If You Want To Do It, Start Now

If You Want To Do It, Start Now January 12, 2023

I want to begin this post with the conclusion: if there’s something you want to do, something you want to be, especially if it’s something you feel called to do or be, start it now. Whether it’s physical, financial, educational, or especially if it’s spiritual, start it now. While there is value in making preparations and in “clearing your desk” if you wait until the time is right you’ll be waiting forever.

And now some context and elaboration.

In response to The Polytheists Who Persist, Narya left a comment saying “my path is just started, though now I feel stuck and maybe I need to sort mundane stuff first before going further.”

I get this. I feel this.

On one hand, I often say “it’s hard to be spiritual when your roof is leaking.” One of the most difficult times on my Pagan journey was mid-2009 through the end of 2010. I got a new boss who was both incompetent and a bad person – that made my paying job extremely stressful. I was starting to blog, I was finishing the OBOD course, and I was Coordinating Officer of Denton CUUPS. It was too much. I spent a ton of time either working or dealing with the work-related stress. I kept my commitments, but I didn’t really make any spiritual progress until 2011 when the bad boss got fired and was replaced by someone with better skills and better ethics.

On the other hand, there’s always something clamoring for our attention. This thing at work, that thing at home, this other thing with your health. If you wait till everything is neat and tidy and under control, you’ll be waiting forever.

Just start

If you want to start a spiritual practice, just start. Set aside a few minutes a day and pray, meditate, make offerings, read and study, or do whatever practice calls to you. If you want to start a magical practice, then read a book or take a class and start casting spells.

If you want to be a writer, start writing.

I always wanted to be a writer. Now, part of the reason I wanted that was because I thought sitting at home writing books would be a lot easier than working a “real” job. Writing is work – honestly, my writing is work in much the same way that my engineering job is work. Still, I didn’t think I could be a writer because I had to work a day job. But I had something to say, so I started writing on a free blogging site. Then I moved to Patheos. Then I wrote two books. I’m a writer because I started writing and I kept writing.

You have to start sometime. Start now.

If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing badly

You’ve heard the expression “anything worth doing is worth doing well.” And while that’s true, it’s just as true that anything worth doing is worth doing badly.

If it’s important to you, you have to be willing to do it badly while you’re figuring it out. Go read some of my blog posts from 2008 and 2009. Better yet, don’t. They aren’t very good. But if I hadn’t written my way through them, I never would have developed the skills to write the way I write now.

Important things are also worth doing badly when you don’t really feel like doing them. Sometimes my nightly prayers are wonderful moments of divine communion. Other times they’re me saying the same words I said the night before and the night before that, because that’s all I’m capable of doing that night. But because I do it night after night after night, I’ve build a practice that supports me in good times and in bad.

It’s better to do things well than to do them poorly. But it’s better to do them poorly than to not do them at all. At least then you’re learning something.

Set realistic expectations

A new skill, a new job, a new practice – mastering it is going to take time. And effort. And more time. For those of us without an abundance of patience (my hand is raised) this is a challenge. Don’t expect to become an expert in your first hundred days.

Perhaps more importantly, remember that progress – whether spiritual, physical, financial, or in any other realm – is never linear. There are long periods of minor ups and downs, then you reach a critical point and you make major progress in a short time. And also, progress is reversible… as we’ve seen in politics in recent years.

Whatever you’re doing, expect it to take time. Expect setbacks. Expect frustration. But expect yourself to work through them.

Make plans and then work the plans

If you’re trying to go somewhere, it’s best if you have an idea of how to get there. Good planning can reduce mistakes and accelerate your learning and growth. “Just start” – but give some thought to how you’re going to start.

For some of us (raises hand again) this can turn into an excuse for endless delay. Sometimes you don’t know exactly how to get to where you want to go. Sometime you have to set off in a general direction and make course corrections as you go.

Remember the words of General George Patton: “a good plan executed violently today will always beat a perfect plan next week.” Patton was talking about war, but substitute “enthusiastically” for “violently” and the principle is the same.

Emergencies are emergencies

Stuff happens. Life happens. Sometimes a trickster God throws a banana peel in your path just to watch you slip and fall.

Sometimes your house catches on fire – hopefully only metaphorically.

When emergencies happen, you have no choice – you stop and take care of them. If your roof is leaking, you stop and patch the roof.

The challenge is to take care of the emergency and get back on track as soon as you can.

Choose your priorities consciously

You have to sleep, and eat, and do something to “make a living.” There are only 24 hours in the day. And contrary to what some like to claim, they’re not the same for everyone. If you work from home, you spend zero hours commuting. If you drive, you spend some hours. If you take public transportation in a city that doesn’t really care about public transportation (which is pretty much the whole United States outside of the Northeast and Chicago) you spend many hours.

I despise “hustle culture” but how you spend the time you have matters. It’s not my place to tell you how much you should be working, studying, practicing, or anything else. It is my place to encourage you to choose where you spend your time mindfully and consciously.

Does it move you closer to your goals? Does it provide happiness? Is it necessary for your survival? If not, why are you doing it?

There are countless claims on our time, from work to entertainment to politics to bloggers trying to get you to start living the way you really want to live. Choose for yourself.

No one is ever truly ready for deep work

Most of what I’ve been talking about so far applies to spirituality and magic, health and fitness, work and finances, and every other aspect of life. But I’d like to talk a bit specifically about deep spiritual work.

You’re never ready.

You hear the call of the Morrigan and you don’t know what to do. Meanwhile She’s putting a spear in your hands and pointing you toward the front lines.

A God you had never considered before last week shows up and demands your attention.

You’ve dabbled in witchcraft before, but all of a sudden you have a Great Need and it’s going to take more magic than you’ve ever done in your life.

You’re never ready for these things. But here you are. To quote Master Yoda “do or do not. There is no try.”

It’s amazing what you can do when it comes down to do or do not.

You will never be exempt from the difficulties of mundane life

There are two big religious lies in contemporary society.

One says that if you practice the right religion in the right way, nothing bad will happen to you. And if something bad does happen, it’s a sign that you’re doing it wrong.

The other says that bad things will happen to you, but if you practice the right religion in the right way it won’t matter, because you’ll be so spiritually elevated that it won’t bother you. And if it does bother you, it’s a sign that you’re doing it wrong.

These are lies.

Bad things happen to good people. And if you wait till the difficult and painful parts of life stop before you focus on spiritual work, you’ll be waiting forever.

Start now.

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