I’m sure you are familiar with the sentence, “If you want to do something you’ll find a way, if not you’ll find an excuse.” I’ve always found that a pretty rude statement that might be appropriate on the social media of boot camp instructors, but has no place in coaching relationships. I still think so, but of course there’s truth to it—and there are a ton of things we could achieve if we dropped the excuses. I’ll just suggest to give yourself a little more grace.
What do I mean by that? The fact that you’re still operating on certain excuses does not mean that you don’t want to achieve a certain goal. It only means that you are having a hard time taking that step out of your comfort zone that sets you on a path, maybe also because you have no idea how that path should look. Yet. (If you have met me or been to one of my workshops, you probably know that yet is one of my favorite words. I’ve also included it in another blog post.)
Sometimes, you can just get over yourself—and surprise yourself along the way. My current example is yoga: I spent most of the last winter and up into the spring suffering from pretty bad vertigo. It felt so bad that I stopped going to the gym because I was too afraid I’d injure myself getting dizzy. At the same time, I know perfectly well that I get spells of vertigo when I feel unbalanced, so that’s what I had to tackle first.
A few months and a few pounds later (thank you, chocolate!), I had the issue under control, but I did not go back to the gym. I’d lost my drive and had long stopped missing my workouts. I had tons of excuses for why I wasn’t going—time and money considerations, mostly. I’m sure you know the spiel. Eventually, my old gym made me such a great offer to return that those excuses really didn’t work anymore because to make it worth it, I only had to go, like, once or twice a week. I felt that’s something I could commit to. Baby steps.
I joined, but as I still didn’t feel like going back to the weights, I ended up in yoga class instead. And suddenly, I am tackling another excuse I have carried along for so long, namely “I have a lousy sense of balance, that’s why I can’t do …” (fill in anything that requires a good sense of balance). These days, I find myself working on a lot of poses that require standing on one leg—and I am getting better at it! Much better, in fact.
I know that’s not the huge success story like the stories of people who had all odds stacked against them but made big dreams come true anyway because they didn’t use their disadvantages as an excuse and committed to their vision. I guess I am a little more average than that (nothing wrong with it either) and a little less committed to my dreams and ideas, though they do matter to me. And it might be the same for you.
So if you are familiar with making one excuse after another to avoid taking action too, despite the fact that you do want to accomplish your goal, read on! There are a few tips and tricks on how you can get over yourself.
Stop telling yourself that your excuses are good reasons
Okay, this is where we have to start, all of us. We tend to use our excuses to rationalize our not-acting and it sounds so like the truth, doesn’t it? You can’t go to the gym because you have kids, or because you don’t have the money to join, or because… I’m sure you know where I am going with this. And fact is, while there’s some truth in this, getting to where you want to be first of all requires a commitment to stop making these excuses. For if we don’t, we can’t work on making things work.
Face what is actually holding you back
As I said earlier, there is a good reason why we make excuses, usually to protect ourselves. And it is way easier to cut out the excuses if we know why we are making them in the first place. The number one reason is fear—fear of the unknown, of failure, of others’ responses. Any of these might do it. Maybe you don’t go to the gym because you are afraid of losing friends as you change your lifestyle, or you are afraid of being judged as a bad mother if you take all that time for yourself? Fear keeps us in our comfort zone—the life we consider safe because we know it. But if we find out what is really keeping us back, we have taken the first step to overcome it.
Be specific about your goal(s)
It is much easier to overcome excuses if we determine exactly what we want to reach. Let’s stick with my gym example: I had a hard time getting started but once I discovered I sort of liked these yoga classes and set specific goals—to go twice a week (third time gets an extra Yay! when it happens), to be able to stand on one leg for five slow breaths, to lose ten pounds—things have been much easier. Try to set at least two parameters for your goal that set a timeframe and/or make it measurable. It’ll help!
Stop comparing yourself to others
Bear with me and my yoga class for a little longer: Fact is, I am highly competitive. That makes yoga a particular challenge for me because I used to be hyper-flexible and a gymnast—back in grade school. Fast-forward a few decades and my flexibility is not quite what it used to be. It’s hard to be in yoga class and see young women who are much better at it, the way I used to be. But I can’t let myself use this as an excuse! I have decided that I’ll keep practicing and one day I will be this amazingly fit 60- or 70-year-old—maybe not amazingly fit by college-age standards, but definitely by my own. Point is, you’ll have to give yourself a chance to succeed and be your own best self.
Know that you can change
Often we get stuck in our old ways because we have certain beliefs about ourselves, and we think we can’t change those—because this is who we are, right? Not so. Don’t believe people who tell you that we can’t change. We can—if we want to. It takes a growth mindset and an effort and it’s not easy, but if you really want to accomplish something, it can be done.
If you want some support in your journey to cut the excuses and make efficient changes, let’s talk! You can send me a message or schedule a free 30-minute consult through my website to let me know what exactly you’re struggling with and we can explore how I could help you succeed.