The Best Way to Get Ahead
I’m always trying to get better at something. Sometimes I achieve and feel great about the commitment, the journey, and the outcome. Other times, I put off getting started for months. Just having a goal isn’t enough—you have to take the first step, and then continue to put in the work to make it happen.
As we get older, we sometimes fall into the trap of setting goals that we don’t achieve. This creates anxiety because we start to feel like we’re falling behind. I saw a saying the other day that I think addresses this: “The best way to get ahead is to get started.” So, you have a goal of something you want to do or be.
How do you get started today?
- Make it known. Some people need accountability, and others are just fine having a goal inside their head. Whatever the case, set it. Write it. Blog it. Put it into an app. Tell your mom. Whatever it is, promise yourself (and your network if you need to) that you’re going to do what it takes. Commit to doing it without giving up! If it helps, write down what you’re feeling. Say why you want to do this, how you’re going to do it, and what to do if you get stuck or if you have trouble. Have a friend who has reached this goal? Ask them to be a support in case you need it.
- Do one small thing. So many people wait for an arbitrary day or deadline to start doing something. They put it off by rationalizing and making excuses: “I can’t start until this class is over” or “I have to wait until after this project is finished.” Even waiting for the first of the year, or next month, is silly in most cases. If you start today, even with a tiny change, think of how far ahead you’ll be in a month. Plus, starting with a small change can help you gain momentum as time goes by and really become a powerhouse.
- Get rid of what’s holding you back. If, like me, you want to start working on a more professional appearance, but you haven’t made yourself go buy those snappy new outfits, then throw all of your boring clothes into a bag and donate them today. If I did that, I would have to go shopping within three days or else I’d be wearing sweatpants to work. In fact, I’ll do that when I get home tonight because these pants are the fashion equivalent to an ill-fitting overcast day, but having them around gives me an excuse to put off shopping. It’s the same with groceries when you’re changing your eating habits: want to eat better but still have a house full of junk? Give it away or throw it away. Then go to the grocery store with some recipes and a list, and don’t look back!
- Accept the new you. It’s something that I hear a lot in my running groups, “Well, I wouldn’t say I’m a runner…” Why not!? Because you don’t run marathons? Look, you may never have thought of yourself as this kind of person, but the minute that you commit to making a change and take that first step, you become a new person. It takes time to develop habits and change your attitude, but if you’ve committed to it and are working toward that end result, then have a frank conversation with yourself about who you are and start believing it. Don’t live your whole life acting like you’re cleverly disguised as a successful person—you are a successful person!
- Don’t be afraid. Going back to school, changing your career, changing your body or attitude—the possibility of failing at any of these things is scary. No one wants to experience awful feelings of falling flat on your face. But what’s the alternative? You never do anything and you take the path of least resistance and if you get anywhere in life it’s by chance. I sure don’t want to live like that, and I think most Career Girls would agree with me. Sometimes a little fear can be motivating, but you have to get past the overwhelming fear that stops you in your tracks. For most people, failing won’t result in infinite despair. You might be embarrassed or upset, but you’ll get over it and you can start again. People will still love you, and people will respect you for trying. And then you’ll try again because you won’t be afraid. Or, you won’t fail at all and you’ll achieve greatness beyond your wildest dreams. Huzzah!
The best way to get ahead is to get started. Start today and you’ll never have that feeling of looking back and realizing that you’d be on top of the world if you’d just gotten started.