Monday 28 April 2014

Ready, set, go - what if you're not ready?

Being ready.
Over the weekend I have been thinking a lot about this. There are many decisions we have to make in life: what sort of career we want, if we want to move in with our significant other, kids or no kids, do we want to live in the city or the country, gluten or no gluten... it is an endless list.

Let's say you have been living with your partner for a while, and now you are contemplating getting married. Well-meaning friends may say to you: "You will know when you are ready."
But is that really true? How can we when we have to make a leap into the unknown? You can never really "get ready" for something you have never done before, you have to learn as you go along.

Quite honestly, when we decided to get married, none of us knew for sure if it would work out. Of course we didn't admit that at the time; we found out years later, had a good laugh about it and thanked our lucky stars that it all turned out so nicely.
All we knew at the time was this: We had lived apart for a few months (I went to Wales, he was in Canada - remind me to tell you this part of our relationship saga another time), and we didn't like it. Not one bit.

So we decided to just go for it and see what happens. We loved each other, and that needed to be enough.
But were we ready for marriage? Nope, not really.

I'm by nature a overthinker. Taking leaps of faith does not come naturally to me. But I have also learned that overthinking can hold you back big time. You can always find excuses not to do something new: it is the unknown, with the real possibility of failure.

But over the last 15 years or so, I have experienced that some of the best decisions I have made came from a place where I was decidedly not ready. Some worked out, some didn't. And you know what?
Even the ones that didn't work out had their purpose, and I don't regret any of it.
Let me give you a quick rundown:

  • At 19, I had absolutely no idea what I should do after high school. For strange reasons, I decided to study forestry. Possibly one of the worst fits I could think of - I have no head for plant names, especially not the Latin ones. FAIL
  • But here is the huge good thing that came of it: Through the other students I gathered the courage to visit Canada; and the college black board helped me find a place where I could go to. Which, if you have been reading for a bit, led to my meeting my future husband. WIN
  • Once in Canada, there were lots of decisions I needed to make that I was not ready for. Pretty much all of them, to tell you the truth. After I had been there for a year, I was desperate to get started on a career of my own. Even though I didn't feel remotely ready, I applied at a tourism college - and was accepted. To be honest, it was a questionable establishment and has since closed - but it gave me a huge boost of confidence, helped tremendously with refining my English, and gave me the opportunity to work abroad. Was the tourism sector right for me? No. But it gave me more positives than negatives. FAIL/WIN This one is a tie.
  • The marriage question came next. As explained above, we took a chance, and it exceeded our wildest dreams. WIN!
  • Now 25, I went the safe route and did what I had known since childhood: retail and playing the organ on Sundays. After a couple of years I needed to finally get a grip on my life, and went for something that scared me quite a bit: attempt to get into a "real" college and start a career in health care. After a year of upgrading plus 2.5 years at college, I came out at the other end of the tunnel with a decent job that I actually like. WIN
  • Then, a bit over a year ago, I decided to start a blog. Did I know anything about blogs? Nope. Did I have a concept? Not at all. Did I know what I was doing? Hell no! I learned as I went along, and it has become my most treasured hobby and one of the biggest joys in my life. WIN
Are you trying to make a change in your life, or are facing a big decision, and just don't know if you should dare because you are not ready?
Here are the 5 questions I ask myself when I'm in that situation:

What is the worst that can happen?
If you contemplate making a big investment that will leave you homeless if it doesn't work out - don't do it.
If what you want to do may potentially harm you or others - don't do it.
But if you have your heart set on acting, or singing in a band, or moving to the big city, or making a career change - what happens in case it doesn't work out? You may realize that you have no talent. It stings, but at least you tried! You may fail - but now you know. In my experience though, more times than not it will work out. If you are passionate about something, you are willing to work hard, and hard work usually pays off.

Will I regret one day that I didn't take this chance?
That's the biggest one for me. I picture myself, 80 years old, sitting in my rocking chair, and looking back at my life - will I regret the times I tried and failed? No, I know I won't. But a failed opportunity? That is harder to swallow. Fear is not a good enough reason not to try!

What would Jennifer Lawrence do?
Everybody is scared. Even if you can't see it, they are. Watch the biography channel if you don't believe me: every success story is paved with disappointments, failed tries and years of hard work. The secret is to believe in yourself and not to give up.

Can I continue living my life the way it is now?
Contemplating a change usually means that something is missing in our life. We are restless, or unhappy, or dissatisfied. How bad is it? Can we continue living that way, and live with the dissatisfaction? Or will it get worse and worse, to the point that we can't stand it any longer?

Will I learn something from it?
Either it works out or it doesn't, but there is a lesson to be learned either way. We learn way better and more efficiently from own experience - those life lessons are invaluable.
Plus, from a blogging point of view, mishaps and mistakes are fun to write about!

What about you? Have you done something you were not ready for? How did it go? I would love to hear your stories.

xoxo Miriam

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  1. I dated a guy for 7 yrs and he abused me. something I wasn't ready for and something I can't wipe clean from my mind but I got out of it almost 3 years ago and have now met a great guy who appreciates me and treats me like i need to be treated. following you. would love for you to come check me out

  2. Great questions to ask!! I love the one about Jennifer Lawrence. So true!!

    I think back on guys that I've dated that I totally would have married and in hindsight, that would have been a very bad decision. So good they didn't ask! And maybe I stayed in those relationships for longer than I should have, but they somehow led me to where I am now, so I'm grateful all the same.


  3. "What would Jennifer Lawrence do?" Hahaha Gave me a real chuckle there. :) Today I went and got my hair highlighted! Not a huge deal, but it's been about 14 years so it was exciting and I love it. Was going to just go for it and chop it off but then I decided that I don't actually want to do that deep down, and I'm glad I didn't. I think that some people do feel the "ready" feeling and some people don't. Sometimes it really does just take a push or a leap of faith!

  4. Bahahah @ "what would Jennifer Lawrence do?" I'm going to use that as the basis for all of my decision making henceforth!

  5. I love your graphics for this one and your expression in the first one...nice work!! Great post and some good words to live by. Also, the school one is a bit of win/fail situation as you say yourself :) P likes to remind me when I'm hard on myself for the past that we might not have met if I did things differently ;) I know I shouldn't let fear/doubt play into most of my decision making; they are hard to look past sometimes :)


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