“I’ll take the first step when all the conditions are perfect… and the moment the conditions shift… I quit.” 

Too often, that’s how we make our decisions in life. We’ll only start something when all the stars are perfectly aligned (which rarely happens) – and when things get challenging, we’re quick to surrender. In both instances, whether we start too late and quit too fast, we miss opportunities.

Taking advantage of life’s opportunities begins with how we start – or, too often, how we don’t. Often, we stay stuck in wait mode. We wait for all the conditions to be perfect before we leap or take the first step. We wait for our plan to be bullet-proof before we make our move. We look for ways to remove all the risk from any new endeavor, and if we can’t make it 100% risk-free, we delay our dreams. 

“One day, I’ll launch that business I’ve been imagining.”

“Eventually, I’ll ask them out on a date.”

“When it gets bad enough, I’ll look for a new job.”

“In time, we’ll be ready to have kids.”

“Someday, I’ll try paddling the whitewater.”

We’ve all been there, in that spot where our waiting leaves us paralyzed. The result? We don’t do anything because it never feels “safe” enough. There’s too much risk, and risk is bad. We didn’t know that as kids. We took risks all the time when we were five and ten. Then we grow up, and as adults we look for ways to minimize risk in all we do. Fear drives this. We focus on all of the things that “could” happen. We could fail. We could stumble. We could lose. We could crash. We could lose everything.

Yep. You could. 

Here’s the problem with that. Often, we’re focused on the wrong “coulds” in life. Flip the script, and we could succeed. We could thrive. We could win. We could create something amazing. With our mindset focused away from our fear and on the possibilities, starting something new could lead to fantastic opportunities in our lives. The risks seem to evaporate when we see the potential and force ourselves to focus there.

I say “force” ourselves because thinking like that can be hard. Our mind is hardwired to protect us at all costs, and so shifting our thoughts to what’s possible instead of the risks requires intention and work. It’s challenging to think like this, but it’s the only thing that will get you to a place where you can start.

Unfortunately, starting isn’t the finish line. Instead, it’s just the beginning of anything in life. The other challenge we all face is stopping. When we step out, face the fear and take that risk, things inevitably will get tough. Everything in life comes with challenges, the kind that make us want to quit.

Quitting is a thief. It steals our dreams and ambitions.

This goes out to the entrepreneur or business owner facing a path that looks closed or barriers between them and their goals. It goes out to the spouse whose marriage is struggling or anyone in a relationship that is strained. It goes out to the parent who is trying to support their child through a trial. It goes out to anyone who has taken the leap and started something, only to find out the path to success isn’t straight or smooth. 

Every one of those roles comes with moments where you wonder if you’ll make it or if you are enough. There are times when we question if all the work is worth it. There are instances where we’re tempted to surrender, buckle under, and give notice in those challenges. The good news is this.  If you’ve felt that or are feeling it right now, you’re normal. 

Read that again. You’re normal. 

Doubt is part of the journey – it simply can’t be what leads us on the journey. Instead, it’s a call to dig deep and tap into our grit when the challenges come at us. When the barriers rise up in front of us, it’s time to keep grinding and working through the trials… or around them… or over them. 

Starting a business, getting remarried, blending a family, raising teenagers, launching a blog and a podcast – none of these have been easy. To be blunt, I was not qualified or equipped to do any of them initially, and I could not have anticipated the challenges that would come with each of those roles. So what made all of them possible? I had the guts to start and the grit to keep going when things got challenging. That’s all. 

Stop for a moment and try to nail down all the traits of a successful entrepreneur. Make your list of examples… Elon, Steve, Blakely, Bezos, Branson. What makes them tick, and how did they accomplish all their goals? The common thread should be obvious at this point. They started, and they didn’t stop. Every one of them faced challenges, obstacles, setbacks, and barriers – but once they started, they kept going.

You can do the same.

The Takeaway

As you’ve been reading this, some of you have been thinking about that one thing you wish you had the guts to start. So what are you waiting for? Keep sitting on the sidelines, and you’ll still be there in twenty or thirty years, wondering, “What if…?” Others of you are on the verge of quitting. Whatever you’re working on is hard, and it’s been a long, winding, sometimes rocky path. You’re ready to throw in the towel. Before you do that, dig deep one more time. Find your grit, get creative with how you’re approaching your obstacles, and give it one more push.

Don’t ditch your dream. To receive weekly encouragement and the push to stay disciplined, follow me here!

If podcasts are your thing, you can also follow me on the new Grit Meets Growth podcast, available here or on your favorite podcast platforms.

Make today awesome and get after it!

– John