We all have our go-to excuses that risk getting in the way of our biggest and most audacious dreams.
At their core, excuses are nothing more than justifications for our self-limiting beliefs. In order to stop believing our excuses and start following our dreams, we need to dig down to the limiting beliefs underneath and turn them around into a self-belief that’s more supporting.
This isn’t about being unrealistic. Instead it’s about getting out of our own way so we can use the skills and capabilities we have to do what we want with our lives.
Excuses generally fall into two categories: the “not enough” excuses, and the “too much” excuses. Below you’ll find some of the most common excuses we use to stop following our dreams and what you can do to overcome them.
As a coach, this is one of the most common excuses I hear from clients for not doing something. Yet, when a client and I dig down and examine how they’re spending their 24 hours a day, it turns out that this isn’t strictly true. After all, what’s more important: catching up on Jersey Shore, or spending 30 minutes taking one step towards your big dream? If you need more time, look for the little pockets of your life where you can make more time, and start from there.
Many people jump to this conclusion without sitting down and working out exactly what “enough” money means in figures. Even if that figure is out of reach right now, that’s no reason to stop. Once you have an exact figure in mind, you’re in a much better position to work towards making that figure, whether through saving, asking for a raise, taking on more work, or selling off surplus belongings.
When we use this excuse, we forget just how many skills we’ve picked up already during our lifetimes. Walking, talking, driving, cooking, typing—all these things that we take for granted are skills that we’ve spent time learning.
What’s stopping you taking the time to learn one more?
Not having support for your big goals is tough, but it’s not necessarily a reason to give up on them. If you don’t have supporters among your immediate friends and family, think of places you can find support. This might be at a physical location (such as a local club or college) or online.
As long as you are telling yourself you’re not clever enough to do something, you won’t be. If you’re struggling to trust your capabilities, take a few moments to write down all the times when you’ve come through, exceeded someone’s expectations, and proved your mettle. Give yourself permission to be someone who can achieve your dream.
Instead of viewing these excuses as final statements, add a question to them: what can you do about that?
Just as no one is born with the skills they have today, no one is born experienced or well-connected. Experience develops one day at a time and everyone has to be a beginner at some point. Equally, connections are made one at a time: the sooner you start, the sooner your network will grow.
This might be true, but it’s not a reason to give up. Identify exactly what it is about your dream that feels risky (would you risk losing a lot of money? would you be giving up a stable job? do you fear other people judging you?), then picture the worst case scenario around that risk.
What can you do, prepare, or change to minimize the risk?
Like the other excuses in this list, it’s important to drill down and get to the specifics behind this statement. When we examine what’s behind the “too soon”, we often find fear—fear that we’ll look silly, fear we’ll feel out of our depth, and fear that we’ll fail.
As Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn, famously said: “If you’re not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.” Cringe-worthy first attempts at turning our big dreams into reality are part of the course.
Common variations on this excuse include “I’m too old,” and “It will take too long.” While it’s true we all have a finite amount of time on this planet to do what we want to do, that time is going to pass whether we’re pursuing our dreams or not—so why not get the most out of it?
No! It’s your dream, and that’s exactly why it is important. If you need more people around you to remind you of that, see number 4.
One reason our dreams stay dreams is that they’re big projects and daunting to start. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the size of the endeavour in front of you, start by thinking of three tiny steps you can take in 15 minutes or less that will get you on your way.
They probably have, so before you write off your dream with this excuse, spend some time trying to find them. If you’re a true trailblazer, then good for you! Give yourself permission to be bold and gather round a support network who will cheer you on.
Like number eight, this excuse usually has an element of truth to it. If so, identify exactly how pursuing your dream might affect your ability to support the other people in your life who need you. For example, pursuing your dream might mean taking a pay cut for a while, or moving.
Talk to the people concerned, explain how important your dream is, and negotiate with them. Brainstorm ways you can pursue your dream without sacrificing your or their well-being or happiness.
Fear of failure is one of the most common (and very understandable) reasons that people don’t pursue their dreams.
If you’re struggling with this fear, imagine that you’re at the end of your life and consider which you would regret more: trying and (possibly) failing, or not trying at all and never giving yourself the opportunity to succeed?
What are your most common excuses for not following your dreams? Leave a comment and let us know!
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