When was the last time you said, I can’t because...
...of my life.
...it’s not who I am.
...everyone else is doing it already.
What is your excuse? Is the very word “excuse” bad? Everyone makes excuses from time to time. There are moments in everyone’s lives when things don’t go your way, and we offer excuses as a way of explaining them away.
But all too often, we make up excuses as roadblocks that keep us from accomplishing our dreams. When that happens, we use excuses to cushion ourselves against the possibility of failure.
Out of fear, we search for excuses that give us permission to fail.
If I removed the first roadblock in your list of excuses, would it free you to reach your goal? Or would you just have another excuse at the ready?
...I don’t have time.
...I have no money.
...I tried it already.
...I know it better than anyone else... so I can’t delegate it.
...I can’t do it alone.
Let’s try an exercise. Take out a piece of paper (or open your notebook app) and write down all your excuses.
That’s step one.
It can take a moment to reflect, but be honest with yourself and the excuses will come. You may find that you fall back on the same excuses even when the situation changes.
Step two: Are you willing or capable of letting it go?
Take a close look at this list. Are your excuses really holding you back, or are you just letting them?
Step three: What is your “carrot”?
Why do you want to go through this? What’s your reason to overcome and nip excusing behavior? What is worth it for you?
Here’s a tip. It’s easy for our goals to seem too daunting when they’re vague and open ended. Instead of some far-off result that looks unobtainable, identify the little steps that will get you there, and focus on the first one.
Your goal might be, “I want to be rich.” I bet you can already hear the excuses bubbling up inside your head. Instead, figure out the first step. Set a measurable goal — “I will persuade my boss why I deserve a pay raise at my next performance review,” or “I will set up an Etsy page for my passion project this month.”
When the path is clear, it’s harder to find excuses for avoiding it. You may not succeed your first try, but a small setback is less discouraging than a great, big unknown.
Without excuses holding you back, it becomes so much easier to accomplish what you want.
There are so many examples of this that I don’t even have to go past that first excuse in our list — I can’t because of Covid — to find one.
You’re not alone if you’ve put off a goal because of the pandemic. But I’m sure you’ve also heard some of the many success stories from people who have turned their quarantine lemons into lemonade. It can be as simple as learning a new skill (remember the baking bread craze?) to launching a new business.
I’ve been inspired by tales like the enterprising teenager in Connecticut who started her own tie-dye clothing business on Instagram during quarantine. At a time when many of her peers were feeling cut off and down from missing their normal school activities, this eighteen-year-old decided to apply her love of fashion toward learning how to run a business, and then donating the money she raised to her favorite causes.
Think of all the excuses she could have come up with—no experience, still in school, stuck at home. No one would have blamed her. But she didn’t let excuses get in her way. Why should you?
I can’t date during Covid. It’s too risky.
I tried to lose weight, but I can’t keep it off.
I’m too old to find a new job.
I can’t change. This is just the way I am...
Enough. Have we lost hope? Inspiration? How cynical are we if we let our excuses keep us from realizing our dreams?
It’s about time we stop making excuses, and start achieving our dreams.