“Start before you’re ready.”
That’s a favorite quote of mine from author Steven Pressfield. This one sentence can kick me into action like nothing else. It slashes through any pretense my lizard brain throws at me. It cuts to the chase – do you want it?
Then do it.
Thinking you’re not ready and not being ready are 2 different things.
Before this can help, we must distinguish between the two. But it’s easy to know where you are.
If you want to run but have a broken leg, you’re not ready.
If you want to run but are afraid, you may think you’re not ready.
But you are.
Pressfield points out that we tend to use ‘not being ready’ as an excuse to stall out.
The truth is, we will never be completely ready for anything.
Why wait for something that may never happen?
If we’re waiting to be ready, we will miss all the action.
Just get started now.
Here are 5 reasons to do just that:
1. “Not being ready” is a mask for fear.
Fear happens. Especially when you’re moving into uncharted territory. It is completely reasonable to feel this way.
These two concepts – fear and starting – can exist at the same time.
Be afraid and do it anyway.
I know that we have protective modes – ‘Fight, Flight or Freeze’ can take. And yes, if you’re face to face with a tiger that is licking his chops, you may freeze with fear.
But we’re not there (hopefully, we never will be).
We’re talking about starting something you’ve wanted to start for a while.
Your exercise plan.
Your first yoga class.
Paying attention to your food.
Feeling your emotions.
Cleaning up your diet.
Showing yourself love instead of hate.
You may be afraid to do all of these things. I certainly was.
But being afraid is not a reason to wait.
Don’t disguise you fear as ‘not being ready’. See it as the fear it is.
Accept that you’re feeling afraid and know that it is 100% OK to feel this way.
2. You will never be 100% ready.
Think of the last time you were truly ready to do something. Maybe it was a trip you went on, or a decision you made. Were you 100% ready to do it? Chances are you weren’t.
You were mostly ready. Pretty confident in your decision. But there were still thoughts like ‘what if I do that instead of this?’ ‘Am I forgetting something?’ ‘Could I make this better?’
But you did it anyway because you wanted it.
You were OK with not being 100% ready – because you knew you never would be.
So why do you wait to be 100% when it comes to ‘bigger’ things?
Do you think this level of readiness will show up like never before?
It won’t. It never will. Because it doesn’t exist.
You can always think of a reason why you’re not 100% ready for something. The difference is if you really want it, it won’t matter if you’re 70% there. You will stop looking for reasons why you’re not ready and you will do it.
You question isn’t ‘Am I totally ready?” your question is “Do I really want this?”
If the answer is ‘yes’, then why aren’t you doing it?
(Not being ready is never an answer. Dig deeper. If the answer is fear, see #1)
3. Starting doesn’t mean you can never slow down.
I used to think that if I started something, I had to go all-out the entire way. No slowing down, no mercy. That’s what I thought commitment looked like.
I was wrong.
Commitment doesn’t mean you can’t slow down, change directions, or start over. Commitment means you don’t quit.
We tend to be shy about starting because we think it means we can never go back. We have to stick with the choice we made. We can’t change in the middle.
Those are all great lessons we learned as kids. But guess what? We can break those rules. It’s called knowing what’s right for you, and there’s nothing wrong with it.
Sometimes we have to slow down, start over, or even change things up entirely in order to keep going.
These are all decisions we make after we start.
Starting over doesn’t mean we failed, or weren’t ready. It simply means we’re making a decision to change it up.
Nothing says ‘I’m ready’ like navigating your own path.
4. Every step takes a little faith.
Taking that first step requires faith. But we tend put our faith in the wrong place.
We can’t place our faith in the hands of something going well or someone else smoothing the path for us.
Things happen. Plans get messy.
Our faith needs to be in ourselves.
We can do it. We will learn. We will roll with it. We will be supported in our decision (whatever it may be).
Telling yourself that you aren’t ready takes away from having faith in yourself. Faith that you are more than capable, regardless of what happens.
We will start before we think we’re ready because we have faith in ourselves to deliver.
5. Preparation comes after readiness.
We get this backwards.
We think we have to prepare for something, and then decide if we’re ready to start.
But if you’re preparing for something, you have already started.
If there were something you knew you didn’t want to start, would you prepare to do it? No.
When you know you don’t want something, you don’t prepare for it. It’s not even on your radar. You’ve moved on.
Don’t short-change yourself.
You are ready because you have already started.
Preparing, practicing, training. These are all things that happen after you decide you’re ready to do something. If you’re getting cold feet while preparing, see #1, then #3.
Either way, know that you’ve started already. Own it, congratulate yourself on starting, and keep going.
You will never know what that road looks like until you take a few steps.
Remember, you can always start over, you can always choose another path, and you can always slow down. You can (and must) do all of these things while feeling afraid.
Being ready is an empty promise. Waiting for it will keep you stuck.
It will keep you from truly living your life.
Don’t wait another second to be ready. Start before you’re ready and see a whole world open up for you.
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“Start before you’re ready.”