Today I’m going to share with you the one thing you must stop doing immediately if you really want to create a life you love.
But first, a story. I like stories.
I recently started helping out as a befriender for Age UK.
Essentially, that means I spend a couple of hours each week visiting an elderly person in my local community: Someone who needs a little extra human contact.
I’d like to say my motives are purely altruistic but in reality, I think it’s me who gets the most out of these visits. After all, I could also do with a little extra human contact. But that’s a story for another time.
Today I want to share a little with you about the person I’ve been visiting. Let’s call him Arthur. He lives with his wife. Let’s call her Grace.
Next year, Arthur and Grace will be celebrating their Diamond wedding anniversary. In case you didn’t know, that’s 60 years of marriage. It occurred to me that even if I were to meet the love of my life today and marry him right there and then, we would be unlikely to ever celebrate 60 years together. So to me, this is quite something.
60 years of marriage is a huge achievement for any couple in my eyes, but for a couple like Arthur and Grace, I wonder how on earth they ever got to this point.
Early in their marriage, Grace became very ill and spent a long time in hospital. During that time, Arthur loyally took care of her. Even though they’d only recently moved into and laboriously done up their dream house, Arthur sold that house to buy a bungalow – something far more suited to their needs when Grace eventually came out of hospital.
As Grace recovered, Arthur became ill and wound up in a wheelchair, unable to walk or move his hands. At the same time, he began to lose his sight and eventually became blind.
Grace tells me that in those early days it was extremely, extremely tough (not surprising, right?) Arthur would say there was no point in anything: that he couldn’t do anything and that he didn’t even want to bother trying.
But just as Arthur had taken care of her whilst she had been ill, Grace would not give up on Arthur. Together they trudged through this arduous journey together.
She made small hand weights out of material and flour so that Arthur could begin to work his hand and arm muscles. They bought a Rubik’s Cube to train his finger muscles to work, and they ordered all the things around Arthur in such a way that he knew exactly where things were.
One particularly difficult day, when Arthur was ready to give up, he shouted at Grace,
“There’s nothing I can do. I can’t do anything!”
And she screamed back at him,
“You can! There is something you can do. You can…pick up the phone!!”
And she urged people to call him and stay on the line. People who hadn’t wanted to call because they didn’t know what to say to a man who could no longer walk or see. She told them to talk to him about the weather or anything at all. It didn’t matter. And when they would call she would refuse to pick up the phone and insist he take it.
In this way, sometimes through screaming matches and arguments, at others through gentle understanding, they restructured and rebuilt their life together.
When I sit and listen to their stories, it is absolutely unbelievable to me that two people could have made a relationship work through all of this. And not just make it work either, but to still have such love and commitment to each other after all this time.
At the time I first started visiting Arthur, he had just finished writing his first novel. One hundred and ninety pages of imagination, written over the course of two years on an assisted computer he was able to access twice a week whilst at day centre.
Sometimes, with my fully functioning eyes and fingers and access to my laptop 24/7, I can barely finish a blog post. It’s too hard, I tell myself. I don’t feel like it today, I say. I don’t have enough time.
When I look at what Arthur has achieved I feel like whacking myself over the head with a big stick. Just do the work. And here's the thing...
If you want to create a life you love you must stop making excuses. Click to tweet.
Because whilst you’re busy firing off the reasons you can’t create the life you really want, a blind man in a wheelchair is writing a novel. Click to tweet.
The lame excuses we make
I’m not preaching to you from the mountaintops here. I’m not bringing this to you from a place of perfection. I’ve made every single one of these excuses myself in the past and they still sneak their way in from time to time (okay, a lot of the time). Then I know it’s time to visit Arthur.
If you stop making these excuses and start working towards what you want instead, you may just find that you end up with a life you love sooner than you imagined.
1. I don’t know how to...(fill in the blank)
“I don’t know how to” is the biggest and best excuse of all. This used to be my personal favourite.
“I don’t know how to figure out what I want to do with my life.”
“I don’t know how to make money doing what I love.”
“I don’t know how to get more clients.”
That was until I heard a coach I really admire saying that when he’s on the phone with a client and they’re saying to him,
“Oh, but I just don’t know how to do X, Y, Z” he’s typing their question into Google right there and then and then says to his client,
“Would you like me to tell you how to do that?”
And the client says,
And he reads off what Google tells him and his client thinks he’s the best coach in the world.
You see, the Google and the YouTube know everything.
And now I can’t say, “I don’t know how” without catching myself and realising what a poor and lame excuse that is.
Steve Chandler writes in his book, Shift Your Mind:
“In all my years of coaching people, when they have told me, “I don’t know how to,” what’s really true is: I don’t want to yet.”
When the desire is strong enough, you figure out the how. Click to tweet.
2. I don’t have enough time
Here’s the thing. Most of us have a lot to do and we all have the same 24 hours every day to do it in. Some situations are certainly more challenging than others but you can either a) use it as an excuse and continue to move precisely nowhere or b) see where in your life you can carve out some time to move forward with your goals.
Don’t underestimate what you can get done in even ten minutes. Ten minutes every day over a period of time can lead you to some big results. Telling yourself stories like, “well, there’s no point starting unless I have at least a two-hour chunk of time” will lead exactly nowhere.
3. I’ve got young children to take care of
I’m not a mother and for a long time when people used to whip this one out, I’d be floored. What right did I have to tell them that this was just another excuse? After all, how could I possibly understand what it means to have small people depending on me?
That was until I enrolled in Marie Forleo’s B-School programme. Man alive, that programme is full to the brim with women with babies and responsibilities that I hope I’ll never have. And they are all building (or have already built) a business whilst changing nappies, dropping kids off at nursery and doing a multitude of other things. They achieve more in a day than I do in a week.
Yes, you’ve got a family to support. I get that’s probably a bit of a handful. But you get to choose whether or not it will be the excuse you use not to begin creating the life you want for yourself.
4. I don’t have enough money
Of course you don’t have enough money! This is another of my personal favourites.
Funny though, isn’t it, how there’s always enough for that ridiculously over-priced take out coffee, the pint at the pub, or that dinner out with friends.
Or maybe you really don’t have enough money. That can happen too. But then it becomes a question of what can you start doing to create the money you need to do the things you need/want to do?
On not having enough money, I recommend this video recording of Byron Katie.
5. It’s not the right time
When will the time be right, I wonder?
When Jupiter aligns with Mars and the sun is at its zenith and your angel guide has indicated through various signs and signals that the time to act is at precisely 3pm on Thursday of the next leap year?
Ok, I’m being dramatic and perhaps just a little sarcastic (it’s a British thing, don’t hate me). Whilst there’s clearly value in timing, waiting for the ‘right time’ can easily turn into an excuse for never starting or doing the thing you know you need to do.
When you really ask yourself the question, you know when it’s genuinely not the right time for something (perfectly acceptable), or whether you’re just using that as a way to avoid the risk and stay comfortable.
Are you currently using, “it’s not the right time” as an excuse for not doing something?
6. I don’t know enough yet
Believe me when I say that knowing less before you start something can be a major blessing. Let me explain with an example.
When I first started blogging, I really knew diddly squat. In fact, before I started blogging, I’d never even read a blog. Sure, I had to learn the basics so that I could actually build the damn thing and understand how to publish a post on my website but beyond that, I was clueless.
Fast-forward to today and I know a hell of a lot more. And in many ways, this knowledge is a curse.
I know, for example, that there are certain ways to craft a headline to draw people in, so I spend ages agonising over which headline to use.
And, as my knowledge and personal thoughts on everything I write about develop, the standards I set myself for my writing just keep getting higher and higher. That's a great thing, of course, but it also means that I'm never truly happy with anything I write because I know there's always more research I could do or some deeper message I could draw out.
The thing you've got to remember is that the learning never stops. As Albert Einstein said,
“The more I learn, the more I realise how much I don't know.”
Instead of thinking of 'knowing enough' as a place to get to, try to think of it more as a mindset you can cultivate. Let "I know enough" become your mantra.
Over to you
Blog posts without comments are like jam without bread and butter – totally pointless. I really do rely on you to bring some colour and conversation to my terribly mundane articles, so please add your voice below and share:
- Any other excuses in addition to the ones in this article that you’ve used in the past.
- Your personal favourite excuse of choice.
- A story from your life where you've stopped making an excuse to move closer to the life you want.