So What’s Holding You Back?

Do you ever hear this question from your friends, your loved ones or even… that voice in your head?

I hear it.

Honestly, I hear it more than I’m willing to admit… that voice in my head just won’t let it go!

It goes something like this… I really need to start on this project… I really need to get more committed to this idea I have… I really need to just go for it, I mean, other people are going for it and look at them. They are doing well with what they are trying to accomplish… I need to get my butt in gear.

Then that voice in my head says… So what’s holding you back?


I’ll tell you what I think holds me back from going after some of my dreams and goals in life.

Committing to just get started.

That’s it. I mean… I could give about 20 other reasons but when I look at those 20 reasons all I see is an excuse as to why I’m not committing myself to getting started and following through.

I have a lot going on. My days are busy and productive and life is full and rich. But if I’m to be completely honest with myself, I’ve not hit my full stride yet and I know it.

So guess what… It’s time to get cracking on a few things I’ve been wanting to do and stop making excuse as to why I haven’t started.

Do you find yourself in the same boat as me?

Do you want to go for it too? Want to do this with me? Come on…

So what’s holding you back?


The views expressed here are those of a personal nature and do not reflect the corporate view of my employer or anyone else who employee my services.
  • Cyndi

    1. Family
    2. Health
    3. Courage
    4. Fear

    • SpenceSmith

      i get all of those. i wonder which ones are the easiest for you to get through or all they all equal?

      • Cyndi

        I think I can get through health, courage and fear with help. Family? Different story. That is a hard one. But not impossible. Not impossible…

  • Randy Elrod

    What's holding me back?

    Committing to say No to some very good things, so that I can do the best things.

    • SpenceSmith

      ah… my friend. you and me are in the same boat at times. thanks for the comment randy!

  • Kristina

    Fear of failure gets me every time

    • SpenceSmith

      i have the same fear.

  • Ani

    Sometimes I'm in that boat.
    I definitely want to go for it.
    What's holding me back than? Fear.
    But for what? (I'm asking myself all these questions right now).
    To fail or be rejected? Both, I think.
    But I'm determined to do something about it so I go for it. If I fail, I can start all over again. Will I be rejected, I've been there, it hurts but life goes on and so do I.

    Sooo, are you out of that boat now? Walking on water like Peter? Risking it?
    As you asked: "Want to do this with me?" You can ask help from others to accomplish. (By the way your last post helped me a lot, I'm moving further and further and I'm encouraged and can see the team I'm NOW in is great.)

    • SpenceSmith

      Ani… thank you for your comment. I'm just seeing your other comment and will respond soon. Yes… i think fear is one of the main things that hold people back. I love walking through life with other people helping along the way. feels really good:)

      • Ani

        It's okay Spence, I didn't write that down so you respond on it. You're a busy man, Smith. I'm even amazed you can come up with blogposts and write them down and reply back too.
        I only wanted to let you know that the other post moved me further that's all. thanks.

  • JasonWert

    Right now, debt, family and God just saying "not now."

    • SpenceSmith

      those are 3 big ones jason! i would say probably very common for a lot of people. thanks for the comment!

  • Greg

    For me, it's not a fear of failure, but a fear that I either won't have the bandwidth to follow through OR that I'll actually achieve everything I dream of.

    • SpenceSmith

      that's a heavy thought. on the other end of the spectrum for most i would say and yet… something that holds me back as well. thanks for the comment!

  • Sherrin

    The thing that holds me back is this: What if the idea I have is my idea, not God’s? What if I make the wrong choice and it takes me out of His will?

    It’s fear & self-doubt at the root, I think.

    • SpenceSmith

      What if God is wanting you to come up with an idea that is YOUR idea? One that He can delight in watching you walk out your dreams? An idea that if you make a wrong decision He can bring encouragement in your life to get up and start over or to keep going or even… to not give up. Sometimes a wrong choice is a bad choice but certainly not one that would take you out of God's will. Think about it. God didn't create a bunch of lemmings… He created us as creative, decisive people with the ability to make choices knowing that no matter what…. He still loves us. Even when we screw up. sometimes a wrong choice is just simply that… a wrong choice… nothing more, nothing less.I hope this makes sense. I just don't think God is that judgmental. God is awesome in that he always seems to bring good help along when a wrong choice has been made:)thanks for your comment Sherrin. Don't be afraid. God has your back. He's is cool that way. Go create your idea and if you make a wrong decision. Just go back to the drawing board or evaluate what happened and try to correct it or start over.You can do it:)

  • Kyle Reed

    absolutely find myself there.
    I have been there for the last year and a half.
    What is holding me back….Fear.

    Fear that I won't make it, fear that things wont be as promised.

    But another thing that is holding me back is failed opportunities. I have had some very interesting opportunities thrown my way but then seem to fall flat on their face. So yes, I have had fear in going after them but when I do pursue and work at them the other parties do not follow through. I guess its a two way street.

    I think I have gotten to the point now, of waiting for the past year or so, that I am tired of what is holding me back. That is why I am leaving everything that is comfortable and safe in pursuit of something greater.

    • SpenceSmith

      fear is a really big factor. i think that seems to be the common thread here. but i think you hit something important here when you say this… I am tired of what is holding me back. That is why I am leaving everything that is comfortable and safe in pursuit of something greater….

      i think for me i have to make the decision that i'm going to get up and do something rather than put it off.

      thanks for the comment!

  • torybee

    You bug me and I don't know why I read your blog.


    I pretty much do nothing, and the things I do I don't do well and I hate the fact that I can't do things well so if I can't do them well, then there is a reluctance to do them at all.

    Does this make sense?

    In most situations, it is hard to volunteer to do something because I want to be brilliant at it and I know that there are countless others that are better suited than I am, so perhaps it is best to leave it to the people that are truly accomplished.

    Or is that an excuse? Perhaps like another commenter it all comes back to fear. Is it really wrong to want to be successful, to be afraid of not doing well?

    Personally there are a lot of things that I need to get started on, and it just needs to get done, so you are right that the first thing is just committing to get started. Ironically I just committed to training for a Sprint triathlon with my friend. During Vineman we watched our husbands head out for the swim start and looked at each other and said it was time to get into shape. (well, she's in pretty good shape already!)

    Yesterday we started. Ran/walked for an hour, swam for half an hour. Can I say I'm amazingly sore this morning? It's been 20 years since I swam laps in a pool!

    I hate to admit it but if felt great. But I think it felt great because I actually started something I need to do and wanted to do: I had made a commitment with another person and know we'll meet our goal and how thankful I am to be doing this with a friend.

    So, perhaps these posts of yours won't bug me because I'm no longer content to sit on the sidelines of life because I'm convinced I have to be really good at something to even start. I'm hoping that this small step of taking a risk will spill out to other areas of my life.

    • torybee

      I really was kidding that I did not like your blog…. sorry if I offended you. (I noticed I'm the only one you skipped commenting on!)


      • SpenceSmith

        Actually I replied back yours an some others on my flight but you won't see them until I connect my email in a bit:)I took no offense!Thanks,Spence

    • SpenceSmith

      NICE!!! way to go with starting off with your first sprint!!!!I totally get what you are saying about your reluctance because you want to do things well… but i want to throw something out there for you to think about. Anyone who you see doing something well probably never started out doing it well. In fact, anytime any of us start something new or something we've never done before, we all have to start at the very same spot… at the beginning.I know… you probably hate hearing it but t's true. the great thing is we have all been there. we have all been at the beginning of whatever we are congrats to you for starting at the beginning of doing something for yourself that i KNOW will be an awesome thing for you in the coming months, years…i'm s proud of you and i can't wait to hear about the new adventure you are taking on. just remember one thing… You really can do it!

  • Deana

    what holds me back? My sometimes neurotic, insecure, people pleasing self – when I'm honest. Other times, I'm with Randy — it's learning how to say no to good stuff, even though it's good, so that I can have the time for God's best. I spent most of the past 12 months being sick and not knowing what was wrong. Now that I've had my surgery to correct it, I'm feeling selfish in my cutting out the excesses of my calender – but it's worth it in the long run and feelings aren't facts. I've had to change my focus from wide – but shallow – to daring to swim in deeper waters. I like to touch bottom when in the water, both literally and figuratively. This year, I get to learn how to swim. It's an adventure to say the least. Great thoughts Spence.

    • SpenceSmith

      thanks Deana. You know… there's nothing selfish about cutting your calender in order to focus on what you need to do to be your best or most effective or….. just to be healthy. it sounds like you are on the right track to some better focused things in your life… and way to go on getting in the pool! i love my time in the water!

  • compassiondave


    • SpenceSmith


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  • mndunn26

    Well this really well timed… dang it. What's holding me back? Fear or failure and rejection, but more specifically– failing or being rejected because I am (a) too much, or (b) not enough. Recently there has been this growing fear that while my dreams and passions are my own, my lack of "X-Y-Z" will hinder me in ever fulfilling them. Conclusion– lies… straight from the pit of _______. Solution- fight til I prove myself wrong.

    Thanks for this, Spence.

    • SpenceSmith

      i hear ya… i know you my friend and i know you can do whatever you set your mind too.

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  • Daniel C White

    Wow Spence, by the amount of feedback it seems that you've hit a nerve here my friend. I too, along with the billions on this planet, have things that I feel that I need to tackle and accomplish in life sooner than later. However, even though I have a huge fear of what people may think about me, I have finally settled into something regarding this topic and that's "timing".

    Most of of see something in our head and we want it NOW. Something that I feel that I've learned from you just by watching your life from a distance is patience. Maybe you don't see it this way, but I feel that so many of us have amazing ideas and goals, but need to also move forward with them in the right timing.

    I'm trying to be more patience in life regarding these life goals, not care so much about what others think, but of course I don't want to miss the boat either!

    Great post Mr. Spence! Sorry for the monologue.

    • SpenceSmith

      Daniel my friend… Thanks for the comment and the compliment. Timing and patience. Sometimes timing works itself out on it's own and sometimes we need patience in order to wait something out. I'm not sure i am always this way but i appreciate knowing what you see and what it means to you.You are always good about going after things you want in life and you do it with a crazy amount of energy which i think is awesome!

  • His Girl

    I know this feeling well. I call it my internal NO. It seems to be either motivated by fear or a feeling I'm just not worth it or capable of it. So I tell myself No you can't do that. No that's not possible. No your not good enough. No you don't know how. No. No. No.

    In August 2007 I wrote about this very struggle.

    Let's not let fear, busy lives, family or others keep us from being all that God has created us to be.

    I so needed this reminder. Thank you Spence. I am embarking on some big things for me and God just used you in a powerful way. Come to think of it, my old blog post spoke to me too. Love when that happens.

    • SpenceSmith

      that's awesome carol. sometimes we are the ones holding us back more than anyone else right?

      thanks for the comment:)

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  • http://None Ruth

    Husband, fear. I have passion and desire, but for some reason I think my husband feels threatened and does not want me to follow my heart. He is quite a controller.

    • SpenceSmith

      i'm sorry to hear that Ruth. that's a tough spot to be in. i probably could say many things about this, most of which would sound sort of surface level compared to what you might be dealing with. I would encourage you to never forget who you are and to not loose your self.

      thanks for your comment.

  • Bill

    Fear of setting a high water mark of success that will continually have to be beat. What silly thoughts. Great blog post, Spence.

    • SpenceSmith

      ah… the ole how can i top that… not silly at all. in fact. i will think on that one for a bit. thanks for the comment and thanks for reading.

  • Brent

    I don’t mean to be insincere, so I apologize in advance if it sounds that way to anyone. In no way would I ever want to minimize the struggles that others go through. Roadblocks like overload, fear, opposition, lack of resources, etc., that get in the way of moving forward are real and powerful, and anyone who would dismiss them out of and does so, in my opinion, at their own risk.

    That said, I would still trade for any one of them. What holds me back is chronic pain. Besides having the pain itself, it drains my energy–which usually leads to similar reductions in my motivation, and in my hope for a better future. The pain makes it very hard to think, concentrate, put words together, get a point across (especially without being verbose, evidenced by this post), and to prioritize. My diminished thinking capacity and ability to prioritize often leaves me in a paralyzed state, struggling for a long time simply trying to decide what to do next. Which includes deciding what to write next, and why. I’ve now been working on this post for 45 minutes.

    Sure, I have thoughts of things I’d like to do or the person I’d like to become. But then pain brings me back to the reality where such thoughts seem laughable. So until God chooses to heal me, I try not to dwell on how I feel I’m being held back, but rather on how I can keep fighting the urge to give up altogether.

    • ericafaraone

      Brent, I have been where you are (because of fibromyalgia pain & fatigue & depression) and I can tell you that hanging on counts as going forward. Do what you can when you can. Praying for others takes only moments and makes a huge difference in the world. Sometimes what you consider a small thing may be the positive influence that propels someone else forward.

      Also, check out for encouragement and hope! There are many others fighting the same battle you are. You may feel held back or even at a standstill, but God uses every season in our lives. Be at peace with where you are. Give thanks. Be faithful. God sees you and has not forgotten you. In your heart, you can run forward when you journey with Him!

      • SpenceSmith

        i'm sorry to hear that Ruth. that's a tough spot to be in. i probably could say many things about this, most of which would sound sort of surface level compared to what you might be dealing with. I would encourage you to never forget who you are and to not loose your self.

    • SpenceSmith

      Wow Brent. This took me a little time to think about and you didn't come off as insincere at all. The physical side of what you are dealing with must be really tough to get through. I've never dealt with what you are dealing with physically. All i know is how un focused i feel when i'm really tired and exhausted. But at least i know i can get some rest and bounce back. It doesn't sound like you have that option to bounce back often if the pain is chronic. I too would have a hard time with just not giving up all together.I must tell you though. Without knowing your story I would encourage you to keep fighting no matter your physical pain. I know it must mess with your head and the energy it takes to get through the day, but somehow i think others in your same situation will need an example like you to keep going and to have someone they can relate to within the reality of their own pain. I'm so sorry you deal with this but i'm thankful you commented and hearing what holds you back from a completely different angle.

  • Daniel Tardy

    I love the conversation here. Great question.

    Personally what it boils down to for me is when I loose focus of who I am in Christ, and all the things he's empowered me to do.

    • SpenceSmith

      great point indeed. thanks for the comment!

  • PatAlexander

    Spence, this post really hits home. I know full well that I should schedule time each day or week to work on the projects that are important to me. Not doing this causes the projects to keep getting pushed around by life. This post has caused me to pull out my projects list, get them in priority order and schedule appropriate time so I can focus. Thanks for thinking for me and pushing me.

    • SpenceSmith

      there's a novel idea… have a project list and dedicate time to it? i'll have to try that one. thanks for the comment pat.

      • PatAlexander

        Spence, I learned this many years ago in a management class. When I use it, it works. I just fall off the wagon from time to time and forget to plan. And that is what I do for a living is teach people to organize and plan. Guess I am like the cobbler.

  • Lorrie Harden

    That would be me!! Fear, not putting myself on the list.

    But you would be so proud…after all this time I am finally working on that CD for ME!!

    How many years have I said this…

    I am in the studio today as we speak…

    Finally putting myself on the list!

    You and Randy have been so good for me with the lifework 2.0 class and the build a blog in a day. It has enabled me to begin to speak my voice. Not to be afraid and not start, but to just dive in and improve as I go along!!

    • SpenceSmith

      way to go Laurie! i sure do like hanging with you and tommy. thanks for the comment.

  • 4himcamper

    what's holding me back…probably lack of knowledge. There are a couple of ministry things on my mind….I need to remember to continually seek God and He will sort out those 2 things to let me know what I need to do and How it will get done because I have no idea. I'm trying to walk by faith through this process. A couple of months ago He continued my learning to walk by faith…last fall was a lay-off, started grad school as a result of the lay-off…both learning opportunities for what it means to walk by faith….then Compassion sent me a envelope this past spring with some pictures of kids needing sponsors…about 2 months after seeing a little boy in a bright yellow shirt I took another step of faith…I sponsor 2 boys now (both from that Compassion envelope, 1 being the boy in the bright yellow shirt) and am still on the walk of faith trusting God to provide the funds for them and me since I'm still in grad school and still job hunting

    So as I still don't know how to go about either ministry idea…I "walk by faith even when I cannot see because this broken road prepares God's will for me" (to quote Jeremy Camp-a song that was repeated for hours after the initial news of the lay-off). And I need to remember to seek God daily for wisdom, guidance, and discernment and He will show me how a bachelor's in missions will work w/ a masters in organizational leadership to create the ministry opportunity He wants me to do whether that is 1 of the 2 on my mind or something completely different.

    • SpenceSmith

      Thanks for the comment. Sometimes i think time is a factor… meaning, maybe now is not the right time but now is the time to get the right pieces together. for example, finding a job and finishing out your masters while continuing to build the dream of your two ideas. along the way, your dream might change from the original intent and grow into something you might not of ever thought about. so… thanks for sponsoring two compassion kiddos and keep up the passion for your ministry ideas.You can do it:)


    For me a huge issue is the culture that I was raised in which would lead me, not to be afraid that I didn't succeed but that I did. The British culture, and even more so the Scottish culture, is suspicious of success. i remember hearing Michael Caine interviewed on The Tonight Show and Carson asked him why he had relocated to America. He said, "If you succeed in America, people think, well done, if you can do that perhaps I can too but in Britain they think, who do you think you are?" That led me for many years to try to blend in with the wallpaper and deflect any compliment at all. So now I tell my son, shine! Don't be afraid to try, don't be afraid to fail, live the life out of every day

    • SpenceSmith

      Ah yes… Culture. that's a huge issue for some people. Culture that don't breed progress don't really make sense to me but the problem is way more intense than most people think. i see it all the time when i travel overseas.i love that you encourage you son like you do. It shows. He's a good guy with a great attitude and a love for life that is very contagious.Thanks for your comment Sheila! i hope you have a great weekend back out with WOF:)

  • SpenceSmith

    ohhh… i've said that way to many times… i'm working on it. yep. that's me.

    time to focus and go after it?

  • SpenceSmith

    especially as an artist, we tend to wear our life on our sleeves for all to see and sometimes it comes with critics… or people that really don't know you say what they think with out really knowing the full details. that's tough. the fear of the unknown response is tough.

    thanks Holly!!

  • Shona

    I'm with Sheila on that one! I was raised in Scotland too and now live in Australia where we are so good at putting people down. We even say that people who rise up are suffering from 'tall poppy sydnrome' and need to be cut down to size! So no prizes for guessing what holds me back! However, I am slowly learning that my identity is in the one who created me and nothing in this world should or can hold me back from living my life to the fullest!

    • SpenceSmith

      Hey Shona… nice comment! you Scottish women can throw out some good inspiration:) thanks for your comment!
      …nothing in this world should or can hold me back from living my life to the fullest! … love it:)

  • torybee

    This will teach me to be impatient!

    Thanks for your encouragement; and I know you are right….that most people don't start out doing things well. Truly, that is a hard hurdle for me to get past, but I'm really very excited about this Sprint triathlon! I really do hope that I can do it and so far I'm really enjoying it. (except that I'm really sore)

    I hope you are right… that I really can do this! I'll keep you posted and I thank you for your comments, enthusiasm and support!

    • SpenceSmith

      what do you mean 'hope you can do this'?!?!?! yes you can do it!!!! i know you can! it's all about finishing and i know you can do that…. just have fun with it:)Way to go:)

  • 4himcamper

    That's been my thought for awhile (like over 6.5 years awhile). I try to be patient through this process knowing that God has something planned that will bring glory to Himself. And I keep reminding myself as I go through the last 8 months of grad school that God's got His timing and I still have time to get the ministry figured out. Now to wait for God's confirmation on what that ministry is :) And have fun @ compassion and @ the Jeremy Camp concert in Denver. I'm looking fwd to my next concert which will be a total praise and worship time w/ Jeremy, Joel Hanson (PFR), and Mercy Me in 3 weeks.

  • torybee

    Thanks! :-)

  • Trish

    Last year I was afraid of change and afraid to fail, then I started running again. As I ran my first marathon I realized that I had accomplished a goal I never thought I could. After that, not much else has held me back- well the ironman is a bit daunting for now. I finally realized I can accomplish anything one step at a time.

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