Too often, we decide we can’t do the things we need to do in order to make our dreams a reality. And we go to great lengths to make sure we’re right.
Status of my goals:
- Marathon: On Track. More or less. I’m missing three workouts this week, but I’ll get back to it next week. And I’ve got my 5K on the 21st to keep me motivated.
- Two Square Yards of Earth: Behind Schedule. I expect to finish Chapter 2 tomorrow, but I’m well behind where I hoped to be.
- 100 Posts: Behind Schedule. This is my sixteenth post for the year, a mark I should have hit last week.
I know what it takes to become a widely-read writer and blogger. It starts with writing. Every day, or near enough to make no difference, a big-name writer writes. There’s a host of other actions to get to that level–but writing every day is where it begins.
I want to be widely read. Like most writers, I dream of my words helping thousands of people, who respond by telling their friends about me and making H. Scott Dalton a household name.
But for the best part of the last two years, I wasn’t taking the one action that would form the foundation a writing career must be planted firmly upon: I wasn’t writing every day. Instead, I wrote when the mood struck me, or when I felt I needed to say something in response to some event or other.
And why should I? I asked myself. After all, it’s not like a middle aged, middle class fat guy has anything to say that thousands of people want to hear. I don’t have any connections, and I don’t have anything to say that a hundred other bloggers aren’t already saying better. Besides, I have to feed my family. I don’t have time for frivolous stuff like writing or dreams.
I decided I couldn’t do it, created a story to support that conclusion, and fed it back to myself every time I felt like I might be in danger of making progress. I convinced myself it was OK not to write.
I didn’t like who I became in the process. Neither did my family. More on that another day.
We do the same thing to ourselves every day. Goals worth striving for, dreams worth dreaming, lie on the other side of hard work. Years of it, with very little recognition or praise in the meantime, and probably not a little bit of ridicule or outright resistance from the people close to us, the people whose opinions we value.
It’s intimidating to think of everything we will have to do, everything we will have to give up, in order to realize our dreams. Frightening. Terrifying.
So we convince ourselves we can’t. Worse that that, we convince ourselves not to even try.
And when we tell people about our dream, about the impossible thing we still wish we could accomplish one day, the telling comes with a barge loaded down with all the excuses that lie between us and making the effort. Worse, we tell ourselves the same things.
Instead of straining against our chains, instead of fighting against the limitations we think hold us back, we fight for them. Because if that chain breaks, if the barge sinks and our excuses evaporate, we might have to start taking action toward our dream. We might have to risk failure, and hard work, and ridicule. We might have to put ourselves out there.
Much easier, much less frightening, to hold on to the excuses.
Even if we don’t like who we become in the process.