Commit Now, Thank Yourself Later

What is one thing that would make all of the other things easier?

Maybe you’ve heard or seen this question come up in work-related articles or books. It’s the question that has driven me the most in the past year to actually do the things I’m afraid of, the things I’ve been putting off, those hard things that make everything else easier.

(Funny enough, those seem to be the things we actually want to do the most.)

For me, the thing that would make everything else easier was to gain more confidence and skills in speaking.

When I started in my content marketing position for an e-commerce company last summer, I quickly learned that I’d have to speak at bi-weekly meetings, reporting to the owners of the company on the results of our department and giving my ideas and thoughts on those results.

This terrified me.

Every two weeks I’ve dreaded these meetings, not because of the fact that they were “meetings” but because I didn’t believe I could communicate well verbally. Of course I could do my job, I knew what I was talking about and had valuable insights to provide, but I doubted my ability to verbally deliver.

Finally, after about nine months of these meetings, I realized for the first time that I wasn’t dreading the meeting the next morning.

What changed? It wasn’t the amount of time or familiarity.

It was Toastmasters.

Toastmasters International is a program designed to help people learn and practice their communication skills, whether they want to be public speakers or simply communicate better in work, leadership and everyday life.

I joined in February when I finally surrendered to the realization that investing in my speaking skills was the one thing that would make everything else easier.

The beauty of it is that it has.

But the ugly in having put it off for so long is that it has also made my schedule harder.

Doing this one thing that I knew would help me immensely has indeed exceeded my expectations and has made my job easier. But putting it off until the time came when I was desperate for it has proven to be stressful. I had decided to plunge in when I started coaching Girls on the Run, because now I wasn’t just speaking at meetings with my bosses, but I was teaching lessons twice a week to a group of pre-teen girls, arguably an even tougher audience. Investing in my speaking skills was no longer something to dream about, but a must.

Here’s the thing – I first thought about joining Toastmasters three years ago when I was living in Des Moines. I was working from home and it would have been pretty convenient for me to attend meetings and commit to the curriculum.

It took me a year to go to a meeting…

then another year to finally commit to a club.

If I had taken the plunge when I first thought of it, I’d be that far ahead. I would have been ready for these meetings and plenty confident to coach Girls on the Run. Heck, I could probably even take a break from Toastmasters while coaching and going through this busy season of work.

Instead, I’m doing all of the above while working to write and rehearse my first Toastmasters speech and get the most out of every weekly meeting. While it’s insanely helpful for everything I’m doing, putting it off has put far more stress on me now to fully participate.

So what are you holding off on? What’s the one thing you know can make everything else easier in the long run? What’s something you know you can, should and want to be doing but you haven’t done yet because you’re afraid?

Do it.

Do it scared.

Do it anyway.

You’ll thank yourself when you’re already prepared for the next big thing that comes your way.

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