Going All In

by | Feb 8, 2016

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.


  1. Margy

    I loved this post, Becky, and I can certainly relate! I have dreamed of writing and publishing a collection of poems since I was a teenager, but in recent years that dream has been deferred (for good reasons!). However, every time I think about it, I feel a pang of regret–can’t I spend even 30 minutes a few times a week pursuing this dream? I am busy, yes, but am I so busy that I have to completely ignore this dream?

    Maybe we should have some kind of “accountability”/”dream pursuit” group where we all set a “dream goal” and hold each other accountable?

    Dreams are a tough business–they drive us to be who we are, and remind us of who we are not.

  2. Elizabeth Johnson

    Thanks for this much needed reminder. I’ve got one of those book projects too, and I really just need to sit down and figure out what it would take to fully commit to getting it written. Procrastination is fun sometimes, but we lose in the end by not using our talents to the fullest.

  3. Mary Schaefer

    Becky, thank you for being so open, and articulating what so many (like me) feel and perhaps can’t even articulate to ourselves.

    You are connecting to the Lead Change Group theme of uncertainty this month for me. I KNOW what’s going to happen if I don’t pursue my dream, but SO much uncertainty if I do.

    And then Margy’s comment made me think: “I feel a pang of regret–can’t I spend even 30 minutes a few times a week pursuing this dream?” I connected it to your mention of Solomon talking about heart sickness. We think pursuing our dream is going to be a challenge, yet the heart sickness of not following the dream weakens us. The challenge of following the dream may be exhausting, but also exhilarating.

    Right now I’m dealing with an opportunity that any public speaker would dream of. It’s scaring me to death. But i know in my heart I can’t NOT do it. I would always regret it. And indeed that does sag like a heavy load.

    Thank you for sharing and inspiring!

    • Becky Robinson

      Know that I’m here cheering you on, Mary! I am inspired by YOU!

      Move toward your dreams. Run toward them!

  4. Chip Bell

    Great…very profound. And, there I suspect we all have our maybe’s when “all in” would give us more joy. Fear, yes, But joy in the end! The poet Goethe wrote, “Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin in boldness. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. The moment one definitely commits himself, then Providence moves, too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred!”

    • Becky Robinson

      Thank you, Chip! I should write down that quote and read it every day. Thanks for always cheering me on!

  5. Wendy Wong

    Becky — I know this feeling exactly! I just sent my first book proposal out to an agent! Putting the final touches on proposal #2. Going all in can be scary, but my heart is lifted with every step!

    • Becky Robinson

      Wendy, I love hearing that you are all in! I know you will be exceedingly successful in all you do. Let me know how I can help! Becky

  6. John Thurlbeck

    Hi Becky

    I enjoyed the post, mainly because I could identify so closely to what you were saying, how that felt and what it meant.

    Not this year though! I took the plunge and wrote them down. I even invested in Michael Hyatt’s Best Year Ever programme to make sure I did them justice. And then, very kindly, Cindy Bazin offered to be my accountability buddy – how brilliant was that?

    Overall consequence – this first six or so weeks of the new year have been amazing! So I agree with you entirely! You are either in or you are out! Commit fully or not at all! My personal two cents – go for it! I believe in you and appreciate all you do!

    Kind regards


    • Becky Robinson

      John, I am so happy to hear that your year is off to a successful start!

      Keep going.

      I appreciate you!

  7. Juan Arroyo

    Becky, maybe when this starts moving forward, your book will be about how you overcame this “delay it mentality”.

    You probably know this one but I’ll repeat it anyway.

    “When you dreams knock on the door, it’s coming from a different place; it comes from your future. You aren’t going to be ready. You aren’t meant to be. You won’t have the time, the money, the resources, or the know-how. So, surrender…” it’s time to go all in.”

    Maybe, just maybe you should start speech-to-text your book while you are training for the marathon in spring.


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Becky Robinson

About Becky Robinson

I am an entrepreneur who is energized by creating opportunities for others. When I’m not working, I enjoy spending time with my family, cooking, running, and reading.