Start Where You Stopped

“Start where you stopped.”

Eric Thomas, aka Eric the Hip-Hop Preacher

I recently heard that phrase spoken by Eric Thomas (whom many of you may know better as Eric the Hip-Hop Preacher) while he was a guest on the Ed Mylett Show. (Links to both Ed and Eric’s pages are copied here – they are two of the most genuine and inspirational figures I know of and I highly encourage you to check out their work.)

The context was that Eric was asked, if someone approached him in public, and with only a few moments to interact, what would he say to someone who asked him how to start on the track to living a better life and being a better version of themselves. Eric said to “start where you stopped.”

As I so often do when listening to Ed or Eric, I felt like a lightbulb had gone off in my head. This idea perfectly encapsulated the appropriate action to the troubles and confusion that I have found myself experiencing lately. Many of my recent reflective periods have left me feeling as though I have somewhat stalled in my progress. Lately the target has become less clear as I try to imagine who I wish to be, what will I do to be the best version of myself, who will I help, and how will I do it. I still have the general idea in my head of being a better partner, a greater contributor to society, a better friend, and someone who helps those in need, but the specific image in my head of how exactly I might arrive at this ideal destination has blurred. The situation has left me feeling as if I have somehow stalled on my path to self-improvement and creation of happiness. I have wondered often what exactly I can do next to start, or in this case resume, the journey.

Start where you stopped. Eric’s words immediately registered with me as two different paths, on which I had previously walked, came to the front of my mind. One such path, which at one point brought me so much joy is this very blog for which I am now writing. A recent visit to my site revealed to me that I have not posted a new article since June 30, nearly 90 days ago. It wasn’t long ago that the first thing I wanted to do every day upon waking was sit down on my computer with my books, or some research articles and compose posts that I hoped and thought my help me improve my life, and which may provide the same guidance and inspiration for others. I am not sure why I stopped, I can think of many excuses – life has been busy – much of it with good tidings, but I can see now that some of the purposelessness or aimlessness which I have been experiencing was the void which was once filled with meaning from this blog.

I still have no idea what, if anything, this blog may become but I can say that the creative outlet with which it has provided me, the reflection it has required of me, and the insights which it has revealed to me have made it worth every second of my time invested. If even nobody in the world has been moved what I write here I can at least say it has meant something to me and that I hereby resolve to return to my blogging.

Besides being an excuse for my recent absence, the above is intended to demonstrate how you can take Eric Thomas’s words to heart and start where you stopped. I share my story only to serve as an example and perhaps inspire similar thoughts in those if you who read this. Ask yourself when did you feel like you had the greatest sense of purpose? What did you do that gave you that purpose, how did it make you feel, or why did you do it? Then ask yourself why you stopped. Often times we stop for necessary and worthwhile reasons or events that require more of our presence and commitment and are thus completely valid, but often times we find that once we stop we never resume. The best way to get back to that purpose is to start where you stopped. Sometimes that feels like taking a step back, but one of the greatest mistakes we have made is to presume that we have gone too far up the mountain for us to go back down and find what may be a better path – to put it metaphorically.

If another metaphor suits your fancy, consider a gold miner tunneling through the ground when suddenly they give up their quest for riches and put down their pick and walk away. Go back to where you stopped digging and dig from there, your riches may be just a few more swings away.

Famed psychologist Dr. Jordan Peterson has said that what gives humans the greatest feeling of meaning and belonging is the struggle for a worthy goal which either helps others and or serves to make us into better people. To reiterate what I wrote earlier, think about when you felt the greatest sense of purpose in your life, and if you are no longer living with that sense of purpose, go back to what you were doing when you felt that way, and start where you stopped. If you cannot think of ever feeling a sense of meaning, if your whole life has felt devoid of purpose, then work on being a better person. When in doubt, work on yourself. Becoming a better version of you will give you a much needed sense of purpose and commitment, and invariably will ultimately cause you to help others as those with whom you interact will inevitably be more positively impacted by your presence as you grow into a better person.

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