The winner’s guide to taking back your life and living it on your terms
“I attribute my success to this: — I never gave or took an excuse.” — Florence Nightingale
Studies show that failure is among the most common reasons for making excuses. Fear of what we don’t understand is also at the top of the list. Whatever your excuse, know this — you’ll never get to where you truly want to be if you continue to make excuses. Start making solutions instead. Here’s one excuse for every day of the month and one solution to counter each one.
1. I don’t have the time
Solution: MAKE the time. If you’re not making the time, then you’re not creating a plan for doing what you want. Start small. Look at your week. Ask yourself if you can spare two hours. You can break that out in 20-minute increments over six days, while still taking one day off. 20 minutes per day to build toward your dream? That is exponentially better than no time at all.
Use a project management tool like Trello to balance your priorities and break your tasks into projects. Children, a demanding job, a tough commute, busy social life, multiple projects to juggle? It doesn’t matter. When there’s a will, there’s a way. When you take a high-level view of your week and begin to drill-down to each day, you realize you can cut out time-wasters like watching TV, surfing the web on your smartphone and texting with your friends.
You have the time.
2. I’m too young
Solution: Mozart started composing music and performing in front of royal audiences when he was only five-years old! Heck, my son is starting a baseball league next weekend and he just turned three! Being “too young” should never, ever be a barrier to entry for someone looking to get started — or to continue going — on their dream.
All you need is an email account to write for Medium. No age minimum. Become a voracious reader. Once you learn to read, there is literally nothing stopping you from gaining Internet access or books at your local library. The people who tell you you’re too young are the same people that want to keep you in your place while they maintain power and control. Defy them and blaze your own trail.
3. I’m too old
Solution: Allow me to regale you with a few famous people from history who accomplished extraordinary feats when they were “old”:
- Dr. Seuss — whose birthday is today! — wrote The Cat in the Hat when he was 54 years old
- Alfred Hitchcock did the finest work of his life in his 50s and 60s
- Cezanne created his most incredible art in his latest years
It’s never, ever too late to start living the life you want. Desire more inspiration? Read Malcolm Gladwell’s article, Late Bloomers. It may change your life.
4. I don’t have enough money
Solution: Who says you need money? Some of the most successful people of our times rose from poverty to become titans of industry: Oprah Winfrey, Gordon Ramsey, LeBron James and many others grew up very poor and with slim odds at success. Do rich people have greater access and more advantages? Undeniably, yes.
But the fire burns brighter for those of us who weren’t handed everything we ever needed. We have to fight harder to get the capital we need to drive change and transform people’s lives. Between now and then, we have the Internet, books, access to cheap transportation and infinite possibilities to create all at low-budget costs. If you can’t be successful without money, then you likely won’t find success once you have it.
5. No one is interested in what I have to say
Solution: Become a deeper thinker. Read more, watch videos on YouTube, get out and experience your local culture. Become an expert in something you have a passion about that you know is shared by others. Suddenly, everyone’s going to want to know what the confident, intelligent woman or man has to say around social media, healthcare, digital marketing, etc.
6. I’ll never make it
Solution: Start thinking more positively. This above excuse is the epitome of negative thinking. Negative thinking leads to close-mindedness, doubt and fear. Listen to motivational speeches on YouTube. Find positive-thinking lectures on Leadercast or Goalcast. Surround yourself with winners who instill belief and confidence in you. Build your life on values and find encouraging voices that help you to keep going.
7. I don’t have the right connections
Solution: It would surely be easier to have that rich uncle that can unlock the doors to that record executive’s office, wouldn’t it? Well guess what? You probably don’t have that. Make the connections! Get on Linked in and start contacting experts and successful business people who might give you their time. Chances are, most won’t respond. But some will. Ask those people to meet you for a cup of coffee — just 30 minutes of their time — and soak in their knowledge and wisdom like a sponge.
Reach out to writers like me here on Medium, be approachable and be willing to approach others if you want to learn something new.
8. I can’t catch a break
Solution: Try again. And again. And again. And again. And… you get the point. Persistence is one of the secrets of success. If the “luck” isn’t working in your favor, or you haven’t quite found success in what you’ve attempted, one of two things are probably the case: 1) You need to keep trying and keep going or 2) It may be time to change course and try something else that you will never give up on.
Take time to do an honest assessment of what you’re working on. It could be the pursuit of a boyfriend or girlfriend. It might be trying to become a musician, writer or entrepreneur. Build a plan, back it with faith and forge your way forward until you get what you want.
9. I don’t know how to do it
Solution: Please, stop what you’re doing. Go to Google and enter in the search box exactly what you’re looking to do in the following way: How to _______. Find the best articles and links. I guarantee you someone before you has already figured out a way to successfully perform what you want to do.
10. I don’t have enough education
Solution: Since when is “enough” education the measure of success? Jennifer Lawrence didn’t even finish middle school. Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard. Are these rare stories? Yes, but not impossible. In many instances, furthering your education in the secondary school system or in higher education is the right way to go. But it’s not the only way to go.
There are so many resources now for you to self-educate and so many of them are free. Become obsessed with learning. Whether you go to college or become specialized in a given field, as long as you continue your life’s education you will be in good shape.
“Maturity is when you stop complaining and making excuses in your life; you realize everything that happens in life is a result of the previous choice you’ve made and start making new choices to change your life.” — Roy T. Bennett
11. I’m not talented enough
Solution: Always remember this basketball coaching maxim. I learned this while coaching at the high-school level: Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.
In other words, a positive attitude and inspired, industrious work ethic will carry you to where you want to go in life. The best part? You have complete control of both.
12. No one cares about my ______ (art, work, writing, business, etc.)
Solution: Find the right audience. Use Medium. Leverage social media like Instagram, Snapchat, Linked in, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and more to share the awesome work you’re doing. If your friends, co-workers and family don’t take an interest in you — find a mentor, teacher, coach or school official who will. Take advantage of community programs at the YMCA or Boys & Girls Club, if you’re so fortunate.
Don’t ever live in fear. Stop thinking no one cares about you or your bold ideas. You’re unique and special and you absolutely have something awesome to share with the world. Open your mind and give things a shot. You may have to search a while but you’ll find someone willing to lend a hand.
13. My parents say I can’t do it
Solution: Ask your parents why they’re discouraging you from doing something that you truly love. Don’t fall victim to the poor thinking mindset of others — even your own parents. If you believe in your heart that you can accomplish something, don’t ever be dissuaded by the people closest to you. Explain to them why you know you can do what you want.
If they still don’t listen, accept it for what it is, and keep moving forward. Sometimes in life, only we truly know the dreams of our hearts. Others may try closing us off from reaching our potential, even our own parents. Maybe they didn’t succeed in doing what they wanted most. Don’t let their negative experiences affect you. You only need to prove things to yourself.
14. My friends don’t believe I can do it
Solution: See #13 above. You may be hanging out with the wrong friends. Or maybe you just need to share your vision, goals and how you plan to achieve what you want with your friends. Visualizing and verbalizing what you want will continue to strike the accord you need to give yourself further confidence and conviction that you’re doing the right thing.
15. I’m too tired
Solution: If you’re constantly too tired, you may honestly need medical attention to diagnose what your problem is. Assuming this isn’t it, if you’re always too tired, there’s a very good chance you don’t have enough motivating, inspiring and passion-fueling things in your life. Start doing things that you love that are constructive, edifying and lead to positive results for you and others.
Become addicted to the feeling of helping others and learning more about something that lights a fire inside of you. Then, ask yourself how tired you feel.
16. I don’t have access to the right technology
Solution: You may not be able to afford a super-expensive camera or 4K TV, but chances are you can obtain access to the Internet. That means you can listen to some of the greatest music ever recorded, read classic works of literature, view the finest works of art and listen to innovators, creators and entrepreneurs that have helped to build the world around you. All for free.
17. I don’t have a car
Solution: This is less of an issue if you live in a major metropolitan area where public transportation is by far your best choice. But let’s say you live in the country or in a place where having a car is much more helpful for getting around. There’s always Uber. Save up money and purchase a bicycle. Or rent one. Walk, run, share a ride with a friend. Find a way to get where you physically need to be.
18. I’m too shy
Solution: I was once very shy, too. I overcame this fear by surrounding myself with people who helped me to see that “sitting on the sidelines” was the surest strategy for missing out on all the bountiful, amazing things life has to offer. Life is a contact sport. You gotta get in the game to live the life you want. Whether that’s pursuing a love interest, advancing an idea or applying for a job you think is a reach, you must overcome fear or timidity to put yourself in a position to get what you want.
19. I’m introverted and not comfortable in front of people
Solution: If public speaking or group settings are not your thing, focus on doing work that gives you the ability to be on your own. You can become a world famous blogger all in the confines of your own apartment. You just need a computer and an Internet connection. Many technical jobs can be performed with minimal interaction needed with others.
Though eventually, you’re going to need to work with others. We live in an interdependent world where thoughts, ideas and actions are taken in unison with others. Perfect your public speaking ability. Think confidently about your own abilities. Visualize yourself interacting with others. Practice at home when no one is looking. You don’t have to be an extrovert. Introverts find plenty of success all the time.
20. I’m my own toughest critic
Solution: All right, a confession: This is perhaps the excuse I found myself making the most. Heck, I sometimes still do. I’m very tough on myself and I find myself looking at the success of others and sometimes feel like I haven’t done anything. I have to remind myself of my wins. I look at my five-year planand I see how many things I’ve achieved that I set out to do.
It’s important to note — this excuse can be both a blessing and a curse. I encourage you to demand a lot of yourself, but also to be realistic and to practice self-care. Encourage yourself and speak positive thoughts over your life. They’ll drown out the negative thoughts and help you overcome pernicious self-criticism.
The trouble with excuses is that they become inevitably difficult to believe after they’ve been used a couple of times. — Scott Spencer
21. I don’t know what I want
Solution: I hear this one a lot from people who are unhappy, lacking direction and staying stuck in the same place. I have a very, very simple exercise for you: Sit down, take out a pen and notepad. Write a running list of all the things in life that make you smile, inspire you, light the fire inside of you and that give you positive thoughts.
Something as simple as thinking of the love you have for children can make you realize that you love to help them. Maybe teaching or coaching is something that will make you happy? The simple act of writing is therapeutic and soothing. Start a daily journal. Keep writing out the things that you like. Before long, you’ll have a list of things to pursue. Then, you just have to take the action.
22. I know what I want, but I can’t get the results
Solution: Start emulating models — people who have succeeded in doing exactly what you want to do. Read and learn how they got to where they wanted to be. What makes a great guitarist? What does it take to start a successful online business? Start researching the ways to get where you want to be and in the meantime — continue pursuing what it is you want.
23. I can’t find a mentor or someone to help me
Solution: The federal government in the United States offers a completely free program through the Small Business Administration called, SCORE. Check them out at this link. If you’re trying to do something great with your business, you’ll find an abundance of resources just on their website. Where you go for the win is to meet someone in person who’s “been there, done that.”
Look locally. Start with your family, teachers, coaches or reach out to people online who are doing and succeeding with something you want to do. Again, if you never try, you’ll never know.
24. No one “makes it out” OR “has ever accomplished anything” from where I come from
Solution: Don’t ever use your location or where you’re from as an excuse. It’s lazy, unproductive and foolish. Carve your own niche, become inspired by wanting to become a “hometown hero.” If your environment is holding you down, maybe you need to move or travel somewhere else to get more creative and more inspired.
You may come from a rough neighborhood and perhaps it’s harder to make it out of where you are. Put your safety first, trust in family and friends who care about you. Keep your head up and learn what it will take to work your way out through schooling, internship programs or community-based programs designed to give you an opportunity at success.
“Difficulty is the excuse history never accepts.” — Edward R. Murrow
25. I’ll never break this habit
Solution: Instead of becoming a victim of addiction, start researching the root cause of why you can’t stop doing something that isn’t helping you. Where did this habit start? How can you seek help through online resources or from others on how to see your way through to the other side?
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in life is that in order for others to help us, we have to open ourselves up to being helped. Let someone help you. Don’t be too proud. Don’t be afraid. Open up, admit you need help and find how to quit your habit the sensible, mature way. Asking for help may be the most courageous thing you do in your life.
26. I’ll never find the right person for me
Solution: Surround yourself with activities and opportunities that you love to do. The best way to meet someone who’s “right” for you is to do so by immersing yourself in an activity that brings out the best in you. If you love basketball, get involved in coaching a sport or attending a game of a team you cheer on.
If you’re passion is service and helping others — donate your time to a cause in your local community like caring for the elderly or volunteering at a children’s hospital. You never know who you’ll meet. Could be someone who’s been looking for someone just like you.
27. My physical appearance is holding me back
Solution: If you think your looks, weight or some blemish is what’s hurting you, you’re thinking of things the wrong way. Who you truly are on the inside is all that counts, anyways. If you feel the physical appearance is causing a distraction, then figure out what it might take to lose weight, if that’s your concern. Take better care of yourself by exercising or dressing differently.
Also consider turning back to #20. You may simply be too tough on yourself. In most instances, you can control what you eat — your diet. Research ways to live a healthier lifestyle. Find people you trust to hold you accountable and encourage you to continue toward your goals.
28. I keep making the same mistakes
Solution: Implement a system where you track your mistakes or failures in a digital notebook or planner. Look at these each day to get you inspired in the morning. For example, if your mistake is forgetting to send out a report at work, put a reminder in your Outlook, Evernote or other tool to remind you of this throughout your week.
We’re all far better from having made mistakes — but it’s best to keep these to a one-time or few-times deal. Learn from the adversity. When you say you’re going to do something, figure out how to hold yourself accountable, budget your time wisely, and ensure that you immerse yourself completely in achieving the task in front of you. Erase mistakes by making it your personal mission to fix them.
29. I can’t do this on my own
Solution: We all need help to reach our biggest goals and dreams, but so much of getting started begins with you. You can’t blame others when you’re unwilling to define some of the basic fundamentals of your life:
- Definition of Success
- Success Measures
- Key Outputs
Start with your values. I believe in this so much, I wrote a book about choosing and living our life by core values. Both the work of defining my values, and writing the book completely changed my life and helped me prioritize around what truly matters most to me. If you start by doing these things, then earnestly working to achieve what you desire, you’ll find that along the way you get the help you need.
30. Everyone else is doing it
Solution: Come on. Take responsibility for yourself and focus on what you can control and influence. Stop blaming others or using their excuses for your own. Run your own race!
Last but not least…
31. I’m afraid what others will think of me
Solution: When you believe in your heart that you’re on the right path, keep going. You can’t live in fear about what others will think of you. I find this is the excuse and fear that held me back for far too long from living the life of my dreams. Now? I’m living that life each day. Do what you love, exercise your freedom to do it and do so with supreme confidence and faith.
I turn back to Dr. Seuss for this one.:
“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”
Do What You Truly Want and GO GET IT.
I’m helping thousands of people each day build their life on values and put together their personal game plan. Join me! Check out The Value of You, my Amazon bestseller. The e-book is available for a limited time for just $2.99! Order the e-book HERE!