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Shine On: How do you get started?

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About one year ago – on August 5, 2019, to be exact – my five-year-old son jumped off a cliff. Yes, literally.

But don’t worry, he’s fine. We were in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the cliff was about 25 feet, we were at a very popular spot where tourists jump into the river, he was wearing a life jacket and he was holding my hand when he did it.

What amazed me about my 5-year-old jumping off this cliff into the river was his complete lack of fear. He stepped up to the ledge when it was our turn, a huge smile on his face, and jumped. No fear. Ready to go.

How do you get started? Are you like my son, ready to jump in with no fear? Do you start cautiously, avoiding risk at all costs? Does it take you a while to get going because you have a tendency to start and stop frequently? Does indecision cripple you into inaction?

I ask how you get started for two reasons: First, it’s good for you to be aware of how you start. Everyone starts a little differently, and how you get started matters. No matter if you are starting a new job, starting a new school year, starting a new project around the house or starting a new relationship, how you start changes your entire experience, so you should know how you start.

Second, now is a time for starting things. This is the time of year when the weather starts to change. The new school year begins. Parish programs resume. Fall sports begin practice. And even in the pandemic world in which we now live, it still feels like every day we are getting some new information or trying to live with some new normal.

Starting is almost always the hardest part. Ever tried to start a habit of running? I usually run four times a week, but the effort it takes to motivate myself to get up and go is always the hardest part. I’ve written thousands of pages as an author, including publishing a couple books, but guess what: Getting the first words out on that blank page are always the hardest. Starting is almost always the hardest part, and it is also the most important.

Woody Allen said, “Eighty percent of life is just showing up.” And so, every time you start is a victory. Every time you start is an
occasion to celebrate.

Celebration is a good place to start anything. Isaiah 43: 18-19a says, “Remember not the events of the past, the thingsof long ago consider not; See, I am doing something new!”

The first half of 2020 has been… well… eventful. That’s a polite word for it. Perhaps God invites us, now, this very moment, to focus on the new things He is doing in our lives.

Want to start well? Here are some quick tips to do just that:

First, to set yourself up for a great start, identify what helps you get started. Do you jump right in? Do you need to do research to feel ready? Are you hesitant? Do you feel braver when you’re with a friend?

Next, plan your celebrations. Getting started is easier when you celebrate getting started. And having something to look forward to will help you get started in the first place. What will you do to celebrate getting started, and how can you use that celebration to motivate forward momentum?

Last, pray for your new beginning. Everything is better when God is with you. Ask God to send you the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit so that you can start and start well.

DOMINICK ALBANO is the director of digital engagement for The Catholic Telegraph, as well as an author and national speaker. He and his wife have been married for 13 years and have four sons.

This article originally appeared in the August 2020 edition of The Catholic Telegraph Magazine. For your complimentary subscription, click here.

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