Monday, November 14, 2016

Start Something

In the face of adversity, some quit. After all, when insurmountable odds or even defeat crushes your hopes and dreams, how can you continue on? I've seen several lately who have thrown up their hands, whether as a result of the election, career change, or other seemingly huge concerns with dwindling options. But I have also seen another side of people lately. That which says fight in the face of adversity. Bet against huge odds. Climb the impossible wall. The only way to make that happen? Start something.

Start Something Already

November always inspires me to kick off new projects. Partially, it's due to the fact that I used to participate pretty regularly in NaNoWriMo, a 30 day challenge to write a 50,000 word novel that various aspiring writers crank through every year. The exercise inspires many to start (and finish) short novels in an impressive amount of time, proving the power of a deadline and that all many need is a reason to start something. Partially, the close of the year imparts a sense of urgency, like a ticking clock counting down to the end of the year and the self-reckoning over what goals were achieved or not this past year.

As you sit with just under fifty days remaining in the year, what new projects do you have that you can start? Show some initiative and create something. What have you been putting off all year? Take some time (but not too much - it's running out) and figure out what you can still get kicked off this year. Don't worry about whether or not it will finish this year, but try to project when you can finish it so that you can start setting a deadline for yourself. Then go get started on it. Today.

Finish Something, Too

Got something that you have been dragging along for way too long this year? Finish it. Started twelve projects and you currently list them all as "in progress?" Pick one and knock it out. Starting new things can be exciting and energize you as you move towards the new year, but come January 1, chances are you will be making lists of accomplishments (if you don't, you should) that you finished in the previous year. You have enough time. Go and add one more to the accomplishment column. Maybe two.

I talked to several individuals at work over the summer and challenged them with this: Add one item to your resume every month. Just a bullet under the current job description, but one with a story behind it. You've still got a month and a half left, so go and get yourself two more resume bullets, or items off the ever-growing to do list, or whatever you think you can complete. Just do it. Twice.

I've heard the expression (which I will likely butcher) along the lines of, "Ideas are free, execution is expensive." It's important in showing that an idea, without execution, remains just a thought, a concept, a freeform floating mass of nothing. Likewise, you might find execution, without completion, to be worthless. One step further, execution without completion is actually negative effort, waste in pursuit of no end, as working on the idea expends potentially tremendous energy, and without completion, it sees no results.

Most Of All, Help Someone

While you might find it wonderful to complete some projects or start new ones, none of that really matters as much in the grand scheme of the world as helping someone else to complete their goals. The greatest gift you can give someone else is your willingness to help them solve a problem that they are working on, or complete their unfinished project, or teach them something that they want to learn from you.

In your last fifty days of the year, try to find at least three people that you can help. It might be monetary help or legitimate emergency help (like a roadside assistance), or it can be listening to someone and teaching them something in return.

Sometimes we think that we know all of the answers, but that is impossible. We don't know all of the questions yet. However, those older and wiser than us might have thought of a few. Spend some time with people with more life experience than you and see what questions they are asking. Help them find the answers or use a portion of your life to chase those answers down. And come back to share the results.

Helping others benefits them, for sure, but it is the strongest way for you to make an impact on the world. Go and change it for the better. You'll learn something in the process.


In the end, you have forty-seven days left in the year. That is still over ten percent and enough that you shouldn't waste them. Find a new project to start. Complete a project that has dragged on for too long. Help someone else complete their project. Whatever you do, make something happen and make a difference. Then commit for next year and do it all over again. You can make the world a better place every day if you try.