I hear a lot of people telling me their plans to start a company, but they’re waiting until "X" or "Y" happens first. To me, that's a mistake.
Related: Achieved Your Goal? Reach for More.
Instead, I believe that waiting for the "perfect time" is a fallacy because the "perfect time" doesn’t exist. Instead, I believe that the moment you’re inspired is the closest you'll get to the perfect time.
When I started my company, Headbands of Hope, at the age of 20, I had no idea that that decision was going to change the rest of my life. I could have waited until I graduated or had more experience or more time, but I didn't wait. You shouldn't, either. If you want to something bad enough, whether it’s starting a business or running a marathon or traveling abroad, you should try to get it done as early as possible in your life. Here are some reasons why:
1. If not now, when?
I recently had a consulting client who had a full-time job but had been working on a side business for a few years. He asked me when I had known to make the leap from my “real” job to working on my business full-time.
The truth is, I never had a real job. I started my company in college, so I never applied for jobs. I never had the experience of a steady salary or benefits, so I never had to make the decision to give these things up. A huge advantage to taking that risk before I was 25 was never having had a security blanket to begin with. The only answer I could give him is, "If not now, when?"
My parents recently sold everything and bought an RV to live in full-time and travel the country. They could have waited until they had more money or until everything was "stable." But their reason to "go for it" was so simple: All we have is now.
It’s fairly easy to come up with reasons to hold off or to keep adding to the drawing board, but there is nothing more certain than the present. So, if not now, when?
2. You're naïve and that's a benefit.
I started my business because I saw a need that wasn’t being filled. I never thought about anything other than solving a problem through a business. Had I spent months or years researching everything that could go wrong, or the statistics of unsuccessful businesses, I probably wouldn't have started my company.
I’m living proof that being naïve can be a benefit. Sometimes knowing too much can backfire and deter you from going after your dreams.
3. You have a longer 'do-over' period.
When you’re young, failing at something can have lighter consequences. If my company crashed and burned today, and I lost all the savings I've put into it (which, in hindsight, was not even a lot of money) I’d still be young enough to find another job. More importantly, I wouldn't be damaging other people who are important to me.
When you’re under 25, you tend to have less responsibility than when you’re older. When I started out, I didn’t have a spouse, kids, a house or anything to care for except for myself.
When there are fewer strings attached, your do-over period is easier than if others are depending on you.
4. You can shape the rest of your life.
The experiences you have when you’re younger will shape the rest of your life. Maybe on your bucket list you have the goal of learning a new language -- and at age 20, you take Spanish lessons. The rest of your life, you’ll have the ability to use Spanish.
My mom is my best example: She had the dream of biking coast to coast. And during a summer in college, she actually biked from New York to California, dipped her bicycle wheel into both the Atlantic and the Pacific. She’ll have those memories and that experience within her for the rest of her life.
It’s never too late to tackle your bucket-list dreams, or to recognize that your list will grow the more you grow, and the more you learn about the world.
But, when you also give these dreams a sense of urgency and don’t put them off until "the stars are aligned," you’ll be amazed at how much life you can fit into your years.