Excuses or Options? You Decide

When my seatmate on a plane says, “And what do you do?” I’m apt to answer, “I run an excuse-removal service.” I’m not just being flippant, however. Almost everything I do is designed to help others get free of the excuses that are keeping them stuck.

Stacy is a woman with a lively past. She’s created small businesses, lived in several countries, and invented a wildly successful product.

Once, when we were having lunch in a funky diner, Stacy was oddly defensive. With no prompting from me, she began listing all the reasons why she wasn’t creating anything or making progress. I listened quietly and when she finished her story, I said, “Your excuses aren’t even very original.”

She’s not alone in that, of course. I’ve heard most of them and they all sound pretty much alike. I’m too young…too old…too busy…have no experience…not up on the latest technologies…have no capital. They become a brick wall standing between you and the life of your dreams.

If you want to amaze and dazzle yourself, give up, once and for all, anything that sounds like an excuse.

But that’s just the starting point. You need to replace those excuses with action. In the part of your brain where you’ve stored reasons and excuses, start building an “Option Bank.”

An “Option Bank,” just like the place where you store money, is a repository of good ideas, dreams, and goals. Like an ordinary bank, the more you put in, the more you can draw out.

It’s simple to get started.

On a blank sheet of paper, draw a line down the center. At the top of the page, write a goal that you have. Over the left hand column write “Excuses” and over the right hand column write “Options”. Think of your excuses as debits and your options as deposits. Now write your lists. If you can’t simply ignore your excuses, ask yourself what direct alternative can you take to eliminate or change them?

Five years ago, Marilyn decided to leave her soul-squashing job and start a business that would share her love of animals. Today, she’s still dragging herself to that same job and her entrepreneurial enthusiasm is weak from neglect.

When questioned about her business plans, she replies, “Oh, I decided in this economy it was better to hang on to what I had. Besides I hate to give up my benefits and I really need the money from my job so I can remodel my family room.”

What Marilyn—and so many others— demonstrate is that whenever we ignore our dreams we rationalize it by creating a villain. It’s never our fault, for goodness sake. Someone or something outside us is standing in our way. Most often the villain comes disguised as an excuse.

You see, it all comes down to this. You can have your dreams. Or you can have your excuses. You can’t have both.

We’re about to start into a new year. What do you want out of it…dreams coming true or a whole bunch of excuses? You decide. And if you want to realize those dreams of yours, then you can start right now…

Happy New Year.

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