How to Start

How to Start


We love starting. The thrill of something new and the payoff of BEING yet another thing. What if you could start in such a way that guided you to the finish line. Made it almost easy or unavoidable to get there?

One of my biggest issues while working is I try to see all the angles and incorporate every possibility into a project. At some point it’s overwhelming and useless, you have to send it out into the world!

This is the process I used to create this blog post and many future posts. However, this could look like the short march to learning a new skill, building a project, and most any other endeavor that demands more than a moment’s worth of attention. Some activities require compounding growth.


1) Collect – If you use the potential power of lists, gather all those lists and thoughts, in hard or digital form. Give them a scan and get the issue as fresh and as whole in your mind. This helps your mind to prime to the issue at hand. Similar to mise en place for a chef or a staging area for a builder.

2) Clear – Throw it all aside and clear your workspace.
3) Quiet – Sit quietly and wait. Wait for the first little thing, listen to it but don’t grab on too tightly. Smack back the fears and inadequacies, don’t check Facebook. Get into the fetal position on the floor, rise up, stare at the blankness of your life… then begin.

4) Concept – Begin with a wireframe of your work. Keep this wire frame simple, with only the most important information. Just the trailheads; the signals to your neural network of past experiences and formations. Get the broad strokes and “big bubbles” out. This really helps when EDITING the concept later. This wireframe will change based on the nature of the project, but at it’s core, it is a SIMPLE, UNCLUTTERED PLACE to hold ESSENTIAL information, often in graphic form.


5) Content – Fill in each bubble you created. This might not happen all at once. You may need to do more research, ask more questions, build a model [link], go take a photo at sunrise, just make sure you fill in the space. Caution: if you cannot finish in one sitting, set the time or signal to yourself for when you will next work on it, don’t let this beginning sit in a closet for months on end. Make it unavoidable to run over the project and be stirred to finish it.

6) Cease – Take a quick or long break. Even if it is just to stand a stretch, or walk the hallway, or go ride a bike. Take a slight break from the pressing work. Don’t worry, your wire frame and collect are holding everything for you.

7) Complete – Add anything else to the smaller thought bubbles. You are done, well not done, but kinda. HEY! You’ve got 80% of it down, and that may be unsettling, but you are done!


8) Edit – Of course we are not done, but you might want to take a longer break depending on the depth you have to explore to get to DONE. Now you edit, tighten, work out some kinks, but don’t take too long. I feel editing should have a sense of danger, like it’s almost there, you’ve cut as much as you can, NOW…

9) Share – …wait, wait, it’s not quite good enough…HIT PUBLISH!


Don’t worry, you will make adjustments after it comes out of the gate. No business plan survives its first customer. You can come back and change some things later, but for now, it needs to leave your hands.



[This post has been edited 2 times since its first publishing.]

2 Replies to “How to Start”

  1. Nice! The other way that has worked for me is to just start. Follow steps 1-3, and then just start writing, free form, whatever comes to mind. Write until you run out of words. And then see where things lead from there.

    Also, have you read Seth Godin’s “Linchpin” or Jon Acuff’s “Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done”? Both of those would have some good stuff to add to this 🙂

    It’s so great to read your thoughts!!

    1. Thanks for all the additional tools!

      Stephen Pressfield talks about how after each project or day, we have to choose to go pro. There might be a million ways to start, because each time we sit down, we need to start again.

      I’ll add those to the reading list, once I finish what’s on there. 🙂

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