When it comes to self-improvement and success, there are two kinds of readers:
1. the perennial student
2. the future superstar
Which are you? It’s an important question, and you need to give yourself an honest answer. If you read a lot about success but have not yet made progress toward your goals, chances are you’ll follow this aimless path for the rest of your life. Unless you do something about it immediately. What you should do is face the fact that you are afraid of failing and adopt a new attitude about failure.
You need to ask yourself, “What is the worst thing that could happen if this new venture doesn’t work out?” And if you can live with that possibility, you need to go ahead — even if you don’t feel completely ready. That’s another important change you must make: a change in the way you feel about being “ready.” I made this point in several past ETR messages. I told you I’m a big fan of what I call the “Ready … Fire … Aim” approach.
To me, that pretty much summarizes a healthy position. You must ready yourself before you undertake any sort of venture that could improve your life. You must think about what you want, find out a good deal about it, and set specific goals that are — according to the research you’ve done — both ambitious and realistic. You must do all those things. But then you must put your plan into action.
You must recognize the fear in you and resist it. A man always preparing to go into business is like a ship in harbor. The ship is safe but, as William Shedd once said, being safe is not what a ship is built for. Learn about your new career but remember that the learning is to provide you with the means. It is not the end. When you feel that you basically understand your chosen business/career, put an end to learning (for the moment) and act. Get started if only to get the momentum going. Get started because you need cash flow to test your ideas. Get started because you realize that the sooner you start making mistakes the faster you can solve them. Get started because you want to begin living your dream immediately.
Take this test to see if you are a self-improvement junkie:
1. Of the top 20 goals you set for yourself last year, how many did you achieve?
2. How many hours each week did you devote to those goals?
3. How many hours did you spend on reading and planning?
If you have spent a lot of time preparing and have gotten very little done, you may be a self-improvement junkie. Ask a friend or trusted colleague, “On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being a learner and 10 being a doer, where do I fall?” Imagine your friends and colleagues describing you at your funeral — not out in front of everyone where they might wish to be polite, but huddled in quiet corners talking among themselves. How would they describe you?
If you face yourself and see a self-improvement junkie, don’t despair. You are better off than most people. At least you have the will to achieve something great in life. At least you have the diligence to spend time preparing for it. All you have to do now is get yourself into action.