It’s no surprise to anyone that 2020 was a sh*t show.
I don’t live under a rock, I’m well aware of what’s going on in the world. There are some serious problems we need to fix and fast. It’s tempting to consider throwing in the towel and giving up on everything — our health, our friends, our dreams.
Personally — despite everything that’s been going on — I had one of the best years of my life. I did meaningful work, I payed down debt, I worked out, and I enjoyed my time as a stay-at-home dad.
Yes, it’s weird for someone who spent the entire year locked up in quarantine to say, but it’s true.
Last year I decided I would stop overthinking my excuses for not being the person I wanted to be and simply got to work.
If you are someone who typically throws excuses around that hijack your hopes, goals, and overall development as a human being, you need an antidote.
The simple solution is to ignore the excuses, but if you want to get specific, here are six common excuses and how to combat them.
The “I don’t have time” Excuse
We all have 24 hours in a day. (Actually, we have 23 hours and 56 minutes but that’s for another day.)
Saying “I don’t have time” means one of three things:
- You don’t prioritize tasks
- You’re holding onto too much leisure time
- You actually don’t have the time because you’re juggling three jobs as a single parent and caring for your sick mother so don’t listen to random strangers on the internet like myself who make you feel less because of it
Besides the third option, you do have time. If you want to be better you have to either start prioritizing what’s important in your life or — and this might hurt to hear — give up the video games, Netflix binging, or mindlessly scrolling through Instagram.
Don’t overthink it. Find the margins of your day, those 15 to 30-minute increments sprinkled throughout and fit in your most important tasks.
Take a larger goal, break it down into small chunks, prioritize those chunks, and then fit those chunks into the margins of your day. If you can do that you’ve got yourself a new superpower.
Don’t overthink it, you have the time. Use it.
The “It’ll probably fail” Excuse
True, whatever it is you want to do will probably fail. We live in an entropic universe, it wants to fail.
But that isn’t an excuse not to do what you want to do.
Author Neil Gaiman says it better:
“You learn more from finishing a failure than you do from writing a success.”
I’ll put it another way: Unless you’re building a three-story tall deck, “It’ll probably fail” isn’t an excuse to stop. (Seriously, hire a carpenter. Listen to your gut on this one.)
Do what you want to do even for the sake of learning something new.
Don’t overthink it, figure it out along the way.
The “What will people think” excuse
Maybe it’s because I recently turned 30 and have begun to shed the layers of insecurities I wore throughout my 20s, but life is good when you don’t care what other people think.
I care what some people think — like those close and dear to me — but that’s too be expected.
Not doing something because you are afraid of what invisible, anonymous, trolls will think of you is not an excuse.
Create your art. Launch your business. Write that book.
If you need to look at some cold numbers: there are over 7 billion people on this planet. Some might not like it, some might. Most people will think nothing because they are too busy living their lives.
Don’t let the chemical reactions in other human brains affect the chemical reactions in yours.
Don’t overthink it, do what you need to do.
The “I don’t have a plan” Excuse
I’m the type of person who likes to have the process all figured out before diving headfirst into something new. I once spent 6 months building a business that flopped and then another 12 months trying to salvage it.
Do you know why it flopped? It flopped because I spent those 6 months trying to perfect a business process without first understanding if people wanted to buy what I was selling.
The same happened to my fitness. I used to not work out because I couldn’t figure out how to fit the perfect workout routine into my schedule.
Then one day I dropped to the floor and did 10 push-ups. I didn’t overthink it. I just did it and for the past 15 months have stuck to working out 3–5 times a week.
This year I launched a new project around helping people build their 5-to-9 side hustles. I did it on a whim without a plan.
Don’t overthink it, trust yourself to adapt.
The “I’m not smart enough” Excuse
Whoever said you need to be smart?
IQ doesn’t equate to success. The smartest man in America with an IQ of 195 (for reference, Einstein had an IQ of 130) has amounted to nothing.
He’s never published anything, never made any important discoveries. I know I’m using this man as anecdotal evidence, but past a certain threshold of smartness, nothing really happens.
Whatever it is you want to do, saying I’m not smart enough isn’t an excuse to stop, it’s a reason to start.
Don’t overthink it, smarts aren’t that important.
The “I don’t know how to start” Excuse
This one’s probably true. If you’ve never done the thing you want to do, you don’t know how to start.
Luckily for you, this one is easy to fix: G-O-O-G-L-E
You might not how to start, but millions of other people do.
Don’t overthink it, just start learning.
Everything Can Be Improved Later
Circling back to Neil Gaiman. When speaking about the importance of starting a novel, Gaiman said:
“You can fix dialogue that isn’t quite there. You can fix the beginning of something. But you cannot fix nothingness, so you have to be brave. You have to just start.”
You cannot fix nothingness.
Whatever it is you want to do, no matter how imperfect it’ll turn out, no matter how much you don’t know, no matter how little time you have, no matter the probability of it failing, you have to start.
Because if you don’t start, there’s nothing to improve. There’s only nothingness.
And you can’t fix nothingness.
Don’t overthink it.