In the spring of 2000, I moved to a new town, leaving behind all of my personal training clients and with a coaching practice still in the building phase. So, I decided to knock on doors in my new neighborhood and introduce myself and my services (super old-school marketing!). I’ll never forget the response of one woman who answered the door: she told me she couldn’t exercise because she had diabetes! While it would be nice to think this neighbor of mine was an anomaly, I often encounter people who fight against themselves (i.e. make excuses!).
Do you ever offer excuses in the privacy of your own mind that, upon further examination, really don’t hold water? (I’ve been known to do it once or twice…) Over time we can set up a number of barriers that make it impossible to reach the goals we want, and we don’t even realize we’re doing it.
Sometimes we have valid reasons for doing something, or not, that is contrary to our desired results. There are genuine instances when circumstances are what they are and our choices are limited. But that’s not what keeps us stuck. It’s the narrative we play over and over, like a vinyl record in our heads, that convinces us we have no alternative.
When I coach my clients, we examine those excuses (reasons, beliefs) and they’re often surprised at how they’ve set up no-win situations for themselves. They’re smart, successful, hard-working people who’ve tied their own hands. Once we test their assumptions and identify the reality of their circumstances, it’s a relief. Yet it also brings responsibility. For all of us, this is the point at which we decide if we really want what we say we want.
There’s no shame in deciding we don’t want a particular goal. It’s actually liberating. To pursue something we don’t really want drains our energy and self-confidence, and the worst part is that we never connect with our real desires.
The shame is when I encounter people who deeply want an outcome but have told themselves that because they haven’t figured out how to get it (i.e. they’re not doing the necessary behaviors) it must mean they don’t want it enough. Nonsense! It just means they don’t know what’s not visible to them. They can’t see what they can’t see.
So test your assumptions. Are you making excuses, fighting yourself? Learn to shift and start making headway in the direction of your goals.
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