The Treacherous First Step

Watch Your Step

How often do you settle? Finding yourself stuck in a rut, knowing you could and should be doing bigger and better things in your life, only to be held back by not knowing where to begin – reluctant to take that first step because more than likely, you’ll trip and fall along the way.

How often do you say “I wish I knew how to do that?” - wanting to learn something new but not willing to ask the questions to get there?

Maybe you’re hungry for change, but it’s just too damn inconvenient.

Today, challenge yourself to take the first step. Put yourself out there, become vulnerable, take a risk, and do something that you’ve always wanted to do, big or small, but never could before. Whether you want to learn web design or how to ride a bike,  today is a new day. Fear of what the final destination may be should never hold you back from taking the journey.

Allow yourself to stumble and fall, ask others for help along the way, put your pride and ego to bed. The only one holding you back is yourself.

Don’t take a first step, take the first jump; the first leap. Embrace change.

(Image courtesy D’Arcy Norman)


36 Responses
  • Carlos Miceli Reply

    Way too often.
    While I do think that some amount of settling IS necessary to lead a happy life, since one can’t be the best at everything, it’s not because of that reason that I end up letting fear or laziness get the best of me.

    Your “From Design Noob to Design Star” project is fantastic, and it really shows me how powerful a community and a proper context can be when it comes to leading with change. Heck, one is almost forced to grow in our little Twitter community with Ryan, Grace, Sam, Elisa, Jun, and many others, don’t you think?

    • Matt Reply

      @Carlos. It is clear to me that we have established a helluva network of people (those who you mentioned and others) who are innovative and forward-thinking people. We’ve laid the foundation, and it’s now our ‘task’ to extend that reach, to continue growing our network – which there is no doubt in my mind that we will continue to do.

      Thanks for the props on ‘Design Noob’ – I wish I could promise consistent updates – it will be a gradual process, without a doubt, but the benefits are two fold: One, it will result in an all-new bad-ass redesign of Life Without Pants (LWP 2.0 is coming) and two: It will forever be a source of information for aspiring web designers not knowing, once again, how to take the ‘first step’.

  • Carlos Miceli Reply

    Way too often.
    While I do think that some amount of settling IS necessary to lead a happy life, since one can’t be the best at everything, it’s not because of that reason that I end up letting fear or laziness get the best of me.

    Your “From Design Noob to Design Star” project is fantastic, and it really shows me how powerful a community and a proper context can be when it comes to leading with change. Heck, one is almost forced to grow in our little Twitter community with Ryan, Grace, Sam, Elisa, Jun, and many others, don’t you think?

    • Matt Reply

      @Carlos. It is clear to me that we have established a helluva network of people (those who you mentioned and others) who are innovative and forward-thinking people. We’ve laid the foundation, and it’s now our ‘task’ to extend that reach, to continue growing our network – which there is no doubt in my mind that we will continue to do.

      Thanks for the props on ‘Design Noob’ – I wish I could promise consistent updates – it will be a gradual process, without a doubt, but the benefits are two fold: One, it will result in an all-new bad-ass redesign of Life Without Pants (LWP 2.0 is coming) and two: It will forever be a source of information for aspiring web designers not knowing, once again, how to take the ‘first step’.

  • Stuart Foster Reply

    Just don’t look. Tends to make the fall (and landing) ten times more interesting ;) .

    • Matt Reply

      Wise words of wisdom as always Stuart – whether we fall or not, that should never be the concern. Rather, it’s about continuing to move, picking yourself up when you fall and persevering through the doubt and adversity. Cheers!

  • Stuart Foster Reply

    Just don’t look. Tends to make the fall (and landing) ten times more interesting ;) .

    • Matt Reply

      Wise words of wisdom as always Stuart – whether we fall or not, that should never be the concern. Rather, it’s about continuing to move, picking yourself up when you fall and persevering through the doubt and adversity. Cheers!

  • Kerri Reply

    Thanks to your blog post last week Matt, I decided to stop sitting around and thinking about what and who I want to become, and all the descriptions and adjectives and labels and post it notes that pepper (and clutter) my life, and actually *do* something about them (er, at least one of them). So, I spent less than 10 minutes on google, researching local (and preferably free) screenwriting classes in my area, and bingo, found an awesome organization: The Rhode Island Film Collaborative. They have networking events every few weeks in downtown Providence, so I’m going to leave my husband at home (gasp!) and hit up this event solo – just me, myself and I (and possibly my half-written screenplay, which I’ll casually display in my arms!) and see what comes of it. Also, found out the RIFC has a screenwriter’s workshop starting in the fall (bingo!), so now I’ve got that on my radar (not list, but radar, as in, it’s coming, it’s a done deal, I’m going, there’s no filing it away anymore for the sake of fear, convenience, etc.) as well.

    It’s really funny how *easy* it is to actually take a plunge, simple as the task at hand may be, and just “do it”, but yet so many of us get lazy about change, even somewhat afraid of it. But I wonder why I’ve been “afraid” to take a screenwriting class, when I took one in college, got an A+ and oodles of scribbles on my script that said “You’re a born writer,” and “Love the character development here! <>” (only screenwriting professors are allowed to grade with smiley faces.)

    It’s not that I was or am afraid of failing because I have plenty of confidence in my writing ability, a sincere love and passion for the craft itself, etc., so does it all come back to laziness, just throwing “stuff” (aka dreams, passions) on the back burner because sitting at a desk 9-5 every day can just burn you out, make you stale, make you tired, lazy, bitter, give you feelings that you’ve already “done enough”, have gotten by and then some, and just need a breather? Or, is it because it’s easier to remember how good you used to be at something, or how happy you were at one defined time in your life, and being afraid that maybe if you try to get it all back again, the feelings won’t be the same because maybe you’re not the same person you used to be anymore? Maybe it’s easier to label it as “I used to be good at X”, and then just leave it as a rung of success in your life ladder? It’s funny how that one talent or hobby or place or person that made you feel so alive at one point can be so hard to get back.

    Anyway, I’ll keep you posted on my progess. I’ve decided it’s just a matter of taking a small step towards something that makes ME happy, a something that may not be safe or lucrative or a rung in the corporate ladder, a something that someone else may dub as a timesuck. It’s something that’s going to light me up from the inside and shine all over my life, and that’s what matters.

  • Kerri Reply

    Thanks to your blog post last week Matt, I decided to stop sitting around and thinking about what and who I want to become, and all the descriptions and adjectives and labels and post it notes that pepper (and clutter) my life, and actually *do* something about them (er, at least one of them). So, I spent less than 10 minutes on google, researching local (and preferably free) screenwriting classes in my area, and bingo, found an awesome organization: The Rhode Island Film Collaborative. They have networking events every few weeks in downtown Providence, so I’m going to leave my husband at home (gasp!) and hit up this event solo – just me, myself and I (and possibly my half-written screenplay, which I’ll casually display in my arms!) and see what comes of it. Also, found out the RIFC has a screenwriter’s workshop starting in the fall (bingo!), so now I’ve got that on my radar (not list, but radar, as in, it’s coming, it’s a done deal, I’m going, there’s no filing it away anymore for the sake of fear, convenience, etc.) as well.

    It’s really funny how *easy* it is to actually take a plunge, simple as the task at hand may be, and just “do it”, but yet so many of us get lazy about change, even somewhat afraid of it. But I wonder why I’ve been “afraid” to take a screenwriting class, when I took one in college, got an A+ and oodles of scribbles on my script that said “You’re a born writer,” and “Love the character development here! <>” (only screenwriting professors are allowed to grade with smiley faces.)

    It’s not that I was or am afraid of failing because I have plenty of confidence in my writing ability, a sincere love and passion for the craft itself, etc., so does it all come back to laziness, just throwing “stuff” (aka dreams, passions) on the back burner because sitting at a desk 9-5 every day can just burn you out, make you stale, make you tired, lazy, bitter, give you feelings that you’ve already “done enough”, have gotten by and then some, and just need a breather? Or, is it because it’s easier to remember how good you used to be at something, or how happy you were at one defined time in your life, and being afraid that maybe if you try to get it all back again, the feelings won’t be the same because maybe you’re not the same person you used to be anymore? Maybe it’s easier to label it as “I used to be good at X”, and then just leave it as a rung of success in your life ladder? It’s funny how that one talent or hobby or place or person that made you feel so alive at one point can be so hard to get back.

    Anyway, I’ll keep you posted on my progess. I’ve decided it’s just a matter of taking a small step towards something that makes ME happy, a something that may not be safe or lucrative or a rung in the corporate ladder, a something that someone else may dub as a timesuck. It’s something that’s going to light me up from the inside and shine all over my life, and that’s what matters.

  • Elisa Reply

    It’s kinda like jumping into the ocean (this is a Maine 60 degree Atlantic Ocean girl talking here…) You can’t look at the huge watery expanse and try to toe your way in. It won’t work, you’ll chicken out as the organs inside your torso start grouping together around your spleen for warm. You gotta start high up and take a running leap into a huge wave. The salt hits your face, you might get slapped with some seaweed, the undertow rips your feet right out from under you and you land on your ass. There’s not many greater feelings I’ve experienced!

    That being said, there is some planning you have to do before the leap to mitigate some of the pain. First off, clothes are an imperative. Not many nude beaches up here. Secondly, you can’t shave or exfoliate or get a facial the day or morning before…nothing can compare to the sting of saltwater in an exposed folicle. The whole you shouldn’t eat 30 minutes before swimming, I wouldn’t go quite that far; but anything involving chili – cheese – or fries should be avoided. :)

    The first leap is the greatest scariest most awesomest one to take, but sometimes you gotta make sure you are at least a little ready to take it.

    • Matt Reply

      I love the analogy Elisa. You may not have to be entirely prepared to take a leap into the unknown but it helps if you’ve used some common sense and done some research. Not to self: When visiting the beaches of Maine, clothes are important and chili cheese fries may not be the pre-swimming meal of choice. Roger that.

  • Elisa Reply

    It’s kinda like jumping into the ocean (this is a Maine 60 degree Atlantic Ocean girl talking here…) You can’t look at the huge watery expanse and try to toe your way in. It won’t work, you’ll chicken out as the organs inside your torso start grouping together around your spleen for warm. You gotta start high up and take a running leap into a huge wave. The salt hits your face, you might get slapped with some seaweed, the undertow rips your feet right out from under you and you land on your ass. There’s not many greater feelings I’ve experienced!

    That being said, there is some planning you have to do before the leap to mitigate some of the pain. First off, clothes are an imperative. Not many nude beaches up here. Secondly, you can’t shave or exfoliate or get a facial the day or morning before…nothing can compare to the sting of saltwater in an exposed folicle. The whole you shouldn’t eat 30 minutes before swimming, I wouldn’t go quite that far; but anything involving chili – cheese – or fries should be avoided. :)

    The first leap is the greatest scariest most awesomest one to take, but sometimes you gotta make sure you are at least a little ready to take it.

    • Matt Reply

      I love the analogy Elisa. You may not have to be entirely prepared to take a leap into the unknown but it helps if you’ve used some common sense and done some research. Not to self: When visiting the beaches of Maine, clothes are important and chili cheese fries may not be the pre-swimming meal of choice. Roger that.

  • Lisa Reply

    Great post. One of my favorite quotes is from MLK–

    “Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”

    I think it is important to be aware and take risks and take the FIRST STEP, even if you have no idea where it will lead you. Keeps life exciting. :)

    • Matt Reply

      Great quote Lisa. Taking steps/leaps of faith is the only way to live, and it’s the only way we’ll ever find out what we’re truly capable of. Cheers!

  • Lisa Reply

    Great post. One of my favorite quotes is from MLK–

    “Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”

    I think it is important to be aware and take risks and take the FIRST STEP, even if you have no idea where it will lead you. Keeps life exciting. :)

    • Matt Reply

      Great quote Lisa. Taking steps/leaps of faith is the only way to live, and it’s the only way we’ll ever find out what we’re truly capable of. Cheers!

  • Harold Shaw Reply

    Matt – LWP and its followers have gotten me motivated to taking the first steps towards finding my dream job. The first step for me was realize that I need to be ready just in case it opens up and instead of finding out too late that I am not prepared to put my best foot forward when I need to. I just have to figure out what to heck my dream job really is?

    But really, sometimes you get content and comfortable in the situation you are in professionally or personally and allow ourselves to put up with mediocrity in our lives. It takes either a significant personal event or help from others like I see the community here doing for each other. I do believe that we would offer the hand to help each other up (figuratively) if one of us fell on our ass, trying to do the right thing by moving our lives ahead.

    Matt – That is the good thing you are doing with this community developing a small support network, so that we will attempt to take the first step.

    Harold

  • Harold Shaw Reply

    Matt – LWP and its followers have gotten me motivated to taking the first steps towards finding my dream job. The first step for me was realize that I need to be ready just in case it opens up and instead of finding out too late that I am not prepared to put my best foot forward when I need to. I just have to figure out what to heck my dream job really is?

    But really, sometimes you get content and comfortable in the situation you are in professionally or personally and allow ourselves to put up with mediocrity in our lives. It takes either a significant personal event or help from others like I see the community here doing for each other. I do believe that we would offer the hand to help each other up (figuratively) if one of us fell on our ass, trying to do the right thing by moving our lives ahead.

    Matt – That is the good thing you are doing with this community developing a small support network, so that we will attempt to take the first step.

    Harold

  • Sam Reply

    Short, sweet, and so true, Matt. This post goes along with something I write about often: making the most of every day. We have to just go for it, whatever we’re afraid of, no matter what or who is standing in our way. After all, we only have this one life, might as well make the most of it. Great advice!

    • Matt Reply

      Easier said than done. I think most of us, myself included, may not be making the most out of every single day. You’re best isn’t always going to be the same, it’s not a bar that you have to rise above day in and day out. There are going to be things that get you down and challenge you, you won’t always be at your very best – rather, I think it’s about remaining optimistic through the adversity, maintaining a ‘glass half full’ mindset. When you succumb to a pessimistic state of mind, you’ll ultimately never be able to achieve your best, whatever that may be.

  • Sam Reply

    Short, sweet, and so true, Matt. This post goes along with something I write about often: making the most of every day. We have to just go for it, whatever we’re afraid of, no matter what or who is standing in our way. After all, we only have this one life, might as well make the most of it. Great advice!

    • Matt Reply

      Easier said than done. I think most of us, myself included, may not be making the most out of every single day. You’re best isn’t always going to be the same, it’s not a bar that you have to rise above day in and day out. There are going to be things that get you down and challenge you, you won’t always be at your very best – rather, I think it’s about remaining optimistic through the adversity, maintaining a ‘glass half full’ mindset. When you succumb to a pessimistic state of mind, you’ll ultimately never be able to achieve your best, whatever that may be.

  • Benjamin Reply

    Love it. Fall down eight times and get up nine. Great post Matt.

    • Matt Reply

      Exactly – no one’s counting how many times you fall – the only thing that matters is how many times you pick yourself up and keep moving forward. The only failure is in not trying at all.

  • Benjamin Reply

    Love it. Fall down eight times and get up nine. Great post Matt.

    • Matt Reply

      Exactly – no one’s counting how many times you fall – the only thing that matters is how many times you pick yourself up and keep moving forward. The only failure is in not trying at all.

  • David Cain Reply

    HI Matt,

    I just discovered your blog via Carlos’ post today, and I think it’s really exceptional. Love the Life Without Pants metaphor. “I wish I knew how to do that” is an excellent trigger for opening a new chapter in life. I should make an “I wish I knew how to…” list.

    I’m off to explore your archives.

    • Matt Reply

      David. Welcome to the Life Without Pants community! I hope you’ll become a regular around here and share your insight into future (and even past) conversations. Very glad to have you – Carlos and I are on the same wavelength so I’m sure you’ll fit right in if you are a fan of OwlSparks. Cheers!

  • David Cain Reply

    HI Matt,

    I just discovered your blog via Carlos’ post today, and I think it’s really exceptional. Love the Life Without Pants metaphor. “I wish I knew how to do that” is an excellent trigger for opening a new chapter in life. I should make an “I wish I knew how to…” list.

    I’m off to explore your archives.

    • Matt Reply

      David. Welcome to the Life Without Pants community! I hope you’ll become a regular around here and share your insight into future (and even past) conversations. Very glad to have you – Carlos and I are on the same wavelength so I’m sure you’ll fit right in if you are a fan of OwlSparks. Cheers!

  • DShan Reply

    As I think you know, I’m a newbie over here, but Courtney pointed you out and as opposed to most blog recs I’m highly into what you’re doing here. And you’re in Elgin, which is a pond away from my childhood hood.

    Looking forward to connecting.

    D

    • Matt Reply

      Hey Derek – glad you came over this way and like what you see, hope you’ll continue to be a regular around here. And, since you are in the Chicago area, we should look at grabbing a beer some time. Don’t be a stranger bro!

  • DShan Reply

    As I think you know, I’m a newbie over here, but Courtney pointed you out and as opposed to most blog recs I’m highly into what you’re doing here. And you’re in Elgin, which is a pond away from my childhood hood.

    Looking forward to connecting.

    D

    • Matt Reply

      Hey Derek – glad you came over this way and like what you see, hope you’ll continue to be a regular around here. And, since you are in the Chicago area, we should look at grabbing a beer some time. Don’t be a stranger bro!

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