How to start when you don’t know how to start

William Liao
1 min readDec 7, 2023

The larger the scope of the problem, the harder it can be to know where to start.

If you don’t know where to start, you will not start. This has nothing to do with a lack of motivation, it has to do with a lack of clarity.

Here are three low-friction things you can do to gain clarity:

  1. State the problem — what’s the core thing you’re trying to solve? Focus on causes, not symptoms.
  2. State all the facts and assumptions you can think of — what is true about current circumstances? What resources are available? What do you think is in the way and why?
  3. Ask two questions in light of the things you just stated — what is truly essential and what’s interesting?

You don’t need to know every step of the problem or how you’ll finish, you just need to know where to start.

Doing these three things takes minutes and, more often than not, will show you the way.



William Liao

Taiwanese American, daily blogger of ideas about impactful work in service of others, photographer (