I was recently coaching a Side Hustler who refused to set her website live because it wasn’t “quite ready.” She chewed on it for weeks and weeks, tweaked it, changed it, added to it, refined her tagline (37 times) and edited it down—a million things aside from pressing publish.
Was I surprised? No way. This happens more often that not. This perfectionism of hers was simply fear dressed up as a high standard. It’s never new. It’s never different. It’s always the same.
Fear is actually pretty boring when you think about it. But it does manifest in some key ways that we can identify within ourselves. Here are the most frequent excuses that can clue you in what you’re secretly avoiding:
1. “I’m not ready.”
This is the most common excuse we provide to avoid attempting something new and/or progressive. We actively cling to the status quo, resisting change that drives us forward. Almost no one one feels ready for a next step in their life—starting a business, a family, a new job. They just decide that the desire for it is greater than the discomfort of the shift.
News flash: You don’t have to wait to feel desperate to be ready to take a leap. If you feel the inner stirrings, pay attention. The more they persist, the more ready you are.
2. “I’m not good enough.”
Most of us feel inadequate at times. That’s OK. But it doesn’t mean it’s true. Meditation expert Tara Brach says that our thoughts are “real but not true.” This means our thoughts can feel real to us, yes. But we don’t have to take our thoughts so seriously. This is why so many personal development books remind us of our personal power to intentionally select our thoughts.
My friend Tanya calls the negative voices in her head “the itty bitty sh*tty committee.” Don’t let the volume get too loud, OK?
3. “But you need…”
I coached a young man who wanted to move to Los Angeles but felt he wouldn’t fit in because “you need a fit body to live there.” That’s obviously not a real barrier, amirite?
There’s no law stating: “People who weight X or Y permitted entry to LA county.” We discovered that his resistance to pursuing his dream of being in the entertainment industry prevented him from making the move. He realized he had everything he needed apart from a plane ticket. So he booked one.
4. “I’ll do that when…”
Many of us like to fantasize that there comes a magical time in our lives when the seas part, harps play, the angels sing... and that’s when you write your novel, approach the person you’ve had a crush on for months, ask your boss for a raise.
But this day never arrives. Ever. This I assure you. It’s up to you to decide. When will it be the day, exactly? Set a date! No more than six months out. A deadline makes it real.
5. “Yeah but…”
There is perhaps no person more frustrating in any office, family, or group than the “yeah but” person. I was at a recent entrepreneurial gathering, and we did what’s called a hot-seat exercise. That means every person in the group shares their current challenge and every other person provides a suggestion for their business.
In our group, one woman had a “yeah but” for every idea. She wasn’t listening. She refused the insights of some tremendously talented people because she shut them down before they opened their mouths with a “yeah but….” attitude.
It was her loss entirely.
What form of excusitis is preventing you from going for it?
Susie Moore is Greatist's life coach columnist and a confidence coach in New York City. Sign up for free weekly wellness tips on her website and check back every Tuesday for her latest No Regrets column!