In honor of the exciting new year upon us, I've been thinking of my many clients this year -- my wonderful, reluctant, often overwhelmed but always resilient clients who've made enormous positive change in their lives and careers this year. It's been a heartwarming experience to watch their lives unfolding in astounding ways. I've thought long and hard about what makes these individuals able to bring about dramatic change and why others don't or won't.
People who are able to make life change have a sufficient dose of clarity, confidence, courage and commitment. Those four ingredients can make all the difference between a miserable life and a brilliant one. Folks almost never start out with all of these assets, but their commitment to changing what hurts and limits them urges them into a flowing river of change that brings more clarity, which in turn gets them in touch with their worthiness and confidence, which then gives them access to more courage to create life as they want it.
Can everyone do this? Yes, everyone CAN, but only a few WILL. Why won't thousands of unhappy and unfulfilled people create life in the image of their dreams and visions?
Because they make excuses -- millions and millions of excuses (both conscious and subconscious) that keep them from believing they are worthy of an amazing life or trusting they have what it takes to create it.
I'd like to share what I've seen are the eight most damaging excuses people make -- excuses, faulty reasoning and destructive myths that keep people down, and make their lives smaller, less joyful and rewarding than they ever need to be.
Here are the eight most damaging excuses people make:
1. I don't have the money to do this.
How people respond to the idea of getting outside help (coaching, etc.) acts as a metaphor for how they deal with their problems and their lives. I can't tell you how many hundreds of people reached out to me this year desperate for assistance, asking me for free help and claiming they don't have any money to spend on getting the help they need, though they realize that outside help is exactly what is necessary now.
I know this will inflame some readers, but here's the reality -- if you believe there's no way for you to generate even $250, if you can't think of any way to be of service to someone else that would generate more income for you, then you're stuck in the biggest excuse of all -- that money is the problem and the root of scarcity in your life.
But that's completely incorrect. What's lacking is your understanding of your enormous capabilities, talents and gifts, and how you can be of service to others and the world. No matter who you are and what your life experiences and history have been, you have something important to offer that others need and will pay you well for.
If money has been the key reason why you won't get help or make life or career change, let it go, and understand that the more you empower yourself to take control, the more you'll access your ability to be of service and make more money. Don't play the victim anymore. (If money is a recurring problem for you, read the groundbreaking book The Energy of Money, by Maria Nemeth).
2. I'm not ready to do the work required to change.
Hundreds of unhappy and unfulfilled people admitted to me this year, "I'm just not ready to make change." Here's a stark reality folks -- no one is really ready to make change. We resist change fiercely. We change because what we have created in our lives has become intolerable and we finally realize there's no way to overcome it except moving through and beyond it, and that takes energy and courage.
As we embark on 2013, I ask you this -- can you let go of your belief that you're not ready? Can you simply accept that if you want something different in your life, there is no better time than now to bring that into being, despite how "ready" you feel?
3. I'm afraid of what I don't know.
Welcome to being human. We've all heard the expression, "The devil you know is better than the devil you don't." But in truth, this is just another excuse for staying stuck. The only way to have an exciting and enriching life is to stretch way out of your comfort zone and to take on challenges that make you feel afraid of failure and embarrassment. Once you make facing your demons a common occurrence in your life, you'll realize that "the devil' is simply your ego fearing its demise. In other words, you are deathly afraid of making mistakes, walking through the unknown and appearing (to yourself and others) as "less than." But that's what life is -- unknown, uncontrolled and unlimited. Go for it -- find the one area that would excite you the most and stretch into the unknown. (Download my free Career Path Self-Assessment to understand what would excite you most in your career in 2013.)
4. What if it doesn't work out?
I hear this excuse weekly: "What if this big change I'm trying doesn't work out?" Well, then you'll deal with it, and you'll become stronger, more confident and more capable than you were before you tried this new direction. This happened to me after my 18-year corporate stint and before I launched my career coaching practice, I became a marriage and family therapist. After serving as a therapist for five years, I faced the reality that I simply didn't enjoy or feel well-suited to the professional identity of a therapist. Some would say that "it didn't work out." But I believe it did -- I use every single tool and strategy that I learned in my therapy training in my coaching, writing, speaking and training work. In the end, it did work out -- I just needed to find the right avenue in which to apply the powerful and transformative tools that therapy training offered.
5. What would people say if I did this?
Let's face it -- many people in this world are judgmental, negative, naysaying and critical, and don't believe in power of your (or their) abilities. It's a fact. But are you going to let this type of thinking keep you from changing what needs to be revised in your life? It's a group mentality that says we have to keep doing in life what makes us miserable. Embrace a more individualistic and self-reliant view. Trust in yourself, and believe that you have the right and the worthiness to live your life as you dream it. Don't let the naysayers hold you back.
6. My family needs me to keep doing this job I hate.
No, they don't. Your family needs you to be ONE thing and one thing only -- all that you are meant to be in this world, nothing less. You didn't come to this planet at this time simply to pay your mortgage. Of course, you have financial obligations that must be fulfilled. But while doing that, always plant the seeds for your future self, for the self that wants to grow, and be bigger and better and in service to the world in ways that give form to your highest and best life intentions. Families demand a lot, but don't kid yourself that your being a great family person, parent or provider has to mean that you give up on yourself as a highly contributive and fulfilled individual in this world. (If you long for a better career, get the career growth training you need from my Amazing Career Project and download the free homework "Assessing and Closing Your Power Gaps.")
7. I don't really believe it's going to work out.
People who are chronically miserable and underdeveloped often have at their core a faulty belief that no matter what they really want, it's not going to work out. If you have this belief, look at your childhood,and the messages you learned growing up with the family you were given. Understand that the belief that it won't work came from someone or something else outside of you. We're not born believing that the universe is unfriendly and uncaring. We learn that. What you want is most certainly possible for you, but not if you don't believe it is.
8. This is just me -- I can't change it.
Anything you think and feel can be changed. You are NOT your thoughts. You are separate from your thoughts and emotions. But you must become aware of your thoughts and emotions before you can be free of their hold on you. I've personally witnessed the transformation of hundreds of people's lives once they realize they can change what they think and feel. (And I'm a living example of how we can overcome extremely limiting beliefs and experiences to reach a much more joyful way of life). If you're chronically unhappy and dissatisfied, this isn't "just you." This is a version of you that wants modification. You don't have to live with chronic unhappiness -- get the help you need to be free of it. (If you are suffering from a chronic depressed mood or thinking, therapeutic assistance may be of help to you. Ask your doctor for a referral or visit the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists and find a therapist in your area. Don't wait.)
If you want something different in 2013, stop making excuses. Embrace the fact that your longing for something better means you are ready for change. You deserve it, you're ready, and it's time.