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Episode 70: Start Imperfectly

This is an edited version of a podcast episode. If you prefer to listen, click  Make Me Whole Podcast or click Podcast in the menu above to find this and all my other episodes.

On a background of purple and gold watercolors, white, all caps text reads, "Stop dreaming and start doing."

Welcome back to the Make Me Whole Series, the place where we talk about life, with all of its mess and beauty. Whether you’re a long time reader or visiting for the first time, I’m really glad you're here! Today’s topic: starting! Specifically starting something new and becoming more at ease not being an instant expert. We’re going to dig deep into why it’s absolutely ok, in fact necessary, to start things imperfectly. So wherever you are, take a moment to settle in because this episode might just be the nudge that you’re waiting for. Let’s get started!

It’s a word we hear a lot, isn’t it? When I'm ready, I'll start my diet. When I’m ready, I’ll apply for that new job. When I’m ready, I’ll write that book that I’ve been dreaming about. But here’s the question we need to sit with: what does ready even mean? Is it a certain feeling, a perfect set of circumstances, an alignment of the stars? I’ve got news for you. Readiness is often a mirage. It’s this shiny, tempting oasis that gets further away the more you move towards it. I used to wait for that feeling of readiness. I’d sit there, daydreaming about all the things I wanted to do. And I’d wait. And wait. Until one day, I realized that readiness isn’t a starting line that you cross. It’s a state of mind that you create, and the only way to bring it about is to begin! Messily, imperfectly, and uncertainly. 

Think about the first time you tried something new. Maybe it was riding a bike, cooking a meal from scratch, or even beginning a new relationship. When you were ready, truly ready? I wasn't. I remember the first time I tried to make my grandmother’s famous empanadas. I had the recipe, but I didn’t have the finesse. They came out a little bit too salty, and I saw it as a culinary disaster. But you know what? It tasted ok. Not great, but ok. And with each attempt, I got better. That’s the thing about first times. It’s not about being great right from the gate, but rather about improving with each try. So, today I’m challenging you (and myself!) to redefine ready. Let’s see it as a green light that we give ourselves, not one that we wait for from the world. What’s one thing you’ve been putting off because you don’t feel ready? Hold on to that thought, because we’re going to come back and talk a little bit more about it. 

Let’s talk about beginnings. The first shaky, uncertain steps towards something new. I want to tell you about a friend of mine. Let’s call him Alex. Alex had a business idea that he thought about every single day on his way to work. He had it all planned out in his head: the business model, the branding, even the social media strategy. But he never started. Why? Because he was afraid of starting small. He was afraid of making mistakes. But here's the thing about potential failure: it’s the starting point for ALL of us. Every master was once a novice. Every expert was once a beginner. What if we looked at mediocrity not as failure, but as a rite of passage? It’s like that first pancake you make. It always looks a little funny, but it’s a start and the next one will be better. Alex finally took the plunge when his job was no longer satisfying him. He started his own business, and yes, the first few months were tough. There were days when he doubted everything, but he didn’t stop. Now 2 years later, his business isn’t just surviving, it’s thriving. It all started with him embracing the possibility of being mediocre. 

So what’s your starting point? Is it signing up for a painting class, even though you’ve never held a brush? I’ve done that, and was relatively successful by the way. (Shout out to my cousin Tanya!) Is it writing the first chapter of your novel, knowing it won’t be a masterpiece? Whatever it is, embrace it! Start there. The journey to excellence has to begin somewhere, right? And mediocrity is as good a place as any. 

Now, let’s chat a little bit about feelings because you know we want to be sure we’re covering that! Yes, those tricky, flickering flames that can light the way or burn the whole house down. They are powerful, they are persuasive, and they can be downright overbearing, taking over if we let them call all the shots. You know the drill. You set your alarm early to go out for that run, but when the morning comes, your bed is so warm and the air outside is so cold. Your feelings whisper, “Let’s just skip today, I deserve it,” or maybe, “Why bother? I’m not fast, and I don’t want people to see me.” That’s the tyranny of emotion. It’s seductive, it’s comfortable, it’s a trap. But I’m going to arm you with a secret weapon: commitment. Commitment is that guardrail that keeps you on the path when your feelings want to take you off-roading. It’s what pushes people to do that first thing. Let’s say you want to write a book. Every day after work, whether you’re tired or not, you sit down to write. Some days it’s a paragraph, other days it's a whole page. Maybe you don’t always feel like it, but you’re dedicated, and before you know it you'll have a finished manuscript sitting on your desk. It’s a dramatic example, but you get the point. 

How do we combat those bossy feelings? Well, with habits. Habits are the antidote to the chaos of feelings. They are sound structures in the midst of emotional storms. It’s most effective to start small. Want to read more? Start with 10 pages a night. Looking to eat healthier? Start with one fresh, balanced, home-cooked meal a week. It’s not about huge leaps. It's about those tiny, consistent steps. Remember that feelings are like the weather. They change and shift all the time. But your will? That’s like a mountain, steadfast and enduring. So, plant your feet, put your eyes on the horizon, and get down to business! When your feelings don’t align with your goals, that's your time to shine. 

Now if there’s one thing I've learned, it's that confidence isn’t a suit you put on, it's a muscle you build. Like any muscle, it gets stronger with use. I’ll never forget my first live speaking event. My knees were knocking, and my palms were sweaty. I stepped up feeling anything but confident, but I did it! And the next time, it got a little easier. After a few times, I found my rhythm. That’s confidence! It grows in the doing, not the waiting. But how do you build that muscle, especially when it feels like you're starting from 0? It’s about setting yourself up for small victories. Hit that one week streak of a new habit? Celebrate it! Completed a tough task at work? Take a moment to acknowledge it! Every small win is a weight lifted in the confidence gym. So, start where you are. Do something today that your future self is going to be so happy about. It doesn't have to be grand. It just has to be a step. Because with each rep, that muscle gets a little bit stronger, a little more defined, and a lot more capable. 

Alright, let’s bring this all home with some actionable strategies, because I know you all love that. We’ve talked about firsts, feelings, confidence. Now, how do we take all of that and make something happen? It all starts with a plan, but not just any plan. A plan that is so foolproof, so doable, that your feelings and fears won’t stand a chance. It’s about knowing the what and the how. What will you do? How will you do it? And, most importantly, why you want to do it. Let’s break it down. Say you want to start exercising. What’s the plan? You are going to walk for 30 minutes, three times a week. How will you do it? You put your walking shoes by the door, schedule it in your calendar, and pair up with a walking buddy. Why do you do it? Because you want to feel stronger, healthier, and more alive. Or maybe you want to start saving money. What’s the plan? You’ll save a portion of each paycheck. How? By setting up an automatic transfer every Tuesday. Why? Because you’re building toward financial freedom and peace of mind. 

These strategies aren't just about achieving goals. They’re about creating a life that’s rich, full, and aligned with your values. They're about making the day-to-day decisions that add up to a lifetime of purpose and passion. So what’s your plan? What small step can you take today that will make a difference for tomorrow? Think on that, and when you’ve got your answer, step boldly into action!


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