Since this is the first article in this collection of personal development insights, the power of beginning is the perfect topic.
Do you feel an urge to find a better job, start a new business, lose weight, begin a new relationship, or make a new year’s resolution?
The following ideas on beginning apply to whatever you decide to bring into your life.
Thinking about it is a good start, but unless it leads to action, the results you desire may be a long time in coming. The initial mental activities are crucial, so enjoy the process. Visualize the outcome you would like and really get into it.
Focus on the details. In your imagination, see what it looks like. Touch it, smell it and feel it. Own the totality of the experience in your mind’s eye and feel grateful for it. Your attitude of gratitude helps you to take ownership of the fruits of your desire and helps you to allow it into your experience.
This important first step allows you to begin cultivating the attitude “as if”. As you continue to practice visualization, you begin to think of your desire “as if” it is already a reality. The creative power of the universe responds by lining up the details to bring it into manifestation. Coincidences begin to occur. A chance meeting with a stranger provides you with the information you need for the next step. Or someone recommends a book that is exactly what you need to hear. Your job at this point is to remain open to these “coincidences”. Don’t shrug them off and ignore them. Expect them. Pay attention. Be grateful for them. That helps keep the door open for more.
You are now underway. You have focused on an idea, desire or direction long enough and clearly enough for the universe to presume you are serious about wanting to manifest it. As you notice the coincidences, the ball is back in your court. Now it’s time to take action.
“The beginning is the most important part of the work.” – Plato, The Republic, Greek author & philosopher in Athens (427 BC – 347 BC)
Begin. At this early stage, it doesn’t matter all that much exactly what you do. What matters is that you respond to the nudges of your imagination and take action. Don’t stress over it. Enjoy the process. Get your satisfaction and joy from the journey, instead of reserving your enjoyment only for the destination. These ideas of creation through deliberate intent will be explored in more detail in other articles, but for now, let’s continue to focus on the importance of beginning.
In my own personal experience, I have taken on many big projects. I have written and produced 10 music CDs for Laughing Bird. (That’s the stage name for my wife, Janey and me.) I’ve also produced many more CDs for other recording artists. I have produced a two and a half hour Laughing Bird concert video on DVD. I have written a couple of books. I have built a few cabins in Alaska. Janey and I also built our own recording studio and art studio in Wyoming.
These are all major projects that don’t just happen by themselves. People who know me know that I get things done. I have a history of being a finisher because I begin and then stay focused all the way through the project to completion. I am also careful not to spread myself too thin by beginning too many things at the same time.
“He who begins many things finishes but few.” – Italian Proverb
It works best for me to focus my attention and energies on one major thing at a time. The ideas in this article are the same ideas that have made it possible to manifest all these things in my own life.
“He who has begun has half done. Dare to be wise; begin!” – Horace, Epistles, Roman lyric poet & satirist (65 BC – 8 BC)
I have friends who never seem to get around to the action part of the manifestation formula. You probably know people like this too. They may have big ideas and grand plans, but that’s as far as it ever seems to go. Surely, their ideas must build and grow to the point of urging them to action too, but instead they get sucked into TV or someone else’s personal drama and diffuse their enthusiasm. They put their own nudges for action on the back burner, instead of prioritizing their own dreams and desires. Or maybe they’re off on their next grand idea, also destined for a quick and quiet death due to lack of action.
“Begin somewhere; you cannot build a reputation on what you intend to do.” – Liz Smith
What Kind of Action?
Here’s the fascinating thing about taking action: Don’t waste any time agonizing over exactly what is the right thing to do first. Just begin. A friend of mine in Alaska, Tom Knoke, who taught me basic building skills used to say, “Do something, even if it’s wrong.” Tom never stands around wondering what is the perfect thing to do right now. Instead, he is busy doing. The next action suggests itself while he is accomplishing the present action. As a result, he is very productive.
The act of beginning creates momentum and enthusiasm that can carry you through to completion. The process itself will lead you to the next action . . . and the next . . . and the next.
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” – Lao-tzu, The Way of Lao-tzu, Chinese philosopher (604 BC – 531 BC)
Compare this process of manifestation to a road trip from New York to Los Angeles. You don’t need to know every turn you’ll make throughout the trip before you begin. You just need to know the next one. After you make this turn right here, right now, it’s easier to see the next logical turn. There is no one correct way to do it.
Many different routes can get you to your destination. But unless you actually begin, they are all just ideas. Ideas are clearly important and powerful creators, but they need your help. In order to arrive at your destination, you must first begin. Do something. After the desired outcome is clearly visualized in your imagination, take action so the universe has an easy avenue to help bring about your manifestation.
To follow through with this cross-country analogy, each time you make a turn (make a choice or perform a specific action), that opens up new possibilities for your next turn. Many of these new possibilities may not have been available to you if you had not chosen to take that last turn. That’s why it’s so important to simply begin from wherever you are right now. That simple act of beginning, taking that first action, puts you on the road to discovery.
“Don’t let life discourage you; everyone who got where he is had to begin where he was.” – Richard Louis Evans (1906-71)
Bigger Ideas? Same Principles
So far, these ideas have focused on specific individual dreams, plans, desires, or projects. Let’s shift gears now and look at how these ideas apply on a larger scale. What about the idea of personal development in general? I love the phrase “personal development” because it can mean so many things to so many people. And, it’s all good. It can mean simply making the most of yourself. Realizing your potential. Reaching for that next step. Learning something new that enhances your life in a meaningful way.
Consider the folly of continually putting off the urge for personal development. What could be more important? You will always be able to take the next step, regardless of where you are. The key is to accept where you are now, and move on from there.
This present moment is the time to take that next step. Procrastination is self-defeating. Life is so uncertain. It can take a dramatic change of direction at any moment . . . or even suddenly end in a heartbeat.
What excuse could possibly be good enough to put off something as vital as personal growth? All areas of life are positively affected when we follow through on urges to take the next step for continuing personal development.
“How can we wait again another day,
Now that we know how fast they always slip away.
Our little world’s our emphasis, this life is a parenthesis,
A heartbeat in eternity’s highway.”
- from the song, “A Heartbeat in Eternity’s Highway” by Tupelo Kenyon
You have obviously moved into the action mode of your own personal development simply by choosing to read this article. These ideas will lead you to the next step, which could be the next article in this collection, or a related article, or the songs recommended at the end of this article.
As you continue to attract ideas that resonate with you, your journey will gain momentum and the next step will become apparent . . . when it’s time to take that step. And not necessarily before . . . the perfect idea for that next step shows up at the perfect time. Are you paying attention? That’s crucial. Watch for the coincidences. Be sensitive to your urges. Listen for your inner voice – that still, small voice within.
When you get an urge to take a specific action (even a small, seemingly insignificant one) I encourage you to take it without hesitation. Let the journey begin.
“If I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.” – Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948)
Another example from my personal experience: A couple of weeks ago, I found myself fantasizing about writing again. I thought it might be fun and gratifying to pass along as much as possible on what I’ve learned about personal development. I have been keenly interested in this subject since I was about 17 years old. I have always loved reading books on different aspects of personal development, listening to audio recordings, and especially experimenting with the ideas in my life.
To claim to be an expert on personal development feels a bit presumptuous, so I’d rather claim to be a devoted student of personal growth with many years of experience. (It’s been 38 years since I was 17!) This fascination with personal development ideas and uplifting music has been instrumental in helping to create an unusual lifestyle.
How Personal Development Ideas Help
(Bringing it all Back Home)
My wife, Janey, and I have been independent and self-employed since we first met in the mid seventies. She is a writer and an artist, specializing in original, prize-winning stained glass works of art. Together as “Laughing Bird”, we have traveled to all 50 states and several foreign countries and have performed thousands of concerts. We’ve also sold thousands of CDs through the years featuring our original songs. The lifestyle we have created together fits us perfectly.
Typically, in the summer and fall, we are home in the mountains of Wyoming. I create new music. Janey creates new art. We hike in the mountains, I spend some quality time alone fly-fishing, and we do concerts usually within a few hundred miles of home. The rest of the year, we are “at home on the road” in our motor home. During the cold months, we enjoy traveling throughout the south, from California to Florida, touring with our original music and comedy show. (At the time of this writing, we are somewhere in the hills of Arizona, comfortable in our motor home, enjoying a rare desert rain shower while listening to beautiful music via satellite.)
It’s a good life.
For many years we have enjoyed connecting with people through our music who are “on the same wavelength”. A couple of weeks ago, when I got the urge to begin writing again, the original nudge had to do with providing a valuable service – a way to give back the ideas, tips and techniques that have helped us create such an idyllic life together.
What Is Your Perfect Life?
Our particular lifestyle may not be appealing to you, but the point is that you can use these ideas to create your own best life, whatever that may be.
What is your best life?
Have you ever asked yourself what would be the perfect life for you? And then really listened? If you’ve never done that, it’s a powerful exercise to help you clearly define what you would like to manifest in your life.
Just grab a pen and paper and start describing your perfect life. What would you do all day? How would it feel? Throughout this exercise, pay careful attention to how you feel. If it feels good, you are on the right track. If it doesn’t feel good, the thoughts you are entertaining are probably not in sync with what you know deep down inside is best for you. Keep massaging it until you come up with a description that feels exciting. Know that it’s possible. Enjoy the excitement of visualizing your ideal life. Believe it, and you’re half way there.
“What the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”
- Napolean Hill
Janey and I both agree that we have never seen anyone else’s life that we like better than the one we have created for ourselves. We realize what an incredible (and rare) thing this is. How many people do you know who can say that? We have met very few.
I absolutely love the feeling of helping others experience the same thing. What a thrill it would be to hear others say: “This is the very best possible life for me at this moment, and I am creating it deliberately, with gratitude, from moment to moment.”
Yes, it is definitely possible because we have felt this way for four decades.
The Only Constant is Constant Change
Of course, the picture of a perfect life is a moving target. It changes as the years roll on. The key seems to be sincere gratitude for all the blessings of the moment, while keeping an eye on the horizon for the next great thing life is bringing. We enjoy the anticipation, excitement and expectation of the even more perfect life to come, while enjoying the moment now, just as it is. It’s a balancing act and it seems to work. We love our life.
The Next Step
We have been able to pass along these ideas in a limited way through songs and conversations with people one on one, but the underlying idea with this collection of personal development articles is to take it up a notch. At the time of my original nudge to do this, I didn’t have any idea of how to go about it, but I did what I have always done. I began. I took action. I started looking around on the internet and realized that this kind of format, a weblog (or blog), would be an ideal way to provide a genuinely useful service while continuing our independent traveling lifestyle.
“The great thing is the start – to see an opportunity for service, and to start doing it, even though in the beginning you serve but a single customer – and him for nothing.” – Robert Collier
One thing led to another, as it always has, once that first step was taken, and this website was born. It will be interesting to see how it evolves and develops through the years. I fully expect surprising serendipities, wonderful coincidences and unforeseen blessings as a direct result of taking that first step. I feel certain that this collection of articles will provide an unprecedented opportunity for growth and personal development for me, and hopefully many others.
“Begin today! No matter how feeble the light, let it shine as best it may. The world may need just that quality of light which you have.” – Henry C. Blin
We’re underway. The first step is behind us and the journey has begun.
Below is one of my all-time favorite quotes. It’s the perfect summary of the ideas in this article. I decided to include it here at the end for two reasons:
(1) It sounds absolutely true.
(2) This is how it works in my life . . .
“Until there is commitment, there is hesitance, 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 otherwise never 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 dreamt would have come his way. I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets:
‘Whatever you can do, or dream you can – begin it;
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.’”
- W.H. Murray, the Scottish Himalayan Expedition 1951
I’m counting on it.
While reading, did you choose to hear the relaxing instrumental music linked at the beginning of this article? To learn more about it, click here.
Listen FREE to the songs below . . . chosen to enhance the ideas in this article.
Take the Plunge
Their advice is “for your own good”, but the last thing you need to hear is their worst-case scenario.
Just One Step
A Heartbeat in Eternity’s Highway
Songs by Tupelo
Work – Just a Job or Visible Love
10 Steps to Discovering Your Life’s Purpose
Your Passion as Your Compass
The Trouble with TV
Quarter Million Dollar Idea for Productivity
Articles by Tupelo
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