I have no doubt that you have your own set of dreams, goals and ambitions. You were born for greatness from the very start.
But the distance between where you are right now and where you really want to be can be measured by the number of excuses you make and take.
The more excuses you make and take, the bigger the distance. The less excuses you tolerate, the more you close up that distance.
Countless people make new year’s resolutions at the start of the year. I’m sure you did too. But only 8% fulfil their resolutions by the end of the year.
Think about this.
Imagine you want to write a book.
You have 2 hands? Check.
You have a laptop or computer? Check.
You have the idea? Check.
You have the time and energy? Check.
Then why is the freaking book not done?
“Oh, I just don’t have time for it.” Well honey, all authors, beginners and best-selling, have 24 hours. Don’t have time? Find it. If not, make time.
“Oh, I don’t think anyone would read it.” Congratulations, you have just rejected yourself even before you started.
“I don’t know where to start.” Have you heard of a plan? Or a draft? Just scribble something and tweak and refine it along the way.
The fact is that there’s always going to be an abundance of excuses. In order for you to breakthrough and overcome them, you need to understand the anatomy of excuses just like how a general studies his enemy.
1. Excuses start off as good intentions to keep you safe
Excuses usually begin as sound and rational reasons to keep you out of harm’s way.
“Don’t talk to strangers” could be issued to you by your mum because she grew up in a rough neighbourhood.
“Starting a business is very risky and requires a lot of money” might be slapped on you from an uncle who got his hands burnt in business previously.
“Getting a job is your guarantee to a secure future” was imbued on you because your parents didn’t have much to get by during their time and they don’t want you to go through the same fate as themselves.
However, these well-intentioned reasons become excuses and stumbling blocks when (1) the situation changes and (2) they hinder you from accessing and unleashing your true potential.
Sure, avoiding contact with strangers might prevent me from getting robbed or mugged. But what if that stranger works in the company which you’re dying to work for? What if that stranger is a potential raving fan of the good/service which you’re trying to sell? What if that stranger could be the project partner, business partner or life partner which you have been looking for all these while?
Examine your reasons/excuses closely before accepting them.
2. The more you make excuses, the easier it is to make even more excuses
The more you do something, the better you get at it. This is the power of repetition.
It’s the same way how a person gets lazy or fat.
I don’t believe you get fat overnight.
It starts with skipping a gym session. Followed by an extra dessert. Then comes one more episode of Game of Thrones. And then one more hour of Call of Duty. Soon enough, eating right and getting enough movement is a thing of the past.
When you make one excuse, it becomes easier to make another.
On the flipside, when you overcome one excuse, it becomes easier to overcome another, or to keep pushing yourself forward.
3. The cure for excuses is execution
Think about that one thing which you really need/want to do — writing the book, travelling the world, starting the business, reconciling with a loved one, having that conversation, etc.
And think about the myriad of excuses which you or others have been telling you:
- I’m too young
- I’m too old
- I’m not good enough
- Others might think funny about me
- I’m not experienced, qualified or accredited
- The timing isn’t right
- I’m scared
- I’m worried it might not work
- I’m worried that if it works, everything changes
- I’m from a rough or disadvantaged background
- I’m short
- I’m not good looking enough
- I’m shy
- I’m a person of colour
The only way to push past and overcome the excuses is to execute.
Like what Nike said “Just do it.”
4. You can get good at making excuses or you can get good at execution; you can’t do both
You can wait for something to happen or you can make things happen.
You can make excuses or you can make an impact.
You can make excuses or you can make money.
But you cannot do both.
The more you invest in making excuses, the more excuses you will make to blame yourself, others and the situation about why things are that way. You’ll also accumulate a lot of hot air.
However, the more you invest in making things happen, the more success, momentum, satisfaction and fulfilment you will experience along the way.
Make a decision on which side you want to be on.
5. You and others can make excuses for you, but only you can get over them
It’s not only us who can make excuses for ourselves. Others can chip in too.
On your personal front, you might be doubting your age, experience and skills when standing on the edge of starting your own business.
Then your jobless uncle can step in and tell you that businesses are risky and it’s safer that you get a job instead.
Or your classmate might tell you that starting a business requires a lot of upfront borrowed capital, which he read about in XYZ article somewhere.
Despite the mix of excuses you might have on your plate right now, only you can get over them.
It is totally up to you on how you are going to respond to the excuse cocktail.
You could accept them to be valid, yield to them and convince yourself that the business is out of your league. Or you could acknowledge those excuses, thank your friends and loved ones for their input (whether constructive or not), roll up your sleeves and get shit done.
6. You learn a whole lot about yourself when you dig deeper into your excuses
If you want to find the root cause of a problem or issue, take it and do the 5 Why’s Analysis.
Ask why 5 times and you should arrive at the root of it all.
Excuse: I don’t think I’m good enough to speak on stage.
Q1: Why do you think you’re not good enough?
A1: Because I lack confidence when I have to speak in front of people.
Q2: Why do you think you lack confidence when you have to speak in front of people?
A2: Because I don’t think I have the necessary skills to deliver a good speech.
Q3: Why don’t you have the necessary skills to deliver a good speech?
A3: Because I never took the time to invest in my skill development.
Q4: Why didn’t you take the time to invest in your skill development?
A4: Because I’m busy with other things.
Q5: Why are you busy with other things and not placing value on your skill development?
A5: Because I’m bad with time management and I don’t see my skill development as a priority.
From this simple example, we can see that it’s not really a lack of communication skills that’s stopping the person from killing it on stage — it’s a lack of effective time management.
The deeper you dig into your excuses and really try to find out what’s behind them, the more you will learn about yourself.
7. Making excuses is saying no to yourself and the situation even before you get started
When you make and take an excuse, the battle is already lost even before you set foot on the field. You have shot yourself in the foot even before the enemy has the chance to engage with you.
You have already turned yourself and the situation down, even when there’s a chance that you could have shone in it.
When you think that you’re not good enough to take on that client, you have already said no to yourself and to the client — even when there’s a chance that something great could eventuate from it.
When you think that the audience doesn’t want to listen to a young chap like yourself, you have already rejected the audience and the opportunity — even when there’s a chance that they would love a fresh, young perspective from someone like you.
When you think that your idea or opinion is stupid, you have already impaled it — even when there’s a chance that it is what your boss or client is really looking for.
“Stop making excuses. Instead, excuse yourself and make something happen.”
So what’s your next move?
If you are a fresh graduate and are job hunting, be sure to download The Career Starter Kit.
And if you feel that you need to be crushing it in your existing career, make sure you check out my book “Unsuck Your Career“.
Stop making excuses and start taking action today!