When you’re starting something new, there’s a lot of hullabaloo about picking the “right time” to do it.
“I’d love to write a novel, but I just want to have the perfect idea first.”
“I’d love to start exercising and dieting, but I’ve got a vacation coming up (or the holidays, or whatever). I’ll start afterward.”
“I’d like to have a kid someday, but things are just too busy for me at work.”
The excuses all sound decent and reasonable, and they’re never specifically wrong. If you’re going to start writing a book, you should have the best idea you can muster in mind before putting pen to paper. If you’re going to start getting fit, you should eliminate as many barriers to success as you can. If you’re going to have a kid, you want to do so at a time when you can give the child as much of your attention as possible. And so on, and so on. The problem is, you can use that excuse (and here I mean whatever excuse you may have concocted to justify the thing you’re not doing) ad nauseam, and there is always another “perfect” excuse. Sure, I have a good idea for a novel, but what if I have a better one in a month or so? Okay, I cleaned the junk food out of my kitchen, but who wants to take up running in the middle of the summer? Yeah, my job is secure, but money’s tight right now, so maybe we can think about having a kid next year.
You can always find a reason why you’re not “ready”.
President Kennedy said of going to the moon that “We do these things not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” If a thing is worth doing, it’s worth doing regardless of the time frame in which you do it. There is never a “perfect” time. You’re never really “ready”. And chasing after perfection is the surest way to never get anything done. If you’re waiting for the perfect opportunity, you can prepare to spend your whole life waiting.
If you have the inkling that you want to write, pick up your pen (okay, crack open your laptop), open a word document (or notepad if you must) and write something. Now. Today. Brainstorm ideas for the novel. Do a little outline or a character sketch. Write an opening scene. It won’t be perfect — hell, it may not even be good — but at least you’ll have started, and taking that first step is the only way you’re going to change your momentum.
If you want to start exercising or watching your diet, do something. Now. Today. Go for a twenty minute walk around the neighborhood. Bang out a few push-ups during the commercial break. Have an extra helping of veggies before you hork down a bunch of bread, or stay in and cook your own dinner instead of driving to McFatty’s.Your exercise may not be graceful or impressive, and your dietary choices may not be the best, but at least you’re doing something. At least you’re making the effort instead of hiding from the opportunity.
If you want to have kids, well, the clock never stops on life, right? I had my kids at the age of 31 and 34, which means I’ll be about 50 when they graduate high school and head off to college. When my wife first started talking about having kids a year or two earlier, I told myself “I wasn’t ready” to be a father. But I did the math and realized I didn’t want to be a geriatric school parent. I have a colleague who just had his first baby at the age of 46. He’s going to be over 60 by the time his kid graduates high school. He told me he and his wife were just waiting for the right time, until they suddenly realized in their 40’s that there was no right time and they were on the verge of missing their chance completely.
The point of all this is, change is hard. Momentum matters. It’s easy to sit on the couch and get fat, easy to watch movies and TV endlessly instead of chasing after a dream, easy to stay a kid forever. The human animal seeks the path of least resistance by its very nature. We have to fight against evolution, against society, against ourselves to achieve the things we want to achieve.
We’re never really “ready.”
Which is why, whatever the change is that you’re chasing, there’s only really one thing you have to be ready for. And that’s being ready to say goodbye to the old you, the old way you did things. If you’re ready to move on, you’re ready for the next thing, whether you think the time is right or not.
Just start. Do something. It won’t be perfect, it may not even be good. But you’ll never get good if you don’t start sometime. And as somebody famous once said, there is no time like the present.
This weekly Re-Motivational post is part of Stream of Consciousness Saturday. Every Saturday, I use LindaGHill‘s prompt to refocus my efforts and evaluate my process, sometimes with productive results.