I’ve taken on some HUGE projects in the last 25 years, and I always start out with incredible passion and motivation. I’ll share the idea with my family, and then I’ll run it by some friends. Usually, my energy keeps growing and growing, and the ideas keep flowing and flowing until I finally pull the trigger and launch whatever it is.
I’ve helped launch several non-profits, a toy company, a marketing business, four feature films, and so on. With every one of those projects, I’ve started out with great gusto!
And then, at some point, something feels overwhelming…
- Funding falls through.
- A key team member decides not to come on board.
- An initial assumption is proven wrong.
- An endless amount of tedious details become apparent.
- Things take way longer than anticipated.
Ugh! Can you feel it? I hate that feeling of disappointment and overwhelm.
Elizabeth Cutler, founder and former CEO of SoulCycle, says, “It can be easy to get overwhelmed, just break things down into small pieces, and you will be able to accomplish anything.”
You’ve heard that the easiest way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time? (Why would anyone ever want to eat an elephant?)
Here’s how it works. I simply ask myself, “What’s the smallest first step I can take?”
It’s always the big tasks that look so daunting, don’t they? Finding the funding. Recruiting the team member. All the details. Fill in the blank for you > _________________. The only way to tackle the BIG STUFF is by starting with the SMALL STUFF.
While keeping in mind the ultimate goal, I list out all the tasks that need to be accomplished, and I start checking them off one by one. It may seem trivial to put “send the email” on my to do list, but I get great satisfaction in completing each small task. Those small tasks start to add up over the course of a day, and all of a sudden, the big task isn’t so daunting after all.
What’s the smallest first step you can take today?