I'm not a pretty sight right now.

My nose is running like a tap, my head is pounding, and I'm wrapped up in a million layers to keep warm.

Luckily my housemates are asleep so the only place I'm visible is the mental image that's inside your head. Enough! Think about a nice fluffy cat or something now, ok?

You can probably guess that writing a blog post is the last thing I feel like doing today.

But I'm sitting here typing an article because it's Sunday, and Sunday is the day I send something to my mailing list come rain or shine or mucous. It's now been a solid 22 weeks of back to back Sunday newsletters, and I don't intend to let anything break the chain.

It hasn't been plain sailing. Most weeks, usually around Friday or Saturday, I start freaking out that I won't find anything worth writing about. (Even though I have a folder full of article ideas saved on my computer).

If I'd let fear stop me, or had stayed curled up in bed this morning, you wouldn't be reading this.

Why making excuses is dangerous

The only thing standing between you and your goal is the bullshit story you keep telling yourself as to why you can't achieve it.
― Jordan Belfort

I've made a lot of excuses for not writing my unDesign book. I tell myself that I'm not qualified to write it because I haven't stopped being a graphic designer yet. I tell myself I'm scared to interview the people on my hitlist, and don't follow up on my email conversations with them, even when they've already said they'd like to be included. Every time I let myself off the hook, the easier it becomes to do so the next time.

Whilst they can temporarily relieve pressure, excuses have a nasty habit of forming road blocks in the long run.

Here's the good news...

Most excuses are imaginary.

Four shitty excuses, and four ways to zap them out of your life

"I don't feel like it"
The big daddy of excuses. If you're not doing important work because you don't feel like it, is it really that important to you? If it's not, that's great news, because you can scrub it from your list and move onto something else!

Solution: if something matters but you're not getting it done, try to wrap it in a habit. Make it something that you do every day or every week whether you feel like it or not. (Like I do with my weekly newsletter).

Even ten minutes a day can make a difference, if you put the work in every day without fail. Just. Keep. Showing. Up. On which note...

"I don't have time"
Evil cousin to the 'Busy' trap. We've all got a lot of stuff happening in our lives, but does it all have to be there in the first place?

Solution: make time. (Yes, I can hear you groaning at that). One of reasons I gave up Twitter for a month was because it seemed to be sucking up all of my free time. Chances are that there's probably something in your life you can cut down on to make time for something more productive. If there are things you can't opt out of, sometimes reordering your day can help you find extra leverage... working on your side project before work when you have more energy, for example.

"I'm not good enough"
Aka impostor syndrome. We've all been there — felt that we're not qualified to be doing something, or felt out of our depth and in danger of being found out as a fraud any second.

Solution: get comfortable with being bad at things. And make use of the fact that when're you're a beginner there's no one watching... or waiting for you to trip up.

The other thought to hold onto is that neither you or your work needs to be perfect. As Leonard Cohen would say: “There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in.”

"I'm scared"
There's a very British habit of starting an apology for a trivial matter with the phrase "I'm afraid that...".

Similarly, most of the things we claim to be frightened of of aren't really that bad. Spiders, heights, mothers-in-law... all scary. But speaking in public? Publishing a blog post? Admitting that we'd fucked up and need a little help? These are not life-threatening scenarios.

Solution: try an experiment. Find out what happens when you step towards the thing you think you're afraid of, instead of away from it. And remember that good things usually happen when you move outside of your comfort zone.

What's your excuse, and how are you going to fight it?

Posted to Uncategorised in 2015.

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