Overcoming the Top 7 Excuses to Reach your Dream?
If you really think about it…we really don’t often really think about it.
That is to really think through the excuses that pop into our heads, specifically self-limiting thoughts and overcoming the brain’s default setting to avoid change.
For those of any age who have a need or desire to pursue something new, such as becoming an entrepreneur or innovator, the following excuses are most common. Each one is reasonable, but if you really think about it, each one can be overcome.
“First comes thought; then organization of that thought, into ideas and plans; then transformation of those plans into reality. The beginning, as you will observe, is in your imagination.” –Napoleon Hill
Overcoming Excuse #1: I’m too old
“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” -Pysicist Max Planck
What is old? Old like our parents and grandparents? That perception of old no longer applies.
We have an extended lifespan and healthspan. Retirement age is based on a century-old reality when people were lucky to live past 65. We have broken away from blindly following assumptions or mandates of how we are supposed to be.
Over the past 10 years, there have been growing megatrends in what people in their fifties, sixties and above are doing with this phase of life. Out of desire and necessity, they are working longer, transitioning to new ways of earning income (contract gig work, consulting, new careers), working longer and becoming entrepreneurs.
People over 40 startups most of the new businesses in the U.S. every year. Baby Boomer’s startup TWICE as many businesses as millennials and have vastly higher odds of succeeding.
Your ability to learn new skills and develop new thinking and mindsets is huge. People in this phase of life are transitioning and transforming like never before in human history. The bonus: By doing so they feel more fulfilled, relevant, passionate and purposeful.
The Bonus: Studies show that leading this kind of life is literally one of the healthiest things you can possibly do.
Overcoming Excuse #2: Who the hell am I to do this? (aka Imposter Syndrome)
You just have to get started. If I had to understand everything about connecting people before I began, I never would have started Facebook. –Mark Zuckerberg
Welcome to Imposter Syndrome Anonymous. We have a current membership of over 7 billion people.
That’s right! We’re the number one syndrome facing all human beings that are aspiring to be and have something better. Before every member speaks each says, “Hi. My name is ______ and who the hell am I to do this?”
We have a very impressive list of former members who overcame their syndrome and succeeded. Since the list is so vast (billions of people through history and still counting!), suffice it to say that virtually every single one of them was able to overcome I.S.
They realized that most of the people who have succeeded in every imaginable type of goal and aspiration throughout history did not have it handed to them. Most often they were less likely to succeed but did because they overcame I.S.
Bottom-Line: Starting out you would bet on 99% of the people who became successful in whatever they were doing. We all suffer from it but get over it. Who the hell are you to do it? You are you and a budding success, that’s who.
Overcoming Excuse #3: I don’t have the right skills, experience, or knowledge.
“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful (people). Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. -President Calvin Coolidge
Believing you aren’t capable of making an idea a reality is one of the most self-limiting thoughts there is. In fact this thought should be treated as a notion more than a realization because when you think it through and listen to those who have succeeded, you will recognize you can either gain the knowledge, realize you have more knowledge, skill and experience that applies to your idea than you thought and that you can tap into others for the gaps that you have.
Abbey Fleck had an idea for the best way to cook bacon in a microwave. She sketched it out with some help, figured out a way to get it manufactured, promoted and distributed. She’s a millionaire. Oh…and she started this when she was eight years old. She certainly had none of the skills, experience, or knowledge needed when she started.
With an idea comes intent, with movement, comes passion and with determination comes solutions. In terms of learning, you have everything from experts to connect with, education to pursue, or Google to search with (You can even learn how to build an atomic bomb through Google!).
“I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.” — Pablo Picasso
In my own experience as a content creator, live event and video producer, I have often undertaken ambitious creative approaches that I or anyone else had never done. But I developed a great concept; pulled in others who, with their support, enthusiasm and expertise, teamed with me to deliver amazing success.
You don’t have to know it all or do it all. In fact, you probably shouldn’t. Some innovators have killed their enterprise when they tried to be the CEO or handle aspects outside of their abilities and focus.
“A man’s got to know his limitations.” —Clint Eastwood as Dirty Harry
Know what you are really good at doing, realize what you should be responsible for and identify your gaps. Then find the resources and people to support you by filling in those gaps and/or develop your own knowledge and skills to fill them.
“An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.” –Benjamin Franklin
There are more resources free, inexpensive and online to learn and skill up. There’s nothing you can’t learn or talent you can tap into.
Overcoming Excuse #4: I don’t have a great idea.
“The only thing limiting your aspiration is your imagination.” -Steven Richards
Typical thought: “I need a big idea, but don’t even know where to start. I certainly can’t magically concoct something like Facebook, the iPhone, or a clothing store. I’m screwed before I begin!” -You
Dreaming up something totally new is really, really hard. Reaching for something that you’re already aware of is much, much easier and much more likely to be realized as long as you connect to it, become open to discovering it and raise your awareness.
You can break down virtually any “breakthrough” idea and discover that the person who did it had their light bulb go off from personal and/or professional experience and awareness.
They saw a problem, a need and an improvement or viewed it from a different angle. Virtually every single great breakthrough business and idea came via an effort to solve a problem and fulfill a need (ProBoomers). Virtually every breakthrough Steve Jobs and Apple gave us came as a solution in the form of a new iteration (iPhone), an improvement (iPod vs. MP3 players) or from a better angle (graphic interface and the mouse vs. DOS).
Anyone can spot problems that require solutions. These solutions are ideas you can turn into something. Walk around your business, look at your industry or your personal/family and friend’s life situation and see needs and shortcomings. How would you solve that? How would your talent, experience and skillsets make it happen? Look at where life, business and personal needs are heading. Wayne Gretzky famously said, “A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going.”
The Wall Street Journal article How Entrepreneurs Come Up with Great Ideas addressed this by asking highly successful people how to do it:
Look at what’s bugging you
You’re never too old
Be present in life
Ideas are abundant; Drive isn’t
Let your subconscious do the work
Attack practical problems
Head into the weird places
Search for a better way
Taking it to market
Listen to people who know
Get inspired by history
Be prepared to shift gears
You can’t rush the brain
For the next 30 days, every night before you brush your teeth, write down three problems you saw or experienced. This will force you to become aware and start thinking about where the possibilities are. A problem means there’s a need. Where there’s a need there’s an opportunity.
By the time you reach 30 days, there’s a very good chance one of those problems/needs/opportunities will have caught hold of your imagination if not your soul. You’ll be thinking about it, envisioning a solution that you know you can be a part of. Even if you haven’t found it yet, you’ve become aware and developed an active mindset to find a problem/need/solution right for you.
The question you should be asking isn’t, “What do I want?” or “What are my goals?” but “What would excite me?” -Tim Ferris
Bottom-Line: Incredible possibilities are always right in front of you. You’re your mind to discovering, become aware, seek, discover, get excited and then drive it forward.
Overcoming Excuse #5: I don’t have time.
If you feel like you don’t have time, you don’t have priorities. Everyone has the same amount of time.” -Tim Ferriss
Rich or poor, male or female, no matter what race, creed, or nationality, we all have the same number of hours in a day. It’s what we do with those hours, minutes and seconds. Stop and examine what you do with your time. Really break it down and you will discover an immense amount of wasted time both in actual minutes and hours as well as focus and energy.
There is a multitude of books, YouTube videos and methods to make your time more efficient and different ways to look at how you operate. Here are just a few:
Tim Ferriss’ Four Hour Work Week more than anything deconstructs efforts into what is really important and what is not, thereby saving time while achieving even greater results. Ferriss offers additional insights and methods in his other books and numerous talks.
James Clear and John Assaraf teach you about how it all starts with habits (disengaging from old ones and launching better ones) and Clear has some amazing and practical techniques for making good habits easy and achievable.
As Tim Ferriss said, if it is truly a priority, if this is something you truly need or desire, you will find the time. That is if you get started. That truly is the hard part. To get yourself launched, listen to Mel Robbins’ ridiculously simple and incredibly successful method: The Five-Second Rule.
Overcoming Excuse #6: I’m too late.
“You can recognize a pioneer by the arrows in his back.” – Beverly Rubik
Too late in life or too late with an idea?
Yes, Steve Jobs beat you to the graphical interface and mouse, but Xerox and Douglas Engelbart actually beat him to those innovations. Mark Zuckerberg wasn’t first in social media. Henry Ford didn’t invent the assembly line nor did Bill Gates develop DOS. The list goes on and on and on and on.
Innovation is never one-and-done; some of the most successful companies, products and services are based on refining earlier ideas and innovations. Evolving to meet new needs and embrace new technologies and focusing on users and audiences, making their product or service more affordable, functional, or useable.
Innovations that have seemingly failed can turn into a success when someone applies them in a meaningful and desired way.
Thomas Edison invented the phonograph, which he called the Ediphone because he believed the only use would be for dictation. It was Eldridge Reeves Johnson who made it desirable as the phonograph by recording Caruso and other musicians bringing music to the home. The Lumiére Brothers invented motion pictures. It became a dying business because “motion photographs” as it was called was pretty much just that, a photograph that had movement in it. It was 20 years later before D.W. Griffith created the first film we would recognize as a movie. By doing so a major art form and industry was truly born (Read Whiplash – How to Survive Our Faster Future by Joi Ito & Jeff Howe).
The odds are you’re not too late. Those before you have done a lot of the work. Now you can reapply and refocus their efforts and pioneering by making it better, faster, stronger, newer, more relevant, cheaper with whatever your vision is.
You’re certainly not too late in life
Never before in human history have there been more opportunities for so-called older people to transition and transform in their careers, start a business, be gig workers (e.g. contract, freelance, etc.), consultants and whatever else you can come up with.
Baby Boomers startup outpace millennials in the number of business start-ups in the U.S. by a two to one margin and have a vastly higher likelihood of success. The pendulum in companies is swinging to embrace older and experienced workers and create a powerful intergenerational workforce. A huge percentage of professional gig workers (vs. gigs such as Uber drivers) are over the age of 50. Baby Boomers make up 35% of full-time alternative work arrangements. Both numbers are bound to increase.
Overcoming Excuse #7: I can’t take the risk.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. Explore. Dream. Discover.” — Mark Twain
“Security is mostly a superstition. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” — Helen Keller
The mantra in this Entrepreneurial Age is: Any business risk you take today is a risk you can and somehow will recover from. In time you can overcome almost any setback, stumble, or failure, and emerge stronger and smarter and better equipped to succeed the next time. Another modern mantra is to “fail fast and fail often”. No longer are people blackballed for failure, they’re venerated (as long as you learn, adapt, improve and pivot).
If you never try, you will regret it. Do you really want to be on your death bed (when so many fundamental and critical life realizations seem to occur) and look back on your life and think, “I wish I had at least tried! Oh, what might have been.” That’s one risk you should never take.
So now that you think about it, what are you going to think about? You may have other excuses, but if you thinking about being an entrepreneur or an innovator and transforming your life, the overwhelming odds are any excuse is just that, an excuse.
The age factor means nothing to me. I’m old enough to know my limitations and I’m young enough to exceed them. —Marv Levy
As you can see overcoming the top 7 excuses to reach your dream is really about knowledge and awareness. It’s being up-t0-date as to what’s going on in the world and what’s possible and not assuming something that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
That’s why NEW THINKING is the very first section on New Way Forward. Being aware of the possibilities, getting excited and aligning for something that is right for you given who you are and what you want and need is the ultimate key to overcoming excuses and enjoying the best years of your life.