What Is The Quality Of Your Excuses?
What aspect of your life don't you feel really great about? Is it to do with your job and the direction your career, a particular relationship, your body or fitness level, how you manage your finances, where you live? Or could it be the lack of balance you feel between your work and family? Whatever it is I'd like you to think about something specific that you would really like to change or improve in an aspect of your life - big or small.
Now ask yourself what you could do over the course of the next 12 months that would make a real difference to how you feel about this area of your life. Aaaahh? but what's that I hear you mumbling under your breath? "I don't have time? it doesn't seem worth it? this is the way it has always been? this is the way I have always been? what's the point ? I'm just too busy to focus on this right now?."
Then consider this for a moment - the quality of your life is determined by the quality of your excuses!
Now I'm not saying that you don't have some great reasons for why things are as they are. However, whilst you are prepared to put up with parts of your life not being the way you'd love them to be - without any firm and consistent actions toward improving them - you are selling yourself way short and missing the boat on all that you and your life could be.
As a Life Coach I hear a lot of excuses and see part of my role as an "Excuse Buster"? of sorts (I don't wear all that gear the Ghostbusters did!) . Often what lies at the core of our excuses and resistance to taking proactive actions is fear. Fear of failing, of being rejected, of looking foolish, of not having what it takes or of not being good enough. If you experience a lot of self doubt and fear about your ability to accomplish something that inspires you then consider the following.
Your fears are driven by a positive intention to protect you from pain. As humans, our fears have served the survival of our species - otherwise we'd have been eaten by lions long ago. However these days, our physical survival isn't the focus of our fear as much as our emotional well being. Our fears want to spare us from pain and discomfort ? the pain of rejection, the pain of failing, the pain of feeling foolish in front of our peers. The problem is though, that your fears want to protect you from pain AT ANY COST! Even the cost of living a half lived life where you settle for way less than you'd like simply because to grasp at more involves risk? risking failure, rejection and all those things that make you squirm.
If we don't own our own fears and self doubts they will own us. Instead of acknowledging them and how they may be trying to serve us we pretend we don't feel them. Instead we look beyond ourselves to our external circumstances and come up with plenty of excuses and reasons for why things aren't as we'd like them to be and for our inaction to make them otherwise. We then actively seek out evidence to support the validity of our excuses and avoid, ignore or discredit anything that might contradict them. Ultimately we end up feeling resigned, convincing ourselves that it's better to stay with the status quo, despite its many shortcomings, than to try to make things different. But what great accomplishments have ever been undertaken with a guarantee of success?
Your fears want to keep you in your comfort zone because in there, you aren't at risk and you have what feels like perfect control. In your comfort zone life is predictable. It may not be particularly exciting but at least it will be familiar! Perhaps there are things you'd like to do yet you find yourself shying from taking on new challenges simply because you aren't sure how to go about them. Because there is no money-back guarantee that you'll succeed. You get scared, you chicken out and you come up with some great excuses ? a lack of opportunity, the economy, your kids, the government, your boss, your spouse, lack of education, your parents (aaah, that one's always a favorite!).
The irony is that we are our own biggest roadblocks in life. Yes, the biggest obstacles you will ever encounter in living your life fully are your own internal obstacles, what you choose to think! Yep, your fears and limiting beliefs stop you way before any external circumstances you may (or may not!) encounter.
Fear hates change, even change for the better, because all change means moving beyond the familiar and predictable into something new. Your fear of change can also explain some of the patterns of destructive behavior that keep you repeating the same experience again and again (e.g. staying in destructive relationships). You repeat the behavior because its familiar and that's where you're comfortable. Is there another way? Of course. But first you need to acknowledge why you have chosen to behave as you have in the past; you need to identify the 'payoff' you've been getting (and there's always a payoff on some level!).
Courage is not absence of fear but action in spite of fear. If you want to live a life truly rich in all that fills your heart and expresses your own uniqueness, you must be prepared to take a step beyond the familiar and leave your old excuses at the door. Only when we extend ourselves beyond what we know we are good at, beyond what we are sure we'll be successful at, can we grow into all that we can be.
You have all the courage you need inside you to transform your life into whatever it is that you want. You just have to tap into it. Sure, none of us just feel like 'rocking the boat' in our own lives but sometimes it's just what we are called to do if we are going to live our lives fully; if we aren't to deprive ourselves and the world of all that we can be. Sometimes we need to swim against the current; step up to the high board and dive deep, and trust in our own ability more than we have before. In the big picture of your life you ultimately CANNOT LOSE from stepping up to live a bigger life than the one you live now.
Don't give your excuses the power to stop you from doing whatever it takes to transform your life into one you really love. Don't let them keep you from looking back on this year, and one day, your life, and feeling absolutely fabulous about what you made of it. Begin today moving toward being the best you can possibly be. Why today? Well, why not? If you don't, not only are you missing out on experiencing your true greatness but, so am I and so is everyone else. Settling for "just okay" is NOT okay with me. Is it for you?!
In the words of Samuel Johnston, nothing great would ever have been accomplished if all possible objections had first been overcome. You see, there will always be excuses, plenty of reasons "why not" to live a little bigger, take a bit more risk, but where will that get you? So I ask you?
If you had no fear of failing, what goal would you love to accomplish?
Excuse Busting Exercise
1. Get very clear on your goal by writing down what it is you'd like to change/accomplish.
2. Write down all the excuses you've used for not taking action on this before which may come up again.
3. Write down what those excuses have cost in terms of how you feel about yourself and your life.
4. Write down the payoff (there is always a pay-off!) you've got from allowing those excuses to keep you in inaction (e.g. you've avoided risking failure, you haven't had to take full responsibility for where you are, its been comfortable, familiar etc) and ask yourself if you're ready to let go of that pay-off.
5. Challenge the logic and reasoning behind each of your excuses; seek evidence that does not support their validity.
6. If one of your excuses is being "too busy" decide what you are going to cut back on, or do differently, to create the time you need to accomplish it (remember sometimes we have to say no to the good to make room for the great!).
7. Break down your goal into itty bitty steps and set some deadlines against the first few.
8. Commit to taking at least one action every day, beginning today, toward this goal.
9. Get support! Share your goal with someone (or lots of people!) and ask them to hold you accountable until you've reached it.
2005 © Margie Warrell. All rights reserved.
About the Author: Margie Warrell is an Executive & Life Coach, Speaker and Writer who specializes in empowering women to find the courage to pursue the goals that inspire them - personally and professionally - with more success, fulfillment and balance? less the stress! To subscribe to her free monthly ezine or for more information visit http://www.margiewarrell.com