“I would never be able to do that.”
“I don’t have what it takes to get there.”
These are some of the excuses I hear from people who tell me they aren’t able to do things others are doing. For some reason, they see an insurmountable barrier between themselves and these people.
But one important question to ask is this: “why couldn’t it be you?”
It’s a legitimate question. Is there a good reason why you can’t do what some other people are doing or are you just making excuses?
Seeing Other People vs You
Years ago, when I took my first trip to Southeast Asia, I invited a friend to come along. He said he wanted to come, but just wasn’t able to get away from home for that long.
That’s fair. After all, sometimes there are good reasons why you can’t take time off to go somewhere.
What didn’t make sense was after I had returned. As I was showing some of my photos and relating my stories, he expressed a deep interest in seeing those places. When I asked him what was stopping him he just flatly said, “I don’t think I could do it.”
The more I pressed into why he couldn’t do it, the more he resisted. So I didn’t push it too much.
What was strange was how he discounted all my reasons why he could go.
I told him that travel there was inexpensive. Transportation and lodging was much cheaper than in the U.S. In one instance, I found a decent, clean hostel in Vietnam for only $3 a night.
He didn’t believe me.
I told him that places are easy to get around. It’s hard to get lost as long as you stay on the beaten path. Many people speak English so finding your way around is pretty easy.
He told me he still thought language would be hard to manage for him.
No matter what I said, he found a reason to discount his abilities to travel there.
It’s Not Something You Can’t Do
I’ve found that this resistance and ability to find excuses doesn’t end with traveling. Many people will give just as many reasons why they can’t do other things.
People will find reasons why they can’t write a book. They’ll find reasons why they can’t go to the gym on a regular basis or learn a new skill. I’ve met some guys who see girls they want to talk to in bars and give many reasons why they can’t go up to them and start a conversation.
Once again, “why can’t it be you?”
The first thing you need to understand is that those reasons you’re giving really aren’t reasons – they’re excuses.
Admitting that it really can be you is important. As soon as you admit you can do something, it changes. You don’t look for reasons why you can’t do it and find reasons why you can do it.
When you’ve answered the question by admitting that there really is no reason why it can’t be you, you’re ready to move on to the next question: what’s keeping you from doing it?
Once you’ve removed all your excuses, you’re left with real obstacles to overcome. These are what you need to focus on to achieve your goals.
For instance, my friend who couldn’t travel to Asia told me he couldn’t go because he was afraid people didn’t speak English or he would get lost. Those were excuses.
Once he got rid of those, he could focus on what really was hurting his ability to travel: money. This was a real legitimate obstacle for why he couldn’t go.
From there he could implement a plan to cut his costs or earn extra money. He could set a rule to set aside a certain percent of his income until he reached a target amount of money in the bank.
It’s a much better way to overcome real obstacles and achieve what you want to do instead of brushing ideas aside in a series of excuses.
The same goes for a whole long list of achievable goals:
Instead of giving an excuse of not having enough talent to write a book, you can focus on the real obstacles such as finding enough time to write one or improving your writing skills.
You might give excuses for not talking to that hot person in the bar such as the timing isn’t right or you don’t want to be a bother. But once you get rid of them, you can focus on your real problems such as a lack of self-confidence.
Once you stop telling yourself what you’re not capable of doing, you open up a new world full of things you can do. Of course, that might mean confronting hard, real-world obstacles to overcome. But I’d rather live my life telling myself what I can do instead of excusing everything away.
photo credit: BigGolf