Have you got some goals?
Some dream or adventure you long to enjoy?
Career aspirations you just never seem to get around to? Maybe writing the novel or starting your own company or opening a dive shop in the Bahamas?
Here’s the stark, unhappy, unpleasant truth:
You are highly unlikely to achieve any of that stuff.
You are highly unlikely to achieve any of that stuff.
Slap in the face? Yeah, for me too. I’ve got lists of goals I’ve dragged around since the 90s – and I see myself only slightly closer to a few of them.
Our individual lists of Whys is brilliant! Any logical person can see it is completely reasonable and rational that you haven’t achieved your most precious goals and I haven’t achieved mine.
Pick your favorite excuse:
Somewhere burrowed deep down in your heart is the horrifying, hidden, hideous secret that…you are scared to death of going for it.
What if you fail? What if you succeed? What if your dream just isn’t possible for you? What if you’re not good enough? What if it is too hard? What if you don’t have the talent after all? What if you really do run out of food, clothing and shelter before you achieve it? What if getting what you want means hurting – or compromising – someone else? What if your parent/the bully at your middle school/the pastor/your mean teacher/your first boss was actually right about you and you will never amount to anything? And you look weird and you dress funny.
What if getting what you say you really, truly want means that you have to risk absolutely everything else in your life to get it?
I’m a literary agent. That means I sell books to publishers on behalf of (nonfiction) authors. Want to know the worst case I’ve ever seen of someone terrified of their own dream? Sixteen years ago, I met a man who pitched me on representing his book. I liked the idea and asked him to send it to me. I could have sold it quickly. I never got a word. But every year or two since, he calls or emails me to tell me he’s “still working on it.”
People like him used to really irk me…until I realized I am one of them. (Not when it comes to writing, mind you! My next book “The Ultimate Guide to Platform Building” just released.) But I am just like that guy in so many other ways! We look at someone who has achieved what we’re afraid of and think, “Wow! I want that!” But that person is afraid of something different, maybe something that’s easy for you.
So year after year, we wait for the Magic Moment to arrive when we won’t be afraid and the stars will align and Poof! A miracle!
It’s easier to wait for miracles, chanting while looking at a vision board, than to face our fears. It’s pretty harsh to accept that not much changes, although time is passing. Not only am I confessing publicly…
I’m challenging you to actually look inside yourself and check where you are procrastinating out of fear.
• A close friend finally left a miserable marriage after 27 years together. He was already miserable by their first anniversary!
• A beloved colleague has told me for years how much she wants to sell or delegate her thriving business to go do something completely artistic. The first time she ever told me that was in 2004.
• A family member has changed careers more times than I can count. Each time, she gets excited, enrolls in a course, and then halfway through, starts to worry that she won’t like the work, or won’t pass the final exam, or won’t get hired even if she does…and she starts to back away from her dream.
• When our daughters were in elementary school, another single mother said to me, “Oh Wendy! I wish I could be like you! I’d love to buy a house and run my own business!” When I asked her why she couldn’t, she explained, “The house might be too far for my husband to drive to work.” But at that time, she wasn’t even dating anyone!
I can’t sit here on my throne and say, “Listen, little children! I have the solution! Just do X and you will break through all your obstacles! They’re just in your head, not in reality!” Even though I can see that for both of us, it really, truly is just in our heads.
The logical part of me knows that I’m the biggest impediment to my own success. Just like you are to yours.
Instead, I’m inviting us to examine the deep truth about what’s stopping us. Whose voice told us we’re not good enough? Why do we keep reciting that message? What fears are preventing us? We know it’s not lack of knowledge. Between books and Google, you can find out how to do anything. There’s something bigger, something deeper, something scarier inside that prevents us from taking the kind of action that actually moves us toward our stated-but-not-acted-on dreams.
Like dandelions, I believe we need to find those weeds and yank them out by the roots. Everybody’s scared, just of different things that you are. Pull a Franklin Roosevelt on yourself. He’s the guy who said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
Our ability to root out our fears and take even one step in the right direction – much less take massive action – happens when we lay aside the fears and worries for split second and quickly take action before we have time to stop ourselves. Your heart may be beating fast, but can rest up for a bit after that, while you summon up your courage for the next step. See? You’re still breathing.. Nothing so bad happened. Ready? Go!
If not now, when?