I was recently chatting with a friend about the idea of running a half marathon. It has been several years and a few Moon Pies since I last embarked on a 13-mile run.
To be completely honest, I like the idea of being someone who runs half marathons more than the reality of actually lacing up my shoes and doing it.
As we talked, I noticed all the excuses I was tossing out to avoid pursuing this goal: the training would take too long, the distance was too far, and the time I had to devote was too small.
The cost was too high.
My arguments to prevent the idea from becoming a reality were well organized, reasonable, and completely self-defeating.
I was unintentionally engaging in “idea assassination” — like a sniper firing convenient excuses at my own idea. The truth is, shooting down my ambitions allows me to avoid hard work, the risk of failure, and public criticism. Amazingly, I seem to carry an endless supply of ammunition.
New projects and challenges can always be cast as too big, whether it’s getting into shape or out of debt, abandoning a bad relationship, or starting a new job.
There is never a perfect time to move beyond the wounds of past abuse or set a big personal goal. Global issues can be even more daunting. When we think about things like injustice, poverty, human trafficking and violence, the challenges seem even larger and our individual actions can easily be dismissed as too small.
So, we kill our ideas.
Then we often soothe ourselves with convenient distractions like streaming media and weedless lawns. We rationalize that our limitations render the problems of the world immutable.
Like Goldilocks from the children’s story, many of us find things too big or too small, too hot or too cold, too firm or too soft. We are looking for something just right. Chances are, no one is going to roll out a risk-free red carpet so we can make a grand entrance onto the world’s stage.
There is no great honor in being a Goldilocks. She was a burglar who broke into the home of an innocent bear family. She then committed larceny by stealing their food, vandalism by damaging their furniture, and — in what can only be described as creepy — she slept in everyone’s beds. Goldilocks is many things, but she is not a role model. Goldilocks should be indicted not imitated.
If we wait for “just right” we will end up like Goldilocks.
And it will be hard to make a positive difference in the world. We can whine that none of our options are “just right” and putter around the edges of good ideas, or we can start. We can tinker, or we can build. We can fiddle, or we can create.
The next step we need to take probably isn’t a perfect fit for our schedules and it may not be “just right.” Seeking justice for others, righting wrongs and pursuing our best work almost always interferes with our agendas and comfort, but this remains true:
Great joy lies in the challenge of forward motion.
We should not allow the steady cries of the oppressed to be drowned out by the spastic noises of our own busyness and procrastination.
Realizing that I, like Goldilocks, am often the assassin of my own good ideas has allowed me to stop firing excuses at my goals.
So instead, I took the next logical steps for me to run a half marathon by calling my friend back, registering for the race and starting a training program. The run is still too long and I am still too slow, but I am no longer held back waiting for a “just right” moment. Instead, I’m making moments happen.
What are you waiting for? Are you assassinating your own ideas?