The Art of the Start

It’s no secret that starting is one of the hardest things you can ever do.

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My friend Jon Acuff says it well in his great book, Start.

“You don’t need to go back in time to be awesome; you just have to start right now. Regretting that you didn’t start earlier is a great distraction from moving on your dream today, and the reality is that today is earlier than tomorrow.”

Being at zero is never fun, especially when you’re not sure where on earth to go next. But there are a few key lessons smart people have learned about starting can help you during this challenging time. Remember these, and then get starting. 

1. Everyone Starts Somewhere

Most importantly, you’ve got to remember that everyone starts somewhere. There’s a great line that says that we often compare our starting points to another person’s finish line. Meaning — we compare where we are on day 1 of playing the violin to where Jane is on day 1,500 of her music lessons. We do this in all areas of our lives, and it’s always toxic. Remember that everyone starts somewhere.

2. Starts are Messy

Guess what? Most people’s starts are incredibly messy. Want an example? Look through the first tweets that famous people the world over sent out after they jumped on the platform. Again and again, they aren’t that great. Why? Because in the beginning, we’re all just getting the hang of what we’re doing. Don’t beat yourself up. It’s the beginning — you’re supposed to not know what you’re doing!

3. Some People Don’t Start at All

Hopefully the biggest motivation you can remember is that many people never even have the courage to start their project or dream. If you’ve gotten this far already, you’re well ahead of the pack.

So what can you start today? Is it small? Big? Can you put one foot in front of the other to get going?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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15 thoughts on “The Art of the Start

  1. The only thing harder than starting is finishing. It’s perseverance that makes all the difference. Starting is great and an accomplishment in and of itself, but sticking with the plan and keeping the vision alive during the long months (or years) of grueling attention to the myriad of details that are always required for the creation and launch of any successful product is hard work! But of course if you never start, you will never find out how hard (or how much fun) finishing is. So by all means start, but by all means finish! Nothing is impossible with enough vision, passion, and perseverance.

    • Yes! Start! Better late than never. Nothing is impossible………..!
      As the old saying in THIRUKKURAL ( a Tamil ancient Book) :
      “thou fate divine
      should make your labour vain
      Effort its labor’s
      sure reward will gain! ”
      Have a goal and start…….now!
      _Karunakaran, India

  2. This is an interesting article that I’d say “Yes!” The article might seem to suggest we should start new things and never stay in same as before. So, some people might say, “I’m satisfied with this and it’s good enough for me.” That’s not true. Even if you want to stay the same, you should always try to keep your balance to be in the saddle. Horses are hard to ride.

    In other words, you are always pushed or pulled by people or things. You often are out of the place or the way you want to be on. You need to start to go back to the right position and direction for you. There’s no eternal paradise on the earth.

    Once upon a time, there lived two young men who were friends. The went to a mountain nearby to gather firewood, carrying baskets on their backs.

    They managed to collect enough firewood for their baskets. On their back to home, they found a pile of abandoned silver coins. One young man said, “Look, how lucky we are!” He threw away the firewood and gathered a full of baskets of silver coins. The other young man said, “I gathered my firewood with a great effort. I don’t want to dump it.” He gave up the coins.

    They started to go back home again. Then, they found a pile of abandoned gold coins. One with silver coins dumped the silver coins and got the gold coins. The other ignored them again. They came home. One with gold coins lived happily every after, and the other kept gathering firewood everyday.

    I’m not sure which one was happier in life.

    Here are some Asian old sayings;

    A journey of a thousand miles needs the first single step.
    Many a particle of dust can make a mountain.
    Removing a shovelful of soil a day will move a mountain someday.

  3. And yes, I would like to add that for a new habit, do give yourself a reward when you complete your first 7 days. It could be a small treat e.g. chocolate slice, or a nice movie with a buddy, or even with yourself. It will make the new habit (an exercise routine or a healthy diet) stick like glue. Bless you!

  4. Point #1 that everybody starts somewhere, is especially encouraging. It is very true that we always make comparison to somebody’s progress with our own, even if we deny it sometimes. An encouraging word to all who are starting out on their dreams – “Every moment that we are alive, is a chance for us to change our lives!” 😀

  5. Well, for me it is more of a re-start that I’m working on. I was a singer all through late childhood and high-school but dropped it about 7 years ago when I had some vocal troubles and moved to another city where I didn’t get connected into the local choir scene due to other demands on my time. I had barely sung at all since then until I recently submitted a video for inclusion in Eric Whitacre’s extraordinary Virtual Choir project (

    The amazing experience of being in the Virtual Choir has made me want to sing again. My part in the choir was really not that good and it is easy to regret the seven “lost” years in this area. But, I’m doing my best to get started again. I’m gathering books and videos on healthy technique and starting to practice at home. Once my schedule settles, next step is to find a new (non-virtual) choir. My mid-range goal is to submit a video I can be really proud of to the next round of Virtual Choir.

    • Wow. Just when you think the world may be heading in all the wrong directions, something like this comes along. Amazing. Actually I think I had seen something by the Virtual Choir Project a couple of years ago, but I don’t remember it being anything like this. Such great music. And the graphics! I’m totally blown away. There’s really no limit to what can be done with that concept. Is there a Virtual Orchestra yet? Or a Virtual University? Man, who knows where we’ll be in ten years. Keep up the great work.

      • You probably have seen something from the Virtual Choir before. This is the 4th major project and I think it has been running since 2010. It is definitely an inspiring project. Sometimes when what’s in the news gets me down, I go watch the videos to remember that better things are possible.

        I don’t think there is a virtual orchestra, but it is definitely something many of us in the virtual choir have discussed and dreamed about. As for virtual universities, groups like and are doing some pretty amazing work on that front.

        • Thanks Joanna. Coursera and Saylor both look great. That’s exactly the kind of thing I was thinking about. With resources and tools like that, there is no question that it will be possible someday to give children a great education anywhere in the world. All they will need is an internet connection and a hungry mind. Just amazing what the possibilities are in that area.

          A Virtual Orchestra should not be a problem. It could work in the same way as the VC. Musicians from all over the world could submit videos of their parts for assembly into the overall composition. And since there is no language involved with instrumentation, it should actually be a lot easier.

          So once again, the guru of Amazing Possibilities, CDO, has struck the right note with this blog. Even if the old world is collapsing, the new one is already beginning, and the sooner we get started the better.

          Have a great day!