It was summertime in the early 1970s.
A laundry worker who was barely earning enough money to feed his family had an idea for a story. After letting the idea stew in his head for awhile, the man wrote three pages of the story.
Unimpressed by his own efforts, he crumpled the pages and decided not to continue writing it.
The following day, he came home from work to see his wife had unfolded the pages that he threw away the previous night. She liked the way the story was unfolding in those three pages, and urged her husband to continue writing.
He did, and shortly after he finished the story, he got a phone call. A phone call that would change his and his family’s lives forever. He’d sold his book. For $400,000 – well over 4 times amount more than he would earn in a whole decade at his day job.
That man is Stephen King, and the novel is Carrie.
As entertaining as this story is, why am I telling you about Stephen King?
Well, because King started where he was. King started the one thing that would ultimately catapult his career as a writer to successes he never could have imagined with the most basic step:
Getting his idea on paper. That’s all he did. Three pages, single spaced. He took a small step.
Success is Just a Series of Small Steps
It’s so easy to get lost in the grandeur of chasing a new idea or dream.
Before we even take the first step we are trying to scale the entire mountain. I’ve done it before. Perhaps you have, too.
First, you have an idea. Then you’re worrying about competitors or losing interest in your idea or whether you’ll gain any traction or whether your idea will work out and whether you’ll have enough time to pursue it…
Meanwhile, your idea is like a sparkler. It’s fizzling and popping and waiting for you to feed it with something it can stick to, about to burn out. It’s not worried about the log in the woods that it will need to jump when it gets there. It just wants something to transfer some spark to now.
If you don’t feed it, the spark is going to go out. You’ll never know what sort of light show could have happened if you get caught worrying about the far-in-the-future stuff. So how can you feed the spark of your idea? By starting where you are.
What is the most basic step you can take? Right now, after you finish reading this, what is one thing you can do to start acting on that idea? Break it down to the most basic step you can take – that you have to take – to act:
- If you want to be a photographer, edit one photo.
- If you want to be a writer, write one paragraph.
- If you want to lose ten pounds, put on your running shoes.
Don’t worry about what comes after until you get to that time in the future called “after”.
Don’t worry about the next photo until you’ve dealt with the first.
Don’t worry about where you’ll publish that paragraph until you’ve written it.
Don’t obsess about tomorrow’s workout until you’re finished today’s.
Success is just a series of small steps over time. It’s one blade of grass fed to the sparkler.
Start where you are. Break it down to the minimum viable step.
The one thing that you can do right this second to start living what you’ve been dreaming.
What small step can you take action on today to reach your dream?
What is one thing you can make progress on?
Don’t worry about tomorrow.
Don’t worry about what will happen in three years or five years or even six months.
Focus on what you’re doing today.