Start Before You’re Ready

“Most people don’t fail by making overt mistakes. They fail because they don’t take action.” – Sam Carpenter, Work The System

Listen, you’ve been putting this thing off for way too long, with the excuse that you don’t feel ready.

Well guess what?

  1. You’ll probably never feel 100% ready.
  2. If you ever get to the point where you do feel 100% ready, it will probably be too late.

So get started yesterday. Or today, if yesterday doesn’t work for you.

Don’t feel like you’re expert enough to start freelancing? Doesn’t matter. Get started anyway. You’ll never know all there is to know. And that’s fine. You just need to know more than your clients and be willing to work hard and figure out the other stuff as you go.

Don’t feel like you’ve studied enough to start speaking that foreign language? Aw, my heart bleeds. Get out there and start talking anyway. It’s the fastest way to improve.

Don’t feel confident enough to give that speech or ask out that guy/girl of your dreams? Yeah, that fear will never go away of its own accord. You have to face it head on. Do the thing and then overcome the fear, not the other way around.

Don’t feel like you know enough about diet and fitness to start getting your ass in shape? Tempted to check one more message board or read one more book? Dude, stop fooling yourself. There’s no such thing as the perfect diet or the perfect workout plan. Seek improvement, not perfection. You can start today.

I’m not asking you to neglect planning or to take on a new project when you really don’t have time for it. But we both know there are projects — usually one project in particular — that you’ve been putting off simply because you’re scared. Fear: that’s the only thing stopping you. And you tell yourself it’s because you’re not ready, that’s why you’re stalling.

Try to recognize it for what it is. Next time you find yourself scared, take that as a sign you need to get started.

You’re as ready as you’ll ever be.

What are you starting? Let me know in the comments.

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About The Author


  1. Niall,

    I’ve only just discovered your site and am very impressed.

    You, lad, are an ‘Action Philosopher’!

    Thank you for sharing your experiences of living your values.

    Safe travel and great success!


  2. I’m working on my blog, so I can start an income coming in. I want to start designing landscapes and gardens, consulting properties on how they can better improve their energy efficiency, in house air quality, and make life style changes toward being green. Also to teach kids about permaculture gardening so they can have self sustaining skills and the knowledge of how to take care of their Earth.
    I have a lot of ideas for things to start and not much organization.

  3. mike @

    This nails where I was at 1 year and 3 months ago, I’v been on the road for 3 months (this time) and am never looking back. The hardest thing for me was the fear of being broke, or that I might fail, so as an (ex-) accountant, I got about thinking, how can I secure myself financially, while I JUST DO IT. The answer was, in Australia, I couldn’t. I suspected that the several ventures I had penned down would probably be enough to support myself, but not in my country, Austalia, one of the most expensive countries in the world. So the answer was, move countries. There were 2 things I needed, a small amount of money, enough to tide em over for a year on $35/day including everything, a country where that was possible, and the desire to start and grow those businesses. None were expected to provide for my retirement, but rather to keep me alive. So I set a date, 1 year from then, on my 40th birthday, I would save what I could in the 12 months,and then go, no matter what. the hardest thing above all was retiring/resigning, but the numbers stacked up, fear had to be squashed and a start had to be made. I’ve been on the road for 3 months living within that budget, credit cards can kick in if necessary, but I spend my days now writing and taking fotos, making very small amounts of money, but each month it grows, and I guess each year I’ll be able to live off my own bat, in a more expensive country, perhaps never Australia, but sheesh have you been to Nicaragua!! All I can say is, just do it, set a date, worry about the finer details later, but do what you can to prepare beforehand.

    Thanks for the post Niall

  4. “If you ever get to the point where you do feel 100% ready, it will probably be too late.” Love that comment, and I completely agree.

    The best things I’ve ever done were things I was in no way ready for πŸ™‚

  5. This totally resonates with me. A Lot. It’s odd how your posts coincide with my feelings and thoughts at the time. Thanks for the post and link to the article ^_^

  6. I struggle with this a lot. My dream is to be able to work from home either building websites, creating my own indie games/apps or selling some of my art work. So far I have a lot of finished or close to completed projects that I haven’t published yet because I’m never happy with the final outcome and I’m afraid that I’m just not good enough. Every time I start something new I worry a lot and I always revert back to buying one more book about the subject instead of just jumping in and having a go. My house is now full of books and I’ve spent years of my life studying just to not get anywhere. It’s ridiculous because I have qualifications in games programming and everybody is always telling me how good I am, but I find it really difficult to believe in myself. I will take your advice and get those games published asap – even if I get terrible reviews its got to be better than living with the regret of never trying. Thanks, this blog is amazing.

  7. I’ve gained 8 lbs of muscle mass by hitting the gym. I still fear that people are judging me by how little weight I am lifting or how skinny I am, but you know what…f**k’em. My goal is in reach, and woe to that fear that may stand in my way.

    P.s.- Tomorrow is chest day. Aka: Best day.

  8. Tues. was the first day of graduate school, again.

    I was so out of it. I managed to pull out a graduate certificate in library science, but with the exception of my advisor and a few people on staff I didn’t like my studies, the school, even the city where I live.

    Same time last year I was in Toronto, attending the film festival but feeling depressed. Friends I knew there have moved on and away, leaving me alone. Because I booked a room last minute I had to stay an hour from downtown by York University. I spent Saturday morning moping around until I found a Second Cup and asked myself what was my deal over coffee. I thought about my spring and how much promise the summer had. The disappointment of summer(I was let go from an internship) added with the dread in starting my Masters at a school I didn’t like. I opened my laptop and found a university that had a specialization that I like, both the program and university was better. I filled out the application in six hours with emails to my undergrad references to write another support letter. I even paid for the application out of my travel budget.

    It was on a lark, I wasn’t too sure I would be accepted.

    In January I resigned myself to my fate and started my Masters at the university I received my graduate certificate, not knowing that I was accepted until the letter arrived in the post during my midterms.

    The first week of class ends today at my new university, yet I’m scared. I’m taking online classes(it would have been the same at my old school, except that university would force me) but I’m scared of the unknown, the idea that I’m not as intelligent or knowledgeable as my peers, etc.

    But in a few hours after this post I will be writing another for a class, beginning a two year series as a student librarian. I know that I no longer tied to this city, I can travel anywhere there’s a Internet connection. So what does that mean? I don’t know, but I’ll tell you how it working out next year.

  9. Great post! I used to struggle with this – once I spent nearly 1 year just trying to make my wordpress website look perfect, BEFORE I had even launched the site … then when I finally launched, no-one came to the website – I really learnt my lesson from that and have made sure to get everything out there in public even before I’m ready – to test the market, test myself etc – you can’t be waiting for that perfect moment, since it doesn’t really exist and you will just end up regretting everything …

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