“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.
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.
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
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.
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.