“Start before you are ready”, “Get out of your comfort zone” – I am sure you’ve heard this advice before. And don’t get me wrong, I’m all about challenging myself and testing what I am capable of. But I want to do it the right way. And I want you to do it the right way too.
So today I would like to share my thoughts about what it really means to be ready, when is the right time to get out of your comfort zone and whether you should start BEFORE or WHEN you are ready.
You know, there is this big trend happening in the personal growth space and in the live coaching space around getting out of your comfort zone. I don’t know about you, but I see this advice all the time. It usually says that that if you don’t know what to do, if you’re stuck, then go challenge yourself. Go push yourself out of your comfort zone because all the best things are outside of your comfort zone and you won’t succeed, you won’t be happy, you won’t change your life unless you get out of your comfort zone.
And as I said, I’m all about pushing the boundaries, exploring, testing, and understanding what you’re capable of. But I think it’s really important to know when you’re ready for that. And related to that, you might have also seen another piece of advice – that you should start before you’re ready.
“Don’t wait until you’re ready, start today because you will never be ready.”
And key here is to understand what being ready even means. Because we all might have a different understanding of what it is. And if you take this advice and use it the wrong way, it might become a very dangerous piece of advice.
So today I would like to really break it down for you. And as usual, I am going to do that by telling you three different stories.
Story 1 – Forced decision
And here is the first story. I think it was 2015, I lived in Ukraine, and my parents lived in a different city back then. I was on a business trip – I went to Canada for a couple of weeks. Political situation in Ukraine was very unstable, and one day my dad called me. He was very nervous and he told me that there are rumors that the region where they live might get completely cut off from the rest of the country very soon.
It wasn’t certain, but there was a possibility that it might happen, and so he asked me to consider moving back to my hometown. He was basically saying that there was a possibility that they would never be able to see me or my daughter again, and he made it sound that if that had to happen then him and mom would not be able to survive that news.
Was it a manipulation in a way? Probably.
Because as parents (and I’m a parent myself so I get that), sometimes we use manipulations to control our kids.
Was I worried that it could really happen? Yes.
There was a possibility that it might happen.
Was I certain that it would happen? No.
I could easily see it never happening, and fast forward, it actually didn’t happen, everything turned out to be fine. But at that time, when my dad called me, he pretty much asked me to make decision fast and to consider moving as soon as I get back from my business trip.
So I didn’t really have the time to make a well-educated decision. So what I did was I asked myself if I would forgive myself if something did happen. And my answer was no.
So I decided to do it.
I decided to move to my hometown. When I got back from my business trip a week later I told my -ex-husband (my husband at that time) that we need to pack our stuff and move. And we did.
It was a very forced decision.
It was clearly a decision that I made when I wasn’t ready. I was forced to make it. I didn’t have enough time to process it properly and to analyze all possible scenarios or maybe see if there were any alternative options. I had to make this decision fast. And even though I never blamed my parents for them pushing me to make this decision, I realized that it was definitely forced and premature.
Story 2 – I took my time to get ready
And here is another story, which happened a couple of years later. I believe I already told you this story before, it’s about me moving to the United States. And this time I took a completely different decision making approach. I actually took six months to think through it.
And not just think through it, because thinking and trying to come up with a decision wasn’t really working. In fact, I tried different approaches — writing lists of pros and cons, all sorts of tools and practiced that I could find online about how to make a hard decision, or just how to make a decision in general.
None of these tools worked. I couldn’t really “feel it”, and so at some point I just decided to let it go and I told myself that the answer will come eventually, so I will wait for it patiently.
No matter how long it is going to take, I will wait for the answer to come.
And eventually, one day I woke up in the morning with this perfect clarity in my head and knowing exactly what I want to do.
I still had no idea what it was going to look like, and I still had no plan prepared. But I was so confident in that decision that it didn’t even matter. I knew why I wanted to do this. I was all excited about it.
This decision really grew in me naturally, I gave it time to develop inside me without any external force. I had blocked all the external forces.
And it felt completely different. It felt so natural. It felt so me.
The moment I made this decision, I never looked back. I was so excited about making it work, and I started exploring things, making plans and arrangements. I even learned how to drive a car in three weeks!
No obstacles could stop me.
The whole preparation for the move was so much fun! Everything about it, getting a visa, planning where I would live, trying to find the apartment – I loved the process so much! And I believe it is because this decision really naturally evolved in me – I let it evolve in me.
I was ready in a way that I knew I was making the right decision.
I knew that I didn’t force that decision to happen, that it happened naturally.
Again, I didn’t have everything mapped out, I didn’t have a specific plan, and I didn’t know exactly step by step what I would do once I move. But I knew why I was doing it, and I was going all in and it was a game changer.
Story 3 – Hidden fear and procrastination
And here is the third story.
Last year, I wanted to start a blog. And I was trying to figure out what I wanted to write about.
I had two main topics that I could potentially write about on my blog. One was related to me being a tech startup founder because of my technology background and because I started a mobile app. It was something that I do for a living and something that I have a lot of experience with. And another topic was my passion for personal growth, goal setting, and personal development.
And for a few weeks, I was sitting and thinking about which one to pick.
Here’s the thing – I thought at that time that I have to decide before I write the first blog post.
I even brought it up in my mastermind group, and they gave me the following piece of advice:
“Just try writing about both and see how it feels, see which one you enjoy more.”
And as I was thinking about their advice, I actually realized that the reason why I was even trying to make this decision was because I was scared of going ahead and writing the actual blog post.
I was postponing the action.
I always considered myself a bad writer. Writing essays was always a struggle for me, and so by sitting and trying to make this decision I was basically artificially postponing the action itself.
And the ironic thing here is that I would never be able to truly understand which one I want to write about until I actually wrote it. Once I wrote those couple of blogs posts, as my partners in the mastermind group suggested, I realized very clearly that writing about personal growth felt much better and much more connected with who I am and what I want to talk about.
And I would have never figured it out had I not written those blog posts.
So what that taught me is that you will never have a fully detailed plan. Often we sit and try to come up with that 100% detailed plan before we even take an action. But we will never create that plan until we start taking action. We might think that we know everything, or that if we just keep sitting and planning we’ll figure it all out. But the truth is – it’s only when we start taking that action, we will really understand what is going on.
The plan, no matter how detailed it is, will always need revisions. It will need edits based on what we learn by doing.
So what does it really mean to be ready?
Those people who say, “Start before you’re ready,” what they are really trying to tell you is don’t try to make it perfect.
Don’t try to wait for the perfect time or for the perfect plan. Start today because you will never be able to create the perfect plan by just sitting. You have to go out there and start really trying, learning, getting feedback, and testing things in order to create that plan.
In this case, yes, they are right to say, “Start before you’re ready.”
But, I prefer to say, “Start when you’re ready.”
And what I mean by saying when” is NOT that you have to have everything figured out – because when I moved to the United States I didn’t. I still had a lot of unknowns, I still understood that I would need to figure a lot of things out once I land in Los Angeles.
But I knew why I was doing it. I knew that decision that I made really grew in me naturally, organically, and I let it evolve in me. It wasn’t forced by any external force, it really grew in me because this is something that I value, something that I find meaningful, and this is when I think you’re ready.
And this is what I believe being ready really means.
Know your why
So whenever you want to do something, give yourself permission to wait for that moment when you know why you’re getting into this. And not because of some external force, but because you truly value that reason.
But don’t wait for the perfect plan or the perfect circumstances. And don’t let anybody force you into making a decision. Don’t let anybody force you into getting out of your comfort zone.
But if you really want to get out of your comfort zone…
Do it. Go for it.
Just know that it is a challenge, it is an unknown – and be ready for that. Because that is the point – to get out there and challenge yourself. To really learn what you’re capable of – and the only way to learn is by trying, by testing:
What can I really do?
How can I prove to myself what I’m really capable of?
Push the boundaries.
But only when you know why you’re getting into this, and when that why comes from inside you. When it’s not forced by some outside force, but when it comes from deep inside you, from your heart and when it means something valuable, something important. Something that you know is going to make your life better, not somebody else’s.
Once that happens, it means you’re ready. And then go for it.
Episode 15 – Three reminders to help me maintain mental health and protect personal boundaries
Episode 14 – How to stay focused on what matters most
Episode 11 – How to find answers you are looking for
Episode 2 – Five key ingredients you need in order to start living your life to the fullest