You Just Have to Start — Seriously

I ran into an old friend the other day. We’d gone to college together and he was the kind of person that had everything together.

When I was chasing the cutest girl on campus, he was planning his future. He didn’t have time for the now, he was too busy creating tomorrow.

Party? No point, he would throw the best parties when he was rich.

Dating? Why would he waste his time when he’d have models throwing themselves at him when he was rich?

That’s the kind of person he was and I silently envied his passion and focus. We eventually graduated; he was one of the best students in our class.

He went on to get a good job and start saving money for his plans. I went on to lose my way, travel, pick up writing, start multiple businesses, fall in and out of love, and everything else that can happen to a 20 something with too much optimism and a family that supports him.

When I met my old friend last week — we ran into each other at a restaurant — I half expected to see attentive nonchalant body guards around him. They’d be watching to make sure I didn’t make any sudden movements that’d put their employer in danger.

I was eating breakfast alone and reading Hey Whipple Squeeze This (A great read if you’re into any type of marketing and advertising). When I noticed him, I wasn’t sure he was the right person. He was nursing a glass of coke and had an air of resignation I’d never seen in him.

I stood up, tucked my book under my arm, and strolled closer to make sure it was him. There was no mistaking it. I’d recognize that hair and the way he tilted his head anywhere. I his name and he snapped out of his reverie long enough for his eyes to slide over my face.

He cracked a warm smile that didn’t make it to his eyes. Those eyes were sad. He invited me to join him and I settled in the chair across the table.

We started with small talk. He told me I looked good. I thanked him. I told him he hadn’t changed a bit. He laughed.

After a few minutes, I asked him how his plans were going. I asked if his company was bigger than he’d planned. He didn’t answer immediately and his eyes seemed to lose focus. When I replay the conversation, I think he was reliving a moment in his life when everything changed.

When he snapped back to the present, he answered me in a small voice. He told me he’d never started his company and went into a long story about what happened.

I got the feeling that he’d told the story many times before. When he finished, I allowed a poignant silence to linger between us. I sure as hell wasn’t rushing to fill that space. There was nothing to say.

He tried to fill the silence with more small talk, failed, tried again, and still failed.

I looked him in the eye and told him not to worry, we’re still young. Then I gave him two gifts before returning to my table. One was a book recommendation The Power of Now by Tolle. The other was a simple piece of advice given to me by someone much wiser and much older.

You just have to start.

We all come from ground zero

That’s the beauty of the world. All of us come from ground zero. I know some people reading this are going to say people are born with money and I agree. But they’re also born naked, crying, and unable to talk.

Ground Zero.

It’s what happens in those intervening years that make the difference. It’s not uncommon for first generation millionaires to have a bankrupt family by the third generation. Their children can’t deal.

The most ferocious battles are fought in your head. The fear of the unknown stops you from taking risks and challenging yourself to try.

The conversation is always the same:

What if I fail?

What if I’m not as good as I thought?

What if I can’t do it?

What if I succeed? (In my opinion, that’s the scariest part)

Here’s the thing, no one starting their first business, or workout plan, or job knows what they’re doing. They learn as they go, but the one thing that separates them from the rest of the world is starting.

Nothing will ever get done if you don’t start.

Once you start, everything is possible.

There’s one more ingredient. Consistent small actions towards your goals.

You don’t need to start today and be halfway to completion by tomorrow. In fact, by tomorrow, you won’t notice your progress.

You probably won’t notice your progress in a month from now.

It takes weeks for you to notice a change in your body after you start working out. It takes 6–8 weeks for anyone else to notice. When they notice enough to compliment you, you’ve been at it for about ten weeks.

That’s seventy days of focused effort with seemingly zero returns.

The same thing applies in business.

The same thing applies in relationships.

The same thing applies at work.

The same thing applies to learning a new skill.

The same thing applies in all areas of your life.

You just have to start.

You just have to keep going.

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