June 22, 2016

The Secret To Success: Begin


Famous Graphic Designer, Milton Glaser, once said, "You can't do [something] by simply thinking what you are going to do. So you begin. That's my entire secret: begin."

Exactly. 

As someone who will read half a dozen books on a subject before starting anything, his simple statement resonated with me. Not too long ago I wrote about my dislike of being a beginner. Too often that feeling keeps me from following Mr. Glaser's advice - I don't get to the begin stage because I don't like the time I am stuck in the learning phase. Of course, as I noted, that is silly since none of us are good at much of anything without learning about it and then practicing.

Blogger Joel Gascoigne wrote that successful people always start with small projects. They begin at the beginning and then grow. "Try anything" says writer, Andi Cumbo-Floyd. Parenting advisor, Mary Kathryn Johnson, says we all need "Practice, Patience, and Perseverance." Author James Clear says, "Getting started is more important that succeeding."

Does all this advice relate to building a Satisfying Retirement? I'd suggest, "Yes."  In the post, You are doing nothing wrong in your retirement, I argue that your retirement journey is, or will be, unique. Your mix of circumstances, life experiences, trials and troubles, and preparation will be unlike anyone else. 

That really means you began at the beginning. Your whole life has led you to where you are today. You built a foundation and then added to it as you aged and matured. Now, you have constructed a unique path for your retirement journey. You didn't fear beginning because there was no other choice. 

That should be an encouraging thought, even for someone like me who hates not to be good at something from day one. If I look back at what allowed me to retire at 52 and where I have journeyed in the last 15 years, I was constantly starting over, refining and readjusting.

I am beginning some aspect of my life, over and over, rather constantly. I am absolutely not the same person I was years ago. Emotionally, financially, and relationally, Bob Lowry is almost unrecognizable from my days as a DJ, new dad, workaholic-travelling entrepreneur, or new retiree. 

"When there is a hill to climb, don't think that waiting will make it smaller."  Or, from the Sound of Music, " Let's start at the very beginning...a very good place to start."

Amen.

20 comments:

  1. Just when we think we have life figured out, something lands on our horizon, right out of the blue. Going back to square one--regardless of the cause--can be humbling. I used to have the mindset that we'd have it all figured out by the time we got to retirement age. I was wrong. Life is always changing, and it's seldom easy. I guess the only thing I can control is my attitude toward all these aspects of life. Bob you mention that you are unrecognizable from the person you were years ago. I'd be interested to know what your most meaningful lesson you've learned on your journey. (Don't feel obligated to answer if that seems too personal.)

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    1. My most meaningful lesson was that I am not a self-contained, one man band. I spent too many years convinced of my own superiority and that I could bend others to my will. As a management consultant, of course, that was my job. But, I carried that attitude into my personal life and it caused big problems.

      Learning that I needed others and wasn't always right came as big shocks. But, accepting that reality and then embracing it were essential steps in my maturing. It saved my marriage and relationship with my kids and others. It also makes life much richer and more enjoyable.

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  2. Life throws up all kinds of surprises, obstacles and challenges along the way. Probably the best lesson I have ever learnt is to accept that you have a problem.....confront it.... don't let it fester or it will become ten times worse. Beginning to sort out the problem is the hardest step on the road to kicking the difficulty into touch. Once you begin you will find that your insurmountable problem is not a huge peak in the Rockies but just a molehill. People will appear out of the woodwork to help you when you disclose your difficulties. The secret is having the strength to take that first step.

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    1. See my response above. I couldn't agree more.

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  3. Good advice ... or as one wag said: How do you eat a car? One bite at a time.

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  4. Love this post. I'm new at being retired and I just began a blog on aging with optimism. Pushing yourself out of the starting gate when you don't fully know what you're doing is always hard. I have felt that way each time I started a new job or a new marriage (I've had three - oops), when I opened my business, when I sold my business, and at this point. You'd think it would get easier with age, and perhaps it does. But it never gets easy-peasy. Thanks for not being the same person you were years ago; the people who grow and evolve always have the most interesting thing to say.

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    1. I just clicked over to your blog...looks interesting.

      My wife would certainly agree that my not being the same person i was years ago is a good thing!

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    2. Ha Ha - I think my husband would say the same thing. It's good to know that a lot of us become more lovable as we age. Thanks for checking out my blog; yours is one of my role models.

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  5. This is so me. I am an arm chair traveler, arm chair cook, arm chair crafty person, etc. I will read a subject to death and then I will feel like I have accomplished something when in fact, I never started to actually do it.

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    1. Frustrating, isn't it? I have fought this most of my life.

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    2. I thought I was the only one who does this! I study things so long I am finally tired of the whole thing before I get started. What is our problem?

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  6. During our first adoption experience, when roadblock after roadblock seemed to appear and my husband and I were growing more and more discouraged, a work colleague sent me the quotation below. It helped me understand that things would work out (and they did, beautifully - three times!) because we had committed ourselves and more importantly, began the process. The quotation has been a touchstone ever since, and I have found it more true and relevant as time goes on.

    "Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now." (William Hutchinson Murray)

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    1. That is a powerful and very accurate statement. I have not read it before - thanks for sharing it.

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  7. I struggle with "analysis paralysis" and am still feeling my way into retirement. So many options, and of course, I don't want to make a mistake! Ha! But even seven months in, I feel very differently about it than I did when I started. But I am enjoying the process.

    I also respect your thoughts on how you've changed. My DH would say something similar. His seminal awakening was a phrase from Dr. Phil (!): Do you want to get what you want and need, or do you want to be right? Many people just want to be right and it makes for a miserable life. Cheers to you and my DH for realizing personal relationships could be better. :-)
    --Hope

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    1. I have heard that line from Dr. Phil before and he is so right. Too often we want to score points rather than make the wise choice. Best of luck, Hope, as you move through retirement. It is quite a ride.

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  8. Your post made me laugh! The more years I practice martial arts, the more of a beginner I realize I am. Your post also made me think of two other things.

    One, this quote: In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's mind there are few. ― Shunryu Suzuki

    And two, when my daughter, who had played basketball all her growing up years, decided to switch to lacrosse her junior year of high school, she stomped into the house after her first practice. "I hate lacrosse," she fumed. When I asked why, she yelled in frustration, "Because I don't know how to play!!" "Hmm, so how long have you played lacrosse?" I queried. "Two hours!" she stormed. I realized that she could not remember when she didn't know how to play basketball. Being a beginner was a new and uncomfortable experience. "Why don't you give it two more hours before you decide anything?" I suggested. She came home the next day all smiles. "I love lacrosse," she enthused.

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    1. Ha..that's a great story and so relatable to those of us with "beginner's disease."

      So good to hear from you, Galen.

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  9. Beginning the journey is always one of the most challenging aspect for me. Once I get started, I tend to learn or participate in something with great enthusiasm. But I am always hesitant to get started. I read books, talk to people, weigh the pros and cons, and sometimes focus on the cons. I need to learn how to just dive in - especially as I get older and there is less time for all this personal deliberation.

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    1. "Just dive in" is good advice. If we haven't learned to swim yet, our time isn't infinite. Just begin.

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