“How to Begin” by Michael Bungay Stanier


I am a huge fan of Michael Bungay Stanier’s books (“The Coaching Habit” and “The Advice Trap”). His writing approach is digestible, accessible, and practical. He always gets to the heart of things, using as few words as possible (#efficient). And he does it again with How to Begin.

This is a “how to” book for anyone who might be feeling stuck, itching to start something new, wanting to learn and grow, or experiencing a sense of restlessness. Even if you don’t have a specific goal you are working towards, there are some useful ideas and reflection questions (particularly in the middle section) that I think could apply to anyone wanting to examine the status quo of their career, project, or situation.

This book reads as part theory, part how-to, and part workbook. Essentially, Bungay Stanier provides a refreshing alternative framework for goal setting. And as someone who never really connected to the concept of goal setting (aka SMART goals), it says something that I connected with this approach. Everything in here felt do-able and made sense. I have read this book once (it was a quick read) and I plan on going back through and doing the exercises.

Here is his framework:

  • Set a “worthy goal” that is thrilling, important, and daunting – find your focus, test your ambition, claim your goal
  • Commit – see where you stand, weigh up the status quo, weigh the journey
  • Cross the threshold – take small steps, remember your best self, don’t travel alone