Ready, Set, Action! Why You Have to Get Started to Be Great

get started

“You don’t have to be great to get started, but you have to get started to be great.”

– Les Brown

When I was in my teens, my fantasy was to live in a big house in Connecticut, be happily married and spend my days as a writer. Part of my fantasy came true, I am happily married, however, I have never lived in a big house in Connecticut and did not spend most of my days writing.

The reality is that over the years, I sporadically wrote poetry and some unpublished articles, but did not have the confidence to take my writing to the next level. I spent decades procrastinating, reading books about writing, taking writing classes and dreaming about the day I would get an article published. But just thinking about writing doesn’t put words on the page.

Then something unexpected happened. While sitting at my computer and thinking about trying to write an article, I heard my inner voice say “Just…start…typing!” So I did — and the words came so easily. Even though I had no direction in mind, the article took on a life of its own and before I knew it, it was written. I decided to see if I could get it published, so I submitted it to a national trade magazine and was completely stunned when it was accepted for publication. It felt empowering when I first saw my article in print so I continued writing and submitting articles for publication and haven’t stopped since.

Have you ever noticed that it takes more time thinking about what you need to do than it actually takes to do it? For instance, you can spend hours anguishing about making a phone call, when in actuality it will probably take you less than five minutes to make it. Not only can you cross it off your to do list, you will feel so relieved after you take action.

Les Brown, the motivational speaker and author said “You don’t have to be great to get started, but you have to get started to be great.” That is so true! It doesn’t matter what you need to do – make a phone call, exercise, visit the doctor, go back to school, paint, write, lose weight — all it takes is the first step and you’re off and running.

In the past, I was a “yo yo” dieter. I wasted so many years losing and gaining weight. During that time I read numerous diet books, tried all the latest diets and visited nutritionists, but unless you’re ready to do the work required, nothing changes. This year I decided to “take action” and stop the yo-yoing. I am now committed to walking most days of the week, eating the right foods and tracking them, and attending weekly meetings. And I am seeing great results. I’ve lost almost fifty pounds in the last six months and have dropped three to four sizes. If I hadn’t decided to take action, I wouldn’t be reaching my goals.

A friend of mine nicknamed me “Lucky” because she says I’m always winning things. I told her she could be lucky too — all it takes is action. If you don’t buy a raffle ticket or enter the sweepstakes, you can’t win the prize. I take action and enter the sweepstakes and sometimes I win. You can’t win if you don’t play. Just like life. Luck is when preparation (i.e. action) and opportunity meet.

Another area taking action can help is depression. I remember a day when I was in my twenties that I was so depressed I was immobile. My mother happened to call from out of state and I told her how I was feeling. She said “When we hang up, I want you to take a walk to the corner and back.” I remember thinking that was the last thing I wanted to do, but I forced myself to put one foot in front of the other. When I got back home from my short walk, I had the energy to go to the grocery and after the grocery I had the energy to do more. My depression was gone!

Like begets like. You can either wallow in the luxury of depression and get even more depressed, or you can take action and feel happy and energetic which will lead to even more positive feelings. Make the right choice – ready, set, action!

7 thoughts on “Ready, Set, Action! Why You Have to Get Started to Be Great”

  1. Great article, Melodee. I find myself as someone who needs the moons to be aligned before committing to something large. For instance, I’m planning on waiting til January 1 2017 before beginning dieting/exercising again. It’s just a nice round number, you know? I feel like if I were to just jump into it now, I’d not be able to commit to it quite as well. Everyone keeps saying to just do it already and I think your article here may have just pushed me over the line!

  2. You did not have depression. Depression is not cured by taking a walk. Depression can’t be cured by “taking action”. Depression is a serious, debilitating illness. You just completely belittled it.

  3. Hi Melodee,

    I agree with Wendee, I don’t think it’s a case of depression. I suspect it’s just a spell of quarter life crisis?

    Anyway, procrastination is one of the top success killers. Often staying too long in a comfort zone could lead to that. The time when you hit your goal is the time you move on to the next one. Keep it up.


    1. Kenny,

      Not entirely accurate. Procrastination should absolutely not be demonised. In fact, studies have shown that the right amount of procrastination will yield far better results than starting early on something.


  4. I love this post. I find it to be encouraging. “We should be taught not to wait for inspiration to start a thing. Action always generates inspiration. Inspiration seldom generates action.” ~Frank Tibolt.

  5. Very well written, Melodee.

    I can totally relate to what you said about making a phone call. I can’t count the number of times I’ve psyched myself out before making a call only to say, “huh, that wasn’t so bad” after I’d finished. Now I just have to remember to hang up the phone before I say that.

    I think people freeze and postpone taking action for two main reasons. Fear and lack of direction.

    If you’re not sure what you want and can’t picture it, why would you take the first step? Without at least a roughly defined goal, the possibilities seem endless and overwhelming. I think the best remedy for this is to come up with one obtainable goal and 3 actionable steps on how to get there. Start with one small thing you can do today, and keep that momentum going.

    The other roadblock for a lot of people is fear. Fear of failing, and even fear of success (fear of change). Sometimes it can be helpful to define your fears in writing. I like to write out what the worst thing is that could happen, the probability of it happening on a scale of 1 to 5, and what my plan-B is if it does happen. When you define your fears, you start to realize that they might not be as bad as you think.

    Whatever your reason is for procrastination, ask yourself WHY and learn to correct it.

    Get to know yourself a little bit better.


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