Hands down, the most powerful advice I ever received with regard to pursuing my dreams was this: Start before you’re ready.
Those four words changed everything for me.
See, I'm a reformed planner. During the first 40 years of my life, I could’ve written a handbook on how to plan every single step, complete with annotated bullet points on all the “shoulds” and “nexts” of life. I planned my days and my years; I planned what would happen after the thing I had planned that came before the thing I really wanted which was a prerequisite for the thing I really REALLY wanted but merely a stepping stone toward what I really really REALLY wanted… Just to make sure I'd be ready when it was time to go for it!
I never went for it.
I planned and re-planned and changed my plans and re-shuffled the deck and re-wrote the plan, adapting it to every change in my life and every little thing that “needed” to happen first, before I could even consider going after what I wanted… And then, just to be safe, I planned a little more...
Until the day I first heard those words:
Start before you’re ready.
It was like a switch was flipped and I suddenly understood something so simple yet so powerful.
Here’s the deal - We all have goals. We all have dreams. We all have plans… but most of the time they stay exactly that – Dreams, goals, plans.
It’s not because we’re not smart enough, strong enough, hard working enough… It’s not because we don’t know what we want (though sometimes we do need clarity).
It’s because we wait…
…until the timing is “right,”
…until we have enough money,
…until we lose 10 more pounds,
…until the weather cools off,
…until the weather warms up,
…until our kids are older,
…until our jobs are less stressful,
…until we’ve planned out every step we need to take to reach our goal…
SPOILER ALERT -
There’s no “right” time; we’ll never feel like we have enough money; those 10 pounds don’t matter; the weather will never be perfect; our kids will still need us when they’re older (and they only get more expensive!); our jobs will always be stressful; and we will never EVER know every step we need to take in advance.
Because it’s impossible to know what step we'll need to take before we reach it.
But here’s what I’ve discovered, and this makes me giddy just writing the words, because it’s so magical and so true –
When we want something badly enough, we will figure out how to make it happen as we go!
A personal example:
I’m the LEAST tech savvy person on the planet. Having graduated from college the year before the internet went mainstream, I don’t know a CD-ROM from a thumb drive, and much to my teenagers’ embarrassment, I still have an AOL account.
But when it was brought to my attention that my website needed to be revamped, I decided this time I wanted to do it myself! Mind you, I'm a writer, not a programmer, and as I mentioned, I know NOTHING about technology. But I'm a huge activist for Self-AWESOMIZATION, and part of that is pushing outside of our comfort zones. Another part of that is being real. I want my website, which is an intimate reflection of who I am, to be as real as possible.
So? I dove in head-first and figured it out. ME! The girl with the AOL account. The girl who never learned how to program a VCR (and no, I don’t have one anymore). The girl who still can’t figure out how to switch the TV from cable to NetFlix ("Boys! Can one of you come switch the TV over for me?" "Mommmm!!!").
Is it perfect? Of course not. But neither am I, so it's exactly as it should be.
But the best part is... this girl figured it out!
And guess what? It was actually fun! (But I’m keeping my AOL account.)
My point –
Had I not decided to just jump in and figure it out as I went, I would still be sitting here… planning…
Starting before we feel ready is a lot like the old school (and kinda mean) “sink or swim” style of teaching kids to swim. When we stand at the edge of the pool dreading the shock of the cold water, we stay exactly where we are. But when we jump in and are suddenly faced with the prospect of drowning, we realize we instinctively know how to swim. And as a bonus, the cold water makes us feel alive!
The trick is to start before we’re ready. Make the jump!
Because when we move, the universe moves with us. WE move with us. When we act, we discover truths about ourselves that empower us beyond our wildest dreams. And the biggest of these truths is this:
We are capable.
We will figure out what we need to know… exactly when we need to know it.
We will swim.
This popular quote, attributed to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, is one of my all-time favs -
“What you can do, or dream you can do, begin it;
Boldness has a genius, power and magic in it.”
So be bold. Begin it. And feel the power and magic that have always been inside you.