beginning a project well ensures that the project will require not much more effort to finish it, as well as greatly increasing the chances of success. Beginning a project well makes it easier to do the rest.; Once you have begun a project well, you do not need to put in much more effort to finish it.
Said as a warning that you think your conversation is being overheard, as it emphasizes that someone may be listening.
It often happens that something which at first seems very difficult is soon finished when we have once managed to make a good beginning. For instance, in learning to swim we may try hard, day after day, for a long time, without seeming to make the least progress. All of a sudden some day we find to our delight that we can make one or two strokes, and henceforward progress is rapid and easy. In this case the great difficulty is to gain confidence in the buoyancy of the water, and, when that is once acquired, nothing else is needed but regular practice.
A similar difficulty of gaining self-confidence renders it hard to make the first beginning in many other physical accomplishments. When a child in its first efforts to walk has learnt to keep its balance for one or two steps, it has thereby got over the great impediment in the way of further progress. In learning to skate and ride a bicycle the great difficulty is, to learn by our own experience that it is really possible to keep our balance, when supported on what seems to be a very precarious foundation.
In acquiring new branches of knowledge it is also generally true that well begun is half done; but not quite for the same reason. In learning a new language, it is very irksome to master the rudiments that have to be learnt first, such as the alphabet, the pronunciation, and the elements of the grammar. After these are thoroughly learnt, the most unpleasant part of the task is finished, and a good foundation is laid for the acquisition of the language.
Only it must be noticed that the proverb says “Well begun is half done.” A bad commencement actually impedes the progress of composition, as it has either to be written all over again, or must be amended by many alterations, the making of which entails a large expenditure of time and trouble.
Simon: “I’m afraid I’ll never be able to finish writing this report.”
Fred: “You’ve already written a good introduction. Well begun is half done.”