How to start when you don’t know where to start

Every great idea died on this sentence: I just don’t know where to start.

I can name one million times that I have started something for the first time. It began when I took my first step as a child, or when I ate my first real piece of food. Right? All of us are busy doing things for the first time. So why when we identify what we actually want is it so hard to take that first step and actually get started?

It’s because we get frozen by the big picture. Thinking too broad and too big paralyzes us. It doesn’t make you weak, it doesn’t make you inadequate, it is human nature.

I see two types of behaviors that lead to burnout and stagnancy on dreams:

  1. You think about the big picture and you become overwhelmed telling yourself you could never do all of those things to make that happen, so you never start.

  2. You think you can do it all at once. You begin all of the things and you are driving nine cars in nine lanes of traffic and all of them are jamming up or the vehicles are stalled on the side of the road. Everything is happening but nothing is actually getting done.

Here is how you combat both of these scenarios. Watch my video where I talk about breaking things into phases.

We think life is a sprint when it is really a marathon. That’s why I advise my clients to think of things in 90 day sprints instead of “I can do all the things myself all at once sprint”. Take the big picture, imagine it and remember why it was so important to you when you first got the idea. Remember what it might feel like to be there, living that dream. Then get a piece of paper and break it down into phases, preferably, at a minimum, in a timeline of 90 days. Why 90 days? Because it takes 21 days to change a habit and 90 days to make it stick. Also, typically in a three month sprint you can get clarity on what you actually want vs. what you think you want. This is imperative to implementing a strategy that you actually will like executing.

One of my favorite entrepreneurs once said to me, “Be careful not to build a dream that you hate living in”. Working in phases and sprints helps you avoid launching something you hate.

How to build your phase plan:

  • Identify the ideal outcome for the end of the sprint, for example “I will roll out this new product”.

  • Now break it up into phases, typically three or four depending on the scale.

  • Label each phase and start identifying what you need to accomplish in each phase to complete it and attach a timeline.

Here is an example of a four phased plan:

Phase 1: Discovery and Research—30 Days

Phase 2: Testing and Development-15 days

Phase 3: Action and Implementation-30 days

Phase 4: Review and Tweak-15 days

Each 90 day sprint of phased planning is going to have different action items based on what you are trying to accomplish at the end of your sprint. Some sprints will be 6 months or a year. Scale determines your timeline. Remember not to try to do too much at once or to take on more than you can chew in the beginning. Also remember not to get obsessed with your timeline—the reason we give ourselves room to breathe is to allow for mistakes and flexibility in our discoveries. Perhaps you get to the end of your sprint and you hate your idea and you don’t want to do it. Great, you just saved yourself time and money in the long run.

At a minimum, by phasing this out and taking things in micro steps on a tangible timeline, you will make progress and learn. In an ideal world you will make money and introduce something into the world you never would have been able to if you just sat wondering where to begin.

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