I am not the kind of person who likes to take initiative. At all. (If you listen close, you can hear my best friends laughing from hundreds and thousands of miles away.) I have to work up the courage to join conversations I was literally invited to. I once wrote myself notes just to ask my boss about taking a day off. Significant moments in my life literally would not have happened if I’d been left to initiate.
But I do like to plan. Pretty much whatever I can get my hands on. Which means when I set big life goals, part of me wants to panic and avoid everything about it forever, and the other part of me wants to plan every possible detail so I can be prepared for whatever happens. Neither of those is realistic. But life keeps coming, so at some point we all have to face the big, scary steps head-on.
I don’t know what big step or goal or change you might be facing, but most of us have one. Maybe you’re looking at the next step after graduation, maybe you’re eyeing a change at work. Maybe you’re moving or taking the next step forward in a relationship. Maybe you’re committing to taking better care of your health, or are planning a big trip. I know emerging adults who are in all of those situations, and as much as they can be exciting they’re also often intimidating. One of the most important things they have in common, though, is that such changes — or at least being successful through them — rarely fall in your lap.
Grad school and jobs have to be applied for, promotions have to be asked for and negotiated. New places have to be rented (since hardly any of us will be buying for some time), and relationships have to be nurtured. Healthy habits have to be stuck to, and even the best trips take a fair amount of planning.
I know it can be easier to hang back in the land of the undecided. I’ve been that person. Sometimes it seems completely overwhelming to take big steps and make big changes. But here’s the good news: Big steps start with little steps. Send in one application, take small risks at work. Have a difficult conversation, set small goals for your health plan. Everybody’s gotta start somewhere, and we’re still in the starting stages of adulthood. It’s completely okay to tackle life’s big tasks a little bit at a time. But you’ve got to take initiative. It’s something that I’m still not great at, but am steadily working on. And I’m excited to see what opportunities it opens up, for all of us.
(Photo is a free stock photo because oops I already used my one cool staircase photo.)