All or nothing … or maybe just a book


When I was about 27 years old, I decided I wanted to write a book.

I’m now 53. It hasn’t happened yet.

I guess you could say I have been procrastinating. You could also say I’m lazy. Both are pretty accurate statements.

I really do want to write a book – I even have a solid concept. But, doesn’t it sound like an awful lot of work?

I don’t have time. I have a full-time job, teach a class, write this column and binge-watch HGTV every weekend.

Maybe we can forget about that last one. I certainly do when I am coming up with excuses for not at least getting started on my book. There are so many reasons why I haven’t started, I could … um … write a book.

I know I am not the only person who procrastinates because of lousy excuses, or even for valid reasons. I am certain of this because there is an entire day set aside this month to acknowledge and address this very thing. July 26 has been designated “All or Nothing Day.”

On the National Day website, along with a description of how this day got started, there is a picture of someone skydiving. I can see why someone might put that off; but there are a lot of things we always say we are going to do that aren’t quite as extreme, and we never get around to doing those, either.

What is your dream?

Why haven’t you lived it yet?

Before you answer that second question, please know that I am asking for an honest answer. I am not requesting honesty because I expect a lie – or at least not an intentional one. I know I have argued my way out of doing plenty of things with an array of lies I convinced myself were true.

“You can’t do that!” is possibly the ugliest lie we tell ourselves. It comes from that same little voice that says, “You aren’t good enough.” We should all tell that guy or gal to go jump out of a plane – without a parachute. It’s easier to say that voice is wrong than it is to believe.

Maybe you are living your dream. That doesn’t mean you get to skip out on “All or Nothing Day.” This day is also an opportunity to heal a broken relationship, forgive someone, set a goal. The whole idea is ultimately to change your life for the better, do that thing you said you couldn’t or wouldn’t do.

It sounds terrifying, doesn’t it? But what is even scarier to me is the idea of, I don’t know, sitting in a rocking chair when I’m 90 and thinking, “I wish I would have.”

Sometimes, doing that thing we keep not doing is like pulling off a Band-Aid. You just silence that little voice inside your head and do it.

In so many other cases, that “thing” is more complicated, and the trick is figuring out how to get started. But maybe the real problem with these complicated goals is all of the over-thinking that goes into them.

I keep thinking about the Desmond Tutu quote, “There is only one way to eat an elephant: a bite at a time.”

There’s also only one way to read – or write – a book: a chapter at a time.

You can only finish something if you start it.



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