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The way to begin is to begin

July 28, 2011

While biking along the Cape Cod Canal the other day (I can’t keep away!), a woman jogged by wearing a T-shirt that read: “The only way to finish is to start.”

So true.

Whether reorganizing your garage, writing a book, or losing weight, the only way you’re going to reach your goal is by starting it. Take for instance this 1,000-piece puzzle I just finished. When I dumped the pieces onto my parents’ dining room table my sister Meredith took one look and declared, “It’s impossible.” Impossible? I looked at her incredulously, this young woman who’s now studying and memorizing every nerve and tissue of the human body in preparation for becoming an Occupational Therapist. That to me seems impossible. At least with a puzzle you get a picture to follow!

Any project I’ve ever done – whether unpacking a family of five into their new home, writing a book, fitting my life in 90 square feet, or preparing a college commencement for 4,000 graduates – I compare it to completing a puzzle. The trick is to break it down into manageable parts, whether literally moving things into smaller piles or making a list, then it’s much easier to complete. Instead of seeing all 1,000 pieces, first do the ends. Instead of looking at it like writing an entire book, write one chapter, instead of seeing an entire messy garage, start with the tools, and instead of seeing twenty pounds you need to lose, start with one. Even when you set the table, first you put down the placemats, then the dishes, then the napkins…

Baby steps. Manageable steps. Doable steps.

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