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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 January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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