Stop Using These Excuses When It Comes to Personal Development

3 min read

“Ninety-nine percent of the failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses.” ―George Washington Carver

It’s nearly New Year’s resolution season, a time of brazen hope and familiar disappointment. You’ve been here before – just as you commit to improvement, you somehow come up with a myriad of flimsy excuses not to.

Fear hijacks our motivation and makes us say things to ourselves that you don’t believe. Maybe it’s because you’re scared of rejection, failure, or being scrutinized by others.
Stop torturing yourself. The path to success does not involve insults, excuses, or diminished self-worth.

Disrupt the status quo. Stop limping around using these excuses as shaky crutches.

“I’m just not good enough.”

Let’s rummage through the archives of any successful person’s early projects. A best-selling author’s draft of their first novel. A champion coder’s attempt at developing an app. An engineer’s initial plan set for construction. An entrepreneur’s original crack at formulating a business plan.

I’ll bet those people will admit their early attempts were not their best work. But they didn’t give up, even if their starts were a bit off-kilter or embarrassing. They stuck with their craft, learned from their errors, and hustled until they improved.

Don’t discredit your journey. Coming from humble beginnings and developing competency is admirable. Whether you’ve been at something for decades or just beginning…if you’re giving your best effort and trying to get better, then you are good enough.

Stop comparing yourself to competitors and speculating about how you rate. Focus on honing your craft. Only then will you realize growth from your early work to an evolved skill level.

“There’s not enough time for me to take on something new.”

Bullshit. There’s always time to improve yourself.

We all receive the same 24 hours in a day. We must decide how to make them count. Spending your evening binge-watching reality TV shows or scrolling through social media doesn’t leave much time to enact change in your life.

Take some of the time you squander on those empty actions and channel it towards the transformation you want. Show up to the gym. Read a book. Practice the piano. Make some extra cold calls to prospective clients.

Piano, Keys, Hands, Musical Instrument

I’m not advocating abolishing all downtime. It’s vital to recharge your batteries. But if it’s a selection between the growth you desire or vegging out, recognize you control that decision. Choose wisely.

Etch out blocks of time each day and dedicate it to your metamorphosis. Whether it’s two hours or twenty minutes, focus on that change and give it ample attention.

“I don’t know how to make this change in my life.”

The confusion of not knowing how to start something new is a nuisance that can pickpocket your motivation. But you can’t allow this to prevent you from trying. We live in an amazing time where there’s a remarkable amount of data and guidance available – much of it for free.

Want to become a better leader? Find a TED talk that can push you in the right direction.
Need to repair something in your house? Countless videos on YouTube will coach you through home improvement projects.

Trying to clean up your diet? A Google search will yield plenty of recipes and meal planning resources.

Not knowing what to do is an obstruction, but you shouldn’t use it as an excuse for not trying.

Somebody has already done what you are attempting, or something similar. If an internet search or self-help book doesn’t nudge you off the starting blocks, find a mentor, tutor, or teacher who can. Don’t let the unknown keep you from implementing the improvement you want to make.

“I can’t call myself a _______ because…”

I’ve been guilty of saying this excuse to myself, especially concerning my writing. I had poetry and short stories published in more than 200 literary journals and websites, contributed articles to several periodicals, and yet I still felt like I wasn’t really a writer. Because I didn’t have a book published, I felt like I was an impostor.

Every time I undermined my credibility like this, I would feel the tension in my gut. I didn’t want to think I was faking it until I was making it. Even though I was on the road to success, I was still traveling forward with positive momentum.

Believing that I wasn’t truly a writer (yet) had me secretly discrediting my achievements – the contest wins, workshops, publication credits, and experience. I was my loudest, most obnoxious naysayer, and this toxicity was poisoning my mind.

Much of this changed earlier this year when my first book was published. I’m extremely grateful for that opportunity. But I can admit now that I’m on the other side that I’m no more of a writer now just because I have a book out now.

Looking back, wallowing in imposter syndrome was foolish. I would have evolved quicker had I focused on legitimizing myself from day one instead of tearing myself down. I wasted so much energy hating on myself. That energy could have used to cultivate enthusiasm instead of stunting my growth.

Maybe you’re just starting to train for your first race. It’s okay to think of yourself as a runner. Or maybe you are beginning to manage a few tasks at your office instead of beginner grunt work. Don’t sell yourself short – you are now a leader.

Stop limiting yourself. If you have a developing passion for what you want to become, then you are becoming it. Thinking you’re an imposter does yourself a huge disservice.

Become the change you want to see.

All the excuses listed (and many more that weren’t) aren’t doing you any favors. They aren’t helping you achieve goals or foster personal development. Instead ask, “What am I willing to give up to change?”
To be the best you can be, let go of the old toxic mindset to embrace a positive, can-do mentality. Let go of the excuses.

Adrian Potter Adrian S. Potter is an author, engineer, consultant, and public speaker. He writes poetry, short fiction, essays, and articles on a variety of subjects including creativity and personal growth. He is the author of the poetry collection Everything Wrong Feels Right. Adrian’s words have appeared in Roads & Bridges Magazine, LILIPOH, North American Review, and Kansas City Voices.

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