If I could go back to my 18-year-old self and give one piece of advice, it would be this:

Figure it out.

Figuring out how to figure things out is the simplest, hardest, most important skill (attitude, mindset, call it what you want) that you can develop to make yourself better.

Don’t let your lack of specific hard skills keep you from committing to something exciting. We move from ledge to ledge, paralyzed with indecision and the belief that we aren’t prepared enough, too afraid to make a leap of faith. You don’t have to have the required skills to commit to doing something amazing.

You can figure it out. Relying on skills that you think you need but don’t have will land you on a never ending chase after the untouchable.

Otherwise, make an excuse and stare at the problem you have while doing nothing.

You will never be prepared enough to have the full confidence to do something worth doing. The timing will never be right. You will never have enough credentials or external support. It’s easier to default to “Once I have X, then I can do what I really want.” X is simply something you value less than the thing you really want. It is easier to chase X than what you really want because failure is acceptable. If you fail to achieve X, you never even wanted X in the first place. You wanted something else.

Betting on yourself is much harder. People skirt around the truth before decisively choosing to be bold, take a risk, and bet on their ability to figure it out on the spot.

The harsh reality is that sometimes you won’t be able to figure it out. You’ll get yourself into a situation where you either have to swallow your pride and ask for help or failure is inevitable. The other part of this reality is that if you care about what you’re doing, most of the time you will figure it out.

I used to book up house-painting jobs before I knew how to hold a paintbrush. I was confident enough in front of customers to book big jobs, not because I gave off the appearance of a veteran painter, but because I knew I had the ability to figure it out when I got to that point. I showed the customer that I was on top of my shit. I owned the project. They didn’t have to worry whether or not I knew how to paint, they assumed I did because I assumed I could learn it.

Then, 2 months later, I would be standing on the job site with my crew, painting that house. My painters didn’t know how to paint either. They assumed I knew. So, when they ran into a problem, they would ask me what to do, as if I had faced this exact type of challenge before. I hadn’t. So what did I do?

I figured it out. I found a way.

I used my brain with all its current knowledge and experience to solve the problem to the best of my ability, in that moment. I didn’t know what the end would look like when I began solving the problem, but I figured it out as I went. Sometimes my current skills and experience were enough, and the solution just required some experimentation on the spot. Sometimes, I couldn’t figure it out at all, and I had to call someone to ask for help. Sometimes, I couldn’t call anyone and I was stuck with failure. Either way, I figured it out.

Every small or large obstacle can be moved or skirted. There is always, always, always, always, always a way.

Find it.