How to Begin Book Summary - How to Begin Book explained in key points
Listen to the Intro

How to Begin summary

A Proven Plan to Start Something That Matters

4.4 (727 ratings)
23 mins

Brief summary

"How to Begin" by Michael Bungay Stanier is a practical guide that helps readers overcome procrastination and start working on their goals by breaking them down into small, achievable steps. The book teaches readers how to overcome self-doubt and fear of failure to get started on their desired path.

Table of Contents

    How to Begin
    Summary of 6 key ideas

    Audio & text in the Blinkist app
    Key idea 1 of 6

    Worthy goals have three distinctive qualities.

    So Worthy Goals possess certain qualities – to get even more specific, they possess three distinctive qualities. Every Worthy Goal should be daunting, important, and thrilling. To get a better grasp on this, let’s look at a person’s life. We’ll follow him from boyhood to adulthood, and, as his life unfolds, let’s see if his life goal possesses those three qualities – if it’s truly a Worthy Goal.

    Reader, meet Paul. Paul is a sweet, sensitive, intelligent boy. He does well in school. He studies hard. In his spare time, he loves to draw, to play piano, and to daydream. By the time he’s 18, when it’s time to head off to college, he has lots of options. His parents, pragmatic people with their heads very much not in the clouds, gently urge him to choose a “safe” career – and sweet, sensitive Paul, not wanting to disappoint his family, acquiesces. He goes to med school, does exceptionally well, and becomes a doctor. 

    And his job is fine. It’s definitely not boring. He has to solve new problems every day. He’s constantly learning and improving. 

    It’s also valuable. Not just in terms of his paycheck, though that’s definitely a factor. Paul believes that one should be of service – that one should give to the world more than one takes from it. He often reminds himself of this. He’s proud to be of service to others, though he’s not necessarily burning with passion for his work.

    So, here’s the question. Does the goal that Paul has spent his life pursuing – the life that he has chosen for himself – count as a Worthy Goal?

    It’s definitely daunting. There are new challenges every day – life-and-death situations requiring great mental and moral strength. It pushes him, expands his limits, keeps him evolving, which is what a daunting goal should do. And it’s obviously important. He’s serving others in the most dramatic way possible: saving lives. He’s giving back, improving the world in a palpable way, which is what it means for a goal to be important.

    But is it thrilling? Remember, all Worthy Goals possess three qualities, and being thrilling is the third. It should be exciting. It should speak to your values. It should be bold, fun – something you don’t have to do but that you want to do.

    And here’s the thing: Paul has an itch. Deep down, he feels that being a doctor is not good enough. Something’s missing. He just can’t put his finger on what that something is. Maybe you feel the same way. We can do better than ticking two out of three boxes.

    Imagine a three-legged stool with one leg shorter than the others. Can you use it? Sure, it works. But it’s always going to be uncomfortable to sit on, and it’ll never hold the full weight of your ambition and talent.

    So how can we improve that wobbly three-legged stool? Let’s keep that image in mind as we move into the next blink.

    Want to see all full key ideas from How to Begin?

    Key ideas in How to Begin

    More knowledge in less time
    Read or listen
    Read or listen
    Get the key ideas from nonfiction bestsellers in minutes, not hours.
    Find your next read
    Find your next read
    Get book lists curated by experts and personalized recommendations.
    Shortcasts New
    We’ve teamed up with podcast creators to bring you key insights from podcasts.

    What is How to Begin about?

    How to Begin (2022) argues that you unlock your greatness by working on the hard things. The things that matter. Not to your partner, friends, or family – but to you. The hardest part isn’t the work itself, though. It’s identifying the kinds of projects that are worth investing your time in. Projects which give your life meaning. And that’s what this book is really about: helping you discover worthy goals.

    How to Begin Review

    How to Begin by Michael Bungay Stanier (2021) is a valuable read for anyone looking to kickstart new projects or make meaningful changes in their lives. Here's why you should grab a copy:

    • It offers a practical roadmap on how to overcome obstacles, take the first step, and turn aspirations into reality.
    • The book is packed with insightful stories and examples that keep readers engaged, inspiring them to take action.
    • With its friendly and accessible tone, the book makes the process of starting something new feel approachable and exciting.

    Who should read How to Begin?

    • Self-improvers stuck in a rut
    • Thinkers and doers
    • Anyone who wants to live their best life

    About the Author

    Michael Bungay Stanier is the bestselling author of the Coaching Habit, a book about management that has sold close to a million copies and garnered over 1,000 five star reviews on Amazon. He is also the founder of the learning-and-development company Box of Crayons, well-known podcaster, and consultant with clients around the world.

    Categories with How to Begin

    Book summaries like How to Begin

    People ❤️ Blinkist 
    Sven O.

    It's highly addictive to get core insights on personally relevant topics without repetition or triviality. Added to that the apps ability to suggest kindred interests opens up a foundation of knowledge.

    Thi Viet Quynh N.

    Great app. Good selection of book summaries you can read or listen to while commuting. Instead of scrolling through your social media news feed, this is a much better way to spend your spare time in my opinion.

    Jonathan A.

    Life changing. The concept of being able to grasp a book's main point in such a short time truly opens multiple opportunities to grow every area of your life at a faster rate.

    Renee D.

    Great app. Addicting. Perfect for wait times, morning coffee, evening before bed. Extremely well written, thorough, easy to use.

    People also liked these summaries

    4.7 Stars
    Average ratings on iOS and Google Play
    32 Million
    Downloads on all platforms
    10+ years
    Experience igniting personal growth
    Powerful ideas from top nonfiction

    Try Blinkist to get the key ideas from 7,500+ bestselling nonfiction titles and podcasts. Listen or read in just 15 minutes.

    Start your free trial

    How to Begin FAQs 

    What is the main message of How to Begin?

    The main message of How to Begin is that taking small steps and overcoming fear are key to starting any new venture or project.

    How long does it take to read How to Begin?

    The reading time for How to Begin can vary, but it typically takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is How to Begin a good book? Is it worth reading?

    How to Begin is a worthwhile read for anyone looking to overcome the paralysis of starting something new. It provides practical insights and guidance in a concise format.

    Who is the author of How to Begin?

    The author of How to Begin is Michael Bungay Stanier.

    What to read after How to Begin?

    If you're wondering what to read next after How to Begin, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Co-Active Coaching by Henry Kimsey-House
    • 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do by Amy Morin
    • Lessons in Stoicism by John Sellars
    • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
    • The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership by Jim Dethmer
    • How to Walk into a Room by Emily P. Freeman
    • Rewire by Nicole Vignola
    • How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie
    • The Coaching Habit by Michael Bungay Stanier
    • Slow Productivity by Cal Newport