The Biggest Lie You Can Tell Yourself

“I can start any time.”

Whenever I hear that, it’s almost a cinch that whatever project might get started never will be started.

Which is odd, when you think about it.

It seems like, if there’s nothing stopping you, you would just go right out and do the thing you could be doing. But that’s not how it works.

The Quirks Of Human Psychology

It’s kind of like, when you live near a major attraction, at first you think, “Awesome! I’ll be there all the time. How lucky,” and then life kind of meanders on and you realized you’ve been there for a year and you never went once.

I live five miles from the Appalachian Trail. Guess how often I’ve been hiking?

In the same way, “I can start any time,” means you’re waiting for an impetus, some kind of trigger or motivation to tell you “This is the time.” Life will rarely oblige you in this.

Why Not Now?

The truth is, if you could do it any time, you would probably have started. Most likely, though, there’s some kind of invisible obstacle. Maybe it’s work, maybe it’s research. Maybe it’s just inertia.

And on the other side, maybe the motivation isn’t there — in a large part because you know the window of opportunity is wide open. There’s no deadline, there’s no compelling reason that now is better than later.

Sometimes, it’s just because you don’t want it. There’s no shame in that. It turns out that you’re just not interested enough in MoMA enough to go, even now that you live in NYC. Nothing wrong with that. Just stop expending the energy of telling yourself you’ll do it someday. It’s such a drag. Just let it go.

Your Turn

What’s something you could do ‘at any time?’ How long has it been on your plate for? What’s the invisible boundary, or do you just not want to do it all that bad?

And what are you going to do about it now?

[ssbp]

12 thoughts on “The Biggest Lie You Can Tell Yourself”

  1. Soooo many things I could list in response to that question.  I think the one that’s most bugging me, though, is painting.  I used to paint children’s gifts on a regular basis and I stopped for a while.  I keep telling myself I’ll start back up ‘eventually’.  
     
    I was actually thinking about this last night, and I think it’s a perfectionist thing.  Like, I don’t want to start until I know exactly what I’m going to do and I have just the right ideas to get started.  From experience, I know that type of thinking is a trap and it’s better to just start something… anything.

    1.  @deniseurena lol! Right ideas!  Yeah, I know. ANYTHING is better than waiting for the right ideas. Although, in your position I’m pretty sure I’d be thinking, “Is doing this going to bettter than, say, a bubble bath?”

  2. Shanna,
    Every once in a while I read something and I think, “Nailed it!”
    Nailed it as in the person writing it totally hit the nail on the head. You did that with this one.
    Like Denise, and I imagine most people, I could list a ton of things I could do at any time.
    The one I think is most egregious is going on bike rides or hikes around the Twin Cities metro area. We have an amazing bike trail system and some pretty wild hikes…yet I never seem to get around to doing them. And I DO want to do them.
    But in my mind, it always gets bumped on the priority list, is too “hot” to do on the day I was planning to go on a trail, etc. The rationalizations are weak and I know it.
    So what am I going to do about it now? Get two people to kick me in the pants, literally if necessary, if I don’t use the trails around here as I’ve promised I would in my 2012 goal setting workbook.
     

    1.  @joeyjoejoe I know! I live right on the edge of TWO national parks AND the Appalachian trail. I’ve been hiking three times this year. But I don’t own a park pass, so I *know* it would be smartest to cough up the $80 for the annual pass— just not *right now*. And so I don’t go. It’s a good thing there are free days for the National Parks, or I’d just never go.

  3. I think that’s just about as big a lie as “I can stop any time” (usually the person saying it is addicted to smoking, alcohol, eating, etc.)

    I’ve told myself that I can start writing at least 500 words every single day “any time”, but I’ve been saying it for a while. I don’t really think there’s anything stopping me, I’m just procrastinating because It’ll be hard work. Coming to WDS this weekend may have been the kick in the pants that I needed. Oh, and this post of course. 🙂

  4. I think that’s just about as big a lie as “I can stop any time” (usually the person saying it is addicted to smoking, alcohol, eating, etc.)

    I’ve told myself that I can start writing at least 500 words every single day “any time”, but I’ve been saying it for a while. I don’t really think there’s anything stopping me, I’m just procrastinating because It’ll be hard work. Coming to WDS this weekend may have been the kick in the pants that I needed. Oh, and this post of course. 🙂

    1.  @ethanwaldman yeah, that’s actually what triggered the post for me. I jokingly say, “I can stop any time” about my coffee addiction, knowing of course that it’s technically possible but highly unlikely. And then I realized I had said pretty much the same thing about restarting my yoga practice. ah- derrrrr….

  5. Yeah…I’m queen of this. Well, I bet there are other queens of this…but I’m certainly one of them.
     
    I actually started {re}made by hand so that I would stop it with the “I’ll get to it eventually” thing (which is pretty much the same time frame as “I can start any time” in my book). I picked a couple of things to start with, set up some programs for myself to follow to keep me on track and moving forward, and then actually started. I’ve been doing a lot better since then, though still not 100%.
     
    Great point about the energy drain of things you’ve said you’re going to do but no longer have any interest in. I purged my bookshelves recently of all the books I’d acquired but no longer wanted to read. They were just negative energy pits. Now, when I look at my shelves, I’m excited to read everything that’s left.

    1.  @remadebyhand You know, that was just a throw-away line. I would have made it a full point if I could have found a concrete way to justify it. 🙂 But yeah, cleaning out books you’re never going to read (once you come to terms with it) is so awesome. I just found “The Tipping Point” at the bottom of my meant-to-read stack. How did it get to the bottom, and why did it stay there so long?

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