Five years ago, Marilyn decided to leave her soul-squashing job and start a business that would share her love of animals. Today she’s still dragging herself to that same job and her entrepreneurial enthusiasm is weak from neglect.
When questioned about her business plans, she replies, “Oh, I decided in this economy it was better to hang on to what I had. Besides I hate to give up my benefits and I really need the money from my job so I can remodel my family room.”
What Marilyn—and so many others— demonstrate is that whenever we ignore our dreams we rationalize it by creating a villain. It’s never our fault, for goodness sake. Someone or something outside us is standing in our way.
That thinking leads us to look for the villain which is often disguised as an excuse.
Since finding an excuse is not a creative exercise, most excuses aren’t too original. Knowing that, syndicated columnist Dale Dauten put together the Excuse-O-Matic which can be a handy tool.
Just find your age and under it you’ll find the corresponding excuse not to take a risk.
Under 30—too young
Need to get established/planning marriage/ kids/house
No experience/no credit/no capital
30 to 40—too busy
Too much credit/need to save for college tuition
40 to 55—too stretched
Kids in college
Need to pay down debt/save for retirement
Over 55—too tired
Not up on latest technologies
Too late to risk capital
Concerned about losing retirement benefits
The final and best excuse
Now I’m not a mathematician, but I can see that if you add up these excuses all you’re left with are excuses.
If you want to amaze and dazzle yourself, give up, once and for all, anything that sounds like an excuse.
Giving up all excuses is not enough, however. In the part of your brain where you’ve stored reasons and excuses, start building an Option Bank.
An Option Bank, just like the place where you store money, is a repository of good ideas, dreams and goals. Like an ordinary bank, the more you put in, the more you can draw out.
The best way to get started at this is to convince yourself that there is never just a single option available. Never. If you begin with that premise, your creative spirit will be free to go to work.
A word of warning: this is not the same as the frequently used expression, “I’m keeping my options open,” which usually means, “I have no idea what I want and am waiting for something to happen to tell me.”
What I’m talking about is a proactive listing of any and every possibility that occurs to you.
Another key to building your Option Bank comes from Harry Browne in his book How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World. “As you view any situation in which you have a goal,” Browne writes, “there are basically two types of alternatives available to you. I call them direct and indirect.
“A direct alternative is one that requires only direct action by yourself to get a desired result. An indirect alternative requires that you act to make someone else do what is necessary to achieve your objective.”
On a blank sheet of paper, draw a line down the center. At the top of the page, write a goal that you have in the form of an affirmation. Over the left hand column write Excuses and over the right hand column write Options.
Think of your excuses as debits and your options as deposits. Now write your lists. If you can’t simply ignore your excuses, what direct alternative can you take to eliminate or change them?
When you repeat this exercise regularly, you’ll discover that your Option List will grow while your Excuses List will shrivel.
“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage,” Anais Nin wisely observed.
Keep building your own Option Bank and you’ll discover that life not only shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage, but also in proportion to one’s options.