Why Not Now?

This article was originally published on riskology.co

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I like planning. In fact, I write about it quite a bit. Important as it is, though, there’s an inherent downside to planning, and it’s that there’s a distinct chance that you’ll never get around to actually doing anything.

Planning lends itself well to action in the future. If you want to do something important, you say to yourself, “This is really important. Today, I’m going to plan out how I’ll start tomorrow.”

Will you actually start tomorrow? I suppose it depends how important it really is to you.

Everyone hates to admit it, but there’s a huge gap between what we say we want and what we actually want. That’s why McDonalds makes more and more money every year by ignoring its customers’ requests for more healthy food on the menu.

No one actually wants healthy food, they just say they do. What they really want is a cheeseburger. McDonalds knows that so that’s what they keep making.

I do this all the time. I’ve been exercising three times a week for more than two years now, and, since the first week, I’ve been telling myself that I should really measure my results so I can get even fitter. Sometimes, I even plan to buy a stopwatch and create a spreadsheet “next week” so that I can get started. Of course, I never do.

The point I’m trying to make here is that it’s important to ask yourself, “Do I actually want this, or do I just want to want it?”

If you actually want something, but you’re not doing anything about it, then a plan isn’t going to help.

What you need, instead, is something you can do right now. Not something you can do next week, tomorrow, or even later today, you need something you can do right now.

Ask yourself, “Why not now?”

Why can’t you get started right away? Why do you have to wait for something else to happen? What’s so special about the date you’ve set? Why do you have to wait for someone else to do something? If you really want it, then the responsibility is on you to make it happen, isn’t it?

If you have to wait, then maybe the first step is too big. How can you break down that first step even smaller so that you can do something right now?

Got it in your head? Great. Now go do it. I’ll wait.

This applies anywhere in life and it’s especially true for your big plans — the big risks you want to take.

If you want to quit your job, but don’t have enough money, ask yourself why you’re waiting to save any. There’s all kinds of excuses to not do something, but most of them aren’t very good. Pick something from your life that costs $1 a day and cut it out. Just get the ball rolling. Here’s an idea to get you started.

If you want to start a business, what can you do to get started today? A big idea can start small. No money for a website? I started Riskology.co for less than $100 using WordPress, a premium theme, and a web hosting plan that costs $9 a month.

If you want to go on a big adventure, what’s stopping you? Afraid to leave your old life behind for a while? Why not go away for a day and see how it feels. Why not do it now? Then go away for a week. Build to up to bigger and better adventures. You’ll figure out how to do the big stuff while you’re working on the smaller things.

If you want to be a musician but don’t have an instrument, you could keep saving for the best one possible, or you could find a cheap, beat-up one on Craigslist today. Go to your local music store and hide in the back, playing the ones on display. If a salesman asks what you’re up to, tell him you’re saving up to buy it, and ask for a free lesson.

If you want to be an artist, get out a piece of paper and a pen and sketch some of the paintings or sculptures you’ll make once you have a paint set or a sculpting kit. Learn origami or take your food coloring out of the pantry and mix them together to see what colors you get.

Whatever it is you want to do that you’re not doing now, don’t spend another minute planning how you’ll get started next month, next week, or even tomorrow. Don’t take that chance. Figure out what you can do today. Figure out what you can do in the next 10 minutes to get the ball rolling.

You don’t have to be a hero. You just have to do something. Keep up that habit and the hero status will come.

How about you? What can you do with the next 10 minutes to make sure you’re doing what’s really important to you?

Tyler Tervooren founded Riskology.co, where he shares research and insights about mastering your psychology by taking smarter risks. For more, join his Smart Riskologist Newsletter.