If we wait until we’re ready, we’ll be waiting for the rest of our lives, let’s go. – Lemony Snicket, nom de plume of Daniel Handler, from ‘The Ersatz Elevator’
What does that mean?
This is the eternal question. When do you do something? If you start too soon, you are likely to fail. If you wait until you are ready, you will fail to start. Somewhere between the two extremes is the proper answer.
However, the location of exactly where things are optimal is the hard thing to figure out. But my experience is that there is a pretty broad area where things work fairly well, once you get past way too soon and before you get to way too late.
So the trick to getting things done is two-fold. The first is recognizing that you’ve managed to get past the ‘way too soon’ phase, and that your prospects are about as good as they are going to get. The second is getting up the courage to actually do the thing.
Why is finding the courage to do something important?
While I’m not sure of the exact context of this quote in the book, it’s clear that the people talking have planned to do something, but are now hesitant to undertake the action necessary to accomplish the goal. The speaker of the quote realizes this, but urges action despite this fact.
It is easy to plan things, to imagine what it will take to accomplish a task, or even to imagine that one has completed the task and is enjoying the rewards of accomplishment. However, the actual starting of the task is often the most challenging thing of all.
What if I fail? What if I fail spectacularly? What if my friends laugh at me for trying or for failing? Sometimes these questions stop us dead in our tracks. Other questions or concerns may also cause us to hesitate or become reluctant to begin.
However, it is only the action that will actually accomplish anything. In order to get something done, we must find the courage to do it. Whether it is the deep breath before going off the diving board, or the small steps of wading into a lake or ocean, if you don’t get started, you’ll never get anywhere, right?
Where can I apply this in my life?
When my wife was trying to convince me to start a family, I kept saying that I wasn’t ready, and delaying things. Eventually I came to the same conclusion that the person speaking today’s quote came to. I wasn’t ever going to be ‘ready’ for kids.
Once I realized that I wouldn’t ever be ready, I gave in and explained that it wasn’t that I thought I was ready, but that I needed to get started before I was too old. But even after I came to the intellectual realization that it had to be done, I still had to find the courage to actually commit to the project.
I’m still not ready for kids, even though I have two. Every day is a new adventure, as they grow and change. New aspects of their personalities develop and I’m not ready for that either. The only good news is I don’t need new courage for each step, as they simply flow from one to the next.
Similarly, many of the journeys of life are long paths which only require a little push at the beginning, and then go on for long stretches of time. Learning a new skill often starts this way. You learn how to play chess, then spend years getting better at it, right?
The chess might not sound like it would take much courage, right? But what if your friend/spouse/child is already really good and you want to participate. Is there now a little more to the starting of the program? For me, this is a reality when it comes to ballroom dance, as my wife is great at it, and I have two left feet.
Can you think of a few things you have been thinking about doing, but aren’t quite ready to start doing? Can you explain why it is you are still waiting? Is there something you don’t have, can’t find, or haven’t figured out yet? Or do you just need to gather up the courage to get started?
Grab some paper and write down a couple of these projects or endeavors on which you have yet to start. List your reasons, excuses, or other thoughts on why you have yet to start. Put as many down as you feel is appropriate, and take a few moments to really think it through.
Now pick one to start with. What did you list as things preventing you from starting? Brainstorm a few ideas about what could be done to remedy each of the sticking points. Do you need information? Where could you get it? Are you inexperienced? Where could you train, find a mentor, or get someone to do that part for you?
Eventually, you’re going to run out of reasons and excuses. Eventually, it’s down to gathering up your courage and taking that first step. How you do that will depend on what motivates you to take risks. But if you don’t get busy, it will never get done.
And if you wait until you are ready, you’ll be waiting for the rest of your life. So don’t wait, at least not too long.
From: Twitter, @AR_Foundation
confirmed at : http://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/1168344-the-ersatz-elevator 2nd entry
Photo by Iain Farrell