The hardest parts about beginning

Beginning is hard.

  1. Knowing where to begin. This requires clear vision and defining the task.
  2. Knowing that when you begin, you’re going to do some terribly shoddy work at the very beginning. Mostly, you want to do quality work – but you don’t know how. Making all the initial stupid mistakes is what puts a lot of people off.
  3. Knowing there’s tons of things you don’t know. You don’t want to make a mistake, but you know you will, because you know there’s stuff to find out.
  4. Knowing there’s even more stuff you don’t know that you don’t know. (Sometimes, we can chart the edges of our knowledge–but of course there’s far more outside the fringes.)
  5. Trying to figure out who to get involved in the project with you. Trying to figure out how to get them involved.

I have only barely begun my District Survey. The first bit I did was one country. I found out later I had an outdated list of provinces. But at least, at that point, I had a structure for the table, and I could quickly replace it. Now I have every country and every province in the world, but many of the provinces lack districts. I’m still trying to figure out what data is most useful for each province and district. I’m still rueing how difficult it is to find the data in some cases. That first list has been left far behind: but it was still important, because it was the first list, and it got me going.
Beginnings are so hard, we shouldn’t “despise the day of small beginnings.” Any first step is a win. If you want to map your city, figure out where the diaspora are, as a first step to reaching them – the simplest step of getting out and walking a particular area (like your neighborhood) is crucial.
The first thing you do will probably not the best thing, the right thing, or even done well. That’s not important. The only important thing about “the first thing” is that it is the first thing, that you have begun. Then, you just keep putting one foot after the other.