It’s common knowledge that it’s the first step that’s the hardest to take. Yet sometimes this one small step for a man is one giant leap for mankind. 

How to get things moving? How to finally get round to doing what we have been planning to do? How to stay motivated and keep prodding ourselves? Check out How the Most Successful People Motivate Themselves (And Stay Motivated)




  • get underway – get moving
  • backside – buttocks
  • means at hand – readily available resources
  • rarely – not often
  • a line in the sanda metaphor with two similar meanings
  • acknowledge up front – accept/admit something in advance
  • give yourself a pass = give yourself a break
  • cold calling – an unsolicited phone call in an attempt to sell goods/services/etc.

Think about it

Are the sentences below true or false?

  • Lighting a fire under yourself can be dangerous to your backside.
  • Taking an action that is not within your level of acceptable loss is not an effective way to get started.
  • If you are lying to yourself about what you want, you are not moving toward your goal.
  • Being in the habit of not moving toward what you want is not one of the problems to be eliminated.
  • Nobody takes online applications seriously.

Practice makes perfect

In the sentences below replace the phrases in bold with the expressions from the original text. Leave your answers in the comments below!

  • Many people just can’t seem to get started and as a result they simply don’t do anything.
  • Something that you can do about it with your readily available resources.
  • So this means is if you aren’t taking action toward what you want, you either regard taking action as either being too costly, or too risky.
  • Getting all this straight could take a couple of conversations, and that’s fine.
  • Maybe it was because you were sick and so you give yourself a break.

 Fill in the blank spaces with the missing words.

Often _____ biggest problem people have _____ achieving their goals–New Year Resolution’s included–is getting started. It seems that Sir Isaac Newton got it right with his First Law of Motion: Bodies _____ rest tend to stay at rest. Many people just can’t seem to get underway and as _____ result they simply don’t take action.

So, what _____ it take to get started? One easy way is to have someone light a fire under you—“if you don’t do X, by such and such a time, you’re fired”—or you light _____ under yourself. (“I am not going to sleep tonight until I have _____ a first step toward finding a new job.”)

The problem with lighting a fire under yourself (or having it lit for you) is that eventually your backside gets burned. It’s not a great long-term strategy. Once the threat ends, you have _____ real motivation to continue. And if you _____ operating in an environment where you are constantly threatened, it gets demoralizing very quickly.

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