A new year is often a great opportunity for new beginnings. But the truth is, we can get a new start anytime. New jobs, new projects, new goals, new hobbies – the possibilities are endless. When was the last time you started something new? If you’re just getting started now, here’s a game plan to get you moving fast!
Set Your Destination
When something is new, the possibilities can seem endless. New job? New project? You can take it anywhere you want, right? The problem is that endless possibilities significantly impede progress. That’s why Stephen Covey dedicated one of his 7 Habits to “Start with the end in mind.” It’s also why new organizational leaders often have an onboarding structure in place for them for the first 100 days (or so).
The start of your next big thing is a critical period. So set a SMART goal. Set a next step. Begin to set your destination – if not your final destination, then at least your next one. Until you do, progress will be difficult.
Get a Quick Win
In today’s ever-changing organizational environment, unfortunately there isn’t much patient for long-term initiatives. Because of this, even the best strategies can fall by the wayside unless they demonstrate a quick win.
A quick win is a tangible and visible evidence of progress. It gives your new project a concrete story to tell (after all, it’s hard to argue with results). It enhances visibility. And for professional as well as personal projects, it helps provide motivation to keep going. Remember: people don’t want to wait to win.
With People, Slow is Fast
Most projects can’t happen without the support of others. The bigger the project, the more support it takes. You may be able to pull off most of the nuts and bolts of the work, but if you try to go it alone, you’ll be doomed before you start. Try this:
- Build relationships with others before you need them to help you.
- Ask for and value input from others even when you don’t necessarily need it. (This will make it much easier to get when you do need it!)
- Value results AND relationships.
- Get buy-in from key decision-makers each step of the way. If you don’t, you risk having your project shut down because someone with authority wasn’t prepared for it.
- Bide your time. Credibility comes with a tenure of relational and performance capital.
- Say thank you.
Put Fear in Its Place
If there’s one topic that doesn’t get nearly enough attention, it’s fear. Fear is real and it has the power to stop anyone in his tracks and abort any otherwise worthwhile endeavor. Unfortunately, many times the greater the undertaking, the stronger the fear. In his book Start, Jon Acuff says that, “Fear tends to argue both sides of the coin, leaving you absolutely no room to stand. Here are two of the complete opposite things it will tell you: Don’t chase your dream at all, and: If you chase your dream, you have to do it all at once.”
Dale Carnegie dedicated an entire book to disrobing the anatomy of fear and putting it in its rightful place. For that reason, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living is a must-read. Some fears are worth considering, but most play on our insecurities. The longer we pretend fear isn’t real – or that it doesn’t affect us – the longer we’ll limit our progress.
Acknowledge fear, but put it in its rightful place. Follow George Patton’s advice: “Don’t take counsel of your fears.”
One final thought: none of us can do everything but all of us can do something. Let’s make that thing count!
What’s your next big thing?
Nathan Magnuson is a leadership consultant, coach, trainer and thought leader. Receive his ebook Trusted Leadership Advisor by subscribing to his website or follow him on Twitter.