“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.Advertising
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.Advertising
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.Advertising
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.
Last Updated on October 16, 2019
Invaluable Lessons You Can Learn From Your Mistakes
Do you like making mistakes?
I certainly don’t.
Making mistakes is inevitable. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could be at ease with them?
Perhaps there is a way to think of them differently and see their benefits.
Why Mistakes Feel Dangerous
Mistakes often feel dangerous. Throughout human history, our errors have often been treated as dangerous for a variety of reasons:
- Our vulnerability. We have limited and fragile support systems. When those systems fail, people often lose their lives.
- Real dangers. Nature can be dangerous, and making mistakes can put us at the mercy of nature and its animal residents seeking a meal.
- Ignorance. Many cultures scapegoats someone whenever there is a failure of some kind. Scapegoating can be serious and deadly.
- Order. Many societies punish those who do not conform to the prevailing orthodoxy and treat difference and non-conformity as a mistake. Even our brains flash an error message whenever we go against prevailing social norms.
We have a history of handling mistakes and failure in an unpleasant way. Since each of us carries our human history with us, it can be a challenge to overcome the fear of making mistakes.
If we can embrace the reality of mistakes, we can free ourselves to be more creative in our lives and dig up some interesting insights.
Why We Can’t Avoid Making Mistakes
Many people operate under the notion that making mistakes is an aberration, a mistake if you will. You can call it perfectionism but it is a more substantial problem. It is really a demand for order and continuity.
When we think we can eliminate mistakes, we are often working from a perspective that sees the world as a fixed place. The world, however, is not so obliging. Like it or not, the world, and everything in it, is constantly changing.
Change is more constant and pervasive than we can see with our own eyes which is why we often miss it. Our bodies are constantly changing. The natural conditions of the earth change constantly as well. Everything, including economic and cultural systems have life cycles. Everything is in a constant state of flux.
We cannot see all of the changes going on around us since rates of change vary. Unfortunately, when we try to create a feeling of certainty and solidity in our lives or operate from the illusion of stability and order, we are fighting reality and our natural evolution which is built on adapting to change.
It is better to continually bend into this reality rather than fight every change we experience. Fighting it can cause us to make more mistakes. Finding the benefits in change can be useful and help us minimize unnecessary mistakes.
Lessons Learned from Making Mistakes
Life has so many uncertainties and variables that mistakes are inevitable. Fortunately, there are many things you can learn from making mistakes.
Here is a list of ways to harness the mistakes you make for your benefit.
- Point us to something we did not know.
- Reveal a nuance we missed.
- Deepen our knowledge.
- Tell us something about our skill levels.
- Help us see what matters and what does not.
- Inform us more about our values.
- Teach us more about others.
- Let us recognize changing circumstances.
- Show us when someone else has changed.
- Keep us connected to what works and what doesn’t work.
- Remind us of our humanity.
- Spur us to want to better work which helps us all.
- Promote compassion for ourselves and others.
- Teach us to value forgiveness.
- Help us to pace ourselves better.
- Invite us to better choices.
- Can teach us how to experiment.
- Can reveal a new insight.
- Can suggest new options we had not considered.
- Can serve as a warning.
- Show us hidden fault lines in our lives which can lead us to more productive arrangements.
- Point out structural problems in our lives.
- Prompt us to learn more about ourselves.
- Remind us how we are like others.
- Make us more humble.
- Help us rectify injustices in our lives.
- Show us where to create more balance in our lives.
- Tell us when the time to move on has occurred.
- Reveal where our passion is and where it is not.
- Expose our true feelings.
- Bring out problems in a relationship.
- Can be a red flag for our misjudgments.
- Point us in a more creative direction.
- Show us when we are not listening.
- Wake us up to our authentic selves.
- Can create distance with someone else.
- Slow us down when we need to.
- Can hasten change.
- Reveal our blind spots.
- Are the invisible made visible.
Reframe Reality to Handle Mistakes More Easily
The secret to handling mistakes is to:
- Expect them as part of the process of growth and development.
- Have an experimental mindset.
- Think in evolutional rather than fixed terms.
When we accept change as the natural structure of the world, our vulnerability and humanness lets us work with the ebb and flow of life.
When we recognize the inevitability of mistakes as part of the ongoing experiment which life is, then we can relax more. In doing so we may make fewer of them.
It also helps to keep in mind that trial and error is an organic natural way of living. It is how we have evolved over time. It is better to be with our natural evolution than to fight it and make life harder.
When we adopt an evolutional mindset and see ourselves as part of the ongoing human experiment, we can appreciate that all that has been built up over time which includes the many mistakes our ancestors have made over thousands of years. Each one of us today is a part of that human tradition of learning and experimenting,
Mistakes are part of the trial and error, experimental nature of life. The more you adopt the experimental, evolutional frame, the easier it becomes to handle mistakes.
Handling mistakes well can help you relax and enjoy all aspects of life more.
More About Success and Failures
- 6 Reasons It’s Okay To Fail
- How to Build Resilience to Face What Life Throws at You
- Why You Have the Fear of Failure (And How to Conquer It Step-By-Step)
- 10 Famous Failures to Success Stories That Will Inspire You to Carry On
Featured photo credit: Sarah Kilian via unsplash.com