by Lori Deschene
If we try, we can always find a reason not to do what we want to do—and it can seem perfectly valid. We can convince ourselves that we’re being smart, realistic, or safe, or that we don’t even really want it.
We’re great at justifying the status quo, because we know exactly what that’s like—even if it’s dissatisfying.
The unknown can feel terrifying. But somewhere in that same realm where anything could go wrong is everything that can go right.
So many times in my life, I’ve finally pushed myself to do something and then wondered, “Why did I wait so long?” If I had known the benefits would far outweigh my fear and discomfort, I would have pushed myself sooner.
“The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own. No apologies or excuses…The gift is yours—it is an amazing journey—and you alone are responsible for the quality of it.” ~Bob Moawad
But we can’t ever know that in advance. We can only know that our reasons to do something are greater than our excuses not to.
In my efforts to keep moving beyond my comfort zone, I’ve compiled the top 25 excuses not to go after a dream, along with a few reminders to help us overcome them.
Excuses About Time
1. I’m too busy to do what I love.
2. I don’t have time to discover what I’m passionate about.
3. I’ve already put a lot of time into a different path.
4. I’ll do it—someday.
5. It’s too late for me now.
We all have the same number of hours in each day, and we all have the potential to use them to do what we want to do.
That being said, we’re all starting with different schedules, responsibilities, and obstacles. A single, childless person who inherited a large sum of money may have more immediate time freedom than someone with a large family and mounting debt.
I share this not to be discouraging, but rather to acknowledge reality: We all have unique circumstances that could make it challenging to find or make time.
While it might be easier for some of us, it’s possible for all of us.
We can all create at least a small window of time to take one simple step. We can all decide our dreams are priorities, and that we owe it to ourselves to pursue them, regardless of what we’ve done before. We can all recognize it’s never too late for us unless we decide it is.
The important thing to realize is that the time is now, whether we have days, hours, or even just minutes to devote. We might not have the time to do everything, but we all have the time to do something.
Excuses About Money
6. I don’t have the money to get started.
7. I need to continue earning exactly what I earn now.
8. I can’t make any changes until I pay off my debt.
9. I need a bigger safety net before I take a risk.
10. What if I can’t make any money at it?
We all need money to live—there’s just no getting around it.
We may sometimes have to do things we don’t love to get by, and we may not all be able to completely change our lives overnight. We might not be able to up and travel the world, or make massive financial investments in our goals.
What we can do is decide that our dreams are important, and then leverage our most valuable resource—our passion—to honor them as best we can.
That might mean doing something on the side as a hobby, or bartering for free lessons, or volunteering our time to help someone who will serve as a mentor.
We don’t need a massive amount of money to start, or a guarantee that we’ll make a ton of money down the line.
We just need to know that our dreams are worth the effort, and that we’re willing to be creative with the resources we have.
Excuses About Knowledge
11. I don’t know where to start.
12. I don’t know enough to start.
13. I’m not smart enough to succeed.
14. I don’t know if I can make it.
15. I’m not an expert.
No one knows going in exactly what they need to do—or what they can do. No one has it all figured out, and no one starts off with expertise.
If we wait until we feel we know everything we need to know, we’ll likely never act.
When I wrote for a ‘tween publication, I interviewed a young girl named Leah Larson who started a magazine called Yaldah at 13 years old.
She wrote all the articles for the first issue herself, and then made countless calls to printers and potential advertisers, having no idea what she was doing. Perhaps because she was so young, she never worried about what she didn’t know. She just jumped in and started learning.
Ten years later, Yaldah has expanded to Yaldah Media Inc., which now offers books, retreats, and more. She’s grown with her company, as we all can with any dream.
We don’t need to know everything to start. We just need to know we want and need to do it.
Excuses About Other People
16. My friends and family don’t think I can do this.
17. My friends and family don’t think I should do this.
18. I need to focus on the people who need me.
19. I don’t have anyone to do this with.
20. It’s all about who you know—and I don’t know the right people.
There will never be a day when everyone agrees with us, believes in us, and supports us. There may never be a time when other people stop needing us. And for many of us, there won’t be a likeminded partner waiting to hold our hand on a parallel journey.
If we believe in ourselves, none of these things have to deter us. As we do what we love and create new possibilities for ourselves, we will inevitably form mutually beneficial relationships.
In my early days on Twitter, I had a different account where I tweeted uplifting messages. It was my first attempt at making the difference I wanted to make.
Back then, I’d never have imagined I’d be connected to so many amazing people; and I wasn’t sure I could run a website since I knew nothing about the tech side of things.
One day, a web strategist and designer named Joshua Denney tweeted about me, complimenting my profile and tweets. Since we connected then, he’s been instrumental in shaping Tiny Buddha—and he’s become one of my closest confidantes, consultants, and friends.
There are countless people out there who could support and help us, but we can only meet them if we put ourselves out there too.
Excuses About Probability
21. Things likely wouldn’t pan out.
22. Many people have tried to do this and failed.
23. I’ll probably be scared and uncomfortable if I try.
24. I’m not sure if this is the “right” decision.
25. There aren’t any guarantees.
The reality is there aren’t any guarantees. That means even a sure thing could one day be not so sure. Certainty is an illusion that comes from comfort—but just because something’s comfortable, that doesn’t mean it’s permanent.
We can either cling to what feels safe, avoiding potential disappointment, or realize the worst disappointment is the type we feel in ourselves.
That’s what happens when we ignore our calling; we may feel more secure for not taking a risk, but we also feel unhappy with ourselves for not finding the courage to do it.
We can’t ever know what the results our efforts will be, but we can know we dramatically decrease our odds of feeling satisfied if we make it a priority to do what we love—no matter where it leads us.
That’s what it means to make the “right” decision—to do what feels right, right in this moment, the only one that’s guaranteed.
And one more excuse I didn’t include: I’m not good enough. We’ve all thought this at one time or another. Especially in our socially connected world where we have constant reminders of everyone else’s achievements, it’s easy to feel we don’t stack up.
But maybe we don’t have to. Maybe we don’t need to be better than anyone else, or even better than we are now to make a difference.
Maybe the world needs us exactly as we are, with our unique blend of skills, talent, and potential. Maybe the difference we make isn’t just about where we end up, but also how we learn, grow, and share on the way there.
Sure, our gifts and accomplishments can make the world a better place, but what we really want and need is to be inspired—and what’s more inspiring than starting right where you are, believing in yourself, and taking a leap of faith?
When we’re feeling overwhelmed, it can seem like dreams are luxuries, but they’re not reserved for the chosen few. They’re reserved for people who choose to believe in them and act on it.
To do that, we need to stop telling ourselves the story of why we can’t, and start creating the story of how we can.
What’s your dream, and what can you do today to start living it?