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It’s that time of year again. You know, that time when we reflect on what we did or didn’t do in the past year, and resolve to make a change in the new one. Most New Year’s resolutions last about as long as it takes the ink to dry on our shiny, new goals list. We have good intentions, we think about it, we may even plan it out, but we stop short of the “doing.”

I’ve been reading a little of Seth Godin’s work lately. Seth is known for writing short, pithy, punch-to-the-gut articles, blogs, and books. His book Poke the Box grabbed my attention about getting things done. Poke the Box is a manifesto about starting things, about not waiting for permission or to be invited or for a roadmap. It’s about being the initiator — starting things without fear of being wrong. Here’s a snippet:

Initiating is an intentional act

No one answers the phone accidentally. We don’t often stumble into a meeting by mistake, or read an e-mail message by chance. Most of what we do at work we do intentionally, with preparation or at least a bit of direct effort.

Starting is like that.

We can schedule for it. Thursday, April 3rd, 3:05…start something.

We can train for it, plan for it, announce it, and even hire for it. If initiating is as essential to the modern organization as it appears, we better be doing all of that and more.

It’s not unusual to hear someone say that he is here to help us plan or analyze or review or even fix. We regularly hire people to optimize and synchronize and organize.

So why not invest in starting?

I admit that I had knots in my stomach just reading the book because I knew he was right! As I reflect on 2012, I cannot pinpoint a single thing I did that moved the needle on my career or my life. The year was full of activity – I got things done — but I can’t say that I started anything new. What about you?

It’s the newness of the thing that gives us pause. By definition, if it’s new we haven’t done it before. And that can be scary and risky.

Farrah Gray, a young man who became a millionaire by age 14, wrote in his book Reallionnaire that “everything we want is on the other side of fear.” Seth Godin affirms that in Poke the Box by saying “When in doubt…Look for the fear. That’s almost always the source of our doubt.” There is no magic potion to dissolve fear. The fear may never dissipate, but that is not an excuse for not getting started. Initiative often requires acting in the midst of our fear.

So, in 2013, dream, plan, investigate, analyze, and strategize all you want before you make a move. Then, get started!

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