Every new beginning starts with one simple, and seemingly impossible question: but how?
As John Farnham sang in The First Step, that initial move forward is the hardest. Summer, my 1-year-old daughter, can vouch for that: it’s been interesting watching her ever-so-slowly abandon the trusted crawling for the more practical one foot after another strategy.
There are many reasons why starting is difficult. We doubt that we have what it takes to succeed; we have little control about what the future will bring; and we grieve or yearn for the things and people that may not be coming along with us into the new.
New beginning wobbles and struggles are normal. Let these 3 hints help you or someone close to you navigate them well.
- Fast forward 6 months
My favourite way to break through the how hangup is to fast forward 6 months from now and ask myself, ‘Will I regret starting this or not starting this when I look back on this moment?’
Those of us who are acquainted with procrastination (or as an old coach used to say, ‘professional excuse-makers’ – ouch!) usually arrive late to this question. The familiar and the comfortable is safer. So it often takes a major crisis or major pain to jolt us into action. Or as the 12 Step Program encourages us, we realise that our old ways are causing us more pain than the pain we are seeking to escape from.
Taking the first step may be hard, but all genuine moments of conviction and courage lead to transformation. And when you look back 6 months from now, like Summer, you will be way on your way.
- Don’t look at the water
When we look at how hard the wind is blowing, we always sink, as Peter does in the story in the Gospel of Matthew. The wind is the wind of doubt – the wind that blows from the culture we live in, which sadly gravitates toward magnifying problems, ridiculing people on their way to success, and championing negative comparisons.
Notice in the same Gospel story that when Peter first sees Jesus on the water, he joyfully jumps out of the boat. Jesus is always walking towards us, on the water, spiritual director Chris Anderson reminds us.
We are all familiar with the teaching that we are not to look at the water (our circumstances) lest we sink: we are to keep our eyes on Jesus. This is good and true. Consider also Anderson’s more precise counsel: during and after any storm, Jesus is always walking towards us. And if we sink (which we will), He will reach out and pull us out of the water again and again.
- Embrace complexity
From the minute Abraham received God’s call, his life got more complicated. He wandered over the desert; he battled other tribes; he had to deal with family squabbles and tensions that never really stopped.
All new beginnings come with new challenges and new opportunities. Putting in the time to work through these complexities cultivates both resilience and character. As you conquer one obstacle after another, confidence builds that you are able to handle bigger and tougher problems in the future.
During a new beginning, whenever I am discouraged or tempted to think from an unresourceful state, the following truth helps: it is not difficult, it is just unfamiliar. As you become familiar with new problems and new opportunities – and seek out mentors along the way who have been there and done that – you will grow in your leadership capacity, your influence and your overall impact.