As far as I am concerned, lack of preparation is the root of all evil when it comes to achieving peak performance. There is little else that will cause more anxiety than entering an important event feeling unprepared. Sometimes, however, we may use “preparation” as a crutch or an excuse to never get started at all. If you are stuck in the preparation stage, it may be time to start before you are ready.
Do you find yourself stalling for time, perhaps telling yourself that you are not quite ready? Maybe you’re telling yourself that if you learn to ride just a bit better, get a better horse, a more flexible work schedule, the kids start school, the kids finish school, you lose a little more weight, then you’ll be ready. If that sounds familiar, then perhaps your preparation has turned to procrastination, and it might be time to get to the bottom of what is holding you back.
The first step is to define your goals. Vague goals are hard to attain. It’s like trying to hit a moving target. So take some time to clarify exactly what you want to achieve and design a specific goal plan to help you get there.
Next, face your fears. This can be tricky, but you need to find out exactly what is holding you back from moving forward. Could it be that you are afraid of failure? Are you concerned about what others will say or think? Are you afraid of letting others down? Are you afraid of letting yourself down? Could you be concerned about sustaining an injury or getting hurt? Once you identify the root of your fear, you can tackle the obstacle directly.
I’m not suggesting that you launch into a new venture without adequate preparation. I am still a firm believer that preparation is key to peak performance, but be careful not to confuse preparation with perfection. No one enters a performance feeling perfectly prepared. Even top performers are haunted by self-doubt from time to time, so let go of your quest for perfection and just do the best you can.
We learn from our experiences, but if you are stuck in a preparation rut, then you are not getting the experiences (good, bad, and ugly) that you need to progress as a performer. So sometimes you just need to step out there and give it a shot. Prepare the best you can, be clear with what you want, challenge your fears and just jump in. Often taking the first step is the hardest. Go make your dreams come true.