I’ve written before about the common fears that are likely holding you back from tackling that change you really want to make. And, I’ve also shared some tips on how to get started achieving something you really want.
But what I’ve been noticing, both with myself and with clients, is how good we all are at convincing ourselves it’s ok to put off that thing you really want to do a bit longer because… anxiety about being judged or failing; thinking you don’t know how to do it or where to get started; conscious it’s just going to take too much time, be too difficult or cost too much; or that now is simply not the right moment or you’re too busy?
All really solid reasons, right? I agree, I’ve used all of these (and more) many times in all sorts of personal and professional situations.
The problem is… these are not actual reasons, they’re just excuses
They’re excuses you’ve dressed up as valid reasons to avoid doing something that is very likely going to cause some discomfort.
Now, I don’t want to mislead you. Doing something new or different to what you’ve always done may be difficult, it may take time, effort, and commitment. And yes, there’s a possibility, it might not work out as well as you’d hoped.
The thing is… in relying on your excuses as reasons not to do something and avoid feeling uncomfortable, you risk experiencing something much more terminal, and that is… regret.
In my work, I often get asked versions of the question – “What if I make a career change that I’ll regret?”. And the answer I usually give is… I can’t promise you’ll make a change that will work out as well as you hope, but I can assure you if you do nothing you’ll never know how it might have turned out… good or bad.
The irony about “regret” is that you rarely regret something you’ve tried, even if it doesn’t work out. And you always regret that thing you thought about, dreamed about, wanted really badly, but never pursued.
How to stop letting your excuses stop you from getting sh!t done!
1. RECOGNISE & ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR EXCUSES
This is the first and most significant step. It’s a difficult one because you’re likely to face a lot of self-resistance… especially if they’re excuses you’ve been relying on for a long time. Listen for the tell-tale signs in your conversations (including those you have with yourself!) – sentences that start with “I can’t”, “I’ll never”, “it won’t work” or “it’s not possible”. These statements give you the opportunity to shift the blame onto circumstances, rather than taking responsibility yourself. And, in almost all situations, they’re excuses, not fact.
2. REFRAME YOUR EXCUSES AS OPPORTUNITIES
Once you recognise and take responsibility for your excuses, you’re in a better position to “make things happen”, rather than “let them happen”. Think about the things you’ve dreamed of, but never done. Ask yourself what kept you from doing those things or what did you tell yourself that halted your progress? What did you think would happen if you tried to pursue those things? Is there a way to take a different perspective? e.g. instead of “I don’t have time to do this” try “I’ll never have the time, so why not start now with the time I can find”.
3. KEEP IT REALISTIC
There are some things you’re not going to be able to do due to very real reasons. We all have some level of physical, financial, social, or other limitations. It’s all very well to shoot for the stars in the hope you may land on the moon, but ask yourself, is the reason you’re not getting started that you’re worried about what others might think or that it’s going to take more than your lifetime to save up to build your rocket? It’s important to challenge yourself but keep your targets within your earthly realm of possibility.
The final, sweet, magic ingredient in the process of pushing through your excuses is… drumroll please… YOU. Whether you keep waiting “until the time is right” rather than take action, or continue to “let things happen” instead of “making them happen”… the choice always, is yours.
So, what’s it going to be? Short-term, temporary discomfort or long-term permanent “what-if” regret?
If the same old, tired excuses are keeping you from figuring out your best next career steps, let’s discuss how I can help you put some helpful habits in place to kick start your progress.