Here’s something that I’ve noticed both in myself and in others who come to classes or workshops. We say we want our dream to come true, or to reach some goal. And then… we get side-tracked. Sometimes those ways we get side-tracked are actually Delay Tactics. What are Delay Tactics? They are actions and beliefs, usually subconscious, that are designed to keep us firmly planted exactly where we are, in comfortable smallness. We use them instead of risking ourselves to go to our next level, whatever or wherever that might be.
Here are 5 Delay Tactics that I’ve seen myself and others use…
1. We make television and the internet a priority. Easily the #1 way most of us delay our dream. We spend more hours watching tv and on the Internet than we do making our dream come true. (By the way, you could add sports and obsession with celebrities to this list). There is nothing wrong with television or the internet (or sports or celebrities) in and of themselves. However, they become a Delay Tactic when they become stumbling blocks to your success, when you “use” them to numb out, when they cause you to procrastinate.
The anecdote? Make your passion a priority. If you want to write a book, write every day before watching tv, before checking in on Facebook, before anything else. If music is your passion, sit at the piano (or guitar, etc.) before sitting on the couch with a remote in your hand. Whatever is your passion, dream, or goal – do it first. Then enjoy tv, sports, Facebook, etc.
2. We think that someday our ship will come in. We think that “someday” we’ll do what we love to do, someday we’ll figure it out, someday we’ll have what we want. Invoking “someday” is an easy way you never make our dream a reality – you never even have to get off your couch!
Why wait? A deadline can help move you forward with a little gentle pressure. Give yourself mini-deadlines to get you moving, such as writing ten pages a day, or having made ten calls by the end of the week. Make each step specific and measurable, and focused on your goals. Be careful not to sabotage yourself by setting up an impossible deadline. But don’t go the other direction either, and give yourself too much time. A deadline should motivate you, give you a little positive-pressure, and move you forward. The bigger the steps, the closer you get.
3. We say that we’ll pursue our dream when it “feels right.” This one sounds reasonable, but it’s really another delay tactic. I’ve found that the formula for life is “energy follows action.” That means that much of the time, if we are waiting to feel it before we do it, we can waste a lot of days/months/years waiting. Instead, when we take a positive action, we are entering into the flow of Life. We are creating energy by our action, rather than depleting our energy by inaction. Inspiration happens once we take an action. Don’t believe me? Take a positive action right now and test it out for yourself. Pick up that paintbrush, write ten pages in your novel, make that call to enter a school. Do something positive, and see if you don’t have more energy.
4. We make it all about the money. We sometimes think that the thing that stands between us and our goal is money. Many people believe they can’t pursue their passion until they have more money. That’s a delay tactic which keeps us right where we are. I recently met a woman who told me she had a big dream that was burning inside of her, but she couldn’t move forward because she needed money to make it happen, which many of us can certainly relate to. She had a long, very real-sounding story about how the money was absolutely needed before she could take even one more step. I finally asked her, “how much money do you need?,” thinking it must have been millions! Her reply? “$3,000 to get started.” That’s when I knew that she probably didn’t really need the $3,000 to move forward, she was using money as an excuse to delay her dream (and talking with her further, that turned out to be the case – there were countless things she could do toward her dream before she received that money, including finding creative ways to earn that $3,000).
If something is a burning priority, we will find a way, and nothing will stop us (including $3,000 or $3,000,000!). In this day of computers and connectivity, we can find dozens or hundreds or more ways to move closer to our dream without spending much, if anything. Don’t make money your stumbling block. Be creative!
5. We create drama. We can create some drama, can’t we? Yes, I’m speaking to you (and to me). We can get high and mighty about something someone said, or how someone insulted us, or how a family member made us angry, and we can spend a lot of energy telling as many people about it as we can. Or we can spend hours on the phone listening to a friend’s drama, saying the right things at the right time.
While we can feel good getting sympathy for drama, and we can even feel righteous in our drama, it doesn’t hide the fact that energy spent toward drama is not energy that is used toward your dream or goal. Drama energy is energizing in the moment, but ultimately usually depleting and negative. Why spend all that time in negativity? Instead, choose another path. Side-step the drama as best you can, and put that time and energy into YOU. Move from drama to a dramatic step toward your dream.
Basically, anything you use to not pursue your dream today is a delay tactic. There are many other delay tactics beyond these five – which delay tactics have you used to delay your dream?
Remember this: today can be another Day of Delay, or it can be your Great Breakthrough. If people who have major illnesses can climb mountains (Google it), if people who have no money can become millionaires pursuing their dreams, if people who have had everything taken away from them can bounce back and live bigger than ever…why not you? And why not start today?
NEXT: Just Because You Are Good At Something Doesn’t Mean You Should Do It