Take the first step.

A failure to take initiative can keep you from a lot of things — healthy relationships, missed business opportunities, optimal health, a great retirement.

Now, don’t get me wrong; following through is really important, but following through doesn’t matter if you never take the first step.

The great thing about taking initiative is that it really is one of the only things in life we have full control over. That’s a hard fact to consider — most of life is out of our hands — but therefore makes it all the more important to control the things we can. You can control your level of initiative.

It’s also important to note that initiative can’t happen in a vacuum. It has to be directed towards something. It’s a skill that is applied to other things and involves doing something (rather than an act of omission). 

Did somebody say New Year’s resolutions? 

OK. Here’s a quick, somewhat timely example: You’re trying to lose a little weight and live a healthier lifestyle. Great. Good for you. An act of omission would be attempting to have self-control and NOT eat the donuts on the counter. That’s an OK first step, but an act of initiative in this situation would be getting rid of the donuts altogether.

Wait... Even the white-chocolate, strawberry with sprinkles? Yep. Even those, Billy.

It could also mean something a bit more simple, like laying out your workout clothes the night before and lining up a workout partner. Laying out your clothes the night before makes it easier to get started in the morning, and a workout partner provides accountability to make it to the gym.

For millions of Americans fighting the disappointment of breaking New year’s resolutions today, the hardest part about working out isn’t working out; it’s getting to the gym. Let me repeat that. The hardest part isn’t the workout. It’s getting to the gym to do the workout.

Once you’re in the gym, you’re going to work out! But getting there takes initiative. So many times the actions we want to take aren’t the hardest part; it’s creating an environment to help us get started. So, how can you take initiative this week at work? How can you create an environment for others to take initiative?

I think I’m supposed to type something like “Good Luck!” to sign off here, but luck really doesn’t have anything to do with meeting your goals, does it? 

Goal setting is easy. Goal-getting takes initiative.

Take the first step.