Stops and starts


Photo, Start Something by Martino Sabia, is courtesy of Creative Commons,

Nature is filled with stops and starts that just happen, without any effort or coaxing from human beings. We see that the snow that covered the ground for months is almost gone, giving way to soggy soil and brown, slightly green grass. We hear the songs of robins and see crocuses popping through the earth. We listen, we watch, we shed our armor of heavy coat, hat, gloves, and boots and greet a new season. If only our work life stopped and started so naturally. If only we could recharge by pressing a magic button. My work world–and maybe yours, too–is filled with projects, where an element of angst accompanies the stops and the starts and, at times, the phases in between.


I now see the finish line approaching on one book project that has occupied my mind and energy for several months. The client is reviewing a draft that I will then tweak, as needed, and prepare for publication. It seems that the difficult work of transforming lots of content into an organized, readable, interesting book is almost ready to stop. There are some signs that this work, like the robin and the crocus, will sing and bloom. I will watch this spring as this book project leaves me and takes on a life of its own.


While my efforts on one book project are about to stop, I hem and haw about a new project that is about to start. Unlike the start of spring that, sooner or later, just happens, this new assignment, which is a chapter in a book that will have many contributors, is not miraculously taking shape. No, it needs some prodding, some cajoling, some poking around. Since this new book is a collection, there is already a theme to consider. Yet, what I want to convey in my chapter is vague. How and where do I begin?

The magic button

I look at the almost-done book project that months ago also had a start. Many centuries ago, a victorious Julius Caesar said, “I came, I saw, I conquered.” I now say, “I started. I persevered. I finished.” Knowing that I have succeeded before in moving from a blank page to a book in hand, I know that I can do it again, and, optimistically, again and again. By summer or fall, I have every reason to believe that I will have my chapter written, reviewed, and ready for publication. I am ready to press the magic “Start” button and do what I can to create some momentum.

Your thoughts

Do projects that have stopped because your role is complete and the work product is ready to move from your hands into someone else’s hands help fuel the start of your new projects? Do you have special, tried-and-true ways to approach that new project that is not springing into shape? I would love to hear how you jumpstart that new project that is yet unformed.

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