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The 5 Most Paralysing Excuses That Stop You From Doing What You Really Want

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The 5 Most Paralysing Excuses That Stop You From Doing What You Really Want

I don’t think I know anyone who purposely doesn’t want to be successful. To achieve their ambitions. To have an incredible life. But how many people actually go after it? How many people really want it? How many people do you know who are so focused on their dreams that nothing distracts them? Not many, if any, I bet.

In the past I’ve used excuses without even realising it. They’d just become part of my vocabulary and, therefore, part of my life. I’ve always wanted to be really successful. My excuses were ensuring that I never would be.

Here’s some excuses I’ve used, and I’m sure you’ve used, in the past:

Excuse#1: “I don’t have enough time”

I didn’t have enough time because I was spending my time doing other stuff. Watching TV, scrolling through twitter, idly browsing Facebook. You know, all that really important stuff. Did these things actually make me happy or take me towards the life I truly wanted? No. They were just relaxing and pleasurable ways to procrastinate.

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So, was my excuse valid? No. of course I had time. I was just spending it doing irrelevant stuff.

Excuse#2: “I don’t have enough money”

The real question here is: why don’t I have enough money? Because I didn’t save. Because I spent more than I earned. Because I was spending it on fast food and clothes and alcohol. Actually, I had enough money. I was just spending it on things that would bring me short term gain, rather than investing it for long term gain.

So was my excuse valid? No. I had enough money. I was just choosing to waste it.

Excuse#3: “It’s not realistic”

It’s not realistic to be a millionaire. It’s not realistic to invent the iPhone. It’s not realistic to create the Internet.

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I hope you’re getting the idea. None of these things are “realistic”. At least not to most people. I used to think lots of things weren’t realistic. The idea of living my dream life, for example. I used to consider it, of course, but only as a dream. I never really thought about how I could create it. I was scared. “If I think about it, I’ll have to plan it. And if I plan it, I might actually have to do something!” Scary, right? Lots of people think like that, and the really scary thing is that so many people will settle. Because their dream life isn’t “realistic”. Will you fall into the same trap?

So, was my excuse valid? Of course not. Realistic is an opinion. If you need to change that opinion, change it.

Excuse#4: “I’m comfortable where I am”

Comfortable isn’t the same as happy. I’ve done and continued to do things that were easy and safe and boring because I was ‘comfortable’. This is an illusion. How could I have been comfortable if I was bored? The reason I kept doing these things was because I was certain of the outcome, which is not the same as being comfortable and definitely not the same as being happy. I was comfortable in the fact that I knew what the outcome would be. But I wasn’t stimulated. Or motivated. Or having fun.

So, was my excuse valid? Not really. I was, in a way, comfortable. But was I growing? Was I moving forwards? Was I happy? No.

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Excuse#5: “I can’t do it”

Had I even tried? Did I hate the thought of failure? Wasn’t the real problem that I wouldn’t try, rather than couldn’t?

I was living in permanent fear that I might fail. That I might not be good enough. It might even be worse than giving up because I was resigning myself to an outcome before I even tried. That’s crazy. It makes no sense. I didn’t even bother to explore why I thought I couldn’t do it, or why I wouldn’t at least try.

So, was my excuse valid? No. I was just letting fear run my life instead of taking control and doing what I really wanted.

Conclusion

These excuses felt wrong because they were stopping me from achieving, or even from starting, things that were extremely important to me. I don’t think I could be a painter. Or a sculptor. But that’s cool, because I don’t care. I appreciate paintings and sculptures, but there’s no way I’d ever paint or sculpt for work or pleasure.

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The reason I wasn’t happy was because being successful, in the way that I wanted to be successful, was something I’d never achieve if I kept using these excuses. I only truly stopped using excuses once I discovered and admitted who I really was and what I actually wanted. After that, I knew I could do it. That it was realistic. That I deserved it. And that it was ok for me to go and get it.

I’ll leave you with some fun and thought provoking questions:

What’s the benefit of using an excuse?

When you stop using excuses and start making progress, what would that be like?

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Would you allow your children to make excuses?

Featured photo credit: Neal Fowler via flickr.com

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Last Updated on October 21, 2021

How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

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How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

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Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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