‘Just Do It’, the words of that iconic Nike ad, really grabbed my soul the first time it came out. I was attracted by the kind of freedom I could sense in what it would be like to throw caution and perfection-seeking to the wind.
It was 1988 and I was an almost-adult in Johannesburg with big dreams. I was convinced I had to do everything ‘right’, whatever that means, so I spent a lot of time in analysis paralysis with the appropriate amount of angst. I pictured myself Just Doing Things in a carefree way but could never let go of the striving and the trying to get it right before I got it wrong – and so didn’t begin.
I did many almost-things:
I signed up for book writing courses so that I could write a book.
I bought exactly the right paint so that I can get the painting ‘just so’, but I hadn’t tried the medium before.
I invested in training so that I could start any number of things – and never completed the training nor started the things.
Can you relate?
But – I wasn’t moving forward!
None of these actions moved me towards the goals, because I wasn’t actually doing them.
So how do you write a book?
You just write. You sit down and start writing. Words get placed down, and later you can edit, but for now just blurt out words. When you want to paint, you pick up any piece of paper and any kind of paint and start painting with anything that will get the paint onto the paper.
And what about when you want to open a retreat centre (never done that before) in a new country where you don’t speak the language?
It was only when a real Big Thing was before me, and I needed to make the business work that I embraced letting go of fear and cracking on.
Because then I had two choices: wait for knowledge and perfection, or just get on with it so that I could generate an income.
I chose to crack on, learning on the job and making it up as I go. I found that I could still strive for excellence in the execution – always doing the best I could with the knowledge I had – until I knew better.
In those early days here, everything was an experiment. I knew what the end goal was, but it was all so new that I was often clueless. There were a few times when through indecision the builders were literally standing looking at me with wet cement, waiting for me to tell them exactly where they should start laying bricks. 😂
Yes, I made many mistakes. But I had more hits than misses, and gradually I became better at diving in and getting on with it. And I discovered two big lessons:
- Just doing it gets easier the more you just do it
- All mistakes bring first learning, and then fewer mistakes
I was not ready to start a business in Portugal, and I was not ready to create a retreat centre.
I did it anyway, building the aeroplane as I was flying it, as it were. It is only in the doing that you really work out the how, why and what of the process.
Pro Tip: Progress, not perfection, is key to success. It’s about taking action every day towards your goals, and course-correcting as you go.
Let me know what you will begin this week – by replying here or when you join my Facebook group The Sky is Not the Limit 2024, a group created for you to share your goals and have an accountability buddy.
You can do this!