So you’ve made up your mind to start that big idea, to quit that job (you might want to think this one through), to record that hit track, to move to Lagos (you might want to think harder on this), to pick up a new skill, to settle down or change your apartment… then the next big question, “where do I start?”.

A new project can be exciting, scary, promising, and uncertain all at the same time. Some people may advise “dive right in! You’ll learn to paddle before you drown”, or you might have heard “plan plan plan before you execute”, and then there’s always that voice that tells you to give up before you even start. Well, I’m here to draw the line in the sand for where I think is a good place to start with your dreams, goals and everyday projects… it might not be the best place to start, but it’s a good one:

1. Know yourself

I know some people are skeptical about being boxed into one personality type or one temperament or the other, but here’s the thing, we’re all unique and our uniqueness has traces of similarities. A quick example: Everyone has a unique fingerprint, no two are exactly the same, but… wait for it… Everyone has fingerprints!!! (Almost everyone anyways). Point being no one has your unique traits and experiences but you have similar personality traits with a set of people.

It’s important to know your strengths and weaknesses, it helps in making decisions, personal growth, and managing relationships, success and failures. Given a set of circumstances, we are often more predisposed to reacting a certain way than we like to admit. Our brains can be programmed, what programme are you currently running on?

A good place to start is to know your personality type.

2. Understand your environment

Culture affects everything, you have to understand the culture of your environment. There are opportunities and limitations all around you at every point in time, it’s your perception of the environment that determines what you see, what you see determines how you act, how you act determines the results you get, the results you get affect the attitude of people around you, the attitude of people around you become the culture, the culture changes the environment. It’s the same cycle for the office, home, state, or country… understand your environment to identify the opportunities for positive change.

Don’t operate based on what you think is ideal in a different environment. Don’t go to a Nigerian federal university and expect to use smart boards and ergonomic chairs, don’t start a business in Nigeria without an alternate power supply (just don’t!), don’t write a best selling book for people who don’t know how to read, don’t speak grammar to people who don’t understand English.

A good place to start is to understand your limitations and identify your opportunities based on your environment.

3. Recognise your resources

From people to your mind, to the mango tree down your street, resources are all around you. A thing only becomes a resource when you can derive value from it. It can be as simple as using the table and chair in the corner to get work done instead of breaking your back on an uncomfortable couch. Have you ever dug up an old computer, an abandoned phone or an old dress and all of a sudden everyone is like “wow, where did you get that?” (or the owner comes to take it from you?). Well, our brain becomes complacent to things we see regularly, the recognisers get the first mover’s advantage.

Recognising doesn’t mean inventing, recognising doesn’t mean praying for your expectations, recognising is definitely not complaining. Recognising is your ability to notice things that already are, but are ignored by the vast majority. It is why meditating and traveling are good habits, they enable you to perceive things differently.

A good place to start is recognising the resources (people, time, money, gadgets, apps, etc) that you have access to which can help you. Access is important! It is not a resource, if it is out of your reach.

4. Have a learning attitude

You will fail, you will miss your deadlines, you will lose energy, you stumble, you may fall… you’re only human. Don’t be so hard on yourself. What you need in your arsenal isn’t regret, or a pity party…it’s a learning attitude, once you have that you’re good! Everything you need to execute your goals and ideas effectively is out there somewhere on a blog, in a book, on a YouTube video, in a community…all you need is an attitude reaches out to learn, that learns to reach out.

The learning attitude sees potential and success in every event. It is what enables people to label failures as events, not as pitfalls. It is what distinguishes being blindly optimistic from genuine hope. It is what enables you to recognise that everyone on earth has only achieved what they have based on everything they’ve learnt, and that this truth also applies to you. A learning attitude notices when you stop learning, and learns from that…it makes everything is a lesson towards a desired result.

A good place to start is to resolve to learn optimally, consistently, and continually.

The journey is a bit better when you have a start right. Give your next project a good start.

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