Showing posts with label excuses. Show all posts
Showing posts with label excuses. Show all posts

Thursday, April 25, 2013

What's Your Excuse?

Excuses are the worst. We all make them, even if they are just little ones. But excuses rob us of progress. The worst thing about making excuses is that sometimes, often times we’re not even aware that what we are saying really are excuses. They may seem like practical thought-out reasons something cannot be accomplished; they may seem like a logical progression derived from the facts at hand. They may just seem comfortable and reasonable. You’ve probably heard or said something similar: “I can’t afford it,” “I don’t have enough time,” “there isn’t anyone to help me,” “I don’t know enough about it,” “I don’t want to do it alone,” “It sounds too complicated,” “It’s all their fault,” “I’m not to blame.”

At the heart of them all they are just jabs of negativity robbing us of our goals, sabotaging our successes and fueling our discontent. The trouble is, we get so used to saying and hearing these sorts of things, they become second nature, comfortable, even reliable. Getting stuck in an excuse pattern is dangerous, because that cycle of negativity feeds on itself and before you know it, your entire way of thinking is adversely affected to the point where you can’t even see the positive thing you once dreamed of attaining.

I’ve made excuses; I’ve even believed them and convinced myself I was right. For years I thought I couldn’t learn to play the Saxophone, because I didn’t have time for lessons, there was no time in my day, I didn’t have an instrument. Notice the negativity there? Well, I slowly saved up enough money and bought a sax, then devoted just 10 minutes a day to practicing and within a few months I could do it. 

I also made excuses about writing. For a long time I kept telling myself I had no time. I kept procrastinating and putting it off. I’d tell myself that in some far off distance future ‘when I had the time’ I would write. I’d say things like “When I graduate I’ll start writing,” “When I go on vacation I’ll write,” “I’ll do it on the weekend.” I convinced myself that writing existed in some vague ethereal plan of ‘the future.’ Of course that was folly. I lied to myself to cover up the truth. And the truth was that I didn’t have any discipline to write ‘now.’ I still dreamed about it and sporadically put pen to paper, but had no consistency. I’ve recounted this next part of the story before but it bears repeating. I had a discussion with my brother, who said “Maybe you’re not really a writer. Maybe you should just give up on it, because you don’t seem to care about it enough to actually write.” You see that was like a punch in the face. Me; not a writer? Who the hell was he to say that? I’ll tell you. At that point he was the person who saw through the excuses.

That discussion changed my perspective and a year later, I have the first draft of a novel completed! Once we strip away the layers of excuses and the comfort they bring we are exposed to the truth. If you really want something, you CAN make it happen. You just have to believe in yourself and your abilities. I’m not saying everything is possible, but if you really try you can reach your goals. The positive state of mind can reinforce your resolve just as much as the negative state of mind can erode it. 

Choose the positive perspective. It can start as easily as changing the way you speak. Speak in positive terms like: “I can do x,” as opposed to “I can’t do x.” I’ve been reminded of this technique recently and I’m amazed at just how negative some of my thinking has been. Find help, ask a friend and really start critiquing how you think, speak, and perceive the world. Expose the excuses and clear the road for positivity.   

"Anything unattempted remains impossible"

Thanks for reading. Questions and Comments are welcome.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

It Always Comes Down to Focus

How Did This Happen?

A few months ago I found myself stuck in a malaise.  Every day was a repeat; not much happened except the same old same old.  In December of 2011, I finished my master’s degree, three years of classes, including three and a half semesters of thesis writing.  It was an incredible effort, but I finished.  Mentally and intellectually I need some time off, so that’s what I did.  Before I knew it, I got stuck in a rut and felt mired in the bland boringness of doing nothing.  For a while I wasn’t sure what to do.  I mean I knew that I wanted to start writing again and make some headway on my novel.  But the thing was, I wasn’t writing, not one word.  Well, my one saving grace was this blog.  Other than that, I had abandoned my passion.  And that needed to change. 

I also remember thinking that it was about time I started learning how to play my saxophone.  See, I played for a little while back in grade school.  I really liked it but had absolutely no discipline to practice. So about two years ago I bought one with the intention of taking lessons.  Sadly, no money ever materialized for said lessons and the sax sat in my closet unused.  Fast forward to March 2012.  Here I was with time on my hands, desire to challenge myself, but still I wasn’t doing anything.  How did that happen?  Simple, I got caught in a fallacy.  I had convinced myself I need outside influences and resources to achieve my goals and follow my mission… but I was wrong.

During a conversation with my brother it came to the point where he said to me, “Maybe you’re not really a writer.  I mean, you aren’t writing.”  And you know what?  I took offense to that, without knowing why.  And then it hit me, he was right.  Damn him but I wasn’t writing, I was making excuses.  And then he said it, the line that resonated through my brain.  If indeed I was a writer, “every day you don’t write, is a failure.”  Harsh?  Yes, but necessary.  It was then I decided that I WAS a writer and I WOULD write every day, or at least make the attempt.  I also decided that I was going to teach myself how to play the sax, I mean really, what was stopping me except me?

Having a Plan Helps 

My plan was simple:  Write 500 words a day and practice the sax for 10 minutes every day after work.  For one whole month I adamantly followed the routine, without fail.  I focused on my goals; I prioritized my time, and constantly reminded myself of the failure I did not want to cause.  Now I stay focused, and even though I don’t write or practice Every day (schedules and responsibilities do change) I am constantly reminding myself of the price of failure, and refocusing my efforts to maintain as much consistency as possible.  Do I fail?  Sadly yes, Do I continually fail by not refocusing on my passion?  Not a chance. 

Every day I don’t write is a failure.  Now reword it for yourself: “Every day I don’t ____ is a failure.”

Thanks for reading.  Your comments and questions are always welcome!

This wonderful picture came from sitebits. Check them out.  The sculpture is The Thinker, by Auguste Rodin.

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