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15 Excuses You Use To Stop Following Your Dreams

15 Excuses You Use To Stop Following Your Dreams
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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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More by this author

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 July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)
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You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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