Last year I was searching the internet for some ideas to use in a workshop I was going teach, and I came across a list titled "The 25 Most Important Questions to Ask Yourself". They are awesome questions, the kind of questions that challenge you to think outside of your comfort zone, the type of questions that throw your fears right back in your face so that you feel that nervous I'm caught feeling.
Change is a problem for most of us; we resist it, hide from it, think about it, dream about it, and we push change out of our minds until one day we feel like it's too late. Then, we take a sigh of relief and think to ourselves whew, it's too late, I'm safe now, I can continue to live in my shell having never stretched my neck out very far. But a life lived in the safe zone seems to breed resentment and/or bitterness, I am not sure why this happens, but I see it in people all the time.
So the question I loved is this one; If not now when? Isn't it a great question? What I love about this question is the fact that in me it brings up all my excuses, and I can really have some excuses. My current standard excuses are; I am often too busy, too tired, work too hard, have too much on my plate, and have too many responsibilities. In the past some of my favorite ones were; I was too fat, too old, not educated enough and too slow. So at least, I have overcome some of my past excuses, the only problem is that new ones keep flooding in to fill the space. It's like I poured out the jug of old excuses and found new ones, a never ending flow of fears masquerading as excuses.
Time is the big one for me and a lot of people, I don't have the time. Years ago, it was family responsibilities and career; today it's career and my husband's health. In fact my husband being sick is a great excuse; everyone would understand if I gave up running, after all I have a lot to juggle right now. But really like everyone else, I need to make time for my own personal health, running not only keeps my body working but it helps alleviate my stress. In fact, if I don't exercise I seem to be tenser, and less likely to be able to rest or keep my mind focused in the present.
As part of the same course I asked my students to list all the reason they weren't doing some of the things that they dreamed of doing, here are the top ones; Time, money, energy, kids, career, too old and too fat. Yet when we discussed their excuses as a group we realized that in the end they were just fears, not reasons. Take for example time, it's a big one, however, I know people who get up at 4:30am to train for races, they do this so they can run, and not interfere too much with family life. They do this because they are committed and disciplined. I totally admire these people.
Kids are another big reason we don't follow our dreams and this is probably good if your dream is to run away to a tropical island, however if furthering your education is your dream, go for it, you can do it part time, at night or on weekends. One of our students just got her Masters, she went to school one weekend a month, she worked full time and has 2 children. She's a centered person and now is not only a great Mom but has a Masters degree in her field.
I could go on and on with examples of people who manage to be a mom or a dad and still follow their dreams. I guess in the end it boils down to how badly you want it and what are you willing to sacrifice, maybe it means less TV, or getting up early, cutting back on spending or staying up a bit later. Maybe it means giving up control and letting your husband be a parent. But in the end it all boils down to you and the choices you make that get you closer to your dream. I had a dream once, I dreamed of leaving the corporate world and doing something that inspired me. I was taking yoga classes at the time and loved it so I very nervously signed up for yoga teacher training. I was nervous that I was too old and too fat and not flexible enough, but I did it anyways. It took 3 years ( one weekend a month) to complete. As you know today I teach full time and love it. The journey to this place was full of tough decisions.
I have other dreams, and I have these dreams on paper and I work towards them, researching them, talking about them and taking little action steps. I share these dreams with my friends to make them real, and to make sure I am not letting the boogeyman scare me. People have told me I should write a book, I want to write a book and at the same time it scares me. Just before Christmas I started writing a book, the working title is "Last Night my Husband Cried" , it's the story of my husband's battle with cancer, from my perspective, it's the story of my love for him, it's the story of his courage. I work on it, rewrite it, add to it and one day when it's finished maybe I will be lucky enough to have it published, in the end that won't matter. What matters most is I am writing it, I am standing up against my fears and going for my next dream.
So I ask you this; what are your fears masquerading as? Maybe you are holding on to excess weight because you are afraid of being thin. Maybe you didn't do so well in high school so are secretly afraid you are not smart enough to get that dreamed about degree. Maybe you think to be a runner you have to run fast. Maybe you don't really know what holds you back and it's time to find out. Because this I can promise you, you will be happier and a better person if you are doing what you love even if it's just for a couple of hours every week. So pick up that paint brush, write that book, climb that mountain, love the life you know you deserve.
If not now when ?
Here's the number one regret people express on their death bed.
I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.