Any time we start a new project we must prepare. How can we hope to be successful in anything without having the right knowledge, tools and skills? Without proper preparation we do not have a hope of succeeding however over preparing can really be an excuse to avoid doing the things we need to. Think of a stop light: Red we are not prepared, green we are ready to go, yellow we are staling and if it gets back to red we will probably never take action at all.
Preparation as excuse is one of the most insidious ways we avoid starting projects. It can trick others in to thinking we are working on something and it can make us feel as if we are actually accomplishing something. There comes a point where the time invested in a planning a project does not add any more value or increase our chance of successes. The worst is when we prepare but we feel we just need that one more thing that is not ready yet, maybe a report is coming out or we want to go over something with a partner who is never available. When we are doing this sort of stand by prep we are most likely to never do the project at all.
To avoid falling in to the swamp of over prepping we need to ask what this adds to my chance of successes. As always it is important to answer honestly and question our answers. If we start seeing that everything we do does not move us closer to succeeding it is time to start.
I remember when I was a kid going to the county pool to go swimming on hot summer days. There were many things there that divided kids in to different groups, Did you stay in the kiddy pool with the little kids, did you go in the deep end, play on the diving bored or most bad ass of all did you use the high dive. The high dive holds a lesson for finding the right amount of preparedness as well as the awkwardness of over preparing. It is obvious that we cannot use the high dive properly when we are standing on the ground. We have to prepare so we start climbing, each rung of the latter is a necessary step in that preparation. Now when we reach the top of the ladder we are not ready to dive yet, the only way we have to jump is back down to the cement and the kids waiting below us. We continue to prepare to jump walking out to the end of the diving bored. Now we are prepared, we look out at the water below us and make sure there is no one below us and we leap, in other words we start our project. The other option is to over prepare, maybe we stand at the edge of the bored watching the water tell ourselves it is not yet safe to jump or maybe we bounce up and down on the edge of the bored looking like we are about to go, or we stand there paralyzed and scared not preparing but not ready to jump. No matter what we do the other kids see this and know we are staling they might start to snicker or talk about us. We need to jump otherwise our prep is a waste and we are worse off than when we started. We have wasted our time and energy as well as the time of those waiting behind us in line.
If we are not going to start there is no point in preparing which means at some point we must say I am as ready as I will ever be and jump.
Editing Project: Not dwelling