A Radical Guide To Starting Before Your Ready
We’ve all been guilty of it at some point in our lives. “I’ll start tomorrow,” or “I’ll start someday.”
You want to start it. The company you dream of starting. The creative project that you think you have in you. Or the workout routine you know would make you feel better. The call or prospect that you know you need to reach out too. Or a new reading habit to improve your life.
You want to do it, but you keep waiting for the perfect time to start. You keep pressing pause before you ever begin. You’re holding back. You think you need more preparation, more knowledge about the topic, or it’s just not the right time.
Truth: It’s rarely ever the ‘right’ time. The moment that all of the stars align and you get this flash of brilliance to begin may never happen.
Seth Godin is famous for using the word “ship” when referring to starting something — not waiting around to see if it’s a perfect time. “Sometimes, we mistakenly believe that we’re building something that takes time,” as Seth says, “but what we’re actually doing is hiding. We stall and digress and cause distractions, not because the work needs us to, but because we’re afraid to ship.”
The topic of starting a pursuit is a topic that has been on my mind a lot lately. Start. Write. Publish.
We can’t pursue things in life without that short-term downside of failing — or worse, embarrassing ourselves along the way. Unfortunately, this comes with the territory if we want to pursue something outside ourselves.
Here are some strategies if you are looking to get started on something. Some are simple. Some are more challenging. But if you execute, these strategies can help you get started.
Take the first step
The first thing you have to do is start. The actual taking action of starting is often the most challenging step in any process. The resistance that is holding you back from starting is at it’s most potent in the beginning.
“Deciding to overcome resistance is your most momentous choice.”
Go and slay that giant, but take the first action you need to get started today. If you’re a writer, sit down and write. If your a salesperson, reach out to your prospect. Or, if you want to be an entrepreneur, start your company with one action at a time. And whenever the thought comes into your head that you aren’t ready — ignore it, forget it, do whatever you have to not give into it.
Take it one task at a time
It’s not difficult to think about this grand thing you want to start and have up ahead of you. However, if you aren’t careful, you will play the next 500 hundred steps out in your head — leaving you feeling overwhelmed.
This is preparation, right? Not really.
You don’t need to know every step or task that it will take to get from point A to point B. Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, and Oprah did not know how they would get from where they started, to what they are known to us for now. Most people don’t know, so you don’t need to know either. So whatever your big goal is, you don’t need to know all the tiny steps to get there ahead of time. You just need to take on the first task, then the next.
Build a streak
Author of Atomic Habits, James Clear, writes about using something to track your habits, especially in the early stages. When starting something, anything, that you’re not sure if you’re ready or not — you will need to keep track of your progress.
How you keep track is inconsequential. Just keep track and keep the streak alive. Use a calendar and put an X on every day that you worked on your goal. Don’t let the streak die. And if it does, don’t beat yourself up. Start a new one tomorrow.
Make adjustments along the way
As you start your endeavor — before you’re ready — be willing to make adjustments along the way. You won’t have every detail perfected or figured out, which is why you should start right now before you are ready.
Look around the room you are in right now. Pick a brand of an item that you see: TV, computer, or your phone. Whatever product you picked, no matter how big that brand is now, started with something much less than it is today. Along the way, they had to make adjustments, tweaks, and iterations. Athletes practice to get better at their weaknesses. Companies adjust to market conditions. Stay agile and understand that you don’t have to have it all figured out before you put yourself out there. Be ready to make adjustments on the fly.
We’ve all failed in something in life. None of us are immune to not losing or coming up short from time to time. That’s life. But the real question is, how do we respond? How do we move forward from it better than beforehand? This is how we fail forward. This is how we make progress.
By starting before we are ready, we are accepting this challenge beforehand. We are taking the attitude that we will fail, fall flat on our face, and get back up and keep moving. We don’t know it all, we won’t be fully prepared — for everything — and we don’t need to be. We will fail forward.
What’s the worst that could happen?
Honestly, what is the worst that could happen? I don’t have the answer to that for you, but you know. If you don’t, do this exercise from Tim Ferriss on fear setting.
Most likely, the worst is something that you can recover from, without it ending you. Often in life, we are unwilling to start something because of fear. Fear of what could happen. Might happen. May happen. It also might not happen. So before you delay another day before starting — because of fear — make sure you think about the fact that what’s holding you back may not ever come to fruition.
Okay, so these aren’t the most painless steps in the world. It will take boldness and action. It won’t come easy, and you will have to be willing to fail, and probably fail some more.
But what are you willing to wait for? The perfect moment? The perfect time to start?
It’s not coming. The perfect time to start is right now — and it’s probably before you are ready. Use these steps to get you through this.