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Success for Beginners: Where to Start When You Don’t Know Where to Start

“An idea not coupled with action will never get any bigger than the brain cell it occupied.”

-Arnold Glasow


Have you ever prepared a big meal for your family or friends, then stepped into the disaster zone that is your kitchen afterward and briefly considered setting fire to your home/faking your death/sliding everything into a giant trash bag and shoving it out the back door? Of course you have. But, in the end, I’ll bet you did none of these things. Instead, you heroically rolled up your sleeves and tackled that mess, one sticky casserole dish at a time. You had a clear idea of what you wanted (your kitchen restored to pre-feast condition and continued standing as a functioning “adult” in society), and you did what was necessary to make it happen. No amount of visualizing, imagining, or daydreaming was going to get the job done — action was required.

Not surprisingly, the same holds true for goals bigger than an empty sink and gleaming countertops. You’ve conquered the task of dreaming up a solid vision of success that’s all your own — in itself a huge step in the right direction. Bravo! But then, with “Chariots of Fire” still playing triumphantly in your content and satisfied mind, an even bigger hurdle pops up. You’ve finally figured out the big what - and then the time comes to figure out the how. As in, how do I get there from here?? If only Google Maps could give us directions to “success”.

Obviously, none of us expects to magically wish our way to realizing our big dreams in life. We know that success requires action, so what keeps us from taking it? Things get complicated when we start digging into the nuts and bolts of figuring out where to begin, all the mini-goals we’ll have to accomplish along the way, the things we’ll need to learn, and how long it’s going to take. Thinking through all of this can be overwhelming - so much so that we’re paralyzed into inaction. And inaction rarely takes us where we want to go. Unless, of course, where you want to go is spiraling into your golden years carrying a lifetime of regret - and dirty dishes. Yeah, me neither.

So what can we do? Everybody’s idea of success is different, so there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to making it happen. There are, however, some universally effective ways of getting unstuck that will have you on the fast track to achieving your version of success - in your kitchen and beyond.

When you’re ready to make the leap from dreaming to doing, start here:

  1. Write it down. There is evidence indicating that those who write their goals down are more likely to achieve them than those who do not. And while you’re at it, do whatever you can to keep your goal in sight - literally. Want to move to Paris? Get yourself an Eiffel Tower charm and wear it around your neck. Seeing it every day will help keep that goal front and center in both your conscious and subconscious mind.

  2. Progress = perfect. Break that big goal down into manageable pieces and take some steps toward it every day. Fact: You have a far better chance of eating 365 cupcakes in a year if you eat one per day than if you try to eat all 365 in one day at the end of the year.

  3. Be a copycat. Don’t reinvent the wheel! Or anything else, for that matter. Find someone who has done what you want to do (or something similar - your vision is uniquely yours) and find out how they did it. Watch, learn, and copy.

  4. Maintain focus. This means no playing the comparison game. Keep your eyes on your own paper! And your own Instagram feed. Remember - only you know what success looks like for you.

And just like that, your kitchen is spotless! Now if you’ll excuse me, I have cupcakes to bake.

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