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15 Excuses You Use To Stop Following Your Dreams

15 Excuses You Use To Stop Following Your Dreams

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.

The “not enough” mindset

1. I don’t have enough time

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.

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2. I don’t have enough money

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.

3. I don’t have enough skill

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?

4. I don’t have enough support

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.

5. I’m not clever enough

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.

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6. I’m not experienced enough
&
7. I’m not connected enough

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.

The “too much” mindset

8. It’s too risky

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?

9. It’s too soon

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.

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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.

10. It’s too late

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?

11. It’s too unimportant

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.

Other common excuses

12. I don’t know where to start

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.

13. I don’t know if anyone’s done this before

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.

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14. I have other people to worry about

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.

15. I might not succeed

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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Hannah Braime

Hannah is a coach who believes the world is a richer place when we have the courage to be fully self-expressed.

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Last Updated on August 12, 2020

When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

Learning how to trust your gut, otherwise known as your intuition, can keep you safe. Your gut can guide you and help you build your confidence and resilience. My own gut instinct has saved me on more than one occasion. It has also guided me into making sound career choices and other exciting, big decisions. I’m also aware of the times when I’ve gone against my instincts and really regretted it later, wondering why I didn’t tune in to that valuable internal voice that we all have within us.

In this article, we’re going to explore why and how you should listen to your gut, as well as some concrete tips on how to make sure you’re making the most out of your gut instincts.

How to Listen to Your Gut

The key when making any big decision is to always take a minute to listen well to yourself and your inner compass. If you hear your actual voice saying yes while inside you’re silently screaming no, my advice is to ask for some time to think, or simply take a breath and pause before the yes or no escapes your mouth.

Use that moment to breathe, check in with yourself, and give the answer that feels congruent with who you are and what you want, not the one that always involves following the herd. Trusting your gut means having the courage to not simply go with the majority. It can be about holding your own. Here’s how to hone that skill for yourself and reap the rewards.

1. Tune Into Your Body

Your body gives you clues when you’re faced with a big decision. There are many visible and obvious symptoms that we feel in uncomfortable situations. Our body’s reaction is often something that we might try to hide, for example, blushing, being lost for words, or shaking. There are things we might do to try and hide that physical reaction, whether it’s wearing makeup, having a glass of wine or coffee to perk us up a bit, or learning to control our nerves.

However, paying attention to your body when you experience these feelings of anxiety can teach you so much and help you to make sound choices. Some people will experience an actual “gut” feeling of stomach ache or indigestion in an uncomfortable situation.

Ask yourself what’s really going on here, and explore what is happening behind your body’s response to the situation. What can your reaction or instinct teach you? Understanding that can be a clue and can help you either learn something about yourself, the situation, or other people. The answers are often within us.

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Sometimes we’ll get this “something’s not right here” feeling and cannot quite put our finger on it or explain it. That can still be incredibly useful and really guide us away from danger, even if we don’t know the reason.

In his book, Blink, Malcolm Gladwell also argues this, making the point that sometimes our subconscious is better at processing the answer we need, and that we don’t necessarily need to take time to collect hours and hours of information to come to a reliable conclusion[1].

2. Ensure Your Head Is Clear Before Making a Decision

Energy, sleep, and good nutrition are so vital to nourishing our minds, as well as our bodies. There are times when your instinct could lead you astray, and one of these is when you are hungry, “hangry” (angry because you’re hungry!), tired, or anxious. If this is the case–and it may sound obvious–do consider sleeping or eating on it before making an important choice.

There is, in fact, a connection between our gut and our brain[2], which is where terms like “butterflies in the stomach” and “gut-wrenching” originate from. Stress and emotions can cause physical feelings, and ignoring them might do more harm than good.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Say What You Think and Feel

Listening to your gut and really paying attention to it might involve standing up and being counted, calling something out, or taking a stand. As someone who works for myself, I’ve become used to following the less-travelled road, and that’s given me the chance to strike out on my own in other ways, too.

As they tell you in the planes, “put your own oxygen mask on first,” and part of that self-reliance is knowing what you really want and like and what is safe and good for you, including what resonates with your personal and business values. Making good decisions with this in mind means making choices that do not go against your own beliefs, even when it may mean taking a stand. This is part of trusting yourself and trusting your instincts.

This does not always mean taking the “safe” option, although keeping ourselves safe is an important part of the process. This is how we learn and grow, by following our own inner compass. When you do take risks, go outside of your comfort zone, or choose the less popular option, spending some time researching the facts can stand us in good stead, too.

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4. Do Your Research If Something Feels Off

As well as listening to our instincts, we can also back up the evidence for our chosen course of action before taking the leap. I had a gut feeling about the need for a learning and development network when I noticed my clients getting stuck with the same problems. I set up and now run such a network, but instead of simply going for it, without evidence, I followed up on my instinct with research.

Having confidence in your gut instinct through these kinds of tests can help to minimize your risks, as well as spur you on. It will encourage you to trust your gut again in the future and trust that you are an expert with foresight and experience. You are!

5. Challenge Your Assumptions

When you look at the assumptions your making, this could be the clue to mistakes you are making.

In order to check that our instincts are wise, we need to ask ourselves what blanks we might be filling in, either consciously or unconsciously. This is true not just when it comes to our own decision-making. It’s also true when we are listening to someone explain a problem or situation, and we’re about to jump in and give some advice. If we can learn to be aware of our own assumptions, we can become better listeners and better decision makers, too.

A useful tool to become more aware of your assumptions before making a final decision is simply to ask yourself, “What assumptions am I making about this situation or person?”

6. Educate Yourself on Unconscious Bias

Unconscious bias is something we all have, and it can trip us up big time!

There is a vital caveat to bear in mind when wondering about whether you can trust your gut and the feelings your body gives you, and that’s having an awareness of your unconscious bias. Understanding your own bias–which is hard to do because it literally does happen in our subconscious–can help you to make stronger, better, decisions instead of re-confirming your view of the world over and over again.

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Bias exists, and it’s part of the human condition. All of us have it, and it colors our decisions and can impact on our performance without us realizing.

Unconscious bias happens at a subconscious level in our brains. Our subconscious brain processes information so much faster than our conscious brain. Quick decisions we make in our subconscious are based on both our societal conditioning and how our families raised us.

Our brains process hundreds of thousands of pieces of information daily. We unconsciously categorize and format that information into patterns that feel familiar to us. Aspects such as gender, disability, class, sexuality, body shape and size, ethnicity, and what someone does for a job can all quickly influence decisions we make about people and the relationships we choose to form. Our unconscious bias can be very subtle and go unnoticed..

We naturally tend to gravitate towards people similar to ourselves, favoring people who we see as belonging to the same “group” as us. Being able to make a quick decision about whether someone is part of your group and distinguish friend from foe was what helped early humans to survive. Conversely, we don’t automatically favor people who we don’t immediately relate to or easily connect with.

The downside of that human instinct to seek out similar people is the potential for prejudice, which seems to be hard-wired into human cognition, no matter how open-minded we believe ourselves to be. And these stereotypes we create can be wrong. If we only spend our time with and employ people similar to ourselves, it can create prejudices, as well as stifle fresh thinking and innovation.

We may feel more natural or comfortable working with other people who share our own background and/or opinions than collaborating with people who don’t look, talk, or think like us. However, diversity is not just morally right; having a mix of different people and perspectives that can be genuinely heard is also a valuable way to counter groupthink. Diversity stretches us to think more critically and creatively.

7. Trust Yourself

It is possible to learn how to truly trust yourself[3]. Like any talent or skill, practicing trusting your gut is the best way to get really good at it. When people talk about having great intuition or being good decision-makers, it’s because they’ve worked at honing those skills, made mistakes, learned from them, and tried again.

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Looking back at decisions you’ve made, what you did, what the outcome was, and what you’ve learned can help you become a stronger decision maker and develop solid self-trust and resilience. Making a mistake does not mean you are not great at decision-making; it’s a chance to grow and learn, and the only mistake is to ignore the lesson in that experience.

If you are in the habit of asking others for their input, then the trick here is to choose your inner circle wisely. Having a sounding board of people who have your best interests at heart is a valuable asset, and, combined with your own excellent instincts, can make you a champion decision maker.

The Bottom Line

The above tips are all actionable and easy to start immediately. It’s simply about switching your thinking around, slowing down, and taking great care of this amazing machine that is your body and mind!

Learning how to trust your gut is one of the most fundamental ways to make decisions that will help you lead the life you want and need. Tune into what your body is telling you and start making good decisions today.

More Tips on How to Trust Your Gut

Featured photo credit: Acy Varlan via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Science of People: Learn to Trust Your Gut Instincts: The Science Behind Thin-slicing
[2] Harvard Health Publishing: The gut-brain connection
[3] Psych Central: 3 Ways to Develop Self-Trust

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