Recently my older sister made the move from Florida back up to Massachusetts in attempt to regain focus in her life. She previously found herself dragged down working long days at one job and working additional hours at another. With the obligation of two jobs and a lifestyle gone stagnant she felt she didn’t have the time nor energy to focus on doing what she loves: creating art.
When she first told me of her plans to move I was on board with her because I knew she had found comfort in her daily schedule which constantly caused her stress and left her drained. Such a change in her life granted the opportunity to make art a priority rather than a task, but I knew that wouldn’t happen without a push because naturally, like most people, she would make excuses for herself. Once she made it to Massachusetts I gave her a call and told her that I wanted to help her get on track to creating art regularly and building the lifestyle she wants for herself. My plan was to send her written advice as well as questions and exercises, and she was both willing and eager to hear what I had to say. Below you can read the very first paragraph that I had sent her.
As you’re settling in and begin the search for a new job it’s important to utilize your down time and figure out where you’re wanting to go. You now have the opportunity to set the stage and build yourself a foundation for the life you want to live. I want you to acknowledge right now, there are no excuses. Where you are right now is because of a series of choices, and where you want to go is another series of choices. Now it’s time to figure where your passion may bring you and how to get there. Before I begin you should know that I’m going to be very honest in what I have to say, but it’s all with the intention to help you grow. I want to be truly honest with you so that you can unlock your full potential. You should also know that I believe in you, very much so, and I really want to see you pursue your passions and I want to help you do so.
In the third sentence the first point I make is that there are no excuses. I constantly reiterate this point to her, myself, and to others because knowing that there are no excuses is necessary to fulfilling your goals and aspirations. Excuses are additional weight we put on ourselves which only drag us down. When you’re able to recognize immediately that there are no excuses you will create the potential to do anything.
The problem lies in the fact that making excuses, like complaining, has become second-nature. We’re inclined to conjure excuses for ourselves because it’s the easy way out; there’s no effort required. Although there is no effort and it’s certainly easy it also doesn’t yield any results. Just as we make an exception for ourselves we’ve created the illusion that we’re better off not even trying.
Excuses are the inhibitor of experience.
Honesty is how you’re able to suppress the need to create excuses; being honest towards someone else puts them in a position to be honest with themselves. Not long after I first wrote to her she replied immediately with an excuse for herself, but in such a way that it was passive. It’s difficult for us to recognize our own excuses because we’ve learned to present them in such a way that they don’t obviously look as though they’re excuses. We have learned to frame an excuse to appear as a reason, but it’s necessary to recognize these excuses in order to overcome them. She had told me that she doesn’t have a room and is distracted by the people she was living with, but I had to remind her that there are no excuses. Nothing should hold you back from doing what you love. Since I’ve been pointing out her excuses she has opened up a lot more with me which has enabled her to grow and learn more about what she wants to do. Not only do you have to be honest with yourself, but you must be honest with those you surround yourself with and care about, and encourage them to be honest with you — you and your peers do not deserve to be held back by the excuses we unconsciously create for ourselves and the only way to overcome them is by actively working towards recognizing them.
Here are two thing’s I encourage you to do:
- Ask a friend to point out the excuses you make.
- Keep a notebook or a growing list in your phone to record every excuse you make. You’ll be surprised by your recordings.
Doing both of these will help you develop an awareness for the choices you make and you’ll begin to understand that everything you do is a choice and not a reason nor an excuse. If you’re able to recognize your choices and dismiss excuses only then will you prioritize your life and create the potential to do what you’re interested in.
Here are some common excuses, but remember there are no excuses.
“I don’t have time.”
You have the same time as everyone else, you’re just using it differently. If you aren’t spending enough time doing what you want to be doing then you need to sacrifice time from something else to open up time. It’s that simple. If you care about doing something, you must be willing to sacrifice for it.
“I don’t have the proper skills or I’m not good enough to bring my ideas to fruition.”
Your ideas can always be revisited. Just because you don’t think you’ll be able to do justice to your idea because your skill set isn’t where you’d like it to be doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it a shot. Remember, you’ll get better if you keep working and there will always be the opportunity to revisit old ideas. In fact, you should constantly revisit them — I do it all of the time.
“I need to further develop my idea.”
Although it’s good to properly develop your ideas you must make sure that you have a plan in place to do so. Simply stating that you need to further develop your ideas means nothing until you actually do so. You have to be honest with yourself, if you are not working on it right now then will you ever work on it?
I don’t know how to
(fill in the blank)
No one is born with an innate particular skill — we must learn. Today I hear this excuse constantly, but we live in a very fortunate time in which we can learn just about anything on the internet. We have an abundant amount of information and resources to teach us to do anything we want. When searching “how to draw” google presents about 234 million results. I use drawing as an example because nearly any person who doesn’t draw fairly regularly will stake this claim.
Continuing on the note about drawing I’ll leave you with a quote:
“Drawing is not really very difficult. Seeing is the problem.” — Betty Edwards, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain