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20 Bad Excuses Holding Good People Back

by Shawn

Live by choice, not by chance.  Make changes, not excuses.  Be motivated, not manipulated.  Work to excel, not compete.  Choose to listen to your inner voice, not the jumbled opinions of everyone else.

Over the years, likely without your conscious knowledge, you have adopted self-limiting beliefs that are quietly sabotaging your best efforts for personal growth.  If you pay close attention to your self-talk, these beliefs will reveal themselves in the form of excuses.

Truth be told, if you really want something, you will find a way.  If you don’t, you will find an excuse… and then you will live with that excuse every day of your life.

This is precisely what makes so many of us unhappy.

Angel and I speak with hundreds of coaching clients and blog subscribers (subscribe here) every month, and this one self-defeating ailment always rears its ugly head eventually – excuses, excuses, excuses.  And I’m not above the excuses either.  I catch myself making them sometimes too.  But that’s the key – we have to catch ourselves before our excuses become hopeless regrets.

So let this be your wake-up call.

Stop making excuses for why you can’t get it done and start focusing on all the reasons why you must make it happen.

NO more negativity.  NO more laziness.  NO more quick fixes.  NO more blaming others.  NO more “I’ll do it tomorrows.”  NO MORE OF THESE EXCUSES:

  1. “It’s too late.” – It’s never too late to live a life that makes you proud.  If you don’t learn anything else from this post, learn that.  We get one shot at this.  There’s no age limit on changing your course, and to settle in and be stuck in a life that isn’t authentic is a tragic waste.   Honestly, it’s never too late or too early to be who you are capable of being.  There’s no time limit – you can simply start and stop whenever you want.  You can change or stay the same.  You can make the best or the worst of it.  It’s up to you, so make the best of it.  Do things that startle you.  Feel things you’ve never felt before.  Spend time with people who help you grow.  Live a life you’re proud of.  And if you find that you’re not, have the courage to make a change.
  2. “I’m not good enough yet.” – Nonsense!  Do your best and don’t be afraid to make mistakes.  If you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, and changing the world for the better.  We can’t make anything valuable without making mistakes.  Not a painting, not a relationship, not a career, not a life.  If you wait until you have it all figured out to try, you will be waiting forever.
  3. “I need approval first.” – Don’t be scared to step out of line.  It’s OK to go off the beaten path, as long as you know why going a different way is right for you.  Some people may resent the freedom that you create in your life when you choose to be true to yourself.  If you come across these people, ignore them and carry on.  Only when you require no approval from outside yourself can you own yourself.  If you’re being true to yourself and it isn’t enough for the people around you, change the people around you.  (Read The Road Less Traveled.)
  4. “I don’t want to be judged.” – Most people are judging you far less than it seems.  The truth is, while you’re busy worrying about what others think of you, they’re busy worrying about what you think of them.  Crazy?  Yes, but true.  The good news is this knowledge instantly frees you to let loose and do more of what YOU want.  And while doing so, you’ll also liberate others to do the same.
  5. “I don’t deserve it.” – There are two versions of this excuse.  The first makes you think that you are not worthy of something beautiful like love, respect, success and so forth.  The second makes you feel that you are unfairly targeted by life’s difficulties.  Either way, this excuse ties you up and holds you down.  It’s time to let this one go!  When you catch yourself wondering “Why me?”, ask “Why not me?”  Remember, in the grand scheme of things, you are just the same as everyone else; neither nature, nor God, displays favoritism or unfairness.  So learn to accept both the good and the bad that falls on your plate with grace.
  6. “I have way too much to lose.” – In the end, you will not regret the things you have done nearly as much as the things you have left undone.  It’s always better to be left with a few “oh wells,” than a bunch of “what ifs.”  It’s better to have a lifetime full of experiences and mistakes you learned from, rather than a heart full of regrets and empty dreams.  Someday you will want to look back at your life and say, “I can’t believe I did that!” instead of, “Gosh, I wish I would have…”
  7. “There’s just no point.” – Not with that attitude there isn’t.  A statement like this is self-defeat at it’s worst, and yet I hear it so often.  Snap out of it!  There is a point… The point is you’re helping yourself and others.  The point is you’re doing something positive.  The point is you’re taking action and trying.  The point is you’re not living in premature self-defeat.  You are taking your own ideas from concept to actualization.  You’re bringing value to the world.  Even if no one sees it, you can have the satisfaction of knowing you did the best you could.
  8. “It’s too hard.” – Almost everything worth doing is hard.  Think about it.  When was the last time “easy” had a huge payoff for you?  In life, the hardest thing and the right thing are often the same thing.  You can’t underestimate a person who always works hard.  Be that person.  Because you don’t get what you wish for; you get what you work for.
  9. “I’m unlucky.” – Not true.  Other people are NOT more lucky than you.  Pure luck is a myth.  If someone is “lucky” they are doing stuff behind the scenes you’re not seeing.  Taking action and simply doing something instead of making excuses will do wonders for your “luck.”  Ultimately, luck happens when preparation meets opportunity.
  10. “I have too much baggage from my past.” – There comes a time when you have to choose between turning the page and closing the book.  Some stories need to end before new ones can begin.  Life is too short to spend at war with yourself.  Practice acceptance and forgiveness.  Letting go of the past is your first step to happiness today.  (Angel and I discuss this in detail in the “Adversity” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
  11.  “It wasn’t supposed to be like this to begin with.” – When we resist reality, we are imprisoned by it.  Period.  The secret to happiness and peace is letting every situation be what it is, instead of what you think it should be, and making the best of it.  Over time you will find that life isn’t necessarily any easier or harder than you thought it was going to be; it’s just that the easy and the hard aren’t exactly the way you had anticipated, and don’t always occur when you expect them to.  This isn’t a bad thing; it makes life interesting.  With a positive attitude you will almost always be pleasantly surprised.
  12. “It’s out of my control.” – You cannot control everything that happens to you; you can only control the way you respond to what happens.  In your response is your power.
  13. “With my disabilities (or circumstances), it’s impossible.” – Nothing is impossible.  Josh Blue is a hilarious stand up comic with cerebral palsy.  Nick Vujicic is a world-renowned preacher and motivational speaker who doesn’t have any arms or legs.  Kyle Maynard doesn’t have arms or legs either, and he’s an ESPY Award-winning mixed martial arts athlete, a motivational speaker, and known for becoming the first quadruple amputee to ascend Mount Kilimanjaro without the aid of prosthetics.  There are artists who create with their mouths, runners who win races on artificial legs, brilliant writers whose fingers never touch the keyboard and a host of other successful individuals with physical and mental disabilities who refuse to let their circumstances hold them back.
  14. “I can’t commit right now.” – Fair enough, you have a lot on your plate.  But when can you commit?  Don’t use this excuse to push something aside forever.  If it’s genuinely interesting, look at your calendar and ask “When can I commit?” and put yourself on a productive path.  And if you don’t want to do it, be honest and admit you’re not interested.  People will always respect honesty over being strung along.  And you will feel less stressed with unnecessary obligations too.
  15. “My kids (or family) take up too much of my time.” – No doubt, balancing kids (or family) with any kind of substantial personal goal is tough.  At the time of this writing, Angel and I have a newborn son, our own business, and several open projects in queue.  It’s a balancing act, but it’s doable.  If we can do it, you can too.  It requires self-control and maximum use of productive rituals and disciplines.  Even so, at the end of the day you may feel shattered sometimes.  Keep it up; you’ll build endurance.  This endurance doesn’t just make you a more effective goal achiever; it allows you to enjoy family time that much more too.
  16. “I’m comfortable right now.” – The most common and harmful addiction in the world is the draw of comfort.  Why pursue greatness when you’ve already got 324 channels and a recliner?  Just pass the chip dip and forget about your grand plans.  NO!  The truth is, growth begins at the end of your comfort zone.  Stepping outside of your comfort zone will put things into perspective from an angle you can’t grasp now, and open doors of opportunity that would otherwise not exist.
  17. “No one understands me.” – Everyone has their own life to worry about; everybody is busy.  At the end of the day, no one has the time or energy to figure anyone else out.  If it really matters to you that someone understands you, simply communicate and make it easy for them to do so.  Quit playing games and beating around the bush.  Say what you mean and mean what you say.  (And remember that it’s not necessary that everyone understands and agrees with you all the time.)
  18. “Nobody cares about what I care about.” – Can you imagine what would happen if everyone behind a good cause took on this attitude?  We’d never have any charitable organizations, fuel-efficient cars, health breakthroughs, peace efforts, literacy drives, etc.  Forget about everyone else for a moment.  Care about something because it’s important.  Take a stand.  If you truly care, then become a champion of the cause and help others understand why you care so much, whether they agree with you or not.  (Read Choose Yourself!)
  19. “I’ve already lost too much.” – The truth is, everything will be okay in the end.  If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.  We’ve all gone through some hard times, and you, personally, will likely go through more hard times in the future too.  But it’s worth it.  It builds character and teaches necessary lessons.  I can trace some of the best stuff in my life right now to things that were really hard when I was going through them.  So when things seem like they are impossible, or you feel like you are never going to feel better, just know that you will eventually look back in amazement at how far you have come.  Yes, it’s going to be okay.
  20. “I can’t go on without those who are gone.” – This final point is indeed a tough one.  You have to remember, though, if someone comes into your life and has a positive impact on you, but for some reason they can’t stay, it doesn’t make sense to mourn forever.  Instead, be thankful that your paths crossed and that they somehow made you happy, even if it was just for a short while.  Life is change.  People really do come and go.  Some come back, some don’t, and that’s okay.  And just because one person leaves, doesn’t mean you should forget about everyone else who’s still standing by your side.  Continue to appreciate what you have, and smile about the memories.


Now think about it: If I eavesdropped on your self-talk, would I hear statements that empower personal growth and happiness, or statements that refute it?

The next time you decide to unclutter your life and clean up your space, start with your intellectual space by clearing out the old excuses and negative self-talk you often recite to yourself.

The floor is yours…

What would you add to the list?  What kind of negative self-talk gets in your way?  What’s one self-defeating excuse you need to stop making?  Share your thoughts with us by leaving a comment below.

Photo by: Chiara Vitellozzi

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