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10 Common Excuses In Your Head That Are Dragging You Down

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10 Common Excuses In Your Head That Are Dragging You Down

“He that is good at making excuses is seldom good for anything else.”
― Benjamin Franklin

I used to be my own worst enemy and making excuses was part of my everyday routine.  It wasn’t until I learned to take full responsibility for my life that my outlook, and results, started to change. When I finally realized that what I was experiencing in my life was a product of my choices I became emotionally empowered to make changes – but a change had to first start internally before I could experience any external results.

I believe that the habit of “making excuses” was, at least in part, motivated from a disempowering story that I had in my head about how life was supposed to be, and what I was capable of doing.  The stories that we believe have the power to define us – they become our reality.  If we create an empowering story about life, and what we will do with it, it will become our reality.  However, if we cannot change our story, and if a negative narrative consumes us, it will drag us down and create a reality that we don’t want.

Our negative stories don’t inspire us, they don’t help us to reach our potential or break through our fears. They keep us safe, but it isn’t a good safe.  It is a safe that is unsettling because we aren’t living what we could otherwise live if we’d take risks.

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This article will list 10 “common excuses” that we tell ourselves that drag us down – 10 “narratives” or “stories” that we need to change if we are going to live the life that we are truly proud of.

1. I have no qualifications, so I can’t earn a decent income.

If you believe this it’s likely that you’ve been conditioned to think that your schooling controls your income.  This just isn’t the case.  Look around – you will find many examples of people who built great businesses without much school.  Sure there are the famous examples (Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Richard Branson), but there are many more much closer to home. Take 10 entrepreneurs out for lunch, you’ll likely find that several of them either don’t have education, or have built a business in an area outside of their schooling.  You can get the knowledge you need to succeed.

2. I’m too old to start.

Really?  Do you really believe that, or is that just an excuse you’re telling yourself so that you don’t have to face the risk of failure.  There is no such thing as too old. Ever heard of a guy named Harlan Sanders?  Most people know him as the “Colonel”.  He didn’t start KFC until 66.  Stan Lee, creator of Spider-Man, he was 43 when he began drawing his characters and his partner Jack Kirby was 44 when he created The Fantastic Four.  Andrea Bocelli didn’t do opera until the age of 34.  Phyllis Diller became a comedian at the age of 37. You are not too old.  If you want it bad enough you’ll find a way to start.

3. I’m worried that everyone will laugh at me.

Being liked by everyone is both impossible and overrated.  If you want everyone to like you then just do nothing.  That way you’ll never possibly offend anyone.  It is better to risk failure than to never try.  Many (most) great people have failed, and every entrepreneur will fail at some point.  It is part of the feedback mechanism.  It is the way you learn to change your actions.  You only ultimately fail if you quit.

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4. I’m too busy.

So is everyone else.  I know it is tough.  I know that it can be tiring, working long hours at your job and trying to get that book written, or that business started, but the reality is that there is someone else, who has gone before you, that was under the exact same circumstances (perhaps even more difficult circumstances) as you and they don’t make this excuse.  They find a way to get it done, even a little at a time.

5. I’m waiting for the right time.

The right time was probably several years ago.  The second best time is right now.  There is nothing else.  A couple years from now will be no different.  There will always be resistance and things that get in your way.  So you make a decision right now to live, to make a change, to build whatever it is that is in your heart.  Right now is the best time there ever was.

We never live; we are always in the expectation of living

Voltaire

6. It’s too difficult.

Everything worth having is difficult – but there is a way to conquer any mountain, it is to take one step at a time. One foot in front of the other, over and over, until the mountain is conquered.  Chunk it.  Break your big, scary, difficult goals down into small bite sized chunks and complete a chunk every single day until the goal is complete.  That is the only way to do difficult things.

7. They made it because they’re different.

That is a story that you are telling yourself to guard against the unsettling reality that you’re probably not doing all that is in your power to succeed.  If you really want something bad enough you’ll find a way to do it.  You won’t settle on an excuse that you know deep down just isn’t true.  Our world is full of rags to riches stories – people who had nothing to begin with, but who wouldn’t allow excuses to define their reality.  Howard Schultz (Starbucks) lived in low income housing. Oprah Winfrey was born into a poor family in Mississippi.  Ralph Lauren was once a clerk at a Brooks Brothers store.  No matter what your circumstances are you can change them.

8. I’ve already put a lot of time in a different path

Is it the path that you want to be on?  If not, then who cares?  First of all, it is a sunk cost, so it shouldn’t factor into your future decision making. I know this one from first hand experience, I went to school for nearly a decade and spend over a hundred thousand dollars to become a lawyer.  But I didn’t want to be a lawyer, so I couldn’t let my “time on a different path” define the future I wanted to created.  If you don’t want to be on the path you are on then change it.

9. I don’t know where to start.

None of us know where to start when we begin.  So what do you do?  You find someone who knows (someone who has experience in your field), you figure out what they did, and then you take the same action.  At least to start, and over time you develop your own unique voice.  If you can’t find anyone who will give you the time of day, go to the Internet, a couple search engine queries and you’ll be able to find an article about someone who did something similar to what you want to do.  Read their story, and take similar action.  Once you’ve done 5 things, then find another 5, then another 5, then keep taking action until you get what you want.

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10. It’s all about who you know, and I don’t know anyone.

This is a common excuse that isn’t serving you, and it isn’t true.  Leonardo Del Vecchio, the owner of the world’s largest sunglass manufacturer, with brands like Oakley and Ray Ban, was born into an orphanage.   Do you think he relied on his “family connections” to get going?  Legendary financial trader George Soros survived the Nazi occupation of Hungary and arrived in London as a penniless college student. Larry Ellison, one of the richest men in the world was raised by a single mother in Brooklyn. It wasn’t his connections that helped him.  Jerry Yang, the founder of Yahoo, was an immigrant from Taiwan who didn’t even know english when he came to the US.

Start today.  Eliminate those excuses that you are carrying in your head.  They aren’t serving you.  They aren’t empowering you.  They aren’t helping you live the life you want. They don’t need to define you.

More by this author

Ryan Clements

A lawyer turned marketing professional, entrepreneur and writer who writes about entrepreneurship, career and personal development.

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Published on September 21, 2021

How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data)

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How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data)

The internet is flooded with articles about remote work and its benefits or drawbacks. But in reality, the remote work experience is so subjective that it’s impossible to draw general conclusions and issue one-size-fits-all advice about it. However, one thing that’s universal and rock-solid is data. Data-backed findings and research about remote work productivity give us a clear picture of how our workdays have changed and how work from home affects us—because data doesn’t lie.

In this article, we’ll look at three decisive findings from a recent data study and two survey reports concerning remote work productivity and worker well-being.

1. We Take Less Frequent Breaks

Your home can be a peaceful or a distracting place depending on your living and family conditions. While some of us might find it hard to focus amidst the sounds of our everyday life, other people will tell you that the peace and quiet while working from home (WFH) is a major productivity booster. Then there are those who find it hard to take proper breaks at home and switch off at the end of the workday.

But what does data say about remote work productivity? Do we work more or less in a remote setting?

Let’s take a step back to pre-pandemic times (2014, to be exact) when a time tracking application called DeskTime discovered that 10% of most productive people work for 52 minutes and then take a break for 17 minutes.

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Recently, the same time tracking app repeated that study to reveal working and breaking patterns during the pandemic. They found that remote work has caused an increase in time worked, with the most productive people now working for 112 minutes and breaking for 26 minutes.[1]

Now, this may seem rather innocent at first—so what if we work for extended periods of time as long as we also take longer breaks? But let’s take a closer look at this proportion.

While breaks have become only nine minutes longer, work sprints have more than doubled. That’s nearly two hours of work, meaning that the most hard-working people only take three to four breaks per 8-hour workday. This discovery makes us question if working from home (WFH) really is as good a thing for our well-being as we thought it was. In addition, in the WFH format, breaks are no longer a treat but rather a time to squeeze in a chore or help children with schoolwork.

Online meetings are among the main reasons for less frequent breaks. Pre-pandemic meetings meant going to another room, stretching your legs, and giving your eyes a rest from the computer. In a remote setting, all meetings happen on screen, sometimes back-to-back, which could be one of the main factors explaining the longer work hours recorded.

2. We Face a Higher Risk of Burnout

At first, many were optimistic about remote work’s benefits in terms of work-life balance as we save time on commuting and have more time to spend with family—at least in theory. But for many people, this was quickly counterbalanced by a struggle to separate their work and personal lives. Buffer’s 2021 survey for the State of Remote Work report found that the biggest struggle of remote workers is not being able to unplug, with collaboration difficulties and loneliness sharing second place.[2]

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Buffer’s respondents were also asked if they are working more or less since their shift to remote work, and 45 percent admitted to working more. Forty-two percent said they are working the same amount, while 13 percent responded that they are working less.

Longer work hours and fewer quality breaks can dramatically affect our health, as long-term sitting and computer use can cause eye strain, mental fatigue, and other issues. These, in turn, can lead to more severe consequences, such as burnout and heart disease.

Let’s have a closer look at the connection between burnout and remote work.

McKinsey’s report about the Future of work states that 49% of people say they’re feeling some symptoms of burnout.[3] And that may be an understatement since employees experiencing burnout are less likely to respond to survey requests and may have even left the workforce.

From the viewpoint of the employer, remote workers may seem like they are more productive and working longer hours. However, managers must be aware of the risks associated with increased employee anxiety. Otherwise, the productivity gains won’t be long-lasting. It’s no secret that prolonged anxiety can reduce job satisfaction, decrease work performance, and negatively affect interpersonal relationships with colleagues.[4]

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3. Despite everything, We Love Remote Work

An overwhelming majority—97 percent—of Buffer report’s survey respondents say they would like to continue working remotely to some extent. The two main benefits mentioned by the respondents are the ability to have a flexible schedule and the flexibility to work from anywhere.

McKinsey’s report found that more than half of employees would like their workplace to adopt a more flexible hybrid virtual-working model, with some days of work on-premises and some days working remotely. To be more exact, more than half of employees report that they would like at least three work-from-home days a week once the pandemic is over.

Companies will increasingly be forced to find ways to satisfy these workforce demands while implementing policies to minimize the risks associated with overworking and burnout. Smart companies will embrace this new trend and realize that adopting hybrid models can also be a win for them—for example, for accessing talent in different locations and at a lower cost.

Remote Work: Blessing or Plight?

Understandably, workers worldwide are tempted to keep the good work-life aspects that have come out of the pandemic—professional flexibility, fewer commutes, and extra time with family. But with the once strict boundaries between work and life fading, we must remain cautious. We try to squeeze in house chores during breaks. We do online meetings from the kitchen or the same couch we watch TV shows from, and many of us report difficulties switching off after work.

So, how do we keep our private and professional lives from hopelessly blending together?

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The answer is that we try to replicate the physical and virtual boundaries that come naturally in an office setting. This doesn’t only mean having a dedicated workspace but also tracking your work time and stopping when your working hours are finished. In addition, it means working breaks into your schedule because watercooler chats don’t just naturally happen at home.

If necessary, we need to introduce new rituals that resemble a normal office day—for example, going for a walk around the block in the morning to simulate “arriving at work.” Remote work is here to stay. If we want to enjoy the advantages it offers, then we need to learn how to cope with the personal challenges that come with it.

Learn how to stay productive while working remotely with these tips: How to Work From Home: 10 Tips to Stay Productive

Featured photo credit: Jenny Ueberberg via unsplash.com

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