Here we are at the end of 2020 and the time of year when many of us set goals for the new year. Don’t worry, if you’re finding this another time, because that’s part of what I want to talk about. This tendency we have to only focus on our goals in January.
And maybe this year will be different. Maybe we learned our lesson with 2020; that even the best laid plans are no match for a mountain of the unexpected.
Maybe you have been using this “unprecedented” year we’ve just lived through as a reason NOT to pursue your dreams. Maybe you’re still waiting for things to “settle down” and return to “normal.” Then you’ll do the thing.
Maybe you’re just full of excuses.
Have you thought about that?
Have you ever called yourself out on it? If you haven’t, it’s time to start. Today. I don’t care what day it is. If it’s a Wednesday afternoon in August 2022 when you find this, it’s time to start today.
“Excuses are the nails used to build a house of failure.”Jim Rohn
Now, I don’t particularly like the word “failure”. I like to replace that with “roadblock” or “lesson”, quite honestly, because that’s how I see it. All that a failure is, is something that didn’t work exactly as you expected it to. When that happens, if you view it as a roadblock, you will take a detour, you will learn from that experience, and you may end up in an even better place than you expected.
We relate well to the word “failure”, though. Come on, that’s been ingrained in our psyche since grade school. Either you pass or you fail. Fail too big and you’ll repeat the grade or have to retake the college course. Either scenario leaves you deflated, emotionally. You’ll start the negative self-talk and make the illogical connection that because you failed, that means that YOU are a failure.
And you feel so fucking low about it, you want to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.
So, you will do whatever it takes not to have a repeat experience of the pain that comes with not having attained what you wanted or believed you needed from your life in that moment.
Too many times, “whatever it takes” means avoiding it for as long as possible.
Because it’s not the right time.
Because I’m not good at that.
Because it’s risky.
Because you will feel exposed.
Because what will people think?
Because the moon and the stars aren’t aligned just right.
Because what if I fall?
Oh, but my darling, what if you fly?
You’ll never know until you put yourself out there, until you put something on the line. Your money, your reputation; your heart.
You just keep putting it off until everything is just right.
I want to you to recognize this right now. You’re making excuses.
And excuses are nails that build the house of failure.
That’s your truth bomb.
I want you to sit with that realization.
Now, I don’t want you to beat yourself up over it! I just want you to notice it. Tune in to it. Be aware of it.
The list of excuses your brain will present to you is going to be endless. As soon as you meet the criteria, it will generate something new.
But what about this? Have you considered that? What if this happens?
Yeah. What IF?
I want you to notice your excuses. I want you to recognize them for what they are. I want you to shine a light on them. And I want you to overcome them, to crush them once and for all.
Because you see, that’s just your basic instinct (your primitive brain) talking. That’s the root of a lot of our problems, isn’t it? That basic instinct that just wants to seek pleasure, avoid pain, and save energy.
My friend, that’s just how your brain works. It will send you thoughts as invitations to a party that you don’t have to attend. You don’t have to RSVP. You don’t have accept the thoughts that are offered to you as the damn truth.
I believe I’ve explained this before, but it’s time to revisit with this topic.
Part of the “saving energy” function of your primitive brain (your basic instinct) lies in the need to be efficient. Our brains are designed for this. Once we learn how to do something and it becomes second nature, we don’t have to use as much brain power to perform the task.
Think of learning to walk. Learning to talk. Learning a new language. If you’re bilingual, my highest respect! It’s on my list to learn a new language as soon as I crush my own excuses and make it a priority. Ha!
Think of learning to ride a bike. Learning to drive a car. All of the things that now come so easily to us, we don’t even have to think about it. We just do it.
We just walk around all damn day long, forgetting that there was a time when we had no idea how to do that and we fell on our faces about a hundred times before we could even keep our balance. And then it took another year or so in early childhood when we staggered around like we were drunk.
Not a person alive crushed that walking gig on the first try. Not one.
We all tried and failed, tried and failed, until we got it right, didn’t we?
What’s the difference between then and now? Our brains weren’t fully developed, and we didn’t have any idea what embarrassment felt like. That’s pretty much it. That’s the diff.
We didn’t have all of those life experiences to draw on. We didn’t understand it when people laughed at us when we fell. We laughed too! We laughed right along with them.
Hey, look at me, I’m a comedian! Pretty good at it too. They seem to laugh a lot. Hmmmm. Let’s try falling down on purpose to see if I can get some more of those smiles.
And if we hurt ourselves, physically hurt ourselves, an adult would be there to take care of us.
Ah, life was so much better when it was simple, wasn’t it?
Hell, I don’t know. None of us remember that time. It’s fun to imagine though, isn’t it?
Yet, it would serve us to just take a moment and consider that…there was a time when we weren’t so wrapped up in our heads about taking a chance and trying something new. That’s certainly true.
Even if you think of learning to drive. Again, brains were still not yet fully developed, but we had enough experiences with painful emotions by then that could easily have kept us stuck. There was literal drive behind getting that license, though. It meant freedom. It was a rite of passage. It meant some independence. It was a big fucking deal.
So we were willing to practice and make mistakes until we were ready to take the driver’s test. And if you’re like me and you failed the first attempt (because of a stupid error attributed to nerves), you allowed yourself to be dejected for only the minimum amount of time required to retake. Because you were determined. You were driven to get that license.
And here we are now, if we spend time really and honestly considering it, we’ve taken a lot of risks to get us to the place where we now make a whole lot of excuses not to take risks.
We’ve taken chances on love. Most of us have failed time and again at that one. Maybe we have finally arrived. Maybe we are still searching. But at the very least, we know how to take a chance at love. We have to be open. Vulnerable. Willing to have our heart broken. Again. And again.
Perhaps we make excuses not to take another chance, and I think it’s sad when we choose not to. That’s my thought, because I truly believe that’s what we’re here for. To experience love.
We’ve taken risks when we signed up to be parents, if that is the path that you’re on. There are so many complexities involved with being a parent. We don’t always realize at the time that we decide to become responsible for raising a tiny human that there are no guarantees with how that journey is going to play out. I think we envision in our minds how blissful that it’s going to be (I know that I did)…what it’s going to feel like to hold that baby in your arms and how much fun it’s going to be to belly laugh when your toddler falls on his face over and over.
We might think about the trials of living with a teenager, and how much hell you gave your own mother back then, but even that is fleeting when you are faced with really wanting to be a parent.
You decide to be all in, and then you do it. For life. You decide you’re willing to take some hits along the way for the reward of just landing this role.
Until you realize how thankless that it really is. It’s also absolutely wonderful. You get the full experience when you decide to parent.
So we will do all of these things. We will sign up for all of the experiences of life in our younger years, even agreeing to the hardships and rocky emotions that come with them, yet for some reason, so many of us will freeze the fuck up when it comes to living our dreams. Or even discovering them in the first place.
We start listening to the inner mean bitch that says we can’t possibly do that. It’s crazy. What will people think?
What do you really want to accomplish? Are you living your dreams right now or are you supporting someone else’s? How often are you experiencing joy and a deep realization of self-worth in your daily life? Are you setting big goals and crushing activities that support them daily or are you hitting snooze and telling yourself that you’ll start on Monday?
Every excuse is a nail.
This is why most diets don’t work. Hear me on this, because now is the time of year that most people are going to commit (for real, this time) to making major, lasting life changes. To finally drop the weight and get fitter than they’ve ever been in their lives This is the year.
I’m joining the gym, I’m signing up for this program, by god, I’m getting a Peloton, because that seems to be the trick!
And most of you will fail by February.
Because it’s not the program. It’s not about the macros or the intensity of the workouts. It’s that most programs don’t include the component of mindset.
No gym, no program, and no new equipment or even the promise of community that comes with it, is going to teach you how to manage your damn mind, to question your inner voice, and to crush your fucking excuses.
Think about it. How many times have you tried?
How many of those support systems that promise you’ll lose the weight or build the muscle if you just show up have told you that your brain is hard wired NOT to show up? How many?
THAT is why you’re not successful.
Because for all of the flowery phrases that are stated like, “be stronger than your excuses,” no one is really teaching you how to be stronger than your excuses. No one is digging into your mind. Simply saying it isn’t enough. Speaking it aloud (into existence) isn’t enough when you don’t fucking believe it.
Your unmanaged mind will offer you every excuse in the book, and you’ll take it willingly because it’s waaaaay more comfortable…
…to sleep in…
…to skip a few days…
…to do the freaking laundry instead.
Literally anything other than the thing you know you need to do.
But it’s uncomfortable, so…there’s that.
We just don’t want to be fucking uncomfortable. Ever.
Even when we know that real, lasting change only happens in the pain. It doesn’t come from the bottle of wine or spirits. It doesn’t come from the next Netflix binge. It doesn’t come from ignoring our feelings; suppressing our emotions. We have to walk through that storm, not around it.
And here’s the most curious thing of all. We’ll do it for someone else.
If your manager challenges you to stretch outside of your comfort zone and meet an impossible deadline, you’ll do anything to please her.
If your best friend challenges you to join her in running a 10K when you’ve never even done a 3K, you’re all in to train with her.
If your significant other challenges you to try a new position for sex, you’ll think that sounds hot. Oh, yeah.
We’ll do just about anything for anyone else, but not for ourselves.
When it comes to doing anything for you, you will find a way out of it.
You will find an excuse, because it will always be offered up to you on a silver platter.
This is where it’s so very important to understand that both your basic instinct (your primitive brain) and the stories you’ve been telling yourself over your lifetime play integral roles in your motivation to change.
Those two concepts combine to create a force to be reckoned with when it comes to making a big shift in your perspective and ability to believe that you can make the radical change in your life that you crave. If your belief system is built on a shitty foundation of stories you are telling yourself about why you can’t, then you most certainly won’t.
If you want change, you need to eliminate the word can’t from your vocabulary immediately. You have no idea how powerful the words in your own mind are when it comes to motivating yourself to take action.
I say this often, and I will continue to say it because repetition matters.
The phrase, “I can’t” never did anything for anyone. Ever.
Saying, “I don’t feel like it today” is a recipe for nothing other than inaction. There’s nothing else that will come from it. Inaction. When you allow yourself to hear that inner voice that says let’s just stay in bed, that’s what you’re always going to do.
Because it’s easier. Because you’re hard-wired for easier.
Don’t be shitty to yourself about it, just acknowledge this truth. Be aware of it, so you can begin to call out those sneaky thoughts lurking in your subconscious.
Nope. Not going to attend that party today, thanks for the invite.
I’m not down for excuses in this moment.
Seriously. We don’t call out that inner voice nearly as much as we could, or we should.
My friend, you need to start questioning every little thought that pops into your brain. You really do. Because doing this one simple thing can make or break you.
This one simple thing of questioning your thoughts, of declining that party invitation, is the true differentiator between those who succeed; those who crush their goals, and those who do not.
It’s not the program. It’s not this diet or that one that finally works. It’s not the next book or the next course. It’s your fucking brain. The answer has been right there with you all along.
Yes, it’s true that you need to be stronger than your excuses. But it’s more than words. It always has been. Push back on that inner voice that tells you to press the snooze button and get lit up with all that you already possess.
It’s all already there for you. Inside of you.
“Half-heartedness doesn’t reach into majesty.”– Jelaluddin Rumi
I’m going to keep building and expanding upon a house of success that I plan to share. Your takeaway? That it’s your choice to stay stuck. Every moment of every day, we’re making choices.
It’s your choice to not take action toward achieving your dreams.
It’s also your choice to do the hard things.
If you don’t have a solid mentor in your life, driving you to stretch yourself, constantly challenging you to go big or go home, then you become that person. Light that fire within you and shine your light.
Want to know how to become that person for yourself? How to be your own mentor? How to parent that inner child? Then let’s talk. I’m serious, you have no idea how powerful that you truly are.
Eliminate the excuses from your mental dialogue and you will remove all limits to what you can achieve.
This post is a partial transcript of my podcast, What Lights You Up – Episode 37. I invite you to enjoy the full episode and subscribe on Spotify or Apple!