The human mind is capable of wonders. It really is. It can change your life by helping you soar high and is capable of crashing you right back down. What we neglect is the fact that our mind is a part of our body and it is in our control.
More often than not, we hinder changes because of the barriers created by our brains. We give in to baseless rationalizations and excuses taking them for truth. What stops you from learning a new language? Or trying to make a healthier dinner? Or quit smoking? The answer is: comfort. Your brain in sheltered and it hates to explore new possibilities unless it is forced. It is “used” to certain things and tries relentlessly to restrict us. The first step is knowing our brain and its signals.
1. I can’t do it.
Any new thing is difficult, but it is foolish not to try. You have to believe in yourself and trust your abilities. Try to think of others who have achieved and motivate yourself. For example, if you think your new book will face rejection, remember J.K. Rowling once faced the same thing and look where she is now!
2. He/she can do it, but that doesn’t apply to me.
So, someone else can do it, that doesn’t mean I can too. Your brain will make lame excuses like: J.K.Rowling is much more talented than I am; that friend does not have a real job so he can make time to paint, her sister is a great dancer because she is way more fit than me and so on. It is super easy to hunt for excuses, look at how many people have done it despite all odds…
3. I need my ___.
Fill in the blank: I need my chocolate, I need my TV, I need my car and so on. We have convinced ourselves that we cannot live without these things. This is what stops you from eating healthy, making time, cutting expenses. What you really need is basic things like food, water, shelter, clothes and your close family and friends. Everything else is insignificant.
4. Life is meant to be enjoyed.
Yes it is. However, letting that become an excuse is a strict NO. eating a bag full of chips or idling around is not the only way to enjoy life. Love what you do and do what you love.
5. I need comfort.
We all seek comfort, but it shouldn’t stop you from achieving your dreams. Sure, it is comfortable to lay on the couch watching TV shows, but think how happy you’d be if you completed that work you thought you couldn’t? It requires that drive to break free of the comfort zone.
6. I don’t know how.
We are afraid to learn new things. Fear of failure gets the better of us and we stop trying. Push yourself and practice to master something.
7. I can do it later.
Laziness and procrastination go hand in hand. Just because you don’t feel like it, you’ll burden yourself the next day? Live in the moment, finish your work timely.
8. One time won’t hurt.
We’ve all fallen for this one. It is true as well. That doesn’t mean you’ll let the cheat day turn into cheat week and the next thing you know it’s a cheat month and you’ve gained 20 pounds! Plan accordingly, don’t be too harsh on yourself but never let your brain think the trap has worked, stick to the allowance.
9. I don’t feel like it.
PhD : Planning, hard work, and determination. PhD can help you get over your petty excuse, go for it.
10. I’m tired.
I’m tired too and want to escape into a rabbit hole, but no, it’s not happening! You need rest. Do not exhaust yourself so much that your body crashes, but never let it become an excuse to glide past uncomfortable things.
11. I deserve a reward/break.
We know the consequences of “We were on a break”, don’t we? If you give in to this rationalization, you’ll never get any work done. Reward yourself but keep the time and the amount in mind. You can let yourself rest a bit once you’ve complete the assignment, but don’t make a vacation!
12. Wouldn’t it be nice to stop?
Sometimes it is better to stop yourself from entering a windowless room, than being stuck in it, as you’ve forgotten the way out. It is easier to stop but carving your way out is always rewarding. The challenge is to keep hustling.
13. The result you’re going for isn’t important.
People keep saying that it is not the goal but the path that is important, sometimes it is true. However, don’t stop mid-way because the result is not vital. “You got a dream… You gotta protect it”. Believe that you can do it.
14. I’m afraid.
Let’s be honest, we all are. Fear will never cease to exist. But the difference between you and the one that actually did it, is the fear he/she overcame and pushed forward twice as hard. We all have 24 hours in a day!
Awareness & Practice
Next time try this exercise when your brain is stopping you: Notice the excuse. Once you know the source, it is easier to terminate it.
Outsmart your brain with an instant answer to every excuse. You may give in at times or steer your way out. Be aware.
After giving in, analyze the situation. Does it make you happy? Do you feel guilty? Is the discomfort worth it?
Learn from those results. If you pushed through and are happy about it, remember that. If you gave in to excuses, and didn’t like the result, take a different path the next time.