Over the weekend, my daughter called me out on my hesitancy to make a temporary move that I had been looking forward to. "What are you so concerned about?" she asked. "The stuff you leave behind is just stuff. You are doing this for the people in your life you need to be with." She was right. But then I added that I wasn't really prepared for this move. There were things to be done. Lists to be made. Boxes to be checked. Stuff to be researched. She asked when I would be prepared? Two weeks? A month? More? I realized what a powerful question she had asked. The truth is, nothing would have prepared me for this surprising opportunity I had in front of me. I wasn't prepared. I wasn't unprepared. I was simply hesitant to act and I had to get over it. Make the move. Figure it out from there.
I often see a pattern like mine when I coach. Maybe you've even experienced this yourself. You have an opportunity, an option - or sometimes a problem. Rather than act or make a move forward, you talk yourself into "preparing" or "getting ready" for whatever it is. This then morphs into a cycle of endless preparation. The preparing can involve any number of activities which have the deceptive nature of looking like important and valuable work. Sound familiar?
A couple examples: There are coaches I know who are always one certification away from going out and getting clients. They want to be sure they're prepared. I have a hunch that no matter how many classes or certifications they have, they still won't be quite prepared to create clients. I know individuals eager to make a social impact by starting a program or nonprofit. They need to watch one more inspiring documentary or webinar before creating what they want to see in the world. And for fundraisers, there are endless tools of preparation. Amp up the webinars, throw in virtual networking events, and all kinds of other learning opportunities and you could spend the rest of your career preparing to actually fundraise.
By the way, all of the above are a very real examples of the challenge of our believing our thoughts vs. acknowledging truth. When we take a step back and reflect, we can own the fact that our thoughts - or perhaps a story that we've been telling ourselves - has gotten in the way of our growth and progress. Perhaps in a previous situation, we took a leap of faith and failed due to a very real lack of preparation. If this becomes our story, our label and our thinking, we'll often find ourselves stuck in preparation mode. If however we can see the truth, this is a new situation with new variables, we can recognize the need or lack thereof for more preparing.
And please don't misunderstand. I'm all for preparation when there's a value to it. But all too often, I've seen activities like classwork and networking become the work instead of a resource to do the work. I also fully recognize that there are plenty of roles, events and opportunities we do in fact, need to seriously prepare for. For example, individuals that ascend to the senior levels of management often get there by learning their way to success. They do it by serving in a multitude of roles before reaching executive status. One more example (on a lighter note): As a committed runner, I wouldn't suggest anyone tackle a marathon without the proper preparation. In fact, one aspect of running I love is the importance of preparation and creating a foundation on which to build on. You start where you are - maybe it's 1, 3 or 5 miles. Then you go on to 10 to 12, 14, 16 miles and on it goes.
Here's my main point: There are so many actions we can take Right Now that will make a difference in our lives as well as in the lives of those we love, serve and care about. And often, there is no magical preparation for them. There is just the service and the opportunity.
I'll leave you with the question: Are you preparing for your life or living it to the fullest?