Sometimes, one simple step is what separates people from their current situation and the situation they want to be. A step that is obvious but also difficult: Start. After starting, you need to keep going, and then you need to finish. But there is a difference in the three stages: Getting started requires more energy. After you start, you have the ‘inertia’ that will help you to keep going.
The world is full of good ideas, but most of them are “orphan”. Their creators don’t try hard enough or don’t find a way to execute them. They know that materializing those ideas involves a process and implies effort, and many times they don’t know how to face that process.
Starting something new requires high energy expenditure. Pushing a big rock will always be difficult, especially if we do it alone and without any tools.
When they are in front of that big rock, there are two types of people: Those who convince themselves that is very difficult to move it and give up and those who convince themselves that is very difficult to move it, but they bring a lever or other people to help with the task.
People from the first group are the responsible for “orphan ideas”. The second group understands the power of the “leverage” concept, and they use it to their advantage.
If every person begins to execute at least 10% of the things they dream, there would be fewer bored people with their jobs and their lives, and there would be more people focusing on doing things they love.
Having a lever to help us “move the rock” would help us to talk less and do more. Maybe this way we would dare to experiment more and to really start executing our projects.
Pay per view
The above is a kind of “pay per view”: Daring to make an initial effort and be willing to spend time and energy in the starting phase of a project to see what could happen. This is one of the philosophies that I try to apply to my daily decisions: constantly asking “What would happen if?” and being aware that the only way to know it is to make the decision to finally start.
But is not enough wanting to know the result or wanting to start. At this point is where we begin making questions: “Where do I start?”, “How can I do it?”, “Can I really do it?” This is the moment where we should start using tools (levers) to create an easier process.
3 ways to simplify the start and first steps of any project
There are three “leverage factors” we can use to create a less traumatic process to start any project:
- Leverage in people
Who has already done it? How can these people help us? What tools can we use? Even if it sounds like an obvious advice, one of the ways to “unclog” the start of any project is to ask for help from others. Some people believe that their work will have less merit or won’t be important if they receive help from someone else. There are also people who believe that their jobs or projects have to be 100% original or something totally revolutionary.
The reality is different. Many of the most innovative projects are based on other people’s ideas. Sometimes, people get inspired by former projects or they give a new focus to an idea, object or service that already exist.
Knowing this reality, there shouldn’t be a problem to rely on other ideas, concepts or people to start our own project. Many times, asking for an advice, no matter how obvious or stupid it may seem, can make all the difference.
When I realized that I liked to write and I decided to start a blog, I wasn’t clear what would be the approach or the focus of my posts. I came up with the typical question that afflicts many people when they are not clear about how to execute an idea: “Where do I start?”.
I asked for advice to a friend, and what he told me sounded stupid at first, but over time, I realized that sometimes obvious or even stupid advice is all we need to start doing something. The advice he gave me was “Write about the first thing that comes to your mind”.
Sometimes, because of the stress and anxiety of starting a new project, we forget to see the obvious things. We begin to imagine complex (and sometimes unnecessary) scenarios, leaving out the common sense. We forget to simplify, which is sometimes essential to start a project.
Imagining that the starting point of a project requires complex processes is sometimes only that: imagination. And that imagination acts as an excuse to postpone the project. Sometimes an advice from a third party is necessary to be aware of that situation.
- Leverage on past experiences and feedback from other projects
Past experiences bring great value, but most of the time we are not able to detect that value. They have the potential to teach us how to improve future experiences. A project will never be successful if we don’t take advantage of the feedback from those experiences.
Part of the secret of taking advantage of this feedback is to recycle past ideas and experiences and apply that knowledge to new projects. To make the most of this resource, we need to open our minds and start recognizing patterns that are creating value, and replicate those patterns in other aspects of our life:
- You found an effective method to learn how to play a musical instrument. This method is so effective that you never want to miss a class and it keeps you motivated. Try to break down this method and replicate some of the principles and apply those to learn that new ability that you require to your work.A year ago you started exercising regularly. After a long time of procrastinating and not practicing any sports, you realize that the way to stay motivated was to think about the long-term consequences of not doing it.
If this method of thinking Vs. not thinking about the long-term consequences worked, why not replicate this and apply it to the project you are struggling with? Maybe thinking about the5-yearr consequences of doing it Vs. not doing it will push you to finally start.
Sometimes is not that easy to find the relation between different types of activities and projects. But generally, these relations are the ones that generate more value and are more effective helping us to unlock problems. They also work as ‘fuel’ to start the project.
Successful methods are not exclusive to a single situation. In many cases, they can be extrapolated to other contexts, regardless of whether it was applied in sports and then in business, or if it was first applied to a cooking project and then to a construction project.
- Leverage in technology
If technology is used to solve problems and to make better things in less time, why not use that technology to make less traumatic the starting of a new project?
When I began writing this blog I had no idea how to create a website. Instead of being an impediment, I used technology as a lever and used WordPress to do it. After a couple of tutorials, I created my blog.
In the web, you can find a course or a tutorial for almost anything, from how to learn to sew, to how to learn to speak Mandarin, or how to create a home power plant. There are millions of templates and pre-established methods that make easier the process to start any project.
It’s time to stop talking about “leverage” only as a financial term and start applying it to everyday situations. Perhaps this way more people will begin to think about how to move that big rock.
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