Have you ever experienced a fleeting moment when your true desire for greatness took up residence in your heart and radiated within you, only to be extinguished in seconds by all of your excuses? It looks a little bit like this:
“This is my year! I’m going to run a marathon!”
“No, maybe just a 5k…I would never make it 26.2 miles.”
“Wouldn’t it be amazing to open that boutique I’ve always wanted to own?!”
“But that’s too risky and we don’t have the money to invest.”
“I am finally going to write that book that’s just waiting to come out of me!”
“Well, maybe I’ll wait until the kids are older – they really need me now.”
Sure, they sound like perfectly legitimate reasons for putting our lives on hold. And sometimes God does call on us to serve others and to be good stewards of our resources. But surely he doesn’t call on us to sit backstage forever and watch others step in the spotlight to achieve their goals and dreams while we dampen our own lights.
How to Tell the Difference Between Excuses and Legitimate Reasons
Trust me when I tell you that I know all about excuses. I’m a rock star when it comes to explaining, justifying and defending my choices to stay stuck in my own overwhelmed mess of a life. Whenever I have one of those enlightening moments, in which I can see clearly where God is calling me to go, I am filled with energy and passion! I am ready to take that leap of faith and I know for certain that He is going to be there for me. That euphoric feeling lasts about 24 hours at most. Then the excuses creep in. Here are some of my favorites:
“I’m too busy.”
“My family needs me.”
“I don’t have the money.”
“I need to get a degree or certificate first.”
“My friends and family wouldn’t approve.”
“I’m not ready yet.”
“That’s not the responsible thing to do.”
“It will never work.”
“Now is just not a good time.”
What to do When Your Excuses Are Calling the Shots
If these excuses sound even vaguely familiar, I want to encourage you to keep reading. Because I don’t profess to be “cured,” but I do know how to recognize – and overcome – the excuses that have held me back in my business. Here are the steps I take when my favorite excuses start to occupy space in my heart and attempt to prevent me from shining my light on others.
Five Tips for Extinguishing Your Own Excuses:
1. Dig a little deeper. Ask yourself why the excuse is true for you. Why are you not ready? Why don’t you have time? Why wouldn’t it work? Sometimes when we dig beneath the surface of our resistance, we uncover the source of the problem, which has nothing to do with our original understanding. This happened for me when I told myself I couldn’t let someone else handle the family finances. My excuse was that “nobody else will do it the right way.” What I later discovered to be my real issue was, “I don’t want to let go of control.” (By the way, if you don’t have any control issues, you can stop reading now, because I probably can’t help you!)
2. Turn it around. Choose to believe the opposite is true. Tell yourself that you do have the money and that now is the perfect time. Say it aloud as many times as you need to until you believe it. Write it down and keep it someplace where you can see it every day. If you tell your child she’s great at math, will it make her earn straight A’s? Maybe not…but as a mother, you know it will make her more likely to give it her best and to feel good about herself in the process. You can give yourself that same boost by choosing to believe in your own success.
3. Create a daily habit. Excuses are like head lice — by the time you can see them, they’ve taken root in your soul and require painstaking attention to eliminate. And they’re quietly infectious, which makes it easy for us to be surrounded by others who feed on our excuses. So we have to be diligent each day in taking action to combat our excuses. What’s ONE thing that you can do to extinguish your own excuse each and every day? If you tell yourself “It will never work,” then perhaps you need to spend ten minutes a day reading inspirational stories and words of wisdom from others who “made it work.” If you think you’re too busy, then maybe you can commit to 30 minutes a day at first. Surely you can create 30 minutes a day to your life purpose!
4. Tell someone. Not just anyone. Share your fears with someone who won’t accept them as truth. Someone who believes in you and sees you in the place you want to be. It’s easy to confide in a “Yes Man” – someone who will agree with you and tell you that you’re doing the right thing by putting your hopes and dreams on the back burner because it’s safe or smart or caring. It’s easy to find validation for our excuses. But what you really need is to be challenged. You need to share your excuses with someone who doesn’t accept them. Who will force you to confront them with gentle but firm compassion. So find someone who can hold you to a higher standard and ask her to do that for you.
5. Pray on it. Don’t assume that your excuses are coming from God just because they are rooted in noble intention. If you’re putting off your business because your family needs your attention, it’s natural to think that God is calling you to be a mother and a wife. And maybe he is. But maybe he has other plans for you – plans that allow you to expand your capacity to serve hundreds (or millions!) of people with the gifts he has bestowed on you. How do you know he isn’t calling you to do more? Or to do less? Ask. Listen. Trust.
What’s your excuse? Have you been putting your business or your dreams on hold for a seemingly logical reason? Can you tell the difference between excuses and reasons in your own life? Share your story with me here!