You want to know what’s the single biggest obstacle in the way of your doing pretty much anything? It’s not your boss, your mate, the economy, your kids, your mother, or whatever else is your “why-I-can’t-be/do/have it” mantra, it’s that thing you keep repeating to yourself over and over.

Mine was: “I don’t have the time.” Oh, I always had the time for work, and for whatever other people asked of me, I just never had the time for things I wanted to do for myself. You know--non-productive, non-earning-income things--like taking singing lessons just for the heck of it, or getting out to meet new people just for fun.

Then one day my best friend nailed me on it. I was, once again, voicing something I wanted to do, immediately followed by “but I don’t have the time,” and she said, “You know, you say that all the time. You never have the time.” It hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks. She was right. I realized over the next few weeks just how often my knee-jerk response to anything outside of work, or something that absolutely needed doing, was “I don’t have the time.”

So I stopped saying it. Cold turkey. After a few months, I stopped thinking it. And magically, I found I did have time. All I had to do was restructure my priorities, set better boundaries, and guess what? Somehow I still managed to get my work done, and be helpful where needed. And I also joined a choir, and sang my happy off-tune self out with great joy, and found time (yes, it can be found!) for lazy lunches with new friends and other pleasures I’d denied myself.

What’s your knee-jerk that holds you back from your dreams? Doesn’t matter which dream, I guarantee if you’re not taking steps, however “baby” towards that dream, it’s because you’re stopping yourself with some fiction you’ve bought into and repeat to yourself endlessly. You probably don’t even realize you’re saying it.

So stop. Listen to how you respond, to yourself first of all, then to others, when there’s an opportunity to go towards your dream, whether that’s getting a puppy, getting a better education/job/financial future, learning to tango, retiring, or finding a mate. And if you don’t like what you’re telling yourself, if what you say to yourself stops you in any way from the pursuit of that dream, stop!

Say something else. For me it was simply “I have the time,” whether I believed it or not. Which at first I didn’t, yet the more I said it, the more I did find the time! Lo and behold, it became my truth.

Don’t let your automatic knee-jerks run your life. Consciously choose the thoughts you want to become your truth. You’ll be that much closer to living whatever dream you’ve been denying yourself. The dream you really want to live.

Author's Bio: 

Noelle C. Nelson, Ph.D., is a psychologist, relationship expert, popular speaker in the U.S. and abroad, and author of nine best-selling books. Dr. Nelson focuses on how we can all enjoy happy, fulfilling lives while accomplishing great things in love, at home and at work, as we appreciate ourselves, our world and all others. Visit,,, @drnoellenelson