Do you know what’s frustrating? Talking to people about their dreams. The closer I get to publishing Dream Chasers (the Kindle edition is available for pre-order NOW, if you’re interested), the more time I’m spending digging into people’s lives and asking them about the things that they want to accomplish or achieve.
It’s weird, because that shouldn’t be the type of conversation that leaves me frustrated. If we’re talking about someone’s passions, someone’s goals, someone’s dreams I should leave the conversation feeling inspired, right? But I don’t – at least, not very often. Why not? Because when you ask people about their dreams, the first things they want to tell you are all the reasons that their dreams aren’t happening.
I, for one, am tired of that kind of talk. I’m tired of the way we give ourselves permission to stay stagnant. Because at the end of the day, most of those reasons that we have for not chasing after our dreams are just excuses. They may sound good, they may seem legitimate, we may even believe them … but 95% of the time, they’re nothing more than thinly veiled excuses that give us permission to do nothing.
But if we’re serious about achieving a goal (whether it’s writing a book or buying a house) then the excuses have to stop. They have no place in a dream-chaser’s mindset. They can’t help us – they can only hurt and delay us. So here is a list of 9 excuses that I hear all the time – excuses that you should STOP using right now, if you ever want to make your dream become reality:
1. “I don’t have the time.” This is the biggest and most common excuse I hear. In fact, you can probably relate to it yourself. But I’m going to let you into a little secret – NO ONE has the time. Our lives and our schedules are so jam packed that most of us struggle to find enough time to sleep at night. You’ll never “have” the time to do anything until you are willing to “make” the time. And that’s about deciding that your dream is a priority in your life, and sacrificing other (even important) things in order to make it happen. I have a friend who started a side business years ago, something that she did to make extra money on nights and weekends. Her goal was to eventually shift it from her “side business” to her “actual job.” But she didn’t have the time to really invest in making it grow the way she wanted to, and so she found herself in a rut for years. Do you know what she finally did to get herself out? She cut back her hours at her regular job, and committed to working on her business a few days a week instead. It was a very real sacrifice. It cost her something. But it was her dream, and she MADE the time to see it succeed.
2. “I don’t have the money.” Again, this comes down to a matter of priorities. I understand that you may be in tight financial circumstances, and you may not have the freedom to complete your dream at this moment. But don’t let that be an excuse. Instead, use it as a prompt to push and prepare yourself. If you don’t have the money you need right now, sit down and build some extra savings into your budget. Be willing to sacrifice your daily coffee or that new handbag, if that’s what it takes. If you need to fix your credit, put a plan together to do that, and start working on it today. If you don’t, you’ll find yourself in exactly the same financial situation tomorrow, next year, and ten years from now. In other words, if money is a problem – start fixing it, but don’t let it be an excuse! And in the meantime, find something that you can do to pursue your dream that doesn’t require a financial investment. Work on that. But for heaven’s sake, do SOMETHING!
3. “I’m not inspired.” There is no greater nonsense in this world than the idea that creativity can only come as a result of inspiration. In fact, I have found that one of the best ways to stretch your creative muscle is to use it in the service of productivity. I think it was Plato who said “Necessity is the mother of invention,” and he was right! I have another friend (two friends? Really? I know … don’t be jealous!) who is an incredible artist. She works full time as an art teacher, she has three kids, and her schedule is crazy busy. But one day someone asked her if she’d be interested in showing her art at a hip new gallery in Brooklyn, and she instantly said yes, even though she had NOTHING to show. She spent the next few weeks trying to come up with a theme for her work – only to find herself completely devoid of inspiration. But eventually she ran out of time – she HAD to start, or she wouldn’t be ready in time. But as soon as she committed to putting paint on canvas every day, the ideas suddenly began to flow. Her need to produce inspired her creativity. So if you’re lacking inspiration, start getting productive. Even if you start off producing garbage, it will eventually lead you to the inspiration you’re looking for.
4. “I’ve already tried and failed.” This is one of those “reasons” that seem so legitimate, because it’s grounded in a painful truth. Maybe you have tried and failed, and I know that it sucks. But the best thing you can do in the face of failure is to learn from your mistakes, get up, and try again. There’s a simple secret to overcoming failure – all you have to do is refuse to give up. As long as you’re still trying, as long as you’re willing to brush yourself off and take another shot, your failure doesn’t have to be permanent. It can be a stepping stone on your personal climb towards success. The only thing you have to do is keep moving forward. The world is full of success stories that start with struggles, false starts, and failures. So if you’ve tried and failed, don’t let that be the end of your tale. Be willing to get back out there, to try again, and don’t give up until you find your success!
5. “I don’t know how.” Here’s another one of those “big secrets” that I feel compelled to share with you – you’re not alone. Everyone who has ever tried to accomplish anything worthwhile had to start somewhere. When they started, they had no experience, no expertise, and maybe no idea what to do next. Ignorance is not a reason to give up, it’s an opportunity to learn. If you know nothing about the field you want to enter or the career you want to start, begin by doing your research. There are so many resources available on line for people who want to learn. Take advantage of them! When I started writing my first book I didn’t have the slightest clue how an author got published. So for the first year I spent almost as much time reading and educating myself about the publishing industry as I did writing that book. It was a huge learning curve, but it wasn’t impossible. All it took was time and dedication, and eventually I found myself with the knowledge to make educated and informed decisions about my publishing options. You can do the same thing – and you can start right now!
6. “I don’t have the right connections.” I understand how important connections can be – knowing the right people has a wonderful way of opening doors that you might struggle to open by yourself. Having good connections with mentors, teachers, industry insiders, and potential peers is certainly an advantage. But it’s silly to use your lack of connections as a reason to give up! First of all, if you’re that serious about connecting with other people, you can do it right now. We live in an age of digital community that makes it possible to listen to, learn from, and actually befriend all sorts of people whom you might never otherwise meet. Go ahead and start using your social media for it’s intended purpose – not to sell or self promote, but to socialize! Reach out and get to know people. But keep in mind that before you meet your ideal mentor or your new industry-leading bff, you should already be putting in the work to hone your skills and move towards your dream. No connections, no inside track is going to replace hard work and dedication in your ultimate climb to success!
7. “It’s too late.” Listen, unless your dream is to become a prima-ballerina or a professional athlete, I just don’t believe you. It’s not too late to go back to school, to start your business, to switch careers, or to write your book … no matter what you think. It’s not too late to get serious about your art or to hone your craft. It’s not too late to do anything, not if it’s important to you! I don’t care if you’ve damaged your chances, made bad decisions, put yourself in debt, or waited “too long.” You can still make a fresh start towards your dream today. All you have to do is decide to do it! So stop letting the time that’s already passed by stop you from using the time you have now. Don’t let your yesterday define your idea of what is possible tomorrow!
8. “This isn’t a good time” UGH. Ok, honesty moment – I hate when people talk to me about how they’re putting their dreams off until a “better” time. Who was it who gave us the idea that we would reach an ideal moment in which all distractions would disappear and our dreams would suddenly fit perfectly into the schedule of our lives? Who is it that convinced us that tomorrow will be so much better suited to our plans than today? How are we still falling for this nonsense? There is no ideal time, no perfect moment in your life for starting something new and important. The more time you spend waiting for that elusive tomorrow, the more time you’ll waste doing nothing at all. Let today be the day that you take your first step, even if it seems like the worst time to be starting anything. Don’t wait until tomorrow – trust me, it never comes.
9. “I can’t.” Stop it. Just stop. Do you know what I want to say to people who tell me they can’t do something? I want to say “Of course you can’t. You’re so convinced that it’s impossible that you won’t even lift a finger to try. How can you ever expect to succeed if you’ve already decided that you’re doomed to fail?” Seriously though, this phrase, and the mentality it promotes, is the easiest way to ensure that you’ll never get anywhere or do anything. Don’t fall for it any longer. Stop saying “Can’t.” It’s a dirty word for every productive, successful, achievement-oriented person out there. And the sooner you take it out of your vocabulary altogether, the better!
So there we have it – my list of the 9 worst excuses you can use to put off the dreams you want to realize. What do you think? Do any of these sound familiar? Did I miss a few? Leave a comment below and let me know.