What Holds People Back from Doing What They Want

Sitting in the Shadows

“More powerful than the will to win is the courage to begin.” ~Unknown

I’ve spoken with a number of people recently who are doing something that is “just okay” with their lives but who really want to be doing something else. They feel an urgency to break free and go for it, even though they haven’t defined “it.”

I think a lot of people, if not currently there, understand this. It’s in our nature to move toward greater expression. When we’re not moving in a forward direction, we question ourselves, wondering what we’re doing with our lives—and what we’re waiting for.

And yet nothing changes.

Part of the issue is knowing where to start. The other part is fear of the unknown. Both can prevent you from committing.

The nature of commitment is in staying the course, going the distance, falling and getting back up again, continuing onward.

The question is: What are you committed to? Sometimes we mistakenly commit ourselves to the outcome without committing ourselves first to the process.

For example, I know a person who talks about the book in his head. It’s going to be a best seller.  It’s going to be made into a movie and it’s going to make him millions of dollars.

But he hasn’t even written the first chapter. He’s committed to the outcome before being committed to the process. The process would be showing up at the page. That’s the commitment.

Outcome is all about “getting there.” It’s ego-based. It’s about winning the prize. Gaining the acknowledgement. Accepting the praise. Process is all about “being here.”  It’s humble, lowly, and scary.

But only by committing to the process can we arrive at the outcome.

Therein lays the commitment.

So, the question is: What are you committed to?

We want to make it a bigger question than it is, but sometimes the commitment is simply to show up. I had a teacher who used to tell me, “Show up for your success.” And that was her message to me. Over and over again. If I showed up, I fulfilled my commitment.

For most of us, when we’re not advancing in some way or utilizing our full potential, we feel stagnant—like we’re moving backward, which is very much against our nature. We made an agreement with ourselves that we are here to move forward. To express. To experience. To expand.

When we’re not, we feel like we are somehow failing the commitment we have to ourselves.

But if you don’t know what you’re committed to, you can’t possibly progress. A great start is to ask yourself, “What is the one thing that would upset me if, at the end of my life, I do not attempt, do, or complete?”

If there’s an immediate answer, you must commit to that. If there’s no immediate answer, you  may be feeling an unnecessary pressure to create a great masterpiece, when in all reality, you just have to start by doodling. And let it take shape, gain momentum, and morph into an amazing creation you didn’t realize you were capable of.

All it takes to get there is commitment.

You won’t hit a home run every time you get up to swing, but that’s the only way you can create the possibility of a run. Even if you miss. Or bunt. Or strike out. Your commitment is to go through the process, not to get the perfect outcome every time.

Sooner or later, you’re going to get the perfect ball. Make it past first base. And join the team that will help you go all the way.

All because you got up to the plate and took hold of the bat.

The question is: Are you willing? Are you willing to get in the game?

Even if it’s humbling? Even if there’s a learning curve? Even if there is no guarantee of success? Even if you’re afraid? Even if the steps seem insignificant? Even if you don’t know what you’re doing?

Are you still willing to show up? Are you still willing to move forward? Are you still willing to do it anyway?

Because that is the commitment. That’s the price of admission. That’s what it takes to make something happen.

You have to show up. In fact, your only job is to show up and continue showing up. Put one foot in front of the other and stay the course. Even if you don’t know if you’re doing it right. Even if you don’t know if you’ll ever get there. Even if you don’t know where it will lead.

The most important thing is that you’re willing to find out.

Photo by Simon Blackley

About Sonya Derian

Sonya Derian is the owner and founder of Om Freely, a company dedicated to helping people live out loud, tap into their power, and transform their lives. To pick up your free ebook: Om Freely: 30 Ways to Live Out Loud, please visit . Or check out her online store at:

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  • francesca101

    I love this! As humans we often do sit around thinking of what we are going to do, working out details in our mind & after yrs. of thinking..we are still…thinking. I think alot of it is fear..mostly of failure. There's not enough “approval” out there for people who give it a great try..It always has to be about “winning” Sad for our kids too..ALot of them will never even try because they can't handle the possibility of failure. We need to constantly tell them to Try …keep trying..As you say keep showing up!

    Awesome article!

  • Great post! I very much appreciate your philosophy. I like the distinction you make between outcome and process. As a career coach focused on helping people live their life purpose, I find many fall into this trap. I use the phrase, “ready, willing and able” b/c you need all three to move into your ideal career and express who you are. I love your question – “What is the one thing that would upset me if, at the end of my life, I do not attempt, do, or complete?”. It hits directly on those same very important factors!

  • When I opened my new agency – I had to commit to starting without knowing all I needed – it's not always comfortable but I know I will succeed by keeping at it.

  • I had to commit to the process with out having all the answers when I opened my new agency – I will succeed if I just keep at it.

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