When I was younger and still living in Lithuania, my outlook on life was absolutely different than it is right now.
I thought the world was harsh, success is extremely hard to achieve, if possible at all, and if you start something, you better be extremely good at that, otherwise, what’s the point?
This attitude made my life quite difficult. I couldn’t start any projects simply because I never felt good enough to even try. If I wanted to start something new, I’d spend months trying to teach it to myself, but no matter how much time I’d spend on it – I’d never reach the point of satisfaction and would never feel ready. There was simply more to learn, more to do and more to experience! So, I’d look at people my age going after what they want and trying new things and that would make me jealous and… incapable to do the same.
Things got worse when I moved to Scotland to study. I experienced a mild state of depression-like sadness because now I also had to start worrying about actually getting a job and paying rent. But I not only had no real-life experience in anything useful, I also had to adapt to a new culture and quickly learn to speak English fluently. And even though I eventually managed to get a few jobs in the hospitality industry without having any experience, it wasn’t what I wanted to do. I wanted to break into the marketing industry (what I studied at uni), but I couldn’t because I had no experience. So, once again, I was spending all the free time I had left after studying at uni and working part-time by enrolling in different courses and reading marketing/business-related books. Obviously, I thought I must become a world-class marketer to get my first entry-level marketing job 😅
The Advice That Changed It All
In my third year at uni, I started to look for internships to gain relevant experience. It was quite difficult for me though because I didn’t have anything to offer. I soon realised that I must try some volunteering or unpaid placements, where I could apply the knowledge I’ve gathered from all the courses and books that I’ve spent years reading!
After many cold emails, I finally landed an unpaid part-time internship as a marketing assistant at a place that wasn’t really looking for anyone but thought why not use an extra pair of hands and help a girl out to build her CV 🙃 And this is where I met someone wonderful – a person who gave me a piece of advice that I follow to this day.
She was the director of the musical theatre that I was interning at. In my eyes, she appeared to be an ultimate success story – she was doing something that she deeply cared about and she built a team of like-minded people to help her do it. They created a friendly, inclusive and informal atmosphere – it was just beautiful. And she herself appeared to be so free and so authentic, that I couldn’t help but look up to her and feel that one day I would like to be just like her.
Once we started talking about how she came to do what she does and what I’m hoping to do in the future. I shared my hopes and worries about my inability to go after what I want due to my lack of hands-on experience. To be fair, I felt that I knew everything I needed to know from all the reading I’ve done, but I knew that theory is nothing compared to a real-life experience… I simply couldn’t convince anyone to give me a chance because I didn’t believe that I could deliver!
“Nobody knows that they are doing. I also don’t know what I am doing, I learn as I go!” she said.
And then it clicked.
It wasn’t about being perfect or feeling ready. And it’s not about convincing someone to give you a chance so you could learn and grow.
It was simply all about starting and improving!
“If I knew this before, I’d have already started so many things on my own and might have actually achieved something I’d be super proud about right now”, I thought.
Needless to say, soon after this conversation, I started working harder on my dreams. I stopped waiting until someone gives me an opportunity. I started my own projects to gain the experience I wanted and needed. Soon after, getting internships, work experiences and job offers became easier and easier.
I no longer care if I don’t know how to do something. I’m perfectly fine with not knowing and giving myself space to grow as I go. I’m not as afraid to fail as I was before. I know that I don’t need to be perfect to do something, I just need to learn from my hands-on experiences. I no longer care about being perfect at things, I only care about letting myself start them. Finally, I no longer believe that I need to be given opportunities by somebody else, I can create my own projects to develop relevant skills and gain the experience I need. Now I not only engage in more personal projects than I can actually handle but I also say “yes” to more things that I might not even feel ready for.
Start now, improve later
For the purpose of this post, I thought I’ll look for influencers, books, videos or other material that advises this exact same thing. And I found quite a few! For example, here’s Tara’s take on the biggest mistake new entrepreneurs make when they want to start a business that I think is relevant for everyone else too:
“They wait to get started. They wait until they have more information, more experience, more money, and a more perfect version of whatever they have created. All that waiting means they’re not really learning. When you’re an entrepreneur, the best way to learn is to do something, to put your idea into someone’s hands, or to talk to the people you want to serve. Stop waiting and do… something.”
And here are a couple of wise words from the book “Leaders’ Frontpage: Leadership Insights from 21 Martin Luther King Jr. Thoughts” by
“Sometimes the only things preventing your dreams from becoming realities is the long time it is taking you to start.”
“Most times, the way isn’t clear, but you want to start anyway. It is in starting with the first step that other steps become clearer.”
And here’s another one from the book “No Excuses Mindset” by
“Don’t wait for being completely ready for the plans and ideas you may have in mind. Take action now and along the way you will learn and become ready.”
And, finally, this one quote by Richie Norton that sounds just too real and describes where I was in the past the best:
“I did hundreds of interviews with people in retirement or approaching retirement. Here was their theme: ‘I was waiting for a time when I’d have more time, education, experience or money to do what I wanted to do…only to find out when I got there that I still needed more time, more education, more experience and more money.”
☝ This state of mind is just very sad. Having lived with this for years I can tell you that my life is many times better now than it was before. In fact, none of the things I’ve already done and are currently doing would have been started should I still have the same attitude I had before… and that would really suck 🙃