Do you need to be ready or prepared? Let’s find out together.
More often than you would like, life presents you with different challenges that require action. Sometimes, instead of being a challenge, you are offered opportunities and want to throw yourself into them. Other times, you’ve been preparing for a specific goal for years but can’t take the first step.
So, how to face a challenge or a new goal? Do you have to be ready or prepared to act? I have often had clients who were ready to pursue a goal without having any preparation and others who were prepared on all fronts but were far from being ready.
Being ready and being prepared are two completely different conditions, and not necessarily one precedes the other.
The opposite of being ready is procrastinating – the opposite of being prepared is improvising. Not all situations require you to improvise or procrastinate. If, for example, your goal is to get ready for a marathon, improvising in bad physical shape would be a predicted disaster. But if your goal is to open a business in your area of expertise, where the market surveys have been done, and the financial and legal aspects have been evaluated in your favour, procrastinating would make no sense.
Of course, preparing is useful. But you can never be prepared for all eventuality of opportunities and challenges. Therefore, what you need is a flexible and confident mind to be trained for life transitions to respond promptly to any challenge.
In My Coaching Lab, I pay close attention to the mental processes of clients who want to start a new path, offering different strategies to train the mind for action. The purpose of coaching is to offer the tools to know how to act when challenges or opportunities arise.
Starting a new life journey does not imply your ability to plan, but your ability to act. There will always be more planning needed, and more scenarios to consider. Of course, it would be great to feel completely ready. But the reality is that waiting until you feel ready can mean that the opportunity to act has already passed, thus getting used to tolerating your current uncomfortable conditions in the long term.
The illusion of a perfect moment to start does nothing but hold you back. In business, for example, anyone who has managed to achieve success with an innovative idea has acted before being ready. The LEAN Business model reflects this philosophy. Launch a product on the market before it is perfect, and then perfect it along the way according to customers’ needs. The first digital phones are an example.
It is not easy to face the fear of the unknown, especially when it is a challenge or a goal you care deeply about. Fear is an energy sucker. Therefore, instead of using all your energy on debating your uncertainties, you should see your first step for what it is: the first of many steps to come.
Take a look at this drawing to discover the SWOT (Internal and external strengths, and internal and external weaknesses) of your situational knowledge.
Things you know that you know: If you know that you know what you need, you can use it directly. And your strength (S for Strengths) is everything you master with confidence; your skills, your experience; the fundamental part of your advantage in the challenges. With this awareness, you should be mentally ready to act.
Things you know that you don’t know: It represents the scope of preparation and opportunities (O for opportunities). But avoid preparing in vain with the illusion of productivity. Research shows that we tend to use any justification to keep ourselves busy. For example, reading tutorials or watching videos gives you the illusion that you are preparing yourself. It is only a way to make your brain think you are productive towards the goal/challenge by keeping busy. Instead of preparing and researching, if you know that you know, take action! Choose the first step and do it. When you look back, you won’t believe how much progress you’ve made.
Things you don’t know that you know: this is where surprises come from, and out of caution you expect them to be unpleasant, so it corresponds to the weaknesses area (W for weaknesses). However, it also happens that what you do not know that you know suddenly turns out to be a discovery, making you feel like a fool and a genius. However, it is considered a weakness for not having discovered it before, wasting precious time. Here you may be ready to act or ready to prepare your action.
Things you don’t know that you don’t know: You don’t know what you don’t know. It could pose a threat (T for Threats) because unexpected events arise in this area. The best and fastest way to learn is through experience. Only by then will you discover what you do not know, and can plan accordingly. Be informed that according to the coaching principles, we do not make mistakes in our life: we get feedback for our actions, guiding us in our future life transitions.
"Only those who know they do not know are wise, not those who delude themselves into knowing and thus ignore even their own ignorance." Socrates
So, taking action is the only way to start a journey, although in some scenarios, “temporary procrastination” is already an action. Let me explain: If, for example, you have decided to divorce, the action is not improvising the process by out of the blue asking your spouse for divorce, or even putting him/her/they at the door, especially if there are children involved. In this case, the action is preparing for the divorce before announcing it by buying time to make an informed and responsible choice (temporary procrastination). Consulting with a lawyer to explore your rights; your financial institution to negotiate new agreements; a mediator for separations to help you to agree on the terms of the agreement in a safe space while addressing the needs and interests of the kids; a psychologist or a coach for emotional support, and so on are already actions that represent that you are ready to divorce even if you are not actually doing it.
People who are good at planning often rely on checklists to manage complexity. The only problem is the tendency to have a “checklist mentality” believing that they are ready only when the checklist is complete.
Feeling ready is as much a mindset as it is a set of behaviours. It is the willingness to face the unexpected and adapt as needed. Readiness relies on mental preparation to allow you to fill in the gaps whenever a problem or opportunity arises that was not on your preparation list.
Readiness for action is a key skill in any area of life that requires a complex response. Think about the mindset you need to be ready to face those things you cannot prepare for. To deal with all your significant life transitions, work on your mental state to avoid getting thrown off the road when the unexpected happens.
The final message I would like to leave you with this article is to train your mind to readiness because adopting a ready mindset will give you greater confidence and the ability to commit, regardless of the circumstances you encounter. When you have a trained mind, you have the ability to be adaptable and to do so from a position of strength and confidence where you can handle the new and the unexpected.
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