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What to do: When you struggle taking the first step.

I have nothing to sell here. But this is my experience when struggling to take the first step in life and maybe sharing it with you is helpful for you, too.

Bear with me because to start with all I have is this one liner. It might sound a little pathetic and not very profound but here it is:

If you struggle to take the first step then just skip it! Sometimes life simply doesn’t work linear. You probably think this is stupid. Here are a few examples when it worked for me:

Example #1 Reading Greek Tragedy. I started Antigone by Sophocles several times and each time just couldn’t get past the first few pages, my eyes rolling back with boredom. But some people I admired spoke highly of this play (the book is written as a play for the stage). Before giving up on reading I opened the book one last time and skipped the first few pages. I know you aren’t meant to do that, you can’t possibly be a serious reader, this probably means I am not educated and cultured enough… I blew those thoughts away and read. I was gripped. I chanced on an early passage that captivated me. I read the book cover to cover in a weekend. And started it from page one immediately after and re-read the entire play once more. To this day I love Antigone and how timeless it is, how poignant it remains relevant no matter what decade or century we are in. Skipping page 1,2,3 was the right decision.

Example #2 Emigrating. You can’t move to England because you don’t have rich parents. The assumption was I should first go to university or get an apprenticeship, then get a job, then save up and then take a vacation in the UK. Maybe, and just maybe then I could look for a job in the UK and relocate. Maybe. I was 19 and didn’t listen. I moved to the UK with a suitcase, a guitar case and a duvet, taking a long distance bus. I remember arriving in London Victoria with my belongings and waiting for the bus that would take me to Liverpool, the place I moved to. Acting now and skipping steps 1, 2, 3 was the right decision.

Example #3 Doing a Postgraduate Degree in London without enough money. You can’t move to London and accept the offer of a lifetime (a postgraduate degree program at the university of my dreams) because you can’t afford to live in London. Maybe you can apply for scholarships and go next year. But what if next year this opportunity won’t be available or my financial situation the same. You get the idea, I went. It worked out. Was it easy? NO, but it was the right decision. I once again skipped the official first step.

Times I listend to advice of taking life steps in order and how that worked out for me:

Example #4 Writing for a newspaper I love. You can’t write for us because you don’t have a degree in journalism and you are only 19 years old. Get back in touch when you have been to university. Working with Amnesty International: You haven’t been to university, we don’t think you can provide value. In hindsight I now know I could have contributed a lot if only somebody had said: “Well, how about this: Write a series of correspondences about your experience as a 19 year old moving from your home city that you love to live in England, but we can not guarantee that we can pay you but we will take a chance on you because how inspiring and bold of you to leave Germany for the unknown future in England.” or “We at Amnesty International haven’t unfortunately got a big budget right now but why don’t you come in for a work experience to see what we do in the office and perhaps we will find an aspect of our work that you could then stay on and get paid to help with.”

Example #5 Starting a Family. You can’t have a child until you are financially secure. In short: due to an unexpected long-lasting illness I missed my fertility window. I now will never have a child of my own, no matter how ready we are. I am grieving for this life I now will never know.

These are not the very best examples, I am typing them as I am standing at the kitchen counter, trying to persuade myself to take another 1st step and feeling unable to.

The things in my life I regret and mourn are the times I believed that if I can not take step 1 right now then I am not permitted to take step 2 or 3.

Then there are 1st steps that are different. The first step when you are feeling demotivated, perhaps sad, down, flat, out of self belief. What even is the first step and is it enough to take it? Sometimes you might have to jump right into the deep end. No matter if ready or not, no matter if you prepared the first step or just skipped the first 10, no matter if what you do won’t be particularly great. You’ll learn something! Sometimes it turns out a waste of time because it really is too haphazard, but I argue that if it helps you get moving, even if your train rolls off into the wrong direction, correct course as you are in momentum.

It’s worse to just sit and be stuck in the mud of life, fear, doubt…

Is it possible?

Is it crazy?

I better hope it’s crazy.

But will it feed me?

Well sitting here isn’t feeding you either.


Just go, do it. Do anything but allowing this doubt to consume you indefinitely.

How many years has it been now since you first had that idea? plan? wish? ambition?…

Find a way.

If you are hungry either way then you might as well have tried.

Perhaps better to be a failure who tried than one who didn’t.

If you are short of a skill or two then please check these places for learning:

  • Skillshare
  • Udemy
  • Youtube (but don’t get lost in there!)
  • Coursera
  • Masterclass
  • there are more out there

P.s. you may be able to tell, writing this today was a way for me to take a step. If you do want to support me then you could subscribe or press like buttons, use links on my website to sign up for things that interest you… I am also grateful if you would like to shout me a coffee or lunch:

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