Always Start Before You're Ready

The untold leverage of time vs start now and start early

Did you ever feel this way? “What if I took action last year...”

Whether it’s to negotiate for a promotion, ask the girl you like out, or start a side hustle. Keep your answer to yourself for now. We’ll talk about it later.

Last week, we talked about leverage in life. In case you haven’t read it yet, life is a game of leverage — the more leverages you get and have, the easier it’s for you to get ahead and get what you want in life.

Most people see money and knowledge as their biggest assets and leverages — that’s partly true. However, we can’t leverage them unless we have enough of them. Furthermore, before we can use money and knowledge as the leverage of life, we first need to acquire them.

Out of the many leverages, time is the best leverage. Why is time the best leverage when everyone has the exact same 24 hours? And how to use it to your best advantage? Let me explain.

The irrational way of approaching time

Before I start writing, I look up at the clock on the wall to check the time. Then, I check the clock for the time again when I’m done writing. It usually takes me somewhere from 40 to 60 minutes to complete an article (with the outline ready, without the final edit).

Just like me, I believe you’re using and seeing time in the same way. Most of us see time in seconds and minutes, or hours and days, or weeks, months, and even years. That’s the way we measure, calculate, and communicate about time.

The truth is, time is subjective. Just like time is relative to space and speed, time is subjective to what we do and how we feel.

The compounding effect of time

Albert Einstein said that the compounding effect is the world’s eighth wonder. While most people focus on the yields of their investment from the compounding effect, we should instead shine the spotlight on the powerful leverage of time.

(After all, Einstein is the one who talks about space and time — of course, he’s referring to time instead of the return of investment)

  • Learning a new language may just be a hobby. What most of us failed to see are the opportunities it opens up in the next decades or even in a lifetime.
  • Saving $100 every month seems like nothing now. But with the right investment vehicle and time, the value can get compounded by many folds.
  • A good or bad habit is just a behavior at a moment, but when compounded with time, it creates a ripple effect. Good habits will push you way further, and bad habits will drag you down into a bottomless black hole.

The idea is simple but not an easy one to understand. But when you get it, it can change the way you make decisions.

When I was trying to avoid something I should be doing (writing, reading, taking a course), I would usually ask myself: “What is the value of this 10 years later?” Often, it pulls me out of the instant gratification pattern and makes me realize the value of doing the right thing right now.

Start now — even if you’re not ready

There is no strategy, solution, and tactic here. I’m writing this article with one goal in mind: To encourage you to take action now.

  • Want to learn a new language? Download Duolingo now and spend five minutes on it every day.
  • Want to start making reading your daily habit? Go pick up a book and start reading, even if it’s just a single paragraph.
  • Want to start investing? Start saving up now, however little it is.
Start now, even before you're ready

The call-to-action is to start now — start before you’re ready. These tiny actions may seem insignificant now but they will eventually get compounded and create a massive impact on your life.

The alternative of taking action

The alternative to making a change and making use of the time leverage is to do nothing.

You may be feeling better by avoiding the risks, fears, and uncertainties; you may be enjoying your time by buying into instant gratifications, but you will eventually lose out so many opportunities by doing nothing.

Everyone has the exact same 24 hours a day but people who succeed leverage theirs by starting now.

Back to the question I asked at the beginning of this article. If you ever wonder “what if I took action last year?” Stop asking yourself that very same question you’ve been asking yourself for years. Instead, start taking action now.


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