Are you “ready” to be more successful?

[note color=”#FDD017″] 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.[/note]

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.

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