In my line of work, I encounter people who have all the tools necessary to succeed. In fact we all have these tools, yet so few really reach that level of achievement. So what sets you apart from a Bill Gates, or a Jeff Bezos?
“I don’t have the experience.”
“I don’t have the money.”
“I don’t know how to reach the right people to make the sale.”
Many experts say that people use excuses to feel better about themselves, and initially it does work. If we say that something we want is simply unavailable, that alleviates the responsibility from our shoulders. It’s not unlike an addiction...at first using a substance or taking a drink feels good. Then the next day comes and the hangover is a painful reminder of your poor judgment.
Yet, so often using excuses is something we do unconsciously, UNLESS we take the time to recognize it when it happens. It’s said that the average person uses six excuses to avoid doing something every day. That is a LOT of untapped potential in what you could have accomplished.
So, how do we manage excuses?
Not surprisingly, the first step in recognizing and eliminating excuses requires an examination of YOU. What do you fear, what weaknesses do you have, or areas of challenge? It’s an uncomfortable process — who wants to admit to faults and fears, after all — but focusing on personal development has to be first and foremost to managing and eliminating excuses.
If you find yourself saying “I don’t know...” or “I can’t....” that’s a negative voice that has no place in your journey to success. I recommend keeping a piece of paper or someway to record it when it happens. It also requires you to be MINDFUL, literally to think about what you’re thinking about. Because excuses are habits, we don’t even realize when we’re using them. So slow down a bit and when you are facing a task, realize what your inner voice is telling you. If the response in your head is “I don’t know...” then write that down.
When you have a list, and trust me we all use far more than one excuse for not doing things, ask yourself WHY, and then WHAT you can do to change that.
If you are telling yourself you can’t complete something because you don’t have the appropriate knowledge (WHY), then WHAT training or education or resources can you enlist to gain the knowledge to eliminate that excuse.
If you’re saying you can’t afford something (WHY), then WHAT can you change about your situation to lower expenses, increase your income, or both?
If you think you don’t know the right people to get ahead (WHY), then WHAT can you do to expand your circle to meet the right resources? Often, the best way to get introduced to influencers is to seek their counsel. People love to share their knowledge and wisdom, and usually are flattered by a request to learn from them. If they are nationally-known it may be a little more difficult, but there are likely more accessible and local leaders you can tap for such instruction. As you are mentored, they are also getting to know YOU, and likely view your initiative to learn and grow and a positive character trait.
What ever the excuses you use the most, note that they all will require planning, organization and goal setting. Take each excuse, and map out how you will, day by day and week to week, manage it so that it becomes a stepping stone and not a stumbling block to advance yourself toward success. Ultimately, the process will build your confidence and address whatever underlying fears you might have. That negative voice becomes a lot quieter.
Let me also say a few words about fear. We all have them, and I feel they are the result of some negative and untrue beliefs we hold about ourselves. I have gone through this process as well, and oftentimes you’ll hear me talk about that moment in a group setting where I had to hold a mirror and tell people what I saw. It made me so uncomfortable I quickly rattled off that I saw my face, my nose, etc., and I wanted to pass the mirror off immediately.
However, my mentor persisted because he wanted me to get to the bottom of what I saw inside myself. If I didn’t like what I saw, and at that time I didn’t, what could I do to change it? That’s scary stuff, and I get it. However, the rewards that come through such personal reflections and development far outweigh the challenge.
So, pay attention to what you tell yourself in a given day to divert responsibility, procrastinate, or simply NOT do what you are completely capable of doing. Write this list down and really look at each with great scrutiny. Think of each excuse as a cancer, or a threat to your health. Treat each with a serious desire to once and for all overcome them.
Truly, there is no excuse to not get this done.