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But I’m Not Ready! Why to Start Anyway

Waiting doesn't lessen our fears. Only doing can do that.

I’m going to do it soon. I’m just not quite ready yet.

How many times have you said or thought these words? How often do you follow through? What are you putting off doing because you don’t feel ready yet? What will it take for you to feel ready?

Wanting to wait until we feel ready to do something is a common dilemma. When something matters to us it’s only natural that we want to be as prepared as possible before we start and give ourselves the best chance of success.

While it is very normal to want to wait until we’re ready, it is often not the approach that ultimately leads to the best outcome. The thing is if we let ourselves too caught up in preparation, we never start actually doing. We can spend a lifetime getting ready and never actually start. The longer we put off starting, the greater the pressure becomes to get everything just right.

Sometimes the best thing we can do is just begin.

If you wait until you feel ready, you’re going to be waiting a very long time.

It’s a very natural human thing to want to be sure we’re ready before we start something new. We like to feel prepared. We want to give ourselves the best chance for success. We want to avoid the vulnerability of being a beginner.

The problem with waiting until you feel ready is you’ll likely never feel ready. In fact, the longer you wait the less ready you’re likely to feel. Giving yourself more time to prepare only adds more pressure to get it just right. All the preparation in the world won’t guarantee a positive result because there are so many things you just can’t know until you try.

But the encouraging thing is you are not alone. The truth is no one feels ready to try something new. Everyone feels uncomfortable with being a beginner. The difference comes in how each person handles that discomfort.

Some of us try to avoid discomfort at all cost, even if it means keeping our lives small and missing out on exciting new things. Others have learned to see the discomfort as a sign that what we’re doing holds great potential for excitement, joy, creativity, and growth. Waiting doesn’t lessen our fears—only doing can do that.

Think about something you don’t feel ready to try. What is one small action you can do to get started today? After you take that step how do you feel? Is it easier to keep going with the next step once you’ve started?

You don’t need to have it all figured out before you begin.

When we hold a complete image of what we want to happen, there’s a lot of pressure to get everything just right. We either succeed in realizing our exact vision or we fail. The distance between where we are and where we want to be is so great that it can feel impossible to get there.

But you don’t have to get there all at once. All you need to do is take a small step. It doesn’t even have to be the right step. After all how can you know until you try? The important thing is to get moving. Do something and see if it’s working. Keep doing what’s working and change what isn’t.

Have a direction in mind, but don’t have a strong attachment to the outcome. Allow things to grow organically. If you are completely focused on the final result you’ve constructed in your mind, you might miss amazing opportunities and possibilities along the way.

Instead of picturing your end goal, try brainstorming several options for what your next small step could be. Which option seems the most exciting or enjoyable to you? Try it.

More Research and Preparation isn’t Always Helpful.

It can seem like doing research and planning is a great way to help ourselves feel ready and give ourselves the best chance for success once we begin. Some level of learning and planning can be helpful, but all too often we let our preparation become a distraction. It’s easy to avoid actually getting started when we’re telling ourselves the preparation we’re doing is important progress. In reality, learning about something can be a great way of not actually doing it.

Often the best thing to do is just get started and experiment with what works for you. There isn’t always one right answer. When we go searching for someone else’s answers before we begin, we run the risk of discovering down the road that what we’re doing isn’t actually right for us because we’re using someone else’s framework. More important than finding one right answer is checking in on how what you’re doing aligns with your values, needs, and priorities right now.

But how do you know whether your preparation is moving you forward or enabling avoidance?

Try this. After every bit of research or planning you do, ask yourself to think of one action you want to take based on what you’ve just learned. Then do it. If you’re struggling to come up with an action, it might be a sign that what you’re doing isn’t moving you towards your goal as much as you thought.

Uncertainty and discomfort are inherent in creativity and growth.

We want to wait until we don’t feel uncertain anymore before we begin anything new. But the very fact that something is new means it will be uncertain. We can’t gain any real degree of certainty about something until we’ve experienced it. So if we’re only willing to try things we feel certain about, we’ll never try anything new.

The only way to get past our uncertainty around doing something new is to do it. When we’re unwilling to be uncomfortable we never stretch outside our comfort zone. We don’t grow. We don’t create anything new.

It’s tempting to imagine growth and creativity as joyful, feel-good things. And they can be very joyful, but that joy doesn’t preclude discomfort. The truth is, if we want to grow we have to be willing to stretch beyond what already feels comfortable and certain. We need to get comfortable with discomfort.

Over the course of a few days make a list of things you think sound interesting or exciting to try. Don’t evaluate right now. Just write down anything that comes to mind—no matter how simple or wild it seems.

Then pick a few things off your list and actually try them. Don’t just look for the things that seem the least painful or scary. Push yourself a little to try something that seems really exciting or joyful. Not only will you be gaining a new experience, but you’ll also be getting a little more used to leaning into the discomfort that comes with trying new things.

I’d love to hear… What new things are you trying this week? What small step are you going to take toward a goal? How does it feel to actually get started?