“I'll get to that when this project is over. Now is not the time to try to make my relationship better.”
“Work is crazy right now. I'll take care of myself when things slow down.”
“No point in trying to eat better when I'm under so much stress. I'll figure it out when I'm less overwhelmed.”
When we allow the conditions that surround us to dictate what we will or won’t prioritize, we stay stuck. Think of the excuses you give yourself in the areas of your life you want to put at the top of the list but avoid. How long have you used those excuses? Is it going to slow down? Are you ever in a stress-free time? What’s the mythical right timing or the perfect set of conditions that will facilitate moving forward?
It’s time to stop. Stop making excuses. Stop letting yourself off the hook. The things we put off over and over tend to be the things that are good for us and could change our lives.
Why is that?
Avoidance. Fear that you can’t pull it off, have what you want, make it happen, etc. You can have hope for the future if you haven’t tried and failed... right?
Wrong. Life doesn’t just magically set you up to hit a home run. When you stay in the cycle of “I don’t have time, I’m too busy, the timing is wrong for this conversation.” you are 100% in the backseat of driving your life. You’re letting life drive you. You react when it’s time to act.
We tend to assign magical mystery powers to the idea of “right timing.” What does that even mean, anyway? Obviously, there are times in our lives when the timing may not lend itself to adequate focus on an endeavor, and it’s important to tune into that. But always ask yourself if the reasons that the timing isn’t right are real reasons or excuses driven by fear and avoidance.
I’ve found that people put an enormous amount of pressure on themselves to do something all the way or not at all.
For instance, if you want to prioritize your health, you may think that means you need to jump into a clean eating plan and working out five days a week. Then you wonder why you can’t make it last and see it through. Hello? It’s not reasonable to expect you can go from 0-100 all at once and sustain that change.
Give yourself permission to take steps in the right direction instead of insisting on an all-or-nothing approach.
Here are some common pain points and ways you can begin to take empowered steps to create what you've been putting off.
Want to spend more quality time with your family but work hours are ridiculous? Pick an hour in the evening when you will turn off your phone and be present. It’s unlikely that something will need your immediate attention in that one hour. Make it a habit, and you’ll see that you’ve opened the door to find additional time and new ways to spend even more time connecting with the ones you love.
In need of some attention to your health? What can you do to start down that path? Can you reduce your portion sizes? Take a walk several days a week? Hire a personal trainer? Take a step in the right direction. Make the time. Your calendar won’t magically open up.
Have you been dreaming of doing something different professionally? Maybe you long to expand your business, start your own business, go after a big promotion, write a book, etc. If your mind immediately goes to thoughts like “I can’t make less money, that will never work, it’s not realistic” — STOP. You don’t have to quit your job to get started on any of these paths.
What can you do now to gain some momentum? Research your market, your idea, connect with a coach who can help you, meet with people in your organization who will champion you, start thinking about what you want to write about — there are so many steps you can take to get started in a no-risk way. Do not allow a lack of time to be your excuse. There’s only not enough of it when you are prioritizing the wrong things. Prioritize yourself, your future, your dreams and make the time.
Get started and stop avoiding today! Sit down with a journal and think about the areas of your life where excuses are keeping you stagnant. What are those areas? Pick one and put it on the top of your priority list. Then identify one thing you can start doing in the next five days to take a step in the right direction.