One of the things that most often prevents us from achieving our dreams is making excuses. It often seems harmless, but excuses can become quite insidious if you let them. Perhaps the most dangerous aspect of excuses is that they’re often based on some form of truth, and so it’s very easy to give in to them.
For example, last week I was in a car accident. Some guy rear-ended me and took off. He was caught, but I’ve got some injuries. It’s painfully obvious that something’s very wrong with my left knee, lower back, and left shoulder, since I’m having trouble walking, and the back and shoulder pain are making everyday life really difficult. Even simple things like turning a corner in my car cause considerable pain and discomfort.
However, the icing on the cake is that I’m having violent headaches, getting very dizzy, and have passed out several times. Now, all this could be a great excuse to sleep later, and put off things that need doing. No one would blame me if I told all my clients I’m taking a few weeks off. Admittedly, I’ve slowed down quite a bit. Nevertheless, I continue to write, to plan, and to work with my clients. Why? Because while I’m nowhere near 100%, I can still do something. I can’t run or do cardio. Even laughing makes me dizzy right now, but I can write, even if only for 10-15 minutes at a time, and I can think. This means I can at least keep working a little.
If you research the lives of very successful people, one thing most of them have in common is that they are willing to do what other people won’t do. They persevere when others give up or slack off. They get up early when others sleep in. They go and do the pro-bono presentation they’d promised to do, even though they’d been awake for 22 hours because of circumstances they couldn’t control. This doesn’t mean you have to work yourself to death. It does mean that you should take a look at your excuses and see just how valid they really are. Are they really worth what they’ll cost you in lost opportunities? Are they worth what they will cost you in your relationships?
The truth is that most of the excuses we give ourselves are pure BS, even some of the valid ones. It’s human nature to get a little lazy, and sometimes an excuse shows up in place of an idea that can overcome whatever challenge, difficulty, or inconvenience we’re experiencing. My challenge to you today is to sift through any excuses you might be entertaining and make an honest assessment of whether they’re worth it.
A simple way to overcome an excuse is to work on an idea that will negate it. Years ago, after some business losses, I found myself without clients and close to broke. I decided to pick up an old idea I had for a webcomic, but didn’t have money to set up an art studio. So I bought a $5 plastic storage container, a $15 lamp, and a $40 tilting table on wheels, and some art supplies I already had. For less than $100 I had a humble, but functional studio that took up a corner of the kitchen. Within a few months I’d produced over 90 pages, and thanks to a really bad review, I began to acquire Twitter followers. In about a year, Jake the Evil Hare had become one of the most popular webcomics, and shortly after that I had thousands of Twitter followers and Jake was putting some money in my pocket. In the end, that ornery two foot tall talking jackabbit got me to over 70,000 followers and created the platform that got me back into public speaking and writing, which led to my first two best-selling books. I’m so glad I didn’t use being broke as an excuse!
When faced with a difficulty, distraction, or inconvenience or circumstance that threatens to become an excuse, try to think of an idea that would work around it. If you’re stumped, don’t worry. One of the odd things about human nature is we can’t resist the urge to answer a question. If I say, “What’s 2+2?” pretty much everyone reading this will think “4.” So, present the challenge to yourself as a question, and you might just get a good answer. If that fails you somehow, then ask someone who’s got good sense. As the old proverb goes, there’s safety in the multitude of counsellors. Do some research, find out what someone else who experienced a similar challenge did, and do it!
I believe the best version of you is yet to come. I believe you’re worth more than any excuse. I believe you were born with a purpose greater than any circumstance, situation or struggle. I believe in you.
So get cracking!