As human beings we are expert procrastinators and excuse makers. We will find nearly any reason to put things off. And we make those reasons sound really good. We will dress them up in clever language that let’s us convince ourselves (and others, if we possibly can) that it’s really not out choice. Here are some phrases that should be immediately removed from you vocabulary.
When the time is right…
And when will that be exactly? Have you noticed yet that the time is never right for anything?
The only time you should ever be waiting for “when the time is right” is if there is there a specific time on the horizon that you have already identified as the no-doubt–about-it correct time to do whatever it is you need/want to do. This means you know the exact (or close to exact) date time and place that will be the correct/right time. For example, I knew I wanted to propose to my girlfriend, and though I was waiting for the right time to do it, I knew exactly when that time would be, it was a firm plan I had committed to.
Or is the “right time” just some vague undefined nothing? Is the right time just a void in space you have created like a proverbial junk drawer that just keeps filling up and never gets accessed?
If it’s the latter it might be time to ask yourself some tough questions such as, “Is this really something I care about in the first place, or am I just pretending?”. If it turns out you are just pretending, it’s time to clear out the junk drawer to make room for the things that do matter to you. If however you do actually care about doing whatever it is, than for goodness sake, get it out of that junk drawer and put is somewhere where it will actually get done.
I’ve always wanted to…
You always wanted to do it, so why didn’t you? Probably because you were waiting until the time was right.
If there was ever a recipe for a disappointing life, it’s becoming to comfortable saying these words. Our time on this earth is extremely short. Surely you have noticed that each year seem to pass a little faster than the last. And, you have probably also noticed that as that time passes we tend to get older, not younger. Do you want to be on your death-bed thinking about all of the things you always wanted to do? Or do you want to be laying there peacefully knowing you lived every day to the fullest extent possible, and that anything you didn’t do was only because you were too busy doing other things that were just as important to you?
If you always wanted to do something, then do it now while you still have time.
I don’t know how to…
I don’t know how, and it’s sibling phrases, “I can’t” and “I’m not good at” are some of the most disingenuous words we can possibly say.
I know you don’t know how. Thomas Edison had no idea how to make a light bulb before he started trying either. He just kept trying until he figured it out.
You can not let the fact that you don’t know how to do something stop you from doing it. The ONLY way to learn how to do something is to try it. By trying it you will discover what works and what doesn’t, and more importantly what does and does not work for YOU.
I don’t know how is such a ridiculous statement it’s not even funny, and yet people say it every day without a trace of irony. How many of the following have you said or heard someone else say?
- I don’t know how to draw
- I don’t know how to start my own business
- I don’t know how to invest
- I don’t know how to build a website
- I don’t know how to read music
- I don’t know how to ride a donkey
- I don’t know how to get into politics
- I don’t know how to speak French
For most of us, if were heard someone else say any of those things, we wouldn’t even bat an eye. We’d just accept that it was the truth, and move on. After all some people are better and things than others right? Not everyone can be expected to know everything.
Undoubtedly yes, but consider the following similar statements:
- I don’t know how to drive
- I don’t know how to do laundry
- I don’t know how to do the dishes
- I don’t know how to read
- I don’t know how to use a cell phone
I bet you had a distinctly different reaction to those statements. After all, anyone can learn to drive, right? And if someone told you they didn’t know how to do laundry or the dishes you’d probably laugh at them and conclude they were extremely lazy (and full of you know what). And is someone told you they couldn’t read, you might be sympathetic, but you’d never have any doubt they could learn if they wanted to.
In reality, the first set of statements are no more valid than the second. Just as anyone can learn to drive a car, anyone can learn to ride a donkey (barring some physical limitation in both cases).
The phrase “I don’t know how to” is nearly invariably code for “I just don’t care enough” or “I don’t believe it is possible.”
It’s just not realistic…
Oh come on now, you don’t really believe that do you?
Have you ever heard the saying, “perception is reality”? In other words our reality is nothing more than our perception of the world around us. If you show a bright red rose to a colour blind person and try to convince him that the rose is bright and colourful, he will never believe you because to him the rose is a dull brown or green.
He is not wrong. His perception is literally that the rose is brown, just as yours is that the rose is bright red. In his reality he is looking at a brown flower, in yours you are looking at a red flower. Knowing that he is colour blind, would you try to tell him his reality was wrong?
For years I had an ongoing disagreement with my sister over who had named a cat that had been part of our family. I remember very clearly that I came up with the name for the cat. The problem is that she remembers just as strongly that she was the one that named the cat. At this point I honestly don’t remember, it’s entirely possible we both agreed on the name at the same time. Either way, her perception is different from mine. In my reality my sister is confused and in her reality I spent years taking credit for her feline naming cleverness.
This might seem like a digression, but it’s not. Reality is almost entirely a result of the way we define it, based on our perceptions and beliefs. If we have the perception, for instance, that rich people are different from us, and that it’s not realistic to be like them, and that we are destined to work 9-5 for someone else, then guess what our reality will be?
Think about it.
I wish I was more/less/better/different…
You can spend all day wishing if you want to, and you’ll end up just exactly as you are right now, except a little older, and probably a little bit more frustrated.
There is nothing wrong with wishing, though in general it’s not usually productive. If you are wishing for something that you genuinely have little or no control over, then that’s okay. Let it be a wish, and then let it go. Examples in this category:
- I wish for peace in the middle east. Okay, fair enough, but there’s probably not much you can do about it, even if you were a high-ranking government official.
- I wish I was taller. Okay, but if you’re over the age of 16 or 17, it’s probably not going to happen, so let this be a wish, make you peace with your genetic height, and move on.
- I wish I had Justin Bieber’s money. I get it, it’s annoying that that obnoxious little kid is a millionaire and you’re not, but I doubt he’s going to give it to either of us, so let’s set that one aside, eh? (And focus on making out own).
But most of the time, people unhelpfully “wish” for things that are well within their abilities to have:
- I wish I could lose this weight.
- I wish I had more money.
- I wish I could be my own boss.
- I wish things were different.
- I wish I was more organized.
- I wish I had more friends.
- I wish I had more time.
All of these things are well within your control, so why are you still wishing for them? If you want to lose weight, don’t wish for it, declare it, and then take the steps necessary to do it. If you want more money, then put some effort into finding ways to make more money. If you hate being bossed around, then make a decision to become self-employed. If you have problems being organized, don’t sit around hoping that a helpful tribe of adorable Gnomes will show up to clean up your sock drawer, simply stop pretending you don’t know how and start organizing.
Do yourself a favour and give up on these excuse phrases. Strike them from the record and forget you ever knew them.