Tag Archives | Beginning

To Do Something Big, Start Small

photo credit: bourgeoisbee via photopin cc

photo credit: bourgeoisbee via photopin cc

How do you know when you are ready to begin something big? How you know when you can handle a new pet? How do you decide when you are ready to expand your family? When do you feel ready to launch a blog or take a new job?

What if those are the wrong questions?

I think the right question to ask is, “What one step can I take toward what I want?”

I’d like to introduce you to the three newest members of our household: Honey, Rosie and Queen.

Queen, Rosie, and Honey

Queen, Rosie, and Honey

I have wanted to have chickens in the backyard for years, but each spring the chicks appear in the feed stores and I feel unprepared.  I don’t have a coop, I don’t know what breeds I want, I don’t know how to take care of them. Chickens live for a long time – 8 or 10 years for some breeds. I have trouble imagining my life more than a year or two from now, so making an 8-year commitment has given me pause every year. Until this year, when something shifted and I knew this was the spring we were going to buy chicks.

We really wanted chicks.

We really wanted chicks.

Raising chickens is my new big thing. These are the small steps I took that made my big thing not so scary after all.


I made a list of questions I had about owning backyard chickens. I needed to know the zoning rules for my city. I needed to learn basic chicken care and what health issues to watch out for.  I needed to know how many chickens I could safely house in the amount of space I had. And I needed to know which breeds were recommended for both high egg production and living with a small child. Once I knew what I needed answers to, it was fairly easy to find those answers. I picked up and read a couple of books, I found some online forums on urban chickens and asked some questions, and I read through the zoning code.

Whatever your big project is, make a list of your unknowns. Break down the questions until you can answer them.

Build A Team

I knew I couldn’t shoulder the burden of chicken care on my own, even if I was their primary caretaker. I sat down with my guy and told him I really wanted to raise chickens, but I needed his support for the project. I explained all that I had learned in my research, what I thought the costs would be, and I showed him cute pictures of little kids and chickens (to illustrate the positive aspects, you know?). I may have also fed him an egg dish made with local farm chickens.

Get clear about where you need help to make your project move forward. Do you need help with the workload? Do you need extra childcare? Do you need a cheering squad or someone to hold you accountable? Reach out and ask for what you need. You may be surprised how much the people who love you want to help you achieve your dreams!

Sometimes dreams take a while to get pretty.

Sometimes dreams go through an awkward phase.

Have Faith

I don’t really know what to do with a sick chicken. I don’t know exactly when to switch my chicks from chick feed to laying feed. I know a lot more about chicks than I do adult hens, because chicks are what we have now. But I do know where to find more information when I need it. I trust that I will figure it out as I go.

[pq align=right]Don’t wait until you know everything to begin.[/pq] Trust yourself to experiment, learn, try and try again.


One Thursday in April, as I packed Bean off to Grandma’s house for the afternoon, I said, “When you come home, we will have baby chicks!”

I had a box and a heat lamp and a list of breeds that would meet my needs. I knew chicks were delivered on Thursdays at three feed stores in my county. We didn’t have an outside coop yet and I still wasn’t clear on feeding details. By that night we had three baby birds warm and cozy in our bathroom, peeping quietly to us as we settled down to sleep.

Sweet little balls of fluff.

Sweet little balls of fluff.

Research can become a procrastination tool. You have to leap. If you need to, set yourself a deadline. Take that first step. You might need to learn more before you can take the next step, but just begin.

A big commitment begins with a single step toward believing everything will be fine. Whether your commitment is getting chickens, starting a business, or moving across the country, the first step is just that, a step. It may not be a confident step, or a big step; it just needs to move you closer to where you want to go.


Bean and the "cheepies"

Bean and the “cheepies”

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How To Begin: 5 Steps To Get Your Project Moving


Photo by Fran Ulloa via Creative Commons

It can be so hard to figure out how to begin when you have a big project that you want to accomplish.

There is that old advice, “Begin at the beginning,” but what if you don’t know where the beginning is?  What if the project seems so big and overwhelming that it seems impossible? No project is impossible, really, though sometimes the end result looks a little different than you thought.

Here are five tips to get from your vision to reality (and finding the path in between).

First, know your goal

Here is what I do.  I start by looking at the future. What is my goal in approaching this project? Say I want to start a blog. What is my goal?  Do I want to earn a tidy income? Do I want to build a community of like minds? Do I want to build a platform that will help me to launch other projects, like a book? Do I just want a place to write about what’s on my mind?

For this blog, my primary goal is to build a community. Which is not to say some of those other goals aren’t also true, but that’s my primary goal right now. Knowing my goal narrows down what I need to do and to know to get there.

Once your goal is clear to you, write it down. Be specific as possible. This may seem redundant, because, hey, you know what your goal is, right? But trust me, it is so easy to drift off of that target when you get into researching and other cool ideas pop into your head. So write it down.

There is great power in making this kind of clear statement. If you are a visual person, make a vision board that illustrates your goal and hang it somewhere where you will see it often. You don’t need to state your goal publicly, but put it somewhere where you can find it, because you will need to refer to it again and again.

Commit yourself

Next, commit some time. You know best what will work with your life, but don’t expect that this will be easy. Can you get up an hour earlier in the morning? Can you book yourself for an hour or two on a weekend day?  Can you commit one evening a week to working toward your goal? Find some space [link] and mark it on your calendar.  Make an appointment with yourself and do not schedule over it!

You cannot make progress toward a goal if you don’t put time toward it.  It is one thing to say you want something, but another thing to actually get there.

Make a List

Third, make a list of what you need to do to get from where to are to your goal.  To launch my blog, my list included things like “buy a domain” and “make a list of article ideas.” Refer back to your goal statement often.  When I was working on this blog I got sidetracked for quite a while researching how to monetize a blog. But then I reminded myself that my primary goal was to build a community. I didn’t need to know all about making an income right now, so I could move on.

If your individual steps feel too big, or if you when you look at your list you say, “I don’t  know how to do that,” then make the tasks smaller. Before I could buy the domain for this blog I had to decide on a name, research if it was in use, and decide which host I wanted to use. There were three more steps that I had to take before I could remove “buy a domain” from my list.

Don’t get discouraged if your list gets longer and longer at this stage! Breaking down your list into achievable steps means you will complete them instead of feeling overwhelmed by them. For every step you finish you will be that much closer to your goal.

Get some support

Fourth, and possibly most important, enlist a cheering squad. Find someone, or several people, who will hold you accountable to your goal and cheer you on when you falter.

Be a little careful about who you pick, though. For some people your cheering squad may include a husband or parent or sibling, and for others it will definitely not include those people. Your cheering squad should be people who will be gentle with you, who will encourage you to stretch your boundaries, and who will not undermine or belittle you for struggling or feeling scared.

It is scary to take on new things, especially when they are close to your heart! Pick people to cheer you on who will be overjoyed for you when you achieve your goals.


Finally, finally, this is where you begin.

Show up to your scheduled time.  Pick and item off your list and complete it.  Pick another item and complete that. I love to keep the finished tasks where I can see them, either just crossing items off as I go or making a separate “Achievements” list (sometimes known as a “ta-dah!” list). Leave yourself a trail to see how far you have come for those days when it feels like you have been working on this for so long and the goal still feels so far off.

So you have begun. Congratulations! Keeping yourself going through the middle of a long project is a whole other post that I will be sharing with you soon. But you have done the most important part. You have taken the first step.

What project you are working on?  Do you know what your goal is?  Share it with me in a comment or send me an email!

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