How many times have you made excuses to yourself or colleagues when facing something new or challenging?
Making excuses is easier than facing change, its safer than risking failure, and more comfortable than taking responsibility. But these safety mechanisms can mean missing out on opportunities for making progress. Yes you feel safer than tackling the fears or nervousness that circle round your comfort zone, but the self-protection strategy also limits your life experiences and prevents you reaching your potential. Saying “Yes” rather than “I can’t because…” will build your “can do” attitude, give you new confidence and move you forward.
Here’s some tips for spotting the limiting beliefs that are holding you back and suggestions for taking action to deal with them.
- It’ll be too difficult. Instead of making the choice to believe something is too difficult and so discourage you from accomplishing anything, start believing in yourself! If the whole task seems insurmountable, break it down into smaller and more manageable activities. I find a storyboarding technique to be helpful to break it down. Imagine your task as a film that has several scenes, and conjure up a vivid image of what the end scene [the successful activity] looks like. Break down completion of the overall task into the scenes that build up to it, starting from the present time. Which actors do you need for each scene, what props? For each of these scenes or steps, think about the obstacles that you might encounter and then plan strategies to tackle the issues. If it helps write this down. By concentrating on how you will achieve each milestone in a step by step way, you’ll increase your confidence, and before you know it you will have completed the whole task. You will also have developed strategies for tackling difficulties, so that the next apparently insurmountable challenge will seem more manageable.
- I’m too busy. You choose how you spend your time, whether this is a conscious decision, or whether you defer to the choices of others for your life. Think about what you spend your time doing. Where do your priorities lie? If this is difficult, think back to an occasion when you had a crisis to respond to which meant you had to drop your day-to-day activities to take an urgent action. What activities did you prioritise? If you were given advance notice that you only have a year to live, how would you spend your time? Is this an indication of what is truly important to you? So many of my friends have said to me “You are a long time dead”. I wonder how many people at the end of their lives will actually be saying to themselves “I should have spent more time at work”? What do you think they wish that they had spent more time doing – spending time with their family, on achieving a dream? The Pareto rule indicates that 80% of our outcomes derive from 20% of our actions. Making good choices on how you spend your time NOW, and choosing activities with the greatest leverage (even if you are more comfortable doing other things) will increase your productivity and free up your time.
- I can’t afford it This is another excuse about choices. If a reason for you not taking a course of action is lack of money, whether it’s a trip abroad, or starting a course of study for self-improvement, how is it that you can find the money for buying a new pair of shoes, or for having a designer coffee daily? You may have debts on your credit card, and unpaid bills, but you should not consider yourself as being short of money. As discussed in my blog about abundance and the law of attraction, your choice to consider yourself as being short of money will attract shortage of money. You need to develop a positive attitude towards money and envision yourself with ample to meet your needs. OK you made need to rationalise your spending if you want to pursue a course of action that needs funding, but it is imperative that you concentrate on fulfilling your desires, rather than your lack of funds. When you monitor your spending it is likely that you can prioritise your spending choices more positively, and truly believing you have enough will help you to prosper.
- I don’t deserve it Rooted in poor self-esteem, this is a common excuse to fall back upon. Feelings of being unworthy have often become deeply entrenched based on your responses to the comments and behaviours of others. You may be unaware that your lack of self-confidence displays a body language to others that results in them behaving towards you in a way that perpetuates your poor self-esteem. Failing to make their eye contact, speaking quietly will mean your are less likely to make an impact or have your views known. You need to learn to invest in yourself and put yourself first. have a look at my blog about personal branding. Build a brand that you truly deserve. Although this seems to be a selfish approach to life, it is important to recognise that the only person you can be truly responsible to is you. It doesn’t mean you become less caring, in fact as you demonstrate kindness and charity to others you will find your self-confidence will grow, you will be noticed and it will be almost impossible for you to dislike yourself.
These tips all flow from some common guidelines:
- You are what you think – think more positively and you will have more positive outcomes
- We can change ourselves by increasing our awareness and our thinking
- When you spot yourself making excuse – learn to name them – see which of the above types of excuses you are using, or maybe you have some other excuses of your own. As you become more aware of these negative thoughts you can train yourself to avoid them, and to look for more positive choices
- When you find yourself among negative people, don’t be infected by their negativity. Remind yourself that their negative thoughts may be true for them, but they are not true for you.