The Two Most Dangerous Words

There are two dangerous words, you probably say all the time.

They could ruin your life… if you let them. And you would probably be surprised at what they are, because they’re so common.

Those words are: Not Yet.

The scariest thing about these words is that they let you off the hook. Because you’re not saying no, and you’re putting the commitment in the future, so it seems like you’re saying yes.

But you’re not saying yes. You’re really saying no.

  • I’ll start working on doing what I love for a living, when I have enough time.
  • I’ll travel when the time is right.
  • I’ll spend more time with my family after I get this promotion.
  • I’ll start taking that class I’ve really wanted to, once I get the courage.

What you’re really saying is: I’ll take action when the risk or effort is minimal.

And even further underlying that is: I’ll put off fulfillment, for the sake of comfort.

That’s if you want to be really honest with yourself. You could always take the safe, comfortable, seemingly innocent life of Not Yet.

But as you’ve found by now, it’s probably not just Not Yet. It’s probably never.

Comfort or fulfillment. It’s up to you.

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Comment & Add Your Voice

Baker August 4, 2009 at 3:04 pm

Short,sweet, and powerful! I love it.

The most important part of this is that it *seems* like your saying “yes”. But as you pointed out, you’re just fooling yourself. Your just feeding yourself a justification that you know you’ll accept without question.

That’s just it, though. This kind of message reminds me TO question it when it happens. Great stuff, man.

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Bamboo Forest - PunIntended August 4, 2009 at 3:04 pm

This says it all:

“What you’re really saying is: I’ll take action when the risk or effort is minimal.”

Duly noted.

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Dayne | TheHappySelf.com August 4, 2009 at 3:08 pm

I think the two most dangerous words are…

“I Can’t”

:)

Great post!
Dayne

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MoneyEnergy August 4, 2009 at 3:14 pm

Maybe it’s a question of knowing your priorities, which of course depends on knowing your purpose or what you most want to do. Once you know that (and I’m not saying it’s easy!) it’s probably easier to immediately say yes to the things you know that will take you where you want to do – and to immediately say no to what you don’t need. “Not yet” might just reveal this sort of confusion…. just a quick thought I had just now. nice post!

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Tania August 4, 2009 at 3:28 pm

Interesting idea but I think you push the motivation too far. For instance, when I say I’ll have kids when my student loans are paid off, I’m not saying no–I’m saying let’s be rational. Having a child right now would neither make me happy, satisfied or provide a good life for a child. I would feel so much less fulfilled in life. I would actually be pretty miserable and unhappy. Sometimes rationality overrides motivational need.

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CrystalsQuest August 4, 2009 at 3:56 pm

Wow! You’re so right. It’s almost scary all the mind tricks we play on ourselves to avoid living in the here and now.

I think I’m going to have fun standardly responding to “not yet” with “so when, then?” – and watching the truth of yes or no emerge…

Crystal

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Wilma Ham August 4, 2009 at 4:36 pm

I have noticed that my mind is playing tricks with these two words. It is mixing up the context in which these words apply and that has fooled me for a long time.
In certain contexts these words do apply as the not yet does relate to certain desirable conditions worth waiting for, like when cooking or on the road to a destination. However it took me a while to separate contexts. In the context of living my life these words do indeed not apply but it was interesting to observe how getting this important distinction took me a while.

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steve weaver August 4, 2009 at 5:15 pm

Ouch!! The truth DOES hurt. Thanks for reminding me and having the guts to tell it like it is!!!

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Shawanda August 4, 2009 at 5:37 pm

I’m actually Not Yet doing something I told myself I’d work on at this very moment. Either way, I’m glad I came across this post.

A friend of mine keeps asking me if I have a clearly defined direction for my blog. The answer is no! At least, not yet. Hmm. At the same time, if I waited until I had every thing in order then I never would’ve started it in the first place.

There are projects that have died because I took way too much time planning (in actuality procrastinating) and making excuses as to why I couldn’t take action.

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Lake August 4, 2009 at 8:40 pm

I printed the e-mail version of this post and tacked it to my Motivation Wall. Thank you, Jonathan. You always give me a dose of courage.

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Alex Fayle | Someday Syndrome August 4, 2009 at 9:42 pm

“Not yet” and “Someday” are very dangerous – they allow us to feel that we’re making progress by talking about our goals, but not actually doing anything about them.

Much better would be to say “I am working on” and then choosing some small action if the idea of big steps scare or overwhelm you.

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karan August 4, 2009 at 10:51 pm

can’t resist but point to the poem “The Climb” by Phyllis Trussler (just google it)

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Karlil @ PDPro August 4, 2009 at 11:01 pm

I’ll read this “later”… oh wait ;p

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Diggy - Upgradereality.com August 4, 2009 at 11:14 pm

Great Post!

Sometimes the best way to take action and do things is to make arrangements so we are forced to.

Want to travel? > book a plane ticket, then you have to go!

Want to wake up early?> buy a new alarm clock and set it that early time!

Thanks for sharing!
Diggy
Upgradereality.com

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Rohit Prakash August 5, 2009 at 12:02 am

True.

It is an excuse that I make often.

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Kaizan August 5, 2009 at 1:10 am

Hi Jonathan,

Interesting post! But not sure if I entirely agree that “Not Yet” is always a bad thing.

Every successful entrepreneur I have spoken to has said that the key is to focus on one project at a time.

Many newbie entrepreneurs make the mistake of trying 3 or 4 new projects at the same time, hoping that “one pays off”. They lose their focus, and end up failing in all the projects.

In this case, if you have 3 or 4 projects you want to do, you have to say “Not yet” to 3 of them, and focus on one at a time.

The “Not Yet” is an acknowledgement that you only have limited time and energy in a day, and need to focus it properly.

In that case, I dont think “not yet” is a cop-out.

Interested in your thoughts!

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Aaron Ulbricht August 5, 2009 at 5:28 am

Yeah, I get this a lot with blog posts. “I should write about this topic” “Not yet, I don’t have a clear idea of how to say it.”

I think these words can be really useful though, “Should I watch TV for the rest of the day?”
“Not yet.”

It’s usually the first way that I use them though. So maybe they aren’t as useful as I think.

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JS Dixon August 5, 2009 at 5:32 am

This post is awesome! I recently started finding out that all the excuses I had for putting those “not yet”s were mostly hot air. It shattered what I thought my limits were and now I have to find out what my new limits are.

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Laura - The Journal of Cultural Conversation August 5, 2009 at 7:51 am

Just what I needed to hear today. I’m in the middle of starting a new job and relocating so everything seems to be a candidate for “do it tomorrow” or “when I have more time” – but that can become a slippery slope. Thanks for this post – good reminder I’ll have to keep focused on.

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Goose August 5, 2009 at 9:27 am

I love your post. I have found that when I’m living just to seek comfort, life has a way of making sure I never quite get there. Comfort for the sake of comfort – very elusive. Comfort for the self, mind you.

However, when I seek to help others, fulfillment AND comfort – a quiet satisfaction – are my rewards. Of course, then I go right back to trying to be comfortable for a while…..

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seanstargazer August 5, 2009 at 12:59 pm

Great post!

My mind plays tricks on me by saying, “When I have more money I will…” I recently sorted out that this was just a clever way of saying, ‘No.’ without actually using the word.

I didn’t even know I was playing such mind tricks until recently when I started my Shiva Nata practice!

Mind is clever; it is always looking for ways to create comfort, safety, and security to the detriment of the spirit.

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emily-sarah August 5, 2009 at 1:03 pm

Awesome — and completely true!

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Kent @ The Financial Philosopher August 5, 2009 at 2:36 pm

Saying, “I don’t have time,” is the same as saying “I don’t want to.”

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alternaview August 5, 2009 at 7:13 pm

So true…putting things off and making excuses is so easy to do. At some point, we have to call ourselves out and make things happen. Thanks for the reminder.

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Phil August 6, 2009 at 7:44 am

I’m a Professional Not Yetter. Time for a career change!

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Celes | The Personal Excellence Blog August 6, 2009 at 7:51 am

It’s very true, as I’ve experienced personally and observed around me. Same goes along the likes of ‘I’ll do it later’ and ‘Not now’.

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Jodi @ Joy Discovered August 6, 2009 at 4:31 pm

GREAT POST! This is SO true! You nailed this one. Thanks!!! (It’s also a kick in the butt-I need to get to work..!)

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Joshua August 7, 2009 at 10:47 am

It kind of awakens me especially where it implies that ‘I’ll put off fulfillment, for the sake of comfort’
I am out of my comfort zone to take responsibility NOW!

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ms hopeful August 7, 2009 at 7:06 pm

hi,

nice blog, right these two words when combined is dangerous, and i often caught up with it

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Anand August 7, 2009 at 9:01 pm

Life Is NOW. ‘Nuff Said!

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Mahmudur August 9, 2009 at 2:41 am

hi,
can you tell me the reason, why people can’t choose between Comfort or fulfillment?

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Jai Kai - Sharing Success August 9, 2009 at 3:08 pm

Not Yet also shows signs of being indecisive.

Say “Yes” or Say “No”… Decide and make a commitment.

Everyone should get into the habit of saying Yes more often the world would be more open and we would have less limitations…and yes there are times when you do need to say No.

Thanks for the short post.

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Annabel Candy August 9, 2009 at 4:19 pm

Thanks for writing this. With the not yet attitude it would be easy for a whole lifetime to slip by without actually doing much. Either this article is a wake up call, or a reminder that we are doing the right thing by striving to achieve our dreams. Cheers!

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Amit August 9, 2009 at 10:35 pm

This post makes perfect sense to me since I just graduated college and I am in my early 20s. Whenever I put something off I have to remind myself that from here on out the responsibilities will only increase, so right now is the best time to take action.

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Peter Mis August 10, 2009 at 2:51 pm

Jonathan,

Great post! I’m glad I found it. Excellent straight-forward advice, especially in challenging times where it is so much easier to justify excuse making.

Thanks for sharing! Looking forward to future posts…

Peter

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Daryl Furuyama August 10, 2009 at 10:37 pm

Hey Jonathan,

This takes me back to my very first blog post. I wrote about waking up. One of the things that would stop me from getting up was I would say “I’ll get up in half an hour”. What I was really saying was “I’m not going to get up now and I may or may not get up in half an hour”. You can only do stuff now, so saying “I’ll do it later” doesn’t mean anything. :)

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Katie West/The Levity Coach August 11, 2009 at 5:25 am

Jonathan…your post made me think about two favorite movie quotes…both have to do with now or later and comfort and fulfillment.

From High Fidelity as John Cusak’s character talks about his girlfriend:
***Rob: I can see now I never really committed to Laura. I always had one foot out the door, and that prevented me from doing a lot of things, like thinking about my future and… I guess it made more sense to commit to nothing, keep my options open. And that’s suicide. By tiny, tiny increments. ****

I have thought of this often at critical times in my life…along with a quote from Shawshank Redemption

“Get busy living, or get busy dying.”

For me that sums it up. And I know what side of the fence I want to be on…which is why I laugh so much.

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Utpal Vaishnav August 11, 2009 at 8:50 am

Jonathan,

I agree totally.

It is now, or never! – and, the key is execution.

Cheers!
Utpal

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Adam August 11, 2009 at 10:00 am

Jonathan, This is one of your most classic articles. Short. Sweet. Extremely hard hitting. The time is now, stop putting off everything and just do it.

Draw an analogy to childhood, there was so much we HAD to do. That force of doing made us grow. Use the same strategy now.

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Russell Abravanel August 11, 2009 at 10:23 pm

If you say you can’t you are absolutely right!If you believe you can then that is true as well.

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bzmazu August 12, 2009 at 7:38 am

How does this jive with “Killing Your Goals”?

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Erik August 15, 2009 at 4:42 am

This is so spot on – I know this from myself and I con myself into believing I said yes, when it truly was a no I did not dare speak out. This post urges me to be more truthful with my “no’s”. Otherwise these “not yet’s” keep mental open loops which take up too much place in your mind that is otherwise needed. So thanks for the reminder of closing these open loops.

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Ron - Heroic Nature August 17, 2009 at 8:17 am

Just like a kick in the ass. Quick, straight, and effective. Needed to hear it.

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jonathanfigaro August 18, 2009 at 2:34 pm

Stop making excusing and start to make change. Don’t allow your already programmed mind state to prevent success. Don’t allow fear to keep you from improving your life.

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Matthew August 19, 2009 at 6:25 am

Excellent post! It really makes one think. Another word to avoid is “should.”

Keep up the great work here!

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Mahmoud August 19, 2009 at 9:13 pm

I really loved this post. It started some hiden engines in my thoughts.

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prufock August 20, 2009 at 4:33 am

I like Crystal’s idea of responding with “so when, then?”

Some of the things I say “not yet” to:

– I’ll do some traveling, but not yet
– I’ll write a book of poetry, but not yet
– I’ll start biking around town rather than driving, but not yet

So when, then?
I’ll do some traveling when my student loan and car payments are done. I anticipate 2-3 years.
I’ll write a book of poetry when I can get off my lazy duff and do it.
I’ll start biking around town after I move to my new apartment at the end of the month.

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moonduster (Becky) August 21, 2009 at 2:14 pm

I love this! It is so true! For so many years, I put off doing things “until I lose weight,” while I put off losing that same weight I used as an excuse for not doing other things. Then I kind of came to this same sort of conclusion; I needed to stop putting things off. I started doing, learning and living all of those things I had been putting off, and I also started losing the weight. (I was morbidly obese, but have now lost 115.5 lbs and have only 22 more to reach a healthy weight).

Life is better now.

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Shaun August 21, 2009 at 2:40 pm

Loved the post!

I blabbed about it and added my own thoughts on my site,

http://noiwontmakeoutwithyou.com/archives/513

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Paul Norwine August 25, 2009 at 8:08 am

Hey Jonathan,

Short and sweet – but full of important advice. I have the habit of doing this a lot and I have started to focus on “not putting off til tomorrow what can be done today.” This philosophy is important to keep in mind not just with my online business, but with all facets of my life. Thanks for the reminder!

Paul

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Russ Smith August 28, 2009 at 6:44 am

Nice little post. I’ve also had an aversion to those words. When ever I hear them, I think the person is trying to say yes to be pleasing, but knows they haven’t done it, and won’t.

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admin@technofreaky June 17, 2010 at 4:22 am

Did I understand what you have written in this post.

Not Yet..(lol)

You made the point there..thanks…

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Scott Dinsmore July 3, 2010 at 7:48 pm

From now on I am replacing Not Yet with Never. That should keep me from ever using it again for something I remotely care about. Thanks Jonathan. Short, sweet and super useful.

Scott

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hermes handbags July 8, 2010 at 1:45 am

From now on I am replacing Not Yet with Never. That should keep me from ever using it again for something I remotely care about. Thanks Jonathan. Short, sweet and super useful.

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Victoria August 8, 2010 at 4:12 am

Actually that’s not true for me. I have put things off until the time was better and then done them. e.g. I put off international travel until I finished my degree. I went as soon as I finished and now, 15 years later, I have spent about 8 years living overseas. I also put off doing a couple of courses of further study until I felt financially ready. I did one 4 years ago and am now doing the Master’s degree I wasn’t ready for a few years ago.

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Khey March 4, 2011 at 3:49 am

Procrastination?

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betterbostablogging July 4, 2011 at 6:51 am

Awesome post, short, straight to the point and full of impact!

Pull it off or Pull out! Thanks for the reminder! :)

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lynne July 31, 2014 at 3:16 pm

Hi, I love your post. It is short but direct to the point. Thanks for sharing.

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