.
Books read and mentioned in this article: