How often have you told yourself this: “I’d LOVE to pursue my dream … BUT …
1. I’m not an expert
2. I’m too young/too old
3. People tell me to get a “real job”
4. It’s tough in the “current climate”
5. People don’t support my dream
6. What if I fail?
7. I don’t have time
8. I don’t like people
9. It’s “risky”
10. I’m waiting to be inspired
11. I’m planning on thinking about possibly doing it sometime … maybe
12. I probably can’t beat the competition
13. I don’t know what I’m doing!
How long have you been believing these excuses?
The truth is NOW IS THE TIME TO START. Not tomorrow. Not next week. And not when you feel “motivated” or “inspired”.
But I know it’s not that simple. I have lied to myself for a long time too. I have made a million excuses. But it took a few traumatic events before I finally realised the following:
You’re Luckier Than the Majority of the World
Chances are that millions of people out there would DIE to live the kind of life you do. If you’re reading this, it’s highly probable that you live in a place where starvation, war, and death aren’t daily realities. Chances are that some of your major “worries” in life revolve around mundane things like paying off your mortgage, buying a bigger TV, or – the big one – trying to figure out what you want to do with your life (which is quite a luxury when you think about it).
We should ALL consider ourselves lucky that we’re reading this because we HAVE OPTIONS that millions of others don’t. And we only have them through sheer LUCK. Do you realise the unbelievable odds that were against you being born in a stable society with choices and opportunity around you?
Don’t squander your good fortune on living a mundane existence. If you have choices and options (which you most certainly do!), then you owe it to yourself to make this life count. After all …
You Will Die One Day
I know it’s not pleasant to think about. But, no matter how much we pretend we won’t, WE WILL ALL DIE ONE DAY (hopefully not all at the same time due to some catastrophic environmental disaster … but I digress!).
Just think about that for a minute…
Imagine not existing.
Imagine never waking up again.
Imagine never seeing your friends, family, and close ones again.
Imagine never seeing the beautiful world around you again.
Imagine having completed your ONE and ONLY “turn” at life (you DON’T get a second chance, remember that).
What would you miss? What would you regret? What would you wish you had at least TRIED before time was up? Which dreams will you have left unfulfilled?
WAKE UP NOW.
You’re still here. You’re still alive. And you’re still reading this post (which probably means you are in the top 5% of the world’s population who are actually literate).
You can still HAVE IT ALL in life, but it’s time to get moving RIGHT NOW.
Remember – you ARE one of the luckiest people on the planet, and you are actually still ALIVE. Those two things are enough for you to be able to accomplish ANYTHING in life.
So what’s still holding you back?
Chances are, it’ one of the following 13 excuses …
Neither is this guy … but it clearly hasn’t stopped him …
How often have you stopped yourself from chasing your dream because you didn’t consider yourself an “expert”?
Eg. “I want to start a business, but I’m no expert.”
An “expert” by whose definition? By OTHER experts’? By YOUR definition? Or is an expert someone who has obtained “qualifications” in a particular field?
“Expert” has to be one of the most annoying words in the English language.
It means so much, yet simultaneously means so little.
Consider the definition provided by dictionary.com:
“A person who has special skill or knowledge in some particular field”
That’s pretty vague when you think about it. For example, what’s the definition of “special skill” or even “knowledge”?
If you think “knowledge” means obtaining “qualifications”, then stop and think for a second. Try to step back from the relentless pre-conditioning you have received throughout life about the “importance” of qualifications.
Then SCREW the qualifications. Honestly.
Unless your dream is to work as a lawyer, doctor, engineer, nurse, school teacher, etc (basically any job that LEGALLY requires you to hold some sort of relevant qualification), YOU DON’T NEED PAPER “QUALIFICATIONS”.
Paper “qualifications” often prepare you to do too much thinking, and not enough action.
Paper qualifications tend to be 3+ years of procrastination. Trust me. I’ve been there several times …
So if you think a paper qualification will give you “special skills”, then guess again.
University curriculums are often outdated, and are rarely cutting-edge. Why? Because these are big institutions that are slow to adapt to anything new.
Besides, they don’t have a lot of incentive to adapt. Their enrollments keep going up year after year, because they do such a great job of convincing people that a degree is the key to success.
Ask Bill Gates. Ask Richard Branson. Ask Steve Jobs. Ask thousands of other people that have lived their dreams.
So the only definition of “expert” that you should be using (if you REALLY want to continue to use that word…) is this one:
An expert is someone who can help other people with something.
You do not need to be the NUMBER 1 EXPERT ON THE PLANET (unless you really need that “ego massage” … if so, perhaps a visit to a “massage parlour” is more your thing …).
All you need to know, is to know MORE than your customer does about a particular area.
Chances are that you already know a LOT more than a LOT of other people do about your particular area. So guess what that means? Yep, YOU ARE AN “EXPERT”.
Are there things that you find interesting? Are there things you are passionate about? Do you have ENERGY for these things?
If you do, that’s all that is required. End of story. Let’s put this “age” nonsense behind us now. It’s just another one of these pointless “quantity vs quality” arguments.
Who cares whether you’re only 18 and want to start your own business?
Who cares if you’re 52 and are thinking about writing your first novel?
What difference does the number make in this equation?
The answer is NONE.
It might be an issue if you’re looking to be employed by someone, since, let’s face it, employers WILL discriminate based on age (despite what local laws might have to say about that…).
But if your dream doesn’t rely on anyone employing you, then your age is completely irrelevant.
The only relevance it might have is that you never truly know how long you have before your time expires.
But that applies to you regardless of whether you’re 18, or in your 50′s.
Don’t ever forget that.
So all the more reason to hurry the f*ck up and start!
“Get a real job”. Yep, people say a LOT of stupid things – and this has to be one of the winners. Next time someone tells you this, ask them whether they can ask you something “real original” in future …
Let’s face it – we’re all wired differently. We don’t all learn the same way. We don’t all find the same things interesting. And we all certainly aren’t destined to work the same handful of jobs that supposedly represent “real jobs”.
Firstly, what does “real job” mean?
Does it mean a 9-5 office job?
Does it mean being part of the “rat race”?
Does it mean working a job that is unstimulating and unsatisfying to you, just so that you can pay off your monthly instalments on things you don’t actually need?
If so, that might be appealing to some people, but why should you feel forced to accept it as your own destiny?
Secondly, people that tell you to get a “real job” probably have some minor level of resentment towards you. Perhaps they, too, once had dreams in life. Dreams that someone else ALSO told them were unrealistic. So they ended up accepting less in life, sacrificed their dreams, and now don’t want to see you achieving them either. Because that’s “the real world”. You should therefore get a “real job”. Suck it up, Princess!
Pfff, it doesn’t have to be like that, AND YOU KNOW IT.
Remember – just because a majority of people have decided that this is the way THEY should live their life, doesn’t mean it’s right for YOU.
And if those closest around you keep telling you to get a “real job” too, it’s time to change your social circles. Don’t keep surrounding yourself with this negativity.
Every now and then I hear someone say this. And I always have to fight my primal urge to slap them silly.
Sometimes I succeed … other times I have to apply for bail …
Because it sells well, and it keeps people scared. Stop letting this fear dictate your life.
So do yourself a HUGE favour if you want to achieve your dreams. TURN OFF THE NEWS TODAY. I mean it.
Stop reading it.
Stop “consuming” it (and that’s all it is – a product to be consumed by the masses).
Stop being affected negatively by it (let’s face it – when is the last time the news made you feel POSITIVE about ANYTHING … besides that time they showed a mongoose playing a bassoon …?).
Now become SELECTIVE about what you expose yourself to. If it’s not providing you with ANY value (eg. knowledge, relaxation, or entertainment), GET RID OF IT. Finding out that Britney Spears didn’t wear any underwear last night doesn’t really affect your life.
You will be amazed at how little you miss the news once you stop consuming it … you will have more energy, less negativity, and – most importantly – a LOT more time to pursue your dreams.
So switch off the news RIGHT NOW. Don’t make me slap you … the judge told me “three strikes and you’re out” …
This one is closely related to number 3 above.
I’ve personally never understood this one. The answer is simple. Either accept it (in which case sometimes people will eventually come around…), or find new social circles.
Sometimes it might seem near impossible to do any one of those.
Perhaps you’re romantically involved with someone who genuinely doesn’t want you pursuing your dreams. It’s amazing how often this happens. If this explains YOUR situation, take a look at it objectively. The other person is essentially saying that their OWN happiness is more important than YOURS.
I simply don’t understand the purpose of a close relationship if the other person does not want to see you succeed at something that is important to you.
THIS IS NOT A HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP.
How long will you suppress your own dreams to make the other person “happy”? What kind of a f*cked up relationship are you in?!!
Ah, yes – a word that our society seems obsessed with. Fail. Mistake. Lindsay Lohan. It goes by a number of different names.
We seem to have been taught from a young age that mistakes are BAD. At school we were penalised for making mistakes. If we made too many mistakes we were sent to a “special room” where we would basically stare at a wall for an hour to “teach us a lesson”.
Or maybe that was just me … either way, that experience taught me a lot about load-bearing structures.
So naturally we grow up programmed to be afraid of making mistakes.
And then we thrust our fear of mistakes onto other people in society.
We’ll loudly “boo” (or worse) a player out on the field who missed a goal that “he should have scored”.
Or, better yet, we’ll demand one of our elected officials be immediately sacked because he or she just made a mistake.
It’s no wonder our governments often can’t solve anything when they’re under such relentless pressure. It’s no wonder they shy away from some of the longer-term important issues – issues where mistakes HAVE to be made to eventually achieve success. Instead, they just look at the opinion polls all the time, and try to make decisions that are “safe”, but won’t propel us forward as a society.
We NEED to make mistakes.
That is the best way of learning anything.
No amount of “qualifications” will teach you the stuff that a mistake can teach you.
Success does not necessarily teach you anything. And expecting to constantly succeed at EVERYTHING in life, every step of the way, has to be the biggest delusion imaginable.
Instead, go out there and start making some mistakes instead (the legal kind obviously)!
You don’t have time now, you say? Well, you certainly won’t have time when you end up in Davy Jones’ Locker …
We could talk about productivity and time management techniques for hours here. But the initial problem for many people seems to be quite simple.
Firstly, refer back to number 4 above. That should free up PLENTY of time to begin with (both physically, and mentally).
Secondly, stop wasting hours in front of the television (or computer screen). Yes, we all need some time off every now and then. We all need leisure and entertainment. But a lot of us take it too far.
I often like to go for a drive through the suburbs, and down along the beach. It always amazes me how many televisions I can see from the street. And they all seem to be on.
That might be fine if you are genuinely happy with life, and everything is already perfect for you. Fair enough. Keep watching that television then.
But for many of us, that is not the case.
Yet we continue to consume countless hours in front of the “idiot box”, and then claim that we “don’t have enough time!”.
I often see some scary statistics that the average person tends to watch 3-5 hours of television EVERY DAY. How on earth are people doing this?!!
We each have 24 hours in every day. The time is there. You’re only running out of time because you’re not prioritising the most important things.
So do this for a week: start tracking what you spend time on every day. You will quickly see where your time disappears.
But some people genuinely feel they don’t have time. Perhaps you spend 40 hours a week in a mindless office job that you hate. Well, I am willing to bet you don’t spend all of that time “working” (don’t worry, I won’t tell the boss … ;)
Let’s face it – there are MANY office jobs where there literally isn’t enough work to fill all the time that you have to be “present”.
So you could either spend this time mindlessly surfing the web and emailing all your friends a video of some skateboarder knackering themselves on a hand rail (that gets me every time!) …
… you could actually USE this additional time to start making your dreams happen.
After all, someone is paying you to fill your time with SOMETHING! Think of it as someone paying you to pursue your dreams. Just don’t tell them that or you might be sent to a room to stare at the wall for an hour!
But there is an exception here.
If you work a job that gives you NO free time, a job where you’re worked to the bone 80+ hours a week, then it’s time to think about changing your circumstances (unless you love what you do – in which case why are you reading this article?).
I can understand it’s scary.
But what are you sacrificing if you don’t make this change?
We probably should have dealt with this first …
You need to clarify this thought for yourself. Do you not like certain “types” of people? Or do you really not like ANYONE?
If it’s the first one, fair enough.
There are certain types of people that none of us will ever truly click with. That’s fine. Accept it. Focus on dreams that don’t involve those types of people, if you can.
But if it’s the second reason, then you have a problem that you need to solve before you can continue your dreams.
Sure, you might think that some dreams don’t require you to deal with people. Maybe you want to be a painter, an author, or run your own one-person business.
Well, unless you only want a hobby, you will still need to be able to work with people. After all, how do you intend on SELLING your work??
Believe it or not, people generally won’t come knocking on your door because they’ve somehow noticed your “talent”. Sure, that MIGHT happen to the occassional person. Perhaps. But to at least have a greater chance of success, you will need to put yourself out there.
If, ultimately, your dreams revolve around giving other people something (whether that’s a service, a product, or just making them feel good in some way), how could you NOT like people??
But if this is seriously a problem for you, please skip to the bottom of this article for some useful resources that might help.
Otherwise, if you’re not careful, you’ll find yourself living in a log cabin far away from civilisation sometime soon … but if that’s what you want, read no further. Perhaps in future I’ll write an article about things to look out for when purchasing a log cabin …
Everything is “risky”.
You’re reading this article on some sort of monitor right now. Chances are, you’re receiving a nice dose of radiation as a result. And chances are that within a few decades research will reveal how much damage these various monitors are causing us RIGHT NOW.
Yes, it’s something I’d rather not think about either …
It’s often said that driving your car is more “risky” than catching a plane (no wonder John Travolta flies himself everywhere…).
And you know what? Even sitting on a chair can be “risky” …
And to think … this guy is the “Chair”-person of the committee. Ah, the irony …
EVERYTHING is “risky”.
Pursuing your dreams is “risky”.
You might make mistakes. You might even … *shock-horror* … FAIL.
Well, as the cliche goes, if you fall, you just get back up again.
But NOT pursuing your dreams is even riskier.
By not pursuing, you have failed without even trying. And what’s worse – you haven’t learned ANYTHING from it. You have lost everything, and gained nothing.
You tell me which one of these options is truly “risky”…
How’s that working out for you?
Have you been waiting a few years now?
Who, or WHAT, is supposed to magically inspire you?
Sure, inspiration is GREAT. A motivational piece can be very useful. It temporarily makes us believe WE CAN DO ANYTHING (which we need to start believing).
But then the feeling passes … and we’re back at square one.
Then we wait for our next dose of “inspiration” (now available in a multitude of different flavours …).
And the cycle continues …
Let’s face it – this is why “self-help” books sell so damn well.
Many of us LOVE devouring this type of stuff (including me!). And it CAN certainly be useful – but only if combined with ACTION. Don’t fall into the trap of becoming addicted to “inspiration”. Most people never take the ACTION required.
Inspiration exists, but it has to find us working.
- Pablo Picasso
Let’s take the alternative to the extreme, and see what happens. Here is a terrific quote from Steve Manning:
Can you think of any profession that operates only when inspiration hits?
“Sorry lady, I can’t fix your plumbing today, I’m not inspired.”
“I’m not coming into the office today, boss, sorry, no inspiration.”
“Love to remove that cancerous growth from you today, Mr. Jeffries, but, well, I’m not feeling particularly inspired.”
So stop believing in the fairytale that inspiration will suddenly strike you like a bolt of lightning. It might for a select few individuals (arguably), but it’s not worth counting on …
Start working and THEN you will find inspiration.
Whoa, hold your horses there, cowboy! Don’t be so committed!!
We both know what happens here.
Stop “thinking” about planning. Sit down and do it RIGHT NOW.
Believe it or not, there is NO such thing as the “perfect time” to start something. It’s only your lazy brain trying to convince you that something like that exists.
Tomorrow will be no different from today, but you will be one day further away from your dream.
And one day closer to death…
Okay, I promise to stop saying that!.
So start something NOW, and within an hour you will be on a roll.
Then focus on finding at least SOME time EVERY DAY to continue pursuing your dreams.
This might only mean 10 minutes some days, or maybe 30-60 minutes if you’re lucky. BUT IT’S BETTER THAN NOTHING.
Imagine you find 1 hour a day for a whole year. That’s just over 15 FULL 24-HOUR days of working towards your dream. Or, if you prefer, that’s 45 8-hour work days. That’s like 2 months of work!! And that’s even while you’re already working another job!
So use this time, and the momentum will build (if you truly enjoy what you are doing of course!).
12. I probably can’t beat the competition
That’s what I used to think too. And I used to think that about EVERYTHING.
It’s true – no matter how good you are, there will ALWAYS be someone that does it better.
So what? Let them. There is enough room on the planet for both of you.
But it’s also possible that you are SERIOUSLY overestimating your competition.
It never ceases to amaze me HOW MANY PEOPLE simply don’t “show up” in life. They say they will do something, then they fail to follow it through.
When I used to be a student at university (I don’t recommend being one, by the way …), I used to think my writing was pretty bad. I used to think all my essays probably didn’t live up to the standards of my peers.
Later, I began TEACHING at university (yeah, I know … how did THAT happen!). So from writing essays I went to GRADING essays. HUNDREDS of essays every year. And what I saw shocked me.
The standard of the majority of papers was absolutely terrible. Weak arguments, misunderstanding of basic information, incomprehensible paragraphs, spelling errors, grammar errors, and just overall laziness and slopiness. Then when I read a good paper every now and then, IT REALLY STOOD OUT.
So you might not think you are anything “hot”, but chances are you’re WAY ahead of the competititon without even realising it.
And if your dream is to start your own business, you’ll be ahead of the competition simply by RESPONDING TO ALL ENQUIRIES, BEING RELIABLE, and ACTUALLY LISTENING.
Yes, the simplicity of this advice astounds me as well. But it’s TRUE.
The bar in life is often set very low by other people. It doesn’t have to be hard to beat at all. The major obstacle to beat is YOUR OWN MIND.
Neither do I … don’t tell anyone … ;)
But seriously, this is a perfectly normal fear to have. And it’s a fear that keeps us grounded and modest. It is CRUCIAL. You might only feel it occassionally, but it’s just checking up on you to ensure you haven’t grown a large head recently.
But if you start thinking you know it all, then you’re overdue for an unpleasant wake up call soon … and a “big head” will be the least of your problems …
So … what now?
But ultimately all of the above points are just words on a page.
Why have I written them?
I have written them because I want to see you pursue your dreams. And I want to see MYSELF pursuing my dreams too.
The above is as much a reminder for you, as it is for me. We are all guilty of these doubts. Perhaps you only have a few of them. Or you might have even MORE than I have mentioned above.
To finish this mammoth article, I will leave you with a few further self-development resources that will help inspire and motivate you further.
But be warned: reading about self-development can often become just another form of procrastination. Yes, it can be motivational and inspiring, but remember – inspiration needs to find us working first. So use the following when you need that extra bit of motivation.
Randy Pausch was a Carnegie Mellon Professor of Computer Science and Human-Computer Interaction and Design. Randy achieved some incredible stuff during his lifetime.
One of his final achievements was presenting a lecture – a lecture he knew would be the final lecture of his life (Randy had been diagnosed with a terminal illness). He took this opportunity to share the lessons he had learned in life, and to inspire and motivate others to pursue their childhood dreams.
The result is one final lecture called “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams”. It was a hit right across the web in 2007, and was seen by millions of people. Now, here it is one more time:
Randy died within a year of presenting his final lecture (he was only in his late 40′s). Before he died, he also wrote a book that expanded on the above lecture. It’s called “The Last Lecture”.
So if you need one last kick in the pants to get moving, the above video and book are it.
Steve Jobs, as you would no doubt know, is the CEO of Apple, and the major reason Apple has become such a huge success during the last decade (of course, few people seem to realise how much of an impact Steve Wozniak had too, especially in the earlier days … but perhaps I’m biased as a fellow Wozniak!).
Whether you love or hate Apple, it doesn’t really matter. We can’t deny the influence and accomplishments of this guy.
During the last few years he has also battled with some serious health issues.
At one stage, he was near death.
The realisations he came to during that period provided some great reflections in the following, legendary commencement speech at Stanford University in 2005, where he urges us all to pursue our dreams and see the opportunities in life’s setbacks:
Below are some of my favourite self-development blogs. I have learned a lot from these people. I have no doubt you will learn something too.
The Positivity Blog
Written by Henrik Edberg, a self-described self-development “enthusiast” who has some great advice on attaining happiness in life.
Originally written by Glen Allsopp, who at the age of 19 had already attained the sort of wisdom about life that many people never attain during an entire lifetime.
The Art of Nonconformity
Written by Chris Guillebeau, a well-travelled, unconventional individual whose goal is to help others change the world and achieve their own personal goals.
Written by Leo Babauta, who has created quite a remarkable life for himself, and now runs a self-development blog that is one of the top 100 blogs on the web.
The Blog of Author Tim Ferriss
Written by Tim Ferriss, the “Indiana Jones for the digital age”, and writer of the New York Times bestseller: “The 4-Hour work Week: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich”
Classic Self-Development E-books
“The University of Hard Knocks”
Written by Ralph Parlette and published in 1914! Yet it remains incredibly relevant today. An absolute must-read that will change your perspective on life. Available as a free e-book here, or in hard copy here.
“Think and Grow Rich”
Written by Napolean Hill and published in 1937. This book features a list of 15 “laws” of success intended to be applied by anybody to achieve personal success. Available as a free e-book here.
One last thought for you …
I have one final quote to share with you all:
The tragedy of life is not that it ends so soon, but that we wait so long to begin it.
- W.M Lewis
Don’t wait any longer … you have nothing to gain, and everything to lose.