It’s the sixth full week of the year and I’ve been running as if I’m training for a spring marathon, except that I haven’t actually registered for one. I’m hedging, giving myself a way out, holding onto a safety net. If, at this point, I decide not to run a spring marathon, I haven’t lost anything. Or, at least that’s what I tell myself.
Once I sign up, I have to switch from maybe-mode to all in.
I’m also in maybe-mode when it comes to my dream/desire to write and traditionally publish a book. I’ve mentioned it a time or two to friends and colleagues, started an outline, even written a couple of thousand words. But I haven’t finished the proposal. Or set a specific goal about timing. Or fully committed. My plan to write a book is amorphous. I can’t fail because I’m not really committed. Or, at least that’s what I tell myself.
In my mind, writing and submitting the book proposal would move me from maybe-mode to all in.
I could probably list a half a dozen other dreams or goals in my life that I am keeping lukewarm in my heart. Rather than committing, I’m dabbling. Instead of pursuing, I’m teasing. I push these desires to the very edge of my consciousness and keep them waiting for another day, some indeterminate time in the future.
I tell myself this isn’t the right time; I need to focus on one big goal at a time; I couldn’t possibly go after everything I want at once.
Or could I?
When we keep a dream or goal in maybe-mode, we hang onto the illusion that we’re not risking or missing anything. After all, if we don’t try, we can’t fail. But what is the net effect of putting off those dreams and goals we hold most dear?
“What happens to a dream deferred,” Langston Hughes penned in his classic poem, “Harlem.” What does happen to a dream on hold? “…Maybe it just sags like a heavy load. Or does it explode?” Read the whole poem, here.
Whitney Johnson, my good friend and coach, wrote “If, in the deepest part of your nature, you know that you must disrupt and you don’t, you’ll die just a little inside.”
Solomon, the author of the Proverbs, wrote “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”
If staying in maybe-mode means I’ll make my heart sick, or die a little inside, or that my dreams will sag inside me like a heavy load, maybe it’s time to go all in.