Just Do It
Posted by Todd Smith
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My wife and I appreciate a good cup of coffee. We love
trying new blends, learning the flavors that belong to specific regions, and mastering the art of perfectly steamed milk. This is my beautiful attempt at latte art:
A couple weeks ago, we heard about a coffee shop that recently popped up in town. It was open only on Fridays and Saturdays. We were curious and decided to check it out.
When we walked through the doorway, I saw what looked like an abandoned office space: cold and cracked concrete floors, sparse walls, and folding chairs. An espresso machine, coffee machine, and around two dozens mugs sat neatly on top of a couple cheap tables.
Despite lacking the usual makings of a hip coffee shop, the place was packed, and the coffee was, as we had already assumed, fantastic.
The owners had a dream to open their own coffee shop. They didn’t wait for a permanent space. They didn’t wait until they could afford sturdy, handcrafted wood furniture. They didn’t sit idly by until the stars aligned. They stepped out, eager to test the waters, and the community loved them for it.
Do you put off pursuing your dreams until the timing seems just right? Do you say things like this?
I can’t run a marathon because I just don’t have the hours to train. There’s no way I can pursue that business venture until I have $100,000 in start-up capital. I want to record music, but I can’t because I don’t have access to a studio.
When you finally decide to make a small leap into the direction of your dreams, you:
- Find out if it’s something you truly want to pursue
- Learn about your market (if it’s a business)
- Better understand what will be necessary to succeed
- Gain momentum
- Garner support
You might be waiting for your stars to align when you actually have the ability to move the stars yourself.
Anyone can dream, but few will put in the work to see those dreams come to fruition. Dreams give an illusion of ambition without the discomfort of risks and effort. Dreams are safe in your head. That’s why few dreams ever see the light of day.
Here are eight tips on how to make the first steps toward your goals:
- Start with a burning desire. I don’t think a burning desire is enough to succeed. However, it is a great place to start. Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich, had the right idea when he said, “The starting point of all achievement is DESIRE. Keep this constantly in mind. Weak desire brings weak results, just as a small fire makes a small amount of heat.”
- Build the discipline to do what is difficult, what is scary, and what is risky. Working hard with no promise of being paid or starting to run when you can’t make it two blocks without gasping for air is not fun. But it’s the faithfulness in fulfilling the little uncomfortable things along the way that separate those who succeed and those who don’t. To learn more about discipline, you can read my post titled, “Becoming a Disciplined Person.”
- Surround yourself with doers. Jim Rohn’s popular saying “you’re the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with” rings true here. If your friends are ambitious people of action who don’t make excuses, you’re likely to follow suit.
- Start small. No matter what you’re setting out to do, I recommend starting with smaller goals and projects. This is important because starting small will reveal whether it’s something you really want to follow through with, as well as because it’s easier to move toward a goal you set to achieve in a week rather than a decade.
- Work with what you have. Like the coffee shop example, if all you have is folding chairs, at least people have a place to sit. If all you have is the music software that came with your computer and a cheap microphone, that’s enough to start recording and sharing your work.
- Get feedback. Your goal is consistent education and improvement, not instant success. Listen to what others say to see how you can improve. Whether it means breathing better while you run or modifying the interface on your app, listen and listen well.
- Realize that failure is inevitable. Whenever you start a new endeavor, you will fail. Your project may not crash and burn, but there will be small disappointments and failures along the way. You’re paving a new way for yourself; there will be bumps in the road. Reaching your goals will require learning, adapting, and not taking failure personally.
- Dream better dreams. If your dreams don’t spur you forward, then they’re not worth keeping around. If you can’t get past the first tip in this list, it’s time to trade your old dreams in for some better ones.
It’s time to stop making excuses. You don’t have to wait until you quit your job to start that side business: work on the weekends. You don’t have to wait until your schedule opens up to train for that marathon: use those 30-minutes and train for a half marathon. Taking those first steps might be terrifying, but you won’t know until you try. Take that first step: success might just be on the other side.
Don’t wait for things to be perfect before you start pursuing your goals and dreams, because things will never be perfect! Just do it!
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