If there is one thing I have learned from every hard thing I’ve done is that you are never ready to do something hard.  It’s not a feeling that will all of a sudden one day happen to let you know that it’s time to do something hard, something different, or take a risk.  I’ve spent much of my life waiting to “feel” ready to take a chance, but instead, staying in the same place for an extended period, wondering why I felt stuck.  And many of us don’t realize that it’s natural to feel nervous or unsure about taking on a new challenge or opportunity, but waiting until you feel ready is not the best approach.

The reflection I had on the mountain was that I was never going to feel ready to summit.  There are too many risks and unknowns for you to feel ready; I realized I had to decide to be ready.  It’s amazing what your mind will do when you make a decision – it’s like it starts to lay out the plan for you.  All it takes is the courage to decide because not making a decision is worse than making the wrong one.

By deciding to act, you gain experience and the ability to learn, even if it was a mistake you learned from.  Here are a few of the learnings I realized after the fact, which helped me decide that I was ready to conquer the mountain.

  1. Do a risk analysis.  I know this sounds complicated, but it doesn’t need to be.  Here are a few simple questions to help you frame the risk of making the decision.
    1. What are the risks of making this decision?  Do the benefits of the decision outweigh the risks?
    2. The 10-year test – Will I regret not making this decision 10 years from now?
  2. Surround yourself with the right people.  Find people taking risks and making big decisions and learn from them.  Make sure you are hanging out with people going where you want to go.  The group of 10 people that I climbed the mountain with made all the difference for me.  Each of us was fully committed and decided to summit.  If even one person had lost their commitment, it would have created an easy out for all of us.
  3. Prepare mentally.  The hardest points of climbing the mountain had zero to do with my physical ability or how smart I was; it had everything to do with my mental state.  When you do something big, you must mentally prepare yourself for fear, second-guessing, and everything else that comes along with it.  When you feel mentally prepared, you create a sense of grit within yourself to accomplish anything.

Ultimately, there may never be the perfect time to conquer that next challenge or opportunity.  But realize that just because there is uncertainty and hesitation, it does not mean that you should not do it.  As my guide Victor told me during the hardest parts of the climb – “this pain is temporary, but the pride you will feel is forever.”  What decision do you need to make today?