Are Your Excuses Holding You Back?

Lazy DogIt is important to take some time and think about your priorities.On a daily basis, we make excuses or reasons for every action we take, from the food we eat to the work that gets done.

What are your reasons for not doing X,Y, and Z? Are you not doing something you should be doing? Are your reasons legitimate or getting in the way of your success?

  • Maybe you want to make more money; why aren’t you?
  • You want to learn a new skill; why aren’t you?
  • You think losing weight is difficult, why?

You have reasons (yes, many, many reasons) for not doing the things you would like to be doing (and the things you do not want to do as well). Now that the new year has begun, it’s time to look at those reasons and decide whether or not they are getting in the way of your dreams.

Excuse (definition provided by Wikipedia): An explanation designed to avoid or alleviate guilt or negative judgment.

There are multiple reasons for doing or not doing something, but is your excuse really legitimate? In most cases, your excuses or reasons are only based on fear or laziness, and the excuses need to be hacked down with a vengeance.

Common excuses that we all know are holding us back:

  • I am too young to do that (or I am too old to do that) – You are never too old or young to do anything! Your ability to do something is based on your pre-conceived notion that society may look down or you may fail. But if you don’t try something, how do you know you will fail.
  • I don’t have the right skills – The wonderful thing about being you (especially as a freelancer) is that you know how to take risks and learn. If you don’t have the skills, what is stopping you from obtaining them? I may not know all the intricacies of a certain CMS or how to get an effect right in Photoshop, but I do know how to search for what I need, read about it, and practice until I’m satisfied.
  • I don’t have enough time – This is probably the biggest enemy to anyone who has a dream that they are not yet pursuing. There is always time, you just choose what tasks throughout the day use your time. If you want to lose weight, become a more successful freelancer, or spend more time with your family, you have to make that enough a priority to fit it into your day.

In a few cases, you’ll find that your reasons are legitimate…

  • My family is the most important part of my life – If your current priorities are in order, then maybe your other goals are just not as important to achieve right now. If this is the case, then you won’t be saying, “I want to do X, Y, and Z, but my family gets in the way.” Instead, you should be saying (at least to yourself), “My family is my first priority, and then X, Y, and Z will be taken care of after that.”
  • Completing my degree is using 100% of my energy right now – If you’re still in school, and you’re completing your degree, then maybe you should wait until you’ve completed your education before moving on to your next big thing. Just beware of elongating the period of time it takes for you to get your degree. Prolonging the time it takes for you to complete a goal may be a sign of fear or anxiety about your next steps. Also be sure you’re doing everything you can to set yourself up for your next goal (you don’t want to miss the portfolio-building opportunities in school that would majorly help you out later on).

It’s important to know the difference between your reasons and excuses. Reasons are based on your priorities, where as excuses are covering up something you know you should be doing. In this new year, especially when you’re making your New Year’s Resolutions (or starting to fulfill them) you should analyze your reasons/excuses for doing or not doing something and decide whether or not you want to overcome them. Almost all excuses can be overcome, but it is our burden as individuals to either accept or break them.

The next time you say to someone else or to yourself, “I would love to do this, but…” remember that the “but” is in your hands to eliminate.

What’s your excuse? Why aren’t you achieving X, Y, Z? Is your dream enough of a priority to break down your excuses and go for it?


  1. says

    Not necessarily holding myself back, but I can attest to the 1st one: “I am too young to do that (or I am too old to do that)” definitely holding me back by management or senior employees.

  2. says

    I’m kinda the same – for years I’ve always thought I’ve been to do whatever, and now I’m seeing people way younger than me doing those things!

    And it is just that, an excuse!

  3. says

    Natalie you are absolutely right about excuses holding you back…
    I am a fairly young entrepreneur who rubs shoulders with some of the most accomplished executives. They take me seriously only because I prove my value… Best part is they all know how young I am. Had I not gotten over that excuse I would not be in this position today…

    Great Post!!!

  4. says

    I think it’s horrific when we allow excuses to keep us from following our dreams. 2009 is a new year filled with fresh opportunities. What are we waiting for? Let’s just go for it!

    Excellent post. Very inspiring. :-)


  5. says

    I can’t possibly think of all the times that I have made excuses that prevented me from doing what ultimately turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made. Great article with much needed encouragement.

    Thank you!

  6. says

    Terrific post, to the point and keeping it simple!
    thank you. Just what I need to hear at present. I like that line, the ‘but’ is in your hands to eliminate.

  7. says

    Yes, destroy those excuses! In my martial arts classes the instructor does not like it when a student tries to use an excuse. With practice and determination you can accomplish anything. I really despise excuses and think a lot of people use them too much. Get rid of them. As Yoda would say, “There is no try, only do”.

  8. says

    What’s holding me back? Myself. I have too many ideas, too many projects, and not enough self-discipline to plan them properly to see them to fruition.

    I also don’t take care of my personal projects simply because I know they aren’t my priorities – right now. Soon, soon… :)

  9. says

    People tend to give excuses to achieve instant gratification and giving excuses for not taking action is definitely one of the primary reasons why most people are not able to achieve success that they desire in life.

    One way to spot excuses of your own will be reviewing your day. So you are not writing a blog post because you don’t have the time? How did you spend your time for today? Watching DVD series? Well, that’s an excuse!

    Wayne Liew

  10. says

    Yep, I’ve been using the “I have no time” excuse for years when people asked me about my freelance career. But I decided 2009 is the year. No more excuses. I’m trying to make time for freelancing during the weekends, so that I can get it off the ground. Slow & steady for now.

  11. GT says

    Isn’t that so true and I hate it when I read it!! Making me realize my true inner voice! No, seriously, this is a great post and good timing. Yeah, totally agree with you James with so many projects and where to start. One thing that I have to add, is the famous fear of failure in the sense that I want to start, but I want to make sure that I have covered every angle, turn every pebble, every dust that I can think, see, read… and my most dreaded one is how!. So, now, I have to sit and start creating… but HOW?!!!


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