Why Couldn’t it be You?



“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

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  1. Steve – I love this. ‘Why can’t it be me?’

    Often we look at successful people and think they either have some magical abilities we do not, or have had a ridiculous amount of luck. Often this is hardly ever the case!

    Re-framing a question in your mind really helps empowerment. Asking ‘how can I?’ rather than ‘Why can’t I’ is a great start !

    – Razwana

    • Yeah, re-framing your mind can be powerful. Instead of asking questions that limit you, it’s much better to ask questions that empower you. It’s a simple change, but can lead you to much bigger and better things as a result.

  2. This is so true. The only thing holding us back from living the lives we want is our excuses. Those damn things just spread like wildfire. And the more we really want to do something, the more excuses we seem to find for why we can’t.

    It’s all crap though.

    We are perfectly capable of doing what we want. Like you point out, our excuses are just the surface manifestation of a deeper issue. They help point the way to what’s really holding us back. If you truly want something, you’ll figure out a way.

    So to answer your question: Why couldn’t it be you? Because you don’t want it bad enough.


    • I like that answer. You have to want it bad enough.

      It’s true that excuses can just mask deeper issues. Those are the things that are really holding us back and need to be faced. It’s easier to just brush off an idea with excuses though instead of confronting real obstacles.

  3. I like Razwana’s point – “How can I?” has the potential for action; “Why can’t I?” doesn’t really offer that. The only thing stopping any of us from achieving what we want is our own frame of mind. It all comes down to deciding what you want, how much you want it, and whether you will take steps to achieve that.

    • It is a good point. In one way, how we frame things is a big obstacle to overcome. It’s so much better to get past those excuses though. You need to in order to take the first steps to what you want to achieve.

  4. So true – all of it. Just have to want it bad enough and be honest with ourselves. Are we looking for obstacles? We’ll find them. Great post.

    • Being honest is important. That can mean being positive about what you can do. You might just be underestimating yourself and what you can do.

  5. Steve, I am a testimony that being open and entertaining ways things CAN be done has allowed me to do so much more in my life!!

    Also, there’s a video I listen to almost daily that asks us “How Bad Do We Want It”…very inspirational and motivating to get us off our butts and do what we say we want to do. :-)

    • That really would be an inspirational way to start the morning. The title of the video sounds like a great way to get you into the mindset of what you can do.

  6. This is so true. I feel like you were preaching to the choir.

    For me, I am a reformed, “I couldn’t do that” kind of person. One day I had an epiphany with Razwana’s “How can I do that?” response. My life changed that day.

    Now a days, I find myself more likely to say, “I wouldn’t want to do that.” When I catch myself thinking that a lot, I stop and make sure it isn’t simply a rephrasing the limiting belief. Most of the time it isn’t. But there are times when it is fear talking.

    It’s good to have a reminder that things we want, we really can get.

    • Jazzed that I am part of alife-changing experience, Tammy – woo !

    • I’ve found there are times when I let my fear talk to me. It’s strange how often that can happen. But you’re right. You have to ask yourself if you’re the one that doesn’t want to do it or if your limiting belief is the one doing the talking.

      That little change from “I couldn’t do that” to “how can I do that” can be a powerful one.

  7. Isn’t it amazing how we see others and think “they are the ONLY ones who will ever be able to do THAT?” I work through this with coaching clients all the time – they see others doing what they want to be doing and assume that they can’t. Usually the other folks started with the same resources they have now. Great post…

    • That’s the problem with making assumptions. They often aren’t challenged. When you do challenge them though, it’s funny how often they don’t turn out to be true.

      At least that’s what I’ve found. When you start thinking about how you can do something, you can start looking for a way to make it happen. And it’s surprising how often you can do it.

  8. You are so right about this. We are so full of excuses not to do something that takes an effort. But I always say: where there is a will, there is a way, isn’t that right?

    • You’re right. It takes effort to get places. Part of that is getting rid of your excuses. Where there’s a will, there is a way.

  9. Yup! We give ourselves excuses on the things that we fear.

    We think they are justified reasons but the reality is that these are just excuses. Excuses are limiting.

    You’ve correctly pointed out the question, “why can’t it be you?”

    I am glad to know that you’ve not held yourself back but have traveled to South East Asia. I come from Singapore, in the heart of South East Asia. English is widely spoken locally. It is impossible to get very lost here. Even in neighbouring countries, it is easy to get around.

    • Oh yeah, I went Singapore. You’re right that it’s hard to get lost there. Even if you don’t know where you are, you can always flag down a taxi and have them drive you where you want to go.

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