Start before you’re ready

December 27th, 2012

Some people like to set goals. I’m not one of them. I find goals too restricting, they don’t allow for serendipity and can blind me to opportunities that might arise while I have my sights set on achieving those goals.

There’s also a thing called goal displacement, where means to the goal becomes the goal itself. Here’s an example. Just about every country, at some time or another, has used a bounty as a way to reduce pests.In Australia, the Government offers bounties for fox tails. The goal is to reduce foxes. It works, for a time, then the number of foxes increases. How so? The bounty itself becomes the goal – so hunters don’t hunt female foxes, ensuring a continuing supply of young foxes for the bounty next year. The economic imperative replaces the original goal.

I prefer little mantras, reminders of how I want to be in the world.

This last year it was Show up. Let go. Jump in. It has served me well. I’ve shown up to places, events and for people. I’ve let go of my own agenda (or tried to) and of expectations. And I’ve jumped in – contributed, offered help and ideas.

In 2013, it’s time for a shift. A new mantra for a new year.

I’m drawn to this one: Start before you’re ready. Rob Poynton wrote this post back in July. I wasn’t ready for it then! In part, Rob wrote:

“I have been very struck recently by how productive it can be to start things before you are ‘ready’.  It is something improvisers do the whole time.  They step on stage before they have an idea, rather than waiting until they have one.  They let the idea emerge from the action…I don’t mean you shouldn’t prepare but that if everything is determined and decided beforehand – in other words, if you are completely ‘ready’ – then something is lost.  The unimagined possibility is eradicted before it even has the chance to occur.”

Yeah. Works for me.


4 Comments so far

  1. Nancy White on December 28, 2012 9:47 am
  2. Viv McWaters on December 28, 2012 2:17 pm

    Thanks Nancy. Kismet indeed. I always think planning and targets and goals and other forms of linear thinking are compelling – until they bump up against the real world 🙂

  3. Niels Schuddeboom on December 30, 2012 1:10 am

    Thank you Viv, for the post. Gets me thinking: is it good what I try to do?
    As a present to you and all others, let me share again a talk you may know already: Brené Brown on Vulnerability, which is, to me, closely related to the goal disease.
    Best wishes for 2013!


  4. beginning « Sentio on December 31, 2012 10:51 am

    […]  I shan’t preempt any discussion of this powerful memoir but this book and this mantra via Viv McWaters – Start before you’re ready – have pushed me to begin this ‘something’ that moves beyond my other more purpose-built blogs […]

Name (required)

Email (required)


Speak your mind

This blog is kept spam free by WP-SpamFree.