Are you “ready” to be more successful?

Dan Miller —  May 10, 2012 — 4 Comments
 This is a guest post by Sara Martin.  Sara is an artist and writer based in Knoxville, Tennessee. Learn more ways to maximize your creative life at  If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.

Do you ever think to yourself, “I want to be a better designer. Or writer. Or marketer…”? Insert whatever expert status you crave.

I think these thoughts a lot, often in preparation for some big plan I have. I want to be a better writer so I can publish a book. I want to be a better speaker so I can present at conferences.

But there’s a problem with wanting to improve your pet skills so you can accomplish a goal. Here it is:

Accomplishing goals is what makes you better.

My brain cannot fully prepare itself for book writing without tackling that very activity. My thoughts will never reach the state of concrete expression required for a book unless I start to write it.

It’s just like what everyone tells you about having children: you’ll never be ready, so you just start. You’re not equipped to be a parent until the kids come.

What is this concept of “ready,” anyway? Are we ever really ready for anything? Maybe things we’ve done a hundred times. I suppose I’m ready for work every day.

But ready is a state the brain craves most before we tackle big things. Unique challenges. Things for which we can’t actually prepare. Maybe it’s just our brain’s craving for safety, sameness, that urges us to wait until we reach that illusive level of preparation.

Here’s what I suggest. Whatever your big goal is, give yourself a near-term assignment. Keep the ultimate aim in your mind, but invent some other task — a scaled back version — to attempt right now.

This blog is an assignment I gave myself. It’s my scaled-back book. And I’m working on a speech for my Toastmaster’s Club. That’s a scaled-back venue I can reach before my long-term goal.

This isn’t quite the same as breaking your goal into steps or stages. Rather, it’s about devising a goal you can work on immediately that will help your brain feel prepared for your bigger goals. It’s about expanding your comfort zone.

Whatever you do, don’t let ready seduce you. It’s an illusion and pursuing it will keep you from the very thing for which you’re preparing.

  • NamasteMamaRose

    This is brilliant. It’s so true – people don’t know if they are “ready” to get married, have kids, write a book, impact others…don’t wait for “ready” – just do. The more you dive in, the more you look back and realized you were “ready” simply by being open to growth.

  • Sara Martin

    Thanks for posting my article, Dan and Ashley! Your website (especially the podcast) has been instrumental in teaching me to think about creativity, business, and taking action. Keep up the excellent work!

  • kimanzi constable

    Great post Sarah and an excellent point. I was terrified of public speaking but it’s what I want to do to spread a message, so I sent out speaking proposal’s and I have my first public speech at the end of this month.

    There’s nothing better to accomplishing goals then to take some kind of action, just like you said, you don’t have to win a marathon the first time you run.

    • Sara Martin

      Great example! What you said reminds me of a quote by G.K. Chesterton, “Anything worth doing is worth doing badly.” In other words, if it’s important to you, a rough start is a small price to pay compared to the success you stand to gain by pushing through the initial learning curve. Congratulations on your upcoming speech!