A Journey of 1,000 Miles Begins With…

Complete this sentence: “A journey of 1,000 miles begins with…”

With what? A prayer? A To Do list? A spreadsheet? The usual answer is “a single step,” and that’s probably true in a way. But for me the real sentence should read, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with the decision to begin.”

Starting can be the hardest part. I can often find plenty of reasons not to begin the journey. I’m not really ready. I’m not sure that’s really where I want to go. I’m not sure what that fateful first step should look like. I’m not packed yet. And what if I try that first step only to trip at the starting line? (That’s one reason why I don’t golf, by the way — I hate teeing off in front of so many amused strangers.)

When it comes to beginning the journeys of life, two related quotes come to mind. The first is from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, and it was on the bulletin board at the first radio station I ever worked at. The quote intimidated me at the time — I think it was really posted there by the Sales Manager to encourage me to make more cold calls — but after having spent three and a half decades in sales and fundraising I see the wisdom of it more clearly, and it still pops into my head from time to time. You’ve probably heard it: Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.

In other words, there is power in simply beginning. Some people say that God can’t steer a parked car. I say He can, but He simply chooses not to. You need to be moving!

The second quote comes from that wise sage, Dr. Phil. I’m paraphrasing a bit here, but basically Dr. Phil says, You’ll never really make significant adjustments in your life until the pain of same outweighs the pain of change. I really like that. Sometimes the courage to begin the arduous and uncertain journey starts with the sheer discomfort of the status quo.

So what’s holding you back? Is it not knowing that first step? Or is it simply that you haven’t truly decided to begin? Maybe it’s time.

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