My brother and I drove through the darkness towards Lidl in search of coffee pods, peanut butter and a sleeping bag. The latter was for my upcoming trip to Indonesia, while the other items were a subtle nod to our socially accepted addictions.
My brother peppered me with questions about my upcoming trip. It slowly sank in how under-prepared I was. I did not feel ready.
To be honest, I never felt ready for any of my expeditions. I had come accustomed to meeting my old friends fear and anxiety prior to each trip.
Throughout my travels, I had gotten worse at planning, preparing and packing. In my mind, I envisaged that I would morph into this savvy, well-seasoned traveller. In reality, I resembled a bumbling human meandering my way through new territories.
I did, however, get much better at taking action.
I was acutely aware that the fear I felt was part of the adventure. My ability to take action helped propel me past my fear.
Life is a wild fluctuating sea with too many currents to ever be tamed. Conditions are rarely perfect. Waiting for the perfect time is an exercise in futility.
Once upon a time, I waited for the moment to be perfect to arise.
This only increased my fear and anxiety. The perfect moment never arrived.
How did I get better at taking action and conquer not feeling ready?
It began by asking myself better questions. This helped me to develop an inner monologue to overcome the root of the problem- fear.
1. If not now then when?
This became a key question. It helped to ignite change and reshape my inner monologue.
Since I was seventeen, I have dreamed of exploring faraway lands. For years I have spoken about my desire to do this. However, this speech was always superseded by two truly awful words — one day. Awful, because they allowed me to continue talking about my dreams while deferring taking any action.
I tell myself I am going to do it, just not today.
Eventually, I started to annoy myself. Years later I was no closer to realizing my travel dreams.
Fear had a hold on me, like a toddler being restrained by one of those terrible leashes.
Time marched on and I continued to be frustrated. The penny slowly began to drop.
If not now, then when?
I could still be talking about my travel dreams in five years time if I continued not to take any action. This realization really scared me and encouraged me to finally take some action.
2. I made a pact with myself
If I said I was going to do something then I had to do it. No excuses.
This radically transformed what I said and the goals I set for myself. For example, if I said I was going to run a marathon then I had to do just that.
This created accountability. I was signing a verbal contract with myself. I would also mention my goals to friends and family for further accountability.
3. Figure out what is the next step
Creating a pact with myself was the first step. The next step was to figure out what was the next step.
Marie Forleo says it best,
Everything really is figureoutable
Goals at first seem complex, even impossible. However, if I break them down into smaller chunks they appear much more achievable.
The key to getting started lies in identifying the first step.
What is the first step I can take?
This is the first question I ask myself when tackling a challenge I don’t feel quite ready for. Taking action is the secret to conquering this feeling. Continued action results in enough forward momentum to move past this feeling.
Even now, I still don’t feel ready for most of my adventures. However, these three actions have helped me overcome this feeling that previously prevented me from moving forward.
I have slowly realized my travel dreams.
I hope that these actions can help you realize your own dreams, or at the very least take the next step.