The First Step

“Our salvation is in striving to achieve what we know we’ll never achieve.” – Ryszard Kapuscinski

Self-help programs are useless. Twelve steps, Seven Habits, 48 Laws, 4-hour work week, Five principles, Sever Spiritual Laws–they are all words, platitudes and self-indulgent schemes…

Which way should I go? Make a plan, and take that first step!

Which way should I go? Make a plan, and take that first step!


you are willing to take the first step.

The first step is daunting. Doesn’t matter whether it’s the first day of school, a new job, or lining up for a race, the first step is always the hardest.

But think about this: everyone has to take that first step, have that first experience, whether they are a 5-year old on the first day of kindergarten or a student beginning a PhD program, a carpenter beginning an apprentice program or neurosurgeon about to cut open your noggin, a novice runner doing her first 5K or a first-time marathoner. It’s all relative. You prepare, train, psyche yourself up (or psyche yourself out,) but you will never swim until you walk out to the end of the pier and jump into the water. The beauty of it is, once you are in the water, man, it’s mighty refreshing.

Inevitably, if you stop and reflect on your life and think about how you got to where you are, you will realize all the first steps you’ve already taken, and you survived. In fact, many of the first steps will seem silly to you now, you may even laugh–in fact, yeah, laugh at yourself; it’s healthy. I think about my own path: paperboy, street corner vendor, warehouseman, shipyard welder, analyst, manager, writer, author–pretty hysterical, huh?

I agonized over starting this blog for a long time. I was fortunate to have people advise me, I read extensively on the subject, navigated around cyberspace looking at other blogs, yet it took me years to finally take that first step. I realize how absurd I’d been, especially considering that I overlooked the second anniversary of the blog last week.

Every road is an adventure.

Every road is an adventure.

So go ahead, make your plans. Be realistic, take an intro class for something you’ve always wanted to do, or be daring and register for an improv class; ask that pretty barista for her phone number, or go bungee jumping; apply for that job you don’t think you have a shot at getting, you might surprise yourself. And even if you don’t get it, you will feel a sense of accomplishment and likely apply for another. And that race you were intimidated to enter, your first 10K, half-marathon, or the full monty… Go For It!


About Jim Brennan

Jim is a Philadelphia-based writer, author, poet and editor for the Schuylkill Valley Journal.
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8 Responses to The First Step

  1. Sophie33 says:

    This is all so true, dear Jim! Take the step!


  2. Katie says:

    So maybe I really should try to learn to play the cello! I’ve always loved the deep mournful,but thought provoking tones of the cello. Plus it’s a bit smaller than a bass!
    Yours is a thoughtful blog. Nicely done!


  3. gellipower says:

    Great post, especially the use of the word ‘platitude’, underrated word in my opinion! All those arbitary number terms can be so misleading, the other one that is very notorious is the 10,000 hr theory from ‘Outliers’, where it takes 10,000hrs to become world class at anything. Agassi’s coach came out and said Agassi was world class almost the first time he picked up a racket. It’s all extraneous b*ll cr*p. Like you say, everything boils down to going out there and starting, and getting the experience. Great post, very thought provoking


  4. Michael C. McDonough says:

    First Steps,

    Yeah I could apply for a job in Bermuda. I could join the Irish Psychological Society. I could apply for a job with the state of Virgiia in Gate City. I could go to my first big band rehearsal in 40 years.

    All first steps. All worth it.

    Thank you Uncle Mike


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