“I’ll take action as soon as I know for sure what will work.”
I hear this lie almost daily in one form or another. People don’t say it like that, of course. Instead they say things like…
“How do I know if what I have is worth selling?”
Answer: You don’t. The only way to know for sure is by selling it first.
“How do I know who will resonate with my writing?”
Answer: You don’t. Write first and the audience will follow.
“How do I know what I’m most passionate about?”
Answer: You don’t. Go try a bunch of stuff and then stop doing the ones you hate.
The truth is, you have no idea what you’re doing.
And that’s totally okay.
In fact, the only way to learn is to embrace your own ignorance and then do something about it. Clarity requires action.
You Weren’t Taught This In School
Life isn’t like school. You can’t just study the answers and then go in perfectly prepared for the test. Most of the time you won't even know what you don't know.
And that’s great news. Because in life, unlike in school, you get to take the test an unlimited amount of times until you ace it (assuming you start small).
Of course, this requires looking dumb the first couple of times you take the test. And guess what? No one cares.
Isn’t that awesome? Give me the test right now. I want to know what’s on it.
You will make mistakes. Probably a lot of them. If you can’t accept that, give up now because you really can't live life without making mistakes.
Perfection is not the goal. Success is. And success requires failure.
Know When To Take A Step Back
Am I suggesting that you just do things blindly your whole life with no intentionality? Not at all. I’m all for being deliberate. But in order to be deliberate you need actual data to work with.
This can be your data or someone else’s. If someone else has done what you want to do already, by all means learn from their mistakes. Just know that you’d probably learn way faster by making your own.
So, where’s the balance between preparation and execution? It all depends on what the cost of failure is. Not the perceived cost to your ego, but the actual cost.
If you’re going to be flying a fighter jet for the first time, it’s probably worth doing a little bit of preparation. If you’re putting out a blog post, who cares?
This is where starting small comes in. It’s why “beta” versions exist in tech. It's the idea of failing fast so that you can learn fast instead of putting pressure on yourself for the perfect launch.
When preparation becomes paralysis, it’s time to act. Break that sucker down into less risky chunks and do the best you can.
The whole idea of being deliberate is that you try something, figure out what didn’t work so well, and then do it better the next time.
You can’t hack this process by jumping all the way to the end. You have to actually go do stuff. Then you can take a step back.
Oh, and you can't step back if you never stepped forward in the first place.
The Bottom Line
Whatever you want clarity on right now, I can pretty much guarantee you’re overcomplicating it.
It’s okay to make it up as you go. If you’re an entrepreneur of any type, it’s necessary.
Not optional. Not helpful. Necessary.
It’s possible that you’re underprepared. It's possible that if you did just a tiny bit more research, you could blow them out of the water. Possible, but unlikely.
People who are successful don’t have a better plan than you. Or more talent. They’ve just kept doing and adjusting long enough to figure it out.
It’s normal to feel unsure. The question is, what are you gonna do about it?