I overheard a conversation on the train the other day.
A woman was saying how her daughter had passed her driving test over a year previously, but still hadn’t driven on a motorway.
“Because she’s nervous”, the woman said … “and doesn’t think she is ‘ready’ yet”.
“So she keeps avoiding it, keeps putting it off.”
“But she’ll never learn,” she cried, “if she doesn’t just try!”
It’s a good point …
And it made me think of when I was learning to drive … of my very first lesson, in fact.
I remember that massively uncertain feeling of driving an ACTUAL car, on an ACTUAL road. I didn’t know how to drive a car yet, so surely I shouldn’t be in control of one? And on an actual road, with real people and other real cars? Surely it would be a disaster!
My teacher had calmly pointed out that in order to learn to drive a car … one must drive a car.
That this is a skill one simply cannot learn without DOING it.
So I drove the car. And I drove it on actual roads. And gradually, lesson at a time, I improved.
And now, if I do say so myself, would say I’m a perfectly adequate driver.
I had to go through the process of DOING it, in order to reach that outcome though. I would never have learned to drive a car at all, least of all become good at it, had we sat with the engine turned off, lesson after lesson.
… In just the same way as this girl will never be confident driving on a motorway, until she drives on a motorway.
Sometimes the ONLY way to reach a certain goal, is by doing it. By practising, and learning, and improving.
So rather than focusing on the goal, or the outcome, and “putting it off” until we’re good enough to do it properly… sometimes, maybe we need to focus on the PROCESS instead, so as to give ourselves the opportunity to actually become good enough.
Procrastination. “Putting things off”. It’s a common thing to do… we all do it.
Sometimes it’s simply because we don’t like, or want to do, the thing in question. We’ve all, I’m sure, put off doing our tax return until the last moment … but we’ll do it eventually, in time for the deadline, because we have to.
This kind of procrastination is normal, and easy to identify. It’s not ideal, and generally doesn’t come with lots of benefits either, but it’s understandable.
It’s the other kind … the “when I’m ready” kind, that is the trickier one. And quite possibly, the one that will in fact be doing you some harm.
It’s certainly common in business. I’ve seen it many times, and in all manner of different ways …
Let’s say, for example, you’ve identified your “ideal, or perfect, clients”, but haven’t approached any of them yet … Because you want to wait until you’re “ready”. Until you’re at your very best.
You don’t want to risk approaching them too soon, and wasting the opportunity.
But if you’re not working with your “ideal” clients, will you be able to perfect your skills, your knowledge, so as to become “ready” for them?
If you gain experience doing something a little different, in the meantime, will you be likely to attract the attention of your “ideal” clients? Or will you, actually, be getting even further away from that end goal?
Can you become “the best” at something, if you’re not actually DOING it?
And what if you were to target those ideal clients before you’re “ready”?
Some of them might not be interested. You might, indeed, not be “ready” for some of them.
But some might. In fact, chances are, at least one would. If you approach enough “ideal” clients, one of them is probably going to reply.
And then, by working with them, you’ll have the opportunity to learn more, and to improve and hone your skills – skills that will be perfectly tailored to those ideal clients – through ACTION. Through DOING.
Maybe you wouldn’t be charging that first client your “ideal” rate … but the skills and experience you’d gain, would probably mean that you could charge the next client more …
And then, when you next approach new clients – even the same ones as before – you’ll probably have more skills, more knowledge, more expertise than the time before. So maybe this time you’ll have even more success.
Bit at a time, step by step, you’ll be getting closer to that “end result”, that level of “ready”, that you were waiting for originally … but which you were going in the opposite direction to by waiting.
Whether it’s learning to drive at all, or learning to drive confidently … we make progress by action, by doing, and by learning. By turning on that engine … by getting on that motorway.
So perhaps by focusing on the action … on the process … we’ll reach the desired outcome much FASTER than if we only focus on the end result.
Read about how you can just “get stuck in” like Simon in The Busyness Delusion Book.