Where there is no beginning there will never be a finish.

If you are in pursuit of success in the workplace, or in any other area of your life, then ask yourself: what do you need to get started on? What is your first step? What do you need to take down off the shelf where all your good intentions and great ideas are stored?

Of course, there’s one nice thing about not making a start. If you never begin, then you don’t have to face the difficulty of carrying through and finishing, nor deal with the possibility of failure. All too often, that’s the very reason we don’t begin.

Did you know that good intentions, all stored away on that good-intention shelf, can actually be the main contributor to lack of success?

For example: you know that you should take some evening lessons to advance yourself at work, and that if you don’t, the hoped-for advance or promotion won’t be forthcoming. So you decide you’re going to sign up for a course. Now that you’ve formed the intention of doing so, you feel so good about your worthy intention that you share it with your spouse and/or friends, who all praise you for it. And that feels great. Yes, a good intention can make us feel so good about ourselves, it’s just as if the intention had already been implemented and successfully completed, even though we haven’t even taken the first step and likely never will! A good intention that has no beginning and implementation deadline will never get off the good-intention shelf, and will thus never deliver the intended achievement or success.

Every success begins with an idea, which triggers intent, which in turn requires implementation in order to produce the desired achievement. The successful person recognizes the logic here—unlike the dreamer, who never begins the implementation process. The latter reminds me of the person who, on his deathbed, called his lawyer and loved ones and made all kinds of bequests to family members—a million here, a million there—until finally his lawyer spoke up and said, “Sam, what are you doing? You don’t have any money!” To which Sam replied, “I know, I know; but I want everyone to know I had good intentions.”

All success demands a beginning, a first step. A step is an action. What is it you desire to see come about in your life? Is it career advancement, harmony in the home, business expansion, a better relationship with God, strengthened faith, active service in a cause you can be passionate about? Whatever it is, it won’t happen by itself. Look at your good-intention shelf NOW and see which one you need to take off the shelf and begin implementing. And when you do, be sure to consider what steps are involved in seeing your desire realized, and what obstacles you are likely to encounter. Why is this important? Knowing the difficulties of implementation up front will help assure the finish, because when the inevitable challenges come, you’ll be prepared and won’t be tempted to put your good intention back on the shelf.

Remember this: a good intention without a beginning and implementation deadline will always remain on the good-intention shelf and thus never deliver the intended achievement and success in your life.

Take a lesson from the ants, you [well-intentioned person]. Learn from their ways and become wise! Though they have no prince or governor or ruler to make them work, they labour hard all summer, gathering food for the winter.                           —Proverbs 6:6-8